I was talking with a friend recently about triads I had been a part of in the past. She asked me if it was something I was looking for. My off-the-cuff answer was that I was open to it, but I wasn’t actively looking for it. Since then, the topic has been bouncing around in the back of my head, so I’m writing about it to try to bring some order to the random thoughts.

There are things about being in a triad that I deeply miss. I miss the energy of having three people in a household. Something about that just makes the household more festive, more like a party. Someone was always doing something, cooking or working on a project or bouncing about listening to music. Even if everyone was feeling low key and wanted to stay in and nest, we still seemed to end up at the table together, getting stoned, playing cards, playing a board game, watching videos together. Somehow, three people felt like a family more so than a couple living “alone”.

On the flip side, being part of a triad was often fraught with challenges. All of my past triads (four of them) were vees, with me as the hinge in the middle. I had a bad habit of assuming it was my job to try to make everyone happy, finding the ideal compromise that satisfied both partners. In hindsight, it felt like such solutions only made each partner half-happy. Worse yet, I tended to push my needs or desires to the side in the interest of making everyone else happy. Ugh. If I were to do a triad again, this is something I would really be on guard about. I think I am a much more self-possessed person now than I was then, but old habits have a way of pulling me back into repeating past mistakes. If the opportunity presented itself in the future, I would be more enthusiastic about balanced triad (rather than a vee), or even a vee with my partner as the hinge instead of myself.

That said, the prospect of finding a third partner with which to build a triad feels daunting to the point of deeply unlikely. Satyridae and I are crazy close, in a way that I think any third partner would find incredibly daunting. We have a long history together, and communicate very deeply and very honestly about issues as they arise. We also both have extraordinarily high libidos, which has been a challenge in past threesomes (short-term play, as opposed to a triad); after an hour one partner is ready to be done for the night while S and I are just getting warmed up and ready to shift into high gear. We either stop when the first person wants to (leaving me and S less than satisfied), or S and I continue which leaves the other person feeling sad and excluded. Additionally, my relationship with S is fairly kinky and has a considerable amount of (consensual, negotiated) power exchange. In past triads and threesomes, this has been extraordinarily uncomfortable for some past partners to be around. So, either S and I curtail certain activities in front of those people (sad), or we “let our freak flag fly” and again risk leaving the third person feeling sad, excluded, and perhaps squicked.

So sure, I would be enthusiastic about a triad in the future. If we could find a partner who was strong enough to enter an existing, very close partnership. If we could find a partner who was enthusiastic about a real, balanced triad. If we could find a partner with an enormous libido. If we could find a partner who was comfortable (even enthusiastic) about kink and power exchange.

Annnnnd -that’s- why they are called unicorns.

Last night I went to a “Sensation Play Party”!

The party’s event hosts and multiple guests brought a variety of toys and tools for delivering a wide variety of sensations. There were very gentle things like fur gloves, feathers, silk, one of those spidery wire toys for stimulating the scalp. There were rougher toys like paddles, floggers, Wartenberg wheels, fingertip claws. There were electrical stim toys, including violet wands, TENS units, and Stinger wands. It wasn’t all about touch either; there were small slices of fruit, bits of dark chocolate, scented oils.

About one third of the group took a couple of minutes to write brief notes that described their hard limits, for instance, “No foods!” or “No pain, gentle only!” or “Avoid my injured foot!”, arranged themselves comfortably on cushions scattered about the large room, placed their notes prominently next to them, and donned blindfolds. The remaining two-thirds of the group then had thirty minutes to wander about the room, trying different touch or toys on the blindfolded receivers. In a matter of minutes, the temperature in the room rose ten degrees as purrs of pleasure and groans of welcome pain filled the space. Thirty minutes passed in no time at all and the receivers slowly removed their blindfolds and tried to return to “normal”. Serotonin is a hell of a drug! After a brief break, the next one-third of the group took their turn as receivers, and then the last third had a turn.

I got to experience and see and do some amazing things!

When I was a receiver I experienced (in no particular order) feathery strokes down my arms and legs, a pair of lips that passed a piece of chocolate to me in a delicious kiss, flogging, hard paddling, hot wax dribbled on my chest, and a generous splash of icy water splashed on my chest and neck. At one point someone used a Wartenberg wheel on me while someone else dragged sharp fingertip claws across my back while I roared with release into a pillow. When my turn as a receiver ended, I was drunk on endorphins and my entire body tingled with lingering sensations.

During the other two sessions when I was in the role of giver, I did some paddling and flogging, zapped a few of the braver souls with a Stinger wand, dragged ice cubes down arms and legs, used a delightfully subtle “pleasure air” sex toy on nipples, used a more intense vacuum pump on nipples, and arranged a row of clothes pins down a person’s torso and ripped them off with a dramatic flourish

It was a thoroughly wonderful experience in a number of ways. The main draw is simply the delight in giving and receiving such welcome stimulation. Of course, what made that possible was the thoughtful and caring intentions of the people in the room. No one was teased or shamed about stating their boundaries, and everyone I interacted with seemed enthusiastic about meeting an individual receiver at whatever level they needed. I saw some receivers who asked for and got epic amounts of gentle cuddling, and other receivers who asked for and received very solid paddling, flogging, and electrical zapping. It felt like a very safe and welcoming space for me to experiment and push my own personal boundaries.

