Savage Love






So, should someone who assumes they have HPV tell partners they have HPV even if there's no way to know? Not sure what Dan's advice means practically in terms of what this dude should disclose to sex partners. What does "act accordingly" mean? Should he say that his ex has HPV, or is there no point since everyone has it anyway?

Thank (non-existent) god I'm of the generation that got Gardasil young. One less thing for me to worry about when I start fucking people.


I'm like twice as old as when I got the vaccine and still haven't put it to any use. * Sigh *


Also -- bus dude LW is a total creepazoid, but why exactly would slipping a note into someone's bag be considered assault? Is it due to the sexual nature of the note, or is there something I don't know?

I've had this idea that I could carry around little inspirational poems for Poem In Your Pocket Day (a part of National Poetry Month in April) and slip them into people's pockets on the train or whatever to give them a little surprise (I have severe motion sickness issues and absolutely cannot ride any bus). I've never done it because I'm not sneaky enough to actually get the notes into people's pockets without getting caught (I'm also afraid someone will think I'm pickpocketing). If I were to attempt to implement this idea, would it somehow be considered assault? I'm confused.


Calli @3: fear not; your prince will come (and you'll be protected from HPV).

Dan says everyone, regardless of age, should get vaccinated. That's a new one on me. I understood you had to get it prior to sexual activity. Is this yet another thing to talk to my doctor about?


My husband had a dream of owning a restaurant of his own one day. This was not a dream that I had - I don't mind restaurant work, but have never had the slightest desire to be the boss, in fact, when working for someone else, I would often think "I'm so glad I don't own this place and have to worry about all the things".

But I loved my husband and therefore assured him that if he started a restaurant, I would be there beside him, working my ass off, the whole time. Supporting his dream, and shouldering a big share of the work.

That wasn't enough, however - he felt that I should be driving the train, that I should be the one making sure that we moved toward his dream. We never started our own place, because while I was willing and happy to go along with his dream - and told him so, often and truthfully - it wasn't something I actually wanted, at all, and therefore I was unable to be the driving force to make it happen. And I know that in his heart, he always blamed me that we didn't do this thing.

I said all that in order to say this - I really feel for SPANK's wife.


agony @6 For some reason at the first sentence I thought that was going to be the most random spambot comment of all time. I have no idea why I thought that, but now I want to see a spambot talking about High Priest Edgar who made her husband faithful again and cured the herpes they got from him fucking a restaurant.


SPANK said "My wife is über-vanilla. She is willing to spank me and peg me, but she won't 'take charge' of the situation."

You have a gold star GGG wife there. She thinks you wants a pegging or a thrashing, and as soon as you want it to stop, she stops.

Talk to your wife (use your words) about what it is you really want. You don't really crave pain per se, but you want and need her to be in charge.

1) Follow Dan's "safe word" advice, 2) thank her profusely for being GGG, and 3) take care of her vanilla needs, so she's not the next one writing in about her selfish kinkster husband.


@4 It will be considered assault/ harassment because unless his back pockets are like gaping pelican mouths, you have to touch their ass to slip a note in there.

And that poetry thing will only end badly for you, because if the recipient doesn’t catch you and accuse you of groping or pickpocketing, they will certainly feel TERRIFIED. Knowing someone singled them out in public, who could be watching them ANYWHERE, and who managed to get close enough to slip into their pocket without detection.

Hell, if the recipient was a woman, she’ll probably never feel safe riding the tube again.

Your best bet is starting a blog and connecting with other writers. But if you really are enamoured with the writing idea, leave them around in little origami cranes for people to find, or perhaps leave them in newspapers.

That way, no ones ass gets touched, no one’s boundaries gets crossed, and no one feels like they’re being watched.


fubar @5 According to my quick research, the rationale behind getting the vaccine if you've already been exposed is that even if you have some strain of HPV already, you may not have one of the nine (the ones the vaccine targets) that definitely cause serious health problems like cancers, just one of the thirty or forty other strains that may only cause minor issues. So if you get vaccinated before you get one of the nine dangerous strains, you get protected from getting (and transmitting) them. And even if you already have one of the dangerous strains, you're unlikely to have all nine, so you'll be protected against getting (and transmitting) the others. And the vaccine may even be effective against strains other than the main nine it targets (further research pending). Also, Gardasil has been shown to reduce precancerous lesions even in people who have confirmed active infections. While the 2008 FDA approval for giving the vaccine to people 28 and over should mean that insurance companies will cover it now, it may depend on your insurance company (if you're in the U.S.)

This article from Harvard Health focuses on biological females, but other articles say the results of the research referenced should be similar for males as well:

This FAQ page about HPV/Gardasil from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is also excellent:

I also just learned that I got Gardasil-4, which only protects against 4 strains of HPV, because Gardasil-9 didn't come out until 2014, and I got vaccinated in approximately 2004. I should probably get re-vaccinated before I start having sex. You learn something new every day.


I wasn't talking about poems I would write myself, I was talking about pre-designed Poem In Your Pocket Day materials that the Academy of American Poets puts out. And I know I said pockets, but I was more thinking about bags or coat pockets. If I found something clearly labeled for National Poetry Month in my bag or pocket, I don't think I'd be freaked out, but that's just me. That was just a silly hypothetical anyway. I never intended it to leave my head, but Dan's response to the letter made me curious about if it would be assault somehow.

If I were going to actually give out poems, what I would really do is just hand them to people. You know, make eye contact and say, "Here, have a poem! Happy Poetry Month!" That's what you're supposed to do on Poem In Your Pocket Day -- you give out pocket-sized poems to spread inspiration and joy. In person. Not sneakily.


I'm dubious that SPANK actually wants his wife to run the show. If she were in charge they'd have uber-vanilla sex and then she'd hold the remote and watch her shows.

I suspect SPANK wants his wife to provide (for free) the services of an experienced pro-dom. If I'm right, he should let her know, offer to pay for her to take some private lessons with a pro-dom (maybe co-topping him), and, as fubar says @8, make sure he's taking care of her uber-vanilla needs so she doesn't get resentful.


@1 CalliopeMuse: WA-HOO!!! Congrats on being "FIRDT"!


@EricaP: I really appreciate your comments on all threads right now--you're on fire!


Dan the Man, I just love you and your quickies! :)


Agony @6: I think "start my dream business for me" is a little different from "take more charge during sexytimes." I agree with EricaP, however, that he needs to count his blessings and also arrange for some actual training (I mean, y'all haven't even discussed safewords? What is this, kindergarten?).


Agreed with nocutename @14: @8 fubar and @12 EricaP: Well said and spot on to SPANK.


