What If You And Your Partner Have Very Different Needs Around Play Parties?
What if you’re shyer and don’t want to jump in the middle of the pile? Or what if you do what to jump in the middle of the pile?
With Cathy Vartuli from http://www.TheIntimacyDojo.com, Andi Cortland from http://www.LevelUpSex.com and Raj.
Cathy: What if you and your partner have very different needs about play parties, what you want to express, what you want to experience? It can be a challenge. What do you do? I’m Cathy Vartuli from http://www.TheIntimacyDojo.com.
Andi: I’m Andi Courtland from http://www.LevelUpSex.com.
Raj: I’m Raj, I’m married to Andi.
Cathy: You guys are kind of in this place, so I appreciate you being willing to share. What do you do when one person wants to dive into the middle and have sex with everybody …
Cathy: And one person either doesn’t really enjoy the energy there, or wants to play with one person at a time?
Cathy: I appreciate you being willing to share, because at least in the sex positive community I sense that it seems to me that a lot of people think that everybody would want to just jump into the party and play, and I love that you’re willing to share that, “Hey, that’s not my self expression.”
Andi: I love play parties. I came to San Francisco and I was like a kid in a candy store. It was finally a place where I could be my full sexual self and not be shamed for it, and feel surrounded by other people who also identify as queer-poly-kinky sluts, and say, “Oh my God, you too? Fuck yeah! Welcome to the family! Hey, come to this party, hey, come to that party. Oh my God, guess what I just tried,” and it was great. I finally felt like I was home. But the thing is, that’s not Raj, and I would always say … Here’s the thing, whenever I’m dating or sleeping with other people, or whenever I’m in any social event, I always end up talking about my husband because he’s awesome and he’s a really important part of my life, and I like talking about people who are awesome and who are an important part of my life. I’d be at these play parties and say, “Oh my God, I just moved here and I love it, but I can’t wait until my husband moves here because he’s super awesome! I can’t wait for all of you guys to meet him, because you’re totally going to love him.”
As soon as he started coming to San Francisco more regularly I said, “Oh my God, I have to bring him to all the parties so he can meet all the people”, and then as you can imagine from the introductory question in this video, that didn’t quite pan out.
Raj: I would say that was a disaster.
Andi: It was a disaster. True story.
Cathy: Can you tell us about the disaster? Are you willing to share?
Raj: Oh yeah. So basically whenever I went to play parties it was just like stepping into an alien culture for me. It was an extremely hard time for me, because obviously we’ve already talked about this, I am not a sexually person, I don’t feel always like jumping into bed with a bunch of people. Part of it is like a lot of people who grew up in very conservative cultures, I grew up in India, there’s a lot of sexual shame that’s still hidden between us, in our heads. Definitely I know that’s true in my case, and being able to work through that is very important. Partly it’s also just the level of desire you have and the level of communication.
Cathy: The type of expression.
Raj: The type of expression.
Cathy: I know I feel shame when I go to play parties. It comes up, it’s just part of the …
Raj: Yeah, it comes up.
Cathy: And I’ve had really good times. That’s part of my self-expression. It doesn’t sound like that’s a good expression for you.
Raj: Yeah. Partly it was just, it was a feeling of, ‘Oh, these are people that she’s friends with, so I should support her.’
Cathy: Everybody else is having fun, why aren’t I?
Raj: Yeah. If I want to support Andi then I should be able to go to these parties and have fun, but soon enough after going to a few of them I realized that I wasn’t having fun at them. This was not the right environment for me.
Cathy: I appreciate your self-awareness. Like, “Hey, this isn’t working for me.”
Raj: It was a very difficult thing to say, because that’s what I felt like I was supposed to be like; that in order to be a supportive spouse, as well as be a fun person, I had to enjoy these parties. But I wasn’t enjoying them, and so I made a decision eventually that I’m not going to go to sex parties, and that has been great for me for being true to myself. It has felt right for me. However, the challenge there is that sex parties tend to be a very default way of people in the sex positive communities to connect to each other. That can be a little bit isolating. Often when I meet somebody who’s in a sex positive community or who is in a open relationship who I am interested in, the first thing I’ll get from them is, “Hey, let’s meet at this play party.” And I’m like, “Uh, it don’t really go to play parties”, and they’re like, “What? What’s wrong with you?”
Andi: It just doesn’t feel right for you.
Raj: It doesn’t feel right for me, and then I have to explain that I have decided not to go to play parties because I don’t feel comfortable there, and I’m more interested in meeting one-on-one with people. That works sometimes, but then it doesn’t work other times.
Andi: You also like very traditional dates. You like coffee and dinner.
Raj: Yeah. It’s a decision that has felt right for me, but it also definitely affected my social life.
Cathy: I can understand that, because a lot of play parties, voyeurism is participation. It’s OK just to go to watch, but if the whole energy of it doesn’t feel right to you then that community isn’t a place that you’re going to connect, that kind of event.
Raj: Yeah, and it’s not to say that may not change in the future, but it’s important to remember that for other couples and partners who are in this kind of situation that different people have different levels of comfort.
Cathy: And it’s all OK.
Raj: Yeah, it’s all OK. The analogy I like to make is I’m a dancer, I dance Argentine tango, and it’s the difference between somebody who’s a good dancer and not so good dancer and just throwing them into a dance party. “Hey, go dance.”
Cathy: “Go play”, yeah.
Raj: Yeah. Some people take up to it very happily, and some will say, “I don’t really want to dance. I’m just going to stay away,” or, “I don’t like this sort of music very much.” It’s different for different people and it’s all OK.
Cathy: Thank you for sharing that. What areas of your life don’t work for you? Just being aware of them, it may not be play parties, it might be something entirely different, it might be a regular party or a bar, whatever it is. Just being aware of what works and doesn’t work for you in a moment is really powerful, because then you can communicate it and take care of your needs and let your partner know so that can plan around.
Cathy: I’d love to hear, leave comments below.
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