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.

Tips for Using BDSM Dating Sites

BDSM dating sites are an easy way to connect to the fun world of BDSM dating. For a lot of people, they feel nervous trying to find someone in person for BDSM. Plus, they don’t want to have to worry about connecting with people who aren’t interested in BDSM.

Finding the right person on a BDSM dating website is everyone’s goal. In order to help with that, we have written a list of some of the most helpful tips for using BDSM dating sites.

Be Safe

The most important thing that we wanted to include in this article is that you need to be safe. Never give out your personal information online. Instead, meet in a public place and start sharing information from there. If you feel comfortable at the point of meeting up, you can make the decision then.

Start With Regular Conversation

Yes, you are looking for someone who shares the same kinks as you when you are on a BDSM dating website, but people aren’t looking to go straight into sexual talk. Instead, they want to start off with conversation starters, just like normal dating websites.

If you start with a regular conversation you are far more likely to find a match.

Don’t Be Shy

One of the biggest benefits of using a BDSM dating website is that you can start to get to know your potential partner online before meeting them. If you are shy you won’t get anywhere with your online dating goals. Being open doesn’t mean sharing your personal information, it means sharing likes, dislikes, messaging first, and generally not being shy when it comes to messaging and the content of messages.

Fill Out Your Profile Thoroughly

BDSM dating sites are intended for those who are interested in the lifestyle. That means there is no harm to filling out your profile completely. In fact, the reverse is true. If you don’t fill out your profile completely, people might think you are a fake or not serious.

A full profile helps others to learn if they like you as their profile helps you to learn.

Finding The Right Dating Website

Finding a good BDSM dating website like BDSMdatingonly can be hard. You will spend a lot of time looking around the internet in order to find the BDSM website that is right for you. To help make the process quicker, use BDSM Dating Sites. It is a directory of BDSM dating websites for singles to use.

Be Honest

In any relationship, whether it is BDSM or not, you need to be honest. A lack of honesty on your profile, in your messages, or on your first date will be noticed eventually. That can lead to a lack of trust or even the failure of your date.

The BDSM community can be pretty tight knit, but more importantly, they watch out for each other. If you lie to someone the word can spread quicker than you want it to. When word spreads in your local community you might not even be able to find a date.

You Will Likely Send A Lot Of Messages

Chances are that you will spend a lot of time sending messages. Sometimes hundreds. A match doesn’t happen right away and not everyone responds to their messages. Don’t get upset if you find someone you are really attracted to but they don’t message you back.

Don’t swamp one person with messages. One message is enough. It all boils down to being patient.

Use The Block Button

Rudeness and similar traits are something that you don’t want when dating. It is a sign that there is potentially something worse about the person. Plus, you are going to BDSM dating sites to enjoy yourself, not to be berated by a stranger. Block anyone who is rude or who gives you a bad feeling.

The BDSM world is growing rapidly with the popularity of Fifty Shades of Gray and so are the number of dating websites out there. Make sure you take these tips to mind in order to get the most out of BDSM dating. Each one of these tips is picked for its ability to help you succeed in finding what you are looking for in the big world of BDSM.

*Sponsored by BDSMdatingonly.com

Causes of Emotional/Psychological Triggers During Play


Triggers are things that should be acknowledged in a relationship and are one of the things we look at especially when we are going to play.  This article can’t cover all the specific triggers you may or may not have, however, it will cover what various things can cause a trigger.  You can be triggered in a positive way as well – which is lovely and not in need of an article!  🙂  Unfortunately most triggers are discovered because they happen during play.  If this happens, whether you continue the scene or not, it is something to discuss and process – and then add to your future negotiations.  The following are examples in each category and certainly not an all inclusive list.

TYPE OF IMPLEMENT/PLAY – You may be triggered by  specific implement or type of play.  Maybe your punishment as a child was being hit with a belt.  For many it’s a fetish and for some with a similar story, they may have turned it around into an enjoyable experience.  However, if it creates a bad association for you, then it’s a trigger.  Perhaps you were assaulted in the past and now a scene that includes “consensual non-consent” floods you with those awful memories.

POSITIONING – Being tied to a cross may not be a big deal, however, if told to take a spanking in the “diaper” position (basically laying on your back and pulling up your knees, similar to a baby getting a diaper change) you feel humiliated, and not in a sexy way.

PART OF BODY – There may be one or more places on your body that you don’t want touched, exposed or impacted.  Sometimes this is because it just makes you angry if it happens and takes you out of your headspace.  Sometimes there is a certain body part(s) that is linked to trauma or bad memories, etc.

WORDS – There are words that can trigger negative feelings.  I might be really into sexual humiliation, yet if you call me fat or stupid (or the equivalent) I will be triggered.  Being called certain tites/names can also be a trigger.

SOUND – The best example for this that I’ve seen is a Veteran having a PTSD response to someone cracking a whip.  It could also be something as simple as a specific song.

SMELL – Our sense of smell is largely connected to our memories.  You may be triggered by a certain type of cologne/perfume, cleaning products, lotion, etc.


Nothing is silly or unimportant.  If it triggers you negatively PLEASE incude it when you negotiate your scene.  Your Top will appreciate it!




Subspace and Subdrop

Subspace is something you hear about all the time in the scene.  If you haven’t experienced it, then it may be this elusive wonderment of mind altering amazingness.  If you have experienced it, then you know it can take different forms.  It may be a simple state of relaxation, almost meditative, to a feeling compared to an out of body experience.  One thing is important to keep in mind.  You don’t need to experience subspace to enjoy an amazing scene.

