[SubmissiveGuyComics is also doing a post for our NaBloWriMo project]
greg made this comment on my last:
Thought provoking post. I never thought about it this way. It makes sense, but it sounds difficult to sort out…
I never really thought about it this way before either and I think it IS difficult to sort out. The fact that we all subconsciously navigate this all the time (sometimes well, sometimes poorly) is interesting to me.
It relates to something that I have had in the back of my mind for a long time but that I struggle to communicate without sounding like an arsehole.
I keep thinking of someone doing the ‘right thing’ and communicating all their needs, and the other person trying really hard to be ‘the good partner’ and working to meet those needs while becoming more and more uncomfortable with the way they are behaving. They can get to the point where they are unable to identify that line between ‘compromise’ and ‘it’s no longer working’ because they are so invested in ‘being the good partner’.
I have written about compromise in D/s relationships before, approaching it from a different angle.
We hold up ‘communication’ as the be all and end all of relationships as if someone saying it or as if talking about it magically makes it doable and makes the relationship better.
“You aren’t getting what you want from the relationship? COMMUNICATE!”
I don’t know why people like to pretend that communication isn’t fucking HARD and fraught and possibly really damaging to a relationship. They get all eye-rolley over it. But it IS hard or everyone would be happily spilling their vulnerabilities all over the table at every opportunity.
One reason why communication is so hard is because often the problem in a relationship is of the ‘my needs aren’t being met’ variety, and the *assumption* is that if you communicate those needs, your partner will try and meet them because they love you and everything will be golden. But in actual fact, often those needs are fundamental things that will make the other person just go ‘yeah, nup, can’t do it’ and that’s scary shit. And our first instinct is to say ‘Well then that person’s an arsehole who doesn’t love you’, but that’s so idiotically simplistic it makes my brain hurt. One only has to look at all of the ‘I want my wife to dominate me’ discussions everywhere to get that.
There is a point at which you hit a compatibility issue and that point is where your needs require your partner to become a different person: obviously that’s not going to happen. And if they love you*, they might try, oh lord, they may try, but eventually they will fail because that’s not who they are.
I have certain needs and it’s my responsibility to choose a partner for whom meeting those needs is a natural function of how he relates to me, it should be a joy and a pleasure for him. There can and will be tweaking and compromises along the way, but fundamentally ‘how he is’ and ‘how he relates to me’ takes care of any feelings of ‘neediness’ because I will feel loved and desired and adored because we are compatible in how we show those feelings with each other. The rest is detail.
*Edited to add: (or like you, or lust after you, or think there’s potential, or or… etc.).
Very true. I hold communication in high esteem, and even though my husband and I really pride ourselves on how well we communicate, it is terrifying to open myself up still; and it doesn’t always go well.
I can’t change who he is, nor vice versa, and the problem with longer term relationships is that people naturally change, so what works for us once upon a time may no longer be who we are ten years down the road. Compromising can only go so far.
You are so right about changes in a long term relationship. I hadn’t even thought about that.
It’s a wonder anyone has a successful lasting relationship EVER (congratulations on yours, btw *smile*).
Something else that I wrestle with on this issue, and did very recently with the ‘boy that’s not working out’. I get caught up in the “Doms aren’t supposed to appear needy, for they will appear weak and less dominant” sentence. And a partner may give you the sales pitch that there’s no truth to that whatsoever and the person they are submitting to is YOU not the facade. However, we all know that that is lip service to a degree, and that part of what enables a sub to relinquish control is the power we exude over them and the strength we convey. When we appear weak and needy it becomes harder to exude that power I find.
And I also agree on the communication statement you make. Honestly if one more person tells me, ‘what you guys need is to COMMUNICATE’ I’m going to take a taser to them. 2 people can talk things out all they want…..but both parties have to HEAR exactly what is being said.
However, we all know that that is lip service to a degree, and that part of what enables a sub to relinquish control is the power we exude over them and the strength we convey. When we appear weak and needy it becomes harder to exude that power I find.
