For many of us, the past year or so has been a veritable desert in our kink worlds. Those who had children at home or who live in apartments may have attempted quiet play, if we were in the mood for it, of course, since anxiety isn’t the best aphrodisiac. Unfortuanately, with many of our kink spaces closing down or choosing to carefuly curate guests lists, there are a lot of people who are finally starting to resume their bdsm play. I’ve heard a common refrain among them.
Most of the stories are of scenes going poorly, both people expecting to be able to resume their journeys exactly where they left off, only to discover that the top runs low on endurance while the bottom has a much lower tolerance for pain. Overall, those factors make for an unsatisfactory scene, along with many thoughts and feelings of not being good enough or tough enough to satisfy their partner. This seems to mostly be the case among more experienced or frequent heavier players that I have spoken to. Newer or more casual players seem to have had less of an issue in this area.
For those who haven’t experienced this, either count your blessings or consider this a warning in advance.
We build up tolerance over time, or perhaps a desire to experience that endorphin rush pushes us to greater heights, since our bodies become accustomed to anything we do with any regularity, whether it be working out, getting up early, or even receiving pain. It makes total sense that the amount of impact or other intense play that someone can take at the beginning of their journey changes over time. That was certainly the case for me. We had a regular schedule and were meeting it consistently.
Of course, that all changed last March. Without access to our regular dungeon space, we felt less comfortable pushing some of those boundaries. Additionally, neither of us was really in the mood for BDSM. In fact, we were rarely in the mood for sexual intimacy, let alone any sort of pain play. We were stuck in a house with family members stacked on top of one another, with no real safe place to go, plus dealing with anxiety. Those are hardly the stuff dreams are made of.
My story isn’t unique. Many of the friends I have in my local community have expressed similar sentiments. Their kink play went into hibernation for quite a while during 2020. Once our local dungeon started opening for private reservations we began attending again, but unless we specifically planned to go in advance and paid for the rental, we would often find reasons to delay.
In many ways I am quite lucky. As someone who has done impact education, my partner happens to be well versed in play with newer bottoms. Our first session back was one without any assumptions. It had been at least five months since we’d done any serious impact, and he didn’t rush into anything. He tried out lots of new impact tools we’d been collecting from a Maker friend of ours, including a PuckYou (I’m not a fan, it’s super stingy) and a Jawbreaker (opposite end of the spectrum and almost painfully thuddy). We had a positive experience, because he was testing my responses to some of the newer gear, rather than expecting me to take impact that he’d been able to give me before. We were even finally able to really get to try the whips he’d gotten as gifts that were definitely too long for the bedroom. Across the room, members of our germ pod made their beautiful scene sounds and for a moment, the world was a happy place again.
Santa’s method is pretty handy. When he is working with someone who is an unknown bottom to him, or who has not had a scene with him in quite some time, he uses a numerical scale to determine where everyone is. For example, he will swing a flogger at the lowest speed he can swing it without the falls being out of control, and he calls that his “one.” He will ask the bottom on a scale of one to ten, how did that impact register to them. If they also feel it is one, he can continue, while checking in with them as he increases his force. If their response is “six” to his “one,” odd are good that implement needs to be set aside for the time being, as they may not have a positive response to it.
Others I have spoken with have not been as lucky. They jumped back into their play after an extended break, some with the brevity of mine (five months), and others who did not play for a year or more. They expected to splash right back into the deep end of the pool, only to realize too late that someone moved the diving board while they were away. Frustrated and feeling insecure, I heard many stories of them trying to push through only to end in rather unsatisfactory scenes for all involved.
We forget, sometimes, when those born biologically female are dealing with their cycle of hormones, those things can change how they handle different types of pain. So add those hormonal changes into anxiety added into an extended period of time without play, and what we get is bodies with a very different tolerance on the other side of this pandemic.
So the first thing I would say to those experiencing this: you are not alone. There are a lot of people out there who are readjusting to their new normal and realizing their journeys are much different than they were. The second thing I would say is give yourselves grace. We’ve all been going through, and are still going through, an unprescedented event which makes for a very traumatized populace. Be kind to yourselves and realize that we all need more forgiveness for what we see as our own inadequecies.
The final thing I would say is the same thing I have told myself when looking at others and envying their ability to take pain. Walk your own path, and don’t look back at your old self as better or more resiliant. Your old self hadn’t been through a year and a half of a traumatizing pandemic. YOU are every bit as strong and tough as you need to be. Figure out what your tolerance is now and work from there rather than trying to play like you used to. Hell, your top may even appreciate not having to work so hard for a while.
Above all, talk to your partners. Make sure they understand that your body has changed and how to work with you to meet you where you are.
All any of us can do is be who we are, right this minute. I send my happiest and most positive thoughts to all of you.