While many of us will feel guilty when we need time away from our dominants, there is no question that it is productive and therapeutic. Spending time exclusively with your partner and not getting any personal time alone, especially introverts can be somewhat of a challenge. If you're stuck in self-isolation, having coping mechanisms to help you through the "total togetherness" can be a big help! That's why we've compiled this list of 10 tips to help harbor harmony in your house:
1 - Take some time for relationship-building activities.
If you are going to be together for prolonged periods, it goes without saying that it could do some good to focus on your relationship. You don't need to engage in remote couple's counseling sessions or stare lovingly into each other's eyes for hours (though, you totally could). Spending some quality time (since you have the time) with shared activities could be equally renewing and rewarding for both of you.
If verbal communication isn't where your dynamic finds its warm-fuzzies, there are many other ways you can enjoy time with your partner. A few that we've tried out:
- joint morning workouts,
- two-person juggling,
- bread making,
- piano duets,
- DIY home goods,
- garden planning,
- delving into a shared interest (with reading, online classes, and at-home practice),
- cooking side by side,
- taking conversational foreign language classes online (so you can practice that language with each other at home!)
- and, of course, utilizing playtime.
Maybe we've had too much time on our hands, but at least we're enjoying it—and you could too!
2 - Recognize that it's okay to do different things in the same space.
While it's great to engage in activities together, it doesn't mean you have to do everything together (unless you want to). Just because you are both physically occupying the same space doesn't mean you have to be doing the same activity. If you want to cook while your master falls headlong into a book, that's an excellent use of space and time. Even if you want to snuggle up together while doing separate sedentary activities, that's fine too!
Sometimes I review my classes while my partner watches T.V. Wireless headphones are marvelous things! We can have a noise-free environment while doing ordinarily noisy activities. We can both have our separate audio feeds as we do different activities.
If you're less into tech, discuss what behaviors, activities, or noises you each find distracting so you can determine what separate activities "go together." For instance, my partner can't get anything done in the kitchen if I'm darting around in there. Likewise, I can't write and hear someone speaking at the same time because I'll end up writing as if I'm taking dictation. Imagine reading this article, and halfway through, it becomes a transcript of my master's conversation with his friend from Massachusetts! So, we realized that when I'm writing, studying, or reading, he can practice his musical instruments. When he's in the kitchen, I can be in the garden or bedroom, but nowhere near the kitchen. By discussing potentially compatible activities, you help each side of the slash be productive.
3 - Be innovative when you both need the same space.
If you and your partner have conflicting interests that require the same space, you may have to get creative about meeting both of your needs. If possible, try to structure your day, so you both have an opportunity to use the space. This will minimize conflict and frustration.
To do this, imagine that space belongs to a "landlord"—or " owner," which may be less of a stretch! Think of, for instance, a studio owner that rents the same room to a yoga teacher at 10 a.m., a dance teacher at 2 p.m., and an aerobics teacher at 6 p.m. That "owner" or "landlord" is drawing up a schedule for different activities that use the space (and the people involved). In other words, pretend your activities wish to "rent" space. When you engage in those activities in the space, you must respect your particular time slots.
As a submissive, recognize that it may require some compromise to come up with time slots that work for you and your dominant. Your time slot may not always be ideal, but it will be better than not having the opportunity to use the space at all. This way, you can both accomplish what you need to without feeling like anyone is "in the way."
4 - Have a designated "quiet time" (or the ability to request one).
One factor that can increase frustration between housemates is constant movement and noise within a confined space. Whether you need to focus on a task, just need time to think, or are nursing a headache, quiet time can be a welcome change. Therefore, if you are cohabitating with your dominant, it may help to request "quiet time." If you prefer more structure, you can ask your dominant to implement a daily or weekly designated "quiet time," which will reoccur on a schedule.
"Quiet time" can mean different things to different people. It usually involves shutting off the T.V., gaming consoles, streaming services, radio, podcasts, and loud or moving machinery. The goal is to minimize any noise levels to the highest possible extent. This can help people decompress from constant audio stimuli and allow for more clarity in their thoughts, actions, and interactions.
5 - Re-center the dynamic as needed.
Reaffirming your dynamic may not be the priority at the top of your list in globally challenging times. There are many other pressing priorities. But, also remember that at the end of the day, the relationships that support you need support too.
It can be easy to let your guard down (and hard to keep the dynamic alive) when you and your dominant share the same space 24/7. This is a common challenge that those who are interested in a 24/7 lifestyle often try to prepare for. Though, if you are isolated with your dominant for a prolonged period, keeping the dynamic centered (without preplanned fail-safes) is going to be difficult.
If you find yourself (thankfully) out of danger and just stuck in the monotony of isolation, this tip is for you. These times are challenging due (in part) to the lack of normalcy. There is no set schedule (unless you make one), and there is minimal certainty, which both, in turn, creates a high degree of anxiety for many people.
If you are a submissive who thrives in structure, to say these times are "tough" is an understatement. Holding on to symbolism and protocol within the dynamic can help reestablish the "normal" in your relationship. Just establishing one "normal" thing in your life right now could help with your state of mind and coping in general. Creating a routine, renewing a stable relationship, or developing a calming or reaffirming habit. Not to mention the benefits it will bestow upon your dynamic, as well.
6 - Understand that you each will need time to handle personal affairs (and talk about it).
