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Dear Kiki: I’m kinky and my husband’s vanilla. Can we strike a satisfying balance?


Questions about love and sex in the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids area can be submitted to dearkiki@littlevillagemag.com, or anonymously using this form. Questions may be edited for clarity and length, and may appear either in print or online.

Dear Kiki,

I consider myself a kinky person. I looove exploring all possibilities during sex, using whatever devices, ropes, tapes, paddles, what have you, to really go deep into what I’m into and what I’m not into. I had a sheltered past, so I feel like this is my time to really get past old shames and hangups. The issue? My husband isn’t the same way. He’s a more relaxed type, the type B to my type A, and he’s pretty vanilla. I love him a lot, and I love my relationship with him, but sometimes it feels unbalanced because I want all this special stuff and he’s just fine with the same every time. How do I get over the guilty feeling that our relationship is unbalanced because my husband just isn’t a kinkster?

—Out of Whack

Dear Out of Whack,

As you’ve discovered, every individual has different sexual needs and desires. If your past was as sheltered as you imply, you may not have experience from a wide variety of different partners. But let me assure you: Not even all vanillas are cut from the same cloth. Kinks (or lack thereof), openness to exploration and even things as simple as appetite for frequency vary widely from person to person. And the fact is, as you’re also discovering, those things also change for each individual over time. Even if you luck into a relationship where you’re on the same page day one, you might grow in different directions.

So is that a death knell for a satisfying sex life, or even for a marriage? Absolutely not! I don’t know your specific situation, but you say you love your husband. With that kind of love typically comes a desire to fulfill the other person in whatever ways are necessary. If you’re already feeling unbalanced, I’m guessing that he’s demonstrated a willingness to explore with you, even though it’s not what floats his boat.

The solution: reciprocate! Remind yourself that you don’t have to get off every time. It can be tempting, when you’re trying out new-to-you kinks, toys and pleasures, to want to utilize them in every encounter. Fight that temptation. Take the time to serve his needs — because, however vanilla, if that’s what he prefers, he should have a chance to experience it as regularly as you experience your desires.

It isn’t the amount of preparation or accouterments that accompany each sexcapade that make it feel unbalanced. It’s where attention is paid. If he’s playing the role of not-so-enthusiastic dom, then you are the center of attention in each of those sessions. Give him equal attention, on separate occasions. Show him that you can fall asleep together satisfied after the most vanilla of sex — if not sexually satisfied, at least emotionally satisfied knowing that you’ve satisfied him. Really see him in these moments: explore his pleasure as intimately as you explore your own.

Now, if he is resistant to your experimentation, then you have a different situation. Not everyone is cut out for kink, and he may reach a point where he tells you honestly, “I am not OK with this.” Then you have a different series of choices to make. Couples therapy, and specifically sex therapy, can help you find ways to connect (so can just talking openly with each other, frankly, but that can be tricky with a sheltered past, because you may not even have the language to convey what you need). There is also the option of opening your marriage to other sexual partners or exploring your kinks in a professional setting.

Only the two of you can decide which option you’re ready for. The important thing is to make these decisions together. For you, especially, as you dive deeper into your kink journey, you’ll learn that emotional and intellectual openness and honesty are the key factors to successful pleasure-seeking. Without trust, there can be no pleasure. Make establishing trust a fundamental part of your marriage, and there’s no limit to the ways that it can grow from there.

xoxo, Kiki

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 303.


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