Being autistic has a huge, variable impact upon my communication skills.
Being anxious exacerbates this, but too often I neglect to have crucial conversations with people because I don’t know how to start. It’s hard to parse how much of the problem is rooted in autism stuff and how much is rooted in anxiety stuff, but I’ve always struggled with task initiation. I also struggle with expressing myself accurately and thoroughly, and I’m an absolute fucker for that autistic thing where you think that somebody knows something simply because it’s obvious to you. (Because everyone’s brain works exactly like mine, right?)
Fortunately, kink makes a lot of communication unavoidable for me. The first piece of advice any budding kinkster receives is usually, ‘Do your research,’ and upon doing said research, they find that the second tip is nearly always, ‘Communicate, a lot.’ Any partner who doesn’t want to hear about your thoughts, feelings, needs and boundaries – relating to sex, kink and life at large – is not a partner you want to keep around.
So, regardless of my reluctance to be ‘needy’ and all the autism things that make it hard for me to hold a conversation, I have found workarounds that make it easy (or at least, easier) to talk to partners about kink. One of them is using meta-communication strategies, voicing my anxiety so my partner(s) can understand why I might be stammering and hiding behind my blankie while I suggest a watersports scene. And others are a little more suited to people afraid of being direct:
Method #1: Blame somebody else
Sometimes, the scariest part of communicating about kink is just conveying the concept accurately to your partner without them thinking you’re super fucking weird. (It’s okay if you are super fucking weird, but I understand that a lot of people are anxious, especially in the early stages of a relationship, about the impression their partner is forming of them.)
So I hereby grant you permission to make it my fault.
Lots of sex educators say similar things, so you can pick from a bunch of ’em. Some ways to open this sort of conversation include:
“A friend of a friend of mine has started a blog, it’s about kink stuff, and uh, they wrote a really interesting post about threesomes…”
“I was reading around about sex and autism, and this one person online mentioned their Daddy kink, and uh, I thought that was really fascinating…”
“I saw someone’s cute tote bag on the tram and I Googled the name of the podcast that was on it, and suddenly I was listening to two people talk about wearing butt plugs in everyday situations…”
It might turn out that your partner has been just waiting for you to bring a particular kink into conversation so that they can voice their enthusiasm for it to you. In these cases, they might react excitedly, telling you that they’re a big fan of whatever you’ve mentioned, or that they’ve always wanted to try it.
If they don’t respond this way, it’s either because they’re not getting the hint, or because they have no interest in the thing you’re namedropping. If they’re squicked by it, or have it as a hard limit, they’ll probably make that clear, by asking to stop talking about it, or by abruptly changing the subject. If your partner outright states that something is a boundary of theirs, you should definitely stop talking about it, and accept that you can’t do that sex or kink act with that particular person.
If trying to gauge their enthusiasm (or lack thereof) about a kink from just this seems like it’d be a challenge to you (since it relies on a number of nonverbal cues), there are a number of other ways to communicate more explicitly.
Method #2: Just outright be nerdy about it
There are a wealth of Yes/No/Maybe list templates out there. Plenty of people will be receptive to the idea of filling one out, together or separately, and then comparing them. I like having this kind of conversation over a messaging app, so that you can seemlessly integrate the link to the template into your message about it. Like so:
“Hey, I found this cool template for a document where you can list which sex things you’re interested in: http://www.bextalkssex.com/yes-no-maybe/ I think it’d be really cool if we each filled it in and then swapped, so we have an idea of what’s on the table and what isn’t.”
If your partner doesn’t want to do this, it might be because they’re shy, in which case it might put them at ease to see yours first (because it’ll reassure them that most people have at least a couple of kinks). If your partner ‘forgets’ to fill theirs in after you’ve reminded them a few times, or if they state that they really don’t want to, it’s best to leave it, and let them talk to you about their sex and kink preferences in their own time (or maybe never).
Method #3: Slip it into sexting
It’s not respectful or consent-aware to turn a flirty or sexy conversation into one that’s about your specific kink if you’ve never checked that your partner is okay with the kink before. However, you can drop a kink briefly into a sexy conversation, and an ideal way to do this is to nestle it amongst other sexy things, so that your partner can just focus on those things if they’re not into the kink thing. For example:
You: I’d love it if you were riding me, slowly but so deep, and I could reach up, play with your nipples, maybe choke you, or grab your hips and help you to grind against me
Them: Ahh that’s hot, I love having my nipples played with! You could pinch them a little… and the hip-grabbing thing too, fuck…
The hypothetical second person in that conversation expressed enthusiasm about the nipple play and the hip-grabbing, but completely neglected to mention the choking – so you can safely assume that they don’t want to talk or fantasise about them being choked at that particular juncture. If they don’t bring it up at any other point, you can probably draw the conclusion that being choked is not a kink of theirs.
Communicating about your wants and needs can be terrifying, but your partner can only say ‘no’ to anything you suggest. The best case scenario is, of course, that they’re as into the things you suggest as you are, and you have a grand ol’ time having safe and consensual sex and kink scenes.
The worst case scenario is that they’re judgmental and rude about your kinks, but in that case they’re probably kinda douchey anyway, and not somebody you need in your life.
Do any of y’all have any suggestions about communication methods and tools? I’d love to hear from you!