Approaching Partners with Ideas Not Expectations
Editor’s note: Please welcome Quenby (they/them) to the blog to discuss something a lot of us have faced this year in our own way — figuring out how to navigate our kinky relationships while in the midst of a pandemic.
I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a fucking weird year for dating. But through these struggles and chaos I’ve learned an important principle to hold myself to in relationships. Approaching partners with ideas, not expectations.
With the global trash fire we’re living through its unsurprising that I’ve seen my kink and sex drives fluctuate wildly. One day I’m desperate to get fucked till I’m a sobbing, aching, wonderfully sticky mess. The next, anything more than a hug feels overwhelming. And I’ve watched this same pattern repeat itself with many of my partners (though rarely in sync).
On top of this there’s enforced separation from most of my partners. It was July before support bubbles were established in the UK. When I had the opportunity to see my partner R face to face for the first time in months, I was overjoyed. But that time apart took a toll on our relationship, and R’s isolation changed their relationship with physical intimacy more generally. Boundaries shifted, and our trust and comfortability with one another had to be re-earned and re-established. I wanted nothing more than to fold R into my arms and share long-denied carnal joy. Instead I had to hold myself back, and express my love for them in terms we could both appreciate.
For me sex and kink are important in a relationship. It brings emotional intimacy, physical release, and that transcendent state where you lose yourself in one another. So I was left with a difficult question: how can we find this intimacy we both need when everything is in flux?
We couldn’t plan scenes or prepare for dates as we normally would. Ideas which thrilled the night before could become unwanted plans, or even feel like obligations we were “meant” to do. As unreasonable as it might be, the feeling that you’re letting your partner down can be very real, and very painful.
Ideas, Not Expectations
The path that I found was to see R with ideas, not expectations. To discuss ways we could find intimacy without letting them become plans which could end up feeling like obligations. We stopped planning scenes in advance and expecting to do that when we next saw one another. Now we discuss things we might enjoy if the mood takes us, but we try not to make assumptions. I might have rope and floggers in my bag when I see them, but I expect them to stay there unless asked otherwise. It’s an approach we used when our relationship was still developing, but it fell away as we got to know one another. Now, with our boundaries and sex drive in flux I’ve returned to this philosophy.
Holding yourself in that uncertain in-between space can be difficult. But I’ve found that avoiding expectations not only avoids putting pressure on one another, it also helped remind me how lucky I am with the people I love. With plans and expectations you can end up taking one another for granted. Coming in with ideas rather than expectations reminds me that this intimacy is a gift we share together.