When I was in college, I dated an abusive man. I’ve alway liked certain kinds of rough sex; “consensual nonconsent,” as it’s often called in BDSM circles, and he did not adhere to the “consensual part” very well. Like so many women, young and old, I did not learn how to advocate for myself, sexually, until many years into my sexual adulthood. This man assumed that because I like some things rough, anything rough is a go and needn’t be discussed. Socially conditioned to defer to the man’s desires, I did not say anything. I told myself “well I like rough sex, therefore I must like all things rough or else I’m faking it and there’s something wrong with me.”
When this man slapped me in the face, I said nothing. It hurt and upset me but I said nothing. When he put his hands on my throat to simulate choking, I said nothing.
Years later, I still don’t let anyone touch my neck. The face, however, is a different story.
This year, I dated someone with similar interests who likes face slapping. I’ve grown into myself and am now both comfortable and adamant about speaking up for myself and telling my partners what I want and don’t want. If they complain or tell me “let’s just let it happen naturally,” I stop having sex with them immediately. Both reactions are indicative of someone who does not understand consent and has no respect for their sexual partners.
Early into my relationship with this most recent boyfriend, I told him that I don’t like being slapped in the face and that under no circumstances was he to do that, despite how much it may seem like I want it. He agreed, like any reasonable non-asshole.
Recently, however, I decided to revisit. I trust this man and I wanted to see how I might handle it. Before him, I had tried being slapped in the face (consensually, at my request) with another loving boyfriend. It just made me cry and I stopped.
“Sex isn’t therapy. It can, however, be therapeutic. Crying after orgasms isn’t uncommon, given the rush of endorphins and dopamine that ensues. It’s worth it, at least in my experience, to work through issues like this one in a safe and consensual sexual setting. Then go talk to a therapist.”
This time, however, I told my partner to slap me in the face. We weren’t in the heat of the moment (a terrible time to start experimenting with potentially emotionally and physically damaging BDSM) and I was prepared to cry, if the tears came. He asked if I was sure, several times, and I said yes. When he slapped me, it felt good and terrible at the same time and I told him to do it again.
I cried. But it wasn’t bad crying. Not surprisingly, being slapped in the face brings up a lot of emotions and not all of them are bad. I cried and cried then cried some more. He was initially distraught and asked if I wanted to stop but I told him no, to keep going. We kept having sex after those few slaps in the face and it was incredible.
I was finally taking control of myself after my abuser violated my boundaries. I had always liked the idea of face slapping and I was angry that he took that away from me for so long.
Sex isn’t therapy. It can, however, be therapeutic. Crying after orgasms isn’t uncommon, given the rush of endorphins and dopamine that ensues. It’s worth it, at least in my experience, to work through issues like this one in a safe and consensual sexual setting. Then go talk to a therapist.
With these sorts of issues, it’s probably best to work through them with a partner who knows and cares about your well-being, mostly for your own sake and also because bringing someone you barely know into your deep issues is a heavy load for them to bear. Let someone who cares about your bear it.