My (vanilla) Gentleman: Part II

Part I here.

The email address I had given MG very early on is not one I use often, stranger-email if you like. The notifications for it pop up every 24 hours or something complicated, so I didn’t see his message until the day after he sent it.

It was long, entitled ‘The imagination works overtime sometimes’, and he acknowledged that I might not like it.

He started with the positive, as all good sandwich-makers do :P.

Told me that I’m ‘amazing, gorgeous, intelligent… witty and funny’ (I so am!).

His concerns were in the middle there. And they are valid.

  • I don’t really share anything personal so he feels like he’s not really getting to know ‘me’.
  • I am not demonstrative or open, so am hard to read.
  • He thinks my content is BDSM or fetish-related which he is fine with, but he feels hurt that I’ve not trusted him to behave like a mature adult with the information.

On the first, I don’t feel like I hide anything or avoid topics, but much of my personal life is bound up in D/s, and he has so far had no access to that side of me, so of course there are wide swathes of my life about which I talk in high level terms without revealing the nature or detail of it. I’d not have thought that was noticeable really, it’s not like it’s hard to talk around them, but obviously it is noticeable, and for him, it makes me feel unreachable.

On the second he is 100% right. I am a brick wall. Which I’ve said a million times before. There are many subconscious, innate reasons for that, but one more conscious reason is that I don’t want to mislead anyone, and part of that is pure ego. If I’m unsure of them or ‘us’, I will hold back, because god forbid I shine my entire glorious light and attention on someone and then withdraw it if I decide I’m not really interested: That seems cruel and unfair (I told you, ego+, but it’s true all the same).

And another related truth is that I am always unsure, always need convincing, always need to have someone courageously run at me over and over until they crack the wall (assuming we are firing). I am difficult to date, to know, to get close to. I know this. I know that doesn’t make me some kind of special, but I also know that emotionally fearless warrior-men will throw themselves into the fray with courage and delight, and damn the consequences, because that’s who they are, and I need that. That’s not how I am, and it’s not how he is either. The Catch 22 here is that I can’t ask him to try and do that because it’s *not* who he is, and asking someone to behave in ways that are outside of their nature will never work.

On the third about BDSM, he is also right, of course (given it’s all over the Q&A in my dating profile, it’s not that hard to work out). I’ve told him I write books, have a blog, create a podcast and that the content is relationship-related. I’ve also told him that I’m reluctant to tell him more because a) I don’t want it to take over our ‘getting to know you’ chats and b) it’s akin to handing over a diary and is way too much information.

He’s wrong that telling him is about trusting him to handle it like a mature adult. Sharing this *points to everything* is not at all the same as telling someone ‘I’m into BDSM’. Not even a little bit. The latter is sharing a piece of information, the former is handing over 10 years of excruciating detail about me and my personal, romantic, sex life. And to anyone (mature adults included), that is an overwhelming amount of intimacy and domly domdomdomliness to consume and take on board without any curation or management from my side.

I have no problem confirming the content as BDSM-related and having a chat about it. Sharing the actual links is something I feel like is going to be more trouble than it’s worth until/unless I decided this relationship has legs. If I could share the books and the podcast, and not this blog, I would. But I can’t. Unless I put password protection on it and don’t give him the password.

From his email, I think that he thinks that THIS is the barrier between us, as if talking about it is going to magically open me up, but that’s just not the case. He’ll be fine with it in concept, and it will help us to talk about it I imagine, but it doesn’t materially change anything.

I’ll add this: I’ve realised (since I haven’t dated vanilla for so very long, this is a revelation) that when I talk to submissives, I have immediate access to something very personal about them, something about which I am curious and fascinated and want to probe at if I like them. Because their submission is complex and interesting and intimate. And I’ve realised that with vanilla men, I have no such starting point to access their inner lives, and it leaves me at a bit of a loss. What is the path, then, into those inner thoughts, those hidden lives, those aspects of a person that interest me? Do they even exist? I don’t know the answer to those questions. So we’re most often chatting about superficialities and I don’t know what’s under there or how to get at it. Maybe I did once. Honestly, I can’t remember.

