“Our main rule is we will not hurt one another, and we respect the boundaries of others and our own at all times,” Blake tells me. He is speaking about his two year relationship with his partner, Max. The pair first ‘met’ on Facebook as friends, began dating and quickly struck up a bond.
“The way Blake and I found out we had similar kinks was by a slip of the tongue, really,” Max adds. He had previous experience of corporal punishment – as the active participant – and in a conversation Blake revealed that he had also taken part in this.
Things grew quickly from there, Blake explains: “It was sheer luck. I realised that we shared the same fetish scene and we liked the same things, but we had never encountered one another.”
Many gay men have fetishes, ranging from the vanilla, such as nipple or feet play, to hard S&M. Choosing when to reveal them to a new partner, however, can often be a difficult decision to make. What if the other person isn't into that? How much should they compromise?
Exploring new sexual experiences together is vital, Blake believes. “We’ve opened ourselves up to aggression and role play and our fetishes now include S&M, which can be anything from tying up, gagging, restraint, corporal punishment such as caning, belting, use of a paddle, a riding crop or over the knee spanking.”
“As a couple though, there’s one kink that we’re not into,” Max adds, laughing, “and that’s ADPL (Adult Diaper Play), which I personally can’t get my head around - but we’ve found a huge number of younger guys who are into this. It’s a colourful world!”
By establishing strong mutual trust, Max and Blake have opened up their fetishes to other people and become heavily involved in the fetish scene. They both remark on what a friendly, non-judgmental environment this is – one which has not only allowed them to experiment and test their limits, but also also expand their social lives. But, crucially, the dynamic between the pair often differs if they involve other men, Max explains.
“Together we’ve discovered that when we have a threesome we both become incredibly dominant over the third individual, which gives them an experience they enjoy. We also bounce off each other in terms of the reaction we get from the experience.”
As their relationship has developed, they have also found that they are “lighter” with each other, or in Blake’s words “more aware of our wants within the kink.” Do they have a safe word?
“No, because our attachment means we don’t need it, but for someone new to the scene I’d recommend using one so that you know what is and isn’t acceptable.”
One of the biggest myths with S&M, Blake stresses, is that the sub partner is not in control: “On the contrary, the sub is the most powerful individual. You have to take charge if you’re submissive and if your needs aren’t being taken care of.”
Blake also notes the misconceptions amongst other people they have played with surrounding aggressive role play: “Some people read this aggression as something which happens beyond the bedroom, when in fact is pure role play with is. Yes, we can leave bruises on one another, but that only ever happens within that scenario, never outside of it. Similarly, anything said during Chemsex must never be taken seriously. We’ve had some great mentors on the fetish scene and this is one of the most important things they’ve taught us.”
Listening to Blake and Max speak candidly about their fetishes, it’s evident that the respect they have for one another has been reinforced by their sexual tastes. This, it occurs to me, dispels another common falsehood about S&M – that the nature of the acts it can entail is at odds with tenderness or deeper emotional connection.
“If anything sharing these fetishes with each other has strengthened what we have,” Max says, locking eyes with Blake.
More refreshingly still, neither do the couple feel any of the “shame” that a conservative, heterosexual society has historically ascribed to S&M.
“I don't think there is anyone who doesn't know what are fetishes are,” laughs Blake. “We share them with friends, family and clients – and in many cases people are so intrigued that they ask us endless questions, always commenting on how open we both are.”
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