DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I have an unusual fetish. I’m a straight guy and still a virgin due to shyness and approach anxiety and since I was at least 17, I’ve noticed I have a tickling fetish. The idea of being consensually bound and tickled mercilessly by hot women, or me consensual tickling a hot, bound, ticklish women, or women gleefully do it to each other while permitting me to watch, (all of these activities with safe words and breaks) excites me like little else in the bedroom. I have ZERO idea why, and I’ve embraced this quirky fetish as an inherent part of my sexuality.
That being said, I’m a little insecure about it. First off, it’s not something I typically picture doing with a committed romantic partner, it’s more something I see doing with a casual sex partner. I’m honestly afraid to ask for it if I end up in a sexual situation with someone, as thought of tickling typically brings back terrible childhood memories (it does for me to, but I’m able to separate those memories from what I know seek to enjoy as a consenting adult.)
Every time the subject comes up on mainstream news sites or social media, 90% of the reaction (from men and women alike) seems to be how it’s such a creepy fetish to have.
So I’m honestly wary of bringing it up or pursuing it, and most BDSM networking sites intimidate me, and I’ve noticed the sites geared toward connecting people with this specific fetish are always huge sausage fests, where women’s personals get thousands of replies whereas straight men’s personals get zero. Is that much of a deal breaker? Is it a mark against me personally? Should I ask for it or just forget it and just accept that it will just remain a fantasy? How should I even ask for it?
Insecurity Is No Laughing Matter
DEAR INSECURITY IS NO LAUGHING MATTER: So this is what we in the advice business call a case of “the problem you think you have is not the problem you actually have.”
You have things seriously tangled up and twisted, INLM and all it’s doing is making you feel weird and insecure about things. So let’s pick this apart a little and see if we can’t set things right.
First of all, your fetish isn’t that rare or unusual. What you’re describing is a common variation of your garden variety BDSM play. The central factor in this is standard power-exchange; the sub is bound and helpless while the dom consensually demonstrates their power over the sub. It’s the helplessness and control that tends to be what gets people off. You can find similar dynamics involving things like edging and orgasm denial, shibari and a multitude of other forms of power exchange. The only difference between your kink and a scene involving being tied up and spanked is that you’re envisioning it with a feather instead of a flogger or violet wand.
Second of all: you’ve got things precisely backwards. You’ll have much better luck indulging your kink with someone who you’re in a serious relationship with than a casual FWB. While it’s certainly possible that you could find a play partner who’s down to tie you up and tickle you, you’re going to have a much easier time introducing kink into a relationship where you and your partner have comfort, trust and communication. The problem here is that you seem to have this mental disconnect that says you can’t have the “dirty” kinky sex that gets you off with a committed partner. This is, frankly absurd and it’s going to cause you problems in your future relationships.
To start with, the idea that you can only have a certain kind of sex with people you aren’t in a romantic relationship with is a great way to make sure that your romantic relationships will fall apart. Sexual compatibility is an important part of a relationship’s longevity; when you’re artificially restricting yourself from the sex you crave because of a BS distinction between casual and committed relationships, you’re condemning yourself to mediocre and unsatisfying sex. Just as importantly, however is the fact that sexual adventure and novelty is part of what makes a relationship last. Keeping the thrill alive in your relationship is part of what keeps your connection strong and vibrant. You don’t want to try to segregate your kinky self off to some other secret part of your life, you want to embrace it and find the Morticia to your Gomez Addams.
Plus, as it is, you’re going to have a harder time finding casual play partners who’ll want to do power exchange without going to some of those BDSM networking sites. It’ll be much easier to find a kinky partner to go where the kinksters hang out than it is to try to dig through people’s dating profiles in hopes of finding clues that sticks and stones may break their bones but whips and chains excite them. It may help to think of sites like FetLife as being more akin to Facebook than Tinder; all you’re doing is joining a social networking site that just happens to be for folks who like playing cops and robbers with their pants off. Focus less on treating it like a dating site and more like you’re making friends and connections and finding out where the cool parties are.
Your other option is to find the kink scene in your city in person. The BDSM communities tend to have regular social gatherings – known as munches – that serve as informal get togethers. These are almost always low-key events so that people in the community can get to know one another, trade information and generally hang out in a socially “safe” space. Now I want to stress: these are not places to go to hit on folks or set up a scene. They are, however, a great place to get to know people, make connections and get known within the community. That, in turn, can help you find various parties or events where you might find someone who’s up for talking about the kind of scene you’re looking to indulge in.
