Friends were my theme of 2019. I joined the BDSM community, and I discovered why I hadn’t been able to make friends for over twenty years: kink. I had several best friends during my high school years, but we connected over different things than sexuality. We had a similar lifestyle, we came from a similar background, and we enjoyed each other’s company. I was friends with them for over ten years, before life drifted us apart.
Since then, I had not been able to make new friends. And yes, I tried. I had hoped to make friends at university, but it just didn’t happen. I did theatre, I joined book clubs, board games clubs, sports clubs, but no best buddies stuck.
Then I sent one e-mail to a local munch coordinator, and bam, I had made a friend. I was in shock. How could this be? Why was she so much like me? And it didn’t stop there. Over the past eight months, my husband and I have made more friends. This led me to ponder many questions. What is the purpose of friendship? What can I bring in to such a relationship? Am I just being selfish? Can I trust these people? And most of all: why does it feel so good?
A Brand New World
You know, in many ways this feels like stepping into a new world. The last ten years, I have only dealt with my husband and his family. That was great, but that means I have not updated my social conventions much.
One of the first things I now encounter is the question: when do you exchange phone numbers? Am I too pushy? Do I sound too desperate if I do it now? Nowadays, I tend to wait until we meet outside the munch for the first time. You can always get a flat tire or a delayed train before the set time, so then it’s convenient to have a phone number instead of conversing through FetLife.
Before I lost my former friends, there was no such thing as WhatsApp. Sometimes we talked through MSN Messenger, or we sent a text message, the ones for which you had to pay. Even Facebook Messenger didn’t exist yet. So now I have a whole new set of rules I need to learn. And there is no textbook I can follow.
How many messages a day is too much? Can I spam people with cute cat pictures? Is it okay if I don’t send a message every day? When they’re away on holiday, am I supposed to continue sending messages or should I leave them alone?
Most of these things resolve themselves. I usually ask if it’s all right that I send messages at all hours since I’m awake until 2 or 3 AM and I know that’s past most people’s bedtimes. And if I’ve not sent a message for a long time, then usually they’ll ask if everything is all right.
I don’t like having to use WhatsApp since I don’t trust Facebook, but it’s the norm for almost everyone, so I ignore my ill feelings. I love receiving messages throughout the day, even if it’s just a pic of a pug wearing a lion’s mane. I’m not as alone as I used to be.
Last year I found Kayla Lords’ blog, and I sent a link to my husband of the Loving BDSM podcast. He enjoyed listening to podcasts, so soon he was a few episodes in. I remember his surprise: they are just like us! They struggle with the same issues we do in their BDSM lifestyle.
Hearing about their struggles is what inspired me to go look for my own BDSM community. Because if there is one couple like us out there, albeit on the other side of the ocean, then there are bound to be more.
People Like Us
And there were. The people at the munch struggle with the same things we struggle with. How to find time for play? How to use stop words? Is my partner dominant enough? What is enough? And we can discuss these questions out in the open where everyone has their own ideas about it. No one is offended or shocked when you’re commanded to sit in another chair or when you’re sent away to fetch more coffee. They understand the dynamic and respect the way you interpret it. We’re not the only ones.
Is it all fun and games? No, I wouldn’t be Liz if I wouldn’t worry and ruminate over these new-found friends. Am I doing it all right? Literally: am I a good friend? What do I bring to this friendship? Why would people want to hang out with me? And the darker side of me worries: when will they betray me? In what way could they hurt me and am I okay with that?
Fear of Betrayal
I’ve been betrayed by so many people, also close friends, that letting people into my life is terrifying. It’s this fear of betrayal that has prevented us from looking into the BDSM community earlier. I don’t really have an answer to the questions above.
Using All the Senses
It’s the frightened little bird inside of me that’s afraid. She has been trampled one too many times to still naively believe there are good people out there. I’m using all the people-reading skills that I got to pick out the right people.
I read their eyes, I feel their energy, I listen to the tone of their voice and of course, to the words they say. I try with all my might to pick out the right people, and I know they can still turn on me and hurt me once I open up. That’s scary as hell. It’s a gamble.
So far, things have been turning out all right. My new friends have not hurt me yet, at least nothing unsurmountable. I’ve been annoyed once or twice. Yes, I should have communicated about that, but hey, I’m still learning.
Through chatting with my female friends, I’ve finally started to wear dresses on a daily basis, something I’ve wanted to do all my life. I sent them pictures of dresses that I liked, and they commented on it. They advised me about what models to choose with my figure. My husband always picked the shortest and tightest models, and that’s not something for everyday wear. It’s nice to finally receive honest answers about what I can wear. It feels so much better to wear dresses instead of my oversized Primark sweaters.
Part of me worries whether I am being selfish in these relationships. Is it wrong to build relationships, platonic ones, outside of my marriage so that I have a back-up should something happen to my husband? This is not my number one reason in looking for friends, but it’s definitely on the back of my mind. I have no family to fall back on, other than some faraway aunts and uncles. I struggle with this question, but I don’t think it’s fair. We’re all adults, and my friends probably have their own reasons for hanging out with me. No relationship is unconditional other than the relationship between parents and their children.
So yeah, friends. They’re having an impact on me every day. Overall I feel better. I feel less lonely, less alone in the world. There are people out there like me with similar interests. People exist who don’t flinch when I talk about spankings or when I touch upon darker subjects like mental health issues. Friends who will listen to me when I’m feeling down and out. I can give out Christmas cards and little gifts again, or bigger gifts for birthdays. The thoughtfulness I inherited from my mother can finally shine. I love being a friend, and my friends love me. I hope.