creating a home

Home is a feeling of safety and security. It’s where you can relax and be your whole authentic self. It’s where you feel welcome and a sense of belonging. It’s comfort.

As I remember it, I don’t think I ever felt entirely welcome at home as a kid. It was not an emotionally warm or supportive place. My parents split when I was 10 and they lived close enough to each other that I spent half the week with each. I think my mom was more accepting of me, but the emotional temperature was always chilly; my dad was warmer but critical, and it got worse when he and his girlfriend moved in together — I felt actively unwelcome.

I attended university in my hometown so my first time living away was when my boyfriend and I moved across the country to a big city. It didn’t take long until the relationship became strained (at least to me — I think he thought everything was fine). We had an apartment together in an expensive city and neither of us could afford to move out. I didn’t feel comfortable; I felt trapped.

We moved back. My mom’s house was bursting at the seams. My dad (and his girlfriend) had moved to a smaller house. There was no room but I didn’t want to go back to someplace where I felt unwelcome anyway. My boyfriend’s family took us both in, which was very generous of them, but I never really belonged and the sense of being trapped returned. How can you break up with someone when you’re living with them and their parents? (I did try my dad’s place after all. I lasted three weeks.)

Much time has passed and Wolf and I have made a home together. (It still counts even though he’s living away right now for work.) We are entirely at ease together, entirely accepting, and I now have the warmth and welcome I always craved without knowing what was missing.

Our home is comfortable and cozy, a safe haven where we can close the door and lock the world out. The comfort of one’s own bed, especially when coming home after a trip, is well known. But for me, home is also where my fridge and pantry are, which means that I can eat food that I know won’t cause me health problems whenever I might be hungry and not have to rely on anyone else’s schedule or tastes. It’s also where my yoga mat, ankle weights and other gear are, which means I can do the stretches and exercises that keep my back and hips happy. So it represents my physical comfort as well.

And now that I’ve paid off the mortgage, there’s an extra feeling of accomplishment, contentment and security. Bliss.

 

F4Thought

reflecting and looking forward

“No peeking”, a Sinful Sunday photo from May 2016.

Well, 2019 was a year. Fortunately there was more positive than negative.

IBS-friendly diet and improved energy

In late 2018, I started managing my IBS using a FODMAP-based diet and by January 2019 I could tell that it was having a positive effect, and not only on my digestive symptoms.

The most unexpected — and utterly delightful — effect was that it largely resolved the fatigue that I’d struggled with for over seven years at that point, despite having undergone every relevant test my doctor could think of. As a result, instead of being constantly dragged down and only randomly experiencing the occasional unpredictable ‘on’ day, most days are now good days and if I get blindsided by some surprise fatigue, reverting to a conservative diet and waiting out my digestive process for a maximum of three days almost always resolves the issue.

For an accidental discovery, it’s had a huge effect on my day-to-day life. A few years ago, the combination of fatigue, poor sleep, depression and then antidepressants meant that I never knew for sure if I’d have the energy, cognition or focus to a given thing at a given time. (A few weeks after I tapered off the antidepressants in April 2018, the cognition and focus came back, but fatigue remained.) Eventually I got tired of disappointing myself so I just stopped planning anything and instead would decide on the day whether I was up for doing the thing. Which was me doing my best to cope, but it wasn’t very effective and it had exacerbated my inherent tendency not to make plans or have goals.

I now have the energy to plan and set goals, though I’m not actually very good at either of those things. So I’ll be working on that in all areas of my life, especially food (shopping, prepping, cooking), and sexuality (specifically exploring the factors that may be contribute to my low libido).

meditation

At the beginning of 2019 I started going to a weekly meditation class with a Buddhist group that meets conveniently near my place. I’d been thinking for some time that meditation would probably be good for my buzzy brain. And during my most recent meditation, I became aware that even though my brain is still far from quiet, it’s perceptibly quieter than it was when I started a year ago. It’s nice to feel that sense of progress.

I’m not practicing regularly at the moment but I’m working on making it part of my routine. And I’ll continue going to the classes because I find them helpful and I like the people: folks who are actively working on themselves to to decrease criticism and increase compassion are people I want to be around.

Wolf’s new job

Another significant change was that at the beginning of 2019 Wolf got a good contract job in a nearby city. For a change, we’re now both working at the same time, so things have suddenly gotten much easier financially, although he now has the expense of his own apartment and utilities. I’m in the process of paying out our mortgage early (we’re currently in payout limbo as the request has been made but the bank hasn’t withdrawn the money yet), so there’s a financial freedom on the horizon for us.

