from the Submissive Guide Newsletter 7/25/15

This is a guest post by Mistress Steel. It was part of her Steel's Chamber Scrolls which is now defunct. Shared with Permission.

Relationships end. Sometimes through the willful choice of both partners, other times one may ask for or be released. In either case the ending of a relationship is painful. In my opinion many D/s relationships tend to function in a deeper response zone in the psyche. I have been send numerable letters recently asking me about coping in the aftermath, both from Dominant's and from submissives. What kind of aftercare should exist? What obligations continue even after the relationship has ended?

Many people seem to believe that the Dominant side of the relationship 'feels' less than the submissive side. I believe the investment in time, energy, emotion is at least equal. Being Dominant does not exclude one from all of the emotional states and reactions found in anyone else. In addition, the Dominant tends to invest portions of their ego or view of self in the ownership and control of their submissive. A sudden release (especially if it originates from the submissive) can thrust the Dominant into feelings of self doubt, (did they fail to meet their submissives needs?), embarrassment, (how will their reputation fare over this failure?), guilt, (did something I do cause this?). All of these coupled to the normal feelings that accompany a loss.

A submissive being dismissed faces equally devastating feelings. Many tend to focus blame upon themselves when in fact the ending of the relationship may not have anything to do with anything they can control. They may feel discarded, used, reduced, and even toyed with. Coping with these feelings which may also include personal betrayal can be very hard. A submissive can invest everything in their belief in their Dominant. That investment may be poorly placed in some cases. Coping with all these feelings can seem insurmountable. In addition some Dominant's choose to take away all independence from their submissives, including credit, checking accounts, income, etc. A sudden release can leave such a submissive destitute (sometimes with children). It is my sincere suggestion that a submissive should consider a Dominant who plans for that submissives future to be one worthy of consideration. That Dominant cannot control the possibility of their own sudden death and should promote within their submissive (whom they cherish) a continuity of stability. This means independent credit, funds, income, insurance, medical etc. Those that do not can be subjugating that submissive and children to a homeless state should something happen. A Dominant should not fear the loss of control of their submissive through these actions. It is a method of inspiring respect. Not the opposite.

The severance of a relationship is a loss. In many people they experience it much like a death. Into a relationship they may invest their hopes, dreams, desires, expectations, and plans for the future. They probably have invested time, money and effort as well. Many have made great changes to be 'with' this person and at that point it may appear to them to have been a waste. In addition, in some ways the D/s realm contains an inordinate amount of hope. I sometimes call this 'the promise'. When we are young we create an image of 'the one'. That special person with whom we will find pleasure, laughter, and a shoulder to cry on. With a relationship we invest into 'the promise'. When that 'promise' breaks, we feel cast away or discarded. These emotions and feelings flow to both sides of a relationship. It is my view that D/s requires both people to invest more, trust, respect, accountability and responsibility.

It is impossible to offer a wide range of 'absolutes' when considering how best to cope with such events. The variables among us are too great for one thing to work for everyone. However, I do believe that the person initiating the breakup should or perhaps must sit down and communicate to their partner in non-inflamatory words why or how they have reached this point. It is my believe that understanding, even when it is painful, aids in healing. It is better to know than to guess. In addition I think it is important for both people to attempt to maintain a modicum of personal dignity, respect and care for their ex-partner. It is not necessary for there to be hurtful words, denigration or disrespect. This is someone you once loved or thought you loved. They may become a lifelong friend or they may move off into different paths. Closure in an adult fashion is the least hurtful to both.

Expect to feel anger, hurt, pain, depression and sorrow in the aftermath. Expect healing to take a long time. It is important to have friends outside of your former mate to talk to and express your feelings with. If your depression is very deep then you should access a competent psyche professional for therapy and help. Consider it similar to mourning a death. It will take time and effort to recover.

If you are a submissive who has asked for release. Even if this is your decision you will feel all the same emotions of loss and anguish. You may know your reasons and have considered everything thoroughly but you will still face emptiness and a hollow feeling of abandonment. As I have noted elsewhere, a submissive and a Dominant 'bond' to each other in ways beyond love or even a vanilla marriage. This bond may or may not end even when you make the 'mental' decisions to leave. You may still experience the same needs and desires. You may find yourself vacillating even though you know that the relationship is not forward moving for you or positive. A Dominant can feel these same connectors. In addition many will feel a continued obligation to 'protect' submissives long after that submissive has moved away into other relationships. The linkage may never truly end and that is something that both sides need to be cognizant of especially if their relationship moves into one of friendship. It can be easy to slip back into familiar roles later on when other traumas occur in their lives and they look to those they care about to help them through it.

Maintaining access to old relationships is a dual consideration. It can be harmful if that access in any way disrupts or is destructive to your current relationship. It can be positive if the people involved are able to reorient their language and behavior so that it becomes neutral.

Perhaps the hardest relationships to cope with are those that are based on flawed understanding. People tend to hear what they want to hear and ignore what they do not want to hear. They can build up a new relationship into something huge when it has not earned the right to be considered that way. For some this may be meeting someone once or twice then nothing. Contact ends or responses become short and unemotional. At that point the person will feel that they have been used. It becomes obvious to them that 'their' perception of the nature of the relationship was very different than the person they have invested in. This creates huge feelings of self-doubt in their personal judgment. These types of things cannot be completely avoided as we are not telepathic nor can we always discern the lies from the truth. However, whenever possible both people should proceed slowly. There is no rush to play. If a person is real, time is the friend. If they are into 'getting their needs met', there will be intense pressure to play quickly. So, avoid that pressure. If that pressure is coming from you, examine to see if you are being honest with your partner. If you are being pressured 'to play right away', step back and see if that meets your ideas or goals. If you are into short term casual play state it honestly. There is no shame in wanting what you want. There is shame in lying to get what you want at the expense of other peoples feelings.

Written by F.R.R. Mallory - also known as Mistress Steel. This article may be excerpted from Extreme Space, The Domination and Submission Handbook, Safe, Sane and Consensual, Dangerous Choices or other books by F.R.R. Mallory and shared here with her permission. Please click on the book title for information on how you can order a copy of these books and others by F.R.R. Mallory.