When should you disclose any, er, unusual preferences?

kinkyI was once contacted by a man who said in his profile that he was “slightly kinky.” When I asked what he meant exactly, he said he’d explain in person. He was a perfect gentleman on the phone and in emails, so I thought it was worth a coffee meeting to find out. I’ve learned that one person’s kinky is another’s normal, so I decided not worry too much about it until he explained. During our coffee date, he elaborated that he was a cross dresser on occasion. Okey dokie.

But another man didn’t even hint at his unconventional preferences until an email nearly a week after our first lunch. We’d had a dozen emails, phone conversations and IMs and nothing was even hinted at beforehand. I know people share his sexual practices, but I’ve not met anyone personally who told me they did. So I’m thinking that this man should have placed an ad on kinky.com or something similar, not YahooPersonals.

However, an acquaintance who is a swinger into swapping, has an ad on YahooPersonals, as well as more provocative sites. He sent me his profile to read and he thought he was being explicit about his practices. He wrote that he was “adventurous” but he didn’t say “sexually adventurous.” He thought “adventurous” was enough. I thought it meant he liked to rock climb or participate in outdoor adventures. He said he told women from YP on their first coffee meeting that he attended swapping parties. I told him I’d feel duped if he waited until then to disclose such an important element of his life that would affect many women’s decision to meet him or not. I’d be irritated if I got dolled up and drove to a coffee meeting, then learned of his practice that I don’t support and wouldn’t date someone who did.

I felt a bit hoodwinked myself by the man who didn’t share his out-of-the-ordinary practices. I’d spent some time getting to know him and was interested in a second date. But I don’t share a proclivity for the experiences he described. And I doubt I’d learn to like those kind of activities.

When should one disclose such alternative tastes? I think you are beholden to at least hint at it in your profile or initial email, as the first man did. Did the second man think that I’d become so enamored with him that I’d ignore my own values? Did he think he’d scare off women if he shared earlier? He was just postponing the inevitable, but taking up someone’s time in the process.

When do you think someone should disclose any practices that they know others may find off putting?

Got a topic on dating after 40 you want Dating Goddess to address? Send your issue to Goddess@DatingGoddess.com.


12 responses to “When should you disclose any, er, unusual preferences?”

  1. tim Avatar

    Tough question. For men it is inappropriate to get sexually explicit too soon. Women need to know we can observe basic rules of conduct – it’s one of the major ways of rulling out weirdo’s of all types. So engaging in a sexually explicit conversation too soon can be a red flag whether or not the specifics are a problem. And, as you said, kinky is in the eye of the beholder. I would say before a first date is too soon in most cases, but before sleeping with someone, if the “desires” are not optional, it’s a must. I think both sides need to be flexible about this topic. And if someone drops a deal breaker (either an undesirable behavior or a refusal to engage in what you need), don’t sweat the timing. Just move on.

  2. Kitty Avatar

    Wow! DG, you read my mind! I just had this happen to me. I was dating a guy for 2 months when he happened to come forth and tell me just what all he was into. I was so surprised because every other sign pointed otherwise! He was pretty conservative in every way and had been a perfect gentleman on our first few dates. Everything progressed as it should have….I knew it was too good to be true! (He even volunteered for Habitat for Humanity EVERY weekend!) After I explained to him that I wasn’t into those types of things, I later found his profile on an adult website that I never even knew existed. When doing my research (google, etc) I’ll now add this to the list. Funny thing was, I didn’t even meet this one online…he was a fixup! Of course my friend was mortified! Live and learn!

  3. Catherine Avatar

    I am all for full early disclosure. I once dated a man that on the first date asked me how I felt about clothing optional resorts… I said it was “not an option”. That should have been the red flag that told me to move on. Over the next month I found out what he really meant in his profle when he said he was into adventure and “open-mindedness” it was code words for the whole BDSM sub-culture. I tried to be “open-minded” but submissive just isn’t in my makeup, and he couldn’t “perform” unless he was dominating the situation. Needless to say we parted ways.

    I now read certain over used words in online profiles with a more jaded eye….

  4. Elena Avatar

    What did all these kinks do before the Internet?

  5. Gatti Avatar

    I think that, in general, “open-mindedness” is a code word for “Be prepared for unusual sexual activities”. I avoided any profiles containing it.

    My feeling is that if various practices are that important to someone, then they should use dating services where they may be mentioned openly. Saves everyone’s time.