This is SUCH a huge topic and I know exactly what you mean: There is the ideal (which really no-one would argue about) and there is ‘what actually happens’.
I do a mental trickery with myself (and with him) to frame some of my ‘weaknesses’ in ways that become ordery. I mentioned in my other post that a favourite for saying ‘I want your attention/affection (or, I need reassurance)’ is “Pat me!” But of course that’s just surface stuff.
For me, there is a genuine underlying power base upon which D/s sits (this is the same power base that vanilla relationships have that nobody ever talks about), and if that power favours the submissive, I *do* think it can be really difficult to put D/s on top of that because to me, it then feels like a farce.
This stuff is often difficult to talk about because no-one wants to acknowledge it (another post perhaps).
“2 people can talk things out all they want…..but both parties have to HEAR exactly what is being said.”
Or they can hear it perfectly well, but it’s beyond them to deliver it (or they just don’t want to deliver it) :(.
There are a lot of layers here, it is too complex for me to sort it all out. I need to ponder this more. But your last paragraph:
“I have certain needs and it’s my responsibility to choose a partner for whom meeting those needs is a natural function of how he relates to me…”
seems, perhaps, to be a core element and something that I have thought about and discussed before. It is amazing that so many people seem to be able to find a compatible partner.
We don’t (at least in the US) teach people how to relate, make complex decisions, or communicate very well. Let alone teaching how to think about what you may want in a partner, or how to see if someone is compatible.
People are given rather vague advice and have to stumble through it. And when you are first doing that, you often do not even really know what you do like/want/desire.
As just one example, when I was dating, I didn’t even know what D/s was, couldn’t have articulated that I wanted to be submissive, or that I wanted to find a woman who would enjoy dominating me.
And, as was said, people can change. It is a wonder that it works as commonly as it does…
While simply saying communication is needed may be way too simplistic, communicating is a key skill to have. And it is hard to do well. they should teach that skill. there are courses that you can take (Crucial Conversations for example) and if people had the skills and knowledge that course provides, it would be interesting to see how much difference that might make.
Another key is, I think, to make yourself open and vulnerable. Powerful ability if you can do it. You have a link to a great Ted Talk on that, I recall.
But, as you said, these only go so far. Like compromise. How far can you go before you are damaging your relationship? Do idealistically rigid people have more trouble than others I wonder…
I think that if a person is good at introspection ( so they know themselves well) and is good at communicating (meaning more than talking and getting ideas across, rather keeping a dialogue going when the going gets tough), and has some flexibility in what they are striving for, that at least they should have a better than average chance to find a compatible partner. And if both have these characteristics, that relationship should, in theory, have a better chance of lasting.
Wow, you can really get far down rabbit holes with this topic….
*laugh* That rabbit hole just goes on and on…
“People are given rather vague advice and have to stumble through it. And when you are first doing that, you often do not even really know what you do like/want/desire.”
I think experience MUST play a part in getting to an understanding of what you need and want because until you try it out, it’s theory and you can’t know.
And I think the above is why we sometimes have this strange issue with older life-and-relationship-experienced people who are new to D/s sometimes losing their shit because they DO have to go through some of that try-and-fail again to figure out what works.
I agree with you about skills that help, and it would be great to be taught some of those skills. Goodness knows they would have helped me a lot more than trigonometry ever has.
What?! Trig has not helped you many time through life???
You cannot possibly be right….you must just not remember all the times….
This is one of many reasons that I chose consensual non-monogamy. I’ve always thought that the notion that all my needs could be met by one person is extremely unrealistic and irrational. Likewise, I’m not comfortable with someone expecting me to meet all of their needs. That said, it was still hard the first time my partner said “I have this need. I know you can’t meet this need for me and I don’t love you any less because of it, but it’s important to me so I’m going to find it with someone else.”. It’s hard not to feel like you’ve been found wanting in some way, even if you know rationally that you would not be happy trying to make yourself into something you’re not.
