How to overcome hatred of marks left?

Reverie

Active member
Usually, I keep to my blog (where you can read all the backstory to this, if you so desire) because usually things are going pretty well, but I really need some suggestions tonight.

My boyfriend recently tried out a new kinky thing with a new-ish partner: "surface piercing," where needles are inserted under the skin but no jewelry is left in there; it's just done for the sensation, I guess. He did this last Friday, when he was with his other partner, and the marks have remained. They look like they are only going to be there for another day or two, but still, that is a while.

The problem is that I find the marks—entry and exit holes, and especially some fierce bruising—extremely triggering. They make me, at best, mildly uncomfortable and instantly thinking of them together, and at worst, worked up in a panic attack at the frustration that I have to keep seeing them and can't escape them. Like, they are on his chest, and seeing them completely takes me out of the moment during sex. I've been really good and brave, being honest right at first that they triggered me, and then trying to just keep my mouth shut until they healed, since there was nothing to be done about them.

Problem is, he wants to keep doing this. It was his first time trying it, and he really liked it. AND he wants to do it with her next month, a few days before he will be meeting me in my hometown after a week apart. I asked him for a (very rare for me) one-time favor that he abstain from that one thing for that one weekend, so that the first time we have sex in over a week, I am not immediately triggered by seeing marks all over him. But he really doesn't want to grant me that favor, since she is long-distance and he gets limited opportunities to be with her. I've promised that I'm not trying to forbid him from this forever, but that just on this one occasion, after a week of separation, I want to be able to reconnect with him without having to immediately picture him with someone else.

If the needle thing squicks you out too bad, imagine that it's bruises from spanking, or a string of hickeys, or something like that. But that lasts for a week.

The feeling of hatred I get when I think of these marks is totally irrational, but it has been growing in intensity the longer that they stay. It's a white-hot flash of rage mixed with panic and helplessness. I feel like I am unable to have sex with him without seeing her "brand" on him, and while I am getting used to his deepening connection with her, it chafes to have a reminder of it in bed with me every night for the past week. Nothing else that they do in bed bothers me, because I am not repeatedly confronted with evidence of it long after she has left town.

To make matters worse, he has said that when HE sees the marks, he has fond memories of those times and feels pleasant, and it seems like an utterly unfair trick of the world that something that could be actively bringing him pleasure could be bringing me misery at the same exact time—there is almost nothing that he and I are so diametrically opposed on.

I've promised him that over time, I will learn to "toughen up" and get used to this—after all, almost anything is tolerable with practice and repeated exposure—but for right now, I am totally at a loss.

What is a good coping mechanism for "powering through" an ever-present physical reminder of the kinky times your beloved had with someone else—present even when you are trying to be sexual with him yourself?

I'd rather not not have sex with him. He's suggested his wearing a shirt, but I think the shirt itself, when he is usually shirtless, would be an even more blatant and impossible to avoid reminder, not to mention decreasing our intimacy. So what kind of Jedi mind trick do I have to play on myself to reduce the visceral negative reaction and turn it into more of a calloused neutral?
 
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tenK

New member
I don't have any Jedi mind tricks for you unfortunately, but I just wanted to chip in and say that Scandi did this with one of his other partners recently and the bruising was just horrific. It didn't trigger me in the way you experienced, since he and I are about as low-key as you get really, but even for someone who is not that bothered what he gets up to and with who, I found myself being slightly freaked out by it. I must have asked him about ten times if he felt ok during our sex because I couldn't see how bruising like that on his chest wouldn't still be bothering him pain-wise while we were doing our thing. :( All he said was that the bruising is intentionally made to look a lot worse than it is, and he felt fine. I know it's the symbolism rather than the physical effect that you find disturbing, but I just wanted to say that I felt uncomfortable even without a symbolic meaning attached too.
 

Inyourendo

New member
I can understand. You finally got rid if Claire and you were hoping for some honeymoon time with just you and Rider. You wanted to move in together, he wants to maintain his autonomy. Now things are building up with Kelly and sounds like she may be co primary material. It's understandable that you're disappointed that you won't be getting him all to yourself. It sounds like he's not willing to take a break from polyamory the way that you want to. It's got to be somewhat disappointing that you feel at the moment completely satisfied as having him be your only partner but him not feeling the same way. Don't feel bad about that, he just has different needs than you do. I would be careful to not make too many demands in regard to what he does with his other partners and when because that can quickly look like you're being controlling and you know what happened to Claire just for not wanting to share her time and space with you.

I think you're just going to have to suck it up. You know he has other partners amd you know they have sex and he has feelings for them. The wearing of the shirt is a decent compromise if you don't actually want to see the marks. I understand that takes away some of the illusion that it's just you and him but it's not just you and him so you need to get over that(and sounds like you want to because you know being jealous or controlling isn't healthy for your relationship ) I don't think there's any magic trick around it other than acceptance.
 

FallenAngelina

Well-known member
The feeling of hatred I get when I think of these marks is totally irrational, but it has been growing in intensity the longer that they stay. It's a white-hot flash of rage mixed with panic and helplessness.

