Day 22: What do you think is important in keeping a BDSM/kink relationship healthy? What differences and similarities do you see in a kink relationship and a vanilla relationship.

There are a number of things that are vital to the maintenance of a healthy relationship. These things are also important to a vanilla relationship; however, it is my experience that a vanilla relationship failing does not have the same intense emotional impact that the end of a kink relationship does. Yes, there is pain and grief at the end of a vanilla relationship. A kink relationship, however, is one of intense extremes. There are times when you may be quite literally trusting your partner with your very life. I believe there are three things that are absolutely required for a healthy kink relationship: self-awareness, trust, and communication.

Self-awareness: Some come to a new kink relationship with years of experience under their belt. Others come with nothing kinkier than doggy style sex. It doesn’t matter how much experience you have. What matters, is knowing yourself. As you explore your sexuality, be open to your own thoughts and emotions. If you don’t like a specific kink activity, that’s okay. If something triggers a negative emotional reaction, that’s ok. What is important is being aware of the reactions and being accepting of yourself. Don’t try to force yourself into a box you don’t fit in. No matter how hard you try, the square peg won’t fit into the round hole unless you shave some of it off. Don’t shave some of yourself off just to fit into a label.

Trust: Trust yourself. Trust your partner, but first trust yourself. Self-doubt is absolutely toxic to any relationship, but perhaps more so in kink relationships. Regardless of which “side of the slash” you identify with, you must trust yourself. It is only then that you can be psychologically okay with some of the more extreme aspects of kink.

Communication: This one is the one every one talks about. In a vanilla relationship, communication typically is about things like feelings, finances, home decorating, careers, etc. A kink relationship has all of those same things, but more. Communicate your desires with your partner. Let them know if you want to try something new. Let them know if you didn’t like something done in a scene. Let them see your vulnerability. Let them see you.

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The Depressed Sub

I have a sneaking suspicion this isn’t going to be very popular, but oh well. Here goes anyway.

I am a sub, not a fucking robot. I see all the time doms complaining that they are not fetish dispensers, and I agree with that. I’m not one either! Even for my partner, I am not always submissive. It’s not me being bratty, or obstinate, or any other derogatory term you wish to fashion. In reality, it is that there are times when I simply cannot be submissive.

I am fully aware this is a choice that I am making. But, believe me, I make it with both my partner and myself in mind. The times I cannot be submissive are almost entirely driven by my depression. I have to make the choice to not submit, or find alternative means of pleasing my partner, in order to ensure my own mental well-being as well as the well-being of the relationship. It’s not an easy thing to do when the only thing my brain wants to do is dig itself deeper into whatever dark cavern triggered the bout of depression.

Everyone gets depressed. It is a quite normal emotional state. The difference is that the vast majority of people can change what they are doing, temporarily change their environment, or simply “pick themselves up by their bootstraps” and break the mental cycle. Those of us with depression, are unable to do any of the above. We end up digging ourselves such a deep mental hole, bouncing from one depressant thought to the next, that eventually we don’t know which way is up much less how to break the vicious cycle of our own thoughts. Often, the entire mental cycle is accompanied with thoughts of severe self loathing, general unworthiness, and self doubt.

Now, imagine just for a moment, someone in this emotional state submitting to a beating, being humiliated and degraded, or submitting to any number of socially unacceptable sex acts. Trust me, it is not a pretty picture. The simple act of submitting, and the resulting thought patterns, in many ways mimics the symptoms of depression. For anyone already in the grip of depression, it can often intensify them to a completely intolerable point. The damage to be caused to a person in this state is very real and long lasting. The damage to the relationship is also very real and most likely permanent.

So, if your sub is suddenly not so subby, or acting completely out of character, you may do well to think back over the past couple of days. Did something happen with work, family, a night out? Or, {insert shocked gasp here}, how about try talking to your sub beyond demands, requests and to-do lists. Your relationship will thank you for it!

