Not an Odalisque

Adventures With Monogamous Vanillas (And Why Kinky Poly Is Better)

with 19 comments

My New Year’s resolution, not this year, but the year before, was to give up bad sex. I broke it with a spectacularly awful shag before January was even out. It was gross, but hard to regret, as there’s nothing like reminding yourself what bad sex is like to put you off signing up for it. It was nearly a year before I found myself wanting—really wanting rather than idly fantasising—to sleep with someone else again.

I have taken a lover.* This is the point where I’m meant to tell you he’s tall and domly and swept me off my feet, isn’t it? Sorry to disappoint. We met when I was being shy at a fetish club, where his conversation saved me from having to face crowds of strangers. When he said I ought to mingle I sulked and pouted. I suspect the sulking is where it all began. We stayed in touch, talked about play. Months later he failed, for the hundredth time, to deliver a promised spanking, so I had a tantrum. Is this the stuff romance is made of?

I told my friends about him. “What’s he like?” They asked.

“He has long hair. And he’s married; his wife has a girlfriend.”

“It sounds like a powder keg about to go off.” I was told. I don’t know what’s so dangerous about a ponytail.

Getting into bed with a married man is a bit of a minefield. When is the right point to say, “Would your wife be ok with this?” after the first kiss but before the knickers come off? Do you take his word for it, or call her to check? When you send her husband home late, should you pin an apologetic note onto his coat? Is, “might your wife me expecting sex soon? I wouldn’t want to wear you out,” too personal a question?

I suspect that things are easier if you’re in a Meaningful Relationship. Then you can identify as poly, buy books about doing screwing around ethically and drink coffee, once a month, with the kinksters and hippies who form reassuring and supportive groups. My lover is poly, so’s his wife and so’s her girlfriend. Me, I’m just having sex. And enjoying my lover’s wife’s baking.

If you’re in a Meaningful Relationship, you can demand acceptance from your partner’s (or partners’) partner(s). Since we’re not serious, I hang on the edge; the lover considers me pleasantly shaped and agreeably kinky, that doesn’t imply that his wife has any desire to spend time with me at all, and her girlfriend probably has even less. Alternatively, I can sit alone with the lover wondering whether the others are resentful at my luring him away.

The complications of romance in the poly, kinky world are nothing, though, to the complications of the vanilla, monogamous one. After my adventures in normality the last few weeks, I don’t know how the majority of the population do it.

A few weeks ago, as I waited for my turn at a dance class, a woman approached me and asked, “Are you single? One of my friends might be interested.”

What could I say? The full answer was, “yes, I am single. Happily single, not looking, and in the interests of full disclosure I should tell you that I have a lover. And a play partner. Oh, yes, and I’m only interested in kinksters, really. Who’s this friend?” That seemed rather too revealing an answer, with eleven women other women listening in. So I went with, “it’s complicated.”

I should have asked who the friend was, but instead I spent the next few weeks trying to puzzle it out. I narrowed the contenders down to two. At first I thought it was the one who’d paid me more attention that night. Then his interest seemed to wane, and his friend paid me more attention. Every time I thought I had a clue—that one had called me “gorgeous”, say, or monopolised my time for an evening—the other would soon do the same thing, and I’d be back to square one. I’d thought the woman who asked me if I was single was involved with one of them. It didn’t look like it some nights, though, and in any case, who am I to make assumptions about the rules of other people’s relationships?

Finally, one of them made his move. He chose a bad night to do it. I’d met the lover at lunchtime, emerged from bed bruised and sore in the early evening, and rushed to dancing. After half an hour, during which I ignored increasingly explicit signals, he declared his attraction and demanded an answer. I refused to give one. He pestered, and pestered, until eventually I snapped and said, “I spent about four hours** today having sex, I just can’t think about it any more!” The look on his face was something to see.

The next week I intended to set things straight and tell him that the answer was no thank you, for now. He was playing it cool, though, and the narrative tension was lost in the face of his indifference. I tried to regain it with reference to previous plot points, “So I assume it was you who sent that lass over to say you fancied me?” I said.

“What lass?” he asked, face full of consternation. I let it drop. By the next week, though, I was determined to give him my answer. I would have to subtly indicate that I wasn’t the nice girl he thought I was. I had my line planned:

“You don’t really know me. If you did, you would probably think very differently about whether you want to get involved.” As I said it, I realised how much I sounded like a sweet, nice girl who wants to get to know a man before she holds hands. It lacked the sense of doom and foreboding I was aiming at. So I found myself agreeing to get to know him, when what I really wanted to say was, “I’m not the girl you think I am. You don’t want me.”

Several text messages later and he’s asked for a lift, offered a lift, offered a meal out and said he wants my email address. All have been refused. That’s when he calls me for the first time and tells me he’s horny. Tells me I’m hot. As I’m explaining that I already have a lover, that I’m not looking for anything else right now, he tells me he’s touching himself. What’s the polite response to that? I repeat that I’m disinclined to get involved with him. He tells me he’s going to come. I wish him a good afternoon, thank him for calling, and say goodbye.