It’s not a secure enough job for me to consider upping stakes yet. But we’re making efforts to remain connected despite the distance, and he’s going to look for enjoyable things we can do when I come to visit to help with my project to have more pleasure in my life.

solitude

But with Wolf away, I’m once again alone here. It’s less than ideal but nowhere near as difficult as when he was overseas doing his doctorate: I tend not to get especially lonely; we talk on the phone every day and see each other every few weeks; neither of us are dealing with depression and/or anxiety the way we were before; and I still have support from Jaime.

Some time ago, I discovered that I couldn’t answer the questions “what do I like? what do I want?” in relation to sex. I now see that I struggle to answer these questions at all, for anything. I think this is largely because other people’s needs and wants seem much louder to me than my own. (It’s no coincidence that my epiphany occurred only after Wolf had been away for the better part of two years.)

But there is a mental quietness that comes from being by myself virtually all the time, enhanced by the fact that I keep the house literally quiet most of the time too. That literal and figurative quiet allows me to listen for my inner voice.

I’m going to make the most of my quiet time, keep trying to figure out my answers to those questions, and see what I can do to remain tuned in to my gut even when I’m not alone. I currently subject myself to a certain amount of mental chatter via social media, but I’m considering cutting down in order to be more deliberate with my energy; no decisions made yet on this point.

car theft

Our summer was marred by the theft and subsequent destruction of our car. Someone came in the back door of our house in the early evening and stole a handful of keys that were right there, including the car keys. I experienced a bunch of difficult emotions, chiefly anger, but in the end it didn’t hit me as hard as I (and others) expected. It was too much to process at once (similar to grief in that way) and I was concerned that perhaps I was at risk of burying the emotions rather than processing them. But I’m able to think about it now and while it’s still a bit sensitive, I don’t feel the need to avoid it, so I guess I’m OK.

Despite various anxieties I experienced that made it difficult to buy a new car, I did buy one, and I like it. Rather than getting a colour that would blend in, I got red because it’s my favourite colour, and despite the fact that some people judge drivers of red cars. Rather than getting a standard licence plate I got a personalised plate because it makes me happy to see it. It was an exercise in determining what I like and want, and prioritising my own pleasure.

I still have some anger, sadness and frustration about this episode, but I trust that it will ease over time and that giving it some attention today will help that process. We’ve taken some steps already for increased security and I’ll give some thought to some others, all with the goal of keeping my response reasonable and proportionate and not turning into an angry misanthropist in a walled compound.

looking forward

I’ve spent a lot of time over the holidays planning, which is unlike me. But I think I’m ready for planning and strategizing now in a way that I wasn’t before, thanks partly to the meditation I’ve been doing. (One of my common intrusive thoughts while meditating is my to-do list, so it would be helpful if I gave it its own dedicated time.)

This process of listening to my gut and planning has given me a clearer idea of what I want to do with this blog going forward. Having realised and accepted that I still have unresolved issues around sexuality, I want to work on those and I’m going to try harnessing the power of memes to give me a kick in the pants to get that stuff done 🙂

 

F4Thought

goals and plans for 2019 — do I have any?

This week’s Food for Thought Friday questions are about goals and plans for 2019.

I’ve never been one for planning very far ahead or making new year’s resolutions or anything. The best time to start something new is now, whatever day of the year that happens to be. I feel the same way about personal growth and life generally. I’m not one for doing things the way they’ve always been done just because they’ve always been done that way; on the contrary, looking for ways to improve is part of my worldview.

That’s not to say that I never plan anything, but while I was dealing with depression (and fatigue) I learned, like Kilted Wookie, not to plan very far in advance. There were too many times when I decided that I’d do whatever thing in a day or two, and then the day came and I lacked the resources I needed to do the thing. Cancelling my own plans was much more disappointing than not making them in the first place.

That’s much less of an issue now, though I still have my natural tendency not to set goals. Even so, I do have some ideas that more or less fit into this category.

I’m planning a trip to see Jaime in April. It will have been over a year since we saw each other last. Too long, but he lives too far away.

My most important and most immediate goal is to take good care of myself while Wolf is away, and the biggest element of that is getting better at cooking. Wolf just likes to take care of me and so he ordinarily does all the grocery shopping, cooking, and dish-washing. I was never a fan of cooking and never developed those skills to where I’d like them to be. When he was away doing his degree, I kept myself fed, but I made big batches of things that took too long to prepare and then got sick of the interminable leftovers.