Nurturing the Bond of Dominance

A few days ago, Talllover64 wrote a post titled, Nurturing the Bond of Submission. One of the comments on that post was that it seemed as if he was saying that the responsibility for nurturing the relationship fell totally on the submissive. As written from his point of view, he was indeed saying that the submissive had responsibility for nurturing the relationship; however, he was not saying that the submissive had the sole responsibility. The dominant does have responsibility to nurture the relationship as well.

I intended to write a corresponding post from the dominant’s perspective; however, many of the points raised in the original post are as valid from the dominant side. Therefore, I will borrow heavily from his original post. All sections in italics are from the original writing.

In a D/s relationship, a strong bond can develop between Dominant and submissive partners that is founded on mutual trust and shared experiences. This bond is like nothing else I have ever felt between myself and another. It is a beautiful, wonderful and sensual connection between two persons that is indescribably joyful.

Something that is key to me here is the foundation of mutual trust. It is often mentioned that the submissive must trust their dominant. That is not a one way street, however.  The dominant must also trust the submissive. We can do everything in our power to ensure that our submissive is happy and healthy, but we have to trust that they will let us know when something is amiss. Many of the things that occur or can occur within a d/s relationship are things that we, as dominants, know others may judge us for. Sadism, humiliation, control, possessiveness, etc. We trust that our submissive will not judge us as less human for engaging in these things once we have their consent.

Shared experience: For me, that is how the mutual trust is built. Some level of trust can be given from the beginning. It is what allows us to pursue a relationship, a friendship, a flirtationship. Any level of positive interaction with another human being require some initial investment of trust. As we share our past experiences through communication, and we make new experiences with each other, that trust either grows or is chipped away.

I view trust like bricks in a wall. Walls, in the context of a relationship, are usually used as a metaphor for something negative, something to keep someone out. Yes, walls do keep things out, but they also keep things in. Things like warmth, safety, security. If we view trust as bricks, then we bring the first bricks to the relationship. Our shared experiences can serve either as mortar or as a hammer. As the frequency of our interactions increase in a positive manner, we are cementing together the bricks, strengthening our wall, adding new bricks as we go.  If the interactions are negative, they act as a hammer, knocking bricks off the wall.

 

As a submissive, I forgot that I have responsibilities in the relationship. I forgot that I need to act and not just react to my Dominant partner. The lesson I learned is that as the submissive you have a responsibility in ensuring the success of the relationship. The bond of submission must be nurtured and cared for, and it must be nurtured and cared for by you.

While written in the context of a lesson learned from a past relationship, Talllover64 was spot on with this….except the paragraph could be just as easily written with the roles swapped. As the dominant, I have a responsibility in ensuring the success of the relationship. The bond must be nurtured and cared for by me. If I am contributing more bricks and mortar to the wall, and I am checking for cracks, and flaws, then I am doing my part. If my submissive is also doing the same, then we ensure our best chance for a strong wall. If my submissive stops helping me build the wall, I have a responsibility to call this to their attention, to find out why they have stopped.

However, to a submissive entering into the world of kink for the first time, exploring my submissive self for the first time, engaging in a D/s relationship for the first time, and trying to please a Dominant partner for the first time, nothing was obvious, and nothing seemed normal.

I was a new dominant almost a decade ago, and nothing was obvious to me either. I got focused on the things…all the things. Restraints and paddles and toys, oh my!! I forgot to nurture trust and share of myself. I forgot to grow in my dominance with my submissive.

To those contemplating entering into a D/s relationship as a submissive and to those already in a D/s relationship as a submissive, don’t forget to about your bond with your partner. This bond is precious. This bond sustains and grows the relationship. As a submissive, there is no better feeling in the world but to know the deep joy that fills you when you please your Dominant partner.

Nurture this bond through communication with your partner. Nurture this bond by telling your partner everything. No matter how stupid, no matter how inane, no matter how trivial, say it. Tell your partner like your relationship depends on it because it does.

