The Holidays are coming, and they are coming up fast. I always feel like the entire month of November goes by in a blur. One moment we are donning our sexy cat costumes for Halloween and the next moment there are stockings on the mantle and children awaiting Santa. There is definitely a time warp in there somewhere. Probably caused by the amount of stress that the holidays tend to generate. There is financial stress, scheduling stress, stress about food and pleasing people with presents, the stress of interacting with family, and for members of the BDSM community there is often an added level of the stress of keeping an integral part of our lives a secret.

Depending on how you spend your holidays there are different magnitudes of this problem – spending a week in your old room, just a thin wall away from your parents may generate a different level of stress than stopping on Christmas morning, but it is important to have a game plan for dealing with these situations before they arise. Here are some problem scenarios that some of you may encounter and some suggestions on how to deal with the situation.

  1. When people ask you how you met your partner – If you met them on an online kink forum or at a kink event, this may be a challenging question to answer if you are not out as a member of the BDSM community to your family. Make sure that you, and your partner, are both clear on what you are going to say before you arrive at grandma’s house. Make sure that it is going to be something realistic and that you will be able to remember over the years if you anticipate your partner joining you for future family events.
  2. Tears, Screaming, and Inevitable Family Drama - The holiday’s place stress on everyone, so when people have a little too much eggnog, or just simply do not sleep an adequate amount, tempers tend to flare. Tell your partner what to expect from your family and from you in advance. If your role at home is very different from your role in the workplace, with your friends, and with your partner, they need to know the boundaries of what can be said and done and how to deal with you when you come crawling into bed crying or screaming at night. Have a plan in case this happens. It is not inappropriate to tell your partner, “Master, when I am sobbing hysterically because my mother made another backhanded comment about my job/weight/high school girlfriend, I will need to break out my crayons and color, then be held, and I will probably need you to validate me a lot that night”. This is not needy, this is preparation and will make it a lot easier you, your partner, and your family. A discussion on holiday needs also has strong grounds for a helpful journal entry.
  3. *Gulp* Sex at home – Having sex in your childhood home can be an uncomfortable experience for a variety of reasons, which is something that needs to be thought about prior to arriving and putting your bag of toys next to a pile of your old stuffed animals. Sex, completely separate from play (we will talk about that in a moment), can be very emotional, especially in placed riddled with emotional experiences, such as your home and surrounded by your parents. Tell your partner your thoughts about sex before you go. For some people sex at home is no problem, for others, it can be a problem after past lovers or situations are discussed, and for some people, sex at home is simply not an option. Discussing how you are feeling prior to arrival will help you and your partner to feel better. If you do not say anything and then you arrive at your parents for two weeks and then spring on your partner that you do not want to have sex, that may create some tensions between you and your partner. Make sure that you tell your partner if you are unsure of how you are going to feel. Saying something like, “When I am sitting here at home with you, I feel like I will be able to have sex no problem, but when I am in my old home, that may be disconcerting” is a very valid point, and at least lets your partner know what you are thinking.
  4. Play – BDSM play is often loud. There is really no way to administer a spanking quietly and play is, by definition, intended to be a time for your partner and you to be uninhibited and focusing on pleasure. If you are worried that your younger brother is about to come home and hear you, your head is not going to be in the right place. Talk to your partner about quiet alternatives if your play tends to run a little loud. Choking, biting, pinching are all examples but chose something that works well for you and your partner. Plan your toys accordingly. There is no reason to bring the extra-loud vibrator or riding crop if you are never going to use them. Also, discuss punishment alternatives during this time. It may not be possible for you to kneel in the corner for thirty minutes after you have been mouthy, discuss what would be a possible option that will still remind you of your submission and allow your partner to be dominant.

While these are just some of the stressful situations which can arise when spending times at the holiday, they will hopefully spark a conversation or some journal writing that will help you be better prepared for the holidays. If you go into the situation feeling like you and your partner have been honest and have communicated, you will feel much less stressed. As always, communication and honesty are key, especially when other parties (ie. Family and old friends) are involved.