When Gardasil was first introduced, it was limited to young women who were virgins. Then, it was expanded to include boys who were virgins, since vaccinating boys would protect women. Later studies demonstrated effectiveness for women who were already sexually active, since it was unlikely that she would have been exposed to every strain covered by the vaccines, but it was still limited to people under age ~35. Later studies demonstrated effectiveness for people through age 45. What is happening here is that as women who were vaccinated age, the effectiveness of the vaccine can be further studied, but all signs point to this being a safe and effective vaccine irrespective of age.

In addition, although Gardasil 9 provides immunity to those 9 strains covered in the vaccine, there are hundreds of strains of HPV, and there is evidence that people who receive the vaccine develop some level of immunity to scores of less common strains. Of course, if you have already been infected with an HPV strain, you cannot get immunity to that strain thereafter, but odds are that your body will clear the infection on its own, and there is at least some thought that the vaccine will help prime your immune system against infection from any such strain.

For these reasons, I decided to get vaccinated this year, notwithstanding that I have had numerous sex partners and was always going to be just past the age range for demonstrated effectiveness.


As for HPV, you should get the Gardasil 9 vaccine, and encourage your ex-girlfriend to get vaccinated as well. She should also understand that if she had several vaginal intercourse partners prior to you, she could have been infected years ago and been asymptomatic. As such, no telling from whom she was infected or whether you are infected, and if you were, whether your body has already cleared the infection. She should have heard this from her gynecologist.

Ms. HPV sounds a bit like a recent sex partner who had an abnormal pap smear in the prior meeting me. Her HPV infection cleared naturally, but her gynecologist of all people made some really sex negative comments and stoked her fears concerning HPV. Worse, despite these fears, she had anti-vax sentiments and refused to get vaccinated with Gardasil 9, and some of these fears about the vaccine came from her gynecologist.


nocute @14, thanks!

SublimeAfterglow @19 - ugh, gynecologists playing into anti-vax fears and shaming patients for being sexually active? I'd be tempted to report that doctor for unprofessional behavior.


@19: Someone should report that gynecologist.


Dan, since some people are still clueless, perhaps you did need to spell out in your answer to HPV that "conduct themselves accordingly" means USE CONDOMS.

BUSTED, yeah, your idea is not just crazy but creepy. Put yourself in this man's position and think how violated and skeeved out you'd be to receive a note like this from a complete stranger. Also, you're NOT concerned about his health; you're concerned about his dick. If health was your issue you'd care about all the other smokers on the bus. If smokers are a hard limit for you, give up on this guy. If he's so hot you think you could date him and hope he'll someday quit (hint: scolding never helps, not even if it's offered with a side of head), attempt to flirt with him in the usual manner. Hint: if he hasn't caught your eye yet, he's not interested.

SPANK, you have your answer. Signal approval throughout the process. It's great if you can train your wife to comprehend that "don't! stop!" means "don't stop" when you're subbing, but surely you can understand that she's reluctant to proceed when you appear to be in distress. Cries of "yes!" and "more!" will encourage her.

PANIC, if these panic attacks are cathartic for you, even enjoyable, your partner is hurting rather than helping when he tries to stop them. Take Dan's advice, of course. But I would also suggest telling your partner that the panic attacks are like orgasmic aftershocks for you, and he is ruining your orgasms when he tries to comfort you and stop them instead of letting them run their course. You say you want to stop the panic attacks "mainly for him"; if he were rolling with them, would you want to stop them? Or are you okay with this somewhat unusual way your body is expressing pleasure?


LW4 - Have you changed antidepressants recently, or started doing anything (exercise, sleeping differently, started vitamins, experienced a stressful life event, chugging litres of grapefruit juice) that could interfere with any medication you're taking? It really sounds like this could be a medication effect.


Calliope @4, that took me aback too, but I assumed it was because BUSTED would need to physically touch his crush in order to put the note into his pocket or bag. If you were to just hand someone a note, that would not be assault. I used to know a woman who carried around little compliment cards that she would hand out to people before scampering off, and with no expectation there was no threat, just a nice compliment. So I say go with the random acts of compliment without the reverse pickpocketing element.

Agony @6, agree. We had a letter a while back from someone protesting against a complaint of "my sex drive is higher and not only do I want my partner to have maintenance sex, I want them to initiate sometimes so that I can feel desired." The lower-drive partner responding noted that having sex they don't feel like having is all the GGG they can muster; that -initiating- sex they don't feel like having is an ask too far. SPANK, sorry, you're going to need to top from the bottom or find a different partner who digs being in charge if that's what you "need."

Calliope @11, yes, exactly.

EricaP @12, despite your mild vanilla-shaming snark in your first paragraph, your second paragraph is a good suggestion. Hire a pro to show the wife how it's done. Or if money is tight, find some porn that demonstrates what he'd like.

Sublime @19: Thirding that you should encourage your partner to report that gynecologist, if she hasn't already.


I saw a little spark of youthful Dan and OG Savage Love in that last response. Nice.


BiDanFan @22 As someone who gets them, I don't see how a panic attack would be pleasurable unless someone really, really enjoys pain. They're pretty brutal experiences (at least, mine are). You may very well be right, and maybe I have to re-evaluate my assumptions, but just because there's some catharsis involved, it doesn't mean the experience is good. I think it's more likely that the LW just feels like the attacks need to run their course once they've started in order to start feeling better, rather than actually wanting the catharsis.


Just going to point out that we don't know that the gynecologist did anything wrong. Some people get freaked out about sexually transmitted things even with adequate reassurance, some people don't really listen when their doctors talk, some doctors are bad at explaining things (without necessarily saying anything really wrong), and plenty of people have never even heard of Gardasil or think it's only for virgins. While it's possible the gynecologist is an ass, it's not a given.


If the ex is the same age as the LW, she was too old for the target age for Gardasil at the time. Unless she's really well informed in the topic, she may not have known she was eligible. She's not necessarily an anti-vaxxer.


And, as a couple people have said, she could have gotten Gardasil and still gotten one of the strains of HPV it doesn't target.


Calliope @26, yes, I agree something called a "panic attack" doesn't sound like fun, but Dan had already given some good advice on how she can try to avoid them (Phascogale @23 had another good suggestion). My only point was that it sounded from this person's letter that the partner was making them worse, not better, by attempting to intervene. Understandable -- I'd be kinda freaked out too if that happened to someone while I was having sex with them, but until they can find a way to stop them -- assuming LW also wants to stop them -- the partner should step back and wait them out.