To those contemplating entering into a d/s relationship as a dominant and to those already in a s/s relationship as a dominant, don’t forget to about your bond with your partner. This bond is precious. This bond sustains and grows the relationship. As a dominant, there is no better feeling in the world but to know the deep joy that fills your submissive when they feel safe in your dominance. When, no matter how hard you push them, they find peace in your arms.

Nurture this bond through communication with your partner. Nurture this bond by telling your partner everything. As a dominant, it is your responsibility to make sure that your partner is in an appropriate headspace to process what you are telling them. Don’t abuse their subspace. Keep their headspace safe. But do tell your partner what is on your mind. Tell your partner like your relationship depends on it because it does.

Headspace: The ins and outs for me

I have heard more versions of what headspace is, whether or not it is a good thing, whether it is dangerous or not, etc, than probably the weeks than I have been alive on the planet.  Everyone has their own version.  There is a good reason for this phenomenon:  headspace is intensely personal, and everyone deals with it in their own way.  What I am writing now is NOT to be taken as “This is how headspace should be and what you should do” but rather just me relating my thoughts on it.

With my Lady, I reach many different levels of subspace.  Anywhere from not at all, to gone to the world for an hour or more.  Regardless of the deepness level, I do tend to have a ritual of “self-aftercare” involving a beer and a cigarette.  This in no way means that my Lady does not provide aftercare, or that I do not want it.  She comforts, soothes, does all the things I require during this time, regardless of the level of subspace she has taken me to.

There are times that I get so damn deep into subspace that I would literally be incapable of giving directions to the gas station across the street.  I am completely coherent, I know what is going on, but it all seems far away and frankly the connection between thought and words seems to get disconnected.  I could no more tell my Lady what I need than I could walk outside and jump to the moon.  This is definitely where she shines.  She is attentive, patient, guiding me not out of subspace, but back into the safety of her arms. She gets me to a physically safe place, and then holds and cuddles me until I swim my way back out of subspace into reality.

Yes, coming out of subspace feels like swimming up from a deep lake or pond, for me at least.  All my thoughts are there, but the mental perception of drowning in emotion should I open my mouth is all too real.  All the emotions are good ones, but they are entirely overwhelming when they hit all at once with no filter on them.  Raw love, admiration, respect, gratitude…  I may not have words for all of them, actually.  It is not a case that I do not want these emotions expressed, but I have to have the time to process them myself, which happens in subspace as I am swimming back to reality.

As far as whether or not it is healthy, I’m not a mental health professional.  However, I do know that for me it largely depends on my partner.  If, as with my Lady, I have a caring and understanding partner, I do believe it is an entirely healthy experience.  I get the time to recoup my senses, work through all the thoughts and emotions, and most often our night continues.  I have been with partners who were not at all caring or understanding.  They viewed subspace as taking me away from them and having their accolades sung by me for the job they did, which I suppose in a certain sense it does. With them, I actively did everything I could to avoid losing myself to the experience, and thus to subspace, because the outcome was invariably unhealthily filled with guilt, shame and pressure.  The only answer I can truly give is the overall feeling I have the next day, good or bad, of the experience in total is what determines its health for me.

So, in closing, should everyone strive to find their own headspace?  I believe so, but I strongly caution for you to allow your own relationship, and your own mind, dictate what it looks and feels like.  To me, my subspace is in invaluable tool in determining if I liked, loved, or hated the activities that happened to send me there.  During the actual scene, and immediately afterward, I am too involved in my own physical feelings to recognize any mental sides to it.  It is the process of subspace that gives me clarity to the overall situation.  Not immediately after I come back to earth, certainly, but after reflection with a clear head the next day.

