Bound and gagged: Lack of sexual frankness can hold a relationship hostage

Dear Danni,My boyfriend and I havebeen dating for about twoyears, and I think things havebeen fine. Recently, he hasbeen asking me to changethings up a bit in the bedroom,but he shoots down every ideaI manage to come up with. Theother weekend, he was goingout of town, and asked me towatch his apartment. WhileI was there, I found a paddleand a pair of handcuffs in abox. I am not sure how I feelabout all of this. How do youthink I should approach thesituation?Dear “Good Cop, Bad Cop,”Please don’t tell me you alsofound a young blonde at thebottom of a well in his basementrepeating the words: “Itputs the lotion on, or it getsthe hose again.” We’ve alreadybeen traumatized once by”The Silence of the Lambs”-apparently some of us morethan others.Don’t get me wrong, though,everyone is entitled to his orher own sexual fantasies andfetishes. However, the linesof communication betweenpartners must remain openand forthright.Physical andemotional safetymust be the toppriorities whendealing with issuesof a sexualnature. Within amonogamous relationshipsuchas yours, trust isimperative.In your case,I am concerned with theamount of open communication.In 2004, the Women’sHealth Advisory Board researchedthe effects of communicationwithin an intimaterelationship. Their fi ndingsindicated that the quality of arelationship is directly linkedto the quality of the communication.Your communicationis also greatly affectedby your self-image, of whichyour appearance, sense ofaccomplishment, education,profession and health are all apart. You may not think you’regetting all of this when you’regetting into bed with yourpartner, but in fact, there aremore than just the sheets betweenyou. You owe it to therelationship, and to each other,to sit down and have a candidconversationabout your sexlife.In terms ofsex, you maybe too shyabout expressingyour needs,concerns andideas fully withyour partner.You may beafraid that yourpartner is critical, or in yourwords, “shooting you down,”even when he is not.Pushing aside these feelingsof inadequacy will only leaveyou with resentment and frustration.Consider the possibilitythat the box was left as a messageto you. Most people tendto remain guarded and privateabout their sexuality, so itsurprises me that those itemswould be so easy to fi nd. Ifthey weren’t, and you had toput some effort into uncoveringthem, then I would saythere is an even bigger issuehere than handcuffs: namely,trust.A relationship is only asstrong as the trust that supportsit. If you two don’t trusteach other, then it’s obviouswhy the communication hasbeen lacking. I would recommendcouples counseling inyour situation. You two havebeen together long enoughthat I can see the long-termbenefi ts of seeing a therapisttogether.The University of UtahWomen’s Resource Center, locatedat 200 S. Campus Drivein room 239, offers couplescounseling, classes and workshopsfor students.Don’t worry about the cost-they offer a sliding-scale fee,based upon individual situations.No one is turned awaydue to lack of funds. I wouldhighly recommend seeingsomeone on a regular basis.Everyone can benefi t fromobjective insight. Be open tohearing a different perspectivefrom your partner as well.Being an active listener takespractice and patience, but itwill ultimately be a necessityin all your relationships. Diogenesonce said, “We have twoears and one tongue so thatwe would listen more and talkless.”One more thing-make sureto get two copies of the keysfor the [email protected]