Calliope @27, yes, re-reading Sublime's post it's the patient, not the gyno, who is an anti-vaxxer. And anyone with that attitude can't really be trusted to give an accurate account of what a doctor might have said. Another reason to always use condoms during casual sex -- you don't know who's an anti-vaxxer! (Don't bang anti-vaxxers is a better rule, but unless we adopt a policy of handing prospective shags questionnaires about their views on an ever growing range of political topics, using a condom is the next safest approach.)


20, 21- Erica and Nocute-- Agreed, but on a practical matter, report to whom? I can't think of which governing body would care about that sort of thing. Maybe if a doctor openly propositioned a patient, that might get some attention, but even there. Merely being a little shamey and vaguely sounding like not all vaccines are a great idea would likely get no notice. Malpractice suits and reports are hard enough when the case against the doctor is rock solid as when there are demonstrable bad results as when a patient dies or is disfigured. Just saying something wrong happens every day. Yelp reviews are the best I can think of.

(I very much wanted to report the gynecologist who wanted to talk to me about what I'd do if my birth control failed. I didn't figure it out right away, but he was a conservative Catholic who was against all unmarried sex and abortion. I wasn't pregnant and wasn't seeing him about a birth control related concern.)

(I do feel a little sorry sometimes for doctors who have to deal with such delicate matters with people they don't know personally outside of the office. Forty years ago I talked to a classmate who was upset with the college health service for bringing up birth control. She was a virgin, intended to stay that way, and was insulted. I told her that from their perspective, it was better to offer birth control counseling to someone who didn't need it than to neglect the subject with someone who did.)

Thank-you, thank-you, Fubar, Sublime and Calliope for the information on Gardasil. Count me as one who thought it was only for teenagers. I learned a lot.


@WTAF--'what the actual fuck'?--your 'better half' is going off into subspace, and this is not inattentive, disrespectful or implicitly denigrating of how you're fucking her.

@BUSTED. Your idea is crazy. Sitting down alongside the hot guy and striking up a casual conversation would not be crazy. It would be fine, if you can desist when given the cue. If there's no sexual interest on his side--no sign at all--park your idea of the BJs. You can still sneak in your warning that he shouldn't smoke--but why should he listen to you, when he hasn't to anyone else?


BDF While are condoms are useful they are not 100% effective and they do nothing to prevent getting HPV from oral sex.

I take it that PAIN/s post orgasm panic attacks are a recent phenomena. If she uses prescribed drugs to treat her depression/anxiety then the post orgasm panic attacks may be an indication that her dosages need to be increased or her drug regime needs to be changed. She may need to add an SSRI or a NDRI to her drug regime. Above all else she needs to avoid benzodiazepines which may lose their effectiveness or eventually cause depression and/or anxiety. Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome can be nightmarish.


@12 Exactly! SPANK wants to be topped. He wants a scene to be according to HIS script. This means that his wife is in no way the one in charge. She is basically assuming the role of a service provider. He should be grateful she is willing to set aside her own desires to do these things FOR him. She is as GGG af. He sounds very self-centered.

This letter bothered me because his attitude is so appallingly typical. I am a Dominant, cis female. I am trying to date, but am becoming discouraged because so many men think that Domme is code for "f#ck me like a porn actress." smh


Nothing to do with your age hunter. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is in his eighties and he still speaks sense. I’m old/ er myself.. my granddaughter in her ten yr old rage called me an old woman the other day. Heavens. She noticed.


I don't know how LW3 can call his wife vanilla. I think most people who claim that their partners are vanilla would trade out for what LW3 describes in a second.


@12 EricaP: I fully agree. "I want and need her to be in charge" means "I want and need her to be in charge of doing the things I want her to do while convincingly demonstrating the feelings I want her to feel". If she's truly In Charge, she gets to stop whenever she wants to stop for whatever reason she wants to stop. And SPANK, that's obviously not what you actually want.

OF COURSE she's doing it to please you. If she were doing it to please only herself without regard for what pleases you, she wouldn't be doing it at all. So be specific about what exactly you want. You don't have to use safewords, any version of "no" and "don't" and "stop" could be your safewords, and flinching doesn't mean stop. She could growl "you want more, I'm going to give it to you, I want to hear you beg" and if you don't say "oh god yes please, more, again" then she stops.

Create a menu of multiple things that you want and that she's willing to do and then she's "in charge" by choosing which one(s) to do, how hard, how much, and what order. No complaining about what she does because you said you wanted her to be in charge and that means you don't get to choose, right? Or maybe you need to accept that's NOT what you want and you can work on turning it into a new game where first you train her as a pleasure servant and then she submits to you by providing the exact services that you demand, physical and mental/emotional topping, and part of servicing you correctly is portraying the dominating role that you require.

In general, avoid being the jerk who is all "It's not enough for you to do this, I need you to WANT to do this". The best you can hope for is she'll convincingly act like she wants it and then you have to be sufficiently grateful afterwards about all the work she put into it.


About the HPV vaccines- it's recommended now to get it until age 45, and whether or not you've been sexually active doesn't matter. If you tell your doctor that you know you've been exposed to HPV with your current partner the co-pays for the vaccine drop from +$200 a shot to about $25 a shot.

It can also potentially take years and decades for any kind of HPV outbreak to show up, so there's no knowing really who one might have contracted it from. Yep, best to assume if you're a sexually active adult you've been exposed. Yay!


Spank: "My wife is über-vanilla (because) she is willing to spank me and peg me, but she won't 'take charge' of the situation."

Sheesh! I'm with Surfrat @39. There's no pleasing some people.


Every once in a while I have a strong "Oh for Christ's sake" response; e.g., after reading comment @9.

If people would truly be TERRIFIED (in all caps!) by anonymous poetry-giving, then fuck this society.

That is all.


The non smoker is a total creep (shudders). If some guy approach me on the bus and asked me to stop smoking in exchange of him licking my vagina weekly I would call the police. Signed: a smoker.


@37 marilynsue. Sexual abuse, "forced orgasms", and then being made ashamed of them? That's a strange way to imagine sexual abuse.


@47: What a weird comment. That's exactly what some sexual abuse involves. A physical response, "feeling good", and/or orgasm does not mean consent, desire, or wanting the encounter. In this case, @37 marilynsue was talking about the possibility of sexual abuse of a child. Children can't consent and they might not even understand what's happening, depending on how old they are; it is always abuse.


