BDSM is all about mutual respect between dominant and submissive, master and slave. If there is a lack of respect in either direction things are likely to deteriorate quickly. Part of respect is understanding that your partner is entitled to their own needs, wants, and opinions and that these are aspects of your partner that need to be accepted and embraced whenever they come up in your relationship.

My partner and I took a step back from the lifestyle this semester while we have been sorting through a myriad of relationship changes rooted in changes to where we will be living and figuring out what we really need from one another. The Lifestyle was one of the things that we have recently begun to discuss. He does not want to be a full-time Dominant anymore. He said that his desire to be in that role was based in a lot of different factors that are no longer relevant to him.

My partner was willing to leave the lifestyle entirely – but, though I am the submissive partner, I needed to make sure my voice was heard too. What did I need? What did I want? I asked some questions to understand where my partner was coming from with his desire to step outside the role that he has embodied for about a year, even on the break he would assert himself sexually when he came to visit. I sought to understand his views and then I made sure that I communicated mine.

My partner and I were together prior to our transition into the lifestyle. I am a strong and independent woman outside of the lifestyle and do not need or crave high levels of direction – I am pretty self-sufficient and confident in being so. I liked having someone there to give me directions and be a Dominant day-to-day but I did not need it.

But sexually, I do. I love BDSM sex. I love the beatings, I like the commanding tones, being told I cannot cum, I love knife play, and I love acting out in order to receive retribution. I was not willing to give that up just because my partner no longer needed to be a Dominant for his own sake.

I did not make an ultimatum, as ultimatums rarely go well, but rather, I expressed to my partner what I was feeling and thinking. I told him that I really enjoyed the sex that we explored more and more in the lifestyle. I like the roles that we adopted and how much our level of comfort with each other and with our own sexuality changed. I did not want that exploration and incorporation to end.

My partner and I discussed this and generated a plan. We would continue to incorporate kink and BDSM into the bedroom aspect of our relationship – not all the time, but regularly. We would not fall into the roles of Dominant and submissive outside of the bedroom, and while the habits are still there we will be working to reduce the instances of these popping up in our relationship.

Through open communication and the ability to listen to one another, we were able to come to a conclusion that met both of our needs.

Luckily our needs were more compatible than not, which allowed us to reach the decision that we did. If is important to note, however, that there are situations in which your needs may be vastly different from those of your partner, do not sacrifice your needs for your sake.  You need to be in a relationship (romantic, sexual, etc) with someone who can meet those needs, and that person is out there.

Had my partner been unwilling to continue to participate in kink with me, or had I felt strongly that I needed a fulltime Dominant, then we would have needed to go our separate ways because each of our needs are important.

If your partner is unwilling to listen to your needs and incorporate them into how they live, how they play, and the dynamic that your relationship has, then they are not being a good Dominant and their behavior is controlling rather than an aspect of the lifestyle.

As always, be safe, be sane, and make sure that all aspects of your relationship, in and out of the bedroom, are consensual!