Back when I first started poly, there were so many rules. These rules were meant to keep me and the primary relationship safe. Because that was the most important thing. And these rules made sense. Sex was reserved for only inside my triad. I could date and play with other people, and making out was okay, but there was no touching in the standard “bathing suit areas”. This was fine with me, most of the time, because I couldn’t fathom having sex with anyone outside my triad. I loved to make out (still do….kissing and touch are two of my favoritest things ever) but most of the time, I had no real sexual drive outside my triad. Most of the time.
So there was this one time when I was dating someone, and this person and I were sitting in my car. They started stroking my palm and talking to me in a very seductive voice. The stroking, the voice…ASMR kicked in and all of a sudden I told them we had to stop. Because I realized I was actually aroused and might’ve had an orgasm…from having my fucking palm stroked. We stopped. No orgasms were had, no bathing suit areas were touched.
There were other times, with people I was dating, very few and far between, that I wanted more than making out. Mostly, I wanted kink. To scene, to play, to be beaten and touched, to flog, be tied up. I didn’t have many options back then and I was also terrified of pick up play. I felt like an incoherent idiot in a foreign country trying to speak the language. Which was weird as hell, since in my triad we were kinky as fuck, and tried new things. However, we were more “into the kink scene” but not really “in” the kink scene. My partners didn’t like playing in public. And there weren’t many people that I both wanted to play with and of whom they approved.
When we got divorced, I began to slowly explore. I did things with people as I wanted, stopped things when I wanted to (or, the people I was with wanted to), and it was fucking terrifying. Because I realized I didn’t always know what I wanted without that screen of what I was told (and agreed to) that I could do. It was all stuff I had to figure out.
It seemed, though, that one common thread was that the rest of the world liked sex a whole helluva lot more than I did. It’s not that I disliked it. Nowhere near. I can be a whore and a half with the right person/people in the right circumstances. But the latter was rare-ish and the former was damn near non-existent. Somewhere along the lines, I found the term demisexual and it was like a light bulb in my whole body.
Yes! I need to have feelings and trust built up with someone before I could feel sexually attracted to them! After all, that’s the way it had happened before. That made sense. I couldn’t even conceive of a one night stand or sleeping with a friend just…cause. This label helped me understand things a little better.
Until I looked more into demisexuality and it’s umbrella label, gray asexuality. An even brighter light went off in me and I felt that even though this term meant more ambiguity than being demi, it fit. I’d begun saying that I didn’t have a primary sex drive, I have a primary kink drive, but this left some room that I felt necessary for a growing curiosity inside. Sex outside of a Relationship. I just still wasn’t sure how to…do that. All I knew was that I wanted to open myself up to it a little, so I did. And then things started happening (in no particular order)…
- I had this metamour. And they were awesome and open and we had…a few hours together. Making out and some sex. I made them come. After, I didn’t really want to come. I just wanted sensation on my back. So they did that to me for so long. It felt soooooo fucking good.
- Another time, I had been flirting with a friend sometimes after events. Even though my spouse told me to “go for it”, I didn’t really know how nor did I didn’t think anything would come of it. Until this one time, at a party, a kiss happened. Another time, some making out happened. Another time, we negotiated to play a few times. We agreed that all that was cool, but neither of us were interested in being more than friends.
- I met someone who woke up parts of me that I didn’t fully know until years later. Taught me more about honest communication and who saw me for me in a way not many had ever done. Along with my best friend, they taught me that holding hands doesn’t have to be for Relationships. Helped me learn how to lean into difficult conversations. They’re incredibly important to me, even though I don’t see or talk to them very often.
- Met another person who, within fifteen minutes of meeting me, asked if I was submissive. This was a night out with some friends, so it wasn’t like we were at a kink event. They’re someone I consider a comet who comes through my life about once a year and each time, I learn new things about myself. They challenge me. I barely knew anything about this person but found myself sexually attracted to them. We had a brief spanking scene once. Some fairly intense conversations and interactions.
These were all interactions that had some measure of what I would’ve categorized as sexual attraction when I was younger. And sexual attraction, to me, meant I couldn’t do anything with them unless we were in a Relationship. Problem was…these are all people I don’t want to be in a Relationship with. A relationship, sure. I already have relationships with all of them. Varying degrees of friendship
Then there was play…it took me a similarly long time to realize that I could casually play. It was a little easier for me, though. After trying to figure out what I was looking for in play and then starting to talk about it, I wound up connecting with other people who were interested in the same things. I drummed up the courage to ask some people I had kink crushes on to play. Some said yes, some said no. Some I’ve been able to play with and some I haven’t yet. Hopefully at a future event. And I’ve reached out to friends, as well. That’s been a big revelation, that I can play with friends.
- My best friend and I started playing a few years back. Rose flogging, sadistic massage, impact play, things like that. We negotiate things and have had some great scenes and experiences. There will likely be more in the future and I’m glad for that.
- A dear friend I’ve known for nearly two decades and I started playing. Some wax, a fantastic, cathartic scene in the fall of last year. Rose floggings. They’ve introduced me to another person dear to them and there’s been some fucking epic co-topping.
- I’ve started messaging someone else I’ve known for years about playing. It all started from a ultra light flirty joke during a convo and something in me went, “huh…I wonder if there’s anything behind that or if it was just a passing flirt that happens.” Turns out, there was kinda sorta almost something to it and we started talking about possibilities. Things seem to be lining up and maybe hopefully one day, we’ll get to do a Thing or two.
- Then there’s the pegacorn of the list: someone who’s become a very good friend, who inspires me, who’s great to talk to about so many things, AND with whom I like kinking with, can do energy play with, and one of two people in the world I currently am sexually attracted to.
It was usually a struggle to overcome the fear and panic, but once I did, it started getting a little easier. And I found I was suddenly playing with a few pretty awesome people. (“Suddenly”…after years of evolution). Without having to date them or be in a Relationship with them. This was a revelation. But it was nothing compared to the discovery over the past two-ish years that I could also have other forms of intimate times, like making out and sex and sensual times that also aren’t within a Relationship.
It’s taken nearly two decades, but I finally am able to extract sex and play both from Relationships and truly embrace the possibility of seeing them as a long list of types of intimacy that I can want, ask for, and experience à la carte.
The strangest thing of all, though, is that up until the last three years or so, I didn’t really know how to do intimacy à la carte…hell, I didn’t even really know it could be a thing. And now, it seems like it’s all that I’m interested in. Like, I seriously do not wanna date anymore. I’ve been re-evaluating my capital-R Relationships. And I’m noticing I have waaaaay less interest in traditional Relationship structures, even beyond dismantling hierarchy, and a fuckton more in exploring more with relationship anarchy and building whatever connections feels right for me and whomever I’m building with.
I’m still getting used to this new understanding of myself as a gray ace. Sometimes, it gets weird. People I’ve known for years started shying away from sex and sexuality as topics of conversation because they didn’t want me to be squicked. While I definitely appreciate the consideration, I always wind up feeling like…have you MET me?! I didn’t change who I am; all I did was find better words to describe it, but those words don’t negate the fact that I adore talking about sex, sexuality, kink, and so many thing associated with them. I just don’t have sex or feel sexual attraction as often as most people I know. It’s no better or worse; it’s just different.