Why Doms & Subs Should Not Date Vanilla People
To be perfectly honest... I often wish I wasn't romantically and sexually dominant. I'm single, and regularly meet attractive, vibrant, vanilla girls who think I'm an awesome dancer and appealing gent and want to get to know me. Alas, I cannot date any of these gals and expect it to go anywhere; I know, because I have tried.
A few weeks ago, a reader posted a comment on this predicament:
... A man I feel deep feelings for recently told me he's been a Dom for over 25 years — which freaked me out a little, to be honest. He is 10 years older and we have a great deal in common. Intellectually he is unlike any man I have ever known, and our connection, interaction, attraction, and compatibility are almost magical. My issue mostly is that I am not what anyone would consider submissive ... Even worse, I cannot imagine anyone thinking I would be submissive in the full sense of the word. Yes, there are few things (I think) I would decline to do with this man because I think he's simply amazing, but on the other hand, I don't think I could allow him to actually hurt me, or humiliate me. I'm definitely not turned on by things like that.
I responded to her that, from my own hard experience, the two of them should go separate ways; that each of them would be far more fulfilled by a partner who would love them they way they need to be loved.
Five years ago I fell in love with... let's call her Amanda. She was a wonderful dancer, tall, thin, curvy, with an expressive face that was stunning when she beamed, which she did constantly. Her romantic nature was giving and devoted, and sexually adventurous. We had delightful chemistry from the first moments, and I fell for her rapidly. The second or third time we got together, I told her I'm a dom, and what that means. She replied that she was open to any mutually fulfilling erotic explorations. And suddenly we were spending as much time together as possible.
But giving and devoted and in-love do not add up to submissive; sexually adventurous is not kinky per se. Love does not, it turns out, conquer anyone or anything; it merely makes you believe passionately that you should try, and damn the consequences. Our relationship was delightfully intense, and we took some remarkable excursions, both within the bedroom and beyond it. But ultimately neither of us could give the other what they needed in romance. She could not embrace, or even comprehend, my need to see her suffer in any sexual situation. During the last half of an eighteen month relationship, we had virtually no sexual contact, just periodic platonic snuggling. Given how much we loved, and wanted, each other, that was heart-breaking, daily.
I'll note that one may draw the line between "vanilla" and "kinky" differently. I would not call it kink when partners include occasional light bondage or barehanded spanking in their sex life. To me, kink implies high, sustained physical and/or psychological intensity, which the partners crave regularly. Such intensity usually demands a recovery period, which may include focused care immediately following the experience.
It's tough being a kinky single, especially if, like me, you seek the deep bond which D/s and S&M engender between committed partners — versus alternative sex with whatever curious creature crosses your path, which is easier to arrange. Searching for someone with whom you share compatibility in both kink and vanilla terms can be disheartening, as there's such a small pool of people who both share your kinks, and would also love your everyday personality. The loneliness that results from this dearth of possibility drives some of us to attempt relationships with vanilla people, simply because they're so much easier to find, and flirt with, and fall for. This is a mistake.
It won't feel like a mistake initially. It's exhilarating to feel deeply connected to someone, to see into another's soul, and feel intimately seen by them. But as in any new coupling, it's essential to recognize the difference between infatuation and mutual understanding. The former flares up immediately, the latter unfolds over time. And what unfolds over time in a kinky-vanilla pairing is misunderstanding, disappointment, frustration.
Some submissive women I've talked to who've dated vanilla guys have said that they've found themselves actually taking the lead in those relationships. I surmise that's because they're keenly aware of the value of authority in partnership, and so attempt to fill that vacuum, even though it makes them uncomfortable or even disdainful of their partner.
But suppose you don't discover that you're kinky until... after you're married. I've talked with a few women in this situation. Being married doesn't predispose your partner to being dominant or submissive with you any more than being in love does, even though this seems like the most natural thing in the world, at least for the kinky party. But you do have options here, besides shelving your D/s desires or separating. A surprising number of folks I've spoken with have kink partners alongside a vanilla marriage, with the consent of their spouse. Obviously this requires the spouse to be open-minded and flexible! Another angle is finding some kinky practices which the vanilla partner enjoys. It's not hard to create that sustained physical and psychological intensity I've referred to with someone you know well. And of course some choose to indulge their desires outside the marriage without telling, although this entails significant risk to the relationship.
Based on the conversations I've had with innumerable kinky people over the past seven years, I'm prepared to assert that appetites for dominance, submission, or sadomasochism are innate, not acquired. Many of my sources report becoming aware of deviant desires in childhood, before attaining any education on sex. Vanilla folks simply don't experience a thrill in wielding control over a partner, or yielding it; the roles feel awkward. True, you can awaken latent desires in someone who is kinky but hasn't had partners to explore it with. (Although in our era of diverse and abundant kink porn and erotica, where a D/s romance trilogy became a runaway best seller, the number of people harboring quiet cravings for D/s is dwindling.) But you can't teach someone you love to become dominant or submissive; you need someone who was born this way.