But demographics being what they are, there’re more vanilla people than there are kinksters. That means the odds are greater that you’re going to end up in a relationship with someone who isn’t necessarily kinky yet. That means you’ll be the one to introduce her into this new side of you that she might like to try too. The way you bring it up is no different from bringing up other sexual interests or fantasies. In fact, talking about the things that turn you both on that you’d like to try is the perfect time to bring up your interest. It doesn’t require a long run-up or explanation, so much as a “Hey, you know what I’ve always been into?”
The key here is to not treat your kink like it’s a deep dark secret. It’s just one thing – and not even that unusual – that happens to leave you harder than Chinese differential calculus. Your partner is going to take a lot of her cues from you. If you roll this out like your desires make you subhuman and you wouldn’t blame her if she ran screaming into the night… well, she’s much more likely to do just that. If you roll it out as this kinda-naughty-but-not-actually-that-scary fun thing to do, she’s far more likely to want to give it a try… if only because you are so into it.
In the meantime, do your research. Get a copy of When Someone You Love is Kinky, read up on kink with books like Tristan Taormino’s The Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Role Play and the Erotic Edge, Violet Blue’s The Ultimate Guide to Sexual Fantasy and Midori’s Wild Side Sex: The Book of Kink: Educational, Sensual, and Entertaining Essays. Watch some videos on KinkAcademy and spend a little time on FetLife.
The more you know, the better you’ll be able to explain it to people you might want to play with.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: My mother (yes, I still live with my family) wants to go to Orlando in a few days, because my younger siblings have spring break, and she asked me if I wanted to come with. The thing is, I have… issues regarding women at beaches and pools and water parks.
The basic underlying core of my beliefs is: I desperately want to be respectful and non-threatening to women. However, registering a woman as “attractive” or “sexy” feelsDISrespectful, and I’ve felt for a long time that there’s something inherently threatening about me simply because I’m male.
I feel like a creep if I look at a woman below the neck at all (not just staring like a fish), and obviously if she’s wearing a swimsuit that accentuates her figure, I’m going to notice. I understand that it’s her choice to wear what she wants, but I still think that noticing sex appeal instantly reduces someone to a sex object.
My friends and family tell me that this view is warped and toxic, and I do intend on bringing it up the next time I visit my therapist. However, Mom’s upcoming trip to Orlando kind of brought this to the forefront, because it’s the single biggest reason I’m reluctant to go.
Is there anything I can do to work on this before seeing my therapist?
Feminism Gone Mad
DEAR FEMINISM GONE MAD: Dude. Dude. This ain’t feminism, chief. This is some weird funhouse mirror version of straw feminists that only exist on dingy subreddits where dudes who’ve only heard about Andrea Dworkin third hand share what they think she said as gospel.
All of the things you just said? That’s got far less to do with being respectful and non-threatening and everything to do with being terrified of owning your own sexuality and not seeing your attraction as being an imposition on others.
Now this is very much the sort of thing you should be talking with a therapist about, not some loudmouth with an advice column, especially since Dr. NerdLove is emphatically NOT a doctor. But here’s the thing: women aren’t going to think you’re a threat just because you saw them in a bikini and got turned on.
Nor, for that matter, does that mean you’re objectifying them. Objectifying somebody doesn’t mean that you’re aroused by the sight of them or that you’d love to have sex with them if you had the chance. It means that you treat them like an object for your pleasure. A guy who goes after women just for a one-night stand so he can get off, without a thought about her comfort or pleasure? Someone who treats women as a decoration that they can stick their dick in? THAT’S objectifying them. Getting turned on at the sight of them or appreciating that they look hot? That just makes you a human with a sex drive, same as everyone else.
Repeat after me: finding people attractive doesn’t make you creepy. There’s nothing disrespectful about noticing that a woman is sexy or has a nice body. Being turned on by somebody isn’t objectifying them. If you don’t want to be disrespectful to women… well, don’t disrespect them. Don’t make comments about their boobs, don’t get handsy with them and don’t act like they’re there just for your pleasure. Can you think somebody is hot and still treat them like a human being? Cool, you’re not objectifying them. Can you look at somebody and not turn into a cartoon wolf and flip out over them? Awesome, you’re not being creepy or acting like a threat. Looking is fine. Staring, leering or cat-calling isn’t. If you’re really worried about being caught looking, get some sunglasses or learn to engage your peripheral vision.
And in the meantime, read some Susie Bright or My Secret Garden already and get used to the idea that women are sexual creatures too. I think it’ll do you some good.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)