30 Days of Kink: Day 22

What do you think is important in keeping a BDSM relationship healthy?  How does it differ from a vanilla relationship?

Oh, I hope you have some time to kill.

Well, first of all, honest, open communication is important.  You have to be comfortable enough with each other to communicate your desires, curiosities, needs, concerns, etc.  It sounds easy on paper, but it’s something that’s very difficult to do, and something that I’ve noticed often becomes an issue in vanilla relationships.

So that’s one way that BDSM relationships differ from vanilla ones.  BDSM relationships require, simply by the nature of the relationship, a level of communication that vanilla relationships often never even touch on.  Negotiating kinks and limits and needs means that you talk about sex.  A lot.  You talk about what you love, you talk about your fantasies, you talk about things you wish were different.  Both partners are engaged, both partners take an active role in the relationship, regardless of which role that may be.  And all of that effort, all of that intimacy pays off in other areas of the relationship.  You get used to talking about everything.  When nothing is taboo, it opens up so many avenues for communication.

Trust and vulnerability are important.  And they go hand in hand (in my opinion, anyway).  I mean, obviously a huge degree of trust is required from the submissive.  They are (often quite literally) putting their physical, mental, and emotional health, their very lives in someone else’s hands, at a level that many people would find unsettling, or even disturbing.  And it’s more than just being tied up and beaten.  They open themselves up to someone else to an extreme that vanilla people don’t.  Their hearts, their minds, their souls are all laid bare for someone else to explore, to break, to nurture.

That requires an insane level of trust, and the vulnerability that comes with it can be terrifying.  Being a submissive takes a level of emotional and mental strength that is not common.

But people tend to forget about the Dominants.  Trust and vulnerability are required from Dominants, as well.  Granted, they aren’t laid bare to the extent that their submissive is, but the intensity, the intimacy, the depravity of BDSM relationships breeds a unique sort of vulnerability not found anywhere else.

Yes, the Dominant must trust their submissive (and I’ll get to that in a minute) but first and foremost, she needs to trust herself.  She needs to know her own limitations, she needs to be confident in her own abilities.  She needs to trust her judgment, trust her intuition, trust her ability to assess and reassess any given situation, make a decision, and commit to it.  She needs to trust in herself in a way that not many vanilla people learn to do.

And yes, she needs to trust her submissive.  Of course, she needs to trust that he’ll tell her if something’s wrong, if he needs help, if there’s a concern that she needs to be aware of.  But it goes deeper than that.

Because being a Dominant in a session (for me, anyway) is, in itself, an act of vulnerability.  For me, in my day-to-day life, there’s a lot of myself that I keep locked away.  There’s a lot that I don’t do, a lot that I don’t say, a lot that I don’t act on.  My sadism, for example, is a part of myself that I’m a bit uncomfortable with, simply because I don’t know the limits of it (and I’m pretty damn sure the limits of my sadism far exceed the limits of the law).  So I clamp that shit down.

But in a session, I let it out.  I keep a tight rein on it, obviously, and I am always in control (which is why I won’t play altered.  That control is all that’s keeping me out of jail and a boy out of the hospital.  That’s not something I’m going to fuck with).  But I can let loose that part of me that is always locked away.  I can be more myself than I can be anywhere else.  I show more of who I am in a session than anywhere else.

It’s a unique kind of vulnerability, and I trust my submissive with it.  I show him a part of myself very few ever get to see.  It’s more than what I do.  It’s who I am.  I have to trust him with it, even if the idea is uncomfortable or frightening.  I have to push myself to put that trust in him.

Otherwise, what’s the fucking point?

I’ve been in a couple of vanilla relationships here and there, and even tried dating a Dom once (yeah, imagine how that went), and there just isn’t that same level for me.  They don’t see the “real me,” because I don’t let it out around them.  I’m still walled off, still isolated, still protected.  I don’t have to trust them.

And it’s not the same.

So yes, a Dominant puts so much of herself into a D/s relationship, she puts so much of herself into her submissive, that the vulnerability inevitably comes into play.  And she has to trust her submissive with it.

