Awesome Dudette asks: “I’m hoping you can clarify something about limiting beliefs/intuition. I am very intuitive, but sometimes get mixed feelings. When you feel uncomfortable about something, how can you tell if it’s your intuition telling you it’s not “right” for you (aligned with what you truly want), or if it’s because you have limiting beliefs about it that need changing?
For example, my boyfriend is into S&M. I keep feeling sick to my stomach about it. I love sex and have a great libido, but S&M doesn’t feel right to me. I read your blog about sex, and agree in general that sex is a good thing / don’t feel I have major hang-ups about it. So is the feeling I’m getting because it isn’t aligned with my higher self, or because I have a hang-up/judgment about S&M? Do I listen to my feeling, or try to change it?
I feel confused, and this confusion has happened for me on more than one subject. I’m guessing there are others who also feel confused about the difference between a “bad” feeling that is intuition, and a “bad” feeling that is a thought attached to a limiting belief. When do we listen to ourselves, and when do we not?”
Dear Awesome Dudette,
First of all, way to ask a juicy question that just begs to be answered publicly. You knew I’d take the bait, didn’t you? Well played. 🙂
Here’s the super short answer: If it feels bad, don’t do it.
I’m guessing you want more, though… Ok, here we go then. But, I’m just going to warn you right now, there’s no way I can write a post involving S&M and not throw in some highly inappropriate jokes (something I’m guessing you knew…). The thirteen year old boy that lives in the humor center of my brain would never forgive me (and honestly, I don’t mess with the part of my brain that has the power to fill my head with images of monkeys in powdered wigs throwing poo at each other while I’m, oh say, talking to my lawyer.) Consider yourself disclaimered.
Always listen to yourself
You ask “When do we listen to ourselves and when do we not?” ALWAYS listen to yourself. That’s rule number one around here, really. Pay attention to how you’re feeling. Don’t ever force yourself to do something that doesn’t feel right and good to you. So, if the idea of a bit of S&M doesn’t light your fire, don’t do it. It doesn’t matter if it’s an aversion born of resistance, or your intuition telling you that it won’t lead you to what you want, I’m telling you, it’s the same damn thing. Here’s why:
Let’s say that you’re standing in front of an alley. It’s a shortcut to your house, but you’re afraid to walk down it. Now, is that your resistance, i.e. fear that you might get mugged coming up, or is it your intuition telling you that there’s an actual mugger down there? It doesn’t matter! If you ignore your resistance and subject yourself to a situation that feels dangerous, guess what will happen? You’ll manifest bigger, more severe experiences (like being mugged) that will mirror that resistance back to you. Either way, whether or not there’s an actual mugger in the alley today, your feelings are telling you: “If you walk down that alley, you will have an unwanted experience.” You do not have to know if there’s an actual mugger there or not before you can justify NOT walking down that alley. It’s not like the Universe is daring you to walk down it in some weird, sadistic game of chicken. You’re not supposed to feel bad and if you do, you should walk away from whatever is making you feel bad. First and foremost.
But what about releasing resistance?
So, you walk away from that alley and you go the long way around. But, what if you don’t want to always go the long way around? What if you’d really like to have the freedom to walk down that alley? In that case, your fear of the danger in that alley needs to first be addressed. What you do NOT want to do is to walk down that alley while being afraid, no matter what the fear is being caused by.
Forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do, something that doesn’t feel good, will NEVER lead to a wanted outcome.
We should all have that burned into our brains at birth (instead of the opposite!).
To spank or not to spank
Don’t you worry, I haven’t forgotten about the S&M bit, I just wanted to set the stage first. So, your boyfriend wants a bit of the old slap and tickle, eh? But the mere idea of it makes you sick. Well, sweetie, I don’t know what you and your man toy usually get up to, but sex isn’t supposed to make you sick. If it makes you feel nauseous, you’re doing it wrong. Should you force yourself to do something that makes you feel sick? Say it with me now, everybody (those in leather gimp masks just bob and weave in support): “Hell NO!” End of story. Or is it?
Is this even a problem?
Why is this a problem? You don’t have to like everything in the world. It’s ok for you to not like S&M. There’s no rule that you have to be into everything, just like there’s no rule that you have to like every kind of food. You get to have preferences! So why is it bothering you at all that you don’t have the same preferences as your boyfriend in the boudoir department? Let’s look at some possible reasons:
Is sex not good for both of you? Is your boyfriend telling you that without adding a bit of the rough stuff, he can’t cross the finish line? Do you feel that you need to compromise in order to please him?
If this is the case, you have a couple of options. Forcing yourself to engage in activities that make you feel sick is not one of them! And honestly, if your boyfriend expects that of you, he’s a selfish bastard and should be tossed out on his leather chap clad hiney.
Option #1: Accept that S&M just isn’t your thing, and make it clear to your boyfriend that it’s never going to happen. Refuse to feel guilty about your preferences. Deal with the consequences, which may ultimately lead you both to finding more sexually compatible partners. He can’t help liking S&M any more than you can help not liking it. And, if he can’t be satisfied without it, it’s better to be honest with each other about that.
Option #2: You realize that having an aversion to something is different from just not being into it. In other words, there’s a difference between not being turned on by something and wanting to hurl at the mere mention of it. Having a strong, negative reaction to something does indicate that there’s resistance there. Keep in mind that you have no obligation to shift this, and that it’s perfectly ok not to. It always comes down to what you want.
