Moving In (Lauren & Beck #3)

“Please Beck, please put it in, please,” Lauren says, pushing her hips back to encourage the tip of Beck’s strap-on cock to slide inside of her. She’s on her knees, hands gripping the headboard of the bed for support. Beck has Lauren’s hair tight in her fist like reigns and a bridle.

Beck grins. She wants it excruciatingly slow. She wants it to last. She wants to savor this rare moment, this time when Lauren actually asked her to strap on and fuck her. Please Beck, will you fuck me with your cock? Lauren doesn’t usually ask for more than fingers. Beck’s hips are quivering.

They have been working all weekend, moving all of Lauren’s worldly possessions from her small apartment in Berkeley up to Beck’s house in the Oakland hills. Luckily, they had a lot of help: Lauren’s roommate, a few of her friends from work, plus Beck’s gaggle of friends who follow her around anywhere. Mostly big, burly butches who like to be useful—they had the heavy furniture moved in practically before Lauren even got out of the car. Fast and furious.

The move has been a long time coming. Beck has been wracked with anxiety these past few weeks, as the August 1st moving date got closer and closer and the reality of no longer living alone started setting in. They spent fewer nights together, savoring their own rooms and own space. Lauren finished packing early, the bulk of her objects being kitchen gear and clothes, and relatively easy to pack away. She even had the audacity to suggest that they rent the moving van a week early and just go for it—but Beck quickly stomped out that idea.

After three years together, the topic of moving in together came up frequently, but Beck became adept at changing or skirting the subject, deflecting or, eventually, out-right saying no. “It’s not that I don’t love you,” Beck used to say. “I just need my space to be the way I want it to be. I know we spend most of our nights together. But those one or two nights we don’t spend together are important for me to have.”

“I understand,” Lauren says. And she did. But she also wanted their books mingling on the same bookshelf, she missed her good set of knives whenever she was cooking at Beck’s house. Which was practically every day.

But things changed in the six months since Mallory died. Beck softened, somehow; everything about her is a little more raw, a little more exposed, a little less together and buttoned-up. Even her fucking has become more raw, more full of tears and growl. They weren’t that close, not since Beck moved to the opposite coast, but as soon as Mallory got sick, Beck almost moved back. Mallory was the one who told her no, who told her to live her life out in San Francisco the way she wanted to. They were practically the only family each other had, so the loss has turned Beck’s life upside down in the weeks since.

Now, Lauren’s fancy memory foam mattress is on the bed frame that Beck inherited from Mallory, a family heirloom of dark carved wood. It is practically the only thing that is put together in the whole house, with Lauren’s boxes and a few pieces of furniture haphazardly placed all over Beck’s usually neat and tidy home. Beck can feel the chaos of moving, even though it wasn’t her who moved; the suspension of security in order to become something new, something bigger than what she was before. This has been a year of letting go, of letting things happen, of accepting the gifts that the universe is offering, of learning how to ground and comfort herself.

And Lauren, Lauren, Lauren. Such a beauty, how lucky Beck is to have her as a partner, as a friend, as a lover. She has been supportive, in her own way—which is not always the way that Beck wants her to be, but is a way, and ultimately, it works. Whenever Beck straps on, she wants to pour herself into Lauren and swing around inside until she’s wrung out. She knows those tight muscles of Lauren’s so well with her fingers, her tongue; she can envision them around this temporary fake cock, is starting to feel what it’s like to thrust inside of a girl and feel her clench.

Beck enters her slow, so slow. Lauren breathes in, breathes out. Beck closes her eyes, holding on to Lauren’s hips with both hands. She applies more lube and slows down even more.

Lauren is on her stomach, legs squeezed together, Beck’s thighs on the outside, thrusting in still so slow. Lauren is moaning into the sheets, hair falling in her face, hands clenching. She flexes her feet, her toes are curling. She tries to get Beck in even deeper by moving her hips. Beck responds slow and they are dancing, meeting each other’s rhythms, tension building.

“Please fuck me, please, do it harder, please baby, please,” Lauren says. Half of them are into the pillow and she’s drooling and Beck can barely tell what she’s saying, but she thrusts in a little harder now, a little faster, picking up speed as her own pleasure builds. She has these micro-orgasms, spasms that clench and release, every couple of thrusts, but she wants to go after the big one, too, wants to feel herself emptied into Lauren’s beautiful slit.

Beck holds on and focuses on the tip, just the tip of her cock, where it touches Lauren inside, where they meet and merge. Lauren is gasping and pressing back into her and it makes Beck crazy, it makes her hips tremor and thrust, it opens up new wanting in her pelvis like a bowl of milk. “Fuck, Lauren—fuck!” Beck starts to say as she comes, shaking and pressing harder inside, spilling out and deep into her.

“Baby, baby,” Beck murmurs into Lauren’s hair as her thrusting slows.

“Don’t stop, please don’t stop, more Beck, just a little more—” Lauren works her hand down under her body and touches her clit, moaning out and thrusting her hips back again. Beck adjusts the strap-on so it’s a little higher, not so directly against her cunt anymore, and starts thrusting again. A little bit higher this time. “Yes, there—there—”

Only a few more thrusts, and Lauren is done. Flying and coming and screaming into the pillows, her own hand furiously touching her cunt as Beck smoothly slides inside at just the right angle. Her whole body tenses, so tight and hard, every muscle and joint contracted, even holding her breath, until she lets it go, releases everything, breathes out with a huge sigh, and inhales sweet new air. She moans, her body still jerking a little from the electricity running through it. Each breath gives her a little more spaciousness, a little more relaxation. Beck is still inside, and Lauren shifts her hips to ease her out.

“Was that what you wanted?” Beck asks, after Lauren has curled on her side and Beck is smoothing her hair back from her face.

“Yes, oh god yes,” Lauren says, kissing Beck lusciously with thick lips and fervor.

“Mmm, I’m glad.”

They’re quiet for a minute, gazing and touching, bodies still sensitive and heightened.

“Baby?” Beck starts.

“Hmm?”

“Can we unpack now?”

Lauren laughs. “Is that going to bug you basically until it’s done?”

Beck looks a little sheepish. “Yes.”

Lauren ruffles her hair. “I know. Yeah, let’s start. How about with the kitchen!”

Beck nods, starting to peel herself off of the bed to face her chaotic house. “It will make it easier to make dinner later.”

“Oh, I forgot to tell you,” Lauren started, digging into a box for her silky robe, the blue one that goes to her mid-thigh. “Ricky is bringing over dinner later. He found some new Ethiopian place he says we have to try.”

Beck’s mouth waters. She didn’t realize how hungry she was until they started talking about food. “Sounds great.” She grins, pulling on her boxers with the Superman S and not even caring that her clothes are strewn all over. It’ll come back together, soon, she tells herself. It won’t be the same as it was before, but it’ll be better. They’ll be stronger individually for being with each other. I’m ready, she thinks, as she watches Lauren’s ass in the thin robe as she walks out of the bedroom, lifting her hair out from the neck of the robe and letting it cascade down her back. This is it.


Featured image from Crash Pad Series Episode #185, James Darling & Juliette March.

Stone Grief (Kai & DJ #3)

By the time I ease two fingers into DJ’s ass, they already have tears streaming down their cheeks, crying in that silent release way that I’ve only seen a handful of times in the years we’ve been together, but that always means something big is going on. I breathe in, slow my fingers down, and wait. Present. Attuning to each of the smallest movements DJ’s body communicates.

“Don’t stop,” they whisper. “Just keep going.”

They make small sips of eye contact, but are mostly having their own experience. Their body shivers, sometimes from their head to their toes, sometimes left to right, rippling like a chill is going through them. I recognize that release, too. They have been so tight, so tense, their body all locked up for months now. I’m so grateful for the request to fuck them tonight. I’d do anything to help them through this.

Their back hole is tight but pliable, and they relax deeper into my hand as I slowly, slowly use my fingers to massage their insides. It feels like I’m unlocking something, that something has been clenched and is now letting go.

I’m completely unaware of the play party going on around us. There are people up on St. Andrew’s crosses, bent over spanking benches, on massage tables, tied to the wall with the eyebolts that are scattered all around this space. We are in the back corner. I snagged the sling as soon as we got here, after we checked in and made it through the socializing space where the cold pizza, nuts, and mixed veggie trays were laid out already for anyone needing a snack after or during their play. DJ is lying back in it comfortably, body completely supported, swaying slightly with the pressure of my hand against their hole. Their legs are up in the sling’s stirrups, permanently hung there for better access.

We could have done this scene at home, but DJ wanted to come here. Not necessarily to be witnessed, though the exhibitionism is something some folks at play parties seek. It is more that they wanted a place to have a big experience, a big release, that was safe and known and comfortable. Plus, they wanted to be in a sling. It’s the best place for them to receive.

DJ isn’t stone, exactly, but kind of stone-ish. I don’t fuck them very often, and almost never strapped on, though they do suck me off sometimes. They don’t have trauma about getting fucked exactly, they just don’t like it very much. It’s not the best way to get them off, I know—it doesn’t turn them on nearly as much as topping, or fucking with their own cock. But I do get to use my hands on them sometimes, especially after we’ve been going for a while and they have fucked everything out of me that they possibly can but are still hungry—that’s when I know it’s time for me to beg to suck them off, and to offer to use my hands if they want me to, which they almost always do. I think it took them a long time to receive while still being in charge.

