Relationship

I enjoy S&M but my partner is not keen to explore this with me


I’m a 30-year-old man in a two-year relationship with another man who is intelligent, caring and considerate. Our sex life is good, and I still find him sexually attractive. I, however, have a significant interest in S&M, which I have discussed with my partner. We have tried a few things, but I know it is not what he enjoys. Knowing this has meant it isn’t something I feel I can pursue further with him. However, the interest remains and I am increasingly drawn to exploring it with others. Aside from a few messages on online platforms particularly geared towards this sexual fetish, I have not acted upon it. I would not cheat on him in any other context.

I am torn between staying in a relationship with a man who, in many ways, is ideal for me and exploring in secret with other partners (which I would do safely). We have discussed open relationships in principle, but this is not something he would consider.

Power-exchange sexuality is often present in vanilla relationships without couples even being aware of it. As you learn more about BDSM, you will discover that it doesn’t necessarily require signature paraphernalia or heavy play, but can be gently introduced in an erotic, playful – and therefore palatable – fashion to a novice partner. Just because your partner did not respond enthusiastically to your first attempts at introducing him to your preferred sexual style does not mean he will reject a different approach. Research very light BDSM options that are not far from his current preferences – with the focus on his pleasure – and you may find there are points where your erotic interests can intersect.

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Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.

If you would like advice from Pamela on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns to private.lives@theguardian.com (please don’t send attachments). Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions: see gu.com/letters-terms.

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