Reader: I have a question about how submissiