Pushing a Dynamic

 

This, like most of my articles, is for both sides of the slash.  Let’s start with what you hear of more commonly.  The D-type pushing boundaries or pressuring an s-type, especially the newbies, to act as if they are in a power exchange dynamic.  So all you s-types listen up: Just because you’re AN s-type, doesn’t mean you’re HIS or HER s-type!  If you haven’t heard this before, it won’t be the last time.  A power exchange dynamic, just like play, is something you enter into with consent and communication.

So how might a D-type push these boundaries?

One way can be before you ever meet them.  It could be as soon as their first message to you.  Greeting you, making their intention known and then “giving you permission” to call them Sir/Mistress, etc.  Why? Just because you’re an s-type?  Calling someone by a title is something you do as part of a dynamic.  (By the way this is not in reference to those who refer to everyone as Sir or Ma’am out of politeness nor toward those that have it as part of their protocol.)  You in no way “owe” this to anyone, especially someone you’ve never met! Remember you have a voice.  Let them know you aren’t comfortable referring to them that way since you’ve never met.  Or perhaps it wasn’t their first message, but only a handful of messages in.  Either way, whether you’ve been chatting for one minute or one year, titles are things you discuss.  If they get upset, then I would take that as a huge red flag.  Chances are, at best, they are role-playing the D-type thing and really have no idea or interest in how these things work.  At worst, they are purposefully trying to manipulate you.

Besides expecting titles to be used, there are other ways that D-types can push a dynamic.  It could be at a party or munch where they tell you to get them something or expect you to cater to them.  Key words here are “tell you” and “expect”.  It’s one thing to politely ask for a favor, it’s another to simply assume you are at their beck and call just because of how you identify.

Now on to the other side of the issue.  S-types can push dynamic as well.  Here’s how…

So you, a D-type, find someone to chat with on Fetlife.  Things are going well up to this point, only a dozen or so messages back and forth so far.  That’s when the s-type hits you with, “what do you want to do to me Daddy/Mommy?” or “What did Master/Mistress do today?”

Daddy?! Master?!  Mommy?! Mistress?!

Hold on there!  These are titles that should be earned, discussed, and negotiated.  Now, this s-type could be trying to push for a dynamic or relationship prematurely, or they may not know any better.  I think it’s a common misperception that s-types are expected to use titles for every D-type.  This is especially true for those that are new in the scene.  I recommend, if this happens to you, to let them know that they do not need to call you by a title, that your name (or preferred label) is perfectly acceptable until or unless you both agree to enter into something more.  Now, if they disregard that request, then you may have an issue.

What it comes down to is that a power exchange dynamic is something to be respected and taken seriously.  Try not to move too quickly and be wary of those that do.  It’s ok to move at a slower pace, at your pace, until the time is right.

Know Thyself

 

Know thyself.  I say this a lot to my classes and my clients.  I have lived and continue to live in a way that I discover more about myself every day.  One thing this community and lifestyle can teach you are lessons about who you are, what your limits and boundaries are, and what you strive for.  Over time these things can change of course, however, growth and commitment to self-exploration are essential.

Many of us do this as we go along in this world.  It’s not like you go through a phase of life where you learn everything about yourself and then you’re just done all of a sudden.  I believe we should be growing and learning until we die.  So it’s not exactly reasonable to tell people to not live this lifestyle or begin to explore until they have everything figured out.  It is, however, reasonable to ask people to at least begin the journey of self-exploration and really start working hard on major issues before they enter into a serious D/s commitment with another human being.  Whether it’s issues from childhood or baggage from past relationships – these things should be addressed with serious concern and attention.  I’m not saying if you discover something that needs work and you are already in a relationship, to break it off and seclude yourself until you figure it out.  However, if you aren’t yet in one – take advantage of this time to sink your teeth into issues that may come up in a dynamic.

Now, many people think this is mostly a D-type issue.  That you can’t lead or be in charge of an s-type if you don’t have your own sh** handled.  While I agree that if you are a D-type you should certainly be working on yourself and have the ability to maintain control over your own life before taking the lead of someone else’s, I definitely don’t think it only applies to D-types.

S-types also have a responsibility to work on self.  We commonly talk about triggers when it comes to play and perhaps working through negative emotional reactions when dealing with poly dynamics or other issues the D-type introduces.  However, an s-type needs to also be working on his or her self as an individual.  An s-type cannot depend on their D-type for everything.  First of all, be a whole human being with individual thoughts, interests, hobbies, and friends.  Learn to develop personal boundaries and respect for yourself and those around you.  These are all things that will support you in contributing to your relationship and your dynamic.  Secondly, heaven forbid the D-type is gone – whether via break up or death.  The s-type needs to be able to function independently.  Otherwise their choice is what?  Flounder around clueless or desperately chase the next relationship which may be unhealthy just because they don’t feel they have a choice?  This is not ok.