Analyzing my own experience just a bit deeper, by nature I’m much more of a “giver”. I adore introducing people to new experiences and sensations and making their minds melt (in a consensual fashion). It takes a bit of intentional effort for me to lie back and be entirely passive, accepting the sensations that are brought to me (aside from my one stated hard limit, “No tickling!”), with no responsibilities except to experience it all, take it all in. In the right circumstances (and last night was one), I can be a sensation junkie who appreciates some fairly intense stimuli. Once upon a time, someone delivered my birthday spanking with a wooden hairbrush with such vigor that the bush snapped in half! However, I don’t at all identify as “submissive”. I’m not there to accept whatever someone else wants to dish out, nor am I giving my endurance to someone else as a gift; I’m there to see what those intense sensations feel like and to see what I can take before I have to say “too much”.

There were other people at the event who did identify as submissive, and many of them reveled in many of the same treatments and sensations that I experienced. As I thought about the event after the fact, it occurred to me that to some objective observer, there may not be a visible difference between a receiver who identifies as “sensation junkie” and one who identifies as “submissive”. If there’s no apparent external difference, that would suggest that the fundamental difference is in the mind of the receiver. So I meditated on that for a while, and tried to think about the aspects that two such people would have in common, rather than what separates them. I think, and I’m still trying this on for size so don’t hold me to it, that for me as a (sometimes) “sensation junkie”, I’m being submissive. I am exerting my will to hold myself in check, to remain passive, and allow the sensations to wash over me. But I’m not being submissive to someone else, I’m being submissive to myself. I am not offering my submission as a gift to someone else. I am giving my submission as a gift to myself, to allow me to experience various and intense sensations, to find my limits and perhaps expand them a bit. That’s a way of framing the experience that I seems to resonate with me.

Navel gazing aside, it was a hell of an experience and I’m very much looking forward to the next one!

At Burning Man 2017, my partner and I attended a demonstration called “Dinner and an Interrogation”, hosted at the theme camp Brûlée.

Two BM contributors (names withheld until/unless I get their blessing) allowed an audience to watch one of their “rough body play” BDSM scenes. The general scenario was that S had a four-digit number that M had thirty minutes to “interrogate” out of them.

Before the scene began, there was some lengthy description of what was going to ensue, so that anyone in the audience had ample opportunity to decide this was not their cup of tea (and potentially triggering) and excuse themselves.

There was an explicit discussion of consent and the absolutely essential role it plays in ethical BDSM.

M displayed a table of tools that might be used during the interrogation, and S had the opportunity to review the table and remove three items that they didn’t consent to that evening. No argument, no wheedling, no debate; bam they were off the table.

The actual scene was incredibly intense to watch, even hard to watch at times, but I was mesmerized for the entire event. There was punching, wrestling, dragging across the dusty playa ground, pressure points, paddling, tying to a chair, and even waterboarding! Somewhere around the 20-minute mark, M got the final digit from S and the scene ended and the pair immediately departed for aftercare.

There was a lot in the scene that didn’t work for me. Not that I’m being at all judgmental about someone else doing it, but a lot of it wasn’t my particular kink. For example, I have a tough time figuring how I could conduct waterboarding in a way that felt arousing. However, I was absolutely fascinated by the rapport between the two participants, their commitment to explicit and enthusiastic consent. It was a thing of beauty.

So when I saw the pair was returning for Burning Man 2018, their events were circled in red in my “What, Where, When” book. First we attended a “Rough Body Play” workshop where the same pair talked through a lot of the thinking and planning that goes into that sort of scene. As they talked through and demonstrated punching, kicking, grappling, judo throws, they spoke at length about some of the risks involved, steps to minimize those risks, alternatives for people with physical challenges. I was absolutely delighted to see the same (or even higher) level of emphasis on consent. There was also a fascinating blend of professional and serious presentation with the playful affection and obvious respect between the two of them.

Two days later we saw the “Dinner and Interrogation” scene again, this time with M and another partner, P. I was astounded to see P last the entire thirty minutes, yielding only two of the four digits to M. The difference between how S participated in the scene in 2017 and P in 2018 was night and day, and it was educational seeing the range of experiences. Once again, the entire scene was breathtaking to watch.

The very next day there was a “Fetish Friday” party at the same camp where M and S were chatting with people one-on-one and tutoring them through some specific moves. Melody and I approached them, gushed in a hugely fanboy fashion for a while, then started asking for some pointers on grappling and punching. Both M and S were enormously gracious and generous with their time, and the next thing you know we were piecing together foam grappling mats on the playa dust and stripping down for business. Melody learned a couple of ways to throw me, as well as a position where she could almost completely immobilize me. We got some pointers on how to punch more safely and then… we started talking about breath play and choking. I got some essential pointers on what to avoid, the proper places to apply pressure, different positions to try, and safeguards to follow. In the process, I admitted that I had never been choked out and and was curious about it. My rationale is that I don’t want to do something to anyone else that I hadn’t experienced myself. Asking if I really meant it and wanted to experience being choked out, M offered to oblige me.