So what is subspace anyway?  Subspace can happen due to two different things.  One is pain, or physically, based. It is basically what happens when various chemicals in your body are released during play.  When your body experiences extreme sensations it releases endorphins and adrenaline.  These increase pain tolerance and can induce a floaty, trance-like state of mind.  One thing I like to compare this to is a runner’s high.  It’s the most similar “vanilla” activity I can think of for comparison if you haven’t experienced subspace yet.  Bottoms will commonly compare it to feeling drunk, tipsy, or floaty.

The other type of subspace is more psychologically based.  The bottom may experience this “spacey” feeling upon kneeling at the start of the scene at their Top’s feet, or feeling their Top’s hand grip their hair.  These mental and emotional associations are strong and can cause an instant feeling of relaxation and centeredness.  This is typically a lovely feeling that connects the bottom more strongly with their play partner/Top and helps them relax into the scene.  It can also help a bottom connect more to their submission.

Keep in mind that with either or both types of subspace – the bottom is in an altered state of mind.  This is why I make it a rule to never re-negotiate limits during a scene.  It would be equivalent to asking someone to have sex while they’re drunk who had previously said no.  Also it’s important to understand that because their pain tolerance is hightened, the Top should maintain awareness of how hard they go with play.

Now.  What goes up, must come down.


Once the body has pushed these chemicals into your system, they must eventually regulate.  When play is done the body stops releasing extra endorphins, etc and the body’s more regulated system kicks in.  The immediate indication of this is typically a decrease in body temperature and a more trance-like state of mind.  This is why you will see bottoms in aftercare wrapped in a blanket and looking disconnected.  Drop is one reason that aftercare is so important.  However, drop can happen hours or days after the scene has ended.

Symptoms of drop are similar to mild depression.  The bottom may feel lethargic, sad, moody, irritable, confused, etc.  This is why it’s a good idea, as a Top, to check in with your bottom for a few days after your scene.  For most people drop will resolve itself. However, some things can also help if you’re having a difficult time.  Getting a little exercise can help tremendously – even just a short brisk walk.  I like to include some dark chocolate (but who doesn’t like an excuse to have a little chocolate?!).  You can also do things like meditation or journaling.  Bubble baths, music, favorite movies, a good book or just a good night sleep are all wonderful ideas as well.  Having friends to talk to is another extremely helpful tool.  Keep a support network around you.  If you know your Top may not be as available in the day or two after play then have a couple friends on hand you can talk with instead.  With these things and people in place – you should be back to your normal self in no time!

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.



What is aftercare?  What does it entail?  Why do people need/want it?


Aftercare, in it’s simplest definition, is something that takes place in the time following a scene.  In my opinion, it’s best to think of aftercare as a part of a scene – the last chapter of the story, so to speak.

First, let’s talk about what aftercare may look like.  It is different for different people.  In general you will tend to see the bottom covered or wrapped in some kind of blanket if available, drinking water, perhaps laying with or next to the Top.  They may have their head on the Top’s lap – either laying on a seat or bench next to them or sitting at the Top’s feet.  Once they’ve rested for a bit they may look to eat some food and talk quietly about the scene or just about how both parties are feeling.

So what are some variations to this?  Some bottoms have very specific aftercare requests.  My advise to those with certain needs that aren’t guaranteed is to have those things on hand.  If you always love to eat a cookie after play, bring a cookie.  If you like a specific blanket, bring it.  Don’t rely on your Top or the club to have these things on hand.  There may be plenty of snacks out before you start your scene and by the time you’re done it’s all been eaten.  Another idea (and great for fulfilling any “service” needs/fetishes you have) is to pack up a little picnic with water and snacks for both you and your Top.  It is a very nice thing to do – especially if you know you will have a more intense scene.

Some bottoms or Tops need the opposite of the “norm”.  They may need to be left alone for a certain amount of time.  Perhaps they don’t like to be touched right after play for a while.  They may not want to talk.  There are some Tops that don’t enjoy giving aftercare, or whose aftercare requirements include activities that remove them from the bottom.  Maybe they like to go straight outside to cool off and have a smoke.

Tops that don’t enjoy or don’t offer aftercare, for whatever reason, should discuss this during negotiation and offer other support or recommend that the bottom has another person for support or aftercare after the scene.  Never leave a bottom hanging after a scene is over!  Even if the bottom wants to not be touched or spoken to – still make sure you have an eye on them.

Also, leave enough time – don’t fill your dance card with scenes and no time in between for aftercare.  Like I said, aftercare should be negotiated as a part of the scene.  I recommend having no more than 1-2 “planned” scenes in one evening.  If more happen and it’s all good – great.  However, this allows for time in case something goes wrong, a bottom needs more time in aftercare, a trigger comes up, etc.  You never want someone to feel bad or guilty because you make them feel rushed or that giving them aftercare is an inconvenience.

Having said that, just as some Tops don’t enjoy aftercare, there are bottoms that don’t need or want it either.  If a bottom says they typically don’t need aftercare that’s ok.  However, I still advise leaving enough time for it.  The bottom may experience something in the scene that causes them to desire aftercare or perhaps they reach subspace (or a different level of subspace) and they want some aftercare.  Again, better to make the time and not need it than to need it and not have the time.


So now the question is why? Why do people (for the most part) seek out aftercare?  To me the reasons why fall under one or more of three categories – the 3 “R’s” – Reconnection, Reflection/debriefing, and/or Recouperation.