I didn't post above about the anonymous letter. I wonder if something has shifted in our culture given the proliferation of media (esp. social media) that increases our sense of behaviour we associate with stalkers or being "creepy" in the parlance of the kids these days. Perhaps I am naive or simply reading the general scenario from the standpoint of a cis male but it seems that at one point love letters/anonymous notes expressing what we might identify as a crush were kind of romantic. I'm not saying that such a situation is applicable for quitting smoking in exchange for blowjobs (that does seem creepy) but what if we just removed the smoking part: anonymous note that basically says, I fancy you signed an enamored fellow bus-rider (but in a more poetic style)? It seems to me at one point such a move would seem kind of romantic, but now it just seems to be stalkerish. And, although I linked the shift from secret admirer to stalker as a product of social media, the Craigs List Missed Connections were certainly a similar move for the Internet Age.

I don't know if there's really a point in all of this, maybe just trying to work out the line between being a creep and being kind of sweet. Or maybe just wondering if anonymous romance is dead (if it was ever alive).


"She is willing to spank me and peg me"

If we're describing that as "vanilla", an intensifying modifier is inappropriate, and the German is just gratuitous.

Bravo to Dan for not-so-subtly calling out the creepy bus guy for the creep he is, despite Dan's hatred of smoking.

For PANIC: I suspect it's related to the rare-but-more-common phenomenon of crying during/after an orgasm. The intense feeling and/or loss of inhibition that are necessary to have or can result from an orgasm could trigger a panic attack for someone who is prone to them (e.g. if your baseline state is functionally Panic! thanks to an anxiety disorder, but you normally keep that in check by inhibiting the neurons involved in that panic cascade, a loss of that inhibitory neural activity will allow the always-pending panic cascade to proceed and give you a panic attack).

You don't ever say how you feel about these instances or what your ideal way to handle them is. You're having a panic attack in the moment, of course, but outside of that, how do you feel? You say he wants to stop and comfort you and that HE feels bad about them; what do YOU want and feel? Is it good that he stops? Do you want him to try to ignore it and keep doing whatever he's doing? Something else? The fact that you're asking advice implies you're NOT okay with the status quo, though it's possible you're looking for a magic solution to having panic attacks (sadly, that doesn't exist, just non-magical, often slow, and uncertain progeess with things like exposure therapy and medication and coping techniques if you DO have a panic attack).

So, your first step is to look at what you think his ideal response is and discuss that with your boyfriend. While you're in therapy and however quickly and however much it ultimately helps (or not - hopefully it does/will, but not all mental illness is utimately curable), you may be able to figure out ways to work around the problem, and that's going to have to come from you. Figure out what you think would help, try it out a few times to see if it DOES help, and adjust from there. Dan's "Doctor, it hurts when I do this," "Then don't do that," solution may help, but if not, or if that's not your ideal, pick something else you think might help and try that. Experiment - you might want to literally take lab notes (make entries in a feelings journal) when your responses are fresh in you mind to build a helpful data set.

If the issue is ultimately that you DO know what you want - "I want to just cry and let everything out" - and he won't or can't accommodate that - "partner just wants to comfort me and get it to stop" (if his actual goal is "make it stop" and comforting you is the means to an end rather than the end itself, that may not work well in the long run) - then you need to consider that you two may not be sexually compatible, and you may need someone who is willing and able to respond differently. (This may be one of those cases where empathy is actually a problem because people who are normally empathetic get too wrapped up in mirroring your anxiety to actually do what you want/need, so your ideal partner is someone who feels less emapthy than normal but is still guided by pro-social ethics; surgeons, for example, need to learn to compartmentalize and suppress empathetic responses - unless they happen to lack empathy as a congenital condition - so that they are able to cut other humans open in order to help them, and this could be a similar situation.) Remember, someone can be a perfectly good person and still not be right FOR YOU, so don't let not wanting to disparage him cause you to sublimate your own needs, because asserting your needs is not actually a judgement of anyone who doesn't meet them.

Good luck!

@2: The disclosure requirements for HPV (and herpes simplex for that matter) should be the same as for varicella zoster (human alpha-herpesvirus 3), the virus that causes chickenpox and shingles. Very rarely dangerous (but sometimes bad when it is) with a near-100% exposure rate until a vaccine was developed, and a now-declining-to-zero exposure rate because the virus can't spread and stay endemic in an increasingly immune population. So, avoid intimate contact during an active outbreak, no default disclosure for previous exposue/infection, and people who happen to be especially vulnerable (immunocompromised) are functionally required to specifically ask (while also knowing that most people who have been exposed and even infected don't know it, so they have to balance their risk/reward calculations).


@6: That sucks. The primary utility of beliving in magical gods (and hierarchical systems of social control generally) is exactly so that people who crave extrinsic motivation and/or have difficulty with intrinsic motivation can project their desires onto an "external" force that then motivates them (the "self-help" movement works in pretty much the same way, with similar magical thinking; even the "flip a coin" method of decision making is essentially a brain hack using that principle - either you bypass your self-delusion to figure out what you really want to do based on whether you're happy or unhappy with the outcome of the coin flip, or you actually didn't care and can leave the decision up to chance, with the motivation coming from the initial decision to do whatever the coin says). Perhaps your husband would benefit from religion, a guru, or a life coach? Or even someone trained with at least semi-scientific (and sometimes rigorously validated!) methods of guiding self-recognition and -motivation (a licensed therapist or counselor, though, honestly, in this type of case, bullshit might work better exactly because it's bullshit).


@49: A lot of what is traditionally "romantic" is very creepy to many people in real life. Romantic fantasies assume reciprocation, which I think is ultimately the reason for the disconnect. Indeed, I've heard people - literally - complain about a particular behaviorism on the part of one person and in the very next sentence complain about NOT being subject to that behaviorism from a different person, with the determining factor being attraction.

We've been moving away from "yes" toward "no" in response to the question, "Should I do something that someone would find romantic/sexy if it turns out ze is attracted to me but creepy if ze isn't attracted to me?" because humans can't read minds (and most of us are worse at reading non-verbal cues than we think people generally are and we specifically are), and a default norm of "yes" has been encouraging (or excusing if not outright encouraging) too much sexual harassment and assault. This is particularly out of deference to people who are unable to directly assert their preferences (which is partly, though not always, a gendered pattern). There may be a case one could make that some of our new norms (or proposed norms that have not yet been widely embraced) do more harm than good.

In this case, I'm personally fine with a norm of talking to people directly over slipping them notes (which I've done myself, though not anonymously - the whole point was that the person would know who I was), but I think it's worth debating the possible impacts - for better and for worse - of any norms we're thinking of changing (or retaining, for that matter). It may well be the case that many people, perhaps a strong majority, would find love notes romantic rather than creepy; the question is whether their gain is so beneficial and impossible to replicate in other ways that it's worth encouraging everyone in our society to behave in a way that some people find harmful.