I dropped to my knees in the dust (*ahem*) and M stood behind me with one arm wrapped around my neck, my throat in the crook of his elbow. He applied gentle pressure on the back of my head and … we stayed there for several seconds. I waved to someone in the crowd watching (I was later told we had an enormous audience), and then began to think it wasn’t going to work and even felt a small bit of sadness for M. “Aww, it’s gonna be embarrassing when the big ole dommie top can’t choke me out.” Then… something happened… and the next thing I knew my brain was rebooting. I was on all fours. It was dusty as all fuck. Flashing lights. Noisy thudding bass. I looked up and made eye contact with a human it took me several seconds to identify. Melody said it was quite disturbing to look in my eyes and not see any glint of recognition for several seconds. My first rational thought was “What happened? Did… did I just pass out?” Then I glanced to the side and saw M and recalled that I had asked him to choke me and… it all kinda popped into place. It was incredibly bizarre feeling all my systems slowly come back on line and to reconstruct what happened based on such disjointed data. It was an amazing rush!

Melody and I left for a while after that so that I could collect myself and integrate the experience. Every thirty minutes or so I would exclaim aloud with shock and wonder, “Holy crap, M choked me the fuck out!” Mind. Blown.

Oh, and I want to point out; the entire hour we spent with M and S getting tips and techniques and demonstrations, every single time either M or S was going to lay a hand on either me or Melody (to demonstrate something), they asked for consent. Every. Single. Time. Melody tells me that when M choked me and I finally blacked out, M cradled my head with great tenderness and very carefully lowered me to the ground.

Those interactions were the highlight of a really amazing burn! When you admire someone from a distance (as we did after watching last year’s scene), there’s a little apprehension about getting closer to them and finding out the reality doesn’t match the expectations. Instead, our expectations were exceeded. M and S were kind, gracious, generous, incredibly thoughtful, and I cannot thank them enough. If you at at the Burn next year (and this is your kind of kink), I strongly encourage you to look for future events with the names I listed below.

I’m quite fond of the njoy line of steel sex toys, but they are certainly not cheap; $120 for a butt plug.
https://shop.njoytoys.com/products/pure-plug-2

If you’re looking for a less expensive option, Williams Sonoma has you covered; $29.95, including an optional “BDSM mode”.
https://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/reversible-meat-tenderizer/

“Tenderizer” indeed.

M was not gone from my life very long when I took up a relationship with S. She was a long-time friend and confidant, a member of my logical family for some years. We had even had sex a handful of times, quite enjoyably, but neither of us were in a place to pursue that more frequently or more intentionally, until M left.

Three things came together in a quite unexpected fashion when S and I embarked on a more serious relationship.

First, we started incorporating BDSM into our sex play from the outset. I had long known S was a self-described sensation junkie, with a very high pain threshold. She also had some challenges reaching climax during the early renewal of our relationship, so rougher play and BDSM were a way of reaching some of those intensely transcendent moments during sex without orgasm.

The second major factor was that I took the occasion of deepening our relationship to ask S for some details regarding her past and childhood. Most specifically, I wanted to hear the full story of several years of childhood sexual abuse she endured. This was a fraught process. S had spent a great deal of her adult life trying not to think about that part of her past, had internalized a significant amount of shame and blame about the event, and had never before shared the entire story with anyone. Thankfully, she felt like she could trust me, and we spent long hours over several different meetings going through all of the horrific details.

So there we were. Meeting once a month at the start, very soon moving to once every two weeks, and shortly after that to weekly. Talking very intensely about her childhood sexual abuse. Engaging in some fairly rough sex play and BDSM. Quite unintentionally, the two began to overlap in some unexpected ways. After rough sessions of flogging and spanking, we would take time for aftercare, soothing her skin with oil, reassuring her that she was in a safe space with someone who loved her and cared for her deeply. During those times, she would often flash back to our conversations of her abuse. On some occasions, she flashed back to specific events and details with graphic clarity. Other times she would break down sobbing over the guilt she felt over “letting” the abuse happen. I categorically reject the assertion that a seven-year-old has any agency in sexual abuse inflicted upon them and I started making that case with increasing vigor and firmness. As incredible as it seems to me, this was the first time S had gotten validation that her childhood abuse wasn’t her fault. It took a lot of time, reassurance, and discussion for that idea to begin to take root within her.