Reconnection.  Most scenes include one or more of the following – role play/various headspaces, humiliation and/or degredation, and/or pain.  Aftercare provides a time for both parties to connect with one another in a positive way – whether it’s a play partner who is an aquantance, friend or romantic partner.  It reinforces the respect, friendship and/or love they have for one another.

Reflection/debriefing. This can be a time to talk a little about the scene itself.  The good stuff as well as anything that may have triggered either party.  Discussion over what worked or didn’t.  Making sure that everyone is ok emotionally and psychologically.  There may be more of this over the first few days following a scene but this can be a time to speak to it in general.

Recouperation.  Make sure you are both drinking water and getting some food if necessary.  If any minor injuries occured during the scene or something was uncomfortable physically this may be a time to double check and make sure it’s all good.  Also, the bottom may be a bit “spacey” having gone into subspace a little or a lot.  Aftercare gives them time to “come down a bit” so they can walk, talk, and eventually drive home.  Sometimes you may not be in subspace but still feel sleepy or just generally “out of it” for a bit.  These feelings go for Tops as well!

General rule: never take advantage of someone during aftercare!  They are usually in an altered state due to the chemicals that were released in their body.  You should not make any sexual advances or play advances during this time unless it was negotiated BEFORE the scene!

There is an extention of aftercare that also needs to be addressed.  As the Top you should be prepared to check in with the bottom the next day and a couple days later.  This is to cover any possible subdrop.  If you know you won’t be able to check in, then make sure the bottom has arranged for another friend to check in with them or that they have alternative plans in place.  Bottoms, this is also a great time to continue to reflect on the scene and write a messege to your Top giving them feedback.


All in all, aftercare can be, and usually is, a lovely and peaceful time for both (or all) people involved in a scene.  It serves many purposes for most people.  I know a few folks that look forward to the aftercare even more than the scene itself!  Don’t treat it as an afterthought – aftercare can be just as important as the play involved.  Enjoy it!

What is a Switch?


When someone tells you they identify as a Dominant or Master, submissive or slave – you have a pretty good idea what that means.  But how about when someone tells you they’re a switch?  Well, it means you need to ask more questions.

I often compare somebody that identifies as a switch to someone who identifies as bisexual.  Now, before you get all upset, I understand that sexual orientation and D/s dynamic identifiers have nothing to do with one another.  That is not what I compare.  Here is what I mean: both identities lay upon a spectrum and there are some similar stereotypes that both groups deal with.

On one hand you can have someone like me when I first started in the scene – I personally identified as an s-type, however, I had the skills to top and did enjoy it on occasion with a handful of people.  So, technically, I could say I was a switch because I could Top and bottom for play.  However, for me, I had no interest in being anyone’s Dominant or being involved in a D/s dynamic with me as the D-type.  I couldn’t say it would never happen because I knew better, it just wasn’t something I was interested in at the time.  On the other hand you will find people (like me currently) that feel equally Dominant and submissive and may have a partner (or partners) that they switch with – or are in a poly situation where they have one (or more) partner(s) they submit to and another (or others) they are a Dominant to.  Some people may flow from one to another – go through phases if you will.  Some times in their life they feel the need for more submission and at other times feel the need to express more of their Dominant side.  Still others may lean more toward one side or another but it’s closer to a 60/40 than someone else who is closer to 80/20 (or so).

The point is that there is a very diverse spectrum when it comes to being a switch.  Everyone is different and you just need to ask what it means to them.

Now I would like to address the stereotype that seems to get placed on switches that reminds me of the one placed on those that identify as bisexual.  It’s the stereotype that a switch is confused about their identity, going through a phase, or just doesn’t want to commit one way or the other.  While these things, of course, can be true for some people – it is not true for most.

Being a switch is just as much who they are as someone who knows they are a D-type or an s-type.  I am not confused about what I like.  That doesn’t mean it may not change.  When I discovered this community I swore I was totally an s-type and would never be able to Top.  Eventually I started exploring it because, well, why not?  I believe this lifestyle is perfect for self-exploration and growth!  So I explored the “Top side” of play.  I had always gone to classes to learn how to use implements, etc. to enhance my play as a bottom and learn about it for safety reasons.  So once I started to Top I already had some skill.  I found I tend to prefer Topping s-type women.  I can Top men, however, I usually do that from more of a “service Top” position.  It’s not what curls my toes.  I don’t know what will develop down the line.  None of us really know what the future holds.  Does that exploration and growth mean I was just “going through a phase”?  Absolutely not.  I still feel my submission pulled from male Dom energy and believe I always will.  It’s simply a matter of how my Top side has grown and with whom.

We all have our own story and our own journey.  This space allows us to explore and reach in directions we never thought possible.  Know thyself and then get to know others.  Especially those darn switches!  🙂




This is not my original writing – reference: https://www.morethantwo.com/polymistakes.html

This is a long article, however, if you are in a poly dynamic or thinking about entering one, this hits on many important points.  I like it because it is written for those who are approaching poly from a well-intentioned and compassionate place, yet mistakes and hazards can still happen.


Common mistakes in poly relationships

With grateful acknowledgement to Suzie, for her insight and contributions


There is an excellent guide to screwing up poly relationships on the alt.polyamory site, which describes in some detail the petty, mean-spirited, malicious things that you can do to help ensure that your relationship fails in the most dramatic, painful way possible.

This is not that page.

This page is designed to describe some of the mistakes you can make in a non-monogamous relationship even if you are compassionate, honest, and well-intentioned. Sometimes, building a stable, happy, non-monogamous relationship is not intuitive, and there are mistakes that can be made along the road no matter how well-intentioned you may be. Ideally, you should seek to learn from other people’s mistakes rather than your own; it’s a lot less trouble.

