Total domination?

Sex on Tuesday

Photo of Khristina Holterman

Related Posts

It’s true — I’m banned from Tinder. But no, not for reasons you may think. In a desperate attempt to secure a sugar daddy, I changed my age range from 18-22 to about 50-65, making sure to include my Venmo handle in my bio. Unfortunately, after only a couple of days, Tinder banned my account. And even more unfortunate: No old men Venmoed me. 

I was left with a choice: forgo any further attempts at meeting the love of my life — or the best hookup of my life — on a dating app, or make the switch to Bumble. I chose the latter. But my journey with Bumble has been anything but ideal. 

For starters, compared to other apps such as Tinder, which have just a simple bio, Bumble has a plethora of different bio options. Do I select smokes “frequently,” “rarely” or “never”? What kind of man do I want to attract? One “In college” looking for “Something casual,” perhaps? Do I include my astrological sign? What if he knows immediately we’re not compatible because he’s a Capricorn and I’m an Aquarius, causing him to immediately swipe left? The many profile options proved overwhelming. 

The worst part of Bumble, however, is its chatting feature.

I have to make the first move? Unheard of. I’m all for women’s empowerment, in complete support of tearing down the patriarchy and stomping on its ruins. But me making the first move? This would be more difficult than I thought. 

At first, I fumbled with the already generated questions, thinking it was so nice that such a feature existed. I didn’t have to come up with a witty pickup line or send the bland “hey.” Instead, we could play Bumble twenty questions. 

But after choosing the “What are you thinking about after two glasses of wine?” question a few times and worriedly consulting my friends, I soon learned that this wasn’t the way to go. I looked back in horror at the automated questions I’d sent, suddenly seeing why conversations never got past the first message. 

I had to be witty, something I’d say I’m usually capable of. But nothing came to me. Utilizing information from guys’ bios as my muse, I could strike up some conversations. But still, the old Tinder excitement of logging on to unread messages from strangers I forgot I’d ever matched with was gone. 

This left me wondering: Why is it so hard for me to make the first move? Am I stuck in an outdated mindset, secretly longing for old-fashioned gentlemen to hold open the door for me and initiate every conversation?

I’m not sure, but even if there is a little of that in me, I’ve begun to speculate that it’s something else: an issue of dominance. 

Usually, I’m a very dominant person. I never shy away from my blunt nature and I’ve never been afraid of using my words. In almost every aspect of my life, I take charge. Yet something about the first move has never come easy to me. 

Maybe I’m scared of rejection. Or maybe I internally crave submission. It’s exhausting being assertive, so maybe I do want someone to take hold of the reins every now and then. I know there exists a toxic stereotype that women should be small and submissive to men, but there’s also power in taking control of that standard and making it your own.

Giving up your power isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And as I’ve come to learn, there’s not such a strict line between dominance and submission — you can actually be both. 

Whether you’re conventionally assertive or passive in everyday situations or bed, there’s a false equivalence drawn by many people that passivity or assertiveness in one situation directly translates to the other. Maybe it does, but in my experience, it’s superficial to make such an assumption. 

Everyday personalities don’t necessarily correlate to one’s sex persona. It’s exhilarating to spice it up or switch it up in bed. All outside and everyday perceptions of yourself evaporate as your only focus is the pleasure being experienced. It’s a different realm — one where pushovers can be in control and micromanagers can forgo their command. And the opposite is true, too: Submissives in bed can be leaders outside of it and dominants might be anxious just ordering at a restaurant.  

So maybe texting first on Bumble would give the wrong impression — that I’m assertive on every occasion. Of course I want to be heard and have a voice in relationships and sex. But that’s a given. I don’t see not wanting to text first as forfeiting my sense of empowerment. In fact, it’s a different kind of empowerment: one where I can choose which messages to respond to from my Tinder matches; where I can have passionate consensual sex while my arms are being pinned above my head. 

Sadly, until I change my phone number, there’s no new Tinder account in my future. But who knows, maybe Hinge or eHarmony will call my name.

Khristina Holterman writes the Tuesday column on sex. Contact her at [email protected]