It seems that it's not the anger that's eating at you so much as the self-deprecating thoughts you're having. In my experience, nothing hurts like self-diminishing thoughts, especially if they are shame based. That you say you should be able to toughen up and power through your intense aversion indicates to me that you're feeling ashamed of your intense aversion to seeing the marks. If your feelings were pure anger (at her or at him) you would not be experiencing anywhere near the stranglehold that these feelings have on you.

What might really help you is to embrace your anger and aversion here. Most people, even if they get BDSM, would not be cool with the needle marks and bruising and I doubt even Yoda himself would want to or even could pull out enough effective Jedi Mind Tricks to make this OK. It's not a matter of whether you're OK with the practice (I'm sensing you're nonjudgmental about needle play in the abstract,) it's a matter of making your intense aversion to these marks on your man OK. Her intimacies with him are literally visible and this does go beyond your garden variety poly-style sharing. Your aversion is coming from a place of raw honesty that will not be denied - hence, feeling "triggered" and unable to Jedi Mind Trick your way out of it. I would recommend that you embrace this aversion and by so doing, alleviate your shame of having this "weak" reaction and lessen your fears that unless you can talk your way through this, it will fester. Your judgment about yourself is what's really causing you the pain here. Taking more of a befuddled stance will give you a light hearted distance, rather than pressuring yourself to feel accepting in ways that just just cannot right now (or possibly ever.) This is one of those "no solution" areas that most longer term relationships eventually venture into. The solution cannot be won by hammering away at the problem or by repeatedly talking about it. Sometimes backing off of needing a solution and allowing a problem be a problem is just the very thing.

yoda_understand_you.jpg
 
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Norwegianpoly

New member
I sort of wonder this myself as I have in the past done some stuff that leaves marks, and I would like to do again. There is also the thing were I have exhausted something sexually with one of them (like anal sex) and I might not be up to it with the other. I think we all should talk about it. It is about rules and boundries. None if the boys are interested in hearing about what I do with the other, but my body bears the story. And I would like it to do that more (exept perhaps not in bikini season!)

Do you know how SHE would feel if you were to leave marks on his body, like hickeys?
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
There's only two ways I know of...

1) Avoid the triggering thing/minimize exposure. And this quote fits in this bucket:
I'd rather not not have sex with him.

2) Gradual exposure to the triggering thing so it becomes less of a big deal. I think this one fits here:

He's suggested his wearing a shirt

Though it is a reminder that the shirt covers marks, it's not the marks in your face at least. I don't think it decreases intimacy -- having sex partially clothed is still sharing physical / emotional intimacy to me.

Or could turn out the lights. Have sex blindfolded.

Ask him if he is willing to limit needle play to his back or leg and not on his chest. Could that help?

I feel like I am unable to have sex with him without seeing her "brand" on him,

Yup. Because if they are into sex that leaves marks, marks take time to heal and go away.

I'm sorry that's not more helpful.

Galagirl
 
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Reverie

Active member
I don't have any Jedi mind tricks for you unfortunately, but I just wanted to chip in and say that Scandi did this with one of his other partners recently and the bruising was just horrific.

All he said was that the bruising is intentionally made to look a lot worse than it is, and he felt fine.

Hmm. This part actually directly contradicts what he said that she said at the time. He asked if it was going to leave marks (because he's not really into marks in general—I recently jokingly threatened to leave a hickey on the top of his foot, and he blanched and said he didn't like them, even though I was joking), and she'd said not really if you do it right, implying that she knows how to do it right, and so that it wouldn't. He had expressed surprise at the amount of bruising. Maybe even the bruising I saw is considered "not much" in those circles?

It didn't trigger me in the way you experienced, since he and I are about as low-key as you get really, but even for someone who is not that bothered what he gets up to and with who, I found myself being slightly freaked out by it.

That's the thing that confuses me about my reaction to this, and why I'm in this subforum trying to figure it out. Normally, I am super low-key about this stuff. He tells me about things that he's done, or I see them myself in group situations, or I see condom wrappers and sex toys lying next to his bed when I go into his room—none of that fazes me. This particular thing, though, holy crap. I've never had as strong an emotional trigger.

I know it's the symbolism rather than the physical effect that you find disturbing, but I just wanted to say that I felt uncomfortable even without a symbolic meaning attached too.

It's part the intrusive thoughts it causes, and part the sheer inescapability of it. It's usually easy for me if I have a vaguely uncomfortable thought or negative feeling to sort of do the meditation-esque thing of letting it go without attaching to it. But it's really hard to not think about something if it is staring me in the face, and for so long that I just kind of run out of bravery like I did last night. Thank you for your empathy.

I can understand. You finally got rid if Claire and you were hoping for some honeymoon time with just you and Rider.

This sounds really hostile and not at all related to my actual question. This has nothing to do with Claire or with time, and it uses the hostile, provocative phrase "got rid of." I'm trying to figure out how to mitigate my emotional response to something that triggers me, and I'm not sure why you appear to be trying to stir me up.

You wanted to move in together, he wants to maintain his autonomy. Now things are building up with Kelly and sounds like she may be co primary material. It's understandable that you're disappointed that you won't be getting him all to yourself. It sounds like he's not willing to take a break from polyamory the way that you want to. It's got to be somewhat disappointing that you feel at the moment completely satisfied as having him be your only partner but him not feeling the same way. Don't feel bad about that, he just has different needs than you do.