I grew up with a mom who used to tell me that getting an education is incredibly important no matter my life plan.  She would tell me she would fully support me if I decided (after getting a degree) to be a stay-at-home wife and mother for the rest of my days.  However, if anything happened to my partner (divorce and death are rarely expected) she would know that at least I had an education to fall back on.  This is a very similar concept when it comes to developing yourself independent of your current or future partners.

As a D-type you should encourage your s-types growth, as you continue to grow as well.  As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, continuously work on self.  You can’t afford to ignore major issues.  If other people point out a problem, don’t let ego get in the way.  Stop and examine what they’re talking about.  Be willing to explore and change/work on what you need to.

Know thyself on either side of the slash.  It will do you, your partners, and this community a lot of good.

SAFE, SANE, AND CONSENSUAL – we hear this all the time, but what does it mean?  I want to take this opportunity to discuss a portion of this, which is the ‘consensual’ portion.  One way to make sure that what you’re doing is consensual is to negotiate.

Negotiating tends to get easier the more you do it.  In addition, as you play you will learn more about yourself including more things you need to include when you negotiate a scene.  (Negotiating a relationship or D/s dynamic is a whole seperate article.)

The conundrum is that while you want to cover important things when you negotiate, you also don’t want to negotiate the scene to death.  Many scenes are about an exchange of energy and may include elements that the top/D-type doesn’t want to necessarily devulge to the bottom/s-type.  This is true especially for players that know each other well, are regular play partners, or in a dynamic/relationship.  The negotiation I’m focusing on is the “newbie negotiation”.  Assuming you are fairly new to kink or new to your partner, or both.  Below is an easy way to remember what should be covered and descriptions for each element.

As I have been teaching the 101 series I have gone over what should be covered (in general) when negotiating play almost every week. I decided to come up with an easy to remember acronym. They are not necessarily in order of importance, but I had to make it into a “word”! lol

 

Negotiation Acronym: S.M.A.S.H.T.

 

An easy way to remember the basic things that should be covered in a negotiation for play.

 

S – Safewords

M – Medical

A – Aftercare

S – Soft Limits

H – Hard Limits

T – Triggers

 

Safewords – sometimes it’s not enough to just agree that the typical “stoplight” system be used. (Note: if you are using other safewords please also inform a Dungeon Monitor)  “Green” means it’s all good and you are enjoying what’s happening.  Most people don’t actually shout “green”!  Although that may be kinda funny!  Lol  Usually giggles or moans are good indicators. “Red” is also pretty straightforward.  It means you STOP.  Stop whatever is happening and immediately check in with the bottom.  I have found that people’s understanding or expectation of “yellow” can vary. It’s important to make sure you are on the same page.  If the bottom expects the top to simply “lighten up” when they call yellow but the top assumes they should stop and check in (similar to a red with perhaps less urgency) – this may effect the bottoms head space.  The bottom should tell the top during negotiation that, “if I call yellow it just means you’re going too hard but don’t stop and talk to me because it will interupt my head space.”

 

Medical – not just obvious things like surgeries, joint issues, injuries, etc, but also things like asthma, blood sugar issues, or allergies.  Allergies can be food related but also if they have any allergy to natural fiber you may need to double think about the type of rope you’re using (if any) or if other toys have been stored with rope that can cause a reaction.  Also if there are animal allergies and you have toys made with any kind of fur, etc.

 

Aftercare – this varies from person to person and possibly scene to scene with the same person.  Some people enjoy close snuggling or putting their head in the tops lap while others may need some time alone or to not be touched.  (side note – even if they ask to be left alone they should always be somewhere that you can keep an eye on them)  Always have water at the ready for both parties and food may be desired as well.  If you know you need to eat right after I suggest having something that you bring so that you are not relying on the club to have food once you’re done playing.  Even just throwing a protien bar in your bag is a good back up.

 

Soft limits – this refers to limits that the bottom isn’t interested in or has concerns about, but are willing to try them or push. This may also include activities that the bottom knows they don’t like, however, is willing to do them from a place of service or submission.

 

Hard limits – limits that are a no go. Not happening. Nope.