Intensity is something else that comes into play, and I think is necessary for a healthy D/s relationship.  Granted, some D/s relationships are more intense than others, but there needs to be that passion, that hunger.  Not necessarily primal, but something close.  Complacency is a killer in any relationship dynamic, but so much more so in D/s ones.  Intensity is a big fucking deal.  Once you lose it, it’s difficult to get back, and the relationship will suffer.  A Dominant should always inspire just a little bit of nervousness in her subs, and she should always be hungry for them.  She can’t allow that to go away.  She needs to work to make sure it doesn’t.

And I mean, the responsibility doesn’t fall exclusively on her shoulders.  No one, not even a Dominant, can be expected to carry a relationship on their own.  Her submissive needs to want to serve, to actively submit, rather than lie back and wait to be used.  He needs to work at it.  They both need to carry the relationship.

They both need that intensity.  They both need to work at keeping it.

5 thoughts on “30 Days of Kink: Day 22

  1. wifey says:

    Great post! There were two main points that stood out to me: 1) the issue of vulnerability and being yourself and 2) the issue of keeping the relationship fresh and creating energy.

    As to the first point, I agree that being vulnerable (from both sides) is what makes a D/s relationship so special. Doms and subs learn so much about each other during play and talking about play and many vanilla couples simply don’t have that level of emotional connection. I truly believe that most people walk through life being unaware of who they truly are because they refuse to self-examine. Those same people also don’t really know their partners on their deepest emotional levels. People that are truly immersed in the D/s lifestyle are naturally forced to face those “demons” in themselves and others.

    As to the second point, I 100% agree with this notion that a D/s relationship requires care, time and energy to keep the relationship fresh and moving forward. A D/s relationship requires energy from both partners without a doubt, albeit from very different positions. I believe (as you do) that a Dom must lead and a sub must serve enthusiastically (and want to serve). But I’m in agreement with Lady Grey that 95% of the responsibility for keeping the relationship fresh and moving forward lies with the Dom. She states such here:


    I agree with her because it is the natural consequence of the D/s relationship…particularly in service-oriented relationships. I believe it is the job of the Dom to require service, help the sub grow, be a good leader and move the relationship forward with new ideas and activities. It is the job of the sub to participate with enthusiasm and bend to the will of the Dom. It’s my opinion that 95% of all of that happens because of the time and energy that the Dom creates.

    I know that for a service-oriented sub like myself that I need to be instructed by my Dom about what to do, when to do it and how to do it. From a mental perspective I need my Dom to be the one to require service, review my performance and put me in different situations. If I am the one leading and guiding I feel like I’m topping from the bottom and I feel badly about my sub side.

    Ms. Jen, what are your thoughts on this “95%” notion?

    • Domina Jen says:

      I absolutely believe that the Dominant partner is responsible for leading, guiding, and taking the relationship forward. She needs to create structure for her submissive, she needs to teach him how to serve her, she needs to work to continue to inspire just a little bit of nervousness in her sub. She needs to put the time and energy into keeping the relationship new and fresh. In that respect, yes, I agree with the “95%” notion. It is not the sub’s responsibility to guide or lead. It is the Dominant’s.

      However, the sub needs to actively and enthusiastically submit. If he doesn’t, if he refuses (for whatever reason), there’s absolutely nothing a Domme can do on her own. She can continue to “up the ante,” she can take the dynamic farther and farther, until she eventually crosses boundaries. But if she’s consistently met with nothing, then she can’t continue to carry the relationship on her own. So yes, I agree that the bulk of the responsibility for keeping the relationship new and exciting falls to the Domme, but the sub needs to be willing to follow and willing to serve. In the big scheme of things, it doesn’t account for a lot of the responsibility, but it’s important, nonetheless. 95% isn’t enough to sustain a relationship.

  2. Saying very well said, doesn’t even begin to do this post justice.

  3. […] Source: 30 Days of Kink: Day 22 […]

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