Don’t make assumptions about your partner or your relationship; talk about everything

There are people in the world who don’t like talking about relationship stuff, or who see it as an onerous chore. The problem with that is you can easily end up in a situation where you think something’s okay with your partner, or that you’re at some place in your relationship with your partner, or that you’re in a type of relationship that allows some things or doesn’t allow others, and your partner has a completely different idea. Finding that out by talking about it is a lot less dramatic than finding it out by crossing a line you didn’t even know existed. Be clear up front about what your partner expects from you (and about what you expect from your partner), and you’ll be a lot happier, trust me.

Don’t ignore the consequences of your actions—even the unintended consequences

The law of unintended consequence is as universal and as inescapable as the law of gravity, and is certainly more than capable of screwing up your romantic relationship beyond all recognition.

Put simply, your decisions and your actions have consequences for both your partners and your relationships, and you bear responsibility for these consequences—even if you feel that your decisions were appropriate and justified, even if you feel that your actions were expressly permitted by the rules of your relationship.

The most common example of unintended consequence can be found in relationships that have “veto” rules permitting one partner to veto another partner’s romantic relationships. Most of the time, veto is a negotiated and mutually agreed-upon rule; the people in a relationship that includes a veto power explicitly give that veto power to their partner.

Yet if your partner falls in love with someone, and you then veto that relationship, you are almost certain to hurt your partner. It does not matter if your partner explicitly agreed to that veto power and explicitly consented to give you that power; when a person loses a romantic relationship, it hurts. That’s the way human beings work. When you hurt your partner, that can and likely will affect your relationship with your partner, even if your partner explicitly gave you that power. Now, I’m not saying you should never exercise a veto; but I am saying that when you make a decision affecting your partner, seek to understand how it affects your partner, and take responsibility for that. Say “Yes, I know this hurts you, and I’m sorry.” Acknowledge that your decisions may affect your relationship with your partner, and take responsibility for those effects, even if they were unintended.

This is probably the single most crucial factor to the success of any relationship. Everything you do—whether it’s inviting your partner to some function but not inviting your partner’s partners, or seeking to exclude your partner’s other partners from things that are important to you, or even something as simple as not acknowledging the value your partner sees in his or her other relationships—will affect your relationship with your partner, sometimes in subtle ways and sometimes in ways that are more obvious. Be aware of the consequences of your decisions as well as your reasons for making them.

Don’t try to micromanage your feelings, or those of your partners

One of the more common problems in a polyamorous relationship arises when one of the people involved, in an effort to feel less threatened or more secure, seeks to control the extent to which his or her partner becomes emotionally involved with another partner. People often feel threatened by emotional intimacy—sometimes, more threatened than by physical intimacy. But trying to micromanage emotions isn’t the way to solve that problem.

Emotions are resistant to being managed that way; it’s virtually impossible to pass a “rule” that says “you may be physically intimate with another person, but you may not be emotionally intimate past this point” and have it stick. It’s not always possible to predict what relationships will become emotionally intimate, or how they’ll become emotionally intimate; attempting to manage insecurity or fear by micromanaging emotional connections is virtually certain to fail. In fact, sometimes, attempts to micromanage emotional intimacy lead to the next problem, which is:

Don’t destroy the village in order to save it

It’s a given in most relationships of any sort at all that hurting one’s partner will hurt the relationship. It really doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that if you break your lover’s heart, you will cause damage to your relationship.

One way to break your lover’s heart is to force your lover to withdraw from a person he or she loves, which is where rules forbidding emotional intimacy generally end. Because emotions can’t be arbitrarily controlled, and because it’s not always possible to predict in advance when a relationship will become emotionally intimate, people who build relationship structures in which emotional intimacy is forbidden often end up unintentionally violating those structures. When that happens, a choice must be made: the rules forbidding emotional intimacy can change, or the person who’s become emotionally intimate with a new partner can withdraw from that partner. Doing the latter is going to cause a lot of pain, both for that person and for his or her new partner; eventually, that pain is going to affect the existing relationship.

In an effort to avoid making this mistake, though, people sometimes commit the next, which is:

Don’t expect someone to develop the same relationship with both you and your partner

One way people sometimes seek to address the problem of feeling threatened by emotional intimacy is to say “Okay, emotional intimacy is not a problem, as long as a new partner becomes involved with both of us and loves both of us. That way, nobody feels left out, and nobody needs to feel jealous.”

On paper, it looks great. In the real world, however, it’s not usually successful, because it rests on an assumption that isn’t true—namely, that it’s possible to dictate that two separate relationships can develop at the same rate and to the same degree with two different people.

Let’s assume that a person begins dating a pair of identical twins, and that he or she spends the same amount of time with each of them. Even in that situation, it’s not realistic to expect both relationships to develop at the same rate and in the same way. Relationships, like people, are individuals, and it simply isn’t realistic to think that a relationship with two different people will turn out the same.

People will sometimes seek to do this because they feel that it will protect them from insecurity or jealousy—“I feel threatened when my partner has an emotionally intimate relationship, but if the person my partner is involved with has the same relationship with me, I won’t feel left out, so I won’t feel threatened.” The better approach, I think, is to create a relationship that is inclusive rather than exclusive, but that does not rely on an impossible goal like “anyone new must date both of us and must develop the same kind of relationship with both of us.” Inclusiveness does not have to mean “two relationships that are the same”; indeed, it is possible to construct inclusive relationships in which the new person is only romantically involved with one member of an existing couple, but has developed a strong friendship with the other.