My specific goal is to develop the skills to reliably throw a decent fresh meal together with a minimum of effort. I foresee a routine of planning supper while eating breakfast so I can go on a supply run at lunch. This is complicated by my dietary needs which have only gotten more complex.

I’m also trying to improve a few health issues. I hope to learn to control my IBS symptoms better through diet, hence the FODMAP diet I’m on now (which will be wrapping up soonish). If that also helps improve a couple of other health issues, as seems possible, it will be a happy bonus.

Another goal is to reduce the amount of stuff in the house. This is a big project, which I first identified years ago, after our last move. (It becomes so obvious, when you have to carry and cart every one of your possessions, how much stuff you actually own.) It’s the detritus of years, a physical collection of deferred decisions. I do get the occasional wave of anxiety about this massive task, but I’ve also been selling stuff online so I remind myself that it’s a work in progress and I just have to keep chipping away. If I’m in a hurry, there are places and ways to just give it away. What slows me down is a sustainability issue: I can’t in good conscience just pitch a bunch of stuff in the garbage, and I struggle with being decisive enough to just get shit done.

This project is more important now that Wolf has this new job, since there is a very good chance that we’ll need to move to a different city this summer. If I have to move, I’d prefer to go where he is now though I’d be happier not to, due to sheer laziness. But chances are this time next year I’ll be in a different city.

As for plans for change, I’m working on getting to know myself better, specifically my needs and wants. A related issue is trying to overcome my low libido. These are the current facets of my perpetual project of seeking contentment, enjoyment, satisfaction, well-being. In a word, happiness.

None of these are really goals for 2019 (except for the obviously time-sensitive ones) as I just don’t think that way, but now is as good a time as any other to talk about plans.

cracking my personal dress code

This week’s Food for Thought Friday questions are about everyday clothing.

Are there specific things I always tend to wear? Yes. My winter style uniform is leggings, and a cashmere sweater over a long-sleeved T, and I’m happy to wear basically the same thing almost every day. Why? You might want to get comfortable while I explain.

For a long time I had the vague sense (that would occasionally percolate through to my conscious awareness) that my clothes didn’t really reflect me – almost like I was wearing someone else’s clothes that happened to fit me – but I had no idea what would be more me, so I just continued to wear what I had.*

Then a number of years ago, I was trying to do more sewing and I hoped to start making my own clothes and if I was going to put that much effort into my wardrobe, I thought it wise to be more deliberate with my style so as not to waste my time, enthusiasm, materials and money. I’d found a good style website and started my research.

The first thing I analysed was my colouring. Since this has to do with skin colour (and to a lesser extent hair and eye colour), it’s very objective, and I worked through the resources and reached a conclusion fairly quickly. (My favourite range of colours to wear is deep red, burgundy, and reddish berry tones. In my wardrobe, burgundy is a basic.)

Next up was body shape. This was a little more challenging because I didn’t obviously match any single category. I had a bit of this and a bit of that, and sometimes the advice for the two categories was contradictory. With a bit of trial and error, however, I was able to reach some conclusions about garment types that were likely to work and those that weren’t. Between colour and shape, I was now able to filter out 90% or more of the clothes in any given store, and home in on the most promising stuff. It was a good start.

The last area for analysis was personal style, which is based on one’s personality – think classic, boho, sporty, dramatic/creative, etc. I had a lot of trouble with this because I didn’t really know what I liked and none of the standard styles spoke to me. I needed to get to know myself better. And though it took a while, I eventually got there.

What did I learn? First, comfort is really important to me; I’m sensitive to small irritations and I’ll be miserable if my clothes bind or pinch. (Binding and pinching is only OK if my partner does it, with consent ;)) So I now choose a lot of knits and other fabrics with at least a little stretch; the t-shirts, sweaters and leggings all meet this criterion. And cashmere is warm and cuddly.

I generally prefer subtlety and blending in, but that doesn’t mean that I aim to look like everyone else, and I don’t give two shits about trends. I’ve found I like ease, simplicity and practicality: clean lines, simple design, solids rather than prints, minimal or no jewelry, generally no makeup, and I rely on a good haircut because I don’t enjoy fussing over my hair. I don’t mind wearing basically the same thing over and over, which means uniform dressing work well for me.

