DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I am a woman in my mid20’s with a rather specific kink: I really, really like being tickled by other women. I discovered I wasn’t alone in this a couple years ago when I stumbled into online content. I remember how happy and relieved I felt at first, realizing there were people like me, and I joined with my own little profile. But a few months ago I realized I was gay and came out – and suddenly I’ve got a new problem.
Maybe I’m just not looking in the right place but it feels like kink communities online – or at least the ones with people who live anywhere close (cross-country travel is not feasible for me right now because I can’t afford it with my current job) – skew HEAVILY in favor of men looking for women, either to tickle or be tickled by. The few queer women I have even met on here tend to be either wholly submissive in this area themselves (I can switch occasionally but like. Not as often as they need) and/or have a male partner, and no hate but I’m not interested in polyamory.
However, the thought of dating someone the regular way and then letting her in on my kink early on in the relationship and hoping she’ll be down to explore scares me way more than it (possibly) should. To some degree I’m sure everyone feels weirded out by a sexual thing they aren’t into at all but I dunno, I’m also into bondage. But I’ve seen people both people that I know and people online, react to that concept very differently. Like yeah some people will still act grossed out or make fun of BDSM but with tickling I feel like I’ve seen a LOOOT more negative reactions whenever someone else (not me, I’ve never had the nerve to do it with someone I didn’t meet through kink online) up the mere concept – at best there’s obviously-grossed-out amusement and confusion, at worst someone flat out says they think it’s creepy. And I even unfortunately know that some people have had that done to them as a form of abuse with no regard for their consent or pleasure, by a previous partner so I know there are people who wouldn’t just be uninterested but actively find the thing traumatic.
When I’m in a kink space or on my own it doesn’t bother me but outside of it the mere idea of admitting this to a future girlfriend who I haven’t met through that community (and therefore had confirmation they’re into it too) is genuinely terrifying. It brings on such intense shame that it paralyzes me. I know it’s a perfectly harmless thing when practiced consensually like any other kink, I know you’ll say anyone who would judge me for this is a jerk who’s self-selecting themselves out of my dating/sex life pool and I know that intellectually but I honestly don’t know if I could ever bring myself to do it. I’m so much more afraid to ever tell a prospective partner I met the regular way about this than I am to tell her I like bondage. I don’t want a girl I like and have started dating to think I’m weird or gross or even make fun of me – worse, I have this fear that in the age of normalized oversharing via tiktok or twitter that even if she acted normal to my face she’d laugh at me about it later or like. Make some storytime about me and how gross she thinks I am.
So for now I feel like my only viable options are either keep this a part of my sexuality that’s only for me even when I have a partner and never get to actually experience it – or keep trying with the online kink spaces that so far are yielding next to nothing for me. Both options feel increasingly exhausting and lonely. Lately I just wish I could be either just a normal ass lesbian who maybe likes bondage sometimes OR have this kink but be into men as well because bi and straight women do not have ANY problem with attention. (And yes, a lot of it is negative I know, and I don’t envy them that, I’m not trying to be insensitive. But I’ve also seen so many meet partners and just. HAVE AN ACTIVE KINK LIFE at all through the community whereas the lesbian side is almost nonexistent – though I also do get swamped sometimes with gross men who refuse to read and understand what the words MEN DO NOT INTERACT mean so it kind of feels like I got the worst of all worlds. This is not just me enviously looking at the few success stories, I promise you, it’s just so much more common for women to be able to meet a partner and fellow kinkster through this than with other women. I know that’s likely because gay dating pools are just smaller in general but this is even more than the ordinary lesbian dating scene.) It feels like I’ll never find a partner who’ll be into this too, or willing to satisfy this desire and it really hurts. Any advice?
DEAR UNTOUCHABLE: Untouchable, you don’t have a kink problem so much as a marketing problem, and that marketing problem has thrown your worst-case-scenario-vision into overdrive. You haven’t so much as started to look for dates or partners and you’ve created apocalyptic scenarios where you either stepped on a landmine that you couldn’t have known about and retraumatized them and blew up the relationship, dated someone who decided to go out with you just to mock you on her social media and now everything is awful.
So the first thing to do is just slow your roll. Seriously, you’re nowhere near a place where it’s time to worry about any of these things. You’ve declared that you’ll never find someone who could satisfy your desire, but it seems that you came to this conclusion because your brain was running around in circles imagining all the horrible things that would happen, rather than actually putting yourself out there on FetLife. And while it’s understandable that having seen some folks’ reactions can throw you for a loop, it’s worth remembering that “a few folks in your social circle and/or online” does not a statistically significant dataset make. That’s more about confirmation bias screwing with you; you notice the negative reactions far more, because it directly correlates to your fears that you’re going to squick people out.
