You Need Help: I’m Queer, Kinky, and Monogamous — Will I Be Alone Forever?

Q:

I could use some advice from other queer woman on how to balance what I want sexually with what I want romantically.

I’m a lesbian in my thirties and single (and very unhappily so). I want to get married, settle down, etc, and feel like my chances are dwindling the older I get.

Of course there are other women looking for the same thing, but the problem is I’m also kinky af. And no matter how long I scour dating sites, I can’t seem to find anyone sexually dominant who is also monogamous. And I have spent hours upon hours reading profiles, talking to people only to be disappointed.

I’ve tried to make vanilla relationships work, and for me they just don’t. I don’t feel comfortable pretending to enjoy regular vanilla sex when I find it completely unsatisfiying.

I’ve tried going to kink events, but it always turns out that if there are any queer women there at all, they are poly, and I’m just not. In fact the thought of myself being with someone non exclusively makes me feel awful.

Maybe I’m just too narrow in my tastes to find someone, but I can’t force myself to change what I’m interested in anymore than I can stop myself from liking girls. Nor am I happy without someone to share my life with.

Do I just have to accept it’s going to be unfulfilling relationships or loneliness?


A:

Short answer: No, you do not have to accept that you’re either going to be in an unfulfilling relationship or lonely for the rest of your life. But you may have to do some personal and internal work to figure out what you need to be fulfilled and happy. Let’s dive into the longer answer together.

To begin, I will say you are not the only queer woman on the planet to desire all of the things you mentioned. I know of at least three healthy partnerships off the top of my head where the couple is both kinky and monogamous, and that’s just in my friendship circle! I completely hear you that you’ve been putting a lot of effort into finding your perfect match and you’re not having much luck, and I empathize with that. But I also feel strongly that there are certain community stereotypes (like the mythical “top shortage”) that simply aren’t real, and it doesn’t behoove anyone to act as though they are. So, let’s hold both those truths in our hands: you are having a hard time finding a date that you can eventually settle down with into a monogamous and kinky marriage, and also, there are monogamous kinky dominant queer women in the world who would like to one day be married.

This is where the internal work must start. I hear you saying that you are unhappily single, and I hear you saying that the older you get, the more you feel your chances of settling down and sharing your life with someone are dwindling. It’s possible the pandemic has made things feel more dire and challenging. That’s a terrible feeling; I’m sorry. I cannot offer any advice that will magically make a partner appear at your front door, and even if I could, I cannot guarantee that you and this mystery person would be able to successfully build a life together. Something I have found, as I’ve gotten older, is I’ve had to radically shift what building a life means. My parents met when they were 22 and 24, respectively, they got married a few years later, they were together for 35 years before my dad died this year, and they remained in love the whole time. Holy wow. My parents are one of the most beautiful love stories I will ever know, and also, I realized a long time ago that their life would never be my life. When I came to that realization, I tried to isolate what about their marriage was so beautiful to me: being best friends, always having companionship, having kids and raising a close family together, letting each other be very independent while still loving each other. Then I took those things, pressed them against my own brain and heart, and got to work thinking about how I could tangibly create those beautiful connections for myself without relying on a partner I met when I was 22, because for me, that person simply does not exist. And I think I have done a pretty good job building a life for myself. I am generally pretty happy.

I need you to close your eyes and envision what it is about settling down with someone that would bring you joy. I need you to think deeply about all the ways you like to have sex. I need you to examine what you want — is it kids, is it companionship, is it someone to hold hands with at the end of the day, is it a person to rely on if you get sick, is it love, is it being bent over the sofa as soon as you enter the house and told not to move an inch while your babe absolutely rails you — and then I do need you to take a deep breath and try to accept that you can possibly have all these things, but they may not take the form of arriving in one single human wrapped up in a bow.

