'I’m addicted to dominant women – how can I be more normal?'
15th December 2022

It’s time once again for our weekly Sex Column, our regular series where experts advise readers on the world of relationships.

Last week we helped a man who is having an affair with a married woman who for three years has insisted she’s unhappy and will leave her husband, but has never done so.

This week we help a man who likes to be with dominant women and has done so for the past 50 years.

He says he tried to talking to his wife about his ‘addiction’ but she dismissed it and they haven’t spoken about it ever again.

He wonders if his problem is ‘normal’ and if he can shift his sexual fetish.

Let’s see if it’s a problem our expert can solve.

The problem:

I keep rewriting this email in an attempt not to sound weird but however I word it, I still feel like I don’t come across as ‘normal’. Maybe that’s because I’m not. Simply, I’m addicted to dominant women and have been since my teens, nearly 50 years ago. And when I say ‘dominant’, I mean the sort who handcuff and spank you and treat you like a naughty schoolboy.

I can think of some dark episodes in my childhood – being caned at school and having an uncle who abused me – which might explain why I’m like I am. Nevertheless, I long to be rid of this yearning.

I have a wonderful wife who has been an exceptionally good mother. We have four grown-up children and now six grandchildren. To the outside world, we’re a lovely old couple who live a comfortable life.

I would say ‘little do they know’, but little does anyone know, as I have never felt able to discuss my situation with anyone. There is definitely a sexual element to my desires and whenever I visit a dungeon, I feel enormous relief afterwards. But it’s like a drug. It doesn’t last and I soon want to go again.

I tried to tell my wife about my problem when we first met but she just dismissed it and changed the subject. I never mentioned it again. Can I ever hope to be ‘normal’?

What the expert says:

Sexual fetishes are highly addictive, and, as with any addiction, you always need more to get the same thrill.

‘The shame and trauma you experienced when young have left an indelible mark on your identity,’ says Dr Angharad Rudkin. ‘To manage this, you’ve divided yourself in two – the conventional family man on the one side and the sexual fetishist who wants to be controlled on the other.’

Both experts agree you would benefit from counselling – not to change who you are but to become more at peace with that person. James McConnachie feels this process has already begun with your letter.

‘If writing to us came as a relief, can you imagine the relief you’ll experience when you talk to a therapist in person?’ he asks. ‘There are plenty in the BDSM universe who’ll tell you that being “normal” doesn’t exist.’

Rudkin feels you are as ‘normal’ as you can be when you’ve grown up having abnormal experiences.

‘It’s not your fault you were abused as a child,’ she says. ‘Playing out these feelings through sex may be a way of processing them but therapy might also help you reach a greater acceptance of yourself.’

‘Therapy won’t change who you are,’ says McConnachie, ‘but it will help you feel like someone who makes free choices about what you do and with whom. Then you will feel less of a prisoner of your addiction.’

What do you think?

Leave your own advice in the comments section below and we will publish a selection of the best reader words of wisdom.

The expert:

Dr Angharad Rudkin is a clinical psychologist

James McConnachie is the author of Sex (Rough Guides)

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