What it's like being an asshole at a spiritual BDSM retreat by Ben Weston

I recently attended what I can only describe as a spiritual BDSM retreat and discovered the healing benefits of being an arrogant, judgmental asshole.

[I can’t stop smiling over the fact that I can write that sentence - god, I love my life.]

Before I get into the story of how I was an arrogant asshole to a room full of people, let me give some context.

The concept behind the retreat was that there are darker sides of ourselves that we all have:

- the manipulative side of you
- the part of you that’s arrogant and disdainful
- the resentful victim
- etc.

We all have these facets of ourselves but most of the spiritual and personal development work out there is (understandably) about focusing on the light and love while ignoring or, at times, shaming these other darker facets.

The light work is of course very much needed, but it’s interesting to notice that we’ll talk about self-love but the moment there’s a hint of anger, jealousy, or any other darkness in us, it’s as if we suddenly go, “Except you, I sure as hell don’t love you. Go away.”

This retreat was three days of being told: “Not only are these facets of you ok, but they can be powerful allies. And we’re going to bring these dark creatures out in you to (safely) play with others.”

It was a series of “Oh fuck, what did I get myself into?” moments followed by “Oh fuck, that was delicious.”

Here was one of my favorites.

The teachers laid out various dark archetypes and told us to pick the one we’re most ashamed of within ourselves, the one we most DON’T want people to know exists in us.

Easy. I chose the “arrogant disdainer”.

They told us to write a love letter to that part of ourselves, talking about what gifts and power that creature within gives us.

Alright, cool. Love letter to my inner (psychological) asshole - done.

“Now we want you to get up in front of the group and talk to us as that dark side of you.”

Fuck.

There were about 20 of us sitting in a circle, in this beautiful Buddhist center, about to intentionally let out our darkest, most shameful selves.

Fuck, fuck, fuckitty, fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck. Am I seriously about to share every dark judgement I have about these people TO them?

I turned to the person sitting next to me and we both had this look of, “And we paid for this?!”

When it came to my turn, I slowly walked to the front of the room, faced everyone and let the asshole take the stage:

[Deep breath in]

“I am so much fuckin smarter than ALL of you.
So much more attractive, healthy, athletic, muscular, and creative.
I am a better writer, dancer, lover.
I am spiritual as FUUUUUCK and more masculine than ALLLLL OF YOU New Age pussies and -- ”

At that point I cut myself off because I was less than a second away from calling out individual people.

I quickly walked back to my seat, looking down at my feet the whole way.

Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, what did I just do?

I was later talking to a woman about that exercise and she said, “I loved that side of you.”

..ummm, jigga what now?

“Before that exercise, I saw you as this little boy that I’d trust to get my coffee in the morning. But after what came out?

That was a man that I could trust.

In fact, he was a rather charming asshole. I was talking to the woman next to me and we both wish you had gone in on individual people.

I want to see more of that man.”

Well shit, ok.

---

Most of my life I’ve operated under the script that someone else always knows better. If I can just find the right mentor, teacher, course, book, blog post, or Instagram quote they’ll have the right answers.

My arrogant asshole is the part of me trying to bolster me back up saying, “Homie, you know what’s true. Trust yourself.”

I may not listen to the crass and extreme words he says, but he does stand for what he believes in more than the day-to-day Ben does.

Plus, he can also be accepted and trusted by others? Well shit, I’m in.

So, to my inner arrogant asshole: I’m sorry I’ve neglected you for so long. Thank you for reminding me that I have truth worth saying. I love you, you fuckin son of a bitch.

(I’m trying to speak in his love language)

About Chicken Wings and Weddings by Ben Weston

Like most straight guys in their 20’s, I frequently think about my wedding day.

...ok, maybe not like most dudes in their 20's.

Lemme explain.

A few years ago, I was finishing off a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in my room, sitting with heartbreak and feeling lost.

So, I imagined my wedding day.

I’m outside, standing at the alter, near a sea-side cliff.

I’m wearing a tailored midnight-blue suit with just a dash of spandex sewn in feeling fine as hell (homeboy has to get his funk on later).

In front of me are my chosen family and family of blood. Behind me are my brothers, the men I know that have my back.