You don’t have to be non-monogamous. You don’t have to have sex with more than one person. But if you want my honest to god advice, you do need to let go of the idea that your romantic partner will be able to meet all your needs. It’s not because there isn’t a hot monogamous kinky domme out there dying to move in with you. That person may exist! But even she does, she may not want to build a life in the exact way you do. She may not want kids and you do. She may want kids and you don’t. She may process her feelings completely differently than you. She may be kind and quiet when you like a lot of noise. She may be devoted but busy. Her love language may be gift giving when you’d really prefer words of affirmation. I could go on and on. But the point is, being sexually unsatisfied and/or lonely are not entirely tied to the existence of one human. That’s setting yourself and this mythical babe up for failure.

I want to really hone in on this last point. When we enter our thirties, some people are really looking to settle down and commit. That’s… fine, I guess, if it’s what both people want, but I also think we all deserve a little more. It is one thing to be looking for the same thing — monogamy, hot sex, a desire to build a life with another human — but from my perspective, it’s unfair and kind of limiting to view everyone you so much as talk to online as “potentially my future life partner.” I hate to repeat the same perspective I’m always spouting, but my friends are my life partners. The people I’ve invested 10+ years getting to know and love are my life partners. I don’t have multiple life partners because I’m non-monogamous, I have multiple life partners because I have multiple really dear friends who I’m going to grow old with. Being queer means we don’t have to play out the narrative the heterosexist patriarchy has set up for us. We do not need to get married and grow old with our one romantic love. We can have one romantic love — I am not here to shit on monogamy and I believe you if you say you really only want one romantic partner! — but we don’t have to center them as the key to not being lonely. And, while this might be obvious, I would be remiss not to say it: sometimes when you’re trying hard to make sure someone checks all your boxes, you actually end up boxing them in to something that may not be true. I’ve dated a few people who told me they didn’t identify as kinky, and then when we had sex I was like… uh, sorry, what’s your definition of kinky, because you… um… are the greatest kinky top in the world?!?! I’ve also gone on dates with people who’ve sworn to be experienced kinky tops and wow, they sure weren’t! Some folks feel as though polyamory is part of their identity while others are happy to date monogamously or non-monogamously, it just depends on the situation. And of course, some people do really want to settle down but will never want to settle down with you, and some may claim they never want to get married and two years later they’re buying a house and co-owning a dog with their partner. Humans are complex. It’s good to know what you want, but it’s also good to leave room for people to be organically themselves in the context of your connections.

The more I write to you (forgive me for this essay-length response!) the more I think the key to your question actually lies in the very second sentence. I’m a lesbian in my thirties and single (and very unhappily so). I think it’s possible you will meet a partner who checks all your boxes. It’s also possible you never will. But obtaining a partner is not going to be the balm that removes your unhappiness, even if it seems that your unhappiness is entirely rooted in being single. You need to find ways to happiness whether you remain single or whether you find your ultimate kinky monogamous life partner. You can create fulfilling relationships that will stave off loneliness whether this dreamboat enters you life or not. That is your work, and the good news is, you can do it alone.

Good luck; I am rooting for you.


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Vanessa is a writer, a teacher, and the community editor at Autostraddle. She used to be hot and fun but now she’s mostly hot and sad. Find her on twitter and instagram.

Vanessa has written 345 articles for us.

17 Comments

  1. I wish I could reach out to this person and hug them. I am a queer, kinky person in a monogamous relationship… and I am also a bottom! the struggle is real but I did it.

    And the author is definitely right about finding fulfillment alone etc, but I know single people hate to hear that so I’m going to say sometimes it sucks to be single!! But I hope you find the person of your dreams when you aren’t even looking. Maybe the nurse who gives you your covid vaccine? Hang in there <3

  2. Is me! Kinky, queer, monogamous top in my 30s here. I totally understand the challenges. The queer kink scene in particular seems to push people towards poly and often uses devaluing language for those who really do just want one person to direct romantic feelings towards. I tried to be poly because of these pressures and it’s just not for me. That being said, I want to highlight the importance of my friends, like Vanessa did. I also spend a lot of time rethinking how to get to where I want to be without letting the lack of a life partner stop me from reaching other goals. I can have a home, a child, loving relationships, and joy without a partner, and I also don’t know when the partner I want will arrive in my life. Why put anything on hold? Anyhow, I want to say that I understand and hopefully knowing that there are others out there in the same boat will lessen the loneliness.

