Published in


I Tried Sex I Didn’t Think I’d Like, and It Changed My World

Sex Stuff as a Key to Understanding Human Nature

Image: Stefan Weis

“C’mon, try it, it’ll be fun!” she said.

“I dunno. I mean, I’m kinky and all, but don’t you think that’s…a little weird?” I said.

I was in my 20s. We were standing in a sex dungeon in Atlanta, the first public dungeon I’d ever been in, watching people do kinky things to each other, and I was getting cold feet.

Being there, in that dungeon, was a little scary. I remember being a little chilly, the combination of concrete walls and Atlanta winter. Moodily lit black and red surrounded us, and everywhere, everywhere we heard spanks and gasps and moans and, occasionally, screams of pleasure, or pain, or both…sometimes it got a bit hard to tell. It was a lot to take in for that twenty-something version of me.

I’ve always been kinky. From about the time I started figuring out that boys and girls are different, and I might have an interest in girls that went beyond playing Dungeons & Dragons with them, I’ve always known. My earliest fantasies involved rope and chain and some poor helpless person—sometimes me, sometimes the object of my fickle teenage attention—squirming helplessly.

There’s one scene in the old Tom Baker-era Dr. Who, where his companion Leela was bound to some sort of table or something…yeah, that really did it for the teenage me.

It was not, then, so out of place for the me a decade later to be standing in a sex dungeon with my girlfriend, watching people do things to each other that the teenage me would never in a million years of hormone-fueled flights of fancy have dreamed of.

But I always…I don’t know, I always thought there were limits, right? Some hard bright line you could draw: things on this side (bondage, maybe a bit of spank-and-tickle, blindfolds) were fun kinky sex, but things on that side were, like, really weird and freaky and stuff. Stuff a normal person wouldn’t do.

Being Normal

The #1 question I am asked whenever I talk about sex is “am I normal?” People want to know on which side of that line their interests lie. “Is this normal?” “Is that normal?” “If I like thus-and-such, am I normal?”

I get it, I really do. I always try to treat that question gently, because it brings me back to that sex dungeon on that night in Atlanta, standing next to my girlfriend while she urged me on.

The thing she wanted me to try, the thing that caused such an “oh my God which side of the line is this?” reaction, was…flogging. She was a straight-up sexual sadist, and she wanted to flog me.

Pretty tame stuff, all things considered.

And as silly as it may sound to veteran, experienced kinksters like…well, like the present me, being whipped with a flogger (a multi-tailed whip, for those of you not up on kink) was an idea I struggled with.

I was completely convinced I knew what it would feel like, and I was just as convinced that tying people up was okay kinky fun bu actually, y’know, whipping someone was totally out-there freaky.

Not Normal.

Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

I eventually let her talk me into it. The look in her eye, the obvious excitement in her voice, did it for me. (That’s something present me shares with 20-year-old me: I love when a lover is turned on, so I can usually find a way to make something work for me if it gets my lover hot.)

And…it was nothing like I imagined. Not even close. It was, in fact, quite a lot of fun.

I learned an important lesson that day:

As human beings, we have a hard time predicting how we will react to something we’ve never experienced.

Something changed that day. I started being a lot more open to things I hadn’t experienced before, even if I wasn’t sure I’d like them.

I learned that my tastes are more varied than I thought. I learned there are things I thought I’d like but didn’t, and things I didn’t think I’d like but do. I learned I could try something and decide afterward whether I wanted to keep doing it or not; I might try something, decide it wasn’t for me, choose never to do it again, and that’s okay.

Along the way, I learned something else: You can’t have an extraordinary sex life if you worry about what’s normal. The question “is that normal?” is the enemy of a happy, fulfilling sex life.

The Dangers of Deviancy

Whenever someone asks me “am I normal?” the first thing I say is, “Does it matter? Is it important to you to be normal, and if so, why?”

This aren’t patronizing or rhetorical questions. I ask because I’ve been there, because I’ve been there. I’ve felt that fear of not being “normal,” even if it was a long time ago.

We carry around an image in our heads of what sex “should” look like. It’s shaped by the culture and society we grow up in, and might include things like:

  • Sex happens between two people
  • Sex happens between people of different sexes.
  • Sex involves a penis going into an orifice.
  • Sex doesn’t include blindfolds or rope; those things are “deviant.”
  • “Deviant” sex is bad. “Deviant” people are bad people.

For me, there was another part of it, too: If I tried something new, something on the “not normal” side of the normal/not normal line, would I be crossing a sexual Rubicon? Would I be unable to come back? If I didn’t like it, would I be able to say no in the future, or would I forever be trapped in some place where my lover thought that if I did it once, I would always be up for doing it again?

Even more scary: What if I liked it too much? Would I never have ‘regular’ sex again? Would that make me forever unfit to be the lover of a ‘normal’ person?

How to Have an Extraordinary Sex Life

Prodded on by a patient girlfriend and the giddy thrill of getting my lover hot, I tried something new, something well outside my comfort zone, in that dingy sex dungeon in Atlanta. When I did, it opened a door.

Sex, as it turns out, doesn’t have to be a mysterious realm of awe and dread, surrounded by towering walls of shame. Sex is…just sex. It’s a thing we do, like eating or watching TV. We don’t (well, at least I don’t) worry that if we cross some imaginary line in what we eat, if we eat something our neighbors think is “not normal,” that doesn’t forever warp us into whatever the foodie version of a deviant is…and sex is the same way.

I tried something on that side of my imaginary line rather than this side, and…I was still me. It didn’t mean I was forever destined to do that thing every time I had sex. It didn’t make me incapable of enjoying the varieties of sex I already enjoyed.

It simply added something new to my repertoire, and let me learn something about myself. (Something about the nature of humanity and how rubbish we are at anticipating what we will and won’t like, too.)

It also taught me that the line between “normal” and “weird freaky deviant stuff” existed mostly in my head. There are a lot more, and I do mean a lot more, people getting freaky with it in the bedroom than you might think. Socializing with fellow kinksters showed me it’s hard to swing a cat on a public bus without hitting someone who’s into it.

The lines, where they exist, aren’t around what’s normal and what’s deviant, but rather around what the people you’re with freely agree to do. That, not social norms or your own personal vision of what sex looks like that lives in your head (and probably nowhere else), is what matters.

Flexibility, the willingness to try new things, enthusiasm to explore…these, not physical techniques or sex positions, are what makes a lover amazing. It’s a simple idea, but the cost of entry is pushing past that fear of the unfamiliar.

Once you say “I don’t know, this sounds a little weird but let’s try it anyway,” the world opens before you like a flower in the morning, and your sex life goes to a whole new level.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store