“So I had this great first date last night, right?” Andrea said, pausing over her brunch plate. We’d finished the obligatory hour of catching up, and she was ready to dish. “We had so much chemistry, she was so responsive to my flirtation, and kept giving me this look that just made me melt. I can’t place it, but her mouth did this twisty thing and her eyes got all sparkly…” she trailed off, a little smile on her face, feeling it again. “But we never talked about kink. I know, I know, I should have brought it up — we’ve talked about this before.”
I took another bite of my vegetable egg scramble, chewing and grinning, while she kept going. Our favorite corner diner was just loud enough that nobody could hear what she was saying, and quiet enough for us to hear each other.
“The first date happened so fast, we didn’t do the banter I usually do before I go out with someone. And then I just got so distracted with how fucking cute she was,” she paused again. “I asked if she was kinky, and first she said, ‘What do you mean by that?’ I said a few more things, and she was so vague about it, saying things like, ‘I can be, I guess.’ So I didn’t want to push it further, and I got kind of distracted by the other conversation, which was really good. But I need her to know that I’m kinky, and that it’s pretty important to me… but how do I tell her? When do I tell her? The second date? The fifteenth?”
I shook my head, pretty sure the question was rhetorical.
She smiled ruefully. “The women I keep going on dates with have such specific expectations. They want me to be into some sorts of kink, but not too much into it. Leather hoods or dungeons would cross over some sort of line.”
I nodded. “Right, but tying someone up with a tie would be just fine, and practically a requirement.”
“Yeah. It’s like they want kink, but only the most palatable version of it,” Andrea lit up a little at that idea. “Or like kink is the new vanilla? But not exactly.”
“It’s such a particular version of kink. And I think it’s different depending on your community and what the folks around you normalize. Maybe it has to do with how much more kink is portrayed in the mainstream,” I guessed.
She nodded, looking thoughtful. “It seems like that’s more socialization than what people really want, though. As though they’re now expected to be at least a little bit kinky, so they are — but is it really coming from their desires? Or are they just doing something they think they’re supposed to like?”
I shrugged a little. “It’s so hard to tell with desire. It can be so slippery, so hard to pin down. And just because someone else, or the culture, suggests something doesn’t mean that that person wants it any less, or has any less of a legitimate claim to explore it. They may not have discovered it from scratch when they were six and always loved playing cops and robbers or whatever. Watching some kinky movie, having that flood of recognition, and then trying it out and liking it is just as legitimate of a way to come into kink — but hopefully they still feel like they have agency, and can make their own decisions about what they want or don’t want to do.”
“I guess that’s what I worry about,” Andrea said, putting down her knife and fork. It was getting brighter as we were speaking, the dark clouds and dreary rain lifting. People weren’t coming in with umbrellas dripping like they had when we arrived. “That people are secretly enduring, because they think they should. But I guess that’s about building trust, right? Seeing someone make little decisions, observing how they respond to hardships, and seeing if they generally feel the way they think they’ll feel about the decisions they make.”
“Sure, and going slow with play and trust within the dating, too. Starting with things that are less intense, and then going deeper, if that seems like the right thing that both of you want to do,” I said.
She waved her hand dismissively. “Yeah, sure. But building trust like that, that’s… later. That’s like month four of dating or something. This is a first date dilemma, or even a pre-date issue.”
“What do you really want, though? You’ve said before you don’t really want to meet people at kink events, because most of the time they’re kind of too kinky for you. You want some kink, but not too much?”
“I don’t really know,” she said, looking right at me. “I know I want to experiment. I know I have fantasies I want to try out. I know I want more than the kink-lite expectation in the queer worlds, now that kink is all popular and feels so mainstream. But it’s not like I want to be a dom or a sub or anything that formal. I want to play. And I want to talk about it, and so often it seems like people don’t even want to do that. They just want it to magically happen, as if talking takes the fun out of it. I don’t trust that.” She stabbed her pancakes again, an edge of anger in her voice.
“Did something happen with that?”
She took a deep breath. “Yeah, just some other date I had last month. I kept asking what she liked and sharing some of what I was into, and she kept brushing me off. I thought she was just shy, but she eventually said that she didn’t want to see me again, that I was ruining the moment with all my talking about it.”
“Ouch. That’s not fair,” I said.
She shrugged. “She can want what she wants, you know? I want to talk about it. She doesn’t. C’est la vie.”
The waiter came and took our plates away, offering the check in return. “It’s totally legit to question whether or not she wants something because she actually wants it, or because she thinks she want it,” I said, reaching for my wallet. “But you don’t have to go blue in the face about it, especially not with other people. That’s for them to figure out. It kinda doesn’t have anything to do with you.”
“Yeah, except when I’m trying to date them,” Andrea says, tossing some cash on to the table.
“Even then, I think. You just have to be honest about what you’re looking for, and keep going after it. You’ll find the right person. Might take a while, but you will,” I said.
“I’ll just keep kissing toads, I guess,” she said. “Want to see who I’m chatting with on HER before we go?”
I grinned. “Absolutely.”