To tell the story of Pearl, it’s a bit more than just saying I am a dominant sadomasochist.
At this point it’s probably clear that the whole femdom thing is indelibly stamped into the core function of my sexuality, enough that I have been talking about it a LOT lately, or at least my place on the asexual spectrum. But, part of who I am is influenced by something a bit adjacent to demisexuality, and that has been further effected by the fact that I fall in love easily. I don’t use the word “love” lightly, like I pop off crushes on lots of people. I mean the sort of heart soaring heavy nonsense. Getting there, for me, is incredibly easy.
After many years of having this part of my makeup, I also have determined not everyone falls that hard. Insights into the spectrum of human possible really does involve a lot of guessing, like discovering some people are ear rumblers or cilantro tasters. But, much like the latter case, if people don’t have the capacity themselves, they may suspect you are somehow exaggerating. Which, I suppose is just the part of the human condition that finds it comforting to suggest one is making things up, or that the severity will reduce with the right mindset, like comforting a child with a scraped knee.
For me, sex hormones and falling in love share an entwined history. In addition to my kinks, which grew from day 1, ever since puberty hit, so did the BigFeel capacity. The hardest part is there’s not a lot of support for it. Generally, if you talk about intense feelings of yearning for another human, everyone treats it like an obsessive thing you are choosing to do. Instead, as I experience it, it’s an involuntary WHOMP of an attachment. It’s the closest brush I can get to vanilla, in so much that there’s a tiny window my sexuality will be present without a mountain of kink between me and them.
It’s like those various brain integrated glands got the instructions to lay down the pre-framework, long before I dropped my first egg, and decided to say: “Hello, Miss Pearl (aged 12)! In addition to a single orgasm this year, and some now functionally vestigial parts that will ripen up over the next half decade, your already awkward ability to bond onto others will be amped up to 11. The only saving grace is that you will be completely frustrated in realizing these wants most of the time, thus safe from a lot of dumb follow up behaviour.“
This nonsense was probably made worse by the fact that there’s a cultural assumption that pushes eros into any male/female relationship. When I was younger, I preferred the company of boys for reasons of shared nerdy interests. I liked the company of girls before that- I am lucky I never internalized the sexism of assuming girls were inherently no fun. However, I followed my interests, and the kinds of games that could be played, which meant little in the way of female companionship. As a result, at the best of times, when I was way too young for it, adults were already imposing dating expectations onto my male friendships. But, inversely, even in these erotypical scripts, I had no tools to help me navigate having an Olympic level firework display going on in the brain of a child and young adult. Indeed, most people generally denied it could be happening to me, and further romanticized it as an experience we would be lucky to have once in a lifetime.
(There’s an additional hypothesis one might have about my capacities: there is actually a deeper form of Eros I have yet to experience. If everything to this point was a “crush”, I will end up in a psyche ward when it happens, because this is already pretty all consuming.)
For the lack of support I grew up with, I blame abstinence only education, which depends very much on the idea of rare, monogamous and consistent attachments and no alternatives. It’s much easier to enforce a compulsory, marriage focused heterosexuality when you believe in abstract concepts like a single shot of “True Love” to save you purity for. And yet, when I dug further, past pop culture, much as most research on love is almost laughably primitive. Like sex, people have thought about it a bunch and made more art than a million humans could consume in one lifetime. And yet, the psychology is still in the classification stage. Limerance, the term for the intense attachment and search for connection, was a word only coined in 1979. University labs pair college students in research to see if sharing prolonged eye contact and facts about the self correlate to an increased chance of a relationship forming.
So, you have a paradox. Love, in the broad sense, is a big label. It’s been contemplated forever, and generally serious classifications start with mentioning it’s broken down into sub types to distinguish sexual passion (Eros) from friendship (Philia) or a bond with a family member (Storge), and so forth. Unfortunately, this also hints that a lot of the thinking about it hasn’t really advanced, like we were still using the Aristotelian concept of the atom to try to do physics.
Setting off to navigate the conversations around the asexual spectrum, by the way, is a further challenge of everyone having a different perception of love. All humans don’t have the same capacities or experience, but this is never discussed. So, the other half of the expectation around my experience is that it is on the one hand very rare, but on the other, universally possible. Much is said about “True Love” in art, but while you can find out the wavelength of the colour orange, try to measure dopamine and so forth in new parents, or calculate the age of the galaxy relative to its neighbours, love just seems to be. People expect it to happen, to the point that aromantic folk have to make it clear they are a distinct identity, including having to emphasize that it’s not the same as asexuality. (Though the whole Ace thing clearly has a bit of an umbrella label effect, due to the path of collective discovery).
I can’t know if you, the reader, experiences love like I do.
Moving away from the people who don’t love, or love as much, but further from the Greeks, trying to explain what is going on might be further clarified philosophical observation about love from the late 1820s, of something called Crystallization. That’s the process your entire brain gets melted and leaks out your ears, and in the process, elevates the object of your fixation. In my case, barring rare moments, I am about as attracted to the act of non-kinked sex with another human about as much as humans typically find upholstery, garden ponds, or fruit bowls erotic. If Love wanders in, then these parts actually work.
