I Still Can’t Get Myself Tied Up


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Dear Elizabeth,

I’m looking for some advice about approaching women.  I’m a 32-year-old kinky guy and I keep striking out when trying to initiate kinky play.  I know everyone says to go to events and meet people.  I’m meeting plenty of women, but I’m struggling to get any traction with getting any of my fetishes fulfilled.  They seem initially attracted to me, but I still can’t get myself tied up!  For what it’s worth, I consider myself fairly attractive and haven’t really had trouble dating, but I’m falling flat in this department.  I don’t think what I’m looking for is too extreme, so I can’t understand why things aren’t working out.

Spanking Struggles 

Dear SS,

You don’t say a lot about what your fetishes are, so I’m going to take you at face value when you explain that you’re not looking for anything so extreme that it would limit your options.  There is truly someone for everyone, no matter how unusual, but the dating pool is considerably smaller for some interests than it is for others. 

Spanking is a very common bedroom activity. Recent surveys estimate that 70% of men and 61% of women enjoy spanking during sex, up from 49%/38% in a prior study 25 years ago. I’ve coached people in the kinky and queer communities for roughly 20 years, so I have some pointers to make this easier for you.  In short, it’s all about creating opportunities and how you approach them.

You’ve already gotten some good advice about how to meet people.  It’s fantastic that you are putting yourself out there.  Loads of men feel guilt and shame about the things that turn them on, so it can be hard for most adults to even take the chance at meeting other pervy people.  You’re already past the first two steps of the process:  you’ve been able to figure out what it is that you want, which can take decades to ponder and understand. Pat yourself on the back for undertaking that challenging part of the journey towards self-discovery and growth!  The second step is putting yourself out there, which also takes a whole lot of nerve and willingness to risk rejection. I often coach clients through this second part of the process, because so many people struggle with making those initial moves.

So what’s going wrong?  You’ve found out where the action is (which also required a challenging bit of research) and you’re making great first impressions with the women you find interesting, but then things are taking a left turn to nowhere when you approach them about initiating play.  This tells me they like who you are, but there’s something in your transition to talking about your fetishes that is a turnoff. 

My advice is twofold.  First, curb your enthusiasm.  You need to focus on building friendships with your newfound kinky contacts, just like you do out in the regular world of dating.  You wouldn’t meet a woman at a church gathering and five minutes later ask her to have sex with you, so why would asking about bondage be any different?  True, a dungeon isn’t really a church, but some social rules still apply.  Treat potential playmates with the same level of compassion as any other budding relationship and take your time.  It’s a well-documented fact that there are way more submissive men out there in the dating pool than there are dominant women, so your potential partners can be as choosy as they desire.  The onus is on you to treat them with respect, make yourself interesting, and prove you’re worth their time.  Women also must worry about personal safety way more than men do, so whether you realize it or not, you’re being vetted by members of the kinky community every time you interact with them.  Dress nicely, mind your manners, find out what their interests are outside of kink, and look for partners that are compatible with you in more ways than just bondage.  The more consistently you show up to community activities and the more friendships you develop with people who are actively doing what you want to do, the more you will learn and get positive references for the women you find interesting.

The other half of my advice? Don’t treat women like fetish dispensers!  No human being wants to feel like a vending machine, where someone puts a few quarters in and they are expected to give you what corresponds with the button you push.  If they are the dominant ones, then their interests and fetishes need to come first.  How much time are you spending focusing on their needs?  What turns them on the most?  That should be your emphasis.  Ask them how you can serve their needs, not the other way around.  Keep your ambitions modest initially, be patient, and be open to experiences that may not revolve around your core interests if it means facilitating a new connection with someone.


Elizabeth R. Busbee earned a doctorate at Yale and specializes in issues of gender, sexuality, and communication. She has been helping people explore and enjoy intimacy for over 20 years. Her private relationship and intimacy coaching practice can be reached at alternativeintimacy.com

Have a question you’d like answered? Write to Elizabeth at UnconventionalLoveCoach@gmail.com