I’m not afraid of revealing my shape, which is unmistakably female, but I don’t like most clothing details that are coded as “feminine”, such as lace or eyelet, tulle, frills and ruffles, bows, florals, pink (any shade), pastels and blush tones, most skirts, Peter Pan collars, and the list goes on. Most of these tend to be fussy, frivolous, impractical and/or uncomfortable. The ease, simplicity, practicality and comfort that I favour happen to be coded as “masculine”. I am very not femme.

What about under my clothes? My day-to-day underwear comprises a soft bra, and panties with a bit of coverage (underwire bras and thongs for special occasions only). Underwear needs to be comfortable enough that I can forget about it. Panties are usually black so I can wear them any time, period or no, and not worry about staining. Bras are black because I mostly wear darker colours. So yes, they match, after a fashion.

Is there anything I wouldn’t be caught dead in? Yellow or orange look terrible on me. I have always hated the shape of platform heels. Frills, ruffles and bows. Loud prints. Clashing colours. Most synthetic fibres, because I hate the feel and properties of them, and the fact that they’re plastic.

As for what I like to see men wearing, I don’t have strong preferences about specific garments. Sure, suits can look good, but so can jeans. Mostly I like to see an overall sense of style and personality.

* It has taken me a long time to learn to ask myself “What do I like? What do I want?” and this is an issue I’m currently exploring but I’m pretty sure it has to do with my parents’ lack of emotional intelligence when I was a kid.

slow burn

I have never been a fan of quickies and that seems unlikely to change any time soon.

Before my epiphany, sexual shame put a damper on everything. I didn’t feel sexy. I didn’t experience spontaneous arousal. I didn’t experience much arousal even with help. On the rare occasions when I got warmed up, it took a long time to get there and Wolf and I would usually take, oh, 2-3 hours.

The last quickie I can recall was pre-Wolf, so a long time ago indeed. My boyfriend and I had been attending a low-key social event at a restaurant one evening. As I recall, we ducked out to his car in the parking lot and we had 15 or 20 minutes before we needed to give someone a ride home. I don’t remember anything more about it (and what I do remember is very hazy), but I must have been very turned on and that pleases me.

Thing is, as a rule, I still don’t get turned on easily at all. I think my libido is just naturally low, and having had all of my early learning about sexuality tainted with that deep shame, I suspect it continues to affect my relationship with sex even now, despite the fact that I don’t feel that specific shame anymore.

I’ve been trying to figure out my turn-ons but haven’t gotten very far with the project, or there just aren’t many. Either way, it’s a source of frustration. And on top of that, depression and medication have taken their toll. The slightest flicker of libido is therefore welcomed, but if I’m going to act on it, it needs a tremendous amount of coaxing to ignite, like damp wood.

And you know? Fast and furious just isn’t my style. I don’t do anything quickly. Shopping, travelling, crafting and sewing. I like to take my time with all of it, and if I rush, I don’t enjoy it.

So for the foreseeable future, any sex is going to be slow sex.

F4TF: mono-poly

This week’s question:

Monogamy – do you think it is our natural inclination?
Are you in a monogamous relationship or do you you live a polyamorous life?
If you are monogamous, is it by choice? Do you find it easy or is it a struggle?

When I see the word “natural” I tend to go into sceptic mode – though that would suggest I occasionally leave sceptic mode, and I’m not sure that’s accurate. “Natural” is often used as a shorthand appeal to “natural law”, which is a set of moral principles that can theoretically be arrived at objectively. Beware! And it tends to be tied up with a confusion between is and ought, which in this case could take the form of “people in most cultures are monogamous, therefore all people ought to be monogamous.”

I don’t know if it’s actually true that most cultures subscribe to monogamy, and there are problems with definition, such as: does monogamy mean only one partner in a lifetime, or does serial monogamy (including marriage ending in divorce) count as a type of monogamy? and, if a significant proportion of people in a monogamous culture cheat on their spouses, is the culture really “monogamous”?

Humans are complex creatures. There’s a tremendous amount of individual variety, and the family and culture you grow up in have a massive impact too. We don’t have a great deal of instinctive behavior because we are intelligent and learn virtually everything we need to know in order to survive.

I’ve mentioned before that I considered myself strictly monogamous (in the serial monogamy sense of the word) until recently. I much prefer having few close friendships rather than a bunch of acquaintances, and I’d rather get to know someone one-to-one rather than while hanging out in a group. I focus. I’ve never had any difficulty with monogamy, was never tempted to cheat. When Wolf and I started seeing each other, we spent all our free time together for the first, oh, ten years or more. The longest we’d ever been apart was about a week. And then when he started studying in the UK, we emailed and Skyped daily.

