Last week, I was asked, "How do you find a balance?" about "M/s and life." I couldn't answer at first because I honestly didn't know what to say. That question will always have such an individualized answer. What is right and balanced for me might be unfulfilling or overwhelming for another, so how could I know what to say?
Balance is mostly about feeling fulfilled but not overwhelmed. It feels like the dynamic can live in harmony with the other aspects of daily life. How that is achieved will vary based on the wishes of those involved in the dynamic.
Balance Is a Feeling, Not a Universal Truth
Finding a "balance" in both life and power exchange is mainly dependent on people defining and agreeing upon what a desirable balance looks like for them. I remember a vanilla example (which still makes me laugh) when I graduated and started looking for a full-time job. Every company I considered said they offered a "great work-life balance"—but they all had different hours and levels of expected commitment! That was all the proof I needed to realize people conceptualize "balance" differently.
Similarly, people in the lifestyle also have varying ideas on balance and how it manifests. Assessing what a "good balance" is for you means looking at what you want to feel in your relationships and how you're willing to get there. What level of commitment are you willing to maintain to get what you desire? Be honest.
Balance and Commitment in Your Dynamic
It's not unheard of in power exchange for people to have diverging opinions on commitment and how pronounced they want their dynamic to be. Commitment to the dynamic comes at the cost of time and effort. So, it's only natural that some would be able to offer more, in that regard, than others.
The amount of time and effort a person has to spare will impact
- how many rules they want (or can maintain)
- what kinds of protocols they observe
- whether rituals are prominent in the dynamic
- whether a collar, a brand, or other cherished symbolism is worn,
- how often play (or other engagement in the lifestyle) takes place.
In turn, all of those factors influence the dynamic's weight and the impact the dynamic has on life as a whole.
Because people are inclined to have different ideas of balance and what they can commit to, when two people come together in a dynamic, there will have to be a lot of communication. To start, they can communicate about their goals, how much time they are willing to dedicate to the dynamic, and how much effort they can realistically devote to it.
Is It a Balancing Act or a Budgeting Act?
In essence, this communication about commitment will force you to assess your resources of time and effort. It requires you to quantify them, in a way, to see what you can afford to do with those resources. Let it be clear; relationships shouldn't be treated as transactional. Still, time and effort are being spent (so to speak) on various aspects of the relationship. Those resources_ _can and should be optimized to meet the goals of the relationship.
Being dishonest in your assessment here (including being dishonest with yourself) will only lead to frustration and grief down the line. Remember, if you're committing more time and effort than you have, you're going to feel like you're stretching yourself too thin, which never feels like a good balance.
Overestimating mutual resources of time and energy between you and your partner can lead to both of you feeling overwhelmed. It is always better to undershoot your ability (and availability) at first. You can always add higher levels of commitment. Still, it's hard to cut commitments down without adversely affecting the other person or people involved.
Allocation of Resources
After discussing the time and energy you can each bring to the table, it's time to decide where that time and energy will be allocated. Do you need transitional rituals? Is it important for you to play throughout the week? What concrete activities does each of you need in a relationship to feel fulfilled in it? The time and effort should go there.
Remember, also, to square away time for communication and negotiation. No dynamic runs on kink alone; we need to connect to have any meaningfulness and success in power exchange—or any other kink encounter, for that matter.
Test-Driving Your Tailored Solutions
Once all these considerations are accounted for, you can try out your grand experiment! It may look good on paper, but it won't be worth much if it doesn't work for you both in practice. Trying to live in the ways you've mutually outlined is the only way to know if what you've constructed together will stand. If it does, congratulations! You've achieved balance. If it doesn't, look at how you're feeling versus how you want to be feeling.
Feelings of frustration and overextension can point to having to tone down your expenses of time and effort. Feelings of boredom or a lack of fulfillment indicate you need to reassess what activities you give time and effort. You can redistribute your time to activities you find meaning in. You might even need to reassess the very goals of the relationship. In any case, communication with your partner will help you work out what is working and what needs to change.
Finding a balance in your dynamic is not something that happens overnight. It takes forethought, a little work, and a lot of trial and error! But if you are willing, to be honest with yourself and your Dominant, you are well on your way. Opening up about what is important to you and what you're willing to do to reach your relationship goals will help you and your Dominant agree on how to construct elements of the dynamic. Relationships take work, but finding a comfortable balance for both of you is doable!