So, I think I have a problem that quite a few people also experience–dealing with kink, especially one that’s rare, particularly strange by “normal” standards, or one that many people find outright disgusting. In my case, I’m a vorarephiliac. It’s not something I’m particularly proud of, and I don’t think any amount of sex-positivity or rationalizing is going to change that, because my kink is, to speak perfectly frankly, more than a bit disturbing.
In my case, though, it’s contributing to my already-poor self esteem, and it’s become something of a barrier to my efforts–not because I’ve told anyone and they’ve rejected me in disgust, but because a potential relationship, as you’ve articulated, requires both partners to be, essentially, at least comfortable with each others’ needs and desires, and I’m sure that the overwhelming majority of women wouldn’t react positively to the revelation. I suppose my question isn’t “How do I hide my kink?” but, “How do I make it clear that this doesn’t define me, and that it wouldn’t be an obstacle in a sexual relationship?”
Wishing for a Different Kink
So before I get into answering your question WfaDK, let’s define some terms here. Vorarephilia – usually shortened to “vore” – is a sexual paraphilia or fetish where a person is aroused by the concept of being consumed by or absorbed into someone. Some folks want to be eaten, some people want to watch others be consumed and still others want to be the one doing the eating. As far as paraphilias go, it’s actually not that uncommon; a quick browse of DeviantArt, YouTube and other galleries will find you no end of vore fetish art. Needless to say, vore tends to fall along the lines of “fetishes that are impossible to fulfill”, along with folks who’re into giants (not just amazonian women, actual giants) or mythological creatures. Vore isn’t about cannibalism; the paraphilia rarely involves killing or being killed, although vorarephiles will differentiate between soft-vore (just consumption, alive and whole) and hard-vore (being chewed/killed and eaten).
So no, it’s not your garden-variety kink and – in fairness – it’s going to squick some people out. And in fairness: I don’t really grok vore as a fetish and there’s a lot of folks out there who poke fun at how unusual or outre vore is. But the fact that you have an unusual kink doesn’t make you a bad or disgusting person, it just means that you have things that get you off that are different than others’ fantasies. Your paraphilia doesn’t define you as a person, any more than someone with a rape fantasy is secretly hoping to assault someone or be assaulted. It’s that self-shame that’s fucking you up more than anything else. Before you get too concerned about explaining your kink to future partners – you need to work on accepting yourself. You’re not bad, you’re not disgusting, you’re just different. And in a world where people dress up in mascot suits to get off or pretend to be infants, different is pretty damn relative. So you need to start working on redefining how you see yourself; treating it as a deep dark secret that will repulse any partner is only going to make you miserable in the long run and cut you off from people who might be into you.
As for how you explain it to other people and avoid a disgusting reaction, it’s pretty simple: don’t start none, won’t be none. What this means is that it’s all in how you roll things out. Our partners will tend to take our lead about the things we reveal about ourselves. If you want someone to believe that your kinks don’t define you, then you have to model the behavior you want to see in them. If we present something with the same hesitancy and self-loathing as though we’re having to hand them a glass of cockroach milk and tumor fricassee, then they’re going to respond in a similar manner. On the other hand, if you just present it as matter-of-fact, a “hey, just FYI, some of the things that turn me on are weird, it’s no big deal”, then they’ll treat it as no big deal. Notice very carefully how I used the word “some”. When it’s clear that your kink is just one aspect of who you are and not your sum totality – presumably you’re able to be aroused and have sex without needing vore porn – then it’s just part of what makes you unique. And that’s assuming the topic ever comes up in the first place. Relationships aren’t depositions; you are allowed to keep things to yourself, especially if it’s just something you jerk off to on occasion.
The other thing to keep in mind is that if and when you bring up your kink, you’re sharing one aspect of yourself; someone who freaks out and rejects you because they’re making these judgements, on the other hand, is sharing everything about them.
So, TL;DR version: work on accepting yourself, kinks and all. Model the response you want from your partner when you roll things out – don’t treat it like the mark of Caine or french-fried hemorrhoids.
I have an issue that I haven’t really seen addressed anywhere else so I was hoping you could weigh in.
I’m just a regular guy in my own estimation apart from a few interests that kinda stand out. To get to the point, I study history and languages for fun. I’m fluent in three of them and I’m currently trying to get to a working understanding of four more. These are my hobbies (well, a couple of them anyway). I also hang out with a lot of people in the tech industry and from what I’ve seen in my social circle, I’ve decided that I don’t want to become the tech-dick guy about my hobbies. I don’t want to be the guy who talks over people’s heads, turns his nose up at people who aren’t as in the know as he is and sees no problem leaving those people out of the conversation entirely. I understand that my interests are uncommon and that many people find them inaccessible. The problem is, I don’t know how much to reveal to people about them without coming off as intimidating or snobbish. As a result, it’s kinda become an unintentional secret.
The thing is, I enjoy talking about more normal everyday things just fine. If I never found anyone else to discuss random grammar or pore over dialects with, I’d be fine with it and it wouldn’t stop me from pursuing these things anyway. I enjoy them that much. The only time it ever usually comes up is when I break into a different language with friends around, say, to help a recent immigrant find things in the city or if some other random thing makes this knowledge immediately relevant. Reactions have been mixed. A couple of former girlfriends couldn’t seem to bear the intimidation. I broke up with one of them specifically because after I became comfortable enough to share a little more about what I do, she sporadically began to call me arrogant and “an intellectual” but as an insult. So…just as I’d feared. Most other people seem genuinely impressed but I can’t help but wonder if by letting this slip, they now view me entirely differently which is not what I want.
