Dear Readers, I’m back after a long time off. Unfortunately my health battles continue and there is no help from the medical community. This means I can only work in spurts right now.
We all struggle with consistency at some point. Whether its health issues (physical or mental), work schedules, kid emergencies, family interruptions, holidays or something else, our routines are broken up and we can’t practice kink the way we desire. Since I have been largely confined to bed or a couch non-consensually by my body, I have had some time to think about options for managing an inconsistency in relationships and kinky play.
The Problems with Inconsistent Practice
First, I know everyone practices kink differently. I know not everyone gets bummed out by not being able to get a spanking on the birthday or to suck someone off on taco Tuesday. So this may not be relevant if you have other options you are happy with. However, for me and a lot of aging kinky folks I know, having your body or brain give out and interrupt your dynamic with partner(s) it can be quite devastating.
I’ll be totally honest, when I am unable to provide service, sexually or otherwise, to my partner, I feel like less of a partner and my self worth drops. He is great and he is totally supportive of me and my health. He has never complained about my limitations which puts him in the running for the most amazing man in the world. However, my need to serve and my need to please aren’t getting met so I still feel like I am a shitty partner at times. This it totally on me, I get that.
Additionally kink and D/s (M/s, DD/lg, etc.) dynamics are special things. Kinky folks craft our relationships and power structures to meet needs of the people involved in the relationship. If you establish a structure which works for you and your partner and then have to deal with frequent interruptions to that dynamic from an outside source (health, work, or otherwise) it can leave folks feeling like they never get their relationship up to full speed. This can cause partners to disconnect from one another or feel like they just can’t get their needs met. Its stressful on any relationship.
So, what is a girl to do?
I have been trying to figure out what options are out there for those of us who can’t be consistent in the way we practice kink. Luckily I am not alone in thinking about this.
The holidays just passed and going home to see family can be a huge interruption in kinky dynamics. Luckily Sinclair Sexsmith already did some of thinking on this for me and shared it in their SugarButch post. They offer some great tools for continuing dynamics even in front of you vanilla fam.
There are also folks thinking about kinky play for those of us who aren’t healthy 22 year old yogis. Many of us have some limitations of mobility and these crop up more and more as we age. At 22, my toes and I regularly saw each other and the splits were a thing which was possible. At 44 with osteoporosis, two autoimmune conditions, and no medical help, I am much more limited in what I can do. Luckily, the Submissive Guide has an extended post on adapting submissive positions for folks with all kinds of health limitations (here).
A lot of the adaptations have to be personalized. What limits me from having sex and kinky fun will be different than what limits someone else. A lot of the adjustments have been trial and error.
For example, I am now and have long been a huge fan of morning sex. I am rested as is my partner, we are already in bed, and eventually we both have to shower so clean-up is built in to the routine. However, I am no longer a morning person. Until the pain killers kick in, if you aren’t at least as thick as an Old English 40, I am not getting my hands closed around your dick. And forget about any position that involves kneeling or pressure on my wrists. So now I keep my morning pain killers next to the bed with a bit a water. I roll over when I wake up, down a pain killer along with some CBD and turmeric (insert your own white women and crystals joke here, but it does work), and give it 20-30 minutes before attempting anything. This gives my partner ample time to pee and make coffee before some brunch hour nookie.
But what if the issue is mental/emotional?
Not all limitations are physical. Plenty of us struggle with mental health issues (about 20% of all Americans have a mental heath condition). Emotional conditions which get in the way don’t have to be actual mental health conditions. Stress from work, family or life in general can seriously derail your D/s dynamic and kink play.
Luckily I am not the first person to have to write about this either! JoEllen Notte has some awesome writing on dealing with mental health, depression and sex. She covers a huge swath of information on sex and depression and her site offers both writing and audio options (yay for accessibility!).
A lot of times the emotional side of things becomes a bigger barrier to sex and D/s dynamics than the physical stuff. My guy can see me struggle to get from the bedroom to the bathroom, bracing myself against the wall, doing Lamaze breathing, and limping, and he doesn’t even have to ask if I am in too much pain for sex– its obvious.
Its harder to see and understand how, when I have had another failed interaction with another incompetent doctor, why the next day I might not be up for anything. This is where things can get rough. When you are the person who is depressed/anxious/emotionally distraught, you still have to communicate. Depression and other mental health issues can make clear and honest communication difficult at best. When I feel like my world has collapsed, there is no help, and I get a letter from UCSF Medical Center stating that my illness isn’t interesting enough for their students to bother wasting their time and talent to try and keep me from dying (real letter, thanks for nothing UCSF), it can be hard to want to communicate about anything.
But… I am not dating a mind reader. So I have had to find ways to communicate my needs and lack of interest beyond saying, “I’m tired.” Most of us who deal with a chronic illness, especially a mental health issue, use the “I’m tired” phrase to cover a boatload of feelings, concerns and issues. Physical pain getting to be too much, “I’m tired.” Overwhelmed by the stupidity of life, “I’m tired.” Want to jump off a bridge, “I’m tired.” This of course, does not really communicate what I need, what I am feeling and what I am capable of as a partner.
So now, I will remind myself to use my words. Saying things like, “I am too preoccupied with the health bs to have any bandwidth for anything else.” Realizing seeing a doctor sends me into full PTSD around shit medical care that I will sink into a depression for a day or two allows me to say, “I have a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday and need to be offline til Friday,” is much more useful than two days of “I’m tired.” Its hard, yes. But using your real words to communicate the basics of what is going on can be very useful.
My partner and I have also had to practice other forms of open communication. He is in the process of starting his own company. He launched it in September of last year. This is a huge project and very stressful. It has put a damper on his sex drive. When the frequency of sex dropped and he seemed to lose interest, I initially did what most people do, blamed myself. I started to think I wasn’t sexy enough, that my body had gone to crap and he didn’t want to touch me, that I needed to somehow change to reignite his desires. Easy enough for anyone to believe when their partner starts to turn down sex.
Thanks to years of kink and umteen discussions about “open communication” I stopped this downward spiral and actually asked him what was going on with our sex life. Hearing that having to figure out cash flow, advertising streams, and funding capital investments was all his brain had time for was enormously reassuring. Like, it isn’t the fact I have their weird-ass rash all over (thanks, lupus) but that he is trying to figure out how to amass enough capitol to get the new equipment for his business that has his dick not caring I am editing my podcast in nothing but a thong and pearls.
We all have things which limit our interest in sex and kink dynamics. For most of us, these times will be infrequent and will pass after a few months or a few years. The rest of us will have to figure out a long term plan for making relationships work.
Loving someone with a chronic illness (physical or mental) means both you and your partner will have to do a bit of work to find a balance and make the relationship work. It means mimicking relationships of healthy, able-bodied folks in the media won’t be a real option. It means you and your partner will have to communicate more about stuff that can be hard to talk about for both of you.
The silver lining of all this is, the more you can communicate and the more you can adapt your relationship, the more you can create something very special for you and your partner(s). Its the difference between buying a shirt off the rack at Old Navy and having one custom made to fit your body perfectly. Sure, the Old Navy shirt is easy and will keep you covered. The custom one will take a bit longer, require more input up front, but in the long run, you will have something which fits you like the glove covering the hand of your lover as they hold it over your mouth. A much sexier fit.