I cannot hook up with a guy to save my life. It's not that I can't get a guy to go out with me; I just can't "close the deal," so to speak. This is embarrassing, but if I'm being honest, I have not so much as kissed anyone in six months. Before that, I had long stretches of celibacy peppered with flings with guys who were only vaguely interested in me.
It was suggested to me by a few friends I might have something called "sexual anorexia." According to Psychology Today, "Sex addicts 'act out' or 'binge' through promiscuity or high-risk behavior, sexual [anorexics] starve themselves by 'acting in,' denying themselves the pleasure of relationships, dating, loving touch, and genuine connection with others."
I see myself as covered in metaphorical "do not cross, major crime scene!" tape. I talk about sex and dating all the time, but in practice, I'm emotionally closed-off. I suffer from various chronic illnesses (epilepsy, toxoplasmosis) and don't want to force those burdens on someone else. Oh, and I'm sober, something that seems to constantly cockblock me.
And yet, just like anyone else, I want to love and be loved, fuck and be fucked.
For the past few weeks, I've tried to get over my sexual insecurities by exploring various kinks—sort of like the movie How Stella Got Her Groove Back, but instead of going to Jamaica, it's me in a BDSM den, or something similar. In researching various fetishes, I came across a community of people into latex—a fetish that would provide a literal buffer between me and my partner. Of course, I was immediately intrigued.
Through a latex message board on Reddit, I found a user named Scarlet, who, after years of vanilla sex, adopted a latex fetish while dating a man who dabbled in the kink. She told me that the first time she wore latex during sex—a pair of stockings and panties—it was "a bit uncomfortable." But later, when she got pieces molded for her body, it started to feel like a "second skin."
Latex can intensify touch, so being caressed while wearing a pair of latex panties is apparently mind-blowing, according to Scarlet. Depending on what you're wearing, it can also be physically restricting, which some people say makes foreplay feel better—often because they're also attracted to bondage. You don't even have to be having sex to enjoy the tactile sensations. "Foreplay," Scarlet told me, "is pretty much a cornerstone of the rubber lifestyle," though she added that "sex in latex feels euphoric." The constriction of latex not only heightens physical sensitivity but also apparently makes your body ultra sensitive to temperature. So as things start to heat up, so do you.
Scarlet also said wearing latex helped her shed her anxieties in bed. "It can conceal your identity with hoods and masks and potentially give you certain attributes you don't already possess," she told me. There's a definite costume aspect to it: Everything from latex French maid costumes to cloaks to full-body concealment (like the bondage suit from American Horror Story Murder House.) Full-body rubber suits cling to the female form and exaggerate curves to the utmost extent.
After talking to Scarlet, I felt emboldened to borrow some latex lingerie from my friend. The set I ended up with was reminiscent of the nude one Miley Cyrus wore during the MTV Awards show where she twerked against Robin Thicke while they performed "Blurred Lines."
I had the set on under my clothes when I decided to call up an ex, because it felt safer than testing it out with a stranger I met off Bumble. I told him the truth: He needed to come over right then because I was writing an article about the latex fetish and I needed to experiment with it by my deadline, which was the end of the week.
Funny thing about boys: He was over within the hour. Funny thing about exes: There was no need for small talk. We cut to the chase and headed to my bedroom.
I told him I wanted to fool around for a bit while I was wearing the latex and see how it felt, tasted, and sounded. Because I'm a noob, I forgot to lube up the latex to make it slick and shiny, something I remembered reading about on the message boards. There's a whole ritual to the lubing process—Scarlet told me people generally use silicone lube, and the act of greasing up the latex is basically like foreplay.
Since I forgot this step, the fabric caused an uneasy friction at points and squeaked against his skin. It took me out of the moment a bit, but at the same time, this extra element was fun and new. He seemed more into things than usual—grabbing at me in ways he normally wouldn't—and I wondered if it was the latex lingerie or the fact that it's been like a year since we hooked up.
We were mid-makeout when he stopped to say, "To be honest, I was always pretty turned on by Michelle Pfeiffer when she played Catwoman. You know, in that black cat suit."
He had never told me this before. "Was it Michelle Pfeiffer, or was it the cat suit?" I asked.
"I think it was the cat suit," he whispered as we continued to roll around in bed.
We didn't end up having sex, but fooling around felt nice. I'm not generally motivated to be touched (for fear of rejection and because of my own insecurities), but the latex acted almost like a sexual surrogate, providing just enough of a barrier to help me ease into things. Sure, we just groped each other while I kept my bra and panties on—something I've been doing since seventh grade—but the latex made everything seem more special, more provocative.
Am I going to make latex routine? Probably not. It's expensive as hell, and I don't know if my friend will let me borrow her lingerie on the reg. But it was a nice change of pace and sensation, and it did get me into the bedroom again.
Next time, though, I'll definitely remember the lube—because while wearing latex might be sexy and liberating, rubber burn definitely is not.
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