How do I love thee, let me count the ways, states the Bard. Can love be a contributory factor in draining the zest from our power exchange dynamic? I believe that it is possible – I’ve seen it happen. We are socialized from birth to refrain from hurting those that we love. And when I say hurt in this context Im not just talking about the physical – for example we live in a society that places a very high value on personal freedom. In our M/s and D/s relationships we challenge those boundaries. Masters often limit the rights and freedoms of those in relationship with them. In a society that prizes personal freedom can that imposition of will, the limiting of anothers freedom be interpreted by either or both parties as painful? What happens when social conditioning runs into the freedom we enjoy in terms of our M/s or D/s relationships? What are the other factors that can contribute to short circuiting Dominance in a relationship?
Prior to generating such intense feelings of love towards someone else we may be content to just go with the flow of our Dominant tendencies without analyzing them, but the nature of a love relationship, especially NRE (new relationship energy) tends to cause us to look at nearly everything about our lives in a new light.
Perhaps our inner critic tells us every now and then that we probably shouldnt be doing what we are doing anyway and especially not enjoying it – that our behaviour (being sadistic for example) would be unacceptable to many whose opinions we respect. Additionally, a large part of being in love is the feeling of acceptance we receive from our significant other. She/he appears to accept us as we are. Its human nature IMO to express our pleasure from experiencing that by not acting in ways that would damage or diminsh that acceptance. (like by hurting them physically/emotionally/mentally for example)
Finally, its easy to get lazy and neglect to continue to do the same things that led to success after we have achieved our goals. Regardless of the kind of work we do, whether its am M/s relationship or building a career or even growing a tomato plant – in the short term we will often still receive the ‘benefits’ like we used to…even though we arent working nearly as hard as before. We often dont notice the warning signs until we arent getting any tomatoes at all, so to speak.
There are other bullet points I could point out, but you get the picture. Any one of the above is enough to short circuit Dominance as a ongoing part of a relationship. Put two or three together and things get really tough. Protocols start to slip, rules get relaxed, we arent as demanding as we used to be etc… This isnt just exclusive to our M/s or D/s world either – vanilla men routinely unintentionally sabotage their relationships just as often – they meet a girl, she’s blown away by how confident and independent he is, and then a couple years down the road they discover that while his persona as a single guy was very direct and confident and perhaps a little arrogant…the guy that he models himself after in a marriage relationship is his Dad, who was very egalitarian and basically appeared to dote on his Mom and so on….so what happens now…..He’s frustrated because he feels like no matter what he does to ‘make her happy’ she’s never satisfied and she’s frustrated because the change in him has been so gradual…she cant put her finger on what’s wrong. She just feels adrift and vacillates back and forth between thinking that it might be her fault, then going back to it being him again. They cycle back and forth and this may go on for years.
I strongly feel like whether M/s D/s or vanilla – this does NOT have to happen. Not to any of us.
But it happens way too often because we just dont know what to do. As Masters, we tend to fall into the Inner Critic loop of non-enforcement of our rules, followed by beating ourselves up for being neglectful, followed by internal shame for not enforcing, which makes us hesitant to act, which leads to non-enforcement and so on. How do we get out of that spiral?
From the Master’s perspective I have to face the fact that I DO have to choose. And we have a responsibility to ourselves and to those who we own to do so. Even if your choice is to not make a choice – to not act, to literally STOP doing the things that led to your attracting, retaining and growing your slave or submissive, recognize that too is a choice – and has consequences. Loving and sharing your life with another person isnt easy by any stretch – many of us know how to do vanilla and Im not going to say that’s easy either cause it isnt – a 65% divorce rate is ample proof of that. The fact of the matter is that it does really take work to own another person, to Master another person. The rewards are fantastic if you are willing to put in the time and energy – but just like with the earlier example of a career, or the growing of a tomato plant, you are going to get out of it pretty much what you put into it.
Here’s the paradox – whatever the Master chooses, He isnt wrong. But he must choose.
I’ll say that one more time; whatever the Master chooses, He isnt wrong. But He has to choose.
It would be easy to try to box this in terms of black and white. Good Master=choosing to be diligent and stay on top of his slave and work hard at keeping the structure intact/Bad Master= taking it easy, not being so hard on the slave etc…. its rarely that simple and who can say? There are plenty of Dominants and Masters that have successful M/s or D/s relationships based upon very loosely defined structures. They have identified the structure they prefer and they are consistent in doing the things that make that relationship work best. They havent lost their edge, so to speak. They are living within the boundaries of the structure they prefer. Its what they have chosen. They can look anyone in the eye and say this is mine – this is what I want, this is what I like – this is fulfilling to me.
Say I decide tomorrow that all this life of sadism and leather and scening and fireplay and whatever is no longer for me. I come to the conclusion that I’d rather just watch the ballgame. That is my right – for this is my House and no man may come under my roof and tell me otherwise. However, I should recognize that there is a cost associated with that decision. In the larger community it is unreasonable for me to expect people to come hear me teach on pressure point play if I dont actually DO pressure point work..I dont study, dont practice and dont have any aptitude or love for it. On an interpersonal relationship note, I probably would be being unreasonable to have an expectation of my slave to continue to respond to dominance that is really only in her head under the heading of What We Used to Do. If I say I want a high protocol household, but we dont actually do high protocol, If in that situation Im actually really laid back, then we are going to have troubles. Or perhaps if I have very high expectations of my slave..but I dont say anything to her and hold her in contempt for not reading my mind and acting according to my wishes.
Many M/s couples say that they are very ‘fluid’ in their household/relationship structure…by that I believe they mean that they tend to move in whatever direction continues to make them comfortable and happy, adding and subtracting things as necessary, but not being overly rigid in format. In my own experience I know that wouldnt work for me very well. From a practical standpoint I believe that its very difficult for subs or slaves to ‘intuit’ what is or isnt important anymore to the Dominant or Master. It is also tough for a sub or slave to adjust their expectations to match a horizon that is constantly shifting and changing in unexpected directions. How do we as Masters and Dominants get ‘back on track?’ so to speak? To once again move in harmony with each other – like two jets flying in formation, or a basketball player brilliantly handling a ‘no-look’ pass – it may look easy on the surface, but typically it is the end result of a lot of hard work. The Master or Dominant taking the time to choose a specific path and then to consistently communicate that choice (or choices) to those that need to have this information.
Its about making the literal connection between input or communication and the results that we are seeking.
In some cases, it may be about reaffirmation and recommitment to a particular path, embracing the idea and giving oneself permission again to take the power and responsibility for the path of another.
For some it may involve a period of solitude – taking time out to focus on what is important, taking a hard, honest look and answering the question What do I really want out of this lifestyle?
Or re-engagement with the kink community where you live…seeking out others as resources and support. At times the shared language of understanding and building lasting relationships with others that share your lifestyle can yield significant benefits. No one of us is as smart as all of us – you can learn a lot from just watching and listening.
You may also need to consciously reject the ideas and principles of the ‘vanilla’ world that are inconsistent with your direction as an M/s or D/s household or relationship.
This life is fundamentally about choice, its about freedom. The freedom to choose for another person and also the freedom to give up our ability to make choices if that is our hearts desire. As Dominants, we lose our edge when we stop making choices.