I give you Exhibit One: The Wanking Man. If this is how people behave in vanilla circles, lock me in a dungeon with the perverts. They normally ask permission before the grunting starts.

The Wanking Man’s claim that he worked alone made Exhibit Two the leading suspect for sending the woman over to ask if I was single, even if he had a physical intimacy with her unusual between friends. Since I’ve been known to participate in group snuggles, I’m hardly one to judge. In any case, time slid by, he didn’t made a move, and I concluded that the moment had passed, and we’d settled into being regular dance partners. I accepted an invitation to his house to practise. I was lucky girl, I thought, to have such an attentive man to teach me.

Have I managed to create an atmosphere of doom and foreboding this time?

I arrive at his house and hand over my home-made biscotti, which is received with a disappointing lack of fanfare. We go through some routines, then do some closer moves, and watch demonstrations, standing with his arm around my waist and my hand draped over his shoulder. Eventually, we kiss. I decide to open the conversation about not wanting this to go too far, before he breaks out the condoms. So over dinner, a quorny concoction he’d made after divining my vegetarianism, I said, “I assumed you were involved with that woman, wossname…?”

“Oh, I am.” He says. Hmm.

We have The Conversation. I tell him about my married lover, play partner, and preference for kinksters. He tells me about his girlfriend, love of outdoor sex, dogging, and irrepressible infidelities. Then there’s spanking and cuddles. What’s not to like? Well, quite a lot, if you’re his girlfriend. Are smacks and snuggles over the line?

And so I give you Exhibit Two: The Cheating Man. Respectable on the outside, a bubbling pit of illicit desire and quorn-based seduction underneath.

Monogamous vanilla men are weird. Give me a straightforward poly pervert any day. At least when I call the lover and ask if he’s free to fuck on Friday, he says he’ll check with his wife. Then tells me, in detail, precisely how much he’s going to he’s going to hurt me. I’ll take good honest complexity over secrets and lies any day of the week.

*This is a contested word. We’ve gone through friend, play partner, shag, another half, fraction, decimal point and in an awful slip of the tongue yesterday I used the word girlfriend. There’s always some slippage, and if you were loving readers you’d have a whip round for a good thesaurus for me.

**It is possible I exaggerated by 30 minutes or so. I was rounding up.

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Written by Not an Odalisque

March 27, 2011 at 8:36 pm

19 Responses

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  1. Honesty really is the best policy and, generally, us kinky folk are pretty damn honest and upfront about things, thank goodness!

    Alyss

    March 27, 2011 at 9:33 pm

  2. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this post! Thank you for bringing it up. I too, value honestly above all else.

    illicitexplorations

    March 27, 2011 at 10:08 pm

  3. I’m an adulterer but this is still a good post.

    Romantic Dominant

    March 27, 2011 at 10:15 pm

  4. Monogamy is most people’s kink. It is what makes everything else seem exciting.

    But there are plenty of unpleasant ‘perverts’ as well as ‘vanillas’, even ‘poly’ ones. I don’t like the distinction between ‘vanilla’ and ‘kinky’, especially as, or actually no, just for example, because it tends to ignore things like homosexuality. Can you be ‘vanilla’ and a homo?

    I think ‘vanilla’ suggests ‘straight’. I dunno. I just don’t like it.

    As for ‘wanky man’. I would have just put the phone down unless I had wanted to have phone sex. Which I sometimes really enjoy. But hey. I’m a pervert.

    Quiet Riot Girl

    March 27, 2011 at 10:19 pm

  5. My exposure to ‘wanky man’ and ‘cheaty man’ types in the dance circles has actually occurred frequently too often for me to be fully convinced that there are actually that many ‘vanilla’ types around…but I really really enjoyed this post.

    But I found poly too much of a stretch for me – I know I was only ever one cog in a wheel, but at that time the notion of sharing was a bit too much for me. I’d never say never…just not right now.

    Sorry, this is a bit disjointed…I may well post again when I’ve thought this through…x

    Lily

    March 27, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    • this is my problem with using terms like ‘wanky man’ and ‘creepy man’. It becomes a ‘meme’- a shorthand for describing whole swathes of men. Men who I have never met and who I refuse to judge along these lines. So a man wanked down the phone? I have wanked down the phone myself. And men have wanked down the phone at me without ‘asking permission’ first. I just think you are making stereotypes. The kind that if men do it to women you challenge. and think are sexist.

      Quiet Riot Girl

      March 28, 2011 at 10:54 am

  6. I don’t consider ‘vanilla’ as a straight term, unless you’re referring to straight as a lifestyle. As in, ‘he lives a straight-laced life’.
    You can definitely be a vanilla homosexual.