  3. “some may claim they never want to get married and two years later they’re buying a house and co-owning a dog with their partner”

    Feeling very called out by this. But also, the part about checking boxes is so true. My partner and I both would’ve swiped whichever direction means no if we’d met online. We each checked multiple dealbreaker boxes for the other person. And yet.

    Now neither of us is living the life we had envisioned, and it’s lovely.

  4. Captain Awkward (highly recommended advice blog!) has said something to the effect of:

    Imagine that you could know, with 100% certainty, that you would never find a partner. What would you do to give yourself a happy and fulfilling life, knowing that? Is it friendship, hobbies, volunteering, travel, learning new skills, rescuing pets, etc.? Great. Go do those things, now, even if you continue to seek a partner. If you find someone, you’ll be a more attractive and interesting person to them because your life is full. And if you never find someone, you will still have had a good life full of interesting experiences.

    That approach has been helpful to me, as another perpetually single 30-something lesbian.

  5. Kinky, lesbian, monogamous top here–I 100% feel your frustrations. I also often feel like I’m going to be alone forever bc all of those things are non-negotiable for me. Plus, tried polyamory and hated every second of it lol. First of all, good on you for knowing exactly what you want and not settling! It’s definitely harder out here for us and I don’t want to lie to you but keep hope alive. I get the friends being life partners thing and all but it’s not the same and we know it. There is some good advice in here though that can help you towards building yourself up with or without a partner.

  6. I know this isn’t the point of this post, but if any of you kinky monogamous tops/doms in the comments want to slide into my DMs, pleeease do so. I can tell you more about me, what I’m into, and where I live (Midwestern United States).

    You can also join A+ & meet people on Discord this weekend. “February 13-14, we’re going to open up a special Valentine’s Day Weekend-Only Discord Server JUST for A+ Members. We’ll post the login at 6am PST on the 13th, in an A+ only post.”

  7. This is incredible advice for anyone perpetually single and searching. It really spoke to me. I need to ask myself what I’m truly looking for in a life partner. It sucks to think having it all isn’t possible, but maybe not the most realistic.

  8. I am a queer kinky top in a monogamous relationship. I was poly for several years, but am monogamous as it is what my partner wants/needs and also the parts I enjoyed of being poly are still a part of our relationship (we live independent lives, I get to have my own friends, she doesn’t go crazy over me going to dinner with someone, etc). Some poly people will be flexible, IF you make a good connection with them first. And especially if you trust them. In my experience a lot of poly people have been in really smothering, codependent monogamous relationships and they are poly to avoid that, but they don’t necessarily need to be having sex with multiple people to be happy. Good luck!

  9. VANESSA! Ugh, your writing is just… Amazing in the gayest, cleverest, most profound way. Most of your answers/essays on this website have made me really ponder your well-written advice for days/weeks/years. Honestly have some of them bookmarked.

    Anyway, thanks for your queer wisdom! And for your fervent belief in the best in us <3

  10. As someone who is also perpetually single and 30, and never able to find monogamous folks, I feel this. I used to spend so much time being absolutely miserable about my relationship status. Like crying every single day miserable. But I noticed when I stopped focusing on it and started working on my health, my job, my physical fitness, (finally getting on anti depressants lol), adopted a cat, etc, a lot of that pain and sadness went away. I think its easy to pin the blame for all our life problems on our relationship status because our culture puts so much emphasis on being in a relationship and that being the key to happiness and wholeness. But, I won’t say I still don’t stand outside looking at the stars wishing for someone to share it with, or that I still don’t buy things in sets of two for that future maybe partner. And no matter how fulfilling friendships are, its still sad to not experience romantic love. I love my friends dearly, I expect to grow old with them, but there’s still a sadness in knowing everyone else gets to experience this specific kind of joy and I don’t.

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