Once upon a time, I wrote Q&A’s for the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health, in response to inquiries from social media outlets like Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. Occasionally, I will resurrect these responses and re-post them to my blog. This week’s featured question is:
I am a vorarephile, and I’ve run into a problem: how to tell romantic partners? While it would theoretically be harmless, it feels like a violation of trust to pursue a relationship with someone I wasn’t out to, and who didn’t realize that I might fantasize about them swallowing me. At the same time, though, I don’t know how to convey “I like the idea of being eaten, and it turns me on” without implying that I’m into real-world cannibalism. I’m out to a few friends, but I’ve been pretty careful about whom I told.
Vorarephilia (aka “vore”): a sexual interest in being eaten alive, eating another, or watching the process, which is expressed through fantasy and role-play. This might include the process of digestion, as well, in a pain-free or painful way. There are variants within vore, and you can read more about those here.
Although your paraphilia may be unusual, your feelings of doubt and insecurity are quite common. Intimate relationships tend to heighten our sense of vulnerability, often due to fear of rejection and ridicule. Perhaps we begin to question whether our belly is toned enough, or wonder if being married five times was twice too many. Truth be told, I used to hide my Garth Brooks CD in a sock drawer. We all have our individual quirks, so it makes sense that you would be reluctant to reveal yours to a stranger or acquaintance, especially one that you find attractive and interesting.
Before disclosing your fantasies, however, it is important to assess your motivation. Although you are concerned about a potential “violation of trust,” keep in mind that complete transparency is not always warranted or desirable. For example, a research study at the University of Vermont revealed that 87% of participants (98% of men and 80% of women) experienced occasional sexual fantasies about someone other than their romantic partner. Perhaps it is not necessary to discuss your attraction to Ryan Gosling, admit a penchant for tentacle porn, or proclaim that your ex gave amazing blow jobs. Within a healthy relationship, each person is entitled to some private thoughts and feelings. Honesty is often a good thing, as it can facilitate greater levels of trust and connection, but sharing your bedpost confessions is a prerogative, not an obligation.
Of course, an obvious benefit to talking openly about your sexual fantasies is the possibility for exploration and experimentation. However, before you discuss your desires with anyone else, you must first be comfortable with how you feel. If you can communicate your sexual interests with an attitude of acceptance, humor, and mutual curiosity, then your partner may respond more positively. Search for opportunities to educate and enlighten. Perhaps you can find some positive representations of the activities you might enjoy—through movies, cartoons, or visual art—and share these with your partner. For example, Little Shop of Horrors and Pinocchio both feature scenes that involve someone being swallowed or eaten alive, which could serve as a harmless introduction to the theme.
Additionally, there are abundant visual representations of vorarephilia on Deviant Art. Connecting with the artists and fans of these pictures could also help you find people who understand and appreciate your interests. Further exploration through text-based role play, either with a community online (e.g. DeviantArt, Fetlife) or with a partner, is another option to consider. Engaging in this type of activity would reinforce that your interest in “being eaten” clearly resides in the domain of fantasy and fiction, as opposed to the cold-blooded cannibalism of Hannibal Lecter. By creating and sharing erotic scenarios you can fantasize about the actions you desire without resorting to actual consumption, thus entertaining your sexual interests with safety and satisfaction.
Deciding when, where, and with whom it might be appropriate to share your sexual interests can definitely be a tough call, but after you determine the nature of your relationship—a casual fling, the real thing, or something in between—it will be easier to evaluate the level of trust and emotional safety. Furthermore, creating an environment and opportunity for mutual sharing can help reduce the potential for one partner to feel more vulnerable and exposed. Often, having these conversations outside of the boudoir (or wherever you’re having your steamy moments) when there’s less pressure to be sexual can be helpful. Something to keep at the forefront of your mind, too, is that you should ensure that your partner feels safe when having this conversation, so clarify what your interests are and how those may or may not relate to “real life” and them as you’re speaking. When someone shares a fantasy with a partner, that partner might feel pressure to perform or might leap to conclusions that aren’t actually correct. By setting the tone correctly and offering them ways to say yes as well as ways to say no, you’ll make it a more productive and comfortable conversation!
For example, you could suggest taking an interactive sex questionnaire, such as Mojo Upgrade, which presents a list of sexual fantasies to both partners separately and asks them to indicate their level of interest. After the couple has finished their individual surveys, the internet genie compares the answers and only reveals the activities that share positive responses. That way if your partner is not game to have their toes sucked, but you secretly desire to engage in that activity, they won’t know and the potential for embarrassment is minimized. Although I do not think there are any questions related to vore, it could still be a way to facilitate dialogue about sexual fantasies in general. If you’re feeling more adventurous and are just looking for a way to bring these things up without discussing them face-to-face first, you can find blank BDSM checklists or Yes/No/Maybe lists and fill them out before handing them to a partner, skillfully including vore among the list of possible kinks and activities.
Another option would be to skip the movies and surveys altogether and to take a more direct approach. For example, you could begin by sharing something very basic that you enjoy, invite reciprocity, and then work up to less common desires or activities:
“I loved it when you did ___________ the other day. It was a huge turn-on for me. What kinds of things do you find pleasurable/hot/awesome?”
However, be prepared for the possibility that your partner could have some unusual interests, too, and evaluate if you are ready to go there. Perhaps your lover wants you to squeal like a dolphin while spanking the monkey. Is that information going to be helpful or hurtful to your relationship? While there is no single right or wrong answer, the potential benefits and consequences should be examined before either person reveals their deepest desires.
Finally, the idea of mutual sharing might be less daunting if you try to meet people with whom you already have common interests. While there are groups on FetLife specifically for vorarephiles, you may also find that people who enjoy science fiction, Dungeons and Dragons, and LARPing could be more receptive to your interests than the random hottie at Whole Foods. Most importantly, remember that no one is completely “normal,” and try to embrace your quirks instead of fighting them. If you feel confident about your own worth and unique interests then you can improve your odds of finding a partner who will embrace the wonderful, accept the weird, and be open to adventures both mild and wild.