But I also felt rather isolated and it turns out that I need more human connection in general. When I met Gawan online, I had no idea where things were going to go, I just let them unfold as they would, and it didn’t take long before I developed an attachment and the relationship became romantic (though not in a familiar form, due to the distance and other circumstances). I wasn’t expecting it nor was I looking for it, and I ended up having some emotional work to do, but I was interested to find that this relationship hasn’t resulted in any diminishment of my feelings for Wolf at all. (If it had, I would have pulled the plug on the new relationship.) I’ve since realized that I suffer from something of a love and affection deficit, and so now having the love of two people feels really nurturing to me. So I suppose I’m somewhat polyamorous now. (It’s complicated by the fact that the relationship with Gawan is long distance, so the practicalities involve email, Skype, and occasional big trips rather than setting up a date night etc.)

I don’t really identify as “polyamorous”, and I’m not sure it’s the most accurate term but it’ll do for now. Whatever this is, it’s a kind of ethical non-monogamy. Are monogamy and polyamory simply functional descriptions of how you arrange the relationship(s) that you have? Or are they entrenched orientations – like being heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual – such that you can identify as one or another even when you’re single? I certainly feel more mono than poly, but how much of that is my authentic identity and how much is culture and habit?

Romantic attachment parallels parent-child attachment, and most children have an attachment to two parents. I won’t say that romantic attachment to two partners is therefore “natural” or some kind of should, but maybe it’s not entirely unnatural. We are a social species and we seek connection.

I’m not looking for any new relationships. And if I found myself in only one romantic relationship again, I wouldn’t go looking for someone to fill the vacancy. But I probably won’t look at “friendship” and “romantic relationship” as rigidly defined, mutually exclusive categories anymore either.

F4TF: it’s how you use it

Simple question this week:

How much does penis size matter?

The beginning of this answer starts in an odd place, but bear with me.

Everyone is familiar with bust–waist–hips and these are the horizontal measurements that tend to be most often mentioned in relation to clothing. A couple of years ago, I ran across a style blog that had a post about vertical proportions. There is also a set of ideal vertical proportions, and the post explained the landmarks to use and how to figure this all out. Being an analytical sort, I cheerfully measured myself up and found to my surprise that overall my proportions looked fairly balanced, but there were a couple of odd details, including the fact that the distance from my bellybutton to the thigh/hip crease was remarkably short. Who knew?

That means that my pelvis is proportionately very short. Add to that the fact that I’m 5’2″ (157 cm), and, well, you see where I’m going with this, don’t you? Getting back to the topic, I suspect that I just don’t have the room to accommodate a great deal of length.

I suppose most of the guys I’ve had sex with were of average size. There was one guy whose noticeable smallness pleased me well enough at the time because it meant that, despite my relative lack of arousal, I wasn’t uncomfortable. (This was a shitty week-long “relationship” with someone who in the light of day turned out to be a jerk. The fact that he didn’t actively hurt me is about as good as it got.)

But the only penis I’ve known in a very long time is Wolf’s, and he’s above average in length and girth. Both dimensions used to be challenging, in fact. I definitely need to be aroused and even then he bottoms out easily.

(Somewhere in his research he ran across a paper about a medieval wooden, um, cock-washer (for lack of a better term) that appeared to be used as a spacer when the sword was too long for the sheath. He hasn’t been able to locate the paper again, to my utter dismay.)

Anyway, I’m not a size queen and I find myself confronted with an embarrassment of riches. If I was building the perfect man from scratch, I’d probably choose an average penis, but small has potential too. In other words, it doesn’t much matter.

F4TF: communication

This week, the F4TF team asks:

Are you comfortable discussing sex with your partner? Do you have the confidence to ask for what you like/want?

I can now, but it wasn’t always so.

For me, good communication is a hard-won skill. I don’t remember ever seeing my parents (before they split) discussing difficult issues, though I did witness the occasional blow-up. As for me, if I did something wrong, my mom’s disapproval was silently icy, while my dad would bite his tongue until he couldn’t anymore, then shout at me.

Since I started having relationships, there have been many times when I wanted to say something (for instance, about a difficulty I was having with the relationship) but suffered a sudden, paralyzing attack of muteness.

Talking about sex involved a foundation of general muteness topped with a thick layer of sexual shame. The inherent reticence remained a problem, but before I could even try to speak I had to know what I wanted, which meant I had to be aware of and acknowledge my wants. So I first had to allow myself to have wants. The net effect was that I didn’t have much, if anything, to say.

