I'm happy to play along with fantasies and role-play, bondage, domination, foot play, anal sex/pegging, having moresomes, et cetera. But sometimes I'd like to have gentle and slow unadorned sex with an attentive partner who calls me by name, compliments me and does things to my body he knows I enjoy. My husband has been seeing a therapist and we also went to this therapist for couples. He gave us exercises to tone down my husband's desire for perfectly scripted kink scenes. But my husband was not willing to try them and I gave up. He now can't maintain an erection without either a complicated script with roles, props, costumes and toys or going through the motions of romantic sex as long as I keep up a constant stream of in-character dirty talk, which makes it impossible for me to be in the moment.
I've urged him to go see a dominatrix or to get more involved in the local kink scene without me—but he's obsessed with this imagined moment where I suddenly awaken and join him in his obsessions. I find this condescending. Just because I can enjoy kink play now and then doesn't mean I'll ever be someone who gasps with excitement at a woman on a leash being peed on. It bores me; like watching someone fill their kitchen with every gaudy, expensive radish peeler and strawberry diddler when they can't even boil an egg. Is there a trick to reducing your partner's dependence on kink?
—Bored By Obsessive Kinkster
A You must feel like you created a kink monster. But you didn't! I mean, you did encourage him to let go of the shame and you did give him permission to be a little more sexually adventurous. Now, 15 years later, you're stuck with this selfish asshole who's so obsessed and dependent on his kinks that you've come to dread having sex with him. But your husband was always the elaborately twisted kinkster he is now; he just needed someone to give him permission for being who he always was—or to get in touch with who he always was—and that person was you.
Both of your proposed fixes are basically pipe dreams, as I suspect you know and I further suspect you're not really interested in either one. I don't think it's an accident that you wrote about wanting "an attentive partner" to call you by your name and do all sorts of vanilla things to your body that he knows you enjoy. Because deep down you know your husband isn't interested in doing those things. And he won't be any good at doing those things. And even if he could fake an interest in doing those things you probably wouldn't be able to enjoy his half-hearted attempts, because knowing he had to concentrate on BDSM sex the whole time—knowing some script was playing out in his head—would make it impossible for you to be in (and enjoy) the moment. And the fix is obvious, isn't it?
You need to have sex with someone else, BBOK, with someone who cares about you. You need to take your own advice, the advice you've been giving your husband and go find yourself a play partner or two. If you can find someone who can give you the kind of simple, passionate, connected sex you no longer get in your marriage, perhaps you'll come to resent your husband less and your desire for kinky sex with him will rebound.
Q I started seeing a man four weeks ago who keeps telling me he can't sleep with me—or can't sleep with me yet—because of some all-consuming fetish that he can't (or doesn't want to) do it with me. He also has sexual issues due to having survived testicular cancer, in which he lost his testicles. As a bisexual woman, I don't have an issue with that and am happy to have non-penis sex. But even that is not forthcoming, because he always tells me his fixation on this fetish is interfering, while remaining totally incoherent about what the fetish is and why he can't do it with me.
No one is required to sleep with me, but it's upsetting to go to bed with him and then, after he plays along for a little while, have to listen to him tell me another totally incoherent version of whatever his fucking problem is. I'm getting fed up. I don't see how we'll ever get along in bed if I'm just trying to have fun while he's being as tormented, confusing and complicated as possible. Should I just walk away?
—Drama Is Boring
A Unless this ball-less mess is climbing up the fire escape and slipping into your bedroom uninvited—which I'm guessing you would've mentioned—he keeps turning up in your bedroom because you keep inviting him. Stop that, DIB. Tell him you're happy to keep seeing him, if you enjoy his company that much. But you're not seeing him anymore, which means he's not welcome in your bedroom. So there's no need for him to bring up his fetish or any other sexual issues with you.
A person really shouldn't mention that they have a kink or fetish to a new partner unless they're ready to share what it is. You don't have to be ready to act on it—lots of people have fetishes and/or kinks they enjoy as fantasy—only or are ready to share but want to take the doing a little slower. But telling someone you have a kink that's so all-consuming you can't be sexual unless it's a part of the action and then refusing to name the kink and then adding that you wouldn't want to do it with the person, that's disqualifying assholery. Don't walk away, run.
Have a question about sex, sexuality or relationships? Email it to Dan Savage, it could get answered in the column some week soon.