Like tonight. They’ve been planning this all week—decided what toys we’d bring, packed the bag, made the arrangements, drove us here. They even told me what to wear (jeans and a crisp white tee shirt, often my uniform when we’re out in public anyway, but it was nice to know that they like it). DJ specifically requested a night for release and catharsis, but I probably won’t do any impact play or anything. I suppose we’ll see if they need that or not.

“Keep going,” they whisper again. I move my fingers a little faster and their asshole relaxes around them. They nod, eyes squeezed shut, tears still coming. Their hands grip the chain of the sling and they rock their pelvis a little, swaying the swing. I focus. I keep breathing. I nearly start crying myself with the emotion pouring off of them like heatwaves, I can practically see it. It’s been bottled tight inside of them ever since we got the call that DJ’s aunt, the one who had practically raised them, died suddenly of a stroke.

They are usually pretty good at handling their own emotions. I wouldn’t be with them for this long if they weren’t. But this kind of grief … only people who have gone through it really know what it’s like. My best friend was diagnosed with cancer and died when I was 20 and I lost my shit for a few years after that. It took me a while to even realize what was going on, it just felt like my life was suddenly falling down around me. DJ hasn’t lost anyone this close before, just relatives and occasional community acquaintances. I know it’s their own process and there’s only so much I can do, but I want to support and be helpful when I can. Especially when helping involves adoring their body, which I love to do anyway.

They arch their back in the sling, press their hips further into me. Their body is shuddering, shoulders shaking—maybe they are starting to really cry, those heaving sobs that are rarer still.

I don’t say anything. I don’t know what to say. It isn’t about words now, this is just about their body, the emotions stored in their thick muscles, the tenderness of their brown skin. I use my fingertips to caress them, then rest my palm on their chest, their heart. I can feel them crying through my hand. They press against me harder, and I move my two fingers a little more furiously. Their mouth opens, they cry out a little, sadness and grief and release and pleasure all mixing, still squeezing their eyes shut, face scrunching up in frustration and fury.

They find my hand with theirs and squeeze, press against me. I stand a little closer, off to the side, to get a better angle. DJ brings their other hand down to their clit-dick and starts jerking it, not quite sobbing but body heaving, beginning to moan. I can’t tell if it’s pleasure or grief or both. The music pounds and I’m starting to sweat, I can feel it dripping on my neck. It’s good that it’s warm in here, easier to be naked that way, and those of us working hard really get a workout. DJ is still pawing hard at their clit, and their hole grips my fingers and I can barely move, so tight, every muscle in them gets so tight, their hips lifting even further, pressing against me, body twisted and contorted, face all torqued like something is in their mouth that they have to swallow. They fist my hand so hard it hurts.

Until … slowly, slowly, the sobs start to come. Then a wail, long and low. Body heaving. I keel forward to offer my body next to theirs and they gladly accept, wrapping their arms around me, pulling me closer to them, crying into my shirt for a good long while.

I still don’t say anything. I can’t find my words. But really, what is there to say? It’s not about me. It’s what they need. It’s the only thing they need right now, to be able to cry for as long as they need to without someone fussing about them. I don’t need them to feel better, or to stop, it doesn’t make me uncomfortable. I just feel honored that they want me here, that they let me do this for them. I know sometimes they prefer to release their feelings by themself.

DJ slowly pulls their arms through our tight embrace and wipes their eyes and face and nose on my tee shirt. I laugh a little. “Is that why you wanted me to wear white?”

They smile. “No,” they say, eyes downcast. “I just like it.” They sound small, but when they open their eyes and look at me, finally, softly, they are shining and bright, alive.


Featured image from Crash Pad Series Episode #98, Micah Riot and Papi Coxxx.

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Sassafras Lowrey: “I live the queer life I’ve always dreamed of”

Sinclair’s note: This concludes the open relationship mini interview series! I’m debating if I should do more of these mini-interviews, and I might. I’m thinking one about breakups or transitioning relationships, one about healing, one about long term relationships, one about D/s and protocol … Alright so I’ve got plenty of ideas.

Sassafras Lowrey, pomofreakshow.com

Note: I personally use the term “poly” to talk about my relationship(s) not “open.” Additionally possibly useful information – I’ve been in a primary partnership with my partner for coming up on 9 years. Our relationship has always been poly. I came out into a community where poly relationships were very much the norm. Every “serious” relationship I’ve ever been in has involved 24/7 D/s, and my partner and I were already very poly experienced when we got together.

1. What insight about open relationships would you share with your younger self?

I think the biggest piece of advice I could ever give my younger self would be to spend less time worrying about what other people think, or trying to create what I thought I should want, as apposed to what actually felt good to me. What I mean here is I have at times felt pressure to enact being poly in certain ways (dating, sex etc.) because of queer cultural pressures that normalized or privileged certain kinds of interactions or relationship dynamics when the reality is I’ve never been happier or felt more fulfilled than I have in my D/s leather focused relationships which is at this time as a general rule non-sexual.

2. What has been the hardest thing about navigating your open relationships, and how have you overcome that?

I suppose I’ve already talked about this a little bit above. I think the biggest challenge for me has actually had very little to do with my relationship(s) and everything to do with the queer culture relationship norms that I found privileged sex, and specific dating focused types of romantic connection. I consider myself Leather oriented as apposed to sexually oriented. My primary partner/Daddy and I have been together for nearly 9 years. Ze has a wonderful girlfriend (a “good egg” I call her) and they have been together for upcoming 2 years. Previously ze has dated other people, and I have been involved with others as well. My partner and I live in a 24/7 Daddy/boy D/s dynamic and are (at this point and for quite some time) happily non-sexual with one another – a fact which shocks/horrifies/confuses many queer folk.

On top of that, I have a complicated relationship to sex/dating/relationships. As a general rule I am fairly uninterested in that type of connection to other people though I have dated and/or hooked up with folks in the past. Generally I find it particularly rewarding to date the books that I am writing, and very intimate though entirely non-sexual relationships with my leather/queer family.

3. What has been the best thing about your open relationships?

One of the best things about being poly and having non-normative relationship structures has been the ability to live the kind of queer life I’ve always dreamed of. We create the rules for our life, building the kind of relationship(s) that are fulfilling and engaging for us, knowing that for each person that will take a different form. My partner and I are better together as a couple/family because of the connection we have to others in our lives – for my partner that looks like romantic “grown-up” relationships, and for me that primarily looks like the way I engage with my queer/leather family. Because we are poly and don’t expect the other to meet all of our needs be they emotional/intellectual/creative/sexual/etc. We are able to hone and focus our relationship on what is best about who we are to each other. In our case, that means that we create a beautiful home together sharing the ups and downs of daily life, we support one another creatively, and at the core of our relationship is the playful, whimsical magic of our Daddy/boy dynamic.

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Yarrow: Complex Organic Poly Web

On Friday, I sent a request for information from friends and acquaintances and smarty-pants folks in my life who I know have experience with polyamory and open relationships, as an attempt to mine my network for more insight and information about some of the difficulties of open relationships that Kristen and I have been going through lately. The interviews have been pouring in! I’ll be publishing them periodically in the next few weeks, and at the end of the series I’ll open it up for your input and thoughts on these questions too.

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Yarrow

Yarrow, sunflowerriver.org

I always feel like I should state my subject position when coming into this kind of dialogue, so, for full disclosure/context: I identify strongly as poly, and have been functioning that way since 1998. I’ve had exactly one monogamous relationship ever (though at the very outset, I didn’t have language adequate to describe my desires or lifestyle, besides “dating around”), and when we tried to open it up to polyamory, it didn’t go very well. That was 1998; a lot has happened since then. Presently, I have two long-term primary partners with whom I live in an intentional community (I’m married to one of them), and two friends-with-benefits relationships with other people. My partners also have other partners. This web changes regularly, in a highly organic fashion. Nobody has “veto” power over anybody else, and we all place a high value on communication and emotional integrity. We tend to describe ourselves as an organic poly network. There are lots and lots of ways to be poly in the world; this is what we do.

1. What insight about open relationships do you wish you had when you started?

I mostly wish I had had access to good role models, or any recognition that there is no single, one-size-fits-all, right way to do this. I knew very few other poly people when I began to recognize it in myself, and I developed all kinds of wrong ideas as a result. So: just because you’re dating someone, doesn’t mean you need to date the other people they’re dating. It also does not mean you need to love the people they love. It helps if you like them and you can all have dinner together, but it’s not required. This seems self-evident, but it’s not, and I see other people go through this as they move into polyamorous expression. Also: reality checks are vital, particularly with regard to one’s partners’ other partners. It is way too easy to tell yourself a story about what that person thinks and feels, to over-interpret casual actions or statements, to invest everything with excesses of meaning. And it’s very important to not do that. You want to know what they think or feel, ask them. And trust that they are honest with their response. Don’t try to “read between the lines.” Have integrity with your own responses to such things, engage in full disclosure (gently and tactfully, but with complete integrity), and other people will generally do the same.

Also: over-communication can be just as damaging as under-communication. Balance is important. Learning to identify when I am overwrought and will change my mind tomorrow, or feeling something too strongly to know what I will want the next day, was an incredibly important step towards functional polyamory. Another way to say that: sifting the apparent needs of the moment out from long-term needs is an extremely helpful step.