 

Triggers – psychological or emotional responses that can effect the scene (usually negatively). Can be body positions, for example the bottom may be fine on a cross but if they are bent over furniture it makes them feel too vulnerable or exposed.  It can also remind them of childhood punishments and cause a negative response.  Verbal triggers, often in the use of humiliation and/or degredation play.  The bottom my not be ok with any “negative” talk – only affirmations or positive feedback.  They may also be ok with some types of humilation but not others.  For example sexual humiliation is ok but don’t call them anything negative in reference to their intelligence or weight.  Certain implements can trigger someone.  Perhaps as a child they were always hit with a belt as punishment.  For some they may seek out belts for impact due to this experience OR it may become a negative trigger/reminder.  Particular parts of the body is something else to consider.  You can have a bottom who is a heavy masochist that you can do almost anything to…..except don’t touch their feet!  (for example)  Maybe you have to stay away from face slapping due to it triggering memories of past abuse, or their stomach due to insecurities, etc.

 

All of the above should be discussed with concern for both parties. The top may have medical issues or triggers that the bottom should be aware of, both should be on the same page as far as safewords and limits, and the top may have their own requests for aftercare!

 

Also, make sure you understand the intention of the scene.  I know two people that did a full negotiation – listed all the things they both liked – then as they began, realized they BOTH assumed they were the Top!  Decide together if this is more of a casual, teaching scene.  Perhaps one or both of you are looking for experience but not necessarily power exchange.  Do you want it to have a certain energy?  Energy of the scene isn’t always something you can control, and in my opinion it’s usually best when you don’t try to, however, if one person is looking for a very sensual energy and the other desires a more strict and disciplined energy that’s good to know up front.

 

You may need to add to this depending on the type of play or intensity of the scene – but this should cover all your basics.

 

I hope this helps!

It’s ok to be a D-type

 

Defining “D-type”: general term I use to encompass those that identify as a Dominant, Master, Mistress, Goddess, Trainer, Top, Owner, Daddy/Mommy, etc.

D-types in the BDSM community are those that hold the power or control that their s-type surrenders, or yields, to them.  Why would someone want to assume this great responsibility?  The answers will vary depending on who you talk to.  People are drawn to this roll for a variety of reasons.  Some reasons may include a desire to maintain control, power, or decision making for another, wanting to provide structure or discipline, bestow a sense of safety and caretaking, and/or seeking service from another.

Where does Dominance come from?  Why are some people naturally this way or seek this role in relationships?  Again, just as with s-types, not all paths or reasons are healthy.  Many are quite healthy.  There are complex layers that turn us toward certain partners in life, vanilla or kinky. It may be that it is an extension of how they were raised.  Messages like, “A man is the head of the household.” or “A strong woman is independant and shouldn’t be controlled.” could contribute to someone being a D-type.  It could also be that they grew up with chaos or feel a lack of control in many aspects of their life (ie, answering to a boss, etc) and so taking consensual control within their relationship is empowering.

One complaint about 50 Shades of Gray is that the books portray the main character, a D-type, as a man who has found this dynamic as a result of childhood abuse.  While this may be true for some kinksters, both s and D-types, it is certainly not true for many – if not most.  It’s unfortunate that this popular piece of fiction has perpetuated negative stereotypes.

There are many messages, that D-types may hear from folks around them and pieces like 50 shades.

 

“You’re just a control freak.”

“You are a predator that wants to take advantage and use other people.”

“You need to control your partner? You must be insecure or overcompensating for attributes you lack.”

“You’re an asshole/bitch.”

 

Or worse yet, you hear these types of messages from your vanilla partners before realizing that it’s OK to be a D-type.  This is where I want to tell you about an ex of mine because her story is a perfect example of someone being naturally inclined towards Dominance, yet suppressing it due to external negative messages.

When I met *Lisa she claimed to be “the most vanilla person you’ll ever meet”.  So why did I persue a relationship with her?  I don’t know, perhaps I saw that as a challenge or maybe it was her punny sense of humor.  That part doesn’t matter.  What matters is the part where I started introducing her to the kink scene.  I started with munches, then slowly introducing her to my friends, and eventually taking her to parties.  It was a whole new world and experience for her but after the initial shock wore off she was starting to have fun.  We began to introduce more kinky play into our dynamic and she was taking lessons and tips from so many wonderful people that embraced her.  As our relationship continued I started to encourage her to take the lead with decisions and making demands.  I showed her through my response that not only did I not fight her on these things, I actually thrived in following her lead and supporting her commands.