And standing before these people is the most magnificent version of myself I can imagine. He’s proud of the life he’s created, how he serves the world, and the man he is in front of the people he loves most.

Sweet baby Jesus, what a beautiful man he is.

I just don’t know how I can begin to resemble him.

———

You know that section in Spotify where it lists “Fans Also Like” and it shows similar artists to the one you’re listening to right now?

I just saw a song from a band that I haven’t listened to in ten years. They have a rock ballad that I played on repeat for a week straight during my first breakup.

For one week, all I did was sit under the desk in my room, bawling, drinking Honey Brown beer that my homie bought me (Kevin, you’re a goddamn sweetheart).

Playing the song now, however, just makes me smile.

I sometimes talk to that me from 10 years ago and reassure him:

“Homie, I love you. I know you’re lonely, lost, and convinced that it’ll be years before you find your way or have sex again, but check this out:

You’re gonna become a circus artist, get paid to be a ninja, fall in love and be loved, travel the world dancing until sun rise, make beautiful dance films, and even get to [ REDACTED ] in a former church in Harlem. Oh and there’ll be a mountain of chicken wings at the church too. I know, I couldn’t believe it either.

I promise you this - shit’s gonna get better than you can possibly imagine.”

———

After the ceremony at my wedding, I imagine sitting near the edge of a cliff with that version of me. It’s just the two of us while the dancing and eating is just out of earshot.

We’re staring off at the ocean, sipping on some caipirinhas, feeling fancy AF.

I ask him what I’m supposed to do. Getting to him seems too far and unrecognizable from who and where I am now.

He tells me:

“Remember for your 21st birthday, when you were kidnapped, tied up, wrapped in a blanket and thrown into the back of car by your friends?”

“Yeah! Everyone was speaking in pirate voices and there was a dog blanket stuffed into my face.”

“Yup, Dino’s blanket. How did not knowing what was going on feel then?”

“I fuckin loved it. I was so excited to find out where the wild ride was going.”

He smiles at me.

“Same thing here, homie. Relax and enjoy yourself. Shit’s gonna be more glorious than you can possibly fathom.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I can hear Bruno Mars playing and this fine ass suit ain’t gonna dance itself.

I’ll be seeing you soon ;)"

My Favorite Exercise for Students (and myself) by Ben Weston

This is the dance practice I give my students and practice myself.

Don’t do a god damn thing.

Don’t dance or try to do anything remotely “correct”.

Don’t move unless you MUST move.

And allow whatever wants to come out, to come out, regardless - no, especially if you feel like you shouldn’t.

This is what an unpolished, unedited dance session looks like, courtesy of Bishop Briggs’ new album.

NOTE: Your results may vary. Stripping, chest slapping, yelling, growling, and peculiar facial contortions demonstrated are not intended to guarantee and/or promise similar sexy AF dance skillz or 6-pack.

Songs:
“Water” - Bishop Briggs
“Hi-Lo (Hollow)” - Bishop Briggs

Are We On A Date? (Pt 2) by Ben Weston

A week ago I posted about how I navigated an ambiguous date/business meeting.

After sharing the story with the lovely woman from the evening, I thought she would say that she had the same memory of that night.

Haha - nope.

I asked if she would mind sharing her side of the story because I was surprisingly wrong about how I thought the evening went.

She agreed.

----

“Which top says I’m serious about business but, just in case, I came to slay?”

I told him I had to take care of some last minute work, but I was just too deep in rummaging through my closet to get out in time.

Don’t get me wrong. I had zero plans to make any moves during this meeting. I was there to develop some work I felt we’d collaborate well on. Of course, it didn’t bother me that he was easy on the eyes.

But you can imagine my surprise when he alluded to a conversation about prostate play within the first ten minutes of our meeting. After which, I quickly wrote him off as another stereotypical sex-driven NYC dude taking a "business meeting.”

For the future, gentlemen, this isn’t the most tactful opener for solo business meetings with women; especially outside of sex toy start-ups.