Also, you have no idea what you're talking about. I've never pushed to move in with him, though I did place the option on the table as something I'd be open to when my lease was up. When our situation was different, relationship-structure-wise, he was less open to it. A few days ago, he suggested that might I move in with him when the time comes, if it makes sense for us. This post has nothing to do with taking a break from poly or having him all to myself. On the contrary, I am here looking for tools to process my emotions with the goal of IMPROVING my poly relationship. I am not sure whether you are trolling me, and if so, I am not sure why. :/

I think you're just going to have to suck it up. You know he has other partners amd you know they have sex and he has feelings for them. The wearing of the shirt is a decent compromise if you don't actually want to see the marks. I understand that takes away some of the illusion that it's just you and him but it's not just you and him so you need to get over that(and sounds like you want to because you know being jealous or controlling isn't healthy for your relationship ) I don't think there's any magic trick around it other than acceptance.

I'm not looking for an illusion that it's just me and him. We spent about 30 hours last weekend hanging out as a group, with both she and I being affectionate with him. I took and sent to her images of the two of them together. I am not trying to stick my head in the sand. It's just that WHEN it is intimate time with just me and him, I want to be focused on me and him, without intrusive thoughts of others. Maybe I will learn to see the bruises and have the thoughts float away eventually, but I am not there yet.
 
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Reverie

Active member
It seems that it's not the anger that's eating at you so much as the self-deprecating thoughts you're having. In my experience, nothing hurts like self-diminishing thoughts, especially if they are shame based. That you say you should be able to toughen up and power through your intense aversion indicates to me that you're feeling ashamed of your intense aversion to seeing the marks. If your feelings were pure anger (at her or at him) you would not be experiencing anywhere near the stranglehold that these feelings have on you.

Yeah, that's part of it. I feel really ashamed that I can't just zen my way through them for the sake of avoiding drama. I *wish* I just didn't care...but I do, and it wouldn't be honest to myself or to anyone to pretend like I don't.

There is very little to no anger that is related to either of them. When it comes to anger at her, I don't think there is any in reality. I do harbor a small, paranoid fear that she has fully taken into account how the marks might affect me and is being a little emotionally sadistic, but I know that's almost certainly just a boogeyman under the bed that will disappear once the light of getting to know her better shines into those dark corners. IF that were the case, then I would be angry; but since it's probably not true, and since even if it was, I'd likely never find out, that potential anger is suspended in an inert state.

When it comes to anger at him, I have none. It's not easy to suddenly have to deal with something that I had no idea was going to be part of our relationship, but I don't fault him for not warning me ahead of time, because he didn't know either. I want him to always be exploring and finding new things that he likes. I don't think I realized the kind of emotional collateral damage it could have on me, but even knowing that, I don't want him to stop seeking and learning and growing. I would never ask that anyone stagnate on my behalf, so even if he HAD warned me ahead of time, I would have chosen to be with him anyway.

What might really help you is to embrace your anger and aversion here. ... I would recommend that you embrace this aversion and by so doing, alleviate your shame of having this "weak" reaction and lessen your fears that unless you can talk your way through this, it will fester.

Can you please explain what you mean by "embrace" these feelings? I am not sure what this means, and maybe if I learn that, that will be my key.

Most people, even if they get BDSM, would not be cool with the needle marks and bruising and I doubt even Yoda himself would want to or even could pull out enough effective Jedi Mind Tricks to make this OK. It's not a matter of whether you're OK with the practice (I'm sensing you're nonjudgmental about needle play in the abstract,) it's a matter of making your intense aversion to these marks on your man OK. Her intimacies with him are literally visible and this does go beyond your garden variety poly-style sharing.

Yes, I am nonjudgmental about the practice. As far as I am concerned, nothing that consenting adults do to/with themselves and to/with each other is in its very nature wrong or repulsive. I've even been FWB with a guy with a poo fetish where I was like, "Not with me, but whatever you do on your own time is your business." And yes, it's the visibility and the inescapability of it for me that gets to me. If they just did the thing and it left no marks, no problem. I'd just zen my way through it like I do everything else.

This is one of those "no solution" areas that most longer term relationships eventually venture into. The solution cannot be won by hammering away at the problem or by repeatedly talking about it. Sometimes backing off of needing a solution and allowing a problem be a problem is just the very thing.

I think I tried to suggest something this simple last night, when I was talking to him about it after I asked for the "not that weekend" favor. I said, OK, then. If it's important to you, do it. You do it, and I'm going to feel however I'm going to feel about it (hating the marks, triggered, etc.), but I'm not going to be angry at you for doing it because I asked you for a favor and you said no. It was a request, not a demand, and you have the freedom to say no. But my lack of anger toward you for doing the thing does not change the way I feel about the marks.

But then he said that knowing that it upsets me will make him feel guilty, and then he will not be able to enjoy it when he is doing it. He asked me for a compromise. I told him that I couldn't see any compromise that went farther than telling him just to do it—he's already getting what he wants. I can't just "whoosh!" change the way that I feel about something to make him more comfortable. I can only feel it and be honest about it. If he wants me not to feel it, sorry. His guilt is is own issue to deal with.