Moving through the timeline of people writing about love, in the second half of the last century you will find neologisms like limerence. The experience of the early stages, for me, is something I only semi facetiously call a “temporary manic episode”. The first burst of falling in love brings euphoria, dropped sleep needs, and a magnetic inspiration that slams whatever poor bastard I have bonded onto into a muse. It also has a regrettable history of encouraging me to be a pest, though at least my gender flipped pigtail pulling could be tempered by maturity.
But just as nature abhors a vacuum, I am not permitted to walk without attachment. A cozy monogamous(ish) relationship that meets my emotional and sexual needs is the only thing that turns it off. Elsewise, I don’t have it in me to be the bed hopping, casual sex loving slut I wished to be. I was born to burn for desire for one person at at time. More frustratingly, though this limerence allows a brief ability to have a more vanilla sex, trapped in a relationship without kink, my romantic attachment fizzles.
What dignity I have today, in love, is hard won.
I am not the hot mess I once was. I mean, I hope so, as I think I’m in the “middle aged” territory of womanhood now, pre-menopausal, but definitely not young. And yet, the insensity has never wavered. All that coudl happen is I got good at controlling my behaviour. That’s no thanks to pop culture, which excuses the theoretical actions of women in love only a little bit less than the carte blanche it gives a guy with the same thing. Fiction isn’t even really sure that dying for your passion is a bad thing, even if Romeo and Juliet has an aspect that’s a cautionary tale. Cathy might crash her immune system yearning in the moors in her nighty, but we are meant to see her passion for Heathcliff at least understandable and inevitable. Of course, luckily for me, love largely just gave me an opportunity to act like an embarrassing git. My teenage years are, lest you think otherwise, a cringe factory that I survive remembering only through accepting my own sincerity at the time.
Middle school (Junior High for Americans) passed in an unfortunate series of stupidities, to be met with an excess of eagerness in High School. While the adults assumed I was on drugs based on my general behaviour (lol, nope), and shook their heads at my sexual precocity, over 50% of the time such passions were unrequited. That is for the best, and it was only through this experience that a modicum of a clue and a shred of pattern recognition started to assert itself. I lived in an area where all the small town nonsense of the early 2000s was in full swing. It was the era of Purity Rings and second virginity, and I was a baby pervert who wanted to do BDSM. I had the internet, and bonded awkwardly on similarly aged folks there too.
I learned the triggers tended to be creating the fiction I craved together. Not every person, but outside of my first times, where mere positive attention seemed enough to turn me into a giddy idiot, it was a common denominator. I’m super lucky, by the way, that Silver’s sexuality is more primarily mapped on making “story” too. Unfortunately, I also learned a pattern that for most people I fell for, they would play out such creativity with me during a crush on me, and than put that away like some sort of courtship only thing.
Nonetheless, I eventually learned to handle it. It doesn’t force me to pursue a single goal, rather while I can’t temper the intensity, I can find appropriate outlets. It also doesn’t completely suspend my judgement. As an older teenager, I was already able to tell if something wasn’t going to work if we tried a relationship. Gradually I managed to shunt all that enthusiasm and energy away from the people and into writing projects and so forth.
Kink mismatches, and other hazards of love
This does give me a little perspective on the situation of the tale as old as time: the kinky person married (or as good as married for their socio-economic status) to someone mismatched in libido or what they want to do in their sex life.
I am generally on the side of telling people in monogamous, but kink free or dead bedroom relationships not to cheat. Divorce and seperations are economically and emotionally hard, but at least they are legally possible. However, I am a little more sympathetic in how a kinked person stumbles into a union with a vanilla person. Not only is their precious little information about kink, to help one make that self discovery, but circumstances like mine show how one might have a brief window where things could work without kink. Nonetheless, my self knowledge means I have to front load any courtship with what I am into.
Nonetheless, I have had variable luck. In the first place, one of the harder lessons in being kinky is that just because they technically have your fetish doesn’t mean you share it compatibility. Nowhere is this illustrated than among balloon fetishists, where popping/not popping is a deep schism. but even in BDSM and further sub divided into femdom, you can come from two wildly different places. It’s been the end of more than one relationship for me, and painful, at that.
I cannot, however, have much spite for the incompatibility. I did have one party claim to be more kinky than they were, but the delusion there seemed to be wishful thinking. Nonetheless, when things are kink-functioning, I am a very sexual person. That’s an irony for me, lacking all the typical attractions, but unable to sustain the head-load of romantic attachments if we aren’t regularly doing some sort of intercourse. I worry , these days, as menopause is about a decade or two at most away, if my libido will sputter out, changing the picture entirely. But, past evidence shows that even when brain meds tanked things, there was some sort of connection still there.
I think, however, there is one blessing. I have, more often than not, found adult me’s passions reciprocated. Even in my youth, I turned down one budding relationship because I knew were wouldn’t be kink compatible, but the poor person, at least, matched me for the gooey-glue of our wants. And I suspect I owe that to the fact that I love openly and well.
Silver, for example, says he likes the surety and openness of my feelings. I was many months ahead of him for the “I love you”. For him, it was a much more cautious conclusion. But I cannot help feeling that my quick heart probably helped me signal to solidify the relationship that makes me very happy. And, I also noticed, though my looks are often remarked on, I have never been courted because of them. My personality, my creativity and so forth have always been someone’s motive- even as I find my aesthetics are a bonus. That too, I think is related to my loving openess.
I think it is easier to fall for the “personality” of a person when they unspool themselves like I do. I might love immensely, deeply, but it does seem I have been loved deeply, a lot, as well.