The third major factor (remember, up above, I said there were three parts?) was that all of this elevated BDSM activity motivated me to get much more serious about the practice. I spent some considerable time thinking about my own internal ethics and the moral implications of striking a woman, repeatedly and quite hard. Growing up as a good Southern boy with lessons of “you don’t ever hit a woman, ever, for any reason” left its imprint on me and I had to really think deeply about how these new sexual behaviors integrated into that. There are some past posts in this blog where I wrote about that issue at some length. I also did a bunch of research and reading in the neurological science behind pain play and why that “works” so dramatically for some people. The BDSM sessions I planned and executed for S started to follow more specific and intentional patterns, based on that research. Over the course of ten minutes I would gradually escalate a pattern of stimulation, building within S a reservoir of endorphins, ending in a climactic rush of stimulation/pain to dump those into her bloodstream. Then the next ten-minute session would immediately begin and the cycle would be repeated. We would get three or four of those cycles completed before S was effectively “tripping balls” on her own internally-produced endorphin rush.

There was one particularly note-worthy moment that brought all three of these factors together. We were in the midst of an intense BDSM scene. S was standing, arms restrained by padded wrist cuffs. I was behind her with an array of floggers and leather straps, escalating the activity towards another endorphin release. She was at a particularly vulnerable moment, the flogging was really getting to her, there were tears flowing. To this day, I don’t know quite what prompted me to do this, but as I was flogging her, I started asking her, roughly, angrily, “Whose fault was it?”

The first couple of times, she was silent and didn’t answer.

“Whose fault was it?” Thwack!
“Whose fault was it?” Thwack!
Eventually, she responded, breaking down sobbing in the process.
“It was my fault!”, tears rolling down her cheeks.
“Whose fault was it?” Thwack!
“It was my fault,” she answered, more tentatively this time.
“Whose fault was it?” Thwack!
Silence.
“Whose fault was it?” Thwack!
“His fault?”, this came nervously, tentatively, like she was trying it on for size in her head.
“Whose fault was it?” Thwack!
“It wasn’t my fault.”, this came more firmly, like she was finding sure footing.
“Whose fault was it?” Thwack!
“It wasn’t my fault!” This came out stronger still. She also stood a little taller, and did not shrink from flogger blows.
“Whose fault was it?” Thwack!
“It wasn’t my fault!” This came out as an angry shout, defiant, solid. She flared her back and shoulders, daring me to do my worst. I put my back into it and swung hard.
“Whose fault was it?” Thwack!
“It wasn’t my fault!”
“Whose fault was it?” Thwack!
“It wasn’t my fault!”
“Whose fault was it?” Thwack!
“IT WSN’T MY FAULT!”

When I released her, the aftercare was especially long, and there was a great deal of crying. However, these weren’t the hot tears of shame and violation, but the cleansing tears of release. For the first time, S was really coming to terms with releasing the responsibility she had been trying to carry.

This experience shaped much of our subsequent BDSM play. Over much time and discussion we would identify issues where she was “stuck” mentally or emotionally and look for ways to bring them to the surface during an intense scene. In the process, her confidence grew and emotional weight she had been carrying for virtually her entire life began to fall off her. She was reframing her memory of the experience, from something that defined her, into something that “merely” happened to her.

My first serious experiences with BDSM were with a former partner, M. A couple of years into the relationship, I bound her arms over her head (standing) and engaged in some sensation play, tickling, and mild spanking. Although it seemed to go well for awhile, she soon had a major meltdown, scene over, lots of aftercare. The experience pushed enough major buttons with her that we avoided that territory assiduously for a great many years after.

Over a decade later (I tend towards pretty long-term relationships), M and I made plans to go to Burning Man as part of a sex-positive theme camp we recalled from our previous Burn. Apparently we only vaguely, sorta, kinda remembered the camp, because “sex-positive” was too vague by half. Once we arrived on playa and started assisting with erecting the camp (phrasing!), we discovered that the camp founders described the camp as “the biggest, baddest BDSM play space on playa”. Both of us worked shifts as “Dungeon Monitors”, helping supervise the public play space. I also attended a “make your own flogger” class on playa and came away with my very first flogger.

Those experiences brought the topic back to the table for M and me, and we explored it with cautious enthusiasm. I was a tentative top, M was my bottom. There was some role playing, bondage, sensation play, spanking (bare handed and with a strap), flogging, anal play, and dominance/submission.

The play was enjoyable and rewarding, but it was also complicated. I didn’t know it at the time, but the relationship with M was on its last legs; she left our home and the relationship three months after that Burn, and hasn’t spoken to me in over two years. So our renewed explorations of BDSM happened in the context of some relationship strife, communication challenges, and more emotional turmoil than usual. Additionally, M and I were both strong believers in a guideline regarding open relationships, “Don’t embark on this journey when your relationship isn’t already pretty solid. Trying this isn’t going to fix your relationship, and in fact might hasten an already-looming demise.”

As such, experimenting with BDSM was something M and I did only when the conditions were just right. She had to be in the right mood, I had to be in the right mood, there couldn’t be any overt drama or communication issues hanging in the air, we had to have a serious chunk of free time available for the scene and ample aftercare. It felt like the stars had to be aligned just so before we were willing to “go there”, and the conditions were unfavorable far more often than they were favorable.

Of course, the picture was further clouded by how new we both were in this space. I was a tentative top, still getting my bearings in this landscape. M was an anxious bottom who really struggled with trusting and letting go. It was a challenging learning process. Then the relationship crumbled to pieces from under me. I have speculated more than once about whether our foray into BDSM contributed straw to our camel’s over-burdened back. Given the lack of subsequent communication between us, I can’t really say.