I know I have written this almost exclusively from a subspace perspective.  That is the headspace I have the most experience with personally.  However, I do recognize there are others, such as domspace and little space, which require elements of care from the partner not in them.  But as my experience with them is extremely limited or non-existent, I will leave it for someone else to expound on them.  All states of altered perception require a caring, understanding hand from the other partner to be healthy in my opinion.

Day 10: What are your hard limits? Why are these hard limits?

I typically reserve discussions of my personal limits for intimate partners; however, in the interest of providing a discussion of the importance of negotiation and limits, I will talk about one of my hardest limits.

Blood: I have a rock hard limit of blood. Blood freaks me out. I can handle the sight of it in an emergency situation, but I cannot separate the sight of blood from the thought that there is automatically an emergency. Because of this, blood in the bedroom is a hard limit.

What does that mean? It means that I have a responsibility to tell my partner how hard of a limit that is, and to stress to them that not only will I not be drawing any blood or breaking skin, they need to not do so either. Yes, accidents happen. I do bleed. But if they draw blood, they need to do everything they can to make sure I do not see it. Meaning: clean me up before I realize there’s been blood.

Does experience matter?

I responded to a post yesterday about a more experienced submissive than the dominant they were in a relationship with. I have been in that position a couple of different times, so it wasn’t hard to offer advice. However, without derailing their post entirely, I could not in good conscious say all that I had to say on the subject.

Now, we all get into relationships with partners of varying levels of experience compared to our own. It is the nature of everyone being an individual. A person can have years of experience as a rope top or bottom and none in corporeal punishment. There are folks with experience in degradation and humiliation that have no idea how to handle a service oriented submissive though they have always been the dominant in their previous relationships. The comparisons are as numerous as the experiences you can think of.

The question of mentors came up in the replies, and I agreed that they can be useful in having questions answered about specific activities. If you want to learn how to successfully and safely suspend a human in rope bondage, having a mentor that has experience in doing so is definitely going to come in handy. If you stop and think about it, it only makes sense.

What I did not want to say in my comment was there is a whole area of experience that while harder to quantify and define may well be even more important over all. It is not experience in specific activities that I allude to, but rather the experience of living in the mind and body of an individual. This is true for both dominants and submissives. It is impossible for a person to know everything that is in the mind of another. We can come close with communication, but I highly doubt an individual ever divulges all their own deepest, darkest secrets. These individual, and largely internal, experiences do not nullify the fact that they are experiences at all, even if they have only happened in the imagination. The human imagination, combined with a cursory sense of research, is a very powerful thing. After all, it is our imaginations that form our fantasies in the first place, without experience or research. It is this mental adventuring that in fact leads most of us to our respective roles within any lifestyle relationship.

So, back to the question of does experience matter? Yes and no would have to be the only logical answer. If you are only concerned with specific activities, it definitely does, and should. But in terms of a relationship, the emphasis on experience is lessened by the fact that we are all individuals. There is no “One Twue Way” that is going to work for everyone. Each relationship is a unique entity, and should be approached and treated as such. It is not so much about each person’s experience, but the experiences that can be created, shared and enjoyed between two unique individuals.

Something to make ya go “HMMM”

My use of the word lifestyle encompasses anyone and everyone who enjoys sexual activities not currently in the sexual vocabulary of the general public.  There is a surprising large community of these like minded individuals from all corners of the world and from all social and economic backgrounds.  We are not monsters hiding in the closet or under your bed.  In fact, I would be willing to wager that you work with, went to college with, or attend church with people in the lifestyle.

But a curious thing is happening which I do not understand or condone.  It seems that some people have gotten it into their heads that there is some form of hierarchy to be derived from the level of one’s participation in kinky activities.  I have seen it alluded to many times that people in 24/7 dynamics are more true to the lifestyle of BDSM than the kinky bedroom-only players, or that strictly play partners, while both may be respected members of their local community as individuals, they as a play couple are somehow less,  and people just experimenting have no place in the lifestyle. This is an absurd notion to me.

