Is my nor­mal ab­nor­mal?

See­ing his peers set­tling down and hav­ing kids, a kinky bi guy won­ders if he’s bro­ken. Plus: A brother’s rub­ber love.

The Coast - - SAVAGE LOVE -

Q I’ve been spend­ing a lot of time lately think­ing about my­self and my sex­u­al­ity and my ro­man­tic self. I can log on and eas­ily find some­one to fuck. I’m a bear-built top guy. There are ladies in my life who choose to share their beds with me. I can find subs to tie up and tor­ture. (I’m kinky and bi.) What I can’t find is a long-term part­ner. The prob­lem is that af­ter I fuck/sleep with/tor­ture some­one, my brain stops see­ing them as sex­ual and moves them into the friend cat­e­gory. I have friends that I used to fuck reg­u­larly, that now it’s a chore to get it up for. Sure, the sex still feels good, but it’s not pas­sion­ate. And when it’s all said and done, they’re still in the “friend” cat­e­gory in my brain. Some of them have sug­gested be­ing more, but I’ve re­coiled. There’s noth­ing wrong with them, but they’re friends, not po­ten­tial part­ners. I’m 32, and my sib­lings are mar­ried and hav­ing kids, and the peo­ple I grew up with are mar­ried and hav­ing kids. And here I am not able to find a longterm sig­nif­i­cant other. Am I bro­ken? Should I just ac­cept that, at least for me, sex­ual part­ners and do­mes­tic/ro­man­tic part­ners will al­ways be sep­a­rate cat­e­gories?— Al­ways Alone A What if you’re not like most ev­ery­one else? What if this is just how your sex­u­al­ity works? What if you’re wired—emo­tion­ally, ro­man­ti­cally, sex­u­ally—for in­tense but brief sex­ual con­nec­tions that blos­som into won­der­ful friend­ships? And what if you’ve been tricked into think­ing you’re bro­ken be­cause the kind of suc­cess­ful long-term re­la­tion­ships your sib­lings and friends have are cel­e­brated, and the kind of suc­cess­ful short-term re­la­tion­ships you have are stig­ma­tized?

If your sib­lings and friends want to have the kinds of re­la­tion­ships they’re hav­ing—and it’s pos­si­ble some do not—they will feel no in­ner con­flict about their choices while si­mul­ta­ne­ously be­ing show­ered with praise for their choices. But what are they re­ally do­ing? They’re do­ing what they want, they’re do­ing what makes them happy, they’re do­ing what works for them ro­man­ti­cally, emo­tion­ally and sex­u­ally. And what are you do­ing? Maybe you’re do­ing what you want, AA, maybe you’re do­ing what could make you happy. So why doesn’t it make you happy? Maybe be­cause you’ve been made to feel bro­ken by a cul­ture that holds up one re­la­tion­ship model—the part­nered and prefer­ably monog­a­mous pair— and in­sists that this model is the only healthy and whole op­tion, and that any­one who goes a dif­fer­ent way, fucks a dif­fer­ent way or re­lates a dif­fer­ent way is bro­ken.

Now, it’s pos­si­ble you are bro­ken, of course, but any­one could be bro­ken. You could be bro­ken, I could be bro­ken, your mar­ried sib­lings and friends could be bro­ken. (Re­gard­ing your sib­lings and friends: Not ev­ery­one who mar­ries and has kids wanted mar­riage and kids. Some no doubt wanted it, AA, but oth­ers suc­cumbed to what was ex­pected of them.) But here’s a sugges­tion for some­thing I want you to try, some­thing that might make you feel bet­ter be­cause it could very well be true: Try to ac­cept that, for you, sex­ual part­ners and do­mes­tic/ro­man­tic part­ners might al­ways be sep­a­rate, and that doesn’t mean you’re bro­ken. If that self-ac­cep­tance makes you feel whole, AA, then you have your an­swer.

I might make a dif­fer­ent sugges­tion if your brief-but-in­tense sex­ual en­coun­ters left a lot of hurt feel­ings in their wake. But that’s not the case. You hook up with some­one a few times, you share an in­tense sex­ual ex­pe­ri­ence and you feel a brief ro­man­tic con­nec­tion to them. And when those sex­ual and ro­man­tic feel­ings sub­side, you’re not left with a string of bit­ter exes and en­e­mies, but with a large and grow­ing cir­cle of good friends. Which leads me to be­lieve that even if you aren’t do­ing what ev­ery­one else is do­ing, AA, you’re clearly do­ing some­thing right.

PS: An­other op­tion if you do want to get mar­ried some­day is a com­pan­ion­ate mar­riage to one of your most in­ti­mate friends—some­one like you, AA, who also sees po­ten­tial life part­ners and po­ten­tial sex part­ners as two dis­tinct cat­e­gories with no over­lap—and all the Grindr hookups and BDSM ses­sions you like with one-offs who be­come good friends. Q I knew my lit­tle brother had an odd fas­ci­na­tion with rub­ber that would likely be­come sex­ual. He would steal rub­ber gloves and hide them in his room, and there was a huge melt­down when our mother found a gas mask in his room when he was 12. My brother is in his 30s now and has a closet full of rub­ber “gear” that he dresses in pretty much ex­clu­sively. (When he’s not at work, he’s in rub­ber.) All of his friends are rub­ber fetishists. When he trav­els, it’s only to fetish events where he can wear his rub­ber cloth­ing pub­licly. He will date only other rub­ber fetishists, which seems to have se­verely lim­ited his ro­man­tic prospects, and he posts pho­tos of him­self in rub­ber to his so­cial me­dia ac­counts. I read your col­umn and I un­der­stand that kinks aren’t cho­sen and they can be in­cor­po­rated into a per­son’s sex life in a healthy way. But my brother’s in­ter­est in rub­ber seems ob­ses­sive. Your thoughts?

—Rub­bered Up Baby Brother’s Erotic Rut A If your brother were ob­sessed with surf­ing or snow­board­ing and built his life around chas­ing waves or pow­der—and would date only peo­ple who shared his pas­sion—you wouldn’t have writ­ten me. Same goes if he were ob­sessed with pro sports, as so many straight men are, or Broad­way shows, as so many gay men are. The only “prob­lem” here is that your brother’s ob­ses­sion makes his dick hard—and to be clear, RUB­BER, the prob­lem is yours, not his. An erotic ob­ses­sion or pas­sion is just as le­git­i­mate as a nonerotic one. And even if I thought your brother had a prob­lem—and I do not—noth­ing I wrote here would re­sult in him lik­ing his rub­ber clothes, rub­ber bud­dies or rub­ber fetish events any less.

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