Regardless, the experience reinforced my belief that BDSM was only viable in the context of a rock-solid relationship, between people who were (separately and together) in a very secure emotional landscape. That belief was soon challenged. Look for Part 2 of this story.

Some aspects of domination do not come naturally to me. So much of my sexuality has been about putting my partner at ease and making sure they are deeply comfortable, emotionally and physically. Because if they feel safe and at ease, they’ll be able to more fully relax and enjoy themselves, right? Right? Well, mostly. Until you start venturing into the deeper waters of BDSM play.

For instance, I’ve always thought that heterosexual 69 should be done with the woman on top, which allows the woman to control the depth and speed of the fellatio. Additionally, if the guy is on top he runs the risk of suffocating his partner when his ballsack settles over her nose while her mouth is already quite full.

For the past several months, I have been involved with a partner who has been eager to learn to deep throat. As there is a significant BDSM aspect to our relationship, the “learning” has been fairly aggressive at times. We started with hanging her head off the edge of the bed (which helps straighten the bend between her mouth and throat) while I fucked her mouth somewhat aggressively. From this position I played with pushing my cock farther into her mouth, seeing how deep I could go before engaging her gag reflex, challenging her to hold her breath, and sometimes fucking her mouth with more force and speed. Her progress from week to week has been a very pleasant surprise. It didn’t take long before I was able to push into her throat on a regular basis and she proved herself capable of swallowing my cock in more conventional positions, such as kneeling in bed.

As we were tumbling about in bed recently, she ended up reclined while I knelt at her head. I dangled my cock within reach of her mouth, expecting a friendly little lick or kiss on the head. Instead she sucked my cock fully into her mouth and I seized the moment to advance her training. I pulled her arms straight down her sides and pinned them to the bed with my hands while I straddled her head and pushed my cock deeper into her mouth. Instantly her arms began to struggle in my grip and her hips twisted side to side looking for escape. I lowered myself until my belly was pinning her chest to the bed and fucked her throat deeply. When her desperation reached new levels, I lifted up and allowed her to take thirsty gasps of air. After the briefest of respites, I pushed in again and took her throat roughly. We repeated this over and over, me fucking her mouth and throat roughly and her frantic heaving breaths. Occasionally, she managed to wrench her arm free and would push at my torso trying to dislodge me. When I would relent and allow her a brief bit of air, her hand would fly to her face to wipe away tears and drool. I quickly forbid that, pinned her arms again, and wiped my cock across her face multiple times until she was slick and wet. And then I forced myself into her mouth again, and again, and again. I quickly learned her panic “flight response” started several seconds before she actually needed air, and I could distract her and prolong the experience by giving her orders before I would pull back and let her breathe. Commanding her to grasp my ass with her hands and pull me in deeper was an especially inspired moment, as it forced her to take my cock a little deeper and a little longer before I finally acceded to her panic and let her draw in air again.

We’ve done this several times now, and it has become a favorite part of our routine. If we do it multiple times in an evening, I can feel when her throat gets a little swollen and is harder to push into. Her voice develops a rasp for several hours afterwards, which amuses both of us. “I’ve finally gotten that Tallulah Bankhead bourbon-and-cigarettes voice that I’ve always wanted,” she says with a big smile. And when we are separated and she is feeling my absence particularly sharply, she will complain, “My throat is so very empty.”

A similar story could be told about fucking. Despite its reputation as a vanilla mainstay, I’ve always been quite partial to the missionary position. It puts the female partner in a very comfortable posture, there’s ample eye contact, kissing can happen, as well as breast play, clit play… what’s not to like? Don’t get me wrong, I mix it up a lot, but missionary is a very reliable part of my repertoire.

Once again, “as we were tumbling about in bed recently”, I found myself straddling the girl while she was face down on the bed, arms and legs straight. I started with the intention of sliding my cock against the crease of her ass, teasing her a bit. This is perhaps the time to mention that this is my first partner with a particularly small (but absolutely exquisite!) ass. I soon found that my cock was getting quite damp from the sliding back and forth, because her cunt with surprisingly accessible and exposed. Straddling her ass and thighs, I sank my cock into her waiting pussy. The opportunities presented by this position were revealed in very short order. I spread my fingers wide and braced my palms against the back of her rib cage, locking her in place and making her helpless. Any effort she made to twist and writhe away only served to drive my cock into her deeper. I played with depth, teasing her with the head of my cock just barely sliding in and out of her while she whimpers in need. When I drove in deep and hard, the head of my cock pushed against her g-spot in a way the makes her exceedingly happy. Once again, this position has become a featured part of our toolkit now.

So more lesson from my on-going journeys into BDSM. Using my body to pin down and trap my partner. Forcing myself on them (in an entirely consensual way!). Appreciating the pleasures to be found in discomfort.