I’ve always maintained that couples should be able to openly share their sexual fantasies with each other without judgment. If one partner mentions he’d like to dress up as a Viking vampire and feed the other gourmet chocolate, it should be ok to at least mention that without being told he’s a freaking pervert. Having an “OMG, you’re so gross!” reaction says more about the person having that reaction than the person at whom it’s directed. Great sex is about honesty, authenticity and experimenting. However, there’s a huge difference between exploring something in a conversation and using it as a mutual fantasy or even acting it out. If you’re not into what your partner is suggesting, you don’t have to punish him for sharing it with you. You can just say no thanks. Everyone has their limits. Some people are uncomfortable doing it with the lights on. Others don’t lose their boners if you put them into a situation reminiscent of the SAW movies. (She said boner. *snort*). You, and you alone get to decide what you’re comfortable with and what you want to participate in or not. And you have absolutely no obligation to change those preferences. Allowing others to like what they like does not mean you have to participate.
Now that you understand that you have absolutely no obligation to change your preference or aversion to S&M, we can talk about what you can do if you do decide to make peace with it. If the mere idea of a bit of power play makes you feel ill, there is some resistance there. And that resistance could get in the way of you enjoying yourself fully in other areas of your life, which is the only reason you should consider releasing it (not because you owe it to anyone or feel judged, etc.).
The section where I talk about S&M
Some of you skipped right to this section, didn’t you? Yeah, you know who you are.
The term sadomasochism is widely misunderstood by many people. While there are extremes where partners inflict real pain and even damage to each other, the grand majority of aficionados aren’t actually into suffering. It’s much more about the illusion of giving up control. One partner, the “bottom”, pretends to give up control to the “top”. But in actuality, the bottom has all the power, gets to decide when things escalate or not, and when they stop. It’s much more a psychological game than a physical one with each person and couple having to find the perfect balance between pure fantasy and action for themselves. Usually, in S&M relationships, there’s a great deal of talking about limits and details before any action ever takes place. Both parties need to feel safe. Taking it just a tick too far can turn an experience from “best sex ever” to “I shall forever feel weird about you from this day forth” in a heartbeat, so all kinds of precautions are taken to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Even though the actual activities involved in this kind of sexual play can vary widely in form and intensity, it’s really all about control and taking it or giving it up in a safe way.
Exploring the resistance
What about the idea of this makes you uncomfortable? Perhaps you’re afraid of the pain. S&M games don’t have to be even a little bit painful. Tying someone to the bed with silk scarves and teasing them with a feather is an example of pain-free S&M (or, um, so I’m told…).
Perhaps you’re incredibly uncomfortable giving up control, even when you’re just pretending. This is a safety issue. Engaging in these kinds of activities requires a great deal of trust between partners. Do you trust your boyfriend that much? Do you have the ability to trust anyone that much? In that case, there are ways to make the fact that it’s “pretend” clearer (like tying knots so loosely that you could easily get out of them).
The sickness you’re feeling could also indicate that you have an issue with powerlessness. If you generally feel a bit powerless, then someone asking to take more control away from you will trigger that. You don’t have to like S&M, ever, but that would be an issue you’d want to address in general.
It could also just be as simple as left over puritanical thoughts about sex, but since you indicated that your libido was otherwise healthy and you enjoyed sex, this is less likely.
Why you may want to clear this
Here’s the thing: This event is a manifestation. You attracted a situation that triggered you. It’s not about the sex, it’s about the underlying issue that has been triggered. The goal here is not to turn you into a dominatrix. You are moving towards what you want, and as part of that journey, the obstacles to what you want are popping up. You attracted a boyfriend who mentions S&M to you, which causes a reaction in you. This is your indicator that there’s something you should be paying attention to. That’s it.
Ask yourself what exactly is causing the discomfort. Is it the giving up of control, the idea of one person inflicting pain on another, or something else?
Connect with that feeling and allow other memories that match it to show up. Look for a pattern. For example, if the issue is powerlessness, you may well discover some memories from your childhood that feel exactly like that, but that have nothing to do with sex. Remember, this is more about power and control than swinging from the chandelier. Figure out what this is really about and then find a better feeling way to look at THAT (not S&M, that’s kind of irrelevant. It was just the delivery mechanism for the trigger).
Once you clear the underlying issue, the trigger won’t be necessary anymore. You still may not want to engage in this kind of fantasy, but you won’t feel sick about it anymore. And, chances are very good that your boyfriend will back off about this. The only reason he’s in your face about it now is because he’s agreed on a soul level to mirror back your resistance to you, so you could pay attention to it and clear it.
(“Bottom.” *snort*) When something, anything, sex related or not, makes you uncomfortable, don’t do it. Then, either walk away from the trigger and accept that this is not something you ever want to expose yourself to (you are not required to like anything, or even be able to think about ANYTHING and feel good about it.) If you can successfully stay away from a trigger, that may be the best way to go. But, if you can’t, if it keeps popping up, then figure out what’s REALLY going on and clear that. Recognize that the trigger is not the issue – it’s just the delivery mechanism. Figuring out why you’re not comfortable with S&M, clearing that underlying issue, may not cause you to then become a big, old S&M superfreak. But the issue will gravitate out of your existence once the trigger is no longer necessary. Or, you may discover a new affinity for spurs and entertaining the cul-de-sac with enthusiastic cries of “Giddy up!” Just saying.