For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a kinky side. When I was a child—even before I got my period or had my first kiss—I would fantasize a lot. And my sexual fantasies were often related to power dynamics. You be the teacher and tell me everything I have to do. You lock me in a tower and force me to try an escape. It was kid play, but it was definitely a kind of play that really excited me.
As I got older, I felt hyper sexual. I loved masturbating; it was something that settled me down. And a lot of the sexual fantasies I had involved rougher sex, a more domination-submissive dynamic, multiple partners, and punishment. But I also thought it was “weird” and “not normal,” so I kept it all to myself, ashamed to share.
When I got to grad school in my 20s, my sexual fantasies became more prominent. At the time, Craigslist was big and I’d look at the personal ads that focused on “alternative lifestyles.” I was especially drawn to posts like, “Are you a bad girl who needs to be taught a lesson?” or “Do you want to get fucked hard by a stranger?” The more intense, the better. While I never answered these ads because of concerns I had about personal safety, they only continued to stoke my kinky fire.
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But then I got married. I became pregnant. I had three babies in quick succession and worked outside of the home full time. I figured my fantasies would remain fantasies, and maybe that was OK.
When my youngest daughter was a year old and I started emerging from the trance of babyhood, my mind and body felt more like mine again—and my sexual fantasies came back again hard core. They were so strong that I shared a few of them with one of my closest friends from grad school. She ended up doing a bunch of research for me and found FETlife, a social network for the BDSM, fetish and kink community. It’s kind of like Facebook, but run by and for kinksters. I created an anonymous profile and started endless scrolling, eyes wide with excitement.
I quickly learned that one of the things that makes FETlife so awesome is that you can set your location and find other kinky people and events in your area. I was instantly intrigued by “munches,” which are essentially just a networking event at a restaurant or other public hang-out spot where everyone gets some food and drinks and connects. There’s no sex, no hard-core flirting. It’s very “vanilla,” as they say. You’re just meeting other people in the lifestyle.
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I talked to my then-husband about attending a munch in Philly and he was game for me to try it. I’d been really open with him about my fantasies, and while we tried to play out some of my biggest desires together, it just didn’t work. They weren’t his fantasies, after all. But he was open to me exploring the kink community on my own. So, I showed up at a munch in center city Philadelphia one night, intrigued and totally intimidated. I sat at the bar and ordered a glass of wine, glancing over at a big table of people having drinks and big plates of nachos, talking and laughing. I kept giving myself little pep talks. When I drink a quarter of this glass of wine, I’ll go over and introduce myself. OK, when I drink half. OK, when I finish this glass.
I left without introducing myself. I just wasn’t there yet.
But I was intrigued enough to try again. I went to my second munch, this time at a different location and with a different crowd, and the exact same thing happened. Yet as I was walking out, a woman in her 50s came up to me, introduced herself as ML, and asked if I was there for the munch. I sheepishly admitted that yes, I was. We talked briefly and hatched a plan to meet for a coffee that week. Our first coffee date turned into monthly get-togethers, where ML walked me through the dos and don’ts of the kink lifestyle, answered my questions about the community, and asked me about what I wanted.
When I told ML I wanted to be spanked, she hooked me up with an incredible couple—people who were great spankers and safe, a.k.a. “vetted,” because they were known to be experienced and incredible at setting good boundaries. Within a few weeks, I was at this couple’s house in suburban New Jersey, learning what I liked and didn’t like at my own pace. Case in point: I stayed fully clothed for this first spanking experience! I laugh when I think of it now, showing up in jeans, a long sleeve shirt, and a zipped-up puffy vest. But it’s such a great example of how the kink community helped me take things slowly, exploring my sexual fantasies in real life in a way that felt truly safe and supportive. The mind-blowingly sexy would come later.
One thing led to the next. I went to my first party, got tied up in rope and suspended for the first time, used the electric wand for the first time. My attitude was and remains this: I want to say “yes” to almost everything once. If it works, amazing. If it doesn’t, that’s fine too. It just felt so wonderful to stop judging myself and start playing.
The more active I got on FETlife and the more events, workshops, and parties I attended, the more it broadened my sexual fantasy world. More than anything, it made me feel less alone and less ashamed. I kept getting introduced to these other really smart, professional women and men who had the exact same interests as I did, and it helped me see that my sexual fantasies didn’t mean I was weak or that I didn’t value myself as a woman.
To my now ex-husband’s credit, he was encouraging of me playing in this new space—he just wasn’t there. He tried spanking me a few times, which I appreciated. But the thing about my desire to be submissive is that the pleasure comes from not being in control. Having to teach him how to spank me and show him exactly what to do defeated the purpose. What I know now is that my exploration of my deepest sexual fantasies didn’t break us, but rather highlighted so much that was already broken in our marriage. It made us both realize we hadn’t grown in the same direction. And that’s OK.
What my exploration in the kink community also helped me realize is that my fantasies are a big part of me. They are not just this little piece that’s something I think about occasionally. It’s who I am.
That’s not to say all of my fantasies are ones I incorporate into my sex life these days. I have rape fantasies, and gang bang fantasies, and so much more. And while the kink community offers a safe place for these to play out—for example, there is something called consensual non-consent, where you and your partner work out ahead of time how it’s all going to unfold; similarly, safe and consensual gang bangs happen often—I instinctually know that these aren’t things I want to try right now. Instead, I share those fantasies with my boyfriend, @jacks_cold_sweat, an incredible man I met thanks to FETlife. He’ll play out these fantasies for me by talking to me or moving me in certain ways when we have sex, and it’s deeply, fully satisfying.
When I think about exactly how my sexiest fantasies became part of my sex life, I still feel grateful for saying “yes” to so many firsts, and for knowing myself well enough to listen what felt like a “no.” I also feel beyond lucky for meeting my boyfriend, the most loving, authentic, fun, and sexy man who has helped me believe that anything is possible.
These days, my sex life is even better than I thought could be possible. I find myself constantly asking, How is this my life? How is sex the positive, fulfilling, and complete experience that it is? How is it everything I could’ve ever hoped for? How do I have a partner who meets me where I am, not just in sex but in life?
It happened with a lot of work, and some sacrifice. I gave up a lot to be here. But here I am. Happier and more fulfilled than I’ve ever been.
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