In my relationships, I use safewords for edgier sex play. Simply having a discussion with a partner about safewords can be reassuring, as it establishes that consent is massively important and that both parties have a vehicle for clearly, unequivocally withdrawing consent at any given moment. I also appreciate the sense of freedom safewords can imply. Knowing that your partner has a safeword frees you from trying to second guess the meaning of the occasional “Ow!”, “Sonofabitch!”, or “Fucking hell!” Curse me all you like, I’m not stopping until you use your safeword. *grin*

At the suggestion of some more experienced hands, I’ve adopted the “traffic light” colors of safewords. “Green” means everything is fine and please continue. In practical terms, once a scene is begun “green” tends to be taken as given and almost never used. “Yellow” means, the action needs to be paused while something is adjusted. Maybe a wrist cuff is cutting off circulation, or someone urgently needs to pee, or a muscle cramp is ruining a good time. “Yellow” tends to imply that things are mostly okay, but some changes need to be made before the action can continue. “Red” means done, full stop, game over. There’s no negotiating or debating a “red”; release any bindings and proceed directly to aftercare (do not pass Go!, do not collect $200).

Even when safewords have been fully discussed and agreed upon, there are still those people who appear very reluctant to actually invoke a safeword. Some people seem to feel like using a safeword is a failure in some way. Maybe it feels like admitting they couldn’t take some sensation that they think they should be able to handle, or perhaps they fear that saying the safeword will disappoint their partner, particularly in dom/sub situations.

Speaking for myself, I really appreciate it when my partner uses a safeword. At the very least, it shows they know their own boundaries and will communicate them, always a good thing in my experience. But there is an additional benefit. As a dom, I want to push my sub’s boundaries, to take them to a place they have never been before. In order to do that, I need to know what their boundaries are. And if a sub refuses to use a safeword, in a very real way they are refusing to communicate what their boundaries are. Boo, hiss! I want to know where those boundaries are, with crystal clarity. I want to be able to bring someone right up to the precipice and use their fear and anxiety as part of the experience. The more my partner can share, the better I’m going to be at taking them on that journey.

And on a happy note, I finally got Cheer to say her safeword! I had to cheat a little bit to get there, but I’m okay with that. 🙂

I’ve been thinking about boundaries lately, scattered thoughts bouncing around in my head that haven’t quite gelled into a cohesive whole. But here’s some of the preliminary thinking:

Act 1:

– At Burning Man 2014, I participated in the Human Carcass Wash. I could write a huge blog post just on this one topic, but the short version is that it’s an activity where a bunch of volunteer Burners wash a bunch of other Burners. During the orientation, our guide made the point, “Every time a new person steps up to your station, when you help them into the basin you must ask, ‘What are your boundaries?’ Some people will say ‘I have no boundaries, wash everywhere.’ Others may say, ‘I have a bruise on my shin, please avoid that.’ Others might say, ‘Please avoid my pubic area. I’ll wash that.’ Any answer is fine, and those boundaries must be honored. Any person being bathed has the full right to change their answer at any time. ‘You know, I thought I was okay with having my bottom washed, but… umm, no. I’ll get that area.’ And that has to be okay too.”

The most powerful thing the guide said (for me), was the following. “Please remember that your boundaries matter too! Just because someone says, ‘I have no boundaries, wash me everywhere’, that doesn’t mean you’re obligated. If you’re not comfortable touching them ‘there’, then don’t!”

Powerful stuff!

Act 2:

I’ve been ramping up my massage practice, doing several massages a week for the past few months. I’ve been greatly enjoying it, but as the frequency increases I have to be mindful about not zoning out and going through the motions. Massage is not a time for auto-pilot. There have been a couple of occasions when I’ve been just starting a massage and catch myself really leaning into it. “Slow down, this person on your table isn’t ‘Cheer’. Ease into it and then find out how much pressure she wants. You can’t just start at 9 and escalate from there.”

When you have someone on the table, you have to meet them where they are, and work with however much or little they are willing to present to you. I’ve had a client who asked for deep glute work and who left their underwear on. I had another guy on the table for a full massage who wore his jeans on the table! It’s all good. If that’s where their comfort level is, I can work with that.

Act 3:

As I’ve blogged about recently, I have a new partner who is open to some fairly intense sensations and activities. The previous time I saw her, we spent extensive time at the massage table, starting at an intensity of 8 and swiftly escalating from there. I used every bit of my anatomy knowledge, my size, and my muscle to do things that I knew would have her writhing in that fascinating blend of pleasure and pain that she craves so desperately. We spent about ninety minutes doing that, and it was an unqualified success.

We saw each other again last night, and I orchestrated a suite of activities that were completely different from the previous meeting. We started by focusing on her pleasure – what things pushed her buttons, what made her purr, and what things were an inhibiting distraction. As things progressed, I escalated and began pushing her boundaries (or at least tried to). Not with pain this time, or at least not overtly. Instead, I worked on providing pleasure, increasing amounts, from various sources, and with growing vigor. I started with a luxurious spell of cunnilingus, savoring her smell, her taste, the musky flavor that comes with full arousal. I seem to recall her asking for something and responding with a “Hush. This part isn’t for you; it’s for me.” I took my sweet time lapping at her vulva, sucking her lips into my mouth and gently pulling, and lifting her legs while I plunged my tongue into her as deeply as I could reach. Once I had sated my own hunger (for a while at least), I started working on hers.