Thank you for the thoughtful advice, and if you could expound on the "embracing" idea, that would be great.

Do you know how SHE would feel if you were to leave marks on his body, like hickeys?

He doesn't like hickeys, and I have never left any on him. He's accidentally left some on me once, but I never have on him. "Signs of me" do exist on him, as I am the one who dyes the bright colors into his hair, and he always, even when hanging out with other partners, wears a sentimental dog-tag necklace that I had made for him at our anniversary, but none of those things are raw and primally sexual like this.

He and I have been discussing for ages now trying some cutting stuff that would surely leave scabs and maybe light scars, but we haven't gotten around to it yet. He offered to let me leave a large scar on him to "mark" him as my own, if I wanted to, if it was about an ownership thing, but that's not what it's about for me, really. It's about being reminded in a sexy moment of some other sexy moment that I wasn't there for—like it steals my focus.

As for what she'd think of it, I don't really know. I'm only just getting to know her. She's long-distance and I've hung out with her maybe four times, though we do keep in touch over IM. It's impossible for me to know if she'd be upset with any marks I might leave on him. If I guessed no, it would be because she is a more casual partner and therefore might not be so emotionally invested (she's said things to both of us that kind of defer to the "primacy" of our relationship). If I guessed yes, it would be because she might be hiding an emotional investment that she doesn't feel like she has the "right" to speak up about—there have been a few times in our group interactions where her actions have kind of spoken louder than her words in a way that suggests that she might be trying to stake a claim or flaunt to me their deepening connection. I try to assume the best, though, and take her at her words, knowing that perception is highly variable. But overall, I just don't know her well enough to say.

2) Gradual exposure to the triggering thing so it becomes less of a big deal. I think this one fits here:

Though it is a reminder that the shirt covers marks, it's not the marks in your face at least. I don't think it decreases intimacy -- having sex partially clothed is still sharing physical / emotional intimacy to me.

Or could turn out the lights. Have sex blindfolded.

Ask him if he is willing to limit needle play to his back or leg and not on his chest. Could that help?

I did suggest that maybe the back would be a better spot. And that she use smaller needles to minimize the damage. He looked doubtful, but admitted that he didn't know much about how it is done. He said he'd ask her. The lights off and the blindfold are great ideas. Maybe if he can do whatever he can to minimize the visible bruising on his end, and if I can do whatever I can do to obscure my vision on my end, it will slowly get easier with time to where I just don't care anymore. Thanks for the tips. They make facing this seem less scary.
 
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Inyourendo

New member
you posted a link to your blog and I have read it and I have read about your struggles with "things ramping up with Kelly" so when I read the thread and your questions it sounds like to me that this is just a superficial problem to deeper feelings that you have.

You posted about how you cant date anyone because you have lack of emotional energy due to dealing with metamores. you posted about how you didnt get your 4 years of monogamy and how you dont want additional partners right now. To me that sounds like you really want Rider all to yourself.

As far as getting rid of claire I just meant that you didnt like that she didnt participate in inclusion and that you didnt respect her boundaries and you were the squeaky wheel so to speak. You say this has nothing to do with Claire but it sounded like you were really happy at the prospect to absorb her time and have Rider pretty much exclusively but now Kelly is taking on a bigger role in his life.

if im wrong, Im wrong but I was looking at the big picture and how this plays into it and how kelly has been affecting you.
 

SchrodingersCat

Active member
I'd just zen my way through it like I do everything else.

This implies a misunderstanding of "zen."

Zen means that such things truly do not bother you.

What you're describing is denial. That things do bother you, but you stick your head in the sand and pretend they're not happening.

So yeah, I can see how the marks would interfere with your denial strategy.

Don't focus on the marks. They're just a symptom of the real issue, which is that you're not cool with him doing these things. You're not happy for him that he's getting fun needle play time.

You're seeing this other relationship as something awful to be endured and avoided. Instead, what if you tried to re-frame the way you see their relationship as something to be celebrated and encouraged? Your boyfriend is happy, he's enjoying these activities immensely, meeting certain needs that don't seem to interest you. That's a good thing!
 
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FallenAngelina

Well-known member
Can you please explain what you mean by "embrace" these feelings? I am not sure what this means, and maybe if I learn that, that will be my key.

Reverie, I think you're doing great and are already embracing your feelings, as is indicated by your passage below. You strike me as a smart cookie who really prides herself on interpersonal awareness, communication and ability to offer a wide range of acceptance. I don't see that you need one bit of work in this area (accepting his desires, accepting her, etc.) but in fact the opposite. What's eating you is that you're struggling to accept something you can't and that goes against your ideal of yourself. Hence, the shame. Maybe "shame" is too much, but you're certainly disappointed in your inability to be "cool" here.

I think that all you need to do is pull out your usual Zen tools and just let this be. It's OK to not accept everything about your partner. Many of us have the belief that all problems can and should be repaired, but long term relationships (and certainly Life) have a way of reminding us that everything need not be and indeed cannot be cut into, sutured and fixed. Sometimes just allowing a seemingly unsolvable problem to remain a mystery is just the levity needed in order for things to move along.


