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In Praise of “Just a Phase”

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

We are living in an age where certainty is demanded. Any time someone changes their mind or expresses any level of uncertainty, people pounce. Politicians are called “flip-floppers,” public figures are vilified, and individuals are called “weak,” or “uncommitted” or “dumb.” This demand for certainty is both ridiculous and detrimental.

In terms of gender and sexuality, certainty is a killer. We have moved to a point were culturally we expect someone to know who they are and what they like immediately. We allow little room for exploration or change.

Uncertainty and Kink

In the kink community, people are asked what their position is in relationship to dominance and submission. The pressure to be certain leads to behaviors like people declaring themselves a “sub” or a “Master” or a “Dominant” before they have ever had their first play session. We give switches a bad rap for being able to move between the two sides of the slash. We preference Masters and slaves to bottoms and tops because they seem to be “more certain” in their identity.

The truth is, kink is a journey for everyone. Someone may intuitively be drawn to one side of the slash than the other, but everyone changes over time. E-v-e-r-y-o-n-e. Demanding certainty in an identity of a newbie (read: anyone who has done this less than five years) is ridiculous. Secondly, the younger you are when you start, the more likely you will change over time. Everyone grows and develops as a person. People under 25 still don’t have a fully formed adult brain. The idea that at 22 you could possibly know who you will be for the rest of your life if absurd.

Changing Sexual Identity

When it comes to sexual orientation, again we want certainty. Bisexuals have long been discriminated against in both the queer and heterosexual communities. Our desire to sleep with more than one gender is seen as “wishy-washy” and “a phase.” Most people hate the idea that a partner might possibly love someone of a different gender than themselves.

We also have a tendency to demand people identify as one sexual orientation and stick with it. The reality is, kids start trying on sexual identities in their teens and psychologically are not really settled into a regular identity until their late 20s. Instead of mocking and shaming these kids for being a lesbian one week and heteroflexible the next, we need to have some patience as they develop an identity.

It also needs to be  pointed out that as people try on identities, these identities are important to them and feel very real. So that 23 year old heteroflexible sub you are playing with really sees themselves as a heteroflexible sub. Just because next month they decide they are really a gay top doesn’t mean either identity feels less real or less important to them. If you don’t have the patience and acceptance to deal with a changing identity, then stop playing with young ‘uns and newbies.

We all change. We all grow. We all discover things about ourselves, our sexuality and our identity as we age. If you are the same person at 40 as you were at 20, it is actually an indication of being stuck and not growing or developing as a person.

I am glad a number of kink sites have the “exploring” or “uncertain” designation for identity. We need to encourage people to explore who they are and what they desire. We need to stop demanding that someone choose an identity and stick too it.

Demanding certainty is a way to kill off our community. Being able to cope with people growing and changing and shifting is difficult. It is also necessary. I urge all kinky folks to have a bit more patience and allow people (including yourself) to change and grow into who you want to be!

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