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I recently sent a note to a cute guy on a social networking site and unlocked my pictures for him to check out. I got the response, “you’re handsome but I’m not into that freak shit with the leather and the wax and all that.” It really took me aback for a moment, but it’s nothing I haven’t heard before. Although I consider myself to be an individual that truly enjoys getting to know people and developing deeper friendships, there are people who would look to classify me based on a few key pieces of information they may perceive regarding me personally and my lifestyle choices.

I have a bunch of tattoos and piercings, wear leather sometimes, have a committed open relationship, and enjoy a variety of naked and clothed activities with other people. Having a good time is high on my list of priorities and I often enjoy posting pictures of myself with my friends. Over time, I have discovered a range of diverse opinions and perceptions that others have shared with me about how they see my life and interests. These have also been talked about behind my back, often making their way back to me. I have come to realize that some people jump to their own conclusions regardless if their observations are based in fact or fiction. This reality is out of my control.

Even though I’m not on the hunt for filthy, kinky sex often, it’s hard to argue with someone’s perceptions that I’m probably a hard-core, sex-craved fetish enthusiast. Even if they are inaccurate and biased, people tend to create their own beliefs based on what they think they know about something or someone. There are absolutely elements of leather, kink, and BDSM that are a part of my life, but just because someone chooses to wear leather doesn’t necessarily mean that they are fully into the darker side of sexual encounters. I do sometimes enjoy playing with people where I may hit someone with a variety of implements or get greasy with them. Other times, body parts are stretched, contorted, restrained, bruised, pierced, tantalized, or teased. This can be a lot of fun and cause a complex series of pleasure and pain responses. Although this does not happen often, it is wonderful when it occurs with the right people.

The funniest thing when I get pegged as being a one-note kinky dude is the fact that I am really a huge cuddle and makeout type of guy. I honestly love body contact above everything else. I generally like kinkier play with those whom I have already established a familiarity with. It’s about the importance of creating trust and connection due to the extra level of intensity and intimacy that can accompany these types of activities. These exchanges can be so much more than throwing someone up against the wall, spitting in their mouth, and making them submit. It is about the exchange of ideas and energies between two or more people. It can also be quite intense for everyone involved.

There can obviously be elements of physical discomfort, pain, or other intense sensations, but there are also other emotional aspects to consider. Some of these activities bring up past issues, trauma, insecurities, or fears. There is also a long list of injuries that can potentially happen, even with those who have extensive experience. It is not for the inexperienced or disconnected. It can absolutely push some limits, which in turn can be quite fun.

As I have more experiences and interact with different people, I have come to realize that not only do I have frustrations with people’s perception of me as a kinky guy, but also about how these types of fetish-based activities are seen as abusive, crazy, or brutal. Of course, looking in from the outside may cause someone to feel those concerns. Don’t get me wrong, at times these intense exchanges may cause praying to make the activity stop, a desire for it to happen more, or a feeling of relief that the interaction is over.

There are also cases where it may take time to process the sensations and emotions experienced by someone. It may take an evaluation period to consider what activities want to be tried or experienced again, as well as what modifications may want to be made. It is an exchange between people where plans are created and revised. It is a creative process that can result in ecstasy and fireworks, an epic disaster, or something to build on for the next experience.

For many of us interested in kinky experiences, they are not only for sexual exchanges. How we connect with others through emotional intimacy or intimate play can create friendships, build relationships, and improve our quality of life. It can be more complex than simply going through the mechanics of doing something to someone. These elements of pushing sexual boundaries are just some of the ways to connect intimately.

Sizing someone up and assessing them happens in person, but also occurs frequently online, and we often make judgements about someone based on a series of words designed to give information about who they are and what they want from exchanges with others. There are often images which accompany these crafted narratives. These may be fun, flirty, provocative, or downright dirty. Profiles are designed to hopefully get across ideas that will be attractive to others and gain us an audience with some great people. Regardless of how much we feel our profiles are well-crafted to convey information, we are at the mercy of how others may process what we put out in cyberspace. Especially regarding topics of sexuality, strong perceptions may be felt and expressed. It makes some people relatively uneasy and can bring up memories of past positive and negative experiences.

At times it doesn’t matter what you write in your profile, the pictures you select, or how you present yourself in the real world. People may still choose to see you through their own perceptions and series of beliefs. As frustrating as it is, you cannot control these actions. You can attempt to be the nicest guy with the biggest open heart and some people may see you as an offensive, narcissistic jerk. You may honestly be seeking great connections, but somebody may consider you a slut because you choose to take off your shirt at dance parties, are affectionate with your friends, or pursue a non-monogamous relationship. Not everyone will take the time to get to know you. They may simply see a surface-level presentation of you and decide that you’re not worth further exploration or explanation.

In this world where we are all trying to connect with like-minded people for a variety of exchanges, be careful to not just classify someone based on something that you feel is somewhat unsavory. You may be passing up a great potential connection. There are many ways to engage with someone, not just through an interest in sex or kink. Each engagement is unique, special, and can serve a variety of purposes for us. Sometimes we are pleasantly surprised or get to experience something unexpected and fantastic. Work on giving people a change instead of jumping to quick judgements. Truth can definitely be stronger and better than our fiction.