Here’s What to Do When Your Partner Shares a Fantasy That Freaks You Out
Here’s What to Do When Your Partner Shares a Fantasy That Freaks You Out
Sex is all about novelty. Don’t believe it? Then why do so many people complain that doing the same thing over and over again starts to feel boring, while a passionate first time with someone can feel so reinvigorating?
But sometimes things can feel a little, well, too new.
Like what happens if someone you’re sleeping with — whether it’s a new hookup or a partner of many years — springs a fetish you haven’t quite wrapped your head around on you? Something you feel is too kinky, too racy, too risqué?
For starters, you wouldn’t be alone. Everyone’s tastes in sex run ever so slightly differently from everyone else’s, and though they’re rarely recorded, these kinds of moments have been occurring throughout history. For as long as people have gotten off on things, the things that excite them have been considered weird, taboo, or just plain freaky to at least some other people.
But how do you deal with such a situation? In order to help guide you through the awkwardness of being confronted by a partner’s sexual fantasy that freaks you out a little, AskMen spoke to two sex experts — and a relationship coach who’s also a fetish model about the dos and don’ts. Here’s what they had to say:
Don’t Be Hostile
Living in a sex-negative culture, it can be hard to respond to many aspects of sex without an initial negative reaction, but, if you can, do your best not to give voice to the full intensity of the reaction.
“When we are faced with the unknown, our first reaction is [often] to be hostile or defensive,” says Rosie Kay, a model on MyFet. “Suppose your partner opens up to you with a particular fetish that you view as a turn-off — before you grimace and shame them, stop.”
“Do your best to react in a neutral way,” says Kayla Lords, co-host of the Loving BDSM podcast. “Saying, ‘Ew! Gross!’ or ‘That’s crazy/weird/disgusting!’ Is the fastest way to make sure your partner never feels comfortable being vulnerable with you in the future.”
“It’s extremely difficult for many people to overcome shame and fear to share their kinks, so be aware that it was a big deal for them to say anything in the first place,” Lords adds. “Try something like, “That’s interesting. I don’t know much about that.” Or “I don’t think that’s something I’m into, but thank you for sharing it with me.”
Ultimately, Kay says, “You have to ask yourself, do you want the type of relationship where your partner feels unable to open up to you out of your fear of being shamed?”
Do Get Curious
Instead of reacting negatively, Lords says now is the time to get curious and start asking questions.
“It’s entirely possible that your initial reaction is based on stereotypes or clichés of what you think that kink is,” says Lords. “It’s also possible that your gut reaction is exactly the right response for you. But you may not know for sure until you learn a little more.”
“Even if you’re not into their kink or fantasy, thank them for being willing to share,” says Jess O’Reilly, sexologist and relationship expert. “Ask questions to learn more and start from a place of curiosity so that you can learn more about what they’re into — and how it may overlap with your desires.”
Don’t Be Judgmental
Even if you’re able to withhold an initial negative reaction, it’s also important to try not to judge them secretly, O’Reilly says. Sexual desires are rarely things we choose, and experiencing ones considered kinky or strange can engender significant feelings of shame.
“If you find yourself judging them, stop and ask yourself why you might be reacting this way,” she says. “What is making you uncomfortable? Are you triggered by part of their fantasy or kink? Do you feel intimidated or fearful in some way? Sometimes our judgment ‘reflex’ is more about our own hangups and fears as opposed to the kink or fantasy itself.”
Do Be Supportive
Apart from asking questions, it’s a good idea to also be supporting and encouraging towards your partner regarding their sharing their kink with you.
“Thank your partner for opening up to you,” says Kay. “The fact that they feel able to show this level of vulnerability (because opening up about your desires stems from a vulnerable place) is a positive thing for your relationship.”
“Do encourage your partner to keep opening up to you,” Lords advises. “They may have other kinks or desires that you’re willing to try. And one day you may want to share one of your desires or kinks with them. If you’ve responded in a non-judgmental way to them, there’s a good chance they’ll do the same for you.”
Don’t Feel Obligated to Indulge Their Fantasy
If your partner is bringing up their fantasy to you, there’s a decent chance they’re hoping you’ll be into it as well, and will be willing to participate in it somehow.
And while it can feel hard to say no to someone you care about, and it’s a bad idea to shame or judge your partner for their desires, that doesn’t mean that you’re then obligated to jump into them headfirst either.
“Just because your partner wants to explore a kink with you doesn’t mean you’re obligated, especially if it freaks you out in any way,” says Lords. “Be clear, firm, and kind in your response.”
If it’s an absolute no from you and you’re not interested in budging, she suggests saying something along the lines of,
“I understand this is something you’re into, but I don’t feel the same way. Can we explore other fantasies together instead?”
O’Reilly points out that this could also be an opportunity for the two of you to discuss exploring your desires outside of a monogamous arrangement.
For instance, you could consider being monogamous in every other aspect, but allowing your partner to explore this one fantasy with other people so that they get to experience it and you don’t have to participate.
Do Seek Out Common Excitements
Even if what you’re into and this new kink or fetish that your partner’s into seem to have little in common, that doesn’t mean they can’t be reconciled in some way, says O’Reilly. The key, she says, is to discuss your partner’s desires with them and seek out “underlying themes.”
“For example, if they’re into gang-bangs, ask them what they find appealing,” she says. “Is it the physical overwhelm? Is it the attention and adoration? Is it the potential for objectification? Is it the defiance of social conventions? Even if you’re not into the fantasy itself, you might find excitement in some of the thematic elements.”
In this scenario, maybe you find the idea of bringing other people in stressful, but you agree that the physical overwhelm aspect is hot. You could consider approximating a gang bang by double-penetrating your partner with sex toys while they perform oral on you.
Even if it’s not the full-on gang-bang that your partner was dreaming of, that kind of creative compromise is a much better approach than simply shutting the conversation down because the idea of group sex makes you uncomfortable.
Don’t See This as a Bad Thing
If you find yourself confronting a fantasy that makes you uncomfortable in the context of a long-term monogamous relationship, it can be more emotionally intense than if it’s just with a hookup.
Essentially the stakes are higher — you can’t just walk away.
But that doesn’t mean you have to take this as a threat to the relationship.
Sometimes it feels like it’s important for two people in a serious relationship to line up on every issue, but it’s important to remember that that’s not actually the case.
“We are all different, and what gets you going doesn’t necessarily get your partner going, and that’s fine,” says Kay. “Even if it’s something that you personally don’t enjoy or would never be on board with, acceptance is really important. Celebrate the differences within your relationship.”
Recognizing that it’s natural for two people to have different fantasies and reframing the situation as normal rather than negative can help make it easier to process everything and engage in the teamwork of figuring out how to make both of you happy.
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