What’s the secret ingredient that helps men who stretch boundaries stay balanced and focused?
I had an interesting exchange with a friend the other day. I described my strong proclivity for seeing what’s Over There. As in, I see there’s a bend in the road ahead and I wonder what’s Over There, or “I’ve never been Over There”. There’s always something else to see, learn or experience. No matter how much you have seen already. I have made it a practice to always go and see what lies Over There. It is my way of expressing curiosity about my physical and mental worlds.
I’ve discovered that curiosity is a sliding scale with levels. I will use sex as an example. Let’s start with vanilla sex. It’s adequate, gets the job done, and for the purposes of this discussion, a starting point. Perhaps after awhile, one of the participants may wonder about what can be done to increase pleasure. So using that as a driver, research is done. Self-exploration, external input or others sources are used to gather data on additional positions or techniques. Drive and fulfillment are explored to the extents that boundaries allow. Or, simply the desire to see what’s Over There. To try new things for the sake of trying them. But when is the desire to see what’s Over There done, or sated?
There are a couple of answers to this. For me, I enjoy exploring a topic, location, or experience to the extents that exist. Not necessarily to experience them, but to at least see them allows me to satiate my curiosity. In step with the current example, this translates to being aware of the all the various kinks that exist. Perhaps I want to try them, perhaps not.
This also depends on my partner’s boundaries. This then translates into another choice: is my drive for experiencing this curiosity more important than respecting my partner’s boundaries? Does my curiosity or drive to experience things outside boundaries outweigh being comfortable where I am now? This dovetails into the common phrase of wondering if the grass is greener on the other side. Is what’s Over There better (or more satisfying, comfortable) than what is over here?
There are other decision matrices in place for making that determination that I will not go into here. My point is that curiosity, and seeing what’s Over There, is a healthy practice to explore the world. It changes how people look at comfort, and also is a talking point between partners if it is a joint activity. Communication is the tool that turns this experience into healthy boundaries.
Now, the other side of this topic is comfort. Earlier, I said comfort was the starting point. I believe comfort is just as, if not more important, than curiosity. Comfort with yourself, comfort with your partner, and comfort with the world in general, allows for the feeling of security to be able to venture out. Just as a little kid tries new things like a strange new piece of playground equipment, while coming back to their parent looking for encouragement and positive reinforcement. I am a source of comfort for myself. I am one for my daughters. I have been, and will be again, a source of comfort for my partner. I value feeling comfort in trust, routine, and communication.
Here’s how they work together. Curiosity is healthy and required for experiencing the world. Comfort is healthy and required for experiencing curiosity. I posit that both are needed and one without the other creates imbalance, which can lead to either flitting from thing to thing behavior or apathy in life. How I choose to create the framework is to have a few core things that are comfortable to me with very solid boundaries. These wells of comfort are not things I am particularly keen on changing or modifying unless I stumble accidentally upon fully vetted new input. I’m not actively looking to explore these topics more or be curious about them. I want them to remain stable. That said, they are not immutable, as adaption is paramount. Topics outside of that are open to exploring boundary limits, exploration, and what’s Over There.
What are your core comfort characteristics? What are things you want to explore further?