For the Love of Sex: Trustworthy, ethical, sexual life advice

Pollyanne Marie | Columnist

I am currently on my way back to Prince George after three weeks in London and Paris.

Besides all the beauty I saw and the amazing foods I tasted (mostly chocolate croissants), it was really an eye opening experience to be in a city where I did not speak the official language. I know I only got a very small taste of this, since Paris is a very tourist friendly city and most people do speak enough English to serve you your meal or help you with directions when you’re lost. That being said, I am one of those people who tried my hardest to speak French and learn the etiquette of the culture I was stepping into and there were still times when people literally turned away, refusing to deal with my lack of French language skills.

Though I am embarrassed to admit, I will tell you that on a date, my first night in Paris I managed to throw myself down a set of stairs. I found a staircase just around a corner that I imagined was going to lead to a hallway and somersaulted down 25 steps with a loud scream of confusion and terror. I’ve thought a lot about that night and how lucky I was. For one, I could have really hurt myself, I walked away with some pretty extreme bruises and some anxiety around staircases but that’s about it. I also could have been alone or in a country where English was a lot less common, what would I have done then? Luckily my Parisian date also spoke English and was able to help me in getting some ice and a comfortable place to rest.

I also saw a lot of refugee families begging for spare change, suitcases and kids in tow. I wondered how long they had been there and how long they would stay. I know one day I will be in a country where the conditions are much worse and I will really have to come out of my little bubble of first world problems. The closest thing I have to being a second class citizen is that I am a woman and even in that I am extremely lucky to be a woman in Canada. I saw these things and I felt the confusion, fear, frustration of being a non-native speaker in a place as friendly as Paris and I felt empathy for those in a similar situation, albeit a much more difficult one, who have been coming to my country. When you grow up in a different culture, speaking a different language, with a different way of life and you are thrown into a completely new environment and expected to know how to do something as simple as buying groceries. Buying groceries is hard when you can’t read anything! Going to a restaurant is even worse…

I digress, what came to me through all of these new experiences, was an understanding and empathy for those without a voice. While I have been making my way home and contemplating my travels I have thought a lot about what it feels like to not be able to have your needs understood. Whether that is stemming from some form of mental illness, from speaking another language, or something as simple as not being understood by your partner, your family, your boss, it can feel painfully frustrating and at times can even be dangerous.

I actually had an experience between the lines of this article that was a perfect example when it comes to kink and the importance of communication between partners. I went into subspace (the result of the chemical release from BDSM “play”). I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t open my eyes, all I could do was moan and…well…that’s about it. I tried my best to communicate with my partner but when you can’t speak or move, you’re gonna be pretty out of luck. At one point I started to become verbal again, but this was after some time of my partner trying to understand what I needed. In the end we actually ended up referring to the article I had written at the beginning of this column which was all about subspace, subdrop, and aftercare. Where better to find a list of personalized aftercare ideas?

I now plan on making a specific list to keep on my phone or in my wallet for just such occasions. It will have simple and probably obvious things, but I honestly couldn’t remember them when I was in that space. I felt scared and helpless, unable to communicate with my partner about what I needed to come out of subspace safely. Unfortunately, because I couldn’t communicate what I needed I ended up going into subdrop. I was scared and confused, afraid that my partner would be embarrassed by the way I was acting, that he might even be mad at me for it. Of course my partner wasn’t upset and only held me lovingly until I felt well enough to wipe my tears, eat some chocolate, and have a shower with them. Once again, I was lucky to be with someone who spoke my language and who put forth the effort to understand what I needed and how they might be able to help.

That short trip, to a not so different place, changed my perspective immensely and I wish I could give it to everyone I know that they might be able to find a little more patience and understanding for those who might seem different than themselves. In every text that covers love and relationships, it is well understood that “communication is key,” but figuring out how to communicate, how to understand and to be understood, is something we could all spend a lot more energy on.

Have you had similar experiences? Suggestions on books that helped you or someone you know? I know that not everyone can afford to travel but that would surely be in my top 5.

Until next time,

Keep it kinky,

Keep it consensual