2. What has been the hardest thing about opening your relationship, and
how have you overcome that?

At first, when I was in a mono relationship opening to polyamory (about 14 years go) the absolute hardest thing was to be honest with myself about what I wanted. To have internal integrity. I believed strongly that I was supposed to want certain things: a single life-long love, that elevated my existance to a meaningful plane; a soul-deep connection with a single other individual that would permeate all aspects of daily life and make them extraordinary. (Culturally, we teach our children to want this. And I’m not saying it’s not out there, BUT: it’s very much not a one-size-fits-all solution to the idea of relationship; it doesn’t have to take place inside the context of externally-committed monogamy; and where it intersects with the abdication of personal responsibility, it can be completely unhealthy, and can create dangerously unrealistic expectations.) So, I was mired pretty deeply in an internal struggle with that paradigm. And I lied to myself that I wanted that level of daily-life-interweaving, instead of independence. And I lied to myself that I wanted to want only one partner. I lied to myself about what I wanted from that partner. Getting through that tangle took a couple years, and completely destroyed that relationship (I am very fortunate that we are still friends). The hardest part about it, was figuring out what I really did want, and then ACCEPTING that. Making it be okay to be who I am and want what I want. No matter what that looked like to the overculture. Figuring that out, and then being able and willing to communicate it to my partner, was earth-shatteringly difficult. But once that happened, and we recognized that we needed irreconcilable things in a partnership, we were able to move forward (by breaking up and letting each of us take our own paths), and each of us was able to grow emotionally and spiritually, to come into ourselves, much more fully. Getting past the self-deception was the most challenging thing.

3. What has been the best thing about your open relationship?

Self-actualization, and full actualization of each relationship I find myself in. Each new connection with another person can become whatever it is meant to become on the entire spectrum of friendship and intimacy. I am free to fall in love, and my partners are also free to do so. And we have each others’ full support in doing so, and in getting through hard times in relationships with each other or with others. Having several perspectives when something goes wrong is incredibly helpful; different people can offer fantastic insights into events and situations, and help the affected people see their way through difficult things. I have partners with whom my emotional relationship is profoundly deep, rich and complex, and others where our connection is more playful, and i get to have all of those things. Also, I get to *be* different things for different people; nobody around here has to be everything for anybody. If I really want something and it’s not going to happen in one relationship, it may come very naturally in another. I thrive on variety; this rich complexity satifies very deep needs in me. I am an independent agent who lives fully and deeply enmeshed in a strong, complex web of support, encouragement, and connectivity. I love everything about that.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

I experience polyamory/monogamy as a type of orientation spectrum, not unlike gender or sexuality. This can be a really helpful way to think about it; some people are really wired to be happy one way or another, in a monogamous relationship only, or in open relatinships only, while lots of people live in the flexible middle ground somewhere, and could be happy with any of a number of relationship styles when things line up right. People’s relationship orientation can grow and change over time, just like their sexuality, gender orientation or gender presentation. Where a given individual falls on the spectrum at a given time is not something to attach value judgement to — you get a certain thread in the poly community that believes that polyamory is “more evolved” than monogamy. that’s bullshit. putting each other down to lift ourselves up only creates more division instead of creating understanding and community. there’s no right or wrong about wanting to be with a single partner or multiple partners, any more than there’s a right or wrong about being with a male or female or genderfluid partner.

One Year with Rife

There have been so many things going on with Kristen for the last few months, and I’ve been doing so much traveling, that I haven’t quite had the time or focus to put this up, but I’ve meant to since September.

In September, Rife and I celebrated one year together.

  

 

Clockwise from top: Picking raspberries near Summer Camp in September; surviving the Fusion hurricane at Ramblewood in the barn; playing guitar in the hammock at Summer Camp; looking at jacaranda flowers in LA in May; one of the first shots he sent me in January of this year when I told him I took boxing lessons.

We now have a formal contract about our D/s and power dynamics, and I’ve been really enjoying how that has pushed me as a Dominant to keep exploring, to get in touch with what I want, what would feel good for me, what I may need at any given moment, which, as much as it may seem like being the top or dom or daddy forces me to be in touch with that, it’s really easy for me to get caught up in being more of a service top, doing things for the other person, doing things I know they like, focusing on them and their pleasure. Especially because I still identify pretty strongly as stone.

He and I have seen each other almost a dozen times in the last year—our visit for our anniversary at Summer Camp in September was #10, and this visit in Houston is #11. Things keep deepening in beautiful ways, and he and Kristen are friends and metamours, and I feel incredibly lucky and blessed. He’s added so much to my life and sense of self and my style of topping and dominanting, and he’s so much fun to play with, so easy to be around.

As much as it is incredibly difficult to be in an open relationship, I don’t know if I could close it again and be monogamous—at least, not at this point in my life—and I’m so grateful to be exploring with both Kristen and Rife. This summer and fall have been incredibly difficult for me emotionally, and they have both been so important as I’m trying to navigate these surges of emotions and difficult readjustments in my family of origin. I’m trying to keep bringing my love and compassion back to Kristen, too, as she keeps deepening and exploring with other people. I’m so grateful to have survived this past year, to have learned all that I’ve learned, to be moving through it deeper.

And I’m so grateful to have this sexy leatherboy submissive creature who does things like bend a coat hanger into a long U shape or strip the thorns off of a branch and then put them into my hands and say, “please.”

Happy anniversary, my sweet boy. I’m very excited to see what our second year will bring.

Thanksgiving in Texas

I’ve been in Dallas with Kristen’s family for the last few days for the Thanksgiving holiday. We did a Dirty Queer Sex Tour reading on Tuesday that Lillith Grey helped put together, which was fantastic—it is so fascinating to me how each of the Dirty Queer Sex Tour stops have been so different. I think (hope aim for) it reflects the local culture well, which is great, because as much as I’d love to introduce the Say Please book around to all the different folks who might be interested in it in all the different cities, the cultures of BDSM and queerness are actually slightly varied depending on where you are. Having interacted with those cultures primarily on the internet for the last oh, fifteen or eighteen years, I didn’t really know that until I started touring more. And when I go around and visit colleges in various different cities, I get a small taste of local culture, but usually it’s more like the local college culture, which isn’t quite the same.

I wish I could explain how each of the readings were different, but it’s hard to put my finger on it exactly. Sometimes it seems like one is more butch/femme, one is more genderqueer, one is younger, one is old school, one is more trans focused, one is darker in material and content, but I also don’t really want to generalize that specifically about identities, because I don’t really need to draw the conclusions that therefore the city that that reading was in is therefore more trans or genderqueer or butch/femme. But the differences have been big, and are really interesting.

This particular reading was at VerLes, and they have a really great selection of leather goods and whips and percussion toys that I kept fingering and coveting while I was there. We did a giveaway for a beautiful photograph from one of the readers, CR Kirven, and a dirty cross stitch that Lillith made, and a copy of the book, and a few other goodies, and it was a blast.

Thanks to photographer Amy Price for these beautiful photos from the Dallas Say Please reading! I don’t know if that Facebook link will work but I think it will—check it out. We had a beautiful sexy lineup and the store looks so pretty.

Lillith and her partner Synn (who is the 2012 International Ms Leather!) took us around to the Dallas Eagle and to the Round-Up, which was a gay boy bar (with very mixed company) that has two stepping and line dancing pretty much every night. Kristen and I don’t really know how to two step (though I did okay following while Synn led, and I led Kristen around the floor in a circle at least once), but we have taken some east coast swing and it was so incredibly fun. She and Lillith and some of their friends also had so much fun line dancing. I did a few songs—but when they get really complicated, it’s so hard to keep up. We vowed to go out to Big Apple Ranch more frequently.

Oh and speaking of IMsL—it’s official, and I can announce it now: I’m going to be a judge for the 2013 International Ms. Leather contest! So I’ll be in San Francisco in April 2013. 2012 was the first year I attended, and it was very memorable and fun, and I definitely felt like the folks there were my people. I’m really looking forward to meeting more of the folks who make the contest run and to seeing behind the scenes a little bit—always my favorite way to see an event.

Kristen and I did a lot of other things in Dallas, aside from hang out with her family and eat delicious food, like go around to Kristen’s old haunts, her favorite restaurants, her high school, her old house. It was great to see where she came from. I love having a sense of a city. We rented this little zippy car, some Volvo sports car that I didn’t even know existed, not that I’m really a car person, and it was so fun to drive. Driving around a city gives me a much better sense of it and I loved that I got to experience it.

I didn’t get any gigs in Dallas, aside from the Dirty Queer Sex reading, but maybe I will get some interest from some of the local colleges and come back another time.

Kristen and I are better. Things have improved since that big explosion and I think that couple’s therapist will be helpful. I’ve been containing my feelings much more, haven’t been lashing out, haven’t been quite so wildly all over the map with my feelings. Or rather, I have still been, but I haven’t been showing it as much. This is not quite the same as bottling them up—it’s more like, I know that bringing things up to Kristen doesn’t result in greater understandings right now. I’m making note of things that are difficult or upsetting, and trying to breathe through it and put it aside at the moment, and work through it later with the couple’s therapist or some other moderator because Kristen and I can’t seem to get out of our patterns well enough to actually discuss things to a healing conclusion lately. It’s not a long term solution, this lack of sharing, but it is a temporary solution, and the most important thing right now is to stop fighting. It does seem to help to just not share my feelings—and to not talk about the other people that she’s dating. There are still some issues here, things I don’t know how to resolve, but our couple’s therapist basically said that right now isn’t the time to resolve them, isn’t the time to go into the deep patterns and try to rewire them, because we’re both feeling so defensive and attacked, both feeling pretty wounded, so we need some time to just be with each other and be kind and take time to do things that feel good before we can get to a place where we have enough energy and patience and flexibility to do more excavating and fixing of the patterns and ruts that we’ve developed.

