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"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.



  1. Having been in and out of 12 step groups (as a "codependent" of people I love) for many years, I can say that I agree with a lot of what you say about those groups. They can be clique-ish, inflexible, preachy and very frustrating. I also have found a lot of help there and the person I care about has found a lot of his own power when he stopped letting his addiction control him. I hope this eventually happens with your situation. I certainly do not "bend him to my will". His own feeling of powerfulness had to grow with his sobriety but it did return!

    Sorry if this is not responsive to what you wrote, but I just finished reading your blog for the last year and have identified with so much of what you went through. People in my family have been up against the court system, job problems and enforced drug testing, etc. and it is beyond frustrating and humiliating! I wish your family the best as you work through this.

  2. Swan, this is a very thoughtful post and opened i[ a lot of insight for me.

    I really identify with the way you've operated in the past-lol-because I did the same thing with both of my marriages. It wasn't until a few years ago when I was first exploring and had a few tops that were good, and really pushed me hard with the negotiations that I learned to actually do some of that... The best thing about that is that it spilled over into my real life, including work. I was exceedingly fortunate to have those men in my life at that time. They also taught me about being safe, including safe calls. One wouldn't even "play" if I didn't set a safe call up!

    I do agree with what Meow says above...

    I would also add that if you carefully read the 1st step, it only says that we are "powerless over alcohol", not that we are powerless over everything! We may choose to apply that at any time to other situations or problems in our life, but we are NOT powerless over everything. I exert my personal power anytime I choose to think or do anything. I have, for nearly 30 years, realized that I am powerless over alcohol, but I choose to admit that which in it's own way is an exertion of my personal power.

    Don't give away your power, any of you, just because some people misinterpret the point of the steps. Even step 3 talks about making decisions, which is a form of personal power.

    I wish I could transplant the 3 of you to Texas for a while, and expose you to some AA & treatment that is not in Ohio. That area is one of the most literal/rigid of AA. I've spent a lot of time researching AA history, (plus living nearly 1/2 of it). There was always a lot of tension between New York and Akron in the very early days, with Bill W. always pushing for more openness and acceptance that Akron wanted.

    I'm so glad the physical recovery is going so well. If he has any need to cut anything, consider a rolling cutter that you can find at sewing shops in a variety of sizes. (Quilters use them)

    I've been away for a while, have some comments on other posts that I just finished reading that I will be adding....

    Love and good wishes to all of you

  3. Impish18:42 PM

    Sounds like a great plan going forward... I think we all look at our younger selves and just shake our heads. I know I do.


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