After it ends – what do I do about…?

Ending relationships is difficult and painful and horrible.

With D/s relationships, in addition to the ‘normal’ stuff, there are often questions that sit on top of the ‘relationship is over’ emotional turmoil that you are going through.

It goes without saying that everyone is different, there are no ‘rules’, and often, even if you *think* you would do one thing, when you are in the midst of it all, the approach that you thought you would take no longer makes sense.

Given I see these quite a bit, I thought I would share some common questions and how I handled them with my last:

I have some of their toys, what should I do with them / I left some toys at their place, should I ask for them back?

This was not really applicable, any toys I left at his place were things I gave to him, or insertables. I did not have anything of his at mine.

If this *was* applicable, though, I would not be going through toys and determining ‘yours’ and ‘mine’ unless I had them organised that way and I could just pick up a bag of ‘my toys’ and go. I find the idea of going through them and divvying them up unbearably sad.

Having said that, though, it would be different if he had a ‘play space’ and ALL of my toys were there. Then I would be asking for a time to come and pick them up, no different to a situation where I had left a bunch of clothes in his wardrobe. If there were any doubt as to who owned something, I would leave it. I cannot imagine tussling over toys in the aftermath of a breakup.

What do we do with ‘our’ toys (i.e. I could probably figure out who paid for what if I really had to, but ‘we’ bought them together)

Unless one is a really big investment (e.g. a $1000 body bag or some such), then I would let this lie.

I have a signed contract that is still valid, what should I do with it?

We *did* have a signed contract that was still valid, and in the breakup, it became completely and utterly irrelevant. I don’t think we referred to it or talked about it, it was of no consequence to anything.

I have a copy of it still. I did not ‘do’ anything with it, though I can imagine in an ugly break up there would be some satisfaction in ripping it up or burning it or taking some such symbolic action.

We are still in touch, how should we address each other?

Forms of address can be a powerful way to express your relationship. When I have a submissive, he addresses me as ‘Ma’am, it is an incredible sweetness for me, I have rules around it, it is important to me. And from the other side, I have pet names for him, some of which I have shared in various posts here.

When it ends, it is a hugely powerful symbol for him to simply stop addressing me as ‘Ma’am’, it is an acknowledgement of the change in the dynamic, it is putting aside my rules, it is a pulling away. I think it is right for him to stop using “Ma’am” with me, it is really no longer appropriate. By the same token, it is no longer appropriate for me to use pet names with him, it draws him closer when I need to let him go.

Sometimes that is easy, it doesn’t feel right anymore, so you just stop doing it.

With my last, he continued to address me as Ma’am after we broke up, and while I thought to myself that I should tell him not to do that anymore, I couldn’t, and didn’t. It is easier, often, to have an idea what you would do or should do, than it is to do it. It wasn’t just because it seemed cruel to tell him to stop it, I loved it when he addressed me as ‘Ma’am’, it was a sign of respect and affection and it still made my heart melt.

Do I need to formally ‘release’ them? How do I do that?

For me, I need to say it out loud. It comes after it is all over, after everything is talked out, after the decision is make. It is not a ritual, not a big production, I just need to say “I release you” to ‘formally’ let him go as my submissive.

And the big one:

What happens with the collar?

There is always a lot of discussion about this, about whether it should be returned to the Domme, about whether it is *her* collar or *his* collar etc… it is a touchy subject and some people feel very strongly about it.

I gave my boy a leather and steel collar, I had it engraved to label him as my property. It was not a collar that could be worn in public, he had something else for everyday wear, but in private, whenever it was possible, he was to request to wear it “May I wear your collar, Ma’am?” As a symbol, it had its own power.

He has it still. I could not imagine, in all the pain and awfulness, asking him to return it to me (for what? because it’s ‘mine’ and I should have it back?). It would be a terribly hurtful thing to ask of him, and there was no way in the world I was going to cause further heartache by asking that of him. It seemed petty and cruel. I assume he has it in a box in the back of his cupboard somewhere, and I kind of like that he has a piece of me there with him.