I still don’t know where that will bring us, ultimately. But I am trying to breathe and focus on the “healing power of pleasure,” which is one of the core Tantra principles. I keep asking myself, and Kristen, whenever we are stressed or overwhelmed with all these emotions: What would feel pleasurable for your body right now? I think that focus has been helping us relax and enjoy each other.

I’m in Houston now, and I’ll be visiting Rice University on Thursday, but aside from that I’m visiting with Rife. We’re outside of the city actually, on his family’s ranch, and at the moment, he and his dog are out doing something with the horses, a little practice training, it looks like. I’m sitting in the very pleasant breeze looking out onto a pasture with beautiful old trees and a wind chime nearby. I have a cup of coffee and my pen and notebook and my computer (and wifi!), and the only things on my agenda today are some hours of work, some reading, some walking around this beautiful land, some play with Rife, some good food, some stargazing later if it’s clear. The more time I spend away from cities, the less I seek to go back to a city. I love the grass under my bare feet, love the sounds of the wind in the trees and the birds and the chimes. I’m soaking up as much of it as I can.

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The Struggle for Growth

The couple’s therapy session last night went pretty well, and I think we’re going to see her again.

The therapist mentioned the stages of a relationship, first by saying, “What stage do you think you are in?” and later by reflecting back to us that she thinks (and I agree) we are in a conflict stage, which is completely normal, after 2+ years, for the development of a long term partnership.

I spent the morning looking up articles on relationship stages. I think most of us can pretty easily identify the Honeymoon phase, or the NRE (new relationship energy) phase, which is pretty commonly discussed in my world anyway. It’s clear Kristen and I are past that … though to be honest, I feel a little sad about that, even just writing down that we’re no longer in it, I don’t want to admit that, to myself or to you, I’d rather be one of those couples that says, “The honeymoon never ended,” and be all blissful and gooey eyed at each other. I think I am grieving for that loss a little. We stayed there for a long time, certainly longer than I’ve ever been in it before, and we even were able to get back into that blissful wrapped-up-in-each-other feeling for a good year and a half into our relationship, maybe even a little longer.

I have read many books on relationships and taken some relationship classes, so it kind of surprised me that I’m not more familiar with these relationship stage theories. Some of the articles I read have four stages, some have five, some have five or six, some have eight, but all of them mention this key stage of growth, which is where I think Kristen and I are, and most of them refer to it as The Power Struggle. One place writes that it is “sometimes also known as the “Growth Struggle” by those who like to think positively,” which I think is more apt, not just because I like to think positively but because growth requires the temporary suspension of security, and that as much as many of us gives lip service to wanting to “grow,” most people don’t seem to be capable of doing so. And “growth” is what the Power Struggle actually means—we are struggling against each other, with power dynamics, monsters, whatever, and if we can work through it, it will be a huge stage of growth for us, into the next stages.

So, before I keep going into my personal reactions to these stages, here’s what I understand from my readings to be the major relationship stages, as compiled from multiple sources.

1. The Honeymoon

New Relationship Energy, Bliss, Enchantment, Falling In Love, Romantic Love—this stage has many names, but all the models I read seems to be clear and in agreement about what it does. It brings two people together, blissfully, and makes everything seem great. Better than great—wonderful.

“When you see things that you don’t like, you might deny or at least minimize them. You tend to go above and beyond what is required or expected. You feel energized, alive, and filled with new dreams.” Dawn Lipthrott writes at The Relationship Learning Center. She also explains that, “Your brain is flooded with feel-good neurochemicals like dopamine and PEA (phenylethylamine). Like most endorphins, PEA increases energy, feelings of well being, positive outlook, and diminishes pain. It increases sexual desire. PEA is what allows you to skip meals and sleep. If you usually tend to be anxious, PEA may help you feel safe and calm. If you are usually depressed, you might have more energy and see things more positively.”

Seems like most of these places say it tends to last 6-8 months, but completely vary depending on the couple and can be longer or shorter.

2. Settling In

Some places have more phases between the Honeymoon and the Power Struggle, like Discovery, and Commitment, or Accommodation , but most of the others go right into the Power Growth Struggle.

But I think there is more to the beginning of a relationship than just the blissful honeymoon, and that most of the time, more things happen before going right into the Growth Struggle.

“The initial excitement of being together is subdued so you can actually discover who the other person really is. You and your partner begin to discover each other’s quirks and neurosis, and you uncover things that bug you about each other. You also begin to discover what you truly love and respect about one another. Your communication should deepen to a soulful level, where you begin to open up to each other,” love coach Rinatta writes.

“Roles are established, expectations are set and compromises are made,” Dr. Marty Tashman writes.

I think Kristen and I spent a bit of time in this, settling in to each other, building, working on foundations, having small fights but recovering, still holding that deep bond between us. In relationships I’ve had in the past, we skipped this stage, and I think it’s important for a strong foundation.

3. The Growth Struggle

“Eventually, for virtually all couples, the enchantment phase ends, the drugs wear off and are no longer secreted, the negative traits emerge with a greater impact, wounds and protections from childhood start being activated and the relationship moves into the “Power Struggle”. Where a partner once wanted to spend lots of time and energy in the relationship … now the partner is quiet, pre-occupied, unavailable. … Where a husband or wife was, in the Romantic Phase, kind and respectful and listening; now in the Power Struggle Phase, he or she becomes impatient, authoritative, unresponsive … somehow familiar from childhood or teen experiences. This can be very distressing and even frightening. At some point there is often the panicky thought, “What have I done? I’ve married my Mom!” from Stages in Love Relationships, Gary Brainerd

“This is the stage at which most couples split up. The power struggle can be a gut-wrenching, painful place for a couple to be. This can be a time of arguments or silence, a time that truly will test the couple’s love. Couples at this stage wonder how they got here since it can come on unexpectedly out of nowhere. This can be a shocking stage for a couple,” love coach Rinatta writes. She continues: “There are two prime stumbling blocks. One is that when couples get to this stage they do not realize it is a normal stage for all relationships, and that they can get through it. Instead, the couple thinks something is wrong – perhaps they are no longer compatible or they no longer love each other. The second stumbling block is that the couple can get stuck in this stage, with one or both partners being unwilling to move forward.”

Men’s relationship advice (I know, cheesy, but I’m only picking what I think is useful and, in my opinion, accurate) says that the Growth Struggle is “a troubled – but necessary (like puberty) – developmental stage.”

Aha—puberty, I like that correlation. Awkward, bumbling, coming of age, growing up, sometimes it feels like the world is ending.

“I like to call this stage, “The Invitation to Growth.” It’s also a struggle for protection. One of the biggest illusions in our culture is that Romantic Love will last forever, if you just find the right partner. We hear that love is supposed to continue happening ‘naturally’ and if you have to ‘work’ on it, it must not be real love,” writes Dawn Lipthrott at The Relationship Learning Center.

I think more commonly in my life there is a sense that “relationships take work,” but also a lot of confusion about how much work is okay, how much is good, and how much is too much. But I like the idea of this being an invitation to grow.

How easy it is to forget that conflict and problems are invitations for growth, change, and evolution in general! This is a basic principle of Buddhism that seems to pop up in my life frequently, but somehow I can’t seem to remember it before I am already dragged down into the mud of, “Oh my god this is never going to change this sucks argh stuck stuck stuck.”

“In this 2nd stage, you might start feeling anxious or disappointed. Things that you once liked about your partner have become sources of frustration and hurt feelings. … Anger and resentment can build. Sometimes it feels as if you are walking on eggshells. Little things seem to so easily turn into big things.” Dawn Lipthrott continues. “For some couples this stage can get to the point of desperation where you’ve tried everything you know and it seems the only option is to get out—temporarily or permanently. … This stage can be the door to deeper connection and intimacy, and a fulfilling relationship, if you learn and use some of the tools to transform it into the path to real love. Conflict is growth trying to happen to help you and your partner realize more of your potential as individuals and as a couple! Conflict can be a door to healing and personal growth. Conflict is NOT the problem. What you do or don’t do with it can be a big problem.”

“There are no simple solutions to a power struggle in a relationship. It’s a complicated phenomenon that is inevitable. But it is resolvable,” Rinatta writes.

“If your relationship is not completely compromised, this is where you need to get help! No, not well-meaning friends or a self-help book – what you need is qualified, impartial third party assistance. Choose [a] relationship counselor in your area,” writes Men’s relationship advice.

“The Power Struggle is growth and healing trying to happen,” writes Gary Brainerd.

I don’t know how people resolve this on their own. Some couples must be capable of it, but I know I can really use some assistance. I’m not sure if any of my relationships have moved out of this phase, to be honest. They always end here, often because, in the past, my conflict resolution skills have been awful, with my tendencies to shut down and run away. I am working hard on that in my individual therapy work, and I’m definitely in a new place.