Being together all the time can be a wonderful gift if you have nothing you need to. However, most of us have quite the laundry list (so to speak) to run through in a day. That's why, where possible, it helps to communicate with your master about what needs to get done (if they are not already aware) so you can meet both of your needs. While doing so may sometimes feel awkward for those submissives who aren't assertive, it will help your master know what they can expect of you each day.
We sit together at the end of each day and discuss and draft a mutual to-do list of items we need to accomplish the following day. The list has obligations each of us must satisfy separately, as well as commitments we must meet together. That way, whenever one of us looks at the list, in addition to being reminded of our responsibilities, we can also see what the other person still has on their plate for that day. This method makes us more goal-oriented and productive. It also helps guide our behavior and expectations (if any) of one another.
7 - Hone self-awareness.
This one may seem like a no-brainer since it's a common tenet of submissives always to strive to be better. Still, in maintaining any healthy relationship, it helps to be self-aware. Specifically, in a cohabitating scenario, it pays to be mindful of how you feel and how you act—and how these factors affect others. Notice when your emotions are getting away from you and take a moment to reign them back in. Allow yourself to be honest about when and where you see yourself slipping. Don't beat yourself up over it, but to create an ongoing lookout to make sure your tendencies don't spill over and negatively affect other areas of your life. Mindfulness can improve not only how we live our lives, but also our effect on the lives of those around us.
8 - Use common courtesy.
Do you know how they say "Common sense is not so common"? Well, unfortunately, in society nowadays, the same can be said for common courtesy. When we are surrounded by a culture that values individual pride over respect for others, we see this behavior all around us. We can easily absorb that same behavior if we are not vigilant in our expectations of ourselves. To be in isolation with someone exhibiting such behavior without regard for anyone else would be a pain in the neck, so let's not put anyone else through that.
Instead, tidy the areas you are responsible for and keep your voice at a respectful level. Avoid or at least ask your dominant before doing anything that might infringe on their space, or that might be noisy or distracting. Be observant of your dominant's work times and rest times. Only use sound and light settings that they find inoffensive during those times. Do your best not to interrupt conversations or workflow. This is what is meant by common courtesy.
9 - Facilitate a safe space for talking about intrusive behaviors.
Comedian Julie Goldman (during a standup routine) once said, "I don't want to watch you eat chicken wings on the bus." That's a weird line out of context. Still, she was highlighting the prevalence of obtrusive behavior and how she'd prefer to avoid it. It stuck with me because the imagery pointed out how put off by other people's behaviors we can be, and how off-putting we can be.
It is easy to get wrapped up in what we are doing and not realize how it may be impacting the person next to you. Likewise, it is easy to get annoyed at the person next to you for repeatedly doing the same thing and not noticing how irritating it is. We all have things we do that can rub another person the wrong way (especially if they are in close contact with us in a confined space).
This is why it helps to maintain a safe space where you and your dominant can be honest with each other and discuss behaviors that set each of you off. It feels incredibly uncomfortable (even wrong) for a submissive or slave to come out and tell a dominant or master that their habits, behaviors, or mannerisms are irksome. Dominants can (and often do) manage this all the time, generally in respectful (or at least consensual) way through behavior modification. Maybe that's why it feels so off to ask that they modify their behavior for us—it feels like their territory. It feels like stepping on toes. But, when you are in close quarters for extended periods, having these talks can lessen tension and potential conflicts between you, making it a healthier situation for both of you.
It took me forever to accept that such brutally honest talks were necessary. The turning point was something my master said. The way my master explained this to me was, "It doesn't make my life better for you to hold things in when they make you uncomfortable. If you tell me a behavior bothers you, I'd rather you tell me, so I can know and be more aware of how it affects you—whether I chose to change it or not. If you are distracted or irritated, it doesn't serve me.
Further, I think it develops honesty." I believe this is true, because I know if I were doing something that was slowly grating on his last nerve, I would want him to tell me. After all, as submissives, we can't improve in the eyes of our dominants unless we know what we are doing wrong and how to fix it.
10 - Recognize that your partner could be under a lot of stress and have nothing to do with you.
Being in isolation can be stressful for many reasons (without even grazing the subject of why we are in isolation, to begin with). Being in isolation with a partner is stressful for introverts because they are always around those who are isolated, which can make it difficult to recharge and have alone. Isolation is stressful for extroverts because they miss the social interaction of being out and about, and, well, not isolated. Being isolated is stressful, period.
Knowing this, recognize that if your dominant seems emotionally "off," it might not be because of you. Therefore, if they exhibit an uncharacteristic outburst or show of emotion, don't engage with the outburst by becoming reactive, defensive, or taking it personally. Don't escalate the situation at all.
If given time, the dominant may recognize the irrationality of their eruption and rectify the situation as long as no one has engaged in an argument with them. In other words, be supportive if your partner becomes emotional, but don't become reactive or weigh in on their volatile mood. Chances are, the mood will resolve so long as it is not exacerbated.
People aren't themselves right now. We all might need a little extra time to collect ourselves. It doesn't mean we respect or love each other any less or that we are any less committed. It just means we live in a way we have never lived before, and it is an adjustment.
Isolation is challenging for everyone. But it doesn't have to be a nightmare. Using our healthy coping mechanisms and reminding ourselves of the love and respect we have for our dominants can help us make the best of this difficult situation.