This is part two of the guide to starting D/s relationships. If you missed part 1, you may want to go and read that first.
In the previous article, we talked about how a relationship develops in basic terms, why it's important to identify the mechanics and what more you can expect from a D/s relationship. All relationships, no matter what format they take, will start in similar ways. You'll get to know one another, explore your likes and dislikes and discuss your hopes and dreams. Somewhere in there you may find an attraction to the person and decide you'd like to enter into some committed relationship with them. Again, that's just the basics, for further reading, check out the previous post. In this article, we'll talk about negotiating a D/s relationship as well as expectations for both partners and the whole "in role" mentality.
Making any relationship work requires negotiation, give and take and a balance of power and responsibilities. Even D/s relationships have these things, although you may not see them as such. I don't think any relationship is a formal sit down and hammer out all the details type like you would for a peace treaty or a trade deal. It's done in bits and pieces, a little at a time and definitely worth every moment. I do hate to admit that more often these days, D/s relationships are negotiated in dry and boring checklists and comparing wants and needs lists instead of simply getting to know someone naturally. I understand the desire to get right to compatibility. It's a lot of work nurturing a relationship only to find out that you aren't compatible in something important. But there's a lot to be said for taking your time also.
D/s Relationship Negotiation
In starting D/s negotiation for a relationship, you need to know you. What I mean is that if you can't answer basic questions about what you want and need and what you expect out of a Dominant partner in a relationship then you really shouldn't be looking for a relationship yet. The most successful relationships are formed when both parties know what they want and need, can express that to their partners and their partners accept and can provide for their partner in those areas. I know, I know. You are excited and you want to explore submission, and maybe the kinky things of BDSM with someone and you want it right now! Trust me, if you take the time to learn who you are and what you want or need your relationship search will go much smoother.
But what if you're brand new and don't know what you want or need? Well, then you definitely don't want to enter into a relationship with someone "to learn" unless this relationship is quite clear on that fact and the possibility that you will not be compatible. How do you learn what you want and need? I'm not going to lie, it's a lot of personal introspection and reading, asking questions and figuring it out for yourself.
First, figure out what you want and need. Wants and needs can be anything, but for D/s relationships try to focus on what you need from a relationship, what you need from a Dominant in order to feel submissive and what you want out of life for the future. Much of this is likely not to have changed since you thought about it as a teenager and dreamed of getting married, and/or having kids and whatnot. So sit down and write out what you want and need. Don't be stingy and don't worry about having too many things on the list. You can always pare it down later. What's important now is that you think about what you want from your ideal life so that you can go seeking it in a relationship.
Ask yourself some of the following questions:
- How much D/s do I want in a relationship? Do I want to keep it to the bedroom or would I like to have some amount of power exchange outside of it as well?
- What does my perfect Dominant look like? Act like?
- What are my hopes and dreams for the future (include marriage/living circumstances/children/pets)?
- What kinky things do you want to do or try?
- Describe yourself in detail.
Once you are pretty clear on what you want and need, the other person also needs to have their wants and needs figured out. That way, as you date and chat about all these things you won't come up against a void where your only response is "I don't know what I want/need in that situation." Now, it's not completely unavoidable, but at the very least you'll know how to figure it out after you've learned how to think for yourself and figure out the important things in your life.
Learn What Is Expected Of You
A lot of the negotiation period isn't discussing what you want, but learning who you'll be for your partner. This must include what is expected of you as far as behavior, attitude and the future of your relationship role. If a Dominant can't tell you first what submission means to them and second that you don't agree with what he says submission is then there's a clear disconnect incompatibility. But if you can both agree on your role and what you'll be doing in and out of the bedroom for each other then you have made another giant leap in setting up a relationship.
Remember from the previous newsletter that you want to make sure your needs are taken care of and that you take care of your partner's needs. Open communication is so very important when negotiating a relationship like this because we often have wants and needs that become more important to us than they would in a mainstream relationship type. Start small with your expectations and build from there. If you are finding you are more and more compatible with your potential partner you can add more things to your expectations. That's a normal development process and everyone goes through it.
In some instances, you may want to formalize your expectations of the relationship in the form of a contract. It's a symbolic written document that details what you are to each other and the commitment you both will be making. Some people list all the submissive's rules, but I personally disagree with that. Your contract, if you wish to have one, should not include things that may change with time and relationship development - rules often do that. It would be easier to list things like is often done in marriage vows; love, honor, cherish, commitment, obedience, fidelity, etc. If this is a new relationship, set a short time frame for the contract so you can review it and update it at frequent intervals.
You Do Not Have To Be "In Role" All The Time
Just because you are negotiating a D/s relationship doesn't mean you have to suddenly be submissive all the time. The majority of power exchange relationships happen in the bedroom only and don't carry it outside into the everyday world. A D/s relationship is exactly what you make it. If it has very clear start and stop points, then do that. If you want to add elements into your every day then discuss that as well. And try not to be afraid of change or being noticed. The whole world is primarily only interested in themselves (and more so now that we stare blindly at our phones all day long). No one is going to take note if you call your partner "Sir" or if you ask permission to head to the restroom while out at the store. Just make sure you keep the kinky play away from innocent, unsuspecting eyes and you'll do just fine.
Also, just because you are agreeing to be someone's submissive does not mean you can't wear any other hats. You are still a sister, daughter, mother, friend, co-worker and all over good person. Embrace all of who you are and be who you need to be for each situation. Submission is an extension of yourself, not a replacement. And if you find yourself overwhelmed with your reality at any time, take a break and talk to your partner about it. Breaks are healthy. You can even plan to come back to it with more gusto than you did before. It's all about what you want and need and getting as much of that as possible. Live happy. Don't settle.
Do you want to learn more about how D/s works in a relationship? Check out Leading and Supportive Love: The Truth about Dominant and Submissive Relationships by Chris M. Lyon. If you want to read Submissive Guide's Review first, you can do so on the site.