I like hugging as an example case: lots of people (in my subculture here in USA) like hugging in general, while many people are okay hugging most people but not certain other people, and some few people are uncomfortable hugging at all. We have had a pervasive norm of hugging by default, especially between family members and friends (also, often, strangers), which was bad for the people who are uncomfortable with hugging (and almost everybody with respect to specific individuals), so lots of us have settled on an alternative norm of asking first. Asking before hugging someone isn't a lot of work; it's an additional but minor step for the people who are fine with hugging in general, which I think is worth accommodating people who dislike hugging, in general or with the specific person in question.

That opinion isn't universal: a small number of people strenuously object to asking to hug others. Because asking is such a minor imposition, I suspect that people who object are specifically (if not necessarily consciously) worried about being unable to hug people when it's UNWANTED and/or suspect that much of their hugging is unwanted (accurately or not - social insecurity and anxiety are normal parts of human social bonding brain nodes, because evolution is a brutal master, and being worried that other people actually hate us is a great motivator for pro-social behavior undertaken to get them to like us). Still, by asking, they'll learn if their worries are realistic (in which case it's good they're not hugging people who don't want to be hugged, even if they feel sad about that) or not (in which case they'll learn to be less anxious about that).

Vaccinations are a case where I think the collective benefits are sufficient to outweigh the personal objections (which are mostly based on fantasy rather than reality); taxes/having a society with public services at all would be another one. We're never going to have universal agreement, and most people will reflexively defend norms that are working well for them (and often even those norms that aren't working well for them - systems justification is another result of human social brain adaptation, along with general adaptability and stoicism as general survival tendencies), so we'll always have debate concerning any given norm. I think because of the systems justification tendency, there is a higher burden for people defending the status quo, against people who wish to change it because it propagates a perceived harm, to justify the net benefit of the status quo compared to the proposed change, and we have to actively look for problems in the status quo else we're likely to miss them (that's the meaning of phrases like "interrogate your desires").


Dadddy @36: Who says he broke up with her?

Ciods @44, if I discovered a note in my pocket and had no idea how it got there, I'd be pretty freaked out too. If someone could slip me a note without my noticing, they could steal my phone or wallet or slip who knows what dangerous or incriminating thing into my pocket or bag. Respect for bodily integrity dictates that you do not put things into people's pockets without their knowledge.

Esperantisto @47, perhaps Marilynsue is not imagining. Ankyl @48, thank you. Of course it makes sense to think an abuser might control their victim by stimulating them to orgasm, then convincing them they are just as guilty because they enjoyed it, so they can never tell anyone. Marilynsue, good theory.

Surfrat @49, I'm going with cis male. Sure, you can put on your rose-coloured glasses and think wasn't it romantic to send secret admirer letters, when now we can just find someone's Instagram account and like all their photos. I'm willing to bet that pre-internet, sneaking a note into someone's pocket without their awareness would have felt invasive. Leaving a note on their desk or looking them up in the phone book and writing them a letter, far less so.

John @50: Yes. As someone who has actually had an orgasm so intense it brought on floods of tears -- unexpected for both me and partner -- I understood how the physical phenomenon of the panic attack might be occurring for all the "right" reasons. Thank you for this and your post @52 deconstructing the "romantic vs creepy" conundrum. Lots of romcom tropes are deeply problematic.


@39, 43 & 50 - BINGO!

@SPANK needs to apologize to his wife rightnow. If that's what he calls vanilla... Umlauts and all... Sheesh, some people don't appreciate what they have. If only you knew vanilla.

Anyway, apologize, take Dan's safe-word advice ("Impeachment!"), and get ready to take one for the Queen.


@39, 43, 50, 55: SPANK said that his wife is über-vanilla. I took that to mean that her preferred sex is vanilla; not that he considers pegging and spanking to be vanilla.

She's GGG, but she's getting it wrong. Dan's safe word advice - and a bit more pre-scene negotiation - could help her get it right.

Hopefully, he's getting the über-vanilla sex right and, as EricaP @12 alluded, letting her hold the TV remote from time to time.


Ms Ods - I once wrote a lovely little mystery story with an excellent clue hidden in a poem.

I'd be a bit unnerved if someone slipped a note into my bag because I carry my wallet in there, but probably I'd mostly wonder how well someone knew me to make that particular selection, not liking the idea of someone's just randomly selecting strangers to receive the given message.


@39, 43, 50, 55 and in particular @56, yes. The wife is vanilla but he has been able to convince her to spank and peg him, despite her having no independent interest in these activities and not particularly enjoying them. One can be both vanilla and GGG. In fact, Dan often advises people who are vanilla to be GGG. If they dug this stuff themselves, they wouldn't need that advice. I agree with Fubar @56, she's trying to meet his needs, but she doesn't quite understand how. Her natural vanilla nature makes her recoil at the idea of causing her husband the pain and discomfort he craves.


I'm still trying to figure out how to get the HPV vaccine, without paying out of pocket. Being written off... part of being "old" I guess.


@Dadddy @60: Well, sure, but he'd also have to hire a maid, and a cook, and a personal secretary, and pretty soon you're talking real money.

Or, ya know, that's not the picture at all, in which case presumably he gets half of what she earns, as well.

Issues of income aside, maybe it would be more on-the-nose to say "I suspect SPANK wants his wife to provide the services of an experienced pro-dom, despite her not having the skills gained through years of experience or interest."


BiDanFan @58: I got into D/s by being GGG with a submissive partner, so I'm probably projecting just a bit, but I'm not sure she's recoiling. She may simply be reading his shrieks and wails as him having had enough. He needs to try a safe word. And for his after-care, maybe some über-vanilla cuddling might help bring her over to the dark side.

ciods @61: even an experienced pro domme is not going to try to be a mind reader; she would talk to SPANK, find out what he wants, and set up a safe word.


@49 I think the shift in culture has something to do with the voices of women starting to be heard, on the issue. A lot of things that were culturally assumed to be OK when it was men making all the laws, writing the books, the movies, etc, have been shown, when women feel free to say what it really feels like to them, to not be all that OK after all.

I know that there were a lot of things that I found unsettling when they happened to me that had always been presented to me as romantic, and I figured that the problem was with me, rather than with the so called romance. And I know that my experience is not atypical, for women of my age.




Passing Notes on the Bus

Eyes see your closed mouthed “nope”
through pen-ed pigs cloud smoke.
When attraction is too steep,
Communiques touch beyond web-ling app creep.
Romancing a stranger in Moscow?
Below instructions how:
Give me stationary on wheels,
Ink that paper with all your feels,
Thirst you nightingale just not the nets round wreck tangled screen,
Lo! xkeyscored interest signed Hancock on your treaty- “smolders 4 peen”


Calli @66: the magic number is 69. Try again!