Because I haven’t really gotten out of this, I’m not sure what the next stages are. But I’ll try to summarize and bring together as much as I can, according to what I’m reading.

It seems like there are two options from the Growth Struggle: unresolved, and resolution. I’m interested in what happens when people stay in an unresolved relationship, it probably would explain a lot of my parent’s marriage, for example, but I’m more interested in a model that I can possibly follow, and a place for which to aim. So you can go read up on the further unresolved stages, though I’m going to focus on what happens when a couple is working toward resolution in this particular relationship stages model.

4. Transformation

Assuming the couple makes it out of the Growth Struggle and stays together, which it seems most couples can’t, the next step is work, work, work. And developing skills. And developing a common language to talk about our individual monsters, our needs, and our relationship’s needs.

“Couples who choose this route will find themselves learning a lot about themselves, about their partner, about relationships,” writes Brainerd. “The emotional patterns of each are clear and they have established patterns of dealing with their differences. It is common for problems to arise in this stage, but because you have already experienced a great many shared challenges, you stand the best chance of working through these issues,” writes Tashman.

“This is the stage in which you not only recognize that your relationship can be more than it is, but also that you have the power to make real changes. You choose to become conscious and intentional, and begin a whole new chapter in co-creating the relationship you both dreamed of,” writes Lipthrott. “In this stage, when you use good communication skills, you can gain new information and insights about yourself, about your partner, and about the nature of marriage or relationship. You discover the hurts, fears and unmet needs that are the roots of conflict and you can find more effective ways to address the REAL problems, not just the symptoms. … you consciously practice the skills you are learning about communication, stretching into new behaviors, creating emotional safety, etc. You become partners in the healing and growth of the relationship, your self and your partner. You hold in your mind and heart the vision of the relationship you want and you work each day to make it a reality. You also find that you are realizing your potential more in other parts of your life.”

“It takes a lot of soul searching, self-discovery, intimacy work and deepened communication to break out of the power struggle and move beyond it. Now both partners must grow emotionally for the relationship to thrive. Those who are committed to their relationship do grow, no matter what may be required of them. Think of this period as your second chance to create the relationship you have always wanted with a partner you have always wanted to be with,” Rinatta writes.

“Beyond the power struggle, in the transformation stage you understand that avoiding conflict is not an option any longer, as it makes you angry and resentful, shuts you down, and breaks the trust. You realize that guilt trips, justifications, blame, criticism, sarcasm, and violent behaviors deeply damage your relationship, brake your partner’s heart and destroy her respect. As hard as it may be, you must stop wasting time on useless distractions (TV, games, shopping, pointless activities) and start spending time with YOURSELF. Walk, run, or sit in quiet meditation; let go of your mind and enter your heart – the answers you are looking for are here. It is time to find yourself again: your needs, your wants, your passions and your dreams. Write them down. Keep refining and upgrading the old ones until you feel ignited again! Little by little, you start seeing your partner with new eyes: she is your best friend and you are both in this together.” writes Men’s relationship advice

Does that ring a bell or what? It seems like I have almost written that paragraph here lately, at least from the part about wasting time and spending time on myself. I have been feeling a strong pull to do that lately, maybe it will help me pre-build this transformation stage. Or maybe we’re already starting to be in it, since we are finally breathing a little more freely around each other, and I know I feel more hopeful that we can get through this than I have before.

5. Gold

That’s how the therapist last night referred to it, anyway: as in, “you hit gold,” or “you’re golden.” I forget what she said exactly, but it’s The Point, I guess. Eventually. I don’t know how long it takes to get there—probably depends on the Growth & Transformation stages, and maybe even once you hit Gold you still go back and grow and transform sometimes again. That would make sense, given that life is ever-changing, ever-evolving, and that there are always crises to deal with.

“It’s not that there will never be hard work or hard times again, but you have reached a new stage in your relationship – a stage where you cherish and treasure each other, appreciate the good, and accept the bad. You have bonded, connected, joined. Now this is what love is all about. … Life happens to a more mature, seasoned, happy and vibrant couple. You move together and separately through your life and know when you need to connect and when you need time apart. You know how to meet each other’s needs and seek increasingly deeper connection. Your relationship is the rock, the wellspring of love in your life.” Rinatta writes.

“This is the stage of deep respect and cherishing of one another as separate and unique individuals without losing the sense of connection. It is a stage of joy, passion, intimacy, happiness and having fun together. It is the stage of living out the vision of true partnership, unconditional love and safety, and of coming to see your partner as your best friend. It is the stage of moving toward the spiritual potential of committed relationship the journey toward wholeness, the love in which you taste Divine Love in whatever way you imagine or language that,” writes Lipthrott.

“The final stage … is what is sometimes called “Realistic Love”. It is a much higher level of marital or relationship satisfaction, but unlike the Romantic Phase, it is based on a mature, realistic love that is grounded in understanding, healing and growth. It is a goal worthy of the best you have to offer,” writes Brainerd.

“The stage of real love, or blissful relationship, is what follows after the winded journey of discovering each other and consistent personal growth for mutual healing in committed relationships. According to researchers, if you reach this ultimate phase of complete acceptance and love you are part of the lucky 5% of the couples who make it. Much like the first infatuation stage, blissful love is full of joy, passion, fun, and deep physical and emotional intimacy. But unlike that phase of “no control and least awareness” you now live out your vision of collaborative partnership, deep respect, and true friendship,” via Men’s relationship advice.

I know I’m giving you a lot of quotes here, but I can’t write from experience about these stages as much. I can probably summarize them (and maybe I will condense this down and into my own words, and pitch it elsewhere, as I keep thinking about it) but I’m still now just trying to understand what the phases are and how we move through them. I have a much better sense of that evolution than I ever did before—not sure how exactly I’ve skipped this theory in all my readings on relationships, or maybe it just never quite resonated because I never got to the Growth Struggle phase and thought that I would actually get through it, and wondered what was next. It was so clear in past relationships that we weren’t going to get through it, so the struggle was simply to get out, rather than to move on.

Here, though, the struggle is to move forward, to open up, to face the growth and transformation, and to keep turning toward this wonderful person who has chosen me, as I’ve chosen her.

On Making Sex Last: Cheerleading & Open Relationships

I’ve asked a couple people recently what their secrets were for their successful long-term relationship, how they keep the passion alive, how they keep walking that delicate line of having enough space and still being connected to each other. Coming together, going apart, coming back together, over and over through the years.

One friend answered, “Do you really want to know? We sleep around. We’re both big sluts. The commitment, to me, means that we are each other’s biggest cheerleaders. We don’t believe in possessing each other. I am always on the sidelines yelling, ‘Go you!’”

I find possession kind of hot, personally. In a playful way. But I love this cheerleader idea, the ways that a relationship can be built to support each other through our individual personal trials. And as long as the possession stuff can be fun and consensual, and not interfering with each other’s sovereignty, I think the two—cheerleading and possession—aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. It reminds me of the quote in that relationship article I ran across long ago:

“Create for yourself a new indomitable perception of faithfulness. What is usually called faithfulness passes so quickly. Let this be your faithfulness: You will experience moments, fleeting moments, with the other person. The human being will appear to you then as if filled, irradiated with the archetype of his/her spirit. And then there may be, indeed will be, other moments, long periods of time when human beings are darkened. At such times, you will learn to say to yourself. ‘The spirit makes me strong. I remember the archetype, I saw it once. No illusion, no deception shall rob me of it.’ Always struggle for the image that you saw. This struggle is faithfulness. Striving thus for faithfulness you shall be close to one another as if endowed with the protective powers of angels.” -Rudolf Steiner

I think that perspective of cheerleading can also be seen as rooting for the other’s highest self, for what they’re capable of, at their best. So that part, yeah, I totally support.

The other part, though …

I have read all good the books about polyamory, I’ve been a proponent of The Ethical Slut and Opening Up by Taormino, I’m a big fan of Dan Savage who is constantly talking about how frequently monogamy fails, and I remain firm in the opinion that my significant, intimate partnering relationship should be open, but the degree of that openness, I’m still not really sure. In part, that’s where the other person comes in, but another part of me thinks that I am actually interested in a semi-monogamous relationship. Monogam-ish, as someone put it to me once.

I do believe in open relationships because, frankly, I’m a little bit of a slut. I have enough experience sexually to know that sex doesn’t actually have to mean anything, that it doesn’t have to necessitate a precursor to a relationship, that if I want to have sex with someone more than once, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I want to love them forever and shack up with them and share our lives intimately. And I don’t think that we, realistically, just stop feeling attracted to anyone else, ever, just because we’ve made a life-long commitment to another person. And that physical desire for someone else—or even intellectual or emotional desire—is not necessarily an indication of some deep-seated problem in the relationship.

I know it’s possible to be attracted to or interested in more than one person at the same time, and that one does not necessarily take away from the other. Most importantly, though, I recognize that just if or when I or my partner feels an attraction, I want us to be able to talk about that, to puzzle through it, to figure out if it’s important to go sleep with that person or if flirty coffee dates or making out is enough, or if it’s a temporary infatuation, or if it should become a bigger friendship.

