I’m generally somewhat reluctant to write about sex here on Medium. As best as I can tell from the stories the Medium algorithm recommends for me, most writing on sex is done by women and it’s not at all clear that a man’s perspective is regarded with much tolerance these days. Furthermore, while I adore sex and have always been more than usually active (in all senses of the term), I also feel that for the most part it’s a private matter between two or more consenting individuals rather than a fortunate series of events to be publicized for the sake of grabbing attention.

That said, I am here going to embark upon a summary of my own personal aged white male approach to sexuality and desire on the off-chance that my thoughts may be of interest to one or two people.

Names will of course be omitted to protect the far-from-innocent.

As I have no interest in what imaginary vengeful tribal deities are supposed to have said about human sexual activities, I’ve always approached things from the ground up. My moral framework is simple:

One does not coerce nor take advantage of others; all activities have to be consensual and mutually pleasurable in whatever ways this word may be defined based on individual preferences.

Health, both mental and physical, must be carefully protected.

No third party not directly involved in the activities can be placed at risk in any way.

Outside of these ground rules, pretty much anything goes provided it’s a turn-on for the people involved.

Over the years I’ve learned that the definition of normal is whatever the speaker personally happens to find enjoyable and acceptable. An aged spinster whose idea of naughtiness is skipping a pearl when knitting will be unlikely to consider gangbangs a socially acceptable after-teatime activity. Conversely someone who loves being chained and whipped in their own private dungeon before being sodomized for hours will have a rather different take on what normal means.

Meanwhile the Internet has enabled us all, should we choose to spend our time exploring, to gaze in wonder at the erotic preferences of others. I suspect it’s impossible to imagine a fetish, no matter how unlikely or uncomfortable, that isn’t the go-to fantasy of at least one living breathing example of homo sapiens.

Admittedly it is difficult to conceive of anyone being sexually aroused by looking at an income statement on an Excel spreadsheet or a PowerPoint chart of a cohort distribution of lifespans for drosophila melanogaster, but I feel reasonably confident that even these obscure objects of desire are cherished deeply within someone’s heart somewhere in the world.

Where do our preferences come from? Even after nearly forty-six years of sexual activity with a wide variety of partners I have very little idea. Occasionally, it’s true, it appears as if one may trace preference back to a decisive event in the past. One of my lovers, a sweet and seemingly innocent young woman who’d remembered only one previous sexual partner prior to me, became unbearably aroused and orgasmic at the notion of being “used” by a man for his gratification.

She eventually remembered an occasion when at age eleven she was held down by a fourteen-year-old boy who rubbed himself against her, telling her that he was “using her for practice” until his real girlfriend returned from summer vacation.

But was this really the root cause, or simply a trigger than enabled a hitherto unexpected preference to surface? Frankly I still have no idea, especially as she also found equally compelling various other ideas that seemed to have little connection with the notion of being “used” or with any event in her past.

It’s often unwise to play psychotherapist when it comes to sexuality. Obvious “answers” may be nothing more than wishful thinking or an illusion created by the brain’s desire to find patterns wherever it can. Correlation is a very imprecise guide to causation.

My own preferences are very dull indeed. While I appreciate the sight of pierced female nipples I also adore them in their natural state. While I can understand why so many women go to such great lengths to beautify themselves, I’ve always preferred women sans makeup and elaborate concoctions of hair products. As for tattoos, I’ve never understood why anyone would wish to have it appear as though a small child had run wild with pen and ink across their body while they slumbered unawares.

As a naturally dominant man I trend toward preferring sexually submissive women but this matters less than intelligence, humor, strength of character, and zest for life. Like many people I use bondage and whips to add a little seasoning to the mix when the mood is right, but I also adore long slow intimate love-making during which one remains gazing into one’s partner’s eyes.

Dull stuff indeed for a world in which golden showers and forced sex and appropriately-duct-taped gerbils are standard fare across the underbelly of the Internet. Yet for me it’s the human connection, the intimacy we forge as we dance erotically with each other, that really counts.

In fact I’d go further. For me, true eroticism is being permitted inside the mind of a woman, learning what excites and frightens her, exploring with her the unique possibilities resulting from our combined passion at that moment in time. This is why I’ve often enjoyed telling my partner stories as we fuck, seeing and feeling her reactions and letting them guide how the tale unfolds.

I love to listen to women talking about their previous experiences, about what they like and don’t like, about what they’d like to try and about their favorite fantasies. Listening to men in the gym locker-room is tedious stuff but I’ve never been bored when listening to a woman talk about what moves her.

As I’ve done pretty much everything that interests me including all the obvious permutations I have no agenda, no want-to-dos I’m desperate to accomplish before closing my eyelids for the very last time. It’s all about listening, suggesting, teasing, exploring what works for us both, and savoring the opportunities that may arise.

I grew up in unstable circumstances and knew from an early age that the only person I could rely on was myself. Accordingly I also realized that I can only rely on myself if I feel good about myself, if I behave always in a manner consonant with my internal moral compass. This has definitely led to me missing out on what for other people would be golden opportunities.

I was eighteen when Sally and I went out for dinner. She and I had instant attraction and we flirted madly over drinks and food. Unfortunately she was so excited that she consumed most of the bottle of wine we ordered and then hit the Cointreau after dessert. By the time we got to my place she was very intoxicated but begging me to fuck her.

So there I was: eighteen years old, hormones raging, erection rampant, with a pliant young woman begging me to take advantage of her. It was obvious what was going to happen.

You’ve probably already guessed: I put her to bed, made sure she fell asleep in the recovery position in case she vomited while unconscious, and then went to sleep on the sofa. In the morning I made her breakfast.

Many years later on my first trip to Sankt-Piterburg I went walking along the Neva at 2am, jet-lagged and unable to sleep. About 200 meters from my hotel stood a young woman; as I came nearer she moved to intercept me. She was at most in her mid-teens and easily the most stunningly beautiful female I’ve ever seen in my life. Although my Russian was still fairly rudimentary she had no difficulty in explaining her proposal. And it broke my heart; my own daughter was only a few years younger than she was.

So I took all the money I had in my wallet, around $300, and asked her to take it and please go home and have at least one safe and peaceful night. She stared at me incredulously before eagerly taking the money and walking off. Doubtless she thought I was a total Дурак and simply went round the corner to see if she could get lucky with someone else; perhaps I should have brought her back to my hotel and spent the night in the foyer while she slept safely in my bed, but that didn’t occur to me until later.

I have a long list of similar occurrences, all resulting from my desire above all else to be kind to those who seem like they could use a little unexpected compassion. It’s definitely reduced the number of sexual encounters I could have had, but it’s also enhanced those I have experienced because I’ve always been able to enter into them whole-hearted and not in fundamental conflict with myself.

So that’s my normal.

As with most things, your mileage may vary. Thanks for reading.

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