The lifestyle is supposedly governed by the idea of you kink your way, I’ll kink mine.  It is a self-defense mechanism to limit the influence of the “One True Way” mindset.  No one is the same, and none of us have the same likes and dislikes as the kink community as a whole.  That is the very point of having a community. Being able to have a resource of information, opinion and insight that is non-judgmental is the very reason many of us ever ventured into the community in the first place.  Hell, if I was interested in being judged, or set upon some pedestal, I would simply have to talk to my family!  I would like to think that the larger lifestyle community is much more open, honest and understanding.  And dammit, we should be! Thankfully, the vast majority of people are.

We all came to the community in search of something we were unable to find, or unwilling to try and find, from the general public:  acceptance.  We tend to stay in the shadows of the public because in many parts of the world careers, the right to see our children, social connections and a host of other things are at risk merely for the fact that we are not perceived as “normal” and there are many misconceptions about the lifestyle floating around among the “normal” folk.  So, we come to the community searching for a safe haven.

Why would we then, in our entirely self-governed community, allow it to be fractured into this idea of an unneeded, unwarranted, baseless notion that there is in fact a hierarchy among the members?  I, for one, am no better for being in a 24/7 dynamic based relationship than the man who enjoys a little light bondage or the occasional swat of a buttock while having sex doggie style.  I say we make welcome all people, regardless of their current or planned level of  participation, or what their kinks are.  Remember that notion of you kink your way, I’ll kink mine?  Yeah, we need to get back to that, and remember it is not the community’s job to necessarily agree as a whole, but to support as a whole.  If you count yourself as a member of the community, this means the acceptance has to come from you, regardless of what you may actually think personally about how it fits into your life.

How do I stop being Jealous?

I’m often asked this question, and the short answer is: “You don’t”.

Jealousy in itself is not a bad thing. There is no such thing as a bad emotion, only a bad response to one. Jealousy is human.

The longer answer is this:

I don’t think the question  that should be asked is how to not be jealous. Jealousy is something we all experience from time to time. I think the key is communication and honesty with yourself and your partner. When you feel jealous, decide if it is something you can brush off or not. If you cannot deal with the jealousy on your own, communicate with your partner. Tell them you are feeling jealous, and tell them what has happened that may be contributing to that feeling.

Not only will communicating openly with your partner strengthen your relationship, it will also provide an opportunity to express your doubts and give your partner the opportunity to help you work through it.

Bear in mind, that your jealousy is not your partner’s fault. They may have done something that sparked the jealous fires, but the emotion is not their fault. That is your emotion, and you need to own it. Taking ownership of the emotion does not make it your fault either. It does, however, put the responsibility on you to respond to the emotion in a way that in constructive to your own well-being.

Remember, there are no bad emotions. Only bad responses.

Pushing Limits

Limits are good. Hard limits, soft limits, it doesn’t matter…limits are good. Communicating those limits is even better. But even if something is not a hard limit or a soft limit, there are still limits.

How much pain can you take (and enjoy)? How long can you be denied an orgasm? How long can you kneel? These are just some examples of limits within things that may not be limits. And like hard and soft limits, these limits will be unique to each person.

So what do you do as a dominant, when your submissive enjoys testing and pushing limits? How do you find the limit without going over?

The simple answer: Feedback.

The long answer: Communicate with them. Check in during the scene to see how they are doing. Ask if they want more. There is nothing sexier to me than someone saying “more please” when I check in with them. Encourage them to say something when they reach the limit. And when they speak up: STOP.

Learning from my Mistake: D/s Communication for the submissive

Studio Session 4-29-170713The most vivid and vital lessons of our lives can be gleaned from what we learn from our mistakes. Trial and error, especially realized error, can help us prevent further mistakes, or at the very least, minimize our misguided ways in the future. When shared with others, our mistakes can be the lessons passed on to persons in similar situations or roles. This is one of these hard-learned lessons in my role as a submissive male that I pass along and share with you.