Why do people cheat when they’re in a relationship? They cheat because they, ultimately, are feeling unfulfilled, sexually, emotionally, or otherwise. Because their relationship was sexually (or otherwise) incompatible from the beginning, but they made the decision to commit anyway, or because their relationship used to be sexually fulfilling, but isn’t anymore, because something changed (be it someone’s body, ability, health, sex drive, etc). This often leaves one person extremely unhappy and unfulfilled, while the other is guilty, apologetic, or withholding (or all of the above). But under the strict rules of monogamy, one can’t possibly go seek sex or comfort outside of the committed relationship without doing this awful, home-wrecking thing: cheating. Which is, according to most people, unforgivable.

But what about being so withholding as to not allow your partner their sexual fulfillment? How is that not the thing of which we are unforgiving?

And under the strict rules of relationships in this day and age, it isn’t just the monogamy that’s a problem: it’s the culture that de-emphasizes sex as not important, while simultaneously using it as the be-all end-all status symbol. Think about it: how many times have you heard someone complain that “the rest of the relationship is just fine!” And there’s “only” a problem with the sex part.

As if that was just this little, teeny piece.

Well, if you’re talking about a monogamous relationship, sex is pretty much the definition of what you are going to be doing with this person that you are going to avoid doing with every other person on the planet. And if you accept the premise that you are a sexual being and deserve to have your sexual needs fulfilled (though, I know, that’s a stretch for most folks), then by definition the key component of this monogamous relationship is to be sexually compatible.

But most of this stuff, for me personally, is theoretical-in-the-future. Because right now, my girlfriend and I are sexually compatible, are highly communicative about our needs (and continuing to practice and hone our communications skills), and very committed to both our sex life together and to our individual erotic fulfillment.

So we’re open.

But not because we want to sleep with other people. Well, threesomes, sure—we are both slutty enough and interested enough in interesting new sexcapades that doing sexual things together with other people is totally an option. And, sometimes, we have cashed in on that option, making dates with hot queers who, to our thrills, have agreed to come home with us.  We might be willing to play with other people at a party, and I have dreams of orchestrating a butch gang bang for her, where I just get to sit back and watch. Or maybe be the first and the last in a string of butches who get to take advantage of her.

But what about sex outside of this relationship, sex with another person on our own, without the other person there?

We’ve been talking about this, lately. From the beginning, we’ve claimed that we were open, and for a while that meant we could do whatever we wanted when we weren’t with each other, and we didn’t need to know about it. Then, as things got more serious between us, we decided we wanted to know, which (chicken or egg?) meant that neither of us were sleeping with anybody else.

But what does it mean now, a year and a half into our relationship? I guess we’re still working that out. By “regular” standards, we are open because most folks would consider things like threesomes or making out with another person potentially crossing the lines of monogamy. Oh yeah, and we have both attended erotic energy retreats, which others could (and have, for me) consider “cheating,” but which we are both fine with. And we are open because we are acknowledge that sexual desire for someone else can happen, and we should be able to talk about that, that desire for someone else doesn’t have to have repercussions within our own relationship,  and that sex can be fun and playful and, ultimately, meaningless.

As our lives become more entwined, though, and as we continue to be cheerleaders for more and more things in each other’s paths and trials and triumphs, from our sexual fulfillment to our careers to our emotional hurdles, we are less interested in other people. And playing with other people sexually, alone, without each other, just … doesn’t sound like much fun. We’ve both articulated that, recently. My sex life, at this point, has to do with her, and hers with me, and for a while anyway I want to be sure that she is a part of it.

For me personally, when I sleep with someone, I want to learn something. About myself, about the other person, about sex, about erotic energy exchange. For a long time, I was sleeping with people while looking for a person against which to form myself, I was looking for the particular magical orientation combination of femme-bottom-submissive to match up with my butch-top-dominant, while being in a person with whom I was also emotionally and politically compatible. Someone who would challenge me, someone who brought a lot to their side of the table, someone who took responsibility for their own shit. Someone that I could work on my own shit with, someone I could grow with, someone who will listen if I say, “I’m unhappy, and here’s why, and here’s what I think we should do about it.” Someone fierce, strong, capable.

If it sounds like a tall order, well … it is.

So for a while, I was just trying to find her. Searching and playing and refining what it was that I wanted by learning about what I didn’t want. And now that I’ve found someone like that, all I really want to do is play with her, in that delicious dynamic that I’ve been craving all this time. In our year and a half together we have already come to some fascinating new places in our sex life, and every time I find myself even remotely thinking that I’m bored or unfulfilled, I just quickly ask myself: well, what do you want? I bet whatever you ask for, she would be interested in doing it. And I quickly realize whatever momentary restlessness I felt was not about actually unfulfillment, but usually something else entirely. Usually something old of mine, rearing its ugly head.

And now that I have all of that, now that I have this relationship that continues to blossom and show me new things about myself, her, and the world, why would I go back to one night stands? I look back on my one-night stands, and even two- or three-night stands, and though they were fun, often a delight, they were also occasionally a disappointment. What would I learn, now, by sleeping with someone outside of my relationship?

I suppose it’s true that I am no longer looking for the be-all end-all package of my compatible girlfriend, so perhaps my standards for playful, casual are different, or should be. I think this is the question I should be asking myself: now that I have what I’ve wanted, and it basically works for me, what’s next? How do I continue to deepen my sense of self, my connection to erotic energy, and my connection to my girlfriend? What else can I—or do I want to—learn about sex?

Well, that’s a million dollar question. I will keep investigating.

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The Ongoing Quest to be Sexually Fulfilled

That’s where that whole online writing project (aka blog) of mine started, really: in an attempt to write myself into a better sex life, and into personal relationships about my own sexuality, gender identity and expression, and sustaining relationships. For the first three years, I was attempting to write myself into a long term, stable, sane relationship, in part because I wanted to have a better sex life and in part for all the rest of the good stuff that comes with intimacy, cohabitation, and love.

And now, I’ve found the girl I’ve been with for a year and a half, Kristen. And the longer we’re together, the longer it seems we’ll last.

So, now what? Is my quest for a fulfilled sex life over?

To some degree, yes—many of the problems and questions that plagued me as a single butch top, such as, “When am I going to get laid next?” and “Who’s it going to be with?” and “How do I know if she’ll be into what I’m into?” are no longer a factor. I love that I am with someone as open and eager to explore sex as I am, if not more so. I love that our sex drives are pretty well matched. I love that I am with someone whom I can try out new toys with (it was much harder to be a toy reviewer when I was solo, that’s for sure).

But that is not necessarily a recipe for perfect sexual compatibility, or ongoing sexual fulfillment. Note the key word there: ongoing. A sex life is just that—a LIFE—which means it happens every day. And like any other aspect of life, it is interwoven tightly with all sorts of other aspects, and can be different, feel different, or present unique new obstacles at any time.

How does one navigate fulfillment with all sorts of other things—bills, work, health, family, projects, friends—are also vying for attention? How do you keep the spark going?

Perhaps this relates to my theories around general relationship intelligence and the lack of depiction of many stable, sane, healthy relationships in the various storytelling arts. Most romantic comedies or dramas, for example, focus on the part of a relationship story where the couple is overcoming obstacles in order to begin their life together. At the beginning of the film, the couple is not together; the dramatic action focuses around their miscommunications, struggles, possibly sex, expectations, who called (or didn’t call) who, and who can get over their issues in order to fully embark on a committed monogamous relationship; then the end of the movie shows the couple, triumphant, and we are happy, having been rooting for them all along.

But we see very little of what happens next in the relationship. How the couple communicates, negotiates, reaches consensus, struggles, forgives, fights, and maintains a balance between their individual separate selves and their collective togetherness. So rare is a film where the couple is together at the beginning and the end, where the dramatic action centers around the relationship trials or the couple coming together to solve outside problems.

Without such good models of problem solving in long term relationships, and with such high divorce rates, meaning that for folks my age it is rather rare for our parents to still be together, or even to have an older couple in our lives as mentors, how can we be expected to have the relationship skills to sustain our own long term relationships?

And isn’t it similar with sex: when we are single, we expect getting into a relationship will fulfill our sexual needs. The smarter folks among us know that getting into a relationship isn’t quite enough, but that we need to get into a relationship with a person with whom we are sexually compatible. A subtle but key difference!

Yet still—life happens. Even if you find that special someone, there is still ongoing navigation to keeping it up and getting off. And sharing a life with someone means distractions, miscommunications, unforeseen occasional tragedies, and our ever-changing bodies and lives.

This is what I have been puzzling through in my own relationship, as we are increasingly sharing space and continually sharing our lives.

My relationship with Kristen started as almost purely sexual. She lived a few hours away from me, and worked in another state, and would come visit on weekends. She’d lived in New York City before and planned to move back, which is how we met in the first place. We spent whole weekends in bed, rarely leaving my apartment, rarely leaving my room except to eat and shower and rest our bodies. After she left, I would spend the whole week playing over and over the last weekend, often writing about what we’d done, how we’d played, and planning some new ways to play when she came back.

I would pounce on her as soon as she walked in the door. Already hard packing and waiting anxiously to feel her again. Not even letting her put her things away before shoving her up against something, so eager and grateful to have someone who let me play with dominance, someone who was open to play.

It was erotic, connected, passionate, heated sex, full of longing and relief and release. Plus, we continued falling in love, discovering all the ways we enjoyed each other’s company outside of the bedroom.

It’s easy to look back and see the bliss, but equally present was the ache of longing, the fear of the fragility of a new relationship, those days when we would have given anything to come home to each other, all the fetishizing and idealizing of a shared domesticity. I brush over those feelings now because that wish was granted, I no longer have to long to share other parts of my life with her, as our lives are increasingly entwined.

