Anonymous sex blogging: when do I stop being Sarah?

Image by the genius Stuart F Taylor

If you’ve ever tried to hunt down my Real Life Identity, you probably know one thing for sure: my name is not Sarah. Sarah is the name I used in my books, and it’s the one I use when talking to journalists about sex blogging, if they aren’t comfortable calling me ‘Girl’ or ‘GOTN’. It’s the helpful comfort blanket I wrap around myself to maintain my anonymity: a tasty morsel of reality with which to distract people who might look further. But there comes a point when ‘helpful’ nudges into ‘deceptive’ territory. Notably, when I’m shagging someone.

Is it rude for me to shag someone without telling them my real name? I hope not, because I’ve done it more than once. As a general rule, I don’t think people need to know my real name: I’m still the same person, no matter what label you slap on me.

This post is going to be easier if I actually give you a name, so let’s say my real name is Beryl, just for argument’s sake.

Getting into the habit

There are some people who I’d rather just never called me ‘Beryl’. Not because I don’t trust them with the truth, but because human brains are fallible and bad. If a particular person is likely to be with me in sex blogging spaces, or talk about me to others who know that I’m ‘Girl on the Net‘, then telling them to call me by my real-life name in private will actively make their lives harder. You form certain habits when you see someone: Geoff’s face flashes into your vision and force of habit tells you ‘that’s Geoff!’. If Geoff changes his name to ‘Dan’ it’ll take you a while to get his name right – you need to unpick the habit from before and remake a new one with his brand new name. If you had to switch perfectly between the two depending on context? That’s tricky. And even trickier if the stakes are high.

I don’t think it’s fair of me to ask that of people. I give a massive shit about anonymity, so I’ve had years of practice calling myself by different names, and even I still cock it up sometimes. Encouraging dudes to form the habit of calling me ‘Beryl’ then immediately switch back to ‘Sarah’ in different spaces is an unreasonable demand on their fallible brains, and the risk if they get it wrong is that they’ll feel guilty and sad for doing something that’s basically inevitable. So I’ll never be ‘Beryl’ to these men, because I don’t want them blurting out ‘Beryl, do you fancy a drink?’ when we’re hanging with people who only know me as ‘Sarah, via anonymous sex blogging. It’s based on the principle I’ve (mostly) stuck to since I first started doing this: don’t cross the streams.

So why ever tell someone my name?

But not everyone I’m seeing is in that same position. Some people just happen to know me through the blog, or know that I am a blogger, but there’s little danger of them turning up at Eroticon and saying ‘hey Beryl! How you doing?’. And in those situations, not telling people my name could easily imply a lack of trust, and thus make me look extremely rude.

When do I tell them, though? I don’t want to come out with ‘I’m Beryl!’ just after the first shag, because if there isn’t a second shag then I’ve blown my anonymity for the sake of a quickie fumble. Maybe third shag? Or fifth? The problem is there’s no specific moment I can pinpoint where saying ‘I’m Beryl,’ feels like a good idea, but there are definitely moments when it feels too late, or too awkward, to have that chat.

There’s this one guy who I’ve been seeing for a little while. ‘Seeing’? Yeah, let’s go with that. We see each other. And then we get stoned. And then we fuck good. Wait! Not just good: good with promise. I met him via the blog, so I didn’t see any need for him to know my real name – Sarah is as good as any, isn’t it? I know exactly who he’s talking to if he moans it while I’m riding his cock.

At one point, when I was at his house, I ordered a cab from my phone. He came up behind me to give me a hug and I flicked my phone upside-down so quickly I nearly dropped it on the floor.

“Lol what?” he said, or something to that effect.

“It’s my ‘me’ phone,” I explained, “so if you see what’s on the screen you’ll see my real name.”

“I know your real name,” he told me, baffled. “It’s Sarah. That’s what you signed in my Christmas card.”

THE GUILT. I told him, hurriedly so as not to leave an unacknowledged lie hanging for longer than necessary, that ‘Sarah’ isn’t really my real name, it’s just the one I use for people who know me as GOTN. But the way he’d assumed I would have told him who I was by now made me realise that I probably should tell him at some point. He’s been inside my house, and he’s been inside me multiple times too. It’d be weird of me to hide this info for much longer.

And yet. That night, I did not tell him my name.

The best/worst timing

We continue to hang out occasionally, having fun chat and promising sex. There is no reason on this planet for him not to know my name. So next time I go round to fuck him, I’m wildly overthinking the whole scenario and wondering at what point I should just say ‘you don’t know my name yet, here it is: I’m Beryl’ without making either too big or too small a thing of what feels like significant information.

Inevitably, because I’m a twat, I end up telling him during a fuck. Teasing him ever-so-slightly with the fact that he doesn’t know my name yet. In the moment, it feels playful, because if I tell him my name I can make him beg me to fuck him in a far more personal way. Say ‘please, Beryl’ instead of ‘please, Sarah’ which I think I’ll get quite the kick out of. And maybe if I can tell him while we’re fucking, it’ll be funny rather than awkward.

I was right: it was. But not for the reason I thought.

Me: You don’t know my name yet.

Him: Oh don’t I? [brief, well-timed pause]… Beryl?

Absolutely solid-gold work.

Apparently he’d known for ages because he saw it on my phone at some point anyway. So he waited patiently, then picked his moment like some kind of sniper-slash-spy. Massive, massive kudos to him.

Huge apologies to anyone called Beryl.




  • Mark says:

    Honestly, the fact that you seem to be getting tied up by Fred from Scooby Doo feels like yet another hint to your true name. But probably not.

  • fuzzy says:

    ha ha ha, serious props to him…

  • Leonardo says:

    Beryl is a great name. It really needs to make a comeback.

