Wednesday, August 25, 2010

BDSM: It's all about the intimacy

In developing a BDSM relationship, I've come to suspect that kink is mostly about controlling or stealing intimacy.

Think about it....

To a young person contemplating their first sexual relationship, true intimacy is terrifying. It involves making yourself vulnerable by acknowledging how the other person affects you, and being responsible for your effect on them. This in turn requires that you surrender control and embark on the stressful business of negotiation. And somewhere in there, the intimacy has a price: performing certain physical acts about which you may be deeply ambivalent, or which require hard work.

BDSM fantasies, and ultimately games and relationships, are a way of taking a holiday from all this...

Intimacy Dynamic: Engaged/Disengaged

Ask yourself whether – in your fantasy – each of you are engaged or disengaged with the other person's needs and feelings.

By "engaged", I mean actively seeking a particular emotional response and, through empathy and second-guessing, anticipating the lover's needs (though not necessarily supplying them...). Healthy lovers are mutually engaged, each knowing if and how to touch, and what romantic surprises to spring and when.

Sometimes we can never get enough engagement from our lovers, and we yearn to demand it with menaces, or contrive to be the centre of attention. To become the focus of our the other person's world, we sometimes want to go further and have permission to "disengage" from them – to hand back responsibility for their immediate responses and feelings.

However, being engaged with can be wearing. In a nasty short circuit, there's pressure to be happy so the other person can be happy. Sometimes it's just nice to have the private mental space to enjoy an experience, or concentrate on engaging with your lover. Also, since nobody can always get it right, it can be a relief for both of you if she can just tell you what to do.

When visiting these fantasies with a lover, it's important to get the intimacy dynamic right. If she wants you to shut up and let her do your thing, then you'd better do just that.

Stealing intimacy: workarounds the price

Normal intimacy requires a price... e.g.: penetrative sex; the need to be mutually naked; shared responsibility for both the relationship and for its domestic finances; and the need to be attractive and to value the other person or lose them.

BDSM fantasies enable couples to steal intimacy by working around these prices. For example, self-proclaimed loser small-dicked cuckold chaste sissy husbands are probably evading the pressure to compete in the masculinity stakes and their wives – when they really exist – probably enjoy the sense of security from having an apparently worthless husband who can't wander.

In play, it's important to make a distinction between different kinds of workaround.

Relationship workarounds can be demanding or irritating for the other person, and deeply disturbing if that seems to be what you want 24/7 in real life; it's one thing to have a compliant slave in the bedroom and around the house for a weekend, entirely another to lose your life partner and companion and end up entirely responsible for everything in the relationship.

Sexual workarounds ones have no significance beyond the bedroom and can be fun for all concerned, or have so little effect on the other person that they can be included in a session with no tradeoffs. For example, it doesn't really matter whether I wear a chastity device or not; I'm still a slave who's not going to get his rocks off. The main thing is not to burden her in any way with my workaround.

Whatever they are, the workarounds are what give particular BDSM fantasies their individuality. This means that they need to be used with precision and sensitivity.

The Four Dynamics of BDSM Fantasies

So, with two possibilities for each player, we get:

You

Her

Engaged

Disengaged

Engaged

Dom\Sub

Keyholder\Locked

Virgin\Chayste

Furries

Unequal companions

Sadist\Masochist

Tease\ Victim

Disengaged

Goddess\Worshipper

Owner\Slave Voyeur\Exhibitionist

Engaged\Engaged

This square is the true home of the workarounds.

Typically, she manages the intimacy, so she avoids being vulnerable and he avoids feeling responsible. The intimacy itself usually entails her tormenting and testing him, and him trying to prove please her.

However, in some fetish only pairings, e.g. Virgin\Chayste or Furries, there's no real power exchange. The couple manage to have a vanilla-like sexual relationship, just without a penis, or dressed as animals...

Disengaged\Engaged

You steal intimacy from her. She in turn manages to express herself sexually, without feeling responsible for your feelings.

