Clarisse Thorn's picture

Storytime with Clarisse, slash Communication Screwup Post #1: isn’t tickling cuuute?

I had a conversation over the weekend that reminded me of an incident with one of my exes — a communication screwup that really highlights how strangely our culture thinks about consent, and how BDSM ideas of negotiation can work against that.

Wow, I’m realizing that I’m about to write a totally serious post about tickling. I hope I don’t sound too pompous.

Anyway, story!

So, I was lying around having a casual conversation with this particular ex, and he started tickling me. I really wanted him to stop, so I asked him to. He didn’t. I safeworded, and he still didn’t stop. Furious, I lashed out and scratched him badly enough to bleed. I do believe I left a scar.

He got upset because he was bleeding, and I got upset because he hadn’t listened to me. I can’t remember how exactly we talked it out; it was a pretty tense moment. I think I might have apologized, but I also might not have. I was really angry, and my stance was, “So I drew blood — how else was I supposed to get you to stop? You should have respected how much I don’t like that, and it is totally not okay that you ignored my safeword!” He snapped back that it simply never occurred to him that I would actually safeword, for real, against being tickled. Tickling just seemed like such a mild, unimportant thing to him ….

the gay love coach's picture

A Gay Lover's Quarrel: Joe & Paul Talk It Out


Paul threw open the door to the apartment in a rage and stormed inside, Joe hot on his tail. “God, you are being such a drama queen! It’s no big deal! You’re reading way too much into this!” cried Joe as he cornered his partner in the bedroom. Paul swung around to face him, reeling with anger as his heart pounded ferociously against his chest and his hard, shallow breathing neared hyperventilation. “No big deal?! Gee, thanks for caring about how I feel! That is just so typical of you to only think of yourself and then downplay what you’ve done and not take any responsibility! Then I end up looking like the melodramatic one and you come out smelling like a rose! Well not this time, Joe! I’ve had it!”

Joe fell to the bed and held his head in his hands as he let out a frustrated sigh. “You are so infuriating! This was supposed to be our romantic night out together and you totally ruined it with your stupid assumptions!” he grumbled. “I ruined it?! We hardly see each other anymore, and when we finally get a night out just the two of us, you can’t keep your eyes off the other guys in the restaurant! It’s like I didn’t even exist in there! You barely said even two words to me because you were too busy undressing everybody there in your mind!” “You are so off base, man! The guys in there were hot and I’m a natural flirt, I can’t help it! It doesn’t mean that I want to sleep with them though! I am sick and tired of having to take the blame and suffer for your past failed relationships! I have never given you any reason to doubt my commitment to you and all you ever do is jump to conclusions about my motives! What do you want from me?!” Joe shouted. “See, there you go again! It’s always my fault, isn’t it?! Just forget it! You can sleep on the couch tonight!” spat Paul as he heaved a pillow and blanket at him from across the room and then stalked off, slamming and locking the bathroom door behind him.

Love & Conflict

While the above scenario may seem a bit like “The Young & the Restless”, it certainly depicts how an argument can downward-spiral fast. Conflict is normal and inevitable in all relationships; in fact, there can’t be growth as a couple without it! However, the manner in which the conflict is approached and managed can either contribute to the health and development of the relationship, or it can cause its demise. Words hurt and can have lasting effect, and as seen by our friends Paul and Joe, they can damage the foundation of trust and intimacy that the partnership is built upon.

victorias sketchbook's picture

Non-monotonous monogamy

the gay love coach's picture

Stop, Look, & Listen: The 3-Step Approach to Understanding Your Partner


Do you feel misunderstood by your partner? Seem to keep getting into repetitive arguments over the same things? Have hidden resentments toward him and a mountain of unmet needs? If you’re like a lot of other gay couples, chances are your listening skills might need a jump-start; and if it’s not that, then fine-tuning your ability to listen can go a long way toward bridging the gap between you and your lover and bringing about more clarity and connection in your relationship.

Conflict is inevitable when you’re a couple, but how you go about negotiating it can mean the difference between cuddling on the couch together or sleeping on opposite sides of the bed when you retire for the evening. Being able to productively listen and attend to your partner is key for effective communication, and listening is also a pre-requisite for conflict resolution.

As men in our society, we haven’t been trained real well in matters of emotion and communication. This can create a tenuous backdrop in a relationship with two men operating from the same conditioning. Not only can it be an obstacle to achieving true intimacy, but it can also cause partners to withdraw emotionally, avoid dealing with problems, or become competitive towards one another if not careful.

Lance A Worth's picture

Transignorance is not Transphobia

Let me explain. No, there is too much...let me sum up.

Clarisse Thorn's picture

Evidence that the BDSM community does not enable abuse

How can you tell BDSM from abuse?

People ask me this all the time.

The idea behind that question is that BDSM “looks like” abuse. BDSM can leave bruises or other marks of pain. When two people are having a BDSM encounter, then — if an outsider were to walk in in the middle — it might look like a scene of abuse. Hence, one of the biggest fears that people outside the BDSM community have about BDSM is that — although it appears to be consensual — BDSM enables abuse, or is used as a mask for abuse.

Are some BDSM relationships abusive? Unfortunately, some are. But abuse happens, sometimes, in all relationships. There are lots of non-BDSM relationships, whose participants have never even heard of BDSM, that are abusive. And the fact is that the majority of BDSM relationships — just like the majority of vanilla relationships — are completely consensual encounters between adults who have specifically sought out, opened themselves up to, their own BDSM desires.

Just as importantly, there are swaths of the BDSM community that actively work against abuse within the community.

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