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andrea@altsexcolumn.com

Dear Andrea:

I was on antidepressants for a year and just came off them recently. It was a situational depression — my close sister had died. I have no other psych history. Now, since I've been off the medication, I've experienced an intense surge of sexual desire and have developed an online relationship with someone where I am his sex slave–toy. I've always fantasized about being submissive but never seriously acted on it until now. I find it so erotic!

I feel I'm about to go out of control, though. Out of control is bad, but is being a sex slave bad? My friends and family have no idea. I need to find a safe place to act out my fantasies or go to counseling. How do women who want to be submissive slaves become so safely? What the hell is wrong with me?

Love,

Bewildered

Dear Bea:

Nothing that isn't wrong with a few million of your fellow perverts, so I wouldn't get too exercised about it if I were you. Furthermore, I'm sorry to hear about your sister and not particularly alarmed to hear about your long-distance slavery thing. Good for you for finding him, actually. Perv World abounds with would-be submissive sex toys, while tops are always in short supply. (Topping is labor-intensive and requires skill, while bottoming can be done in one's sleep. Then again, I suppose it is so much easier to type, "I flog you. I flog you some more. I am still flogging you ...," than it is to actually flog someone.) Anyway, have fun, but do me a favor: don't forget that you actually don't know this guy, no matter how intimate your online connection feels, and also don't forget that you never really know where an embarrassing picture might turn up once you've hit "send."

Don't fret that your newly awakened libido is going to grow to monster proportions, break free, and stomp all over town like Godzilla, swallowing subway trains and getting all tangled up in the overhead power lines. It's normal for a sex-drive suppressed by sadness and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors to come roaring back to life when exposed to air again. Moreover, S-M, well, it does that. Early in one's career as a self-professed kink, one tends to go a little overboard, thinking about it constantly, reading everything, joining everything, buying everything, posting unwisely to the Internet, and insisting on oversharing with anyone foolish enough to have briefly expressed even polite interest in your new hobby. You, by contrast, are remaining admirably discreet (it's not that I think there's anything to be ashamed of, just that there's no reason to tell your dentist and your grandmother's bridge club about it). You are taking it fairly slowly, keeping yourself to yourself, and having the safest supposedly dangerous sex imaginable, the kind that isn't even really happening. Either you're not out of control in the slightest or you aren't telling me the whole story. I'll have to go with the former.

Of course, there are safe ways to be somebody's submissive sex toy, just as there are safe ways to go deep-sea diving or take up the flying trapeze — good equipment is key, but finding a good instructor comes first. It doesn't sound like the online guy is going to become your off-line guy anytime soon, nor need he. You're in the joining things phase (this usually passes, so you might as well take advantage now), so join something. Not so easy, I know, if you live in a small town or no town, but seriously, the exurbs are no place to be a sex slave (S-M porn abounds with isolated castles full of depraved aristocrats and isolated farms full of sick, sadistic rednecks with barns full of cowed sex slaves, but real life does not). You need to join one of the social-educational clubs you'll find in most big cities now. They have meetings and get-togethers and swap meets.

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