Maybe that was the first clue that this meeting didn’t exactly fall under a concrete business or date category. We’d met a month prior at my first Zouk event, shared a few indulgent dances and a conversation in which it seemed our philosophies aligned both on and off the dance floor and I was curious for more.

Taking a sip of my drink, I checked in with my own bias and recognized he might be nervous. I did come to slay after all. So I tried to play off the discomfort his story stirred in me with a sarcastic joke.

The conversation flowed. Deep and fun as hell. I was feelin' it.

Some time into our ambiguous dance, he tells me he’s attracted to me.

We must’ve been at about the three-hour mark. You know, the one where guys go into fight or flight mode about making moves?

And I’d just had one shit dating experience too many and terrified of another. I wanted to experience something as innocent as a kiss on my terms, comfortably, without pressure.

But panic ensued as I saw him staring like I was ice cream on a summer day. 
“Act now or he’ll devour you!” My brain screamed.

So I told him I appreciated his candor, and felt the same way, but wasn’t ready and needed the space to choose if and when.

What’s this?

He’s not asking for the check and leaving? He *appreciated* my honesty and took it in stride?

I was heard.

The only thing sexier was the kiss I asked for a few hours later.

----

Here are my takeaways:

1. This stuff is messy.

Fellas, we’re gonna mess up -- that’s ok. Do your best.

2. Don’t talk about that one time you were with a bro at lunch, eating grilled chicken and sweet potatoes, and you talked about prostate play.

Well, at least not within the first 10 minutes of a date/business meeting.

Are We On A Date? (Pt 1) by Ben Weston

I was waiting for her at the bar and still wasn’t sure if it was a date.

[phone vibrates]

“I’m so sorry to be late to our first business meeting.”

Ok, so maybe it’s not a date.

After hanging out for about 20 minutes she says, “You know, when I first met you, I thought you were too charming to have any substance.”

Thank you!

Wait...that’s flirting, right? So it’s a date now?

---

I’ve recently been having private conversations with men around the Aziz Ansari news and #MeToo movement.

One thing that keeps coming up is feeling like you either can’t or it's unclear how to express your desires with women.

I get it. Expressing your desires is vulnerable and scary but you still want to be masculine and assertive, all the while not crossing any boundaries.

The problem is, I feel like the current models of behavior for men don’t do the job.

We have romantic comedies where the hero is a guy that keeps pursuing his love interest in spite of her numerous attempts to tell him “no”. Eventually she relents, says yes, and realizes he’s the man of her dreams.

(Why John Cusak, why?)

And then we have the pick up artist world where one of the first things you're taught is literally how to give a backhanded compliment to a woman -- a “neg” -- meant to show that you’re the kind of guy that’s NOT interested in her.

Good lord.

Keep pursuing her in spite of her repeated and clear “no” or pretend that you’re not interested in her?

Bob, I’ll choose what’s behind door #3, please.

---

As our “business meeting” progressed it felt like we were flirting and hitting it off but I still wasn’t sure where she was at.

Maybe she was just naturally flirty but didn’t mean anything from it?

I honestly had no clue.

After she finished sharing a story, I told her: “I have to confess - I’m having some difficulty focusing on what you’re saying because I’m finding myself really attracted to you.”

Without any hesitation, she responds with: “Oh, I know. But before you kiss me...”

Now, at the time of writing this, I’ve already spent several minutes desperately trying to remember what she said after that but I think in my excitement over her saying the words “kiss me” I zoned out a bit.

 :)

But I remember the gist of the message: wait.

We left to try to find dinner, finally locating a BBQ joint still serving food at that hour.

At some point after our pulled pork sandwich and fish tacos arrived she turned to me and asked, “May I kiss you?”

“Sweet Jesus, yes please!” is what I thought in my head.

I am 100% positive that I looked waaaaaay cooler giving a deep, manly “Yes” and leaning in.

(Damn, I really hope so)

Sure, that whole evolution from telling her I was attracted to her and her eventually asking to kiss me looks nothing like a typical romantic comedy setup or what pickup artists teach.

But damn, it’s just so much *easier* being upfront. I don’t want to be constantly guessing.

Plus, I find it extremely sexy when a woman is that direct with what she wants.

[Update: click here to find out what she had to say about the evening]