I think you've got it just right here:
......OK, then. If it's important to you, do it. You do it, and I'm going to feel however I'm going to feel about it (hating the marks, triggered, etc.), but I'm not going to be angry at you for doing it because I asked you for a favor and you said no. It was a request, not a demand, and you have the freedom to say no. But my lack of anger toward you for doing the thing does not change the way I feel about the marks.

But then he said that knowing that it upsets me will make him feel guilty, and then he will not be able to enjoy it when he is doing it. He asked me for a compromise. I told him that I couldn't see any compromise that went farther than telling him just to do it—he's already getting what he wants. I can't just "whoosh!" change the way that I feel about something to make him more comfortable. I can only feel it and be honest about it. If he wants me not to feel it, sorry. His guilt is is own issue to deal with.
 
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GalaGirl

Well-known member
Reverie said:
Maybe if he can do whatever he can to minimize the visible bruising on his end, and if I can do whatever I can do to obscure my vision on my end, it will slowly get easier with time to where I just don't care anymore. Thanks for the tips. They make facing this seem less scary.

Glad it helped some.

If you guys can come together on this kind of approach, maybe it is more workable.

I know if I press on a bump as soon as I get it, it helps it not bruise quite as dark. I don't anything about needle play and if pressure on the spot is doable or not.

If you start blindfolded on your end, when you are bringing limited lights back... Candles? Could you try colored lights? Or a colored scarf on the lampshade? Xmas tree lights under the bed so it is under-lighting? Light on in the closet and the closet door cracked just a hair, then wider each time? Wears sunglasses rather than blindfold?

Since you do his hair... how about henna? Could the bruise be disguised with it in a design?

Is it fear of the "unknown weirdo?" Because you don't know her all that well or her skill at needle play, and here she is poking your shared lover. Is she a healthy person stranger or a nut job stranger? If he doesn't know her well, then yeah -- there's this "YAH!" factor to it. Like what if she damages him permanently in a way that is not good?

But then he said that knowing that it upsets me will make him feel guilty, and then he will not be able to enjoy it when he is doing it.

That's kinda his bag to hold, dude. It's not fair to make you carry his guilt baggage. You do your emotional management. He does his. That is fair.

Galagirl
 
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LizziE

New member
I've heard that ice applied shortly after needle play (or a metal spoon that was kept in a freezer and then applied to the areas) will minimize the bruises a lot.

You said the shirt (when he's usually shirtless) would be bothersome - what if you started having sex sometimes with his shirt on, even if he didn't have bruises? To help normalize it and not tie it into the piercing.

Could any of your reaction be because he blanched when you suggested leaving a hickey on his food, but his reaction to her marks is a feeling of fondness? I think that would stir up some painful feelings in me.

Lastly, what are you feelings on needles in general? I didn't see anywhere where you mentioned that. I really love kink; it's a need for me. I don't feel as deeply connected to partners that aren't interested in kink. However, I have a massive needle phobia. Like, when I go to play parties, I vet them well, and ask that the needle play area be clearly marked, because seeing someone walking around pieced with those surface piercings WILL cause me to fall over at best (and not completely faint) or totally pass out.

As much as I love bruising and kink, needle play bruises would be a huge trigger for me too.

Actually, I have one more comment ((((hugs)))) I find so frustrating to be confronted with someone that just confounds my logic and causes a lot of pain. It's the ultimate loose tooth that I can't stop pushing with my tongue. I hope you're able to be kind to yourself and work this out into a place that feels good to you.
 

Reverie

Active member
if im wrong, Im wrong but I was looking at the big picture and how this plays into it and how kelly has been affecting you.

Yeah, I think you might just be getting a total misread on this one. It happens—there are sometimes people whose communication wires cross and they can't seem to ever understand each other properly. It seems that you and I might have that problem if you pulled the conclusions from my blog that you did, and I pulled "trolling" from your post. My "big picture" is actually pretty rosy, and I'm here to work on one little piece of the puzzle.

This implies a misunderstanding of "zen."

Zen means that such things truly do not bother you.

You're probably right that I am misunderstanding it. I haven't done much reading on it myself, but it was once explained to me by someone who I took to have more knowledge on the subject than I that it was something along the lines of recognizing the suffering and letting go of it. So that's what I've been trying to do: saying to myself that this makes me feel bad, so I will confess it for the sake of honesty, then try to let thoughts of it float away from me.

What you're describing is denial. That things do bother you, but you stick your head in the sand and pretend they're not happening.

So yeah, I can see how the marks would interfere with your denial strategy.

Can we elaborate on this? Because I don't really think I am in denial about stuff that happens. I think about it and process it and find peace with it and move on, the vast majority of the time. But I'm stuck on this one thing. I don't think that my "pretending X is not happening" is the reason I'm usually mellow about things. At least, the way that I experience it is as a thoughtfulness and then a feeling of acceptance. But denial is also a concept that I haven't spent much time thinking about it. My understanding of it was always something like lying to yourself so that you don't admit that something is going on. Which to me is the opposite of self-talking about something and choosing not to dwell on it. I'm totally open to a new understanding about it, though.

Don't focus on the marks. They're just a symptom of the real issue, which is that you're not cool with him doing these things. You're not happy for him that he's getting fun needle play time.