I gradually eased a finger into her, sliding in and out while I flicked my tongue beside her clit hood. That got a very enthusiastic response and I held there for some minutes, letting her pleasure rise and plateau before I continued. Eventually my finger curled and started stroking her G-spot, which was met with energetic and rhythmic clenching of her hips. Holding tight for the ride and continuing to lick and stroke, I slid my free hand up her torso and found her nipple, which obviously needed rather firm pinching and stroking. I let her energy build and swell over several minutes, until her wailing reached an urgent pitch and her bucking got too frenzied to ride.

In a big rush intended to add to her disorientation, I withdrew, roughly rolled her onto her belly and sank my thumb deep inside her. Just sliding in and out at first, roughly, quickly. Before she could relax into that I changed angles so that the pad of my thumb was stroking over her G-spot with each push. With each stroke, she cried gutturally into the mattress, and finally her hips contracted and her ass rose off the bed to meet my hand hungrily, greedily. I put my free hand on the small of her back and crushed her to the bed pinning her in place while I put my knee between her thighs to keep her open and exposed. Finally, I changed the motion of my thumb completely, leaving it deep inside her pussy and pulsing up and down, tapping, drumming on her G-spot. Her crying became constant and incoherent and it was a struggle to keep her pinned to the bed. I increased the speed and force of my drumming, far beyond what I would even consider with most partners. Finally, with every muscle of her body tensed, rigid, and straining, she rewarded my efforts with a long keening cry and a splashing surge of fluid.

So there’s another kind of boundary, not of pain, but of pleasure, of giving in and submitting, and of taking more than you knew was possible.

Must. Push. Buttons!

Act 4:

That same evening, after a necessary break for recovery, fluids, and laughter, we decided to return downstairs one more time to play with some floggers I’d made. I bound her with some padded wrist cuffs, which I don’t think she was expecting, and started working on her upper back and bottom. I began with a medium-weight flogger and eventually moved up to a heavier one, letting her feel the thudding, percussive weight of each stroke. I alternated targets, working on her back for a bit, then shifting to her ass with no warning. I played with speed, giving her a slow deliberate rhythm, then pausing and letting her dread the next blow. I practiced some crossing strokes, raining down in a fast persistent pattern. She sagged against the cuffs once or twice, only to leap to attention again in response to a carefully placed lash on her bottom. Periodically I would pause the flogging to whisper deep and low into her ear and to glide my fingertips ever so gently across her burning cheeks and shoulder blades. The feathery touch made her writhe even more than the flogging.

With considerable reluctance, I called a stop to the action. She seemed to be in a good space, watching her writhe was so very compelling, and I really wanted to continue, but… that sort of space takes a great deal of thoughtfulness, deep attention to detail, real care and caution. I often think of it as a high wire act. And I was too exhausted (very happily so) from all of the previous activities to be as “on my game” as that kind of play requires. I just didn’t want to gamble with being sloppy or careless when she was in a position so vulnerable and trusting.

Which is to say, I hadn’t hit her boundary, but I very much hit mine.

Act 5:

I’m an enthusiastic bicyclist. (A hell of a segue, I know. Bear with me.) There’s this interesting phenomenon when riding with another person. If you’re riding side-by-side, you can each go at your own pace. At any given moment, one person might be feeling more energetic and surge ahead, while the other person might drop back a bit and catch their breath. Over a long ride, this sort of ebb and flow balance out (assuming roughly equivalent riders) and you both end at the same place at the same time.

However, if you’re riding single file, the person in back is restricted by the top speed of the person ahead. If the follower is feeling bouncy and energetic and the person ahead isn’t… the follower has to wait. They might try to hold a little energy in reserve to accelerate ahead when the leader decides to push, but they basically inherit the limitations of the leader’s pace.

In sex, there’s no one ahead and no one following, but it’s still a group ride. The boundaries of the “slowest” person necessarily set the pace. You might find yourself in a time and place when you wish your companion was going faster so you could really give it your all, no holding back, working towards furious and glorious exhaustion. It’s an amazing, dizzying feeling! And if you ever find such a *ahem* “riding partner”, you’ll soon realize that now you’re the slower one, putting your boundaries on them.

And that’s okay too. Your own limits are just as real and just as valid as your partner’s limits. You might enjoy playing right at the edge of those limits, you might enjoy pushing them a bit, but ignoring them is a really bad idea.

Back in December, my primary partner asked me what I would like for my birthday (in January). I’m pretty shameless about buying myself whatever toys catch my eye, so I always struggle with answering these kinds of questions. I laughing said something about how “a drug-fueled fuck fest is the gift that keeps on giving, and giving, and giving”. And promptly forgot all about it.