I thanked him for his email, said I appreciated him bringing up things that were bugging him, and I really do. It shows a willingness to communicate and to tackle things head-on, and maybe the resulting conversation will jog something loose for us. I wanted to talk about it in person with him rather than reply in email, not least to try and get through some of these barriers we have in moving this forward. I tried to set up a date for this week, but we couldn’t work it out, so date #4, The Serious Talk, will happen early next week.

I’m very reluctant to give up on him because I know a good man when I see one, and I like him. Best case, this chat shakes something out and we have somewhere to take this. If not, four lovely dates with a fine man is still a positive thing.

Loves: 17
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  1. Ahhhhhhhhhhhgggggggghhhhhhhhh! Ferns!! This is excruciating! BUT I find it wholly encouraging that he was so willing and able to be vulnerable in his appeal. Sexy as fuck, really, outcome aside.

    People are so afraid of being themselves and just letting the pieces fall where they may and making decisions from that. We’re always angling to be liked, rather than being critical about the person who may or may not fit into our lives.

    I’d also argue that he’s very much coming at you full steam ahead. Most people would read your distance as disinterest and take their ball and leave. Instead, he’s bouncing it back at you saying, What’s up, lady?! Wanna play??! haha I

    And you are so right about the difference between admitting to a kink and sharing the content of a blog. Universes apart.

    Fingers super crossed for you that things get shaken loose on Date #4!

    1. “Ahhhhhhhhhhhgggggggghhhhhhhhh!”

      Bahahaha. Me too.

      Thanks so much :).

      And yes, huge kudos to him for putting it all on the table, and you are right about it being about vulnerability and running at me with courage.

      I’m keeping my fingers crossed also. Honestly, I frustrate myself so much with whatever it is that makes me so difficult.


  2. I agree with Hyacinth – he may not be running full bore into your brick wall, but he’s at least gently probing and trying to let you know he’s willing to hear more.
    My anxiety would be – is he coming back bc he’s fascinated by the BDSM he thinks is back there? I identified so much with what you said about seeing you as “you” and not seeing you as a “Domme” and whatever that conjures in his mind. Starting from a D/s place has its own difficulty but you also know what’s expected of you to a certain extent because of the role you use to describe yourself.
    Best of luck – I hope he’s the keeper he’s shaping up to be!

    1. You’re right, he is absolutely making the effort to get around the wall (this vs running at it maybe).

      I get the impression that he has no particular interest in BDSM (whatever his idea of BDSM is, I mean), he’s ‘fine’ with it in a ‘reassuring me’ kind of way.

      And I think you are spot-on: D/s is a known and familiar quantity to me. I can be wholly myself, take it or leave it. All the other complications about my emotional walls are still there, but it’s not a puzzle, it’s easier to go ‘nope not a fit’.

      I can’t remember the last time I had more than one vanilla date before I went ‘nah’, so this is akin to when newbies step into the D/s world and don’t know how to navigate it. Apparently I’m like that with vanilla now :P.


  3. As much as I hate to say this, because of course I’m invested in the “story” now, I can’t help but feel like you’ve gotten to a level of personal that’s not going to be helpful to you here. Here you have a guy who is intuitive enough to know that you are holding back but you can’t really quit without telling him that you’ve been writing up reports on all of your dates for strangers on the web to read. I you sure it’s the BDSM element that’s holding you back here?

    1. Thank you for your perspective, I’ve angsted over every post as this has progressed and I appreciate your input. You are right in that it IS a concern. It’s definitely not THE concern though.

      I’ve tried to be really careful and respectful about him, while still being truthful about what’s going on with me. I’ve read and re-read my posts before publishing, and think I’m on the right side of the line, but it’s a difficult line to walk.

      Either way, I am definitely considering how to deal with it. Being written about at all might be a big ‘aw hell no!’ to some people. Whereas for others it’s a compliment.

      But I HAVE broken my own blog rules in this: No surprises, no hurt. Because ALL of this is a surprise and may be hurtful. I didn’t really expect it to get past a single date, so I’ve been writing about these vanilla dates with that expectation and of course that’s not where this is now.

      I keep thinking of Ann St Vincent who password protected her blog when she got serious about someone (and then stopped writing because she’s off living a happy life (go you fabulous woman! :))).

      So to anyone reading, make sure you get on my mailing list if you want to be sure you have continued access!


  4. A fascinating post on your inner mental workings. Thank you for that. It’s funny… I’ve become so embattled over here for the last couple of years that I’ve almost forgotten about the intricacies of an actual tête-à-tête between two people who are in that opening “getting to know you” phase.