You're seeing this other relationship as something awful to be endured and avoided. Instead, what if you tried to re-frame the way you see their relationship as something to be celebrated and encouraged? Your boyfriend is happy, he's enjoying these activities immensely, meeting certain needs that don't seem to interest you. That's a good thing!

Actually, I *am* happy for him that he gets to experience a wide variety of things with people who are more experienced in those things than I am. It's been one of the main draws to poly for me—that we get the input of and the "learning new tricks from" other people, so there will always be newness and evolution in our own sex life, as well as our sex lives with others. And I have asked her to teach me some things as well (mostly rope things). I said to him the other day that it is a pretty neat state of affairs that where most people try to learn new tricks from porn or instructional materials, we get hands-on IRL experience with teachers: new partners.

And I don't think their relationship is awful, either. This partner seems to be a good one for him, to the limited degree that she can be, being long distance. She is at least willing to hang out and make friends with me, too. And she's way nicer to him, driving long distances to hang out with him, etc. I have some minor complaints, but they are just little pet-peeve-y stuff that could happen with anyone. On the whole, I like her so far.

Reverie, I think you're doing great and are already embracing your feelings, as is indicated by your passage below. You strike me as a smart cookie who really prides herself on interpersonal awareness, communication and ability to offer a wide range of acceptance. I don't see that you need one bit of work in this area (accepting his desires, accepting her, etc.) but in fact the opposite. What's eating you is that you're struggling to accept something you can't and that goes against your ideal of yourself. Hence, the shame. Maybe "shame" is too much, but you're certainly disappointed in your inability to be "cool" here.

Thank you for your confidence in my intelligence and awareness. I certainly don't feel very on top of those things right at this moment. And you're absolutely right; I have been beating myself up for being a difficult partner right now, and for making our otherwise good night take a sour turn, and for keeping him up way past his bedtime processing. (For his part, he has been very kind about it and has said "Sometimes we need to talk about things, and I would rather talk about them than not, even if that means missing out on some sleep.")

It's OK to not accept everything about your partner. Many of us have the belief that all problems can and should be repaired, but long term relationships (and certainly Life) have a way of reminding us that everything need not be and indeed cannot be cut into, sutured and fixed. Sometimes just allowing a seemingly unsolvable problem to remain a mystery is just the levity needed in order for things to move things along.

This is a helpful idea—just letting it go until it hits me in the face again, feeling my feelings and moving past them when that happens, calming down, and repeating the process of letting go until next time. Maybe it will even get easier every time.
 
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Reverie

Active member
I know if I press on a bump as soon as I get it, it helps it not bruise quite as dark. I don't anything about needle play and if pressure on the spot is doable or not.

If you start blindfolded on your end, when you are bringing limited lights back... Candles? Could you try colored lights? Or a colored scarf on the lampshade? Xmas tree lights under the bed so it is under-lighting? Light on in the closet and the closet door cracked just a hair, then wider each time? Wears sunglasses rather than blindfold?

Since you do his hair... how about henna? Could the bruise be disguised with it in a design?

The pressure is something I will ask about. We usually already do keep dim "mood lighting" (red rope lights in his room, and tiny white Xmas lights on the canopy in mine), and they are definitely still visible in those circumstances. The door cracked just a hair might work. The sunglasses made me laugh out loud! Thanks, I needed that!

Is it fear of the "unknown weirdo?" Because you don't know her all that well or her skill at needle play, and here she is poking your shared lover. Is she a healthy person stranger or a nut job stranger? If he doesn't know her well, then yeah -- there's this "YAH!" factor to it. Like what if she damages him permanently in a way that is not good?

Thankfully, it is not a skill level thing. I do at least know that she has a lot of experience and skill level. She actually used to do demonstrations for this in her town for a while. The "healthy person or nut job" thing...there might be a little bit of that. I don't know her well, and what I do know of her that she has told me in confidence is that she often feels insecure and lonely. And I know that insecure and lonely people don't always make the best metamours. But so far, so good.

I've heard that ice applied shortly after needle play (or a metal spoon that was kept in a freezer and then applied to the areas) will minimize the bruises a lot.

I will definitely mention this to him, thanks!

You said the shirt (when he's usually shirtless) would be bothersome - what if you started having sex sometimes with his shirt on, even if he didn't have bruises? To help normalize it and not tie it into the piercing.

This is a good idea too, but I'm not sure if it's one that will work for us. We're often more into having me clothed and him naked. He does have one nightie that kind of covers that area, so the cross-dressing thing might be an approach that works for us that is in a similar vein.

Could any of your reaction be because he blanched when you suggested leaving a hickey on his food, but his reaction to her marks is a feeling of fondness? I think that would stir up some painful feelings in me.

Probably. This rings kinda true. I know he IS weird about marks (always has been) so his making an exception for her marks from this act is a bit grating. Not sure what can be done about that, though. Just like I feel how I feel, he feels how he feels. He HAS since offered to let me mark him up with cutting or even doing the needle thing myself, to appease that kind of idea. It didn't do much for me.

Lastly, what are you feelings on needles in general? I didn't see anywhere where you mentioned that. I really love kink; it's a need for me. I don't feel as deeply connected to partners that aren't interested in kink. However, I have a massive needle phobia. Like, when I go to play parties, I vet them well, and ask that the needle play area be clearly marked, because seeing someone walking around pieced with those surface piercings WILL cause me to fall over at best (and not completely faint) or totally pass out.