Engaged\Disengaged

She extracts intimacy from you, without giving it back. Her actions – torturing or teasing – might suggest deeper motivations, but each is designed to produce a response from you. You in turn, get to just express yourself without feeling responsible for her feelings.

Disengaged\Disengaged

Possibly the darkest place. She tells you what she wants, and you supply it and no more. You both get to have relationship without coming out of your shells. My favourite.

Navigating the Four Dynamics

Fantasies with more than one dynamic

You've probably noticed that your particular fantasy, or your typical session, belongs in more than one of these boxes. It may be that you're both doing anything to avoid being mutually Engaged, or that one of you always maintains the same stance. For example, sometimes she has you fuss around her anticipating her needs. Other times, you do nothing except obey orders. Whether you're Engaged or Disengaged, she's always Disengaged – and that's how you both like it!

This can make play complicated because your preferred stances may not overlap. Perhaps she's happy to be your icy owner, but not to tease or torment you. Also, watch out for sudden shifts, for example when she wants you to go from mute slave to unequal companion – don't balk!

Drama

Drama is generated by attempts to force the other to move boxes, and generally serves to affirm the main dynamic.

Sometimes you start outside the desired box, and she battles you into it, e.g. you're withdrawn and she beats you into being more open.

Sometimes one of you tests the other by trying nudge them out of the box. Perhaps you try to engage her with your feelings so that she can slap you down. Perhaps she tricks you into disengaging from her, then brings you back with a punishment.

In play, treat drama with caution. How much she enjoys it depends on her personality, how she feels on the night, and how secure she is in her control. Don't make her battle unless that's what she obviously wants. If you test her, do it with caution and watch out for irritation. Perhaps she just wants to relax into her role.

Finally, drama can feel artificial and destroy the sense of immersion in another world. This can be totally disastrous, or actually a good thing – sometimes being reminded that "this is just a game" gives you permission to continue.

DEVELOPING AND VISITING YOUR BDSM SHADOW RELATIONSHIPS

"Tonight, I'm your slave."

"OK... Go run my bath, and do the dishes."

"Cool."

"Shut up. (THWACK!)"

BDSM shadow relationships are eroticised versions of the dysfunctional ones we've hopefully avoided by the time we're a full adult: "shadow" because we only visit them from time to time; and "relationships" because...

  • The roles, not props, determine the immediate power and possible action.
  • The action is not pre-negotiated (though limits can be) and need not be purely sexual.
  • The game ends when the players break role, and not before.

If you've read this far, then this is probably what you're aiming for. For my thoughts on how to get there, you'll have to wait...

10 comments:

Florida Dom said...

Very good post and will be waiting for your one on how to get there.

FD

Giles English said...

Help help, she's putting me on the spot by engaging with me....

fur sissy said...

A very excellent post.

I hope people are able to gather how much insight is available here. It makes great sense from a writing standpoint as well as its real world applications. Having given a lot of advice to subs out there over the years, this definitely explains a lot of the "why I like what I like" and "why she likes what she likes" reasons and even more importantly, the potential "why she doesn't like what I like" scenario.

Thank you for sharing this.

Giles English said...

Thanks for the encouraging comments guys! I'm posting this partly to see if other people think it works. So if you have any examples, please post them in the comments and I will add them to the next post...

Jack said...

Giles,

Can you do it again, but using venn diagrams?

Interesting stuff. Glad that you share.

Jack

Giles English said...

Great idea.
In the mean time, does your experience fit this?

Jack said...

Yes, absolutely. The venn comment was for chuckles.

Giles English said...

Can you be more specific about the experience? If this is going to be any use to anybody, I need case studies...

fur sissy said...

Giles,

I had meant to post earlier but this post ended up going up the day before I moved and I still don't have fully functioning internet yet. I will try to post more on this when things are up and going and I have more free time.

Giles English said...

Thanks! I'll look forward to it. If you post at length on your own blog, please ping back here... for work reasons, my Internet access can be sporadic.

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