And while we’re at it, the second mistake people make along these lines:

Don’t assume that you can prevent jealousy by making sure you and your partner date the same person

This is one of the most common mistakes made by couples who decide to try out polyamory. The idea is that if one of the members of the couple has insecurity or jealousy issues, the way to keep this from becoming a problem is if both of them date the same person. After all, if your partner is sleeping with someone else, but you’re also sleeping with that person, you won’t get jealous, right?


Jealousy doesn’t work that way. Jealousy isn’t rational. It doesn’t make any difference if you and your partner are sleeping with the same person; if you are insecure, or have unresolved fears of loss or of being replaced, you may still feel jealous if your partner has another lover even if that person is also your lover.

The way to keep from feeling threatened or jealous is to figure out what lies at the root of the jealousy and then deal with that, not by creating relationship structures that are intended to make the jealousy go away. Jealousy is rooted in other emotions, such as insecurity or fear of loss. Dating the same person that your partner is dating does not make those other emotions go away.

Don’t forget your priorities

It is completely natural to become so wrapped up in the joy of a new relationship that you neglect your existing relationships; in fact, it often takes a considerable act of will to pay full attention to your existing relationships.

But doing this is necessary. Neglecting existing relationships in the giddy rush to a new relationship can be extremely destructive…to all of the relationships. Don’t get carried away; pay attention to what you’re doing. Take care to make all of your partners feel loved, needed, and secure.

Don’t start new relationships if your existing relationships have problems

Polyamory is not a way to evade problems in your romantic life. In fact, problems in one relationship have a very nasty habit of spilling over into your other relationships if you’re not careful.

If you have a relationship that is facing difficulty, that is not the time to be starting new relationships. Doing so is likely to create problems in the new relationship and exacerbate the problem in your existing relationship. It’s unfair to both your existing lover and to any new lover to begin relationships under these conditions.

And on the flip side of that same mistake:

Be careful about getting involved with an existing couple who haven’t worked out what polyamory is all about

One almost-certain way to run into heartache is to start dating one part (or both parts!) of an existing couple when each of the members of that couple has a different idea about how their relationship should work.

Any time two people are clearly not on the same page about what is and is not allowed, or have different ideas about how their relationship should be conducted, you’re likely to find trouble. And as often as not, when problems occur between the members of the existing couple as a result, you’ll be the bad guy. It pays to do what you can to see that everyone is on the same page before your heart is on the line.

And while we’re on the subject, the flip side of that same coin is…

Don’t get involved in polyamory if you’re still not sure whether or not you have a poly relationship in the first place, or if you’re not prepared to take responsibility for your actions

It should go without saying, but don’t invite someone into your relationship if you aren’t clear whether or not your relationship permits it. If you are partnered, and you think you might like to explore polyamory, be clear with your partner about it before you bring someone else in. And when you do bring someone else in, be clear that this person’s heart is on the line. You are offering this person physical intimacy, emotional intimacy, or both; take responsibility for that. Don’t let him in, create vulnerability, and then turn around without warning and say “well, my partner and I aren’t sure if we’re poly or not.”

Your partners are human beings, not commodities; if you want partners who will treat you well, consider your feelings, and behave with compassion and respect, you need to treat them well, consider their feelings, and behave with compassion and respect yourself. Get clear in your own head and establish with your existing partner how your relationship works and what the terms of your relationship are; don’t make someone else find this out by trial and error! If you’re not sure whether or not you’re in a polyamorous relationship, you aren’t in a polyamorous relationship.

Don’t assume that needs not being met in one relationship can be met in another

Often, people may fall into the trap of believing that if some need is not being met in a relationship, the solution is to meet that need by seeking another relationship. This is particularly common in primary/secondary relationships, where if the secondary’s needs aren’t being met, the secondary may seek out other relationships to meet them.

In reality, many needs are connected to a person, not to a relationship. If you need A, B, C, D, and E, don’t assume you can have needs A, B, and D met from Joe, and needs C and E from Bob. What you may find is that you need A, B, C, and D from Joe, and need A, D, and E from Bob; getting A from Joe does not mean that you do not also need it from Bob.

Don’t try to force your relationships to fit a predefined mold

Many people believe that communication is Rule #1 in a polyamorous relationship. If that’s true, then Rule #0 is: Let your relationships be what they are.

When someone who is in a polyamorous relationship begins searching for a new partner, sometimes the temptation exists to search for a new relationship that will fit within a predefined form—for example, “I want a bisexual female who will date both my partner and me, who is already partnered, and who likes skeeball.”

Like any kind of romantic relationship, a poly relationship isn’t likely to be quite that tidy. Often, a relationship may fail if the people involved in that relationship try to force it to fit some predefined set of conditions, rather than allowing the relationship to grow in whatever direction is natural.

This is particularly true in situations where an existing couple or group seek out a new relationship that will involve everyone equally—for example, “We are a couple looking for another couple in such a way that all four of us will be romantically involved with one another.” The impulse here can be to try to force the new relationships to fit that pattern even in situations where the relationships, if allowed to grow naturally, wouldn’t take that shape.

But this can happen in one-on-one relationships as well. When people say things like “I want a secondary partner,” they may be committing the advanced form of this mistake; you can’t always predict in advance how intimate a romantic relationship will become. You can’t force a light, casual relationship to become deep and passionate—but you also can’t force a deep, passionate relationship to be light and casual!

A very valuable tool that can be used to avoid this problem is to treat any relationship between two people as though it has three components: the needs of the first person involved, the needs of the second person involved, and the needs of the relationship itself. Often, the relationship itself acts like a third, independent entity, and it’s wise to listen to the needs of the relationship.