I actually do not know. I used to be pretty into sexually charged (as opposed to self-destructive) self-cutting and pierce myself with safety pins and other unsanitary (yuck) objects in high school. And I have been professionally pierced a few times and had no adverse reaction. But as my adulthood has advanced, I have almost passed out from cutting myself in the kitchen once, and I feel weak if I, say, see someone's stitches while on the bus, and I tend to look away when getting shots or blood drawn because it makes me feel weird in my belly. I don't know what I would feel if I witnessed or participated in erotic needle play. I intend to give it a shot, especially if my partner likes it, because why not, but I have no idea what my reaction will be.

It's the ultimate loose tooth that I can't stop pushing with my tongue. I hope you're able to be kind to yourself and work this out into a place that feels good to you.

It's like you totally understand me! I used this same analogy last night when talking to him. He was talking about trying to cover it with makeup and I was telling him that my eyes would go snooping anyway, so masochistically, just like poking that sore spot in your mouth when you know you should stop. Thank you for your concern and kind words. :)
 

SchrodingersCat

Active member
Can we elaborate on this? Because I don't really think I am in denial about stuff that happens. I think about it and process it and find peace with it and move on, the vast majority of the time. But I'm stuck on this one thing. I don't think that my "pretending X is not happening" is the reason I'm usually mellow about things. At least, the way that I experience it is as a thoughtfulness and then a feeling of acceptance. But denial is also a concept that I haven't spent much time thinking about it. My understanding of it was always something like lying to yourself so that you don't admit that something is going on. Which to me is the opposite of self-talking about something and choosing not to dwell on it. I'm totally open to a new understanding about it, though.

Thank you for clarifying, I think I understand better now. The way you describe this sounds less like denial than my initial impression.

Your use of the word "trigger" is interesting. Usually people use that when they're talking about something triggering a memory of past trauma. Indeed, when I first read that word, I thought you were going to say it triggers some traumatic experience involving needles. Instead you said it triggers images of them together, with an implication that these images are painful for you. This seems to indicate that you still have some work to do in terms of really accepting and supporting their relationship.

I still think the needle thing is a symptom, not its own issue. It's an indicator of how you're really feeling about their relationship, deep down, in your gut, not your brain. Intellectually you recognize all the benefits of polyamory, but it still doesn't sound like you're positively thrilled with the idea of them alone together.

Zen is just one strategy for dealing with pain. It's especially effective for accepting situations that you can't change, and which don't have any possible positive spin. Like the earthquake in Nepal. But there are other strategies, and you may be reaching the stage where those are more useful.

You could try doing a needs-feelings analysis. Maybe you have some needs that aren't being met, and the needle marks are triggering reminders of those unmet needs. Or maybe it's the other way around. Maybe you're bothered that you can't meet all his needs. You could try giving yourself a break and accepting your limitations.

What usually works for me is to just decide not to be bothered by something. It doesn't always work, and it's hard to learn how to do it, but it's incredibly effective when it does work. It's not denial, because you actually change the way you feel about it, rather than burying your feelings and pretending to feel differently.
 

Reverie

Active member
Ladies and gentleman, after talking to my boyfriend about the stuff I read here, and after a bit of introspection, I have identified the source of the trigger! (I think.)

It's that seeing the marks myself, or his seeing them when he is with me, "forces" each of us to ponder her for a moment, when normally we would just be connecting with total focus on each other, or with the odd thought of others crossing our minds organically. As much as I often like our sexy adventures to include other people, including her (threesomes, sexy chats, etc.), I like for those occasions to be "opt-in" and intentional, not thrust upon us by external stimuli. I like to be able to have focused, pure "us time" sometimes, in addition to our encounters with others. And I feel like the marks took that away from me this week.

That also explains my extra feeling of outrage at how he was enjoying them—feeling like he was deriving pleasure from this thing that had nothing to do with me, even when we were together, when it should have been "my job" to be giving him the pleasure. Which is pretty silly, because pleasure is generally cumulative, and also because people in all sorts of situations watch porn or fantasize or what have you, even with a partner.

But I still kind of understand my response, because if someone is watching porn while with you, you know about and consent to it. If they are fantasizing in their head about it, you are not subjected to that at all. Or if they are fantasizing out loud about it, again, you consent to hearing it. But if it's something that is just "there," it's non-optional, unless the option is opting out of sex altogether, or some of the methods of hiding it that we have discussed here. It is to a very minor degree a form of not being able to choose whether or not someone else is present for your sex. Which I don't think is so unusual a trigger.

So, yay for a bit more understanding.
 
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starlight1

Member
Ok I havent read through all the replies and responses, so if I say something similar I appologise in advance.

I have ten years of getting over triggers behind my belt. FYI, I was abused sexually as a kid, and could not go down on a guy with out vomitting or "triggering", and now I ENJOY it butI learned how to turn a negative thing into a positive thing.

