Last week's "How's That Work" looked at how to talk to a partner about a new/unusual fetish or sexual desire. This week's post addresses specific strategies for exploring those interests with a partner(s).
Perhaps the number one thing I get asked when I teach my workshops on playing with unusual fetishes is "How do I find someone who shares my interest?" This is a separate topic from introducing a new sexual desire or fetish into an existing relationship, but it's worth taking a moment to address.
The first and most obvious place to look for people who share a particular sexual desire, especially if it's a fetish or kink desire, is on the internet. For kink interests, I generally suggest Fetlife.com, which rather than a dating site is a million person strong social networking site built around discussion groups on a vast array of topics. There can be definite value in connecting with people who share your particular erotic interests, even if you aren't local and/or sexually compatible.
Of course, dating and hookup sites/apps like OKCupid, Manhunt, Adam4Adam, Recon, Grindr, and Scruff are also valid options, particularly if you put the desire you're looking to explore up front.
So then, what are some good guidelines for exploring, particularly with a partner who might not be as on board with a particular sexual desire or fetish?
Don't underestimate the value of fantasies - especially sharing fantasies with a partner. The line between fantasies and making plans can be quite blurry. Verbally exploring a sexual interest can be its own form of hot play, and seeing what elements do and don't click for everyone involved can help shape more active play later.
As a side note, personally I'm a big believer that sometimes a partner should be willing to indulge their partner's particular erotic interests now and again. This only works if it's a reciprocal arrangement in some fashion. This doesn't require both partners to have kink interests either, it is just about making sure that both parties have their desires fulfilled.
When you do decide to actively play with a new form of fetish or sexual desire, start out small. This is especially important if one or both partners is skittish about the kind of play you're looking to explore. It's useful to keep the scope of the play a bit contained from the eventual form you envision. A time limit can be an important element as well, it's easy to get "lost" in a new play modality, and that can end up being overwhelming.
As you start exploring new interests, it's vitally important not to let them consume the whole of your erotic life, especially if one partner is more invested in the particular form of play than the other. This can be a challenge, and having a strategy ahead of time for avoiding this particular pitfall is always a good idea.
Don't be afraid to call it quits during a new form of play if it's not working for everyone either. Sometimes a scene just goes off, and it's better to end it and live to play another day, than "push through" and find one or both partners unwilling to try again in the future.
Especially if you are going to be playing with scarier or more disturbing forms of play, it can be useful to have a pre-agreed way to re-establish "normal" relationship dynamics. My ex-husband and I had a ritualized verbal exchange that signaled to us both that whatever wacky dynamics and play we'd be up to, it was over and we were back to being equal partners who loved each other. It was a useful way to keep the darker elements of our sexual life from bleeding into our "real" relationship.
In next week's conclusion, we'll look at specific strategies for when a sexual, romantic or fetish desire lies far outside the mainstream.