Things have improved a great deal for me, but it’s not always easy. My communication style still leans towards delicacy rather than bluntness. Wolf and I started really discussing things while he was still out of the country, so everything was mediated by the distance of Skype, or email, or curated Tumblr images. I’ve gotten over my reticence with him and I experience only occasional mild embarrassment, which is typically paired with a slight hesitation to speak. But do I still get a bit hung up at the stage of actually knowing what I want and allowing myself to want. That’s something I’m working on. Once I know what I want, I don’t find it overly difficult to ask for it.

Gawan and I have more to discuss, and this is the first time I’ve gone through the early phases of a relationship without being stuck on mute. In his frankness, he sets a good example for me. And given how we met, talking about sex was definitely going to be on the table! Things are complicated by the fact that this is long-distance, and we’re also discussing BDSM. If I’m unable to articulate an answer while we’re talking on Skype – whether from shyness or just not knowing – I’ll take some time afterwards to have a bit of a think and then write an email. I always find writing easier than saying it out loud.

In communication needs and wants, my exploration of the dark and hidden corners of myself is as big a part of the process as being able to give voice to what I find.

F4TF: risky business

badge F4TF

The questions:

Where is the riskiest/most adventurous place that you have had sex? Did you get caught?

The student paper at my alma mater once ran a lengthy quiz to determine how “corrupt” you were. I don’t think I was alone in using it for inspiration for future hijinks.

One item on the list was having had sex in a church. Now, I’ve never been a churchgoer, so when would I even be in a church?

But an opportunity of sorts arose when I went to a social event that was being held in a church basement. It was mostly just a big open space, but at one end was a fair-sized storage closet. Toward the end of the evening when folks were busy packing up and doing some last-minute visiting, we nipped in, fucked, and nipped out again. There was no way that I was going to get off under those circumstances, though “quick, furtive, and almost public” has its charms.

I expected to encounter some raised eyebrows on our exit, but with all the to-ing and fro-ing and chattering in the hall, I don’t think anyone had noticed anything unusual. Even if they had noticed, they would have no doubt concluded that nothing unusual could have happened because I was involved. I was the good girl, you see.

And even though we were in the basement and not the church proper, I still gave myself a point on the quiz.

F4TF: limits

badge F4TF

The questions:

Is there something (or things) that you would absolutely say no to in a sexual context?
What are your limits? Are they hard? Soft?
Have your limits changed over time?

My sexual limits have definitely changed since my epiphany, which has made the last year and a half quite exciting.

Before, I placed a lot of restrictions on sexual play (and on my partner) in order to feel safe. Receiving cunnilingus was OK, and being penetrated with a finger or two was OK in that context but not otherwise. Touching his cock and having intercourse were essentially soft limits. Fellatio felt threatening and degrading: hard limit, no question. Anal play: hard limit. No toys. Non-monogamy was an absolutely rigid limit that I wouldn’t have even thought about questioning.

What a difference it made when I no longer had sexual shame putting on the brakes: I get turned on, I get wet and relaxed! Intercourse is no longer uncomfortable and I actually enjoy it, physically and emotionally, even though I can’t climax that way. Touching my partner’s cock is no longer a limit. I have a few toys now – my little vibrator gets the most use.

Fellatio first became a soft limit, and now it’s not a limit anymore. I tend to feel shy about it, but I’m able to offer without taking ages to work up the nerve, and once I get started I’m fine.

I’ve found that I enjoy anal play with fingers or toys. I’m curious about anal sex, but it’s not going to happen for a while: I find my partner’s girth rather, um, intimidating at the moment.

I now enjoy some spicy stuff that verges on BDSM (spanking, dirty talk, mild bondage, being blindfolded), or is definitely BDSM (flogging, submission, enforced availability). The stuff I tend to fantasize about is generally BDSM. I’d say non-monogamy is a soft limit: I’ve had some mild sexual play with one person who is not my partner but I have no interest in being sexual with anyone else.

My current sexual (non-BDSM) limits: monogamy with one notable exception. I’d probably try most “ordinary” things. If I were single, one-night stands would be a hard limit, and “friends with benefits” seems highly unlikely to appeal. No swinging, cuckolding, threesomes or group sex. I’m not interested in playing with other women.

My BDSM limits are much, much broader since I’m such a novice – there’s a lot that I might try at some point but I’m not ready for now. Hard limits: scat; needles, cutting, drawing blood, permanent marks; humiliation; breath play.