    No matter how it works out, there is something rather sweet and touching in reading about the gentle touching of two minds and the slow dance that accompanies it.

  5. On the first point: it creates tension if there are dark spots. I would just speak freely next time you meet–ask him what he wants to know, and answer any reasonable question.

    On the second (“I’m a brick wall”.) I knew somebody like that once (second ex.) The problem is not that you open up gradually now, that’s normal. The problem is if this secrecy is so deeply ingrained (as a habit of mind) that it continues well past the “getting to know you” stage.

    On the third: my sweetie was an active blogger when we met (on a different topic), with a sizable following. She showed it to me early on, and I was featured in a couple of entries.I found it flattering. (I only read what she felt was her best writing.) So I’d say: just tell him where it is, and that you’ve written about him. And that you’d rather he not read every old post immediately (presumably his time is not infinite.)

    But, primarily: come on, relax a little and enjoy what’s happening.

    1. Yes, internet stranger, I will definitely do whatever you say, and I will also ‘come on, relax and enjoy what’s happening’ now that you’ve told me to do so… :P.


  6. Why even date a so called “vanilla ” man? If so much of who you are is about dominance why bother with someone whose not the “submissive warrior” you need. It seems unfair to this man to continue seeing him if there is not this important connection. And I really do not understand this desire to see the “person” instead of the “Domme”. The two are one and there can be no separating of them. I must add, with respect, that the way you and many of your readers use the word “vanilla”, you all make it sound so undesirable, so unworthy, so less than.

    1. “Why even date a so called “vanilla ” man?”

      My most successful long-term relationships have been with vanilla men. I mistakenly thought it would be easier (not easy, but easier than it has been) to find a long term romantic submissive partner, so I concentrated my search there for many years. This has not proven to be the case, so I’m expanding my options.

      “And I really do not understand this desire to see the “person” instead of the “Domme”. The two are one and there can be no separating of them.”

      That’s because you aren’t a dominant woman. If you have friends who are dominant women, they will all 100% understand what that means. Ask them.

      “the way you and many of your readers use the word “vanilla”, you all make it sound so undesirable, so unworthy, so less than”

      I have not done that, and I haven’t seen anyone do that in the comments. I know some kinksters do use it as a pejorative, but that’s certainly not what’s happening here. I think perhaps you are bringing your own bias and/or experience with the term and seeing it through that filter.

      I’m curious: Do you have a better descriptor than ‘vanilla’ that would fit as a differentiator in these kinds of conversations?


  7. Hi Ferns,

    cant wait to read where this leads to and if your readers are even excited about it….

    I only disagree with you on the third point, I think MG is not right. It’s a very intimate topic, even of mature/adult nature and its normal that you dont share this on only the second/third date?? So MG doesn’t have to feel hurt and when he is fine with it and its obvious its bdsm related, why didn’t he just asked you in a polite way.

    But this is just a sidenote, dating is not easy, but fun to follow haha

    Hoping for the best for you

    1. It is very intimate, yes.

      And he did ask what my relationship-related content was about a couple of times and I said I wasn’t ready to share it. He figured it out o his own, and then he did ask about it in a polite way in the email.

      He’s been nothing but respectful, and his hurt feelings aren’t wrong. He feels what he feels. I think he’s largely misunderstood why I didn’t tell him (it’s not about his maturity, it’s about my vulnerability and about derailing our conversations), but he’s not to know that.


      1. “He’s been nothing but respectful, and his hurt feelings aren’t wrong. He feels what he feels. I think he’s largely misunderstood why I didn’t tell him (it’s not about his maturity, it’s about my vulnerability and about derailing our conversations), but he’s not to know that.”

        This Ferns, this. I’m so glad you said this.

        He sounds like an empathic guy, picking up on your cues, trying to work out what is going on in that head of yours. He noticed the avoidance, the switching of topic, and that there is *something*. I know you said you said about your reticence about the content of your blog but as someone that also picks up on feelings, it can be confusing when you feel someone deflecting on something and then saying your wall is something else. I mean (we are only guys) and so ohhh she’s avoiding that topic, tell her its ok and she has nothing to worry about – when something else completely is going on in his head.