As a first-time male submissive I eagerly enjoined into a D/s relationship with a wonderful and beautiful Domme. It was an intoxicating experience that exceeded my wildest dreams. My Dominant partner worked tirelessly to ensure my happiness as a submissive and take all appropriate care to ensure my consent and provide me opportunities for communication. Her advice was relevant, timely, and germane to every situation. Unfortunately, her advice fell on deaf ears.

There are many things you are willing to give up as a submissive male. You give of yourself in so many ways. In the power exchange of the D/s relationship, the submissive male consensually gives of himself to the needs or pleasures of his Dominant partner. The giving could be the innate nature of the submissive or part of the joy the submissive receives from giving of himself. After a while, the giving becomes second nature and submissive may be willing to give more and more to please his partner.

There are two things that a submissive male must never surrender. The first is his consent. As a submissive, you always possess the power to say no. In a healthy and functioning D/s relationship the submissive male always retains that power. In my relationship, I never forgot the power of my of consent. There were times when I gave my consent to cross boundaries or to go beyond where I had expected. I had absolute trust in my partner that my consent would never be violated.

The second thing a submissive male must never surrender is his right and ability to communicate. Communication is a vital and essential pillar of the D/s relationship. A failure to communicate to your partner can lead to a lack of trust. A lack of trust or a failure of communication can lead to the end of the D/s relationship. This was my failing. I failed to communicate to my partner. I was not truthful and the relationship rightfully ended.

So what happened? I will present some causes here, but they are not meant as excuses. These explanations are here for your edification and to prevent you from making the same errors I did. Think about them, dwell on them, and for heaven’s sake, don’t do what I did!

So how does communication breakdown in a D/s relationship? A submissive is focused pleasing his partner. The nature of the submissive male is often focused on pleasing another rather than pleasing himself. Sometimes a submissive can get caught up in the need or the desire to make his partner happy. The need to please can begin to affect the submissive male in some unexpected ways.

Rather than focus on communicating his needs, the submissive might begin to hold back information, withhold his feelings. The submissive might begin to tell his partner only what he thinks she wants to hear. The need for the submissive male to please is a strong inner drive that can begin to mask his true feelings.

Rather than true and open communication, the submissive male begins to parse out pieces of information, only giving the pieces he thinks his partner wants to hear. The result is the submissive male is not being truthful with his known wants and needs and thereby not being with honest with his partner. This is a tragic failing for the D/s relationship.

Another tragic communication failure is in limiting what is communicated to your partner. As a submissive male you might wonder what is appropriate to communicate to your Dominant partner and what is appropriate not to tell your partner. The simplistic answer is, tell her everything. In this case, the simplistic answer is the correct answer. Tell her everything.

Why would you limit what you want to tell your Dominant partner? Why would you not tell her everything? Fear, plain and simple. Fear of losing the kink, fear of losing the joy, fear of losing the pleasure of servitude. If you tell your Dominant partner everything, will you lose her? Fear stops communication. The great irony is that my fear not only stopped my communication, but it also stopped my relationship.

So what is a submissive male to do? Communicate! Tell everything. A true D/s relationship requires absolute trust. You trust your partner when engage in play. I trusted my partner with every part of my body. Bound, immobile, helpless, used, spanked, hurt, or more, I knew that she would always respect my consent, my needs, my wants. I needed to translate that trust in play to trust in communication. You need to communicate everything instead of what you think you need to communicate.

Lessons learned. Lessons you don’t have to learn the way I did. Instead, learn from these words, learn from my experiences. Communication in a D/s relationship is paramount. Tell everything. Tell it all. Trust her in your mind just as you trust her in play. Never give up your right to communication. Never give up your right to speak your mind. Never doubt that you will be heard. Enjoy your kink and enjoy an open, lasting, trusting, D/s experience as a submissive male.