On the weekend of my birthday, the aforementioned girlfriend and I traveled to central Oregon to traipse about in the snow, and had a perfectly lovely time. As we prepared for the return trip on Sunday (the anniversary of my birth), I began to get some small hints that something was up. She said small things like, “I’d like to get home by the early afternoon” without offering any reason, and “Let’s not stop to eat there on the way home; you might not want a full belly.” Curious, but completely vague. I enjoy surprises, so I didn’t pry.

We got home, went for a run and showered. Knowing full well that something was in the works, I asked how I should dress post shower. “Comfortably sexy. I don’t think we’re going out.” Of course, one has brief thoughts of fantasies that are far too improbable for reality, but I quickly settled down to earth. “Hmm, maybe she’s asked B over to give me a massage. That would be lovely.” Then the girl tells me if I wanted to indulge in any recreational pharmaceuticals, now would be the right time. *gulp* I’m enough of a control freak that taking a mind-altering substance without knowing exactly what was in the works for the evening took a considerable leap of faith. But I leapt in an ecstatic fashion. And somewhat nervously waited for the other shoe to drop.

About thirty minutes later, the doorbell rang and I nearly jumped out of my skin. She smiled and said, “You should go answer that.” Heart thumping, I went to the door to find… a woman I’ve been seeing lately! And behind her… was the other woman I’ve recently become involved with! They came in bearing pizza boxes, homemade cupcakes, and absolutely mischievous grins. My mind quickly bounced back and forth, “This can’t be what I think it is! Oh my stars, I think it is! No, it can’t! Oh shit, I think it is!”

Some background, for context: “Splendor” has been my partner for a good long while, and knows both of the others socially, but has never err, umm, “gone there” with either. “Cheer” I have known for a long time, but the relationship has only recently escalated to a significantly new level. And “Mirth” is someone I’ve been involved with off and on a couple of times, currently “on” and hopefully done with the “off” problems. Cheer and Mirth had met briefly at a couple of parties, but that was about the extent of their experience with each other. I found out after the fact that about a week ago Mirth asked Splendor what plans were in store for my birthday, and my quote was relayed to her. Bless her heart, she took the idea and ran with it, contacting Cheer and coordinating the event. Such balls!

The Three Graces

Back to the narrative. The girls got a bite to eat while I fidgeted in an anxious fashion, trying to figure out if I was already deeply hallucinating. After a short time, someone suggested that perhaps it was time to find a more comfortable space to lounge. A brief bit of scurrying for armfuls of pillows and blankets and we were soon ensconced in a very cozy nest. Soon enough, clothes were shed, copious amounts of oil were applied to all available flesh and things got decidedly warmer!

I can only pretend to relay the roughest of outlines of what followed; my head was swimming in an ocean of awe, appreciation and astonishment. For a brief time I lay passively and accepted the oily petting and stroking of six hands and many kisses, sometimes from multiple people at once. But I’m really not built for passivity and soon started orchestrating matters. Splendor was placed in the middle and received ample attentions from all of us, with one person leading the main event and the other two assisting in whatever clever ways they could find. And then another person took the lead. And then I took the lead. After we had thoroughly given Splendor all she could possibly handle, we rotated Mirth into the middle and repeated the process. We took a brief break to soak in the hot tub, but swiftly returned for a second act. We repeated the same routine with Cheer, and then I got the finale session in the middle.

Each girl is so completely different in her wants, needs, preferences; I began each session by telling some story about that girl’s kinks (Your kink is okay!), amusing little stories about our early experiences, anything to break the ice and set the stage for what that girl might especially enjoy. And for fuck’s sake, did they rise to the occasion! Every one of them dove into the action with all due vigor and enthusiasm, as though they were long-term lovers. I tried to quietly check in with each of them at various times, just to make sure it was all good and everyone was in their happy place. Each time I was met with a big damn grin and firm instructions to quit worrying so much. I did my best to comply.

The night was such a long series of amazing things, and everything flowed so easily, so naturally, so comfortably, that it’s hard for me to lock down a precise sequence. However, some specific moments remain etched in my brain: The way Mirth lay directly under Cheer and held her down spread eagled to be used and abused. The way Cheer curled up against Splendor in a fawning, adoring, submissive fashion after receiving a series of exquisite bites on her torso that left bruises visible for days. The way Mirth presented herself face down, ass up so that I could make her squirt profoundly, multiple times, to the delight of our audience.

But more than anything, I will long remember and cherish the feeling of love and adoration that filled the space. Everyone was so incredibly loving, open, giving, accepting, supportive… I was just awestruck. And when I remind myself that this was the first time any of them had ever interacted with the others in anything resembling a sexual context, I hardly know how to respond. I am blessed beyond measure.

The following day was a flurry of glowing messages and photos of spectacular love bites. One of the girls said, “I went into it thinking I was doing it for you. I came out of it knowing I did it for me.” I find both ends of that so beautiful, it makes me tear up. That any or all of them would consider doing such a thing for me is an honor I can barely comprehend. That it became such a beautiful, shared, mutual experience for all three of them just fills my heart with joy and love.

The bravery and openness of these women completely awes me. I fail to see how I have earned it, but they assure me I have. I’m going to bust my ass trying to live up to the person they think I am.