        D/s is a bit part of you, fuzzing around the issue maybe making it difficult for him to accept ‘what you aren’t ready to share’ with what is being avoided.

        1. I think YOU think (and he thinks) that the ‘BDSM secret’ and my ‘stand-offishness’ are related. But they aren’t.

          Re my content, I’ve simply said I’m not ready to share.

          Re my stand-offishness, that’s just ‘how I am’ and has (almost?) nothing to do with the above.

          I’ve no recollection of ever having to side-step anything or avoid topics because most of what we have talked about hasn’t reached that level of personal because I’m closed, and difficult (jpg: brick wall).

          I mentioned that I have an ‘in’ with submissive men from which I can talk about personal topics: I am familiar with that dance, and that leads to opening up and more intimacy. I think I just… don’t know (have forgotten? never knew?) how to do that with vanilla men. And I think *that’s* an issue, and that’s what he’s feeling.

          Having said that, I also imagine that usually vanilla women do that emotional labour, and since I’m not doing it (because I literally have no clue how to do it), he’s a bit baffled.

          I do think that talking about the BDSM stuff might open up a path to connection. Not because I think he’ll be interested personally, but because it’s an intimate conversation. I do hope so. That would be grand :).


    2. How about “not submissive” or “not kinky” “He is not submissive” “She is not kinky” “He is not interested in an alternative lifestyle” As you well know, the English language has a wide variety of phrases and a great deal of flexibility for expression. The real power of a word or phrase is in its connotative meaning. Within the context of sexualityy “vanilla” carries a very negative connotation, suggesting dullness, boring, lacking sophistication, someone less refined, someone less self-aware, I know two dominant women and we always disagree on the question of “the person” One’s sexuality is one’s person. In wanting the other person to know “you”, they must know the dominance. A sincere “Thank you” for allowing me to express my thoughts. I hope that I have done so in a respectful way. I apologize if I have not.

      1. “How about “not submissive” or “not kinky” “He is not submissive” “She is not kinky” “He is not interested in an alternative lifestyle””

        That works perfectly for a single sentence, but as an ongoing descriptor, not so much.

        My blog is D/s focussed, so when I’m talking about vanilla relationships/men/situations, I have to keep repeating it to make it clear, and for that it’s trickier.

        “My (not submissive) Gentleman”
        “When I go out with not submissive men…”
        “I met a not submissive man and…”
        “My not D/s relationships have been…”


        You see what I mean?

        And you’re perfectly welcome to express your thoughts here, and you have been respectful about something that clearly bothers you. I appreciate it :).


      2. “I know two dominant women and we always disagree on the question of “the person” One’s sexuality is one’s person. In wanting the other person to know “you”, they must know the dominance.”

        Ok, I understand now where you’re coming from. We’re each talking about different things, so the question you’ve asked them is not what I’m referring to.

        Yes, ‘all of me’ includes my dominance, but (clearly) I am not ONLY my dominance.

        When presenting as ‘a dominant woman’ in a D/s context (on fetlife, on dating sites when looking for a submissive partner), what tends to happen is that many submissive men see ONLY ‘the dominant’, talk ONLY to and about that aspect of me, only show interest in that part of me, have pretty much zero interest in me as a person. Plus they often have a ton of fantasies and expectations and assumptions attached to that behaviour and they cannot or will not relate to me ‘as a woman’, as a normal human being and etc. I have to fight to get them to see ME as a whole person.

        It’s exhausting and irritating as hell. I am more than my dominance.

        So when I say that MG sees me as ‘a woman’, I mean that I don’t have to deal with all of that. I am still ‘me’ (strong-willed, opinionated, appreciate sweetness, happy to take the lead etc) but it’s a blessed relief to not have to fight to be genuinely ‘seen’, to be liked and respected and appreciated as a normal, interesting, funny, awesome woman. Because I am.

        Arguably in both cases I am not being fully seen, but with the second, I have a choice, am making that choice, which at this stage (3 dates) really is a natural progression towards revealing intimate things. This vs the first, which is someone *else* doggedly clinging to some ill-conceived notion of how I am, how I should be, etc and refusing or being unable to acknowledge or relate to the concept that I am more than my dominance.


  8. Hah! You’re totally my bitch now *laughs* This seems promising though, and he’s being quite grown up about it so let’s see. Fingers crossed

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