When I first became non-monogamous, my partner at the time and I had a long talk about how being open and honest in our communication meant accepting that one of us may want something the other doesn’t and that compromise may not always be possible. It also meant accepting that things change and being prepared to accept when a relationship is no longer working.
Recently I’ve gone through the realisation that after 15 years, my primary partner and I have both changed as people and the relationship dynamic needs to change. We acknowledged that we don’t have a romantic or sexual connection anymore. That spark just isn’t there and we’ve both been making ourselves unhappy trying to rekindle it. However we also talked about all the things that do work really well between us. We’re very close friends, we like to talk to each other about all kinds of things, and we live together really well. So we’ve decided to transition to a platonic, cohabiting relationship. On a practical level, not much will change except we’re moving into seperate bedrooms. On an emotional level, there has been a huge relief of tension as there is no longer the expectation of trying to revive the romantic and sexual aspects of the relationship. I still feel some sadness and am grieving for our past relationship, even though I was the one who initiated this change. I know it will take us a while to figure out how we relate to each other in this new dynamic. We’re both going into this without any set expectations other than to keep communicating and adjust things as we go.
While hardly holding myself up as a model for relationships, I think this is an example of how relationships don’t have to be all or nothing. There are ways to meet individual needs without uncomfortable compromises and there are ways to change a relationship dynamic rather than end it completely.
Wow, that’s a great outcome, thank you so much for sharing. I’m sure it was really difficult to navigate all that. I can’t even imagine! Congratulations to you both.
I’m not going to say ‘never’, but I’m pretty hard wired for monogamy. I’m either hyper-intensely focussed on someone, or I’m not interested, and I don’t have the spoons to be hyper-intense with multiple people. I’m stingy with my feelings and vulnerability and time and energy… all that. Also, I don’t feel compersion.
*laugh* Yeah, so probably NOT a great candidate for any sort of non monogamous situation, but I can appreciate (in theory anyway) how it can contribute to happier relationships overall.
I hope it continues to go well for you both.
“I have certain needs and it’s my responsibility to choose a partner for whom meeting those needs is a natural function of how he relates to me, it should be a joy and a pleasure for him. There can and will be tweaking and compromises along the way, but fundamentally ‘how he is’ and ‘how he relates to me’ takes care of any feelings of ‘neediness’ because I will feel loved and desired and adored because we are compatible in how we show those feelings with each other. The rest is detail.”
That just nails it on the head for me. It’s a big part of why I’ve had 7 first dates in the last 8 weeks. It’s what I mean when I say “I’m selective”. I know who I am and what I want and if I don’t think the other person has the potential to be that…I bail.
Some things are certainly part of a developing relationship, and if he’s submissive, he will learn things that please me.
But at the foundational level if *how he relates* just doesn’t work for me or give me what I want, I know 100% that I can’t do a thing about that because that’s a pretty fundamental part of who he is. And neither can he (though he may try his heart out which is sweet and terrible).
It doesn’t really matter how much either of us wish it or work at it, some things are a fundamental incompatibility.
I’ve had to somewhat let go of the idea that a submissive (in particular the one I’m involved with right now whom I adore but is rather oblivious to many things) is going to just “know” what I want. Like, it’s magic, right? You show up and he just knows that you want him to kneel, or stop playing his video game and actually pay attention to you or or or
I know when I first started this whole complicated thing with D/s I was under the impression that two people met and just “connected” and then it went from there. It turns out it’s a whole lot messier than that and sometimes requires you to SPEAK UP. And yes, take the chance that the person will hear you and go: “Yeah, sorry about that, sucks that I can’t/won’t do that, huh?”
But in the end, it does no good to stand around expectantly or not acknowledge your own needs for fear of losing something. If you can’t communicate and receive the response you need or want to hear, it was never going to work out for you two anyhow.
*goes and drags the subbie away from the computer while he looks at her fawningly and totally confused*
*laugh* I hear you!
The romanticised version is always like that. “He should just knoooowwww!!” *kicks dirt*
Or worse, “If he loved me, he’d knooooowwwww!”
Good on you for the dragging *smile*.
Oof indeed :/.