(continued from “A Retrospective“)
When J and I had just started dating, in the context of a normal conversation where two people getting to know each other share background and tell stories, J mentioned something about past ties to the “BDSM community.” It was a casual, flirty sort of conversation, and his comment didn’t seem all that strange in context. He seemed to be half-joking, or at least, he seemed to be poking fun at reality. I assumed his revelation and his lighthearted attitude were more about flirtation than anything else. And so I flirted right back—I smiled and told him that I was more than capable of dominating a man.
That was the truth. I had dominated men in bed… quite well, actually.
When I responded, J’s flirtatiousness fell away. He looked a little surprised and said he was relieved that I took the information so well.
His seriousness surprised me—I didn’t think it was such a big deal. My last boyfriend was really turned on by tits, and I have tits, so it worked out well. The guy I dated before that was an ass man, and I have an ass, so that worked out pretty well. J was a little kinky, and so was I, so we might work out well too.
I had messed around with BDSM before, and while I didn’t know that there was a “community,” it didn’t shock me to hear of its existence. But of course, I was completely unaware of the scope of all things BDSM—I didn’t know there were different types of BDSM, each with their own terminologies, theories, and practices. I didn’t know there were communities, play spaces, conventions, businesses, scholarship or political issues. I didn’t know any of it existed in such a visible, organized way.
J and I have never discussed that conversation, but I suspect that both he and I had completely different understandings of what was said and what it meant.
In my mind, J told me about a sexual preference… a turn-on. No big deal.
I suspect that in J’s mind, not only did I accept his lifestyle, but I also suggested I was interested in (and had some experience with) the same. Without any real reaction or curiosity from me, my guess is that J thought I was “into” BDSM the same way he was.
Because I didn’t know what I didn’t know, I thought J and I were on the same page. Because I didn’t ask questions and offered little reaction to his admission, J thought we were on the same page too.
Of course, J and I were not on the same page.
continue to Retrospective, Part 2: Oops