Posts tagged ‘Negotiation’

Love, Obedience and being a Master

I have been talking quite a bit with close friends and important advisers over the past few weeks about what it is to be a Master.  Many areas of discussion came up, one of the most important was the emotional care and involvement that a Master feels towards those who give them authority over them.  His love for them, if you will.

Assuredly this comes directly from my own point of view.  I have heard strong arguments from many people that you can not maintain a D/s or M/s relationship if you love your s-type.  I disagree.  But this involves something quite different from what is usually experienced in the Vanilla world as “Love.”

I certainly can not say this is true in all cases, but I do believe in most.  In Vanilla relationships there is usually little discussion as to what the actual relationship entails.  What does it mean to be married?  There are assumptions, many of them, but few discussions.  What does, “Head of the Household” mean to you?  Which one of you will be the HotH?  What expectations does one partner have about the other, “now that we’re married.”  How does either’s behavior change?  Though I would guess that both people expect it to change.  I doubt that there is much discussion about what those changes might, or should be.

So what happens often is that the relationship changes through a sense of appeasement.  Internal negotiation, if you will.  “Ok, this doesn’t seem to be working, maybe I should change, maybe I should try things this way.” rather than sitting down for a time of clear, introspective communication.

It is my opinion that one of the greatest advantages of a D/s or M/s relationship is negotiation.  While just as I said about vanilla relationships, I can not say this is true in all cases, I certainly would hope it is true in most.  Before entering into a D/s or M/s relationship there are extensive discussions about what one person would be to the other.  What are each person’s responsibilities?  How is one person to behave towards the other, though these roles and responsibilities may be quite different for each partner.

But this negotiation, this questioning back and forth, each (hopefully) asking the other, “What did you mean by that?” this does not, in any way, preclude a deep and overwhelming love and affection from each for the other.  What it does do (again, in my choice of relationship) is add to that love an understanding of expectation.  We understand what is expected of the other, and what is expected by the other.

One of the most important elements of those negotiations and expectations is the element of obedience.  It is often said that in an M/s relationship there is only one rule, obedience.  But there are many forms of relationship outside of M/s and many levels of obedience that are required.  In any form of negotiation, honesty, commitment and clear communication is necessary.  What you have said you will do, you are expected to do.  We are, after all, dealing with relationships where the transfer of authority is central.

If a commitment is made, it must be held to.  If the person giving authority has the ability to choose, after negotiations have concluded, to take back that authority, to willfully disobey a “request” in an area where they have given authority, that is a challenge to the basic form of the relationship.  It is destructive to its core principles.  It is an end point.

It may be easy to view the Dominant, the Master, the Authority as that strong willed person who sets the rules, holds the authority, punishes the transgressor, and if the commitments are not held, if the relationship falls apart, walks away with confidence and little regret.  Of course, the ability to do that, to see that the relationship is not working, and to call it, is truly vital.  As a very wise mentor told me, “Make the vocation of mastery more important than the relationship(s) in which that vocation plays out.  In other words, stay true to your calling and do not betray yourself in order to save, salvage or appease a relationship…any relationship.”

But that, in no way, means it does not hurt.  It comes with a sense of deep loss, a feeling of personal failure, and a questioning of your own value and understanding.  It can be devastating, and require a time of recovery and healing.

Unfortunately, to be a Master, you must take  that responsibility.

The Eroticist

The submissive’s choice

First I should apologize for my extended absence.  I am an artist by trade, if you can actually use those terms together, and have just finished three shows, one quite major.  Immediately following that, I was lucky enough to have some surgery from which I am still recovering.  All is going well.  But these things did occupy my time.  Glad to be back.

In my reading of letters and questions from submissives I often hear questions such as “Is it OK for a Dom to share his sub with others even if she doesn’t want to?”  Or perhaps, “Does a submissive or slave have to give over her finances to her Dom or Master?”  I would hope your answer to either of these questions would be “It depends on the relationship you negotiated.”

I sincerely have a vast respect for anyone who chooses the submissive or slave lifestyle.  I believe it can be a fulfilling and empowering position which can promote great growth.  But I question any who enters into it from a submissive or slave headspace.  Yea, I know, that sounds somewhat contradictory.  If you feel yourself to be a submissive or have a slave heart, how can you drop all of that when looking into the actual relationship you desire.

My reply is, how can you enter into a submissive or slave relationship by giving up your choices and needs to someone you do not yet know or trust?  You are entering into a relationship which may require vastly differing forms of behavior for you.  You may be told you can not use the furniture or wear clothing in your house.  You may be told you must perform sexual acts that are extremely unusual to you.  You may be told you must give up your career or family or friends.  You may be required to undergo body modifications from the simple to the extreme.  You may be treated in the most extremely disrespectful of ways.  Or you may not.  Do you know?

The question is, before you to commit to these changes in your life, do you know what they will be and have you considered if they are changes that you want?  My feeling is that you can not make these decisions in a headspace where you have already given over your personal power to the other.  You have to make these decisions as a calm, self respecting, competent, strong willed and independent person who has done extensive introspection, education and self examination.  This is negotiation, after all and you should enter into negotiations knowing what you want out of them, knowing where you are willing to compromise, and, most importantly, knowing what the possibilities are.

I often say, the best question is, “What do you mean by that?”  Consider the statement, “I like a bit of humiliation play.”  What, then, is humiliation to you?  What is humiliation to the other?  And what is, “a bit”?  If a form of behavior or play is unfamiliar to you, do not use it in negotiations until you understand it, and understand how the other is using it?

Understand your own needs and limits.  If a limit is not mentioned, does that mean it is open and acceptable to cross, or does it mean that when it does come up, it should be negotiated before being crossed?  Future negotiations are part of negotiations.

Are you willing to give up all rights to renegotiation or will there be times when open and honest feedback is requested by your Dom or Master?  Will that feedback be respected?  The one command may be “to obey”.  Does that mean you have no right to question or perhaps inform?  Are you always to do exactly and only what you are told, or are you able to add to your service from your own creativity?  Questions, Questions, Questions.  Until you negotiate and understand and agree to the elements of your relationship, you have the right, responsibility, and indeed obligation to come to the negotiating table as a self confident equal, with equal rights and equal value.  If you can not do that, learn how before you negotiate.

Please understand, there is nothing wrong with the most extreme forms of imbalanced relationships.  If you have competently negotiated a relationship where your body is modified to be a caricature of a person, and you sleep in a box in your own feces, to be brought out only to be sexually abused by multiple people (that is sort of an extreme of what I DON’T want in a partner) and you have negotiated, understood and chosen that position from a confident communicated position, bless you, and dive right in.  It is your choice.  But if you don’t ask, if you don’t communicate, if you do not demand the kind of relationship you want, desire and need, do not be surprised by what you get.

Until you give up responsibility in an educated and committed way, the responsibility for what you get is yours.

The Eroticist