Pathetic

Friday, April 02, 2010

Question

I am a submissive male who has a compulsive sexual fantasy about becoming a slave. When this fantasy is strong, I read a lot of sex ads, make calls or write e-mails, and masturbate a lot. Sometimes I have hurt my sex organs (made my penis bleed). I get fixated on one woman and convinced that this is going to work with her. I fantasize about being her live-in slave so much that I can't get much else done. I have to continue to care for my mother, who is bedridden and lives with me. Her trust fund covers our living expenses.

Before I can achieve my fantasy, something always goes wrong. Either the mistress doesn't find me attractive, or she wants me to do things that I don't think a slave should do, or she stops answering my phone calls and e-mails. When I get discouraged, I get very depressed. I shove my fantasy away and repress it. Then I am celibate for months, rarely masturbating at all. I keep myself busy doing volunteer work.

This cycle has been going on for most of my life. I am in my late fifties now and don't see it changing any time soon. But it is making me desperate. Why am I stuck between a fantasy that I can't achieve or being asexual? Regular relationships with women don't work for me; I can't satisfy them if they expect me to be at all dominant. Maybe I have done some good in my life but that hasn't amounted to very much personal happiness. Sometimes I wonder how I can justify continuing to live. Your thoughts would be very welcome at this point as I keep going around in circles and can't seem to make a decision one way or the other. I feel completely

Answer

I want to empathize with your pain, but I just can't call another human being pathetic. Your situation is complicated. You have suffered a lot in your life, and I can understand why you feel deep despair. I don't know if an answer in an advice column will be enough to really help you. So I hope you will consider finding a kink-aware therapist who can give you much-needed support. Simply being responsible for the care of an invalid is enough to cause many people to feel depressed. Doing so when you also feel isolated and unable to create a fulfilling relationship makes you more vulnerable to negative emotional states.

The fantasy of being a live-in slave who is in a submissive or service role around the clock is quite popular. There are many bottoms who want to be accepted for a position of this nature. But there are not very many dominants who are willing to bring a slave into their household or their lives. As you know, slavery in the realm of BDSM (bondage and discipline, sadism and masochism) is not at all like the slavery we read about in history books. No BDSM slave is literally owned or treated as chattel. Their needs and limits have to be considered. An unhappy fetish slave will simply leave the relationship.

Having a so-called slave is actually a lot more work for a dominant than having a relationship with a bottom who is in role only during sessions or scenes. This type of play sets clear boundaries between the mundane world and fantasy enactment. This allows the top and bottom to get out of role and enjoy other aspects of their identities. Role-playing full-time is very demanding. Many would-be slaves expect their "owner" to wear fetish attire full-time. They anticipate a life spent in the dungeon or playroom. In actuality, a successful master/slave relationship usually has some down time or breaks. The slave needs to understand that they are there to make the owner's life easier, not to find fault with them or require them to constantly wear a corset and six-inch high heels. A genuine slave is able to be submissive when their owner is wearing sweat pants and watching cartoons. They provide what the owner demands, even if it is something they don't personally find erotic, like making cocoa, fetching the dry cleaning, or helping out at a garage sale.

I'm not surprised that things go wrong during your negotiations. For such a high-level act of submission and control to work, compatibility has to be very nearly perfect. Such compatibility can't be built in a phone call or e-mail. Instead of starting with the most extreme BDSM relationship possible, you need to back up—way up—and start at the beginning. If you have never done a single session, i.e., bottomed for a few hours, how do you know you would really enjoy being a full-time slave? Some sex acts are better enjoyed as fantasies. Right now, you need more experience before you can tell whether that is true of your obsession.

When you want to be a full-time slave, a session that lasts only a few hours probably sounds rather trivial. Believe me, it is not. Giving another person control over your physical and emotional experiences is huge. The only way to learn how to be a good slave, one who is genuinely valuable and desirable, is to pay your dues. You have a lot of skills to learn.

Most Owner/Property relationships began with more casual play. The two partners gradually come to realize that they need to take things to the next level, which is usually being in role for an entire day or weekend. The bottom's need to serve is tested. They are trained to fulfill the individual top's needs. If there is compatibility, additional submission may be fulfilling for both parties.

I don't think you should trust someone who advertises for a slave without wanting to get to know you first. Who could tell, from one interview or even one session, whether any candidate would make a good slave? It sounds like you are running into people who also have strong fantasies but perhaps relatively little experience in actually having a live-in, round-the-clock, fetish slave.

The lack of other relationships in your life also concerns me. It sounds as if you may have avoided other types of sexual experiences. I wonder what early messages you got about your own body and your sexuality. Have you channeled all of your libido into this single fantasy to make sure that you don't "misbehave" by enjoying other forms of sensuality? I have met very few BDSM people who have absolutely no interest in vanilla sex or equal relationships with some of their partners. My concern is that perhaps you feel unworthy of that sort of attention. What is so terrible or unacceptable about you that you should be this lonely and deprived?

In replying to your letter, I am walking a very fine line between trying to better understand your individual situation, or sounding as if I am condemning your fantasy. By asking about your childhood or family experiences, I am NOT saying that I believe BDSM is pathological or caused by childhood trauma. Some BDSM people (like the rest of the population) are survivors of child sex abuse, neglect, or other forms of harm. When we seek out healing for these wounds, kinky people find that we are more able to enjoy our fantasies. Therapy does not cure or eliminate an interest in BDSM. It is a sexual orientation much like being gay or heterosexual or bisexual.

BDSM is a mutually pleasurable form of recreational sex done by consenting adults who respect and care for one another. While the participants may experience intense sensations or emerge from a session with a few bruises, they are not harmed by what they do. The key difference between BDSM and violence is the presence of control. You are expressing anxiety about your lack of control. I am concerned your fantasies and the masturbation get so extreme or unstoppable that you hurt yourself. You may be experiencing a compulsive interest that has become a sex addiction. Talk to a qualified counselor about whether a group for sex addicts would be helpful for you. I have mixed opinions of programs like Sex Addicts Anonymous or Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. Some individual groups are very good, and some seem dominated by an anti-sex ideology that is intolerant toward pornography, masturbation, open relationships, sex workers, or kinky sex. You need some support from people who understand that kinky sex can be very good for you, but the compulsive behavior is not. You don't have to approach BDSM in a compulsive way.

Please feel free to write again if you disagree with my advice or just need to talk further. In the meantime, be kind to yourself. The larger society has such a bad opinion of BDSM that many of us suffered emotional scars as we came to terms with our need for this form of sexual gratification. You are not a bad person. Don't hurt yourself any more. The fact that there are a lot of people who hate us doesn't mean we have to hate ourselves. I hope there is some way to bring change to your life so you can have more personal satisfaction and happiness. So please let me know how you are doing.

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