You know, Dadddy, not all het marriages operated like yours.


Dadddy @60, I was clearly too quick to deem you less of a misogynist asshole than Sportlandia. Yes yes, you had a failed marriage, big wow, so did a lot of us. Hating all women forever is not an appropriate response.

Fubar @62, I'm not sure we disagree. Yes, she hears words or noises that indicate discomfort, thinks that if SHE felt those feelings she would want the other person to stop, and stops. Yes, he needs to tell her that he'll use a safeword if he REALLY means stop, but I suspect that may be easier said than done because a non-sub's natural instinct is to avoid pain. Hearing his cries may not -just- indicate to her that he's had enough, but may be killing her boner to the point that -she- is too put off to continue. This is why I suggested SPANK not only explain and use safewords, but take his own advice and give her verbal encouragement interspersed between his flinches. Begging for more punishment is a common sub strategy, no?

Nocute @69, congrats on the magic number and the point well made.


Others have concentrated on the creepiness of BUSTED's idea of slipping an anonymous note. I agree and would add: Do we even know if Bus-dude is gay? Do we know if, leaving aside the anonymous note thing, if he would even like an offer of many blow-jobs? I'm trying to imagine this scene. Guy gets a note, isn't creeped out by the idea of an anonymous note, but then thinks "hmm, I haven't wanted or been able to give up smoking before, but now that there's the possibility of getting all those blow jobs, I think I'll do it!"

The more I think on this, the more I think that the creepiness isn't in the anonymous note thing. It's in the assumption thing. It's in the power play thing. I can only compare it to the way I feel as a female. I know that guys will be attracted to me if I'm doing nothing worse being normally dressed and walking down the street. It becomes an aggressive act if the guys start wolf whistling and yelling heybabee as I walk by.


@70 big agreement on it possibly being a boner killer. Me, the only thing that would be less sexy than spanking someone would be to get spanked myself - if you're not into it, it's highly unpleasant to inflict pain. It's something I could do if I believed he really loved it, but wouldn't translate in any way to sexytimes for me.

If she is uber vanilla, then chances are pretty good that not only does this not do anything for her, but it may actively turn her off.


nocute @69: I completely agree, many marriages these days don't follow the dynamic that Dadddy (and several others, e.g., LateBloomer) seems to have as a default in his head. be fair, a lot still do, and I think some of his reactions are as much to the fact that a lot of us (you and I and Bi, for example) seem to default to some completely different picture.

I don't think pointing out that our picture also isn't complete is misogynistic, just because it means pointing at more traditional models that still exist. (This I say to Bi @70).


Am I the only one who caught that SPANK described stopping pegging after 'only a few strokes', because he's 'flinching'?

That means he's doing it wrong. Way more lube, start with butt plugs and smaller toys, and work your way up to taking whatever toy you're using for the pegging. And since his wife his barely into it, he should work on that prep on his own time before he invites his wife to insert their toy for actual partnered penetration play.


Ciods @73, Dadddy isn't misogynistic for suggesting that some relationships are traditional. He's misogynistic for stereotyping a woman he knows nothing about as a gold-digger, which he bases only on his own bitter experience, and which even if true is completely irrelevant to the subject at hand.

Adam @74, SPANK said that his wife stops -spanking- him after only a few strokes because he is flinching: "As soon as a spanking gets to the point that I'm flinching and wanting it to stop, she stops." He says she stops the pegging for the same reason, but I read that as shorthand for "at the first sign of discomfort." Good point though that the issue may be that she is doing it wrong. She may be assuming that one fucks an ass the same way one fucks a vagina. SPANK may -want- anal sex to be forceful, but indeed, he too may be unaware that there are better ways to achieve it.


BiDanFan @70: begging for more punishment is not a sub strategy that I've personally encountered. I think that might be considered a bit forward for the more subby subs. That said, I have had subs mention quietly, during a pause in the proceedings, that "you could hit me harder" whilst batting their eyelashes. I've also had at least one sub glare at me, and say "For fucks sake. Slow down!". I've never had anyone resort to a safe word, in fact, I joke with my girlfriend that her safe word is "Is that all you've got?".

Bottom line is that BDSM is a dance. The point is that two people try to attune closely, using words and body language. That's part of what's hotter than a lot of vanilla sex.

agony @72: what if pain is not actually pain to the other person. I had a play partner that would orgasm from a single, cold whack across the ass with a long, thin crop. That "white pain" would make her come. It wasn't pain. My experience, and YMMV, is that once you get accustomed to it, tying/blindfolding/choking/thrashing/orgasm forcing/fucking someone can become quite a turn-on for the giver, as can the sight of mascara streaming down someone's face.


fubar @68 I like even numbers, especially symmetrical even numbers like 22, 44, 66, or 88. That's all.


@Bi @75: Who did he call a gold-digger? I must have missed something.


Ciods, each person in a marriage makes a choice. Those of us who didn’t chose too well, have to see that and not assume every marriage is like ours was. Not every woman takes half a man’s pay packet, and that’s how D portrays it. Maybe Late wears the same blinkers, or can’t be bothered like D can’t to be discerning in his observations. Never however have I picked up with Late the bile which D drips out, the patronising tone, when he talks about women.
Put D in the company he deserves. Hunter and Sportlandia.


I get we aren’t the same sort of feminists ciods, and you’re American from the United States and I’m not.. cultural differences. And if you can help this man, D, go for it. Red flags abound for me.


I have a family friend who is a New York City schoolteacher who is married to a classical musician. Obviously, though as a teacher she doesn't make a boatload, she is the primary breadwinner (not a lot of money in classical music). Her husband had throughout their marriage been dismissive and just generally an asshole to her. At one point their daughter actually told her mom to just leave him already. When their daughter went to college, the wife started thinking seriously about divorce. They rent two adjacent apartments, one of which functions as his music studio, and she effectively kicked him out of the main apartment and he was basically living in his studio. He didn't know, though, that she was secretly seeing a divorce attorney and getting financial documents together. (I swear there's a point to this story.)

One of the first things the divorce attorney told her was that, even though her husband makes enough independently to support himself as a single person, he would probably be entitled to half of her pension from the city. This would have sucked.

The story has an unexpected ending, though -- their marriage was saved by cancer.