Now we have the new obstacles of sustainment: Am I getting what I want in bed, in this relationship? Are we having sex often enough for me? Are we having the kind of sex I want, or am I longing for something else, something new? How do I ask for more, or different, sex? How do we keep the spark of eroticism, passion, longing, and eagerness when we are available to each other, in so many ways, constantly? How do we keep it fresh and new when we’re willing to do, and have done, so much experimenting already?

Maybe this sounds like a trite problem, especially to those who don’t have partners, don’t get laid, or don’t prioritize sex as a serious hobby the way Kristen and I do, but I suspect many people in reasonably satisfied relationships ask these questions at some point or another.

I’m sure all of our relationships have a unique set of circumstances behind these questions. For me, it seems to be that my girlfriend would like to have sex more often than we do, and in part because of our dynamic and the sexual roles we like to play with of Daddy/girl and domination/submission, she has a hard time asking for more. She feels greedy and unwarranted. I know I also have a hard time allowing myself to be seduced, so even when she does feel bold enough to make her desires clear, I don’t always respond with what she wants. I adore our dynamics and they are a key important part of this relationship, roles I have been eager to explore for years and I am grateful to do so. But precisely those dynamics erase my own desire for the chase, since she is constantly available to me, sometimes my desire runs a little low. I crave some denial, something to conquer, something to come up against in order to create friction.

We have discussed this; and of course I don’t want her denying me just for the sake of denying me, of turning me down when what she’s really interested in is playing, but we are still working out the details of dynamics we have chosen.

I’m pretty confident that we’ll figure this out, but I’m not exactly sure how. For now, we’re talking about it (though hopefully not too much), being open with each other, being honest about where we’re both at and what we want, and of course, working on our own shit in therapy. Every relationship is complicated. Every relationship has triumphs, low points, complications. I don’t know how things will get resolved, but things are improving, we are talking well to each other, still having great sex, and enjoying each other.

Really, does it get any better than that?

This post first appeared on the Good Vibrations Magazine.

Fucking & Making Love

She looked so damn hot yesterday.

I don’t know what it was exactly. She was in an outfit I’ve seen, tight slim jeans, her girly black tank top with the silver star pattern, little yellow sweater with the clear buttons. Maybe it was her hair, she’s been letting it grow and it’s getting longer, almost to her chin, it’s thin so it’s starting to flip up at the ends. So. Fucking. Cute. Maybe it was the earrings, simple large silver hoops, the ones she’s worried are a cliche but I keep trying to assure her they’re classic, sexy.

Off hand, she said yesterday that I am obsessed with my hair. I said ‘obsessed’ was a bit strong, but I see her point. Maybe it’s not just my hair, either, but hair in general. Still, I don’t want to pressure her into doing things like growing her hair long because that’s what I like – I hope it’s okay for me to state my personal preference while at the same time accepting however she prefers to present. Because while it’s true, I do prefer long hair, even more than that I prefer her to make decisions based on her own wants and needs and personal expression, not on what I desire.

Still. Her hair was so much shorter when we met, nearly as short as mine is now; I’ve been growing mine too, going for that early Elvis look. I’d dye it blue-black like his but I really like the few strands of gray that are coming in at my temples.

I guess I really am obsessed with hair.

Point is: she looked so, so good. Fun, flirty. Femme.

We chatted on the couch after I got to her house. How are you, how’s your day, how’s your sister. Maybe it was that I hadn’t seen her in more than a day after spending many days in a row with her. I felt my appetite for her growing, bubbling up. At one point she tipped her head just slightly sideways, her hair doing this little flip on both sides, the lines of her silhouette so perfect, those big hoop earrings brushing her neck, and she gave me a little smile, eyes twinkling. If I’d been on a TV show, it would’ve cut to a shot of me, my spine becoming jelly, my hands to my face, crying OH GOD as I slide off the couch before springing up and throwing myself on her, wrapping around her and kissing her hard, my mouth wherever she’d let me put it, then the camera would snap back to the shot of us on the couch as we were before and nothing would’ve actually happened, just me, sitting there blinking, in awe, probably totally transparent and readable and ooey gooey in love. Am I so obvious? Moments like that I feel oafish, bull in a china shop, too big and awkward next to such grace and elegance, like I am certain how much she knows she’s got me wrapped around her little finger.

Oh and here I am being all dramatic and admirational again. Are you bored of this femme-worship yet? Three and a half years of Sugarbutch and I only love femmes more, I am only more certain of my orientation to them in such a specific way. Only three and a half years of Sugarbutch, but I met my first femme nine years ago, and I knew then … what? Something. The way she shocked me to life, lit up the night like a shower of sparks from fireworks.

And I’ve never had it this good. I tell myself that every day: every day of this relationship I am grateful, so appreciative of every minute we have together. I’ve not known a bliss like this and I’ve never known it to last this long.

When Jesse was here, she had a brief little snag with Violet, some conversation where it wasn’t quite perfect, but she didn’t let it phase her or lose her unwavering faith in their relationship. “We’ve always been able to talk it through, whatever it is,” she said. And so far, Kristen and I have that too – not big explosive fights and feelings getting deeply hurt, but conversations of honesty and self-awareness and accountability and care. There are some things looming, a little, I’ve felt their weight lately, our differences and complications and inadequacies and places where we need more support, but we have always been able to talk things through, even if the journey is more illuminating than the destination, even if the only conclusion is, “well, now we know, that’s how we work, that’s my particular quirks and assumptions coming up against yours in our unique relationship way. We’ll just have to watch how this plays out.” We still come back together, appreciate each other, speak the deep truths. I feel like I am heard, always. And oh how important that is, what a relief to have it in my relationship, with her.

Dacia has a piece she’s read in public a few times lately which has the lines, “I write about the relationship I wish I was having,” and “I buy my own bullshit.” I’ve done that, here, in the past. I’ve written myself into love, used this site to woo and court. I haven’t wanted to do that with Kristen. It’s too precious, too real; I’ve learned from my mistakes, or rather, I am learning, I am trying to learn. That is a major reason why I haven’t written about her like I have others.

Plus, I’m all the more protective of my heart these days. How many heartbreaks is one heart made to withstand, anyway? I love writing about my relationships, but it can also be a crutch – I become obsessed with micro-articulating my feelings and emotional landscapes in writing, sometimes to my own detriment, overdramatizing and letting the articulation of the emotion be more important than the experience, the story, the audience, the effects.

I don’t want to do that anymore.

So I am protective of this relationship, as it has swelled and sometimes burst, its ups and downs. I haven’t chronicled it all here, preferring instead to articulate it to her as best I can. And there are things, snags, places between us which are murky and lurking a little for me right now, things that have come up and we’ve said “we should talk about that more later,” but now it’s later and I don’t even remember what they were, so that makes me all the more nervous. The unknown rather than the known. I should’ve kept a list, I keep thinking. But I’ve got to calm my nerves about this, not let it affect the really good highs inside of which we still so easily slip. So far, we’ve been able to talk through everything, and for now I’ll rest comfortable on presuming we’ll be able to do that in the future, too.

Yes, I was high when I reached out for her upper arm and pulled her onto my lap, and she’d just told me about how she’d done her homework this morning by playing with her ass while getting off, but that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t also in love, wanting to make love, wanting to be inside of her, drinking her in as I sucked her nipples into my mouth and left bite marks on her neck and shoulders. She cried out and I thought, someone should be videotaping this she is so goddamn hot.

In the bedroom we slipped off her clothes. “Take off your shirt.” I slid her tight jeans down her legs. She was in this matching bra and panties I hadn’t seen her wear before – she does wear the bra, a little white one with pink polka dots and pink satin bows, very femme, but the matching panties have layers of ruffles. I’ve never seen her in them.

I didn’t take them off.

“I want to see your ass. Turn over.” She does, gets on all fours. “Show it to me. Get down on your elbows.” She parts her knees a little and arches her back, I run my hand over her curves and feel the outline of her cunt and ass under the thin fabric. I let my fingers trail over her softly, slowly. My mind raced. There’s so much I wanted to do to her, with her. All that ass talk earlier made me want my fingers in her there, to get out the little plug I’d brought to leave at her place (her further homework), wanted to plow her ass hard and make her scream. I won’t do that, yet, of course, it’ll take some time to work up to it. I wanted her to stay on her knees, ass in the air, while I gripped her hips and fucked her slow and hard. I wanted her on her knees, mouth full of spit eyes looking up at me as she sucked me down.

But most of all I wanted to be close, pressed against her, kissing her, wrapped around each other. So I strapped on, peeled off her pretty bra and panties, told her to turn over, slid inside, and got lost in her, got lost in the way we wind around and hold each other. We barely spoke, just felt each other, just took it all in with our bodies.

There were a few times I slowed down, savored her, looked at her, but the vibration was so strong between us, I couldn’t didn’t want to stop. Sometimes I wondered if I should, if her hips were okay, if she needed more of a break, but I kept getting so close and ultimately was able to come inside of her for the first time in a long time, I was glad I didn’t stop. (I don’t know why I haven’t been coming lately. I broke out the Spartacus harness I’d retired hoping that would help. It did, apparently.)

Later, she said, “I thought you were going to stop … but you didn’t. That was good.”