  • SpaceCaptainSmith says:

    Interesting read!

    I was aware you use Sarah, but hadn’t given any thought to whether or not it’s your real life name. Common sense should have suggested that it isn’t – though frankly, it’s generic enough that if that was your real name, knowing it wouldn’t give people that much to go on.

    I guess I’d never thought about it because in the kink scene, it’s extremely common for people to use pseudonyms. So if someone tells you their name is ‘Alice’ (or whatever), there’s no point in wondering if it’s their real name or not; it’s what they want to be called. When you think about it, it’s pretty rare that you actually need to know someone’s real legal name, if you have a perfectly good name to call them by.

    I can see the value of it though as a mark of intimacy, disclosed only to the most trusted partners. (And the perhaps implied lie in using ‘Sarah’ instead.) But if I were you, I guess my attitude would be – does this person need to know my real name? Is he ever going to come into contact with my non-GOTN life? If not, I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong by keeping them on ‘Sarah’ terms.

    • Girl on the net says:

      “frankly, it’s generic enough that if that was your real name, knowing it wouldn’t give people that much to go on”

      Oh yeah for sure – one of the reasons I picked ‘Sarah’ is that it’s common enough in women of my demographic that no one’s going (I hope) to be asking random Sarahs if they’re ‘Girl on the Net’. And yeah definitely re: kink and pseudonyms – it wouldn’t occur to me to ask someone their real name, because I’d usually just go by what they tell me they’re called, but see reply below to Kitty – I think there’s something about the name which is more symbolic than literal. But not sure I’d really thought about that until I read Kitty’s comment to this post, so it’s been helpful to over think it a little more!

  • ftandhubby says:

    Kudos to anyone who knows how to read the room and clearly your friend had good timing. Now on the other hand are you quite sure you know his name? Also rather excited to learn (but not surprised) that guys from the blog have seen fit to pursue you and have managed to have some success. Lucky them.

  • Kitty says:

    I sincerely feel you’re overthinking this. Your name is whatever you want to be called, by most practical metrics Sarah _is_ your name if that’s what you choose.

    I have a friend whose name is actually his middle name, it took me years to discover this and most folk still don’t know. Another who shortens his so that one might assume it’s something else (like, say he called himself Rick, you’d likely think he’s Richard when in fact it’s Frederick) and again, this isn’t particularly common knowledge. But. Does it matter? Are they being dishonest?

    It’s a name you recognise and respond to, you’re not going to look round going “who? oh, me, right” when you hear it. Maybe Beryl’s your Sunday name and only your mother calls you that.

    And frankly, anyone who gets the arse about you wanting to protect your anonymity, well, that says more about them than you.

    • Girl on the net says:

      “you’re overthinking this” could literally be the tagline to my blog to be honest =)

      You’re right about those other names, of course, and I would never want to tell anyone else they’re dishonest for not using their literal birth-certificate name: there are myriad reasons to do that, and so whether someone else chooses to is none of my business. But for me, there is more of a significance in the name, I think. I don’t go by ‘Sarah’ for most of my actual life, and so all the while I’m ‘Sarah’ with someone it indicates that they are not part of (and by extension, potentially not *welcome* in) this other part of my life. For instance, they can’t meet my friends who know me as Beryl all the while I’m still trying to keep my real name a secret. It means when they come to visit me I’m hiding my post or any identifying info from my flat before they turn up. It means I’m occasionally having to check myself when I tell stories or mention other people, because if they still know me as ‘Sarah’ then there’s a virtual barrier to telling them other things too: I’ll open up less about my real life because Sarah serves as a reminder to keep this person distant.

      The fact is, these people aren’t just random walk-on characters who pop by to shag me then fuck off again. They are sometimes also my friends. And as my friends they want to know about my life (I hope!) and be interested in all the things that make me ‘me’, not just the things that make me ‘GOTN.’ This wouldn’t be true of a random casual shag, but it is true of people with whom I develop friendship or intimacy, and while no man has ever got the arse with me for caring about anonymity, there are definitely some who might be hurt if I remained spiky and closed off for too long. And I don’t want to hurt people. I also do want to be able to be friend-levels of intimate with men that I’m seeing regularly, and in order to do that I think the name really is significant.

      If only my Mum called me Beryl then yes, you’re absolutely right, it wouldn’t really matter that everyone else called me ‘Sarah’. But I have a whole life outside of this blog, with family and friends and activities that have nothing to do with sucking dick. And telling someone I’m ‘Beryl’ is not just about the name itself, it’s about recognising that if I like someone I want to be able to share some of that other stuff with them as well – be a whole person with/for them, not just Girl on the Net.

  • Kitty says:

    It’s something a dichotomy isn’t it. You, by necessity, have a duality and this is just a… eh, symptom is the wrong word… a feature of that. I guess the problem arises when that duality becomes more of a traditional Venn diagram than a line of demarcation.

    Do you think you’re misleading people, is that why it’s awkward to ‘fess up? Maybe “Hi, you can call me Sarah” is better than “Hi, my name is Sarah” but, eh, it’s a bit weaselly. If they know up front it’s not your real name though, it might make it easier to tell them later? Or I suppose, it may leave yourself open to “so when are you going to tell me your name then, eh, EH?” in a take-home-to-meet-the-parents sort of vibe. The male ego so very desperately wants to be told that it’s special. “Ooh, you’re so big, you’re the best I’ve ever had, by the way my name is Beryl!”

    Tricky things, people. I never really did get the hang of them.

  • This is one of your funniest posts ever, in my opinion. Love it – just what I needed at this moment.

    • Girl on the net says:

      My funniest post ever is someone else’s joke =D DAMMIT! I have told him this though and he seemed chuffed. Gonna have to get him on staff =)

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