    When I think of the term vanilla, I immediately think, ‘boring.’ Missionary style, monogamous sex. Obviously though, there can be other positions thrown in, but I just figure if you never experiment and are not interested in opening up about it, I consider that vanilla.
    Regardless of your sexual orientation, homosexual or straight or whatever else, vanilla is boring.

    illicitexplorations

    March 28, 2011 at 1:22 am

    • but ‘missionary’ position is a heterosexual position. You can’t really do missionary with two men. You can do a simulation of it, but most men who sodomise each other I think, I don’t know for sure, will mix it up a bit. (Tho I prefer it from behind I like having my face pushed into the pillow).

      Quiet Riot Girl

      March 28, 2011 at 10:52 am

      • Two women can do missionary or would that be classed as non-vanilla in your eyes because of the strap on?

        Personally, I don’t class vanilla as just missionary style sex but each to their own in exact definitions. I do still think there’s a definite distinction between kinky and vanilla but exactly where the boundary lies is another matter really. We could have a whole discussion on what’s vanilla, what’s kinky and what’s just plain perverted and wrong. There’s always going to be a difference of opinion, just like people have different definitions for queer, poly, etc.

        Alyss

        March 28, 2011 at 2:17 pm

  7. I thank you for arranging such Friday night meetings with your lover. It frees up his wife to come be Alyss Nightingale to poorly self-pitying me!

    It’s not entirely certain where poly ends and non-monogamy/open relationships begin. When I mentioned at one of these hippy coffee meetings that I couldn’t do monogamy anymore one hippy looked aghast and said ‘But that’s what you’re doing now’ because at the moment I’m only with one person. There’s nowt as queer as folk…

    Isobella Lash

    March 28, 2011 at 9:28 am

    • That’s like the argument that I was straight just because I was married to a man and not involved with a women. It’s nonsense. And I think that the definition of poly/non-monogamy/open relationships differs depending on who you talk to.

      Alyss

      March 28, 2011 at 2:21 pm

  8. ‘Plain perverted and wrong’ Alyss – I have no idea what you mean by that! I don’t use kinky v vanilla really. I may use ‘kinky’ to describe bdsm behaviour/self-identified groups but I find most/all people are kinky whether or not they acknowledge it.

    Quiet Riot Girl

    March 28, 2011 at 9:15 pm

  9. Thank you all for your comments. It’s good to know that other people share my opinions and/ or experiences. Obviously terminology is quite fraught, I think often people see a different interpretation of a word as an attack on their identity. I do like the sense of belonging to a community of kinky people, but I also tried to problematise the divisions a little, with my choice of Exhibits. These things are never straightforward.

    Not an Odalisque

    March 29, 2011 at 8:45 pm

  10. “He tells me he’s touching himself. What’s the polite response to that?”

    Well: “Get a hold of yourself!”

    I suppose.

    Your post made me laugh harder than any I can remember reading. “That seemed rather too revealing an answer…”. Yeah, I’ve had that experience. What do I really want to reveal to these people, anyway? Perhaps nothing, unless I can sense that perhaps they are kinky, too.

    As for “vanilla”, I suspect it just means “boring”. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was designed to suggest that the other lifestyle is boring. It’s a put down. Especially for those of us that have experienced chili mocha relationships. But I think it’s a justified put down because so much opprobrium has come from people in declared vanilla relationships and been heaped on the kinky that a little reverse discrimination is called for.

    Relationships are just hard. There are humans on the other side. It doesn’t matter whether there is one human on the other side of a particular relationship or multiple humans, the type of relationship isn’t what makes it hard. I blame it on the humans. We all have insecurities and blind spots and down days and humorless fits. How much easier it would be if there were robots on the other side! And vanilla.

    Rich

    March 30, 2011 at 6:59 am

    • I think Rich kinky people call non-kinky people ‘vanilla’ to shore up their own identity as ‘kinky’.
      I dont see it as discrimination so much as trying to sound more interesting than we are! But that’s my own twisted version of things.

      Quiet Riot Girl

      March 30, 2011 at 10:10 am

      • I’m sure that everyone that uses “vanilla” has their own, personal reason for using the term. A lot of people probably don’t give it much thought. That’s why it’s a topic of discussion!

        The term “kinky” itself is an attempt to put a positive spin on what we do. I just hope that the terms kinky and vanilla eventually allow everyone to think of this community in a more positive way.

        Rich

        March 31, 2011 at 5:37 am

  11. I don’t think using a term like ‘vanilla’ helps make kinky people get treated more positively. It still separates us from the ‘norm’. Binaries are always suspicious I believe!

    In my view everyone has their kinks/perversions. I do not distinguish between ‘communities’ of people in terms of sexual identity.

    Quiet Riot Girl

    March 31, 2011 at 11:42 am

  12. On the monogamy front, it’s perfectly possible to be a monogamous male without making some of the…mistakes you mention in your post. Thank god, otherwise I’d have to conquer my inability to speak to women sharpish or I’d be without sex for the rest of my life.

    On the use of “vanilla” I find it incredibly useful to distinguish between my own sexual moods, which include vanilla, when I don’t want power play, pain, bondage, or any other fetish that I and my partner share. Vanilla is just a shorthand, from convention I suppose, but I’m glad I have it in my vocab.

    english thorn

    June 26, 2011 at 2:05 am


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