Yeah, that was good. And I’m glad she said that. Always affirming to know I wasn’t pushing her. I want to push her, I want to have that kind of power and trust and knowledge and skill, but that has to be earned, that has to be worthy. I want to do so much more with her, to her, want to take her to all sorts of dirty places and cradle her and worship her and honor her and fuck her and smack her around and force her and hold her and let go with her and trust her.

There’s time. It’s been almost a year, but I know enough to know that we’re in this. And that we’ll keep building, and exploring, as this keeps getting deeper and stronger.

Fucking in Public in Liberator Lingerie

Kristen and I dispute how many times we’ve been to the particular play party that we attended on Halloween. I thought we’d been before at least once, but she thinks it was only one other party in the same space. Perhaps because we also attended a completely different party around the same time (where the rocking chair blow job happened) I am blurring the parties together.

Regardless, we hadn’t fucked in “public” in a long time, and Kristen had the perfect costume for the Halloween play party: this “Secretary” outfit from Liberator.

secretary

Okay, you got me: it’s more lingerie than costume. Really it’s just the cuffs and collar that cross it over that line. Not really sure why it’s a secretary outfit, either; I guess because it has pinstripes on it, it is business-y? Whatever. The lingerie is hot. It arrived in a lovely fancy black box in pink tissue paper, and since Kristen tried it on earlier in the week I’d been looking forward to fucking her in it.

This is only the second Liberator item I’ve been sent to review – the first being the Throe, the moisture-proof blanket Kristen and I use pretty much every time we have sex. Well, every time at my house, anyway; we should get a second for her place, too. I’ve been looking forward to more from their product line, particularly some silk pillowcases to see if something higher quality will do less damage to Kristen’s hair, which is inevitably a tangled mess after thrashing against the sheets for a while. (Those of you with fine, baby-thin hair out there may know this problem. So far there’s no cure except conditioner and a shower. Suggestions?)

Instead of the pillow cases, though, they sent us Kristen’s pick for lingerie, just in time for the Halloween party.

It’s kind of hard to order clothes online, especially lingerie, where it should be very form-fitting and specific to a body’s shape. Liberator lingerie comes in x-small, small, medium, large, x-large, and 2x, and the customer service folks told Kristen that it runs small, so she ordered what she thought would be the closest to her size. She seems pretty happy with the fit, but it was a bit of a gamble; we may try a slightly smaller size next time, but it’s hard to say, that one might be too small. Returns to Liberator have to be pre-approved, probably because they do sell all sorts of products for sexiness and they aren’t about to accept used sheets or used sex furniture, but if it’s because the lingerie was the wrong size I bet they would understand. Be sure to ask, though, if you’re not sure.

We dressed at my place; she slipped into it as I got my harness ready under my black slacks, tee shirt, and button-down. When I announced I was ready, she said she was too, and I thought, really? You’re going to wear that out, without anything on top of it? She zipped her jacket up over it, her very short jacket, coming only to her high waist. The garter is almost a mini-mini-skirt, if you stretch your mind a bit, and we were driving, walking only the few blocks from her apartment to the play party. Plus, it IS Halloween, which is practically Scantily Clad Day, and I’d be with her – it’d be okay. (It did make me feel a bit protective, but also hot, that she was willing to venture out into public wearing so little. And knowing I’d probably fuck her later in the same lovely outfit made it all the better.)

We arrived at the play party a bit late; it was packed and going strong. Someone recognized me upon my entrance (who were you? I could barely hear or see, I apologize) and Kristen and I made the rounds, watching the various scenes in progress already: someone holding onto the bars of the “jail cell,” two pairs of dykes giving/receiving blow jobs, someone on a leash being led around by someone very mistressy, a girl with lovely curves face down being smacked by her top in a cowboy hat. Every once in a while the music would quiet just a little and I’d hear someone screaming or yelling or moaning and go investigate – I do love that it is a safe space to come and be naked, be vulnerable, be exposed, and be hot and sexy.

We didn’t stay long, but we wanted to play at least a little. I like to show her off. I like for others to watch her and see how ridiculously sexy she is when she comes or how good she is at her particular talents, like sucking me off.

I’m not sure how it started; with a kiss, I think (isn’t that always how it starts?). I love the way she kisses, from subtle, supple energy to hard, insistent, demanding. I love how she meets me, pushes me for more, mouth and lips and tongue so sweet and open, lovely, tender. I can’t even explain it without resorting to cliche flower metaphors.

Somewhere in the winding labyrinth of little black nooks and crannies I leaned against the wall, feet apart shoulder blades pressing back, cock already tucked into my slacks when I was in the other room, not a packing cock but a fucking cock so it is straining at my zipper and pulling at my belt already. She presses against me and can feel it, rubs up against it, which makes me groan. She winds her fingers through my hair. Puts her mouth to my neck. I feel myself coming undone, coming thickly into my body and connecting to her, those invisible strings that pull us to each other becoming taut.

She wants to be somewhere more public. I want to be somewhere quieter, we were right under the speaker and I can’t hear her noises, can’t hear her breathing. I lead her into the back room, full of signs that read “BDSM and sex only – no chatting please,” where Crash Pad is playing in the background, and I find a chair. We keep kissing before I sit back into it, just enjoying reconnecting and building the sensuality between us.

To be honest, we hadn’t fucked in a while. A few days, probably. Maybe there was some morning making out in there, some quickies, but no half-day laze in bed like we are used to. We kept disconnecting, we’d traveled and had visitors and then were decompressing from a week of socializing, we weren’t arguing but I was particularly exhausted and not communicating that well or being very attentive. It was a relief to let the world fall away outside and just be with her, just feel her back and shoulders and waist, her ass all round and squeezable in that gorgeous high-waist garter.

We kissed for a long time. Standing, arms wrapped around each other, melting a bit, finding the edges of each other again. Finally I pulled back to say, “there’s a chair behind me. I’m going to get my cock out, you’re going to get on your knees. Got it?”

She nods. I kiss her again, so sweet, savoring her lips, and drop back to the chair behind me as she drops to the floor. It is doubtlessly good whenever she ventures to put her mouth on me, but this time was exquisite, the kissing still reverberating on my mouth, still feeling her tongue and pillowy lips, how is it that after nearly a year it just keeps getting better? (I ask myself this regularly.) She kisses the head of my cock, softly. I feel it jolt through my body. Her tongue running along the corona. I shiver, swelling. She pulls it into her mouth deeper with suction and my eyes roll back in my head, I nearly fall out of my chair.

I love to watch her this way. I let her go on, watching the room watching us a little bit, dykes over by the doorway biting their lips and sucking on their fingers absently, eyes fixed. Enjoying them enjoying the view of her ass, her back curved, leaning forward.

The couple in the far corner leaves and the swing is unused. I pull her mouth off my cock with my hand on her chin and kiss her. Her mouth is wet.

“Let’s go back into the corner.”

I tug on my slacks so they don’t fall down around my ankles, lead the way. I undo my button down and slip it off, set it on the bench next to the wall, by the swing and the table that is suspended by chains from the ceiling. She stands next to me as I drop down to my knees and unhook her garter belt to slide her black panties down her legs, then hook up the belt again.

“The swing?” I ask her. “Or the table?” Both are free. She looks over to the table coyly and we take a few steps over to it, maneuver her up onto it. Kind of hard to do without proper leverage. There was a couple fucking right here as we watched earlier and it’s kind of a thrill to do something similar to what they did. She lays back, grabs the chains for leverage, wraps her legs around my waist as I lube up my cock and slide it in. I work it in and out a little, softly, she’s quiet and not nearly responsive enough. I can’t reach her to kiss her from this ninety-degree angle at which we’re fucking.

I can’t hear her, either. The music is too loud, plus there’s porn playing on the TV behind us, and other people fucking nearby, so any joyful noise, so to speak, could be coming from anywhere. I can’t hear her. I can barely see her, it’s so dark in here, a windowless basement with only bare colored dim light bulbs from the ceiling and the light from the TV. It’s not enough for me to tell what’s going on with her, but I can feel it, something’s not quite right.

“You okay?” “Yeah.” She wants it to be okay. (So do I.) But we can both feel something is off.

We mess around for a little while, I hold her, hold her down, push her ankles onto my shoulders so her legs are up, touch her clit, she gets off once or twice. But her heart’s not in it, and she forces it a little, makes it happen faster than necessary. I suspect she wants to go.

I lean down to wrap around her for a moment and she responds immediately, softens and pulls up into me. “Let’s get out of here,” I say. She nods into my neck. We get up, clean up the area, put our clothes back on, I tuck my shirt in.

It was fun, thrilling to debut her lingerie in public, fun to show her off a little, thrilling to watch her go down on me in front of a room full of people. But it isn’t quite enough. We haven’t had enough connection lately. I need some cuddling and intimacy and kisses all night long, wrapping around each other and sleeping late, making breakfast and laughing and leisurely lazing around on the couch watching reruns of 30 Rock, holding hands. I need some quiet to ourselves, with the world on the outside shut off and put away. I need to catch up on the last week, decompress together, let her know what I thought of the parties and people and fun times and her cooking and all the events we’re sharing. I need things to just slow down so I could catch my breath.

I pack up my cocks, we get our jackets, venture back out into the cold, and walk the few blocks back to her place, where we whisper sweet nothings quietly before falling asleep together.