First of all, you might be surprised at how many kinksters are out there – including women who love women who might share your kink. For all the handwringing about kink at Pride, studies have found that LGBTQ people tend to practice kink at higher rates than cis and hetero folks. There’s a good chance that there’s a lesbian, bi or pan top out there who would be very interested in doing tickle scenes with you. The odds are even better if you look for someone to top you in this particular way outside of a committed relationship.
But let’s say that this is something that a) you need as more than an occasional experience and b) within the context of a committed and/or monogamous relationship. You still have good odds of finding a partner who’s willing to give it a shot.
Here’s the thing: there’re two types of kinksters out there. There’re the folks who were functionally born kinky (that is: they discovered their kinks themselves), and then there’re the folks who were introduced to kink by their partners. You’re one of the former. Odds are good – just on pure demographics – that most of the women you’re likely to date are the latter. While you can certainly make a point of connecting with your local kink community (and you absolutely should; more on that in a moment), you shouldn’t look at that as your only option to ever have this need met. This would severely limit your potential dating pool, and do so unnecessarily; queer kinky women already in the scene are almost certainly going to be a fraction of the total queer community in your area. You’re going to have better luck finding dates and potential partners who are currently just into standard-issue sex, but who’re open to some forms of kink.
One of the core components of a strong sexual connection with your partner is recognizing that sometimes you’re both going to do things for (or to) one another that the person performing the act may not get a lot out of, but the person on the receiving end does. Sometimes it may mean a position that really works for them that you could take or leave, or that’s not your favorite. Other times, it may mean indulging in a partner’s kink or fetish or other request within reason. Foot worship, for example, may raise some people’s eyebrows – considering how often it was used as code for “weirdo” and “pervert” – but it’s not a terribly unusual, nor is it a bridge too far for an otherwise vanilla person to indulge for their kinky partner. Similarly, things like handcuffs or blindfolds or role play are areas where I think most people might say “Ok, yeah, it’s not my thing but I could do that for my partner. Intense impact play, electro-stim, suspension and shibari… those start getting into “possibly too much”, while scenes involving breath-control, edgeplay or various bodily fluids would be a hard no for a lot of folks.
I feel fairly safe in saying that tickling, especially being the person doing the tickling, isn’t going to an edge case or a hard no for most people. I think you may find potential partners are more bemused by it, with a “well, if it works for you…” attitude than you’ll experience folks running screaming into the night when you bring it up. In fact, I suspect a lot of the women you may meet aren’t going to even realize that tickling is a kink or a form of domination/submission play. They may be more surprised than shocked, but I think you’re far more likely to find people who’re willing to go with it and give it the ol’ college try because of how much it does for you.
However, you won’t get this response if you roll it out the way you did here. When you’re rolling something out to others, they will often look to you as an indication as to how they should react. If you tell someone about your kink as though you were confessing to some horrible personal flaw or generational curse that forces you to consume live koi fish every seven weeks, then yeah, they’re going to react badly. You primed them to expect the worst, and they’re going to respond accordingly, even if all you’re doing is asking them to tickle your feet with a feather duster or something.
Instead, you want to present it as a value add, not something to be ashamed of and you’re only bringing up out of obligation. This isn’t something shameful or sick or whatever, it’s a quirk that makes you uniquely you, a bit of information about you that means that relationships with you are never going to be boring or typical and isn’t she lucky?
Now, while this is fairly tame as far as kinks go, you may want to give it some time and get to know your dates before letting this one out. Not because your dates need to get used to you before you throw them this curve ball, but because you are trying to feel them out and whether they are someone you can trust. You’re not going to fully eliminate the sex-negative anti-kinksters or the theoretical tiktok influencers who’ll see your story as viral #FYP fodder by waiting, but it’ll give you a better handle on who they are and whether this relationship has legs or not. And if they react badly anyway? Well, you told them one thing about who you are as a person, while they revealed everything about themselves.
With that in mind, it’s still going to be a good idea to make connections with your local kink community too. I’d recommend going to some munches or any open-dungeon parties (if there are any), meet your fellow doms and subs and make friends with them. Having a solid social base who understand your interests and think it’s cool, will do wonders for your sense of self-esteem alone and ease the anxiety weasels ping-ponging all around the inside of your head. While you may or may not find a partner amongst your local kinksters (or even any of the long-distance ones), you may find some women who are willing to top you this way and provide you with the release (er… as it were) of being forcibly tickled. And if you do end up dating someone who is wonderful but not really into the tickling thing, then having someone you can go to in order to get that need met could well be part of what makes that relationship last.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com