Don’t try to isolate your relationships

Nothing exists in a vacuum. Often, people try to isolate their relationships from one another, and try to “compartmentalize” the relationships so that each is a separate, distinct entity. This is usually more common with relationships that follow a primary/secondary model.

Trouble is, it doesn’t work. Each relationship can and will exert an influence on the others. It’s important to keep this in mind, and to understand that the things you do in one relationship have consequences for the others.

On the other hand, it’s also easy to go overboard in the other direction, which leads us to the next poly mistake:

Don’t try to combine your relationships, or force them to act as a single relationship

This happens most often in people seeking to create an intentional, equilateral relationship involving three or four people. The impulse is for all the people involved to want to do everything together—to spend all their time together, go out together, and so on.

The dangers here are twofold. First, it can be suffocating to have no space of your own, to always be surrounded by other people. Second, this tends to try to “force” the relationship to fit a mold it might not fit naturally. It’s quite normal for all the people in a triad or quad to relate to one another somewhat differently, even if the triad or quad is equilateral; and two of the people may enjoy doing something together that the third doesn’t enjoy, or doesn’t enjoy as much.

This is normal and healthy. There’s nothing wrong with letting the relationships develop as they will; not everyone has the same needs, the same tastes, and the same desires. It doesn’t mean the relationship is not equilateral.

Don’t try to separate yourself from your lover’s other relationships

This most often happens in situations where one partner is polyamorous by nature and the other is monogamous. A number of factors can cause you to try to distance yourself from your lover’s other lovers: Fear, jealousy, insecurity, and so on.

The reality of your lover’s other relationships is almost never as bad as the fear makes it out to be. Getting to know your lover’s other partners can go a long way to driving out that fear. The fact is, a person who is involved with someone who’s poly is also in a relationship with that person’s other partners—even if it’s not a romantic relationship.

If you see those other partners as competitors, it becomes easy to dehumanize them, and the impulse is to vilify and distrust them. This tends to cause a great deal of stress on your relationship with your lover; it also tends to cause you to go crazy.

Once you see your lover’s other partners as human beings, instead of as competitors, it eases any stress you may be experiencing. It also helps you to establish healthy, happy relationships with them.

If, that is, they want a healthy relationship with you. If they don’t, then it’s important to consider the next common poly mistake, which is:

Don’t be afraid to put your foot down

This is one of the hardest lessons to learn.

Not everyone is a good person, and not everyone is perfect, and not everyone makes an ideal match for your lover. Often, we may want to do things that make our partner happy, even if we know better or if we have to sacrifice our own happiness to get there.

This usually works in the short run, and usually causes pain and grief in the long run. Listen to that little inner voice; it’s rarely wrong. If something bothers you, speak up about it. If you find something completely unacceptable, say so! Even if it’s irrational, your lover should at least be willing to listen to what you have to say about it.

And speaking of being irrational:

Don’t expect human beings to be rational all the time

We are inherently irrational beings. This is a part of the nature of man. Irrational responses are a part and parcel of who we are as human beings, and these things can’t be addressed rationally.

You may find some of your partner’s behavior or emotional response to be irrational in any romantic situation. This is not necessarily bad; love is not rational. Nor is jealousy.

Remember that you are not always rational, either. Do not attack, browbeat, or berate your partner for behaving emotionally; do not expect that your partner will always act in accordance with reason and logic. It’s not going to happen.

If your partner is acting irrationally, you must still be compassionate and respectful—even if you disagree with things your partner says or does! Treat your partner’s feelings with respect and courtesy. Try to find out why your partner feels the way he or she feels. Often, there may be some underlying reason that is not obvious; if you want to address the feeling, it’s necessary first to find out where it comes from.

People often know that it’s important to be compassionate when faced with jealousy, but it’s important to remember that all of your partner’s feelings are important. Even positive feelings, such as love or new relationship energy, can cause your partner to behave irrationally. Try to understand what your partner is feeling, and why, when you address any problems this behavior may bring up.

Develop good communication and conflict resolution skills

This one is obvious, really, but it bears repeating. A relationship is not doomed until the people in it stop talking to each other and start breaking dishes instead.

Talk to your partner. Honestly. All the time. About everything.

Don’t make unilateral life-altering decisions

Partners should include one another in life-altering decisions. Big announcements of major changes in one’s life can often make one’s partners feel alienated.

Talk to all your partners. Don’t relay information through your other partners

This never works. Seriously. Information that passes through an intermediary never quite gets to its destination without getting mangled. If you need to talk to someone, go directly to that person.

And on a related note:

Don’t rely on relayed information

Never trust that what one partner says about what another partner said is entirely accurate (even if no skewing was intended). Go to the source and get confirmation.

Don’t move too fast

There is no such thing as instant polyamory. Don’t think you have to have sex on the first date. Don’t show up with a moving van on the second date. And don’t call it a “relationship” till you’ve actually dating a while. Try letting things grow naturally, and build something lasting instead.

Polyamorous relationships are not different in kind from monogamous relationships, and the beginnings of any relationship are fraught with peril. Take it slow.

Don’t ignore that little voice in your head

This is an easy mistake to make in any kind of relationship, not just a polyamorous relationship. Sometimes, your heart may tell you one thing even when your head tells you another; even if you can’t put your finger on any rational reason why, it’s often a good idea to listen to your heart when it suggests that something might be wrong.

