Alexander Cheves – sweetbeastly on Recon - is a sex and relationships writer, editor, and artist. In this article he talks about the benefits of taking a break when needed.
At Black Party, my lover and I saw each other once — a quick kiss in the crowd — before returning to our territories. I stayed in the sling room getting fisted. He stayed in the dark play area, a maze of tarp and fencing, getting fucked by strangers. He likes dark areas and doesn't want to see anyone fucking him. I like to watch guys slide their hands in me.
We left separately. When we finally met up to talk about the event, he said it was the best sex night of his life (so far). I felt the same way. Shortly after, we decided it was time for a break.
We had been chasing furious sex nights for several months and needed to rest. We only know this because we both have the same hunger. Like me, he sucks everything out of life, every rich experience. I struggle to understand those who don't. People like us must, at some point, sit down and set necessary boundaries and take necessary breaks to stay healthy.
A good friend — someone like us — once said, "When you get the gift of having no limits, you constantly cross your boundaries before you find them."
It is a gift to be sex-positive and uninhibited. It is a blessing to give yourself permission. There are many people who wish they could overcome their sexual hang-ups, who suffer without indulging their kinks for fear of what some spouse or god might think. It's OK to stumble past your boundaries before seeing them. More importantly, it's OK to ask for help setting those boundaries and maintaining them if you struggle to do so.
It's not always easy to know when you need to set a boundary or take a break. That's why you need people who know your kinks and have a clear picture of how much play you enjoy. It can be a friend, lover, partner, or regular playmate. Every few months you need to talk to this person about your sex life. This is not a time to self-shame or shame each other. It's simply an appraisal — a time to ask, "What's working? What isn't?"
Every summer, my lover — who may also be called my boyfriend or partner — and I go to Fire Island Pines, a queer oasis on a sliver of beach off the southern coast of Long Island, three hours from Manhattan by train and ferry. It's our antithesis to the grind of the big city. We fuck everywhere and take champagne for breakfast. But we always save one night to step away from the rowdy house and walk along the boardwalk. We look at the pinewood houses dotted through the dunes and talk about our sex — of the summer, of the year — and decide what changes, if any, we need. This is our ritual.
Last summer, we both had the bad luck of having back-to-back sexually transmitted infections for months, so we set a limit: "Let's reserve hardcore, marathon sex nights for special parties or events, not every weekend" — our way of reducing the number of people we fuck. This year, I realized I needed a break: "I'm taking a few months off from fisting."
He asked why. I explained that it's taken too much time, money, and energy this year and I feel overwhelmed. I'm nowhere near the skill level I'd like to be at, and our community tends to glorify those who seem so much better at it than me. I feel a bit defeated.
"That doesn't sound healthy," he said.
That doesn't mean fisting is unhealthy — on the contrary, fisting is beautiful. It simply means I need a change in perspective. I need to rest and tend to neglect kinks. That's OK.
Every sexually active person needs to have this talk with someone. Go to a museum or schedule a walk in the park. This isn't a serious or depressing talk, and you may decide that you don't need a break or to set any limits right now. That's OK too. Short-term breaks and self-care limits simply give you space to recharge and reassess the sex you love.
If you can find a queer or queer-friendly therapist who is sex-positive (or, better yet, a sex therapist), meet them. Few people have that option, though, and sex therapists can be expensive. Also, a therapist might not understand the rigor of fisting or know the toll of antibiotics on the body. They might not know how much time and energy goes into gimp training or the mental and emotional build up and comedown of heavy S&M. They might not understand how much our culture celebrates gear and titles and how these things can make us feel intimidated. Most kinks are expensive hobbies, so those without a lot of extra money often feel left out. This is why you need someone — ideally a flesh-and-blood connection — to talk to. Someone like us.
Alexander Cheves's work has appeared in many publications including The Body, The Advocate, Out, VICE, and others. All his work is done with a sense of social service: "We must not be passive media makers generating content. We are storytellers; we must actively engage with the world and find creative and compassionate solutions to its problems." He is currently working on his first book.