So my question is, moving forward particularly in the dating world, how much of this is too much to talk about? If I set up a dating profile and mention these in my list of interests, is this a plus? Or am I only going to scare them off and make them think that only women with advanced degrees in linguistics should bother talking to me?
Clumsy Clark Kent
Here’s the thing you’re doing wrong, CCK: you’re assuming that there’s something wrong with being passionate about something, even academic matters. Passion in and of itself is incredibly attractive; people who have passion in their lives are actually very magnetic and interesting. Consider Doctor Sweet1 in the third season of Penny Dreadful – when we meet him, he launches into his love of not just taxidermy but the reason why the minutia of various animals are fascinating and amazing. Even if scorpions give you the screaming ab-dabs, it’s kind of hard not to be picked up and carried along by the strength and intensity of his fascination with them.
Being interested in languages isn’t inherently snobbish; in fact, it can be profoundly useful, especially in this increasingly cosmopolitan era. Personally, I wish I was better at speaking foreign languages; as it is, I speak English and bad English.
The trick to talking about the things you’re passionate about without either a) boring people or b) coming off as being snobby or elitist is to talk about why you love them. People may not be able to connect with the specific thing you’re into, but everyone can connect with emotions and excitement… so meet them on that level. Go and re-watch this scene from Mission Impossible 3 and watch how Tom Cruise talks about traffic engineering. He’s not ashamed of his interest; instead, he explains what it is about traffic patterns that fascinate him. As a result: he’s that much more interesting and compelling to the people around him.
What is it about language that fascinates you? Is it the way that language literally controls the way we perceive the world? Is it because of how language interacts with the brain or what it tells us about the culture of the people that language comes from? Is it being able to connect with new people you might otherwise never get to know? Is it the musicality of the words, the logic of the grammar, the simplicity or complexity of the structure?
(And if you really want to blow somebody’s mind: point out how for the longest time, human cultures never had a word for “blue”. This is why Homer talks about the bronze skies of Troy and the wine-dark sea… if you put on blue-blocker sunglasses, that’s exactly how the sky and sea look…)
The thing that will turn off others – at least, people who don’t see education or intellectual curiosity as a negative – is wielding those interests like a club. If you’re coming off as talking down to somebody because they’re not a polyglot or they don’t get the intricacies of language the way you do, that is going to piss them off. But if it’s simply “this is a thing that fascinates and excites me and isn’t it amazing?” Then people will respond to your passion, even if they don’t get it to the same level you do.
Dear Dr. NerdLove,
My boyfriend and I have been dating for several months and are starting to move past the honeymoon phase. Up until a month ago everything was going great. We couldn’t get enough of each other, we were communicating well, and we were making long term goals and plans with each other. However, a month ago things started to change, and he became a little more distant. I tried to give him space, but finally, push came to shove and I asked him what was up. He said that we don’t really share common interests and the activities we do in our free time.
See, he is a bit of a gamer, but it’s never something that I grew up with, so I never really got into video games or even learned how to play them whereas he spends several hours playing with his friends each day, except for weekends, when he’s usually at my place. I try to ask him questions about the games he plays to stay involved, but I think he’s feeling that our hobbies are too different to maintain a good relationship and have something to talk about now that things aren’t all sunshine and butterflies. I really love him and am willing to make the effort to learn more about and get involved in what he does in his free time, but I always felt that our differences were what made him interesting. I was always getting to do something new and exciting around him (although he admitted that he’d probably get too impatient if he ever tried to teach me how to game since I’d be such a newbie at it). To him, however, it’s a difference in who we are as people, and he’s not sure that we can really move past that.
Is he thinking that maybe the girl he started dating isn’t the girl he thought she was? Is there any way to make this work? I know common ground is important in relationships, but to what extent? I really love him, and I did see a future with him, but I obviously want him to be happy and not feel like he is missing out on a big part of his life when he’s with me. At the same time, I’d be willing to do just about anything to stay with him, and it doesn’t necessarily bother me that we have our own activities in our free time. Do you have any advice before one of us calls it quits?
Trouble in Paradise
One of the keys to any relationship is that, while you don’t need to share 100% of your interests in common, you do need to respect that your partner has them. The corollary to this is that if your partner is making a good-faith effort to try to understand your interests, it’s on you to actually, y’know, meet them half way.
Right now, your boyfriend isn’t doing that. While you’re reaching out and trying to broaden your understanding, even try to share and appreciate something that’s important to him, he’s essentially slapping your hand away. This is, to put it mildly, not the best practices for someone who wants to maintain a relationship with someone. Less mildly: he’s being a dick.
He seems to have gotten hung up on the fact that you’re not into gaming like he is and he’s dismissing your attempts to understand and relate to his interests as unimportant. And sadly, it’s a non uncommon attitude in certain corners of gamer culture. The whole “meh, I can’t be bothered to explain things to you,” bit is pretty directly tied to the “git gud” bullshit attitude that some gamer throw around as a gatekeeping measure. The idea that gaming is too hard to get for the uninitiated or the impatience with someone who’s new… that’s pretty shitty behavior in general and especially to throw at someone who’s making an effort to relate.
And that sort of attitude and disrespect in one area tends to spread into other areas of the relationship.
If you want to make the effort again, point out that you’re trying to understand what it is he loves about games and gaming, maybe even finding some that you’d enjoy as well. But if he’s going to treat your interest as bothersome or annoying… well, that’s a not-insignificant indication about how he feels about you. At which point, you need to make some decisions.
- No spoilers, please [↩]