Just because you can’t find a rational reason why something is wrong doesn’t necessarily mean everything is OK. A wise course of action is to start with the assumption that the little voice is trying to warn you about something you have not consciously become aware of, and to delve deeper into figuring out what that may be.

The little voice is not always right, of course, but don’t write it off just because it’s not rational.

Don’t be afraid of change

Often, especially in a primary/secondary relationship, we may have a subconscious expectation that somebody new can come into our lives and our lives will continue pretty much as they were, undisturbed.

But any romantic relationship is going to leave a permanent mark on the people involved. Any time you introduce someone into your romantic life, even as a secondary, that person can and likely will alter your life permanently.

This is a feature, not a bug. If you bring people into your life, don’t expect to continue on untouched.

Don’t assume every problem you encounter is related to polyamory

When you’re involved in any non-traditional relationship model, it can sometimes be tempting to blame every problem you may encounter on that model. This seems particularly true in polyamory, where it might be easy and tempting to blame the polyamory for whatever trouble you may encounter—“If we weren’t poly, we wouldn’t have to deal with this!”

But that’s not necessarily so. Even traditional, monogamous relationships face their fair share of challenges and difficulties.

For example, if you’re in a poly relationship and you feel that you aren’t getting enough of your partner’s attention, it might be tempting to say, “If you weren’t also involved with so-and-so, I wouldn’t be feeling neglected.” But in any relationship, situations exist that may distract your lover’s attention—work, family, and so on. The problem in this case isn’t really polyamory—it’s time management.

Isolating the root cause of the problem, rather than simply blaming the problem on polyamory, is an excellent way to resolve relationship difficulties.

Make sure your actions and your intentions match

This is a valuable rule to apply to any relationship, but it’s particularly important in a poly relationship.

For instance, if you claim to accept or like your lover’s other partner(s), but in practice you manage to avoid acknowledging the other partner(s) as much as possible (such as never asking about them, never taking any initiative to nurture even the most casual or friendly relationship with them, falling silent or changing the subject whenever your lover mentions them, etc.), then you’re sending a clear message that you wish the other partner(s) didn’t exist.

This is very difficult on the lover-in-the-middle, which is made much worse if you deny that you’re doing this.


Last updated: June 18, 2011



Dungeon Etiquette

So you’re new and ready to go to your first play party?  Or perhaps you’ve been going to play parties for a while and started letting basic etiquette slip?  Oh yes, it’s usually the people who should know better that I see making faux pas!  So let’s go over the most common play party do’s and don’t’s.

CLEAN!  This is in reference mostly to the equipment and furniture you are using for a scene.  However, I also advise that you clean your toys.  But hey, that’s on you and if we aren’t playing then you and your partner can cover that.  Back to the furniture, though, you should clean it before you play as well as after you’re done.  Some people may complain, “but I’m the first one to use it, so why clean it first?”  While you may be the first one on it at that party – you have no idea what happened on it the night before or before the party started – especially if you are at a dungeon that offers pro sessions.  It could have been used 30 minutes before the party doors opened.  Plus, if you aren’t the first ones on it that means someone else (hopefully) cleaned it – but did they clean all the parts you will be using?  Did they clean it correctly?  Better to be safe than sorry.

SPACE!  Giving those in a scene the space they need.  Stand back, give them room.  Do NOT get up close and personal.  You are not involved in the scene and it is not ok to invite yourself!  It doesn’t matter if they are doing something interesting that you don’t have a good view of.  If you want to know more about it then wait for a better time later in the evening to approach them and ask.  Also, if whips or floggers are being thrown, go around!  Don’t complain if you get hit because you walked through someone’s scene.

SHHHHHHH!  Be mindful of your voice and socializing.  If you want to socialize there are areas in every club meant just for that.  If you’re watching a scene but want to say something to your friend next to you – get in their ear and whisper.  Keep the conversation to a minimum.  If you are setting up for a scene or just finished – again – be mindful of your non-scene noise level.  Keep your voice down as much as possible.  Too much “non-scene” talking can really pull people out of their head space that are playing around you.  On the other side of this issue you may be the one who is trying to do a scene and it’s other people being loud.  Simply gesture to them to lower the volume in a respectful way.  Most people get carried away and don’t realize their voices got louder.  Typically a small reminder is enough.   If that doesn’t work, well, keep reading.

EQUIPTMENT HOG! Hogging equiptment can take two forms.  Time and space.  At some clubs you may have a time limit on your scene.  In this case it won’t matter because you won’t have a choice but to give up your play space at the designated time.  However, most clubs do not time scenes.  Therefore, you should consider how many people are in attendance and how much of a demand there is for play stations.  Be considerate.  If it’s a busy party don’t play for hours.  The other issue is space.  I see it all too often – people wandering around (sometimes including me!) looking for an area to play and there are perfectly good spaces that are covered in the toys or bags of the people scening on the next station over.  Not cool.  First of all – if you have a million bags but have a specific scene planned, try to consolidate your toys before heading to the party.  Beyond that – look for a place to put your bag/toys that is within your station.  Don’t use a play table for storage.  If you’re concerned about putting your things on the floor, bring a towel to throw down.

