I am a 22-year-old straight female. I used to babysit for a wealthy family, but their children have outgrown babysitters. The dad of this family is very into martial arts and fighting and has invited me over several times for "self-defense training." I have accepted his invitations a few times, and it has always started off as a normal workout in their home gym — treadmill, weights, swimming — but he is always pretty anxious to get to the self-defense part. Often he will blindfold me and then come at me, and I must then wrestle my way out of the situation using the moves I've learned.
I did this a few times, Dan, but I found it a bit unsettling. However, he never touched me inappropriately. Last time we did this, he told me he wanted to see how much pain he could take. He asked me to kick him in the groin with no protection until he couldn't take it anymore. I thought, "This is strange," but I was curious, so I did it. He was able to take it for a surprisingly long time. I haven't been back since, but for the last six months, he has been pestering me to come back. Recently, he suggested that we have what he calls a "competition." He will stand there, and I will kick him in the balls — or anywhere else I want — and if he gives up, I get $150. If I give up, by getting too tired, I give him $20. His wife knows about the workouts, but he said he doesn't want me to tell her about the fighting.
My question is this: Is there a sexual component to this? I have never heard of anything like this before, and I find it odd. But I am a poor college student, and for $150, I'll stand there fully clothed and kick this guy in the balls! Please let me know your thoughts. —Will Kick Balls For Money
There are no nonsexual components to this, WKBFM, and if you've never heard of something like this before, well, you must be a new reader. Here is a rich guy attempting to manipulate his kids' former babysitter into doing sex work for him — no, scratch that. What we've got here is a rich guy who has already manipulated his kids' former babysitter into doing sex work for him. (Your workouts with the blindfolds and the wrestling and kicking? Unpaid sex work.) I don't think his ball-busting fetish is creepy. It's extreme, as fetishes go, but the risks are his. Paying you to kick him in the nuts doesn't put his wife at risk (swift-kick-to-sack is not a known mode of STI transmission), it won't take food out of his children's mouths, and, as he presumably has all the children he wants, sterility might be a blessing (i.e. vasectomy) in disguise.
If you need the money, and you don't think you'll be scarred by the experience, tell him you'll consider doing this for him — you'll come over, remain fully clothed, and kick him in the nuts — but only if he levels with you: He's getting off on this. If he can't level with you, WKBFM, don't do this.
You don't want him to think he's successfully manipulated you into doing sex work for him, because you don't want him thinking, "Well, if I could get her to do this, I can probably get her to [remove her clothes, watch me masturbate, have sex with me]." If you go into a session without both of you having acknowledged what you're actually doing — you're sorta selling sex, he's definitely paying for sex — and he does try to get you to remove your clothes or watch him masturbate or have sex with him, you may find it difficult to say no. Being direct with someone ("No, I'm not taking my clothes off, asshole!") after you've accepted a dishonest premise ("This isn't about sex, you're just testing yourself!") requires you to admit that you were being dishonest too. Most people are reluctant to admit to dishonesty, and a skilled manipulator will exploit that inhibition to get what he wants. So tell him you'll play — you'll bust his balls — but you're not going to play along.
I am a 30-year-old straight man who has always known that he is a poly. The woman I love is not a poly. She is a monogamous person. When we started being sexual, it was a strictly friends-with-benefits arrangement, although a sexually exclusive one, at her insistence, and I agreed to that because neither of us expected anything long-term to come of it. But we fell in love, and now I can't imagine life without her. She is amazing, and I love her like I've never loved any other woman. But she has asked me to betray my sexual identity by remaining sexually exclusive. If I cannot commit to that, she does not want to be with me. I am not asking the same of her: She does not have to sleep with other people to keep me in her life. She is, however, insisting that I not sleep with other people to keep her in my life. Can someone who is poly be happy with someone who isn't? —Polyamorous Polymath
You are not "a poly." Poly is not a sexual identity, PP; it's not a sexual orientation. It's not something you are, it's something you do. There's no such thing as a person who is "a poly," just as there's no such thing a person who is "a monogamous." Polyamorous and monogamous are adjectives, not nouns. There are only people — gay, straight, bi — and some people are in monogamous relationships, some are in open relationships, some are in polyamorous relationships, some are in monogamish relationships, some are in four-star-general relationships. These are relationship models, PP, not sexual identities.
So the question isn't "Can a poly be happy with a monogamous?" The question is can you, despite your clear preference for nonmonogamous relationship models, be happy in this relationship?
If you truly can't live without her, if she's the-one-you're-going-to-round-the-fuck-up-to-the-one, you'll have to be monogamous. If that's not something you're willing or able to do — and "willing" and "able" are two different criteria, and you'll need to make an honest self-assessment on both counts — then end this relationship and go find someone whose romantic desires more closely align with your own.
Find Dan Savage's weekly podcast every Tuesday at thestranger.com/savage. Contact Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org or @fakedansavage on Twitter.