I was reminded, Sunday night, of the strange way in which there’s no one truth about love or lust or romance or about anything else interesting to humans. The Nymph and I went to see Vicki Christina Barcelona, the latest Woody Allen movie. I enjoyed it right well — and Penelope Cruz is just brilliant in her role — but it also gave me a modest insight of sorts.

In the movie, there’s a love triangle that is brief, implausible, and complex. (“Complex” is my eighty-cent college word; my blue collar brother-in-law would be content to say “fucked up”, in a tone of voice suggesting an unacceptable depth of complexity but without any connotation of condemnation.) And yet, just as I was marveling at the very implausibility of the arrangement, I was startled to realize “no, this is just remarkable for being in a movie; it’s not the least bit more complicated than a thousand unusual romantic understandings I’ve seen people reach in the real world, or describe on their personal blogs.” People, real people even more so than scripted people, are willing and able to make the most astonishing compromises and bargains (physical, emotional, financial) in order to get the love, affection, validation (and, yes, sex!) that they need.

Hardly a deep or original insight, but then, I never claimed different. Still, it served to remind me of what I love about the sex blog genre (and to a lesser extent, blogs in general) — namely, that they provide a relatively unfiltered window into the inner romantic and emotional lives of a great many more people than we would normally know well enough (in meat space) to know on that level. And that’s just interesting.

Today’s example is an excerpt from Bitchy Jone’s Diary, in which she is talking about the big strong man she enjoys hurting, and the reasons he enjoys being hurt by her. That’s one of the categories of sexual bargains that usually overstrains the limited capacities my empathic sexual imagination; and so — despite bearing firmly in mind that an explanation of what’s going on for these people may not speak with authority about any other people — I found it fascinating and instructive:

I live in a small, papery ordinary house. I have radiators, I have chairs and tables, but these things are all built practicality, not practical evil. I do not have access to one of those fortresses built out of rusty steel columns where they make the kinky porno. I do not have a room with red walls. The only thing I can really tie Jack to and not have him killcrushdestroy (killcrushdestroy my soft nest of an IKEA catalogue interior that is) is other parts of himself.

‘Cause the trouble is, with him, resistance is fertile.

For all I try and say that submission and masculinity work with each other not against each other: that the whole world has got it wrong with its stupid prevailing ideology about which way round bondage goes. But, no one listens to Cassandra Jones, the world of people-tied-up is built for tying up women. Every guide book, every instructional video is about tying up women, pretty much. Bondage for sex means bondage for being penetrated. So what of me? I like it tough and scary. I like the great big man brought down, down, down. Works brilliantly in my head. In real life: hard work.

Because I like to feel a huge rush of power over a conquered kingdom of a man. But because I reach so high it’s so much harder to bring the thing down low.

Sometimes he feels unscaleable and more often *unbreakable*. And broken is a wonderful state. But so much harder to achieve when starting with an unbreakable thing.

There is that little moment when I hurt him. Right at the start. He makes it very obvious: He assesses what I’m doing and works out if he can deal with it. And he always can – always finds a place to put it – but right before that you see the tiny panic before he *knows* that he can. I’m happiest right there. The moment before either of us remember that he is unbreakable.

Not that I am not in love with that brave thing. That self sacrifice. Once I said to him, ‘I want to him you on the backs of your thighs with a metal ruler.’

And he said, ‘Fine.’ He said ‘fine’ like I’d said ‘I want to go make a cup of tea.’

So I said – more fierce, but more fierce for me just means my jaw sets a little hard – ‘And I want you to hate it.’

He’s rolled over ready for me by now, so he’s looking back over his shoulder. ‘Well I don’t expect I’m going to like it very much.’

And I swoon, there, at the stoic and the brave and the acceptance of me and the things that I need. But I still pine for something more fragile. For more doubt and fear.

I make him fake it. Make him ask for it to stop. Make him ask me not to hurt him. But that’s a level up on the unreality game. And I know that if I wanted it the other way he’d ask me *to* do it too. He doesn’t like pain. He likes being brave. I honestly don’t know where his desire to feel brave would end. Where rationality would take over. I’d like to find out – let the bravery drive us, let it set the pace, decide when we stop – but it’s a frightening place I might end up.