DON’T INTERRUPT! I don’t care if you get to a party and are really excited to see a friend of yours but they’re in a scene or you are leaving and really want to say bye to someone who is in a scene.  Don’t interrupt if A, you haven’t been invited into the scene or B, there isn’t an urgent situation.  That said, let’s look at these two exceptions.  Being invited into a scene can take on two forms.  One, all involved have consented to you joining the scene to bottom, top or assist in a positive way. Lovely, have fun. Two, the Top has requested for you to enter a scene because they need assistance in an urgent situation.  Perhaps they have their bottom suspended and they need to come down faster than expected.  The Top knows they have time to bring the bottom down safely, however, asks you to lift one leg (for example) to make it easier for them to loosen the rope.  There could be a million similar situations, but you get the picture.  In this situation you do ONLY what the Top has asked you to do.  You are not automatically granted consent for anything else.  I have seen this happen where the person is asked to assist to lift a bottom’s leg and decided that meant he could also let his fingers wander to her “naughty bits”.  NO! NO!  Only do what you are asked – nothing more.  Moving on to the other exception – the urgent situation.  This may be things like someone needs to move their car or risk getting towed or the club is closed/party is over and they need to wrap it up.  Yes, these examples are situations where the person should have taken a few more steps in personal responsibility, however, that’s a different issue for another article! So you need to get their attention but they are mid-scene.  Make eye contact with the Top and gesture to them that you need to tell them something.  Most Tops will assume that if you are interrupting it must be important.  Once you let them know what’s going on then assess what needs to happen.  If the Top needs to walk away from their bottom then they need to put them in a safe position and make sure someone they trust stays with them.  Another option is to have someone else handle the problem so they can stay with their partner.  NEVER just leave a bottom unattended mid-scene!

Not interrupting also applies to when people are in aftercare!  Aftercare is an extention of the scene.  If it’s obvious that people are in aftercare – treat them as if they were still playing.  If you aren’t sure, make eye contact with the Top, the person most “present”, or the person you know best, and ask if they are up for chatting.

GET HELP! So you follow all the rules, politely ask people to keep it down, etc.  Great!  What happens, however, when you need assistance?  Here are a couple reasons this may happen.  One, a bottom my call red and you don’t see the Top stopping or perhaps someone seems like they are in extreme distress to you.  Especially if you’re newer to the scene and public play – you may be reading the scene wrong.  This is a good time to express your concern to a DM (Dungeon Monitor).  DMs have typically been trained to assess scenes and situations in the club.  They are usually easily identified via an arm band, sash, or badge.  Another time you should get a DM or the party host is when you are having a personal issue with someone.  If you have politely asked someone to decrease their volume or give you more space and they repeatedly ignore your requests – ask for assistance.  It’s not your job to personally take on someone being rude or unruly.

BONUS TIP! HYGIENE!  Stinky is not sexy!!  Come to the party clean, use deoderant, brush your teeth.  This doesn’t mean swim in cologne!  I, personally, always have a deoderant stick in my toy bag in case I need to re-apply post play.

Overall – be aware, be respectful and if you don’t know, ask.  These tips will get you far and a more pleasant party experience for everyone!!



NRE: New Relationship Energy

“New relationship energy (often abbreviated as NRE) is a state of mind experienced at the beginning of most significant sexual and romantic relationships, typically involving heightened emotional and sexual receptivity and excitement. It begins with the earliest attractions, grows into full force when mutuality is established, and slowly fades over months to years. It carries an implication of contrast with the feelings involved with “old” or an ongoing relationship.” (Wikipedia)

While the dynamics described by NRE are common to almost all relationships, the term is particularly common in the polyamorous community, in large part because polyamorous people often experience new relationship energy alongside ongoing but older relationships which they also wish to maintain.  This can be the basis for one of the most common issues I see arise with poly clients.  The “original” partner feels the effects of the NRE when one or more of their partners is starting a new relationship.  This is a common place for insecurities to emerge and feelings of jealousy, fear and/or sadness can arise.

So what are a couple of tips for surviving NRE in a poly dynamic?

First is awareness.  Once you, as a couple, decide to open your dynamic to additional partners or if you come together as a poly couple from the start – knowing NRE will occur is extremely helpful.  Part of that awareness is understanding the physical changes it creates.

“That’s right we are actually experiencing changes in brain chemistry – increased dopamine and norepinephrine in particular. New relationships light up the pleasure centers of the brain, including what are known as the addiction-like drives in the brain meaning the drive to get MORE of that as soon as possible. These parts of our brains give us more energy, they can cause us to maintain focused attention and an intense yearning for the recent source of our pleasure. During this early phase of attraction people find that they need less sleep, have strong emotions, may experience intrusive thinking about the person they are drawn to, find it hard to focus on normal daily tasks, and have a heightened sex drive.” Melissa Fritchle, 6/2013

Second is kindness.  Be kind to one another during this transitionary phase.  If you’re the partner that’s starting a new relationship, try to maintain awareness of how you’re acting around your longer-term person.  When you are with them give them your full attention even though you have “puppy love brain”.  Keep in mind they may be struggling a bit and may need a little more reassurance than normal.  Also, don’t abandon your responsibilities.  You may want to spend all your time with the new partner, but that’s no excuse for leaving your long term partner to pick up your slack when it comes to shared household, children, or other responsibilities.

If you are the long-term partner, try to keep in mind that this is a normal and temporary phase your person is going through.  Their actions aren’t personal and you have entered into a poly agreement because you agree that multiple loves don’t diminish what you have together.  Make an attempt to self-sooth when you feel some jealousy – whether it’s self-talk, leaning on friends, or even therapy.  However, that being said, don’t stuff your feelings only to have them evolve into resentment or anger later on.  Communicate with your partner.  Take ownership of your feelings yet let them know if you’re having a tough time.

Especially if this is a first time transition for you as individuals or as a couple – be patient with one another.  NRE is probably something you both enjoyed at the start of your relationship and it’s bound to occur with every new relationship ahead.  So be aware, communicate, and be kind to one another.