I'm in my early 40s and work in the admissions department of my local university. I'm not afraid to characterize myself as a staid, straight-arrow, Prius-driving, recumbent bike-riding Seattle guy who always stays on the right side of right-and-wrong, the safe side of safe-and-risky. My idea of "crazy" is to occasionally go balls-out and not tip the haughty hipster barista at my local coffee shop. My idea of "sexually transgressive"? Well, some co-workers once convinced me to go to a strip club for my birthday, and one of the strippers began to give me a lap dance--until I stopped her. Honestly, I'm more into the thing where two people make whoopie behind a closed door, on a bed, face to face. If this is any indication, one girlfriend's nickname for me was "Albert," because like Albert Schweitzer, I'm into missionary work.
But! Recently, I met this wonderful and wonderfully lovely woman on OK Cupid. She dresses conservatively, in dresses and heels, and she looks absolutely appropriate for her position as a manager of a boutique labor law firm located downtown. Our first date, as you guys term it, was a pre-date at a cupcake shop close to her office, and within ten minutes we were laughing like old friends. Second date was a big band concert, and she looked lovely in vintage Forties-style clothing. Third date was on a dinner cruise that plies our local lakes. I cannot stress how beautifully we got along, how much fun we had, how much I loved hearing her talk...until the next date.
On the 4th date, out of nowhere, she says, "I guess I'd better tell you at some point, but I'm into kink." Now, Gurus, in my naivete I just thought by "kink" she meant chocolate-flavored lube. As it turns out, "kink" for her means that, when she's with her dedicated partner, items like rope, leather, clamps, and handcuffs make an entrance in the bedroom. Actions like bondage, domination, and submission come into play. I thought that was all of it, but later in the evening she divulged that she belongs to a local club where s-e-x happens--and possibly other partners--and that she goes by the moniker Lady Grinning Soul. She said that none of this meant any pressure on me; it was just a description of her own likes and desires.
I drove her back to her condo that night and walked her to the door. We didn't kiss goodbye. She said, "I can see that you need some time alone to think." I said, "Yeah, I think I need to." As she turned to her door, I grasped her hand. No, not her hand: her wrist. It was accidental, really just the closest body-part I could grab. I found myself holding her wrist tightly, preventing her from entering her door. She gave me a challenging, smouldering look, as if saying "You just dare." I dared. I slightly--yes, just slightly--bent her wrist behind her back. There came into her eyes a deep, desiring, wild look that I cannot even begin to describe. And that was it: no kiss, no sex, but I drove home that evening with a rapidly beating heart and shallow breath.
Honestly, her revelation freaked me out. Partially freaked out because those things are foreign to me, partially freaked out because I saw this schism develop. My heart is sick thinking that this woman, who I thought might just be The Woman, would be lost to me. I'm angry, too, that she went through normal dating channels and agreed to date me, a normal guy. I think that, if that's her "thing," she should stick to kinky online dating sites or whatever, if such a thing exists. In short, I feel a bit duped.
What should I do?
Been Duped and Surprised Mostly
Hi, We understand what it's like to have the bottom drop out in a developing relationship. Or the semblance of the bottom dropping out (we'll explain later on). You're dating a person, you've had eight or ten smashingly great dates--all that classic date stuff like double-kayaking in the orange-burnished sunset and walking on a beach with champagne glasses--and then BOOM. This revelatory boom can take many forms. He's the single father of an infant. She has a restraining order against her ex. He's only here on business, and actually lives 2,000 miles away. The list is endless.
At what point should a person drop the boom? As early on as the dating profile? As late as date #12? When you're the recipient of the boom, it's easy to be judgmental. It's easy to say, "You should have revealed this before we even met." If so, we challenge you to examine your own dating profile and see if there's something you might be leaving off.
It's a tough call. You want the other person to fall for you and not to be unduly swayed by that revelation. The most common example of this: a person who has other than "conventional" looks. Maybe it's the man who is skinny-fat (lean face but a belly like a truck tire) or a woman who is in otherwise in good health but needs the occasional assistance of a cane. Those so-called flaws--in the minds of many daters--tend to overshadow the rest of the person.
About feeling duped that Lady Grinning Soul should have stayed out of conventional dating channels and stuck to kink-related dating, keep in mind that besides those few hours a week or month when she's encased in black latex and mercilessly flogging someone at the club, she's still a person. She manages an office, goes to lunch with co-workers, calls her Mother, dances in the kitchen to bad Eighties rock, argues with her car mechanic, and saves kitties at the local cat shelter. While kink is evidently a big part of her life, keep in mind it's still a part. She does enjoy those cupcakes and big band concerts, trust us. She would not have done those things with you if she didn't.
But how to reconcile that part of her life with what you claim your life is? It boils down to four options:
Call It Quits. We feel that she dropped the "boom" at the right time. She will be able to accept it if you say that your limits do not extend into kink. No doubt she has had this conversation before with other dates.
Accept Partially Separate Lives. Couples do this all the time. He loves crocheting; she loves Harleys. They accept that parts of their lives are separate and never shall the twain meet. It's a good mindset to adopt for a healthy relationship. In your case, you'll accept and be okay with--and support--the fact that she goes off and engages in what you feel are dark activities.
Observe. Be open and investigate her life. She sounds like a friendly-enough tour guide, so it's not like you'd be walking into that community dewy-eyed and directionless. You might find that the people she knows don't have horns growing from their head or kill as many babies as you imagine they do. You may not ever want to physically participate in those activities, but you could be a supportive observer.
Engage. You might check things out and find that it sparks a latent desire of yours. Grabbing her wrist at the front door was bondage-in-the-making there, Mr. Grey. You just didn't know it. And she apparently liked it, based on that smoking gaze she directed your way.
Above anything, don't imagine that you'll "make a good woman" of her. She's an adult and she's made choices that are firmly embedded in her personality. It's for the two of you to work around this established fact.