I guess the summary would be that I did what I thought was best to minimise hurt for both of us. I did it not just for him, but for me also because it made *me* feel a little better to be looking out for us, and for him, still.

What about you? Are there other things that come up that are specfic to D/s relationships? How did you handle these and other things in the breakup?

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13 Comments

  1. What a painful post to read, especially since I'm missing my former pet right now. It's good to see a post like this from the dominant perspective. I suppose my experience was that our roles continued: I made the decisions and tried to take care of things as much as possible.

    There was comfort in that, but it was also incredibly hard. I'm not exclusively dominant, and submission was incredibly appealing at that time, just to take off some of the pressure. In fact, breaking things off with submissives has always been bittersweet; I get to feel strong in holding myself together and walking away, but it still bloody well hurts.

    (PS: I've been reading your blog for ages.)

  2. Custody of kink community friends and events is a tricky one, especially in the early days. Sex is so much more at the forefront than in a normal friendship grouping – the last thing you want to see is the person you still love playing with someone new. I have friends who have been reduced to screaming at each other on this issue, after managing to be civil throughout extremely trying breakups on other matters. I suppose it takes a lot of compromise and communication to untangle the lives you had together humanely.

    I still think of my ex as Sir, and sometimes as my boy (switches, eh?) but I wouldn't say it to him out loud – it would hurt me too much, and probably him too. But it seems like that connection never quite shuts off after you've connected that deeply through a D/s relationship.

  3. My ex kept everything. The leo latex mask that was made for my head especially, the leo cuffs and collar that fitted with it etc. Well. She paid for all of it, so I suppose it's okay, though it is really weird thinking that someone else might wear it. Especially that mask, because it was custom-made to fit me (I was her kitty). On the other hand, it would be weird if I kept these really personal things and used them with someone else. Last thing I heard she was looking for a puppy (a male one) and I don't think that mask will fit a guy.

    It's different with toys: I'd say what was mine is mine, what was hers is hers.

  4. These things are all so specific to different people, though I noticed that generally, the person who is wearing a collar bought for them tend to keep it. I wouldn't want my boy's collars back, since i bought them for *him* (He's also not allowed to use his collars with other people – they have to get their own, and its only for play)

    As for toys, I've only dealt with that once. A partner and I broke up, and all our toys (mostly regular sex toys) were at my place. So I packed up anything that was his (a riding crop, and a few other personal insertables) and gave 'em back to him once we were friendly again. I figure, who ever paid for them and has more attachment to them should get to keep them. I mean, if I spend 150 bucks on a super nice flogger I love, I'm keeping it. But say, my boy likes hoods, and I've bought him two, and I'd not want them back, since even though they're 'mine' they were for him.

  5. the whore poet: “What a painful post to read, especially since I'm missing my former pet right now.”

    I'm sorry about that, I hope every day is getting a little easier. Breakups SO suck.

    “I made the decisions and tried to take care of things as much as possible…There was comfort in that, but it was also incredibly hard.”

    That makes perfect sense to me. I think that if you have been running the relationship, and looking after your submissive's well being throughout, that feeling doesn't just go away. There is a feeling of protectiveness that is very strong for me, even if *he* ended it, I worry about him still.

    “submission was incredibly appealing at that time, just to take off some of the pressure”

    *smile* I was going to say that sounds understandable, but in thinking about it, I'm not sure it's a sub/dom thing as much as a 'This is so frigging painful, I really don't want to deal with any of it, just make it all go away' roll-up-into-a-foetal-position-and-rock kind of thing.

    PS: I've been reading your blog for ages.

    I'm happy to hear that, thank you for delurking!

    Ferns

  6. J: “Custody of kink community friends and events is a tricky one, especially in the early days. Sex is so much more at the forefront than in a normal friendship grouping – the last thing you want to see is the person you still love playing with someone new.”

    That's a really good point, plus the communities tend to be pretty small, there's pretty much zero chance that you can avoid them.

