Jack and Matt are both buttoned-down businessmen and have been together for ten years.They’ve been inseparable since Jack picked Matt up one night after cruising him for hours at the dance bar they frequent. The seduction was hot: eye contact led to physical contact, then making out in a dark corner before heading to John’s apartment. It was such a trigger for them that they recreate it several times a year.
One of them gets to the club and buys a drink and waits. The other arrives soon after.They begin a seduction in full view of the other patrons of the bar. They get all over one another, enjoying the attention they attract – who have no idea that this game is one these guys have been acting out for years. These guys have found that erotic games and role-playing can be great ways to juice up their sex life.
We all play roles. A role is a just pattern of behavior we act out in exchanges with others. Roles involve playing parts or conducting yourself in certain ways. We do this all the time at work, with relatives and in other situations – usually without even thinking about it. Sometimes, though, roles are conscious. We chose a role because we have found it turns us on, or it turns on our partners.
We gay men take sex so seriously that a guy’s status as a top or a bottom can seem like a defining characteristic. That can be liberating if it means that we recognize what turns us on, but it can also be suffocating. Who says a guy who mostly plays top never wants his butt tempted? Why do some bottoms feel like the top always has to make the first move? Going against type can be a big turn on and a great way to making sex boring.
Going against type can be exciting in other ways, too. Lots of guys who are aggressive decision makers at the office want someone else to call the shots in bed. Richard is a partner in a successful law firm, and you wouldn’t want to mess with him in the courtroom. In the bedroom, however, Richard is much more likely to be tied up and on his knees. He’s at his most aroused when he’s bound and gagged and looking up at the guy who is going to manhandle him this evening.
Who’s doing the manhandling? Meet Jeff, a nurse who is kindhearted and gentle while caring for patients at the hospital where he works. His bedside manner with this boyfriend is very different. Jeff is an aggressive and selfish sex pig, and Richard couldn’t be happier.
It’s hard to say why something turns us on. Maybe we’ve forgotten the gym teacher who turned us on when we were going through puberty, but wearing jockstraps still gets us going. Or someone asked us to go along with his fantasy one time, and we discovered we were pretty good at it. Or maybe it’s simply a way of balancing out the serious and responsible parts of ourselves with a role that feels out of character. No need to dissect it; maybe it’s enough to know that we want it.
Exploring fantasies does take a bit of guts. Joe is certainly not a shy guy, but he’s easily embarrassed when it comes to talking sex. “Talking about my fantasies isn’t easy,” he said. “For one thing, the other guy might get critical. It makes me feel exposed – like he’ll have something on me if I tell him what turns me on.” He realized this made little sense; how was he supposed to get his needs met if he didn’t let his partner know what turned him on? “I took a chance with Barry and asked him about tying me up. Nothing too kinky, but being tied and blindfolded has always been a fantasy.
“You know what happened?” he went on. “He told me his fantasies, too. It was f*cking hot. We decided to make the weekend ‘Let’s Make Our Fantasies Real’ weekend. Barry got totally turned on, we got closer as a couple, and I haven’t cum like that in at least three years!”
Some fantasies are variations on what you’re already doing – just a change of costume, say. Other fantasies involve a bit more risk. A desire for sex outdoors isn’t unusual, but unless you are sure you’re in a private place, you run some risk if you’re not careful.
If your fantasies are a bit wilder, remember to be careful. Safe, sane and consensual are the bywords of the leather community, and they apply to other folks as well. Protect your physical safety. Don’t take stupid risks. And don’t violate anyone else, either.
Take a look at the roles you play as a lover. Are you always the aggressive guy, or do you wait for the other man to make the first move? Are you quiet and reserved in the sack, or do people all over the neighborhood know when you’ve gotten laid? What would happen if you tried something different next time?
Roles can be great fun as long as we don’t take them too seriously. If a role starts to seem like part of our identity – and you can’t imagine doing anything outside of your routine – you may be well on your way to sexual boredom.
Check out how willing you are to try new things, or to talk about turn-ons with a prospective partner. Being open to suggestions helps turns sex into a creative act.
Single guys who always cruise the same bar in the same way are well on their way to getting stuck in a rut. So are couples where each person is sure he knows exactly what the lovemaking will look like before it even starts.
Remember: As long as you aren’t laughing at the other guy, giggling is OK. Giggles may become moans and sighs the second time around.
(Photos by Daniel Skinner)
John R. Ballew, M.S. an author and contributor to GAYTWOGETHER, is a licensed professional counselor in private practice in Atlanta. He specializes in issues related to coming out, sexuality, relationships and spirituality