As you may know from previous posts, my wife has a limit around exhibitionism. Or to be more accurate, perhaps what she has is a limit around being observed and judged.
The root cause of this, per Joy, is lack of self confidence. When Joy wears lingerie, she worries that it’s a bad color or it doesn’t fit right. When she is naked, she worries that her breasts are too big (or too small—the worry can vary from one day to the next). When she is performing fellatio, she worries that her makeup may be smudged or her hair’s a mess. In other words, Joy can find angst around just about any sexual situation, because she might be less-than-perfect, and that’s not good enough.
The consequences of this are far-reaching. One is the above-mentioned fear of exhibitionism. After all, what if she exhibits herself and someone doesn’t approve of what they see? Another is her long-standing preference for low-light conditions when having sex, because bright lights might expose hidden flaws. It took me several years of work to overcome that. Another is her concern about being watched when she is in the throes of passion. Not watched by someone else, mind you, but watched by me when we are in bed together. She doesn’t like to feel like she is performing, you see, because what if the performance isn’t good enough?
While it might sound as though this limit is rather debilitating to our sex life, the reality is that it’s a source of much excitement for both of us (okay, frustration sometimes as well, but mostly excitement). The reason for this is that, while Joy is afraid of being observed, judged, and found wanting—the driver for the limit—she also very much wants to be observed and found highly desirable.
In other words, there is a constant battle between fear and desire that takes place within my wife, and this makes this limit an excellent prospect to be worked with. As with any limit, I have to tread gingerly, but as long as I’m careful, there’s much progress that can be made. And because we are working so closely to the edge of Joy’s comfort zone, there’s a lot of energy and excitement that we can engage.
Since we incorporated BDSM into our relationship, this limit has shifted outward many times. Where once Joy was uncomfortable even wearing lacey undies, now she can often wear crotchless leather panties and an open-tip bra into the playroom with aplomb. However, note that word “often” in the sentence I just wrote. There are other times when her fear returns, and she’ll feel uncomfortable or embarrassed, even though she wore the exact same outfit the week before without a qualm. I’m not certain what causes this escalation in her fears—she knows I find her attractive, and any judgment I pass upon her comes out in her favor every time. The good news is that over time, these escalations seem to occur less frequently and to be less severe.
I’ve taken many different approaches to working with the limit, some successful, and others less so. For instance, we’ve had several enjoyable dates in which Joy has dressed relatively conservatively on the outside, but highly non-conservatively beneath her skirt and top. (Remember those crotchless leather panties? That’s where we started, and we’ve gone much farther than that since then.) This has proven very successful because it allowed Joy to express her inner need to be desired while camouflaging herself behind a veneer of nondescriptness. On the other hand, scenes in which we role-play performing in front of an audience have been much less successful—Joy can make it through the scenario, which is progress, but she still feels uncomfortable to the point that it prevents her from enjoying herself.
And it’s the feeling of “performing” that we’re struggling with a bit right now. Joy doesn’t like to feel that I’m observing her during an adventure. She wants me to be participating in the activity, to be lost in excitement and action, so that I can’t study her. Often that’s fine—there are few things better than to be lost in excitement and action with Joy. However, sometimes, studying her is exactly what I want to do. I want Joy to perform while I observe. I want her to be helpless to prevent her body from reacting to the stimuli I provide, to be so taken by pleasure and excitement that her orgasm overpowers any misgivings she may have. Lately I’ve been successful at that, but afterwards, after the excitement has had a chance to dissipate, Joy’s feelings of discomfort return. She’s afraid that she looks foolish or ugly when she climaxes, and she’s embarrassed that I observed her.
So, we’re working through this. Hopefully my assurances that she’s beautiful, that I love the way she comes, and that bringing her to orgasm in this way gives me great excitement all sink in. And hopefully patience, practice, trust and a gradual approach will allow us to continue to make progress.