We are three adults living in a polyamorous triad family. The content here is intended for an adult audience. If you are not an adult, please leave now.
"The one sure way to conciliate a tiger is to allow oneself to be devoured." ~Konrad Adenauer~
We make a very great deal out of the need for "negotiation" in our BDSM relationships. Whether we are talking about a single play session between relative strangers, or some long term intentional power imbalance created between life partners, our nominal approach is to clearly define wants, needs, and expectations. We make contracts and checklists and ceremonies and protocols -- all meant to help us communicate precisely who and what we are
with one another.
It is an important skill for players within the lifestyle. There's been plenty of good material written about the subject, and I absolutely believe in the value of negotiating well at the outset.
Except that... for myself, I am really not good at doing that early on negotiation -- and that is true regardless of the nature of the relationship.
I did an abysmal job of negotiating on my own behalf when I entered into marriage at the age of 19. Ideally, one would come to that discussion with a clear idea of who they were, what they wanted, what they needed, and what they could and could not accommodate. I should have been clear, all those decades ago, about precisely what it was that I was bringing to the table -- both strengths and weaknesses, and I should have insisted on knowing what he offered in return. Instead, I galloped off into sex and pregnancy and motherhood and marriage based on some vague sense of feeling "safe" and being "in love." That marriage was very much about what I was getting away from, and hardly at all about what I was getting into. It was a terrible mistake -- one I paid for for years and years and years (as did he).
Very many years later,encountering my bent toward masochism and BDSM; and then meeting and becoming friends and, eventually, lovers with Master -- you would think that I would have been wiser. But... I wasn't. He was intriguing, interesting, fun, exciting, intelligent, powerful, strong, determined, self-assured -- and yes, just a delicious little bit dangerous and bad. I was hungry, needy, desperate, horny -- and I loved Him. I didn't ask anything much; didn't make demands; didn't investigate; didn't contemplate that there might be negatives to go with the obvious positives. In my late 40's, I was no more sensible or careful or cautious than I was in my late teens.
Considering all of that, He and I have probably been remarkably lucky. We've had nine real-time years together, and we've learned our way through all sorts of challenges and struggles. What we didn't know and didn't define and didn't anticipate in the beginning, we've figured out together -- over and over and over in the moment. It has not been anything like the carefully structured and clear-eyed sort of negotiation that most lifestyle practitioners would recommend, and probably, it isn't what I'd recommend. Maybe there would have been less stress and less upheaval if we'd laid out all the therefore's and whereas's way back all those years ago...but I doubt it. I suspect that He and I would have battled and wrestled and wrangled no matter the level of definition for our power balance.
Now, it seems, we are at the beginning of whatever our future will ultimately be, and I am guessing that we will, between us, create a relational dynamic that expresses the realities of who we are together. I see the potential for "doing it right" this time -- negotiating for myself with intent and deliberateness. We might make up formal contracts and lists and agreements. We might. But I bet we don't. He is unsure of this new reality, and I am still shaken and scared -- but neither of us are fundamentally different than we were "before." Older and more battered, but not one whit different.
He will never bend to my will (no matter what all the AA cultists and treatment professionals preach), and I will be strong and sturdy and clear-headed until I don't need to do that any longer -- then I will give myself up to be devoured.