    “I still think of my ex as Sir, and sometimes as my boy (switches, eh?) but I wouldn't say it to him out loud – it would hurt me too much, and probably him too. But it seems like that connection never quite shuts off after you've connected that deeply through a D/s relationship.”

    Oh, this hurts my heart a little. When you are truly over it, indifference replaces those other feelings. I guess the day that you stop thinking of them at all, or when you think 'Sir' or 'boy', and *they* are not the one that you think of, that's when you have fully moved on.

    I think that day has its own sadness.

    Ferns

  7. N: “My ex kept everything… The leo latex mask that was made for my head especially, the leo cuffs and collar that fitted with it etc. Well. She paid for all of it, so I suppose it's okay, though it is really weird thinking that someone else might wear it.”

    *cringes a little* Ouch. It's a good example of where things can get complicated (she paid for it, it was made for you, was it a gift, who owns it etc). Kudos to you that it didn't get messy.

    “On the other hand, it would be weird if I kept these really personal things and used them with someone else.”

    I know! Both scenarios are uncomfortable for things that are very personal. It's like some things should just be retired from use until (unless) they lose their emotional power, but who makes that call?

    “It's different with toys: I'd say what was mine is mine, what was hers is hers.”

    That makes sense of course, and in the best case, that can be sorted out easily and relatively painlessly. For me, if it can't, I'm leaving the toys behind.

    Ferns

  8. Wendy Blackheart: “These things are all so specific to different people, though I noticed that generally, the person who is wearing a collar bought for them tend to keep it.”

    I hear quite a few dominants say that the submissive should return it, but I have no idea how often that *actually* happens. I imagine that in most cases, emotions are running high and that there is no way to do it without it being like a knife in the heart for both sides… Maybe I am just a big baby!

    “I wouldn't want my boy's collars back, since i bought them for *him* (He's also not allowed to use his collars with other people – they have to get their own, and its only for play)”

    *nod nod* That makes sense.

    “As for toys, I've only dealt with that once… So I packed up anything that was his… and gave 'em back to him once we were friendly again.”

    That sounds like the perfect scenario, and maybe the 'once we were friendly again' is a key thing there… the reason I can't bear to think of doing it is because I don't think I could face that 'his/mine' thing at the time.

    Ferns

  9. Miss Louise: “Thanks Miss Ferns for being so real and human in your Dominatrixing.”

    *smile* Well, we all get hurt and we all navigate relationships with varying degrees of success, no matter how they are structured. Pretending otherwise seems counterproductive.

    Either way, you are most welcome.

    Ferns

  10. Perhaps an odd post for a male submissive. *She* still has the collar I collared her with. It took her a while to get used to the idea of not wearing it. That would have been like asking her to take off her arm or some other part of her body. Some retraining was in order, especially because she wore this same collar after meeting someone else. Yes, she started dating other people, but her slave heart still belonged to me. This was stopping her moving forward. We had some discussions… tearful, heartfelt, human discussions. She still has the collar. I have no idea what she has done with it. I'll never ask for it back. It's hers (I gave it freely) and it is a part of who she is and how she came to be where she is now.

    (Sorry for the slight hijack of the typically F/m discussion space.)

    Elan.

  11. Elan: “She still has the collar. I have no idea what she has done with it. I'll never ask for it back.”

    I feel this way also. Even now, if it was to arrive in the mail, if he returned to me, it would break my heart (again, or more, or something).

    “Sorry for the slight hijack of the typically F/m discussion space.”

    All perspectives are welcome here, Elan! Unless of course you call me 'girl' and start ordering me about… then we have a problem and we will have to discuss it outside…

    Ferns

  12. I still have a collar. It’s tucked away somewhere. Every once in awhile, I run into it and touch it and remember. But I never put it on. I never will again.

    I also had a pair of shoes that were a vanilla way to keep my collar on in public – a collar substitute. I kept them in the breakup. I kept wearing them because they were comfortable, but they’ve long since worn out and been tossed out. I don’t need them. I have the collar.

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