So I’m going to a party this weekend, at which most, if not all, of the guests will be poly or open to some extent. Some of you know which party I’m talking about, I’m sure. This is, of course, not an unusual occurrence; many of the parties I go to (or throw) are mostly-to-all poly, although less than you might think. They’re not usually recognizably different than other parties, barring a perhaps elevated chance of spontaneous makeouts between people who are married but not to the people they’re making out with.
In any event, this one has a sex party component (and now the people mentioned earlier know exactly which party I mean). It’s a regular party until mid-evening, at which point the regular party continues but there will be designated naked areas with rules posted.
Anyway, if this were all normal party, I’d have no problem with it, and if it were all sex party, I’d have no problem with it but wouldn’t go. Not out of some sort of prudishness, but because I have a tendency to get intensely, neurotically uncomfortable in three situations at a party:
- Someone I am not interested in is hitting on me.
- Someone I am interested in is hitting on me.
- People are clearly hitting on each other and no one is hitting on me.
The logically-minded among you have noticed that at least one of these is guaranteed to happen in this sort of situation. 2 is the least uncomfortable, for what are probably obvious reasons, but despite my relative success with online dating, when offline I’m nigh incapable of responding to (sincere) flirting from someone I haven’t already established mutual interest with. It just induces an intense anxiety similar to what I feel when something triggers my OCD. One of the great things about online dating is that we can get that part handled over email, and then in person I’m fine.
I know, everyone is anxious in these situations. I don’t think that’s what I’m talking about, but then I’m not in your head and can’t tell you what you think. This is a convoluted analogy, but imagine that you’re an arachnophobe who really likes lollipops. Feel free to substitute some other irrational fear for the spider if you like. Now imagine a box on its side in which there is a lollipop in the back but a spider in the front. You just have to reach past the spider. You know the spider won’t attack you, because they don’t just spontaneously attack people. It’s probably even dead, or fake, or maybe it’s not there and it’s a trick of the light. You know you should just go for it and nothing will happen except you’ll get to enjoy a lollipop and/or make out with someone you really want to make out with. But there’s that damn spider, and you have enough lollipops even if that one is new and interesting and thrilling, and there are a bunch of these little spider-trap boxes at every party and bar and event in the world and you’ll figure out how to deal with them someday. And also you’re looking at this paragraph and unsure if it makes any damn sense and whether it’s kind of objectifying to use a confection as a stand-in for heavy petting with someone you’re into. Also you’re kind of thirsty and you’re about to go make some tea.
Okay, back now.
A lot of people can’t, or claim they can’t, tell when someone is really interested in them. I used to make this claim a lot, actually. What I really meant is “I can tell but the parts of my brain that do witty banter on autopilot have taken over while the rest of it goes into panic mode”. I suspect I am not the only one who means this when we say we can’t tell when someone is hitting on us.
Sex/kink parties intrigue me, and if they didn’t I’d still be going to this one because of the people involved and because it’s a party-party as much as a sex party (or, at least, in addition to). I have previously declined invitations to such parties due to foreknowledge of the kind of anxiety they’ll (probably) induce and the fact that lollipops are available through other, spiderless avenues. But this is thrown by people I like and trust, and there are other reasons to be there so I won’t feel awkward and like a spoilsport if I get uncomfortable and feel the need to leave early, or if I decide to just continue to hang out in the kitchen all night. I’m looking forward to it.