He got salivary gland cancer and had a very scary operation in which there was a danger of part of his face becoming paralyzed. His cancer is apparently gone, but the experience has made him a different person. Apparently having a chance of dying made him re-evaluate his life and realize he might be losing her. For the last several years he's been much more considerate and just generally treats her better. He's still kind of an asshole, but more in a charming rogue way than a mean way, if that makes sense. He's moved back to the main apartment from his studio. She's no longer thinking about divorce.

Anyway, the only relevant part of that whole story was the bit about her pension. I think it's an interesting story, though, and that would have really sucked for her, to lose half her pension even though he wouldn't really have needed it. Also, who knew good things could come out of cancer?


Only 9 US states are community property states.


Dadddy @82: is that "suitable dom" the same guy that converts lesbians to straight by having the "right cock"?


Usually at this point I’d just let it go, because, as much as I love you all, I’m not heavily invested in the comment boards. But in this case I think there’s something worth fleshing out going on, so I will try to expand on my comment @73, which wasn't very clear.

The comment that started this off was EricaP’s comment @12 that the husband sounds like he is expecting his wife to perform, for free, the services of a pro-dom. Erica can of course correct me, but I suspect she really meant something more like my variation @61, namely, that he was expecting pro-dom behavior despite the fact that the wife hasn’t the skills or experience of a pro-dom. The original comment works on first read because it’s clear that an encounter with a pro-dom involves an exchange: one wouldn’t expect to get the domming without the exchange of equivalent services (in this case, money). But it fails on second read: the metaphor doesn’t transfer smoothly to marriage, because there’s a whole host of exchanges going on in any given marriage; we constantly expect things from our spouses without doing a task-by-task accounting. And in some (many? most?) marriages, money does enter into it, in one way or another.

Lava, you are right @80 that those of us with failed marriages (and that includes me) have to do the work to realize that not all cases will mimic our example. Agreed. That said, most of us do occasionally get huffy if the larger conversation seems to ignore our lived experience. Whether our experience is that of the majority, or common (in general), or even common among the commetariat, doesn’t much change the reaction. We see a lot of snark about assuming someone is straight, or assuming they’re white, or American, or whatever—and I think most of us are fine with most of those reminders, yes? It’s natural to point out that other options are out there. Myself, I’ve recently become a bit twitchy about what I see as a ridiculous urban bias in a lot of the advice/comments, and occasionally I make snarky comments to that effect, even though I know the vast majority of us/y’all are urbanites. Now, I conjecture that the majority of commenters here—especially the women—consider themselves feminists, and aim for or participate in fairly equitable relationships (however one measures that). I include myself here. But I don’t blame Dadddy for occasionally popping in and pointing out that that’s not always the case. Nor do I think his doing so means he thinks all marriages operate like his--any more than my occasional snark means I think everyone lives in the country. It’s just a reminder that SOME people do. I read his slightly dark humor in the same way I read comments reminding us that letter-writers might not be straight. It’s a check on a default assumption a lot of us have.

To me that’s a far cry from misogyny.

And while we’re at it—assuming my analysis is correct, or close enough for government work—I can imagine now some among us popping in to say something like: “If that’s what he means, why doesn’t he say so in a calmer, more reasoned, less snarky approach? If he explained himself as clearly as nocute or EmmaLiz do, we wouldn’t react the way we do.” But not only would that take a lot more time, which he may not be able or want to spend, it’s my belief that men are conditioned to use humor to offset pain, and in many parts of the world they are conditioned also against verbosity. When he comments I try to keep that in mind and think about what he's getting at with his snarky humor. I do this in the same way that I try to keep the social conditioning of women in mind when I ask a female friend to do a favor for me.

And now I’m off to a dinner party. I hope y’all have lovely evenings, full of androgynous men or knee socks or whatever pleases you.


@69 nocutename: WA-HOOOO!!!! Congratulations on scoring this SL Quickie week's Lucky @69 Award! Bask in the glow of highly envied decadence. :)

Who's up for the Big Hunsky? Lava? Donny?


@ 76 I know that this is true for some people, which is why this is something I'd do if asked - it feels good to please your partner, even if what pleases them does nothing for you. I'm highly doubtful I'd ever find it a turn-on, though, mostly because in a long life of trying this and that, and watching other people try this and that, nothing involving giving or receiving pain has ever given me even a little tingle. There are other kinks where I think "Yeah, I could see where that might be fun", but not pain.

@ 82 Nope.


Fubar @76, I think there are two kinds of vanilla GGG people. There are people like you and me, who perhaps weren't interested in BDSM independently, but who discovered via indulging a submissive partner all the things to love about it. And then there is Mrs SPANK, who despite a willingness to please her husband does not seem to have found any personal enjoyment. People like ourselves to tend to project -- "just give it a try, you'll see how much fun it is!" But for some it isn't fun and never will be, and that's OK. They just need a different approach, and that approach might be for the sub to tailor their instruction/reinforcement accordingly, or it might be to outsource if the relucant dom never gets the hang of it or finds it an active turnoff.

Dadddy @82: Another nope.

Fubar @85: Gold star! Or perhaps my "suitable dom" lives on the same planet as Dan's opposite-sex soulmate?

Ciods @86, I'll respectfully differ. The only defense I can see of Dadddy's comment is that Mrs SPANK is an innocent prop for snark he was directing at EricaP for daring to suggest domination services have value. "He's already giving her half his money" is a sexist assumption without any basis in the letter, nor was it raised by the LW as an issue. Dadddy was not pointing out that some marriages work this way, he was implying that all of them do in a way that painted Mrs SPANK as the bad guy for something she may not even do. Yes, the comment was snarky; it was snark at the expense of women, which is what made it misogynist. No one was making any assumptions about this couple's financial arrangements which needed correcting. "Poor Man who isn't allowed to express his feelings other than by being an asshole" doesn't cut it with me.
But, I had a lovely evening out with my androgynous man while remotely dominating another in another time zone, so thank you for the well wishes. Hope your dinner party was enjoyable!


Ms Muse - That makes sense. In larger numbers, do you prefer (I'm sure there are terms but I can't recall ever hearing them) those with symmetry around a point (242) or those that turn the corner (6886)? That made me think of palindromes, although all the ones that came immediately to mind had a pivot letter that didn't duplicate.

Ms Ods reminds me of Miss Gorringe from At Bertram's Hotel, telling Canon Pennyfather that his letter explained very clearly that he would be in Lucerne for one night during his hotel booking, but was keeping the room on, when fully would have been more accurate. I like the point about being a ruralist, and I often think of her when I encounter the dreaded Find Another Baker argument. The application of her point seems a bit of a reach here, but I'm more perplexed by the linking of such strongly different people, though there may be some point in common not immediately apparent to my lens.