  6. Bill Avatar

    Let’s look at the question another way – When is it appropriate to discuss sex? At the first coffee meeting? Seems to me bringing up the topic of sexual practices, kink or alternative lifestyles before you get to the bottom of the first cup of coffee is pretty rude and presumptuous. So, I’m supposed to share with someone who is one degree away from being a stranger some pretty personal information, or, worse, post it online? I don’t think so. Frankly, I think it’s pretty sad, but typical, that you complain about getting “dolled up” and “a waste of time.” I wish a number of women had disclosed that they were nutjobs before I invested the equivalent of a few car payments toward our dating ritual. If all you lost was the time of a coffee meeting and getting dolled up, consider yourself lucky.

  7. naturegirl Avatar

    If either person considers a specific activity (kinky or not) to be a non-negotiable deal breaker, I’d rather know as soon as possible. I prefer people who are more flexible in their demands/requirements. As Gatti says, those people should use the dating services that cater to people with unusual desires.

  8. Catherine Avatar

    Bill, I agree with you that no one should be talking about sex on the first date, it is inappropriate. I also agree that getting dolled up for a date and finding out you aren’t a match isn’t really a waste of time unless that person has mislead the other in some way. (e.g. posting a 10 year old photo) It would be wonderful to meet the “right” person in your first “at bat” but the law of avergages says that you will have to take more than one swing to hit a home run.

    My comments about early disclosure are really more towards when you decide to become intimate, (presumably you have been dating for a little while) if you have some specific requirements that are “deal breakers” (this can go both directions, likes and dislikes) that it should be included in the “health and birth control” discussion. If you don’t have any strong preferences, then no need to get into too many details.

    In my example, not only did I get some valuable information very early in the relationship that I chose to ignore, but even when I tried to play by his “rules” I found it less than satisfactory. I chalk it up to a learning experience and now trust my instincts. Plus I question what “open-minded and adventurous” mean when I read them in online profiles. To some mean that means being willing to try new cuisine, and to others, well, it has specific sexual implications. Hard to distinguish sometimes…

    Oh and for the record – most women with decent values don’t expect you to invest a few car payments worth of funds in the getting to know you stage. I would rather go on a date that allows us to talk and get to know each other (determine if either of us is a nut-job) than be blown away by how much money you can spend in one sitting. Save the impressive stuff for later when you already know that your money will be well spent, and appreciated by someone you like and care about! If your date thinks you are “cheap” then she isn’t the right woman…

  9. Bill Avatar

    Thanks for the feedback. Just to be clear, I wasn’t talking about money spent on initial dating. My reference is to relationships that get to the point of intimacy, at which point the financial outlay usually has become somewhat significant, and then the skeletons fall out of the closet. For example, there was the four month relationship that was pretty middle-of-the-road spending-wise, with one major night out along the way to celebrate her big promotion, only to eventually find out, when we became intimate, she had a real frigidity issue, not to mention not the absence of any offers to share any of the costs of dating or even do the home-cooked meal thing. Even women with “decent values” seem reluctant to fairly share the cost of dating, appropriate to their ability to do so, even when the attraction is mutual and the relationship is exclusive. Also, I’ve never tried to impress a woman with the amount of money spent on a date, and avoid women who are impressed that way. On the topic posted, of what one should expect in initial dating, sexual disclosures or otherwise, I would say it’s perhaps one per cent of women who invest the same or more – time, money, energy – than their male counterpart during dating, even at the beginning, and that any gripes by women regarding investments lost when they find out right away, or even a few weeks into a relationship, that a sexual or lifestyle dealbreaker exists, seem somewhat disproportionate.

  10. Liz Avatar

    Everybody’s idea of ‘normal’ is different, so I’m not sure where we would draw the line on using ‘regular’ vs. specialized dating sites.

    As for bringing up specific sexual activities, unless your date is just a sex hookup, why would you mention them early on? That to me is a big turnoff when a man I’m on a first or second date with starts asking me whether I like certain sexual activities. My answer is, “Well, I’m not going to enjoy them with YOU.”

  11. hunter Avatar

    …allright Liz!!!

  12. Pax et amor Avatar
    Pax et amor

    Actually, I doubt no one hopes to be “off putting” untoward another. Certainly, no one wants to date someone narrow minded or opinionated to the point they put their views on others.

    Being open minded should not be considered offensive. It isn’t biased, bogoted, nor oppressive. It is free from prejudice, amendable to reason and receptive.

    Many prefer someone feeling comfortable to share their provaclivities and sensibilities rather than have someone with major issues and inabilities about relating to people.

    Pax et amor — Abilene, Texas