At first it was difficult for her and we would discuss why.  Turns out she had some fairly strong Dominant traits all her life, yet when she would act upon them in her vanilla relationships, her girlfriends did not appreciate those traits at all.  They wanted to be equal and it would turn into a power struggle as opposed to a power exchange.  After enough of these experiences within failed relationships she ended up suppressing these Dominant traits.  She was attempting to maintain the peace when her partners would accuse her of being “too controlling”.  Her natural Dominant tendencies became “wrong” and “bad”.

So there I was – opening her eyes to a whole world where people thrive with the structure she was attempting to suppress.  She was experiencing a relationship with me, who not only accepted, but encouraged her Dominant side.  She was finally able to accept and cherish parts of herself that she had grown to villainize.

She learned that it is OK to be a D-type.

Something I say in my classes is, “the D in D-type should NOT stand for Douche-bag”. It should stand for Dominant and represent someone who comes from a place of confidence and security.  Someone who can be trusted and someone with integrity.

Dominance in and of itself is not a bad thing.  It’s when people use it in a harmful or irresponsible way that leads to abuse (emotional, physical, or psychological) or intentional/unintentional harm.  If you are Dominant take responsibility for how you express that Dominance.  There are many s-types out there that thrive on and crave what you have to offer.  It is your responsibility to understand what you are offering, continue to grow and learn, take classes, join discussion groups, read more articles, etc.  Don’t take advantage of your role and use it to control your s-type in an unhealthy way.  Part of your responsibilities as a D-type and as a partner is to support your s-type in reaching their full potential.  Know and accept your Dominance, embrace it, and use it for good.

 

*Actual name not used

First, what do I mean by “s-type”? For those that don’t know I refer to anyone that identifies as a slave, submissive, bottom, pet, property, or babygirl/boy (etc) as an s-type.  It’s just an easier way to refer to this group without listing every specific identifier.

What does it mean to identify as an s-type?  Why would someone desire, or even crave, to yield their control or power to another human being?  This isn’t an easy question to answer, as there are many answers out there depending on who you ask.  Some reasons may include a desire to surrender control, power, or decision making, wanting someone else to provide structure or discipline, feeling a sense of safety and caretaking, and being of service to someone else.

The paths that get an individual to this place – this want for surrender – will also vary from person to person.  Not all paths or reasons are healthy.  Many are quite healthy.  There are complex layers that turn us toward certain partners in life, vanilla or kinky.  It may be that one didn’t receive the care and discipline he/she required as a child and therefore finds it in a D/s dynamic.  It could be simply that the rest of their life demands authority (high powered job, parenting, etc) and the ability to release that control with a trusted partner is like going to a spa after a long hard day.  These are only two possible examples of why someone may be drawn toward submission.  Not everyone understands this draw however.

 

“It’s 2015 – you don’t need to bow down to a man!”

“Seriously man – are you that pussy whipped?”

“Slave? How can you let him/her call you that?  You’re a grown adult!”

“You mean to tell me you do whatever he/she tells you to do?!  Hell no!”

“It sounds like you are just being used and taken advantage of.”

 

As an s-type we hear so many things from friends and loved ones who just don’t understand or who view our situation from a skewed perspective.  Female s-types get lip from the “feminists” about how many years were spent fighting for equality, only for us to throw it all away by stripping our power willingly.  However, we need to keep in mind that true feminists would argue that we should have equal freedoms to CHOOSE our behaviors and our lifestyle.  Therefore, choosing to consensually yield power, control, etc is, in fact, a huge leap from the days that it was NOT our choice.  Everything in our life comes down to the decisions we make.  Even in circumstances where we hold no power or control, we still choose how to respond. The movie ‘Life is Beautiful’ comes to mind.  (If you haven’t seen it you should!)  The point is, we all have the right to decide how we live our life.  If we choose to turn over power to someone we trust and respect then that choice should be honored.  Male s-types usually catch flack for different reasons.  They hear messages like submission isn’t manly.  They get called pussies or wimps.  Which is kind of hilarious when you think about the fact that many of them could take a much heavier beat down than their “domly” friends.  (Although they enjoy it, so maybe not a fair comparison. lol)  Again, how is it less manly to CHOOSE how they live their life?  To consent to behaviors, dynamics and protocols that make them happy and enrich their life and their relationships?

To every male or female s-type that finds comfort and satisfaction in their submission, how is it any different than the person who finds this in a bottle of beer, a favorite sport, or the traditional vanilla relationship dynamic?  Human beings seek safety, comfort, love, affection, and happiness.  It isn’t for anyone to judge how you do that so long as nobody is getting hurt (in a bad way!).  So take pride in your s-type identity!  Slave, submissive, pet, boy/girl, property, bottom, little.  Embrace who you are because it’s OK to be an s-type!