@92 Palindromes are good, especially if they end in an even numbered digit. Even numbers with even numbers of digits are better than those with odd numbers of digits -- 44 is better than 4. 18 is a lucky number for me, along with its multiple, because of cultural associations. I play this game with the time as well -- I like 2:22 and 4:44, but for some reason prefer 2:02, 4:04, 6:06, 8:08, 10:10, and 12:12. My favorite is probably 8:08, with 10:10 as a second.

I think this is mostly a function of my OCD. I've gotten better about it, but one of my strongest compulsions is for volume knobs and thermostats to be on even numbered settings. It has actually interfered with my life in some situations. An interesting occurrence was when I was on a long car ride with other people from my residential treatment program. They were playing music, but one of the other patients had a similar compulsion about the volume being on a multiple of five. We compromised and put the volume at a multiple of ten.




multiples of 18


Oh, I meant palindromic numbers, not words. My compulsive thing doesn't easily extend to words.


My mind is a strange place, indeed.


@CalliopeMuse, I'm glad you're here. And I enjoy following your mental quirks, so keep 'em coming. I also appreciate your biology input.


@ 99 Thank you! ^_^

@98 It can be satisfying to finally turn the volume/temperature/whatever to the "right" number, but mostly it's an annoyance that's embedded in my brain.


Oops, I didn't mean to take 100 since I also got 1!


@100 CalliopeMuse: WA-HOOOO!!! Major congrats to CalliopeMuse on scoring this week's Big Hunsky! Savor the glory. :)


@101 CalliopeMuse: No worries. You got it fair and square. Savor the envied SL riches. :)


Great advice as always Dan. Love the column. I cant get the Florence Nightingale image out of my head now!!


Ms Muse - I used to prefer times that made equations, particularly multiple equations (12:36 or 12:46, for example, which had the additional advantage of being unique on a normal clock).


Clock question:
On LED clocks, what's special about the times:


I think asking one's spouse to take on a new, unappealing gig is a big ask, well beyond GGG and more like unilaterally ending sexual intimacy.

The gig in this case is the wife regularly running full enactments of her husband's fantasies while pretending it's all for her own gratification.

But it could be expecting frequent professional-level massages.

Or ordering up elaborate meals for company, when the spouse has no training as a chef, or interest in learning.

Or expecting substantial car repairs to be done by one's untrained spouse.

Unrealistic as fuck.

As for Dadddy's statement @79 that housewives have a dream job, complete with early retirement -- the kid rearing goes away, in most cases, true. But not the laundry, vacuuming, food shopping, cooking, and dishes. Plus caring for whichever parents need it, in time. At least in the households I know, the chores weren't redistributed after the breadwinner retired.


EricaP @107: The analogy I came up with was asking one's untrained spouse to be one's hairdresser. The main difference there is that few people would be jealous that someone else was cutting their spouse's hair.

As for Dadddy's comment, don't forget the golden handcuffs. My parents had a traditional breadwinner/housewife arrangement, in which my mother felt trapped because she had no way of supporting herself let alone three children. My father did NOT give her half his money; what he did give was always grudging, and his grasp of the purse strings gave him executive decision-making power. Is it little wonder that a generation of feminists campaigned for women to have career options other than housewife? Hardly a dream job if your boss is a nightmare.


Oh and don't forget that "retired" mothers often become part-time unpaid child minders for their grandchildren. Truly there is no retirement from that role.


Amen to that Fan.


@97 CalliopeMuse: Keep up the quirkiness--it works for me, too!


BiDanFan @91, I think that the way SPANK has written his letter suggests that before concluding that his wife is just unable to enjoy topping him, there are MILES of improvements he could make in the quality of their communication.

SPANK, if you're reading? Start here: expecting a partner to do what you want her to because she magically wants to on her own is exactly the sort of oblivious, un-empathetic bullshit that leaves kinky folks frustrated and frequently single. Get over that right now. You have no right to expect a partner to falsify their own desires for you, and there is no less attractive request in the world.

That said? Fubar @76 is right, much of bdsm IS a dance. I'd add that a dance is the kind of collaboration that can seduce people into seeing things differently than they did initially. Most people want to please and be pleased by their partners... and while for some it's a bridge too far, with enough good communication many, many people end up really enjoying activities that weren't originally part of their default set. You say you not only want but need this experience -- okay, pump some of that urgency into full, evocative respectful, 2-WAY communication with your wife until this experiment is a collaboration rather than her humoring you. If you want her buy-in, you'll have to earn it with both explanation and listening. It's possible she won't get interested -- but man, give her a fighting chance to find it hot!

You have told her at least some of what you want; it's not clear from what you write, whether she already knows you want her to continue beyond the point when you don't appear to be enjoying yourself. That needs clarifying, but you may need to also share a LOT more about the why: tell her what you like about feeling out of control, tell her what you like about taking pain for someone (and that's masochistic, by the way, not simply submissive -- there are plenty of submissives who have no interest in pain.) Paint a picture of how you see her when she takes control of you, one that SHE can emotionally connect with (if what you want is a fantasy she has absolutely no input into, you really can't expect her to be into it, now, can you?) Share the detailed, intimate workings of the experience you crave with your wife -- not as a list of tasks for her to accomplish, but to help her read and feel invested in the state you hope to achieve. It's very easy to miss the shorthand in your explanation of your own fantasies, and it sounds like part of your frustration is that she's not seamlessly intuiting what you want. That's likely to be partly your own failure to do this work in advance.

Another thing: keep in mind that causing pain, or being 'cruel', can be psychologically complicated, and sustained talk about it will be essential. It takes more than a little reinforcement to begin to read pain as success after a lifetime of being told not to hurt others! And remember -- even people who start out doing it for service reasons and discover a bit of a sadistic streak in themselves may be more than a little freaked out by that enjoyment. If the two of you get to the point where she can give you the experience you're hoping for, she might need aftercare where you reassure her that yes, you wanted that and no, she's not a bad person.

One last thing: it is good to have a safeword that means 'stop', sure. But a two-safeword system can be even more reassuring for a hesitant top. Red means 'stop', but yellow can mean 'don't stop, but no harder please.' Putting a yellow signal in place means that as long as you don't say yellow, she can assume that everything she's doing is actively green, and it's all good.

It goes without saying that this approach might not work. She might not be able to enjoy it. But with all due respect, you sound very inexperienced... and one of the things inexperienced people tend to underestimate is how much of the impact of kinky play is based on deep, thorough communication. Emotional intimacy is as much a result of the prep as it is the play, and it's hard to overstate the wallop of sheer heat it can lend to kinky play, and even to a marriage. Good luck.