Instead of resisting this, I urge you to find a way to revel in it and "reclaim" him back after the experience, affirming him and his choice, but changing the way you see it until your comfortable. For example, just a htought, why not body paint over top the marks during sex foreplay after he spends time with her. Or you could use whip creame, henna...anything to CHANGE the way you relate to the visual image of them together. And if its henna, it would be a nice present in return, and open dialogue between the two of you on coureteous marking. Is there a place on his body he can get it done as well that is less obvious when making love that you dont have to look at all the time? Legs/back etc?

I still personally think, replacing the negative with a positve of your own is the best route. :)
That is what helps me with my triggers and continues to do so. I also agree with sitting with the feelign and not feeling shame over it...which has been covered.
 

Reverie

Active member
Your use of the word "trigger" is interesting. Usually people use that when they're talking about something triggering a memory of past trauma. Indeed, when I first read that word, I thought you were going to say it triggers some traumatic experience involving needles. Instead you said it triggers images of them together, with an implication that these images are painful for you. This seems to indicate that you still have some work to do in terms of really accepting and supporting their relationship.

I still think the needle thing is a symptom, not its own issue. It's an indicator of how you're really feeling about their relationship, deep down, in your gut, not your brain. Intellectually you recognize all the benefits of polyamory, but it still doesn't sound like you're positively thrilled with the idea of them alone together.

I don't think I would go so far as to say it is "painful" in its current state, but it is true that there has been a degree of stress for me around their starting a relationship, even if I like her and support it. A lot of it has to do with what was going on at the time that he really started being interested in her. We were kind of in the middle of an unhealthy V going completely sideways, with time management being one of the main issues, and he chose to start up something new (albeit long-distance) right as everything was burning down around him.

I had to ask him point-blank if with two girlfriends—who he swore he wanted to work things out with and who had both been on the verge of breaking up with him the previous week, with good reason—was starting something new in addition the best course of action? He said no, but he barely slowed down anyway. The current situation is a lot more stable, and he has learned a LOT, but I guess I still might have some residual knee-jerk stress that will work itself out with time and with seeing that he isn't just willing to explode everything when something catches his eye.

Not to mention that we're all pretty new at this, and she's the first new person he's been very interested in since he and I got together, and (excruciatingly detailed in my blog) I have grappled with some of my own issues around "specialness" along the way. I am not without flaws, for sure. But I do believe that overall their relationship is good. Good for him, and good for her, and even good for me, in that I finally have a metamour who—thus far—seems to not be toxic, which gives me a relatively mellow and low-pressure environment to work through all of my own issues. I consider myself to be fairly well-adjusted, but I am not perfect, and I do have my own inner wobblies.

You could try doing a needs-feelings analysis. Maybe you have some needs that aren't being met, and the needle marks are triggering reminders of those unmet needs. Or maybe it's the other way around. Maybe you're bothered that you can't meet all his needs. You could try giving yourself a break and accepting your limitations.

I think that my post that I wrote before seeing this touches on some of that. I have a need to have just-us sex time that I feel like the marks threaten. It's probably a false threat, but I feel it. I think the rest of my needs are being met. And I think that I meet his needs, as well, other than the need for variety, which I am helping him meet indirectly by working on a poly relationship with him. On the whole, things are pretty good.

What usually works for me is to just decide not to be bothered by something. It doesn't always work, and it's hard to learn how to do it, but it's incredibly effective when it does work. It's not denial, because you actually change the way you feel about it, rather than burying your feelings and pretending to feel differently.

This is the Grail for me. Sometimes I can do it, sometimes I can't. Maybe eventually I'll be practiced enough to apply it across the board.

Instead of resisting this, I urge you to find a way to revel in it and "reclaim" him back after the experience, affirming him and his choice, but changing the way you see it until your comfortable. For example, just a htought, why not body paint over top the marks during sex foreplay after he spends time with her. Or you could use whip creame, henna...anything to CHANGE the way you relate to the visual image of them together. And if its henna, it would be a nice present in return, and open dialogue between the two of you on coureteous marking.

GalaGirl also mentioned the henna, I think. At first, I wasn't into the idea, because it forced me to focus on the very thing that I wanted to avoid looking at. But if you have so much experience in overcoming triggers, and you think it's a good idea, I guess maybe I could give it a try? I admit, my heart quails. I guess it's facing the fear that does the healing? It really works? I'm open to almost anything.
 

SchrodingersCat

Active member
GalaGirl also mentioned the henna, I think. At first, I wasn't into the idea, because it forced me to focus on the very thing that I wanted to avoid looking at. But if you have so much experience in overcoming triggers, and you think it's a good idea, I guess maybe I could give it a try? I admit, my heart quails. I guess it's facing the fear that does the healing? It really works? I'm open to almost anything.

Speaking without experience here, but what do you have to lose? With most anxiety issues, the fear is so much worse than the reality.

The more you experience any uncomfortable situation, the less uncomfortable it becomes (differentiating between "uncomfortable" and "truly awful," which just gets awfuller and awfuller). So maybe the act of getting up close and personal with the marks, and giving them your own touch, will give you the exposure needed to take away their power.

My only thing about henna is that the dye might seep into the puncture wounds and highlight them even more. That's pretty much how they do old world tattoos. Make sure to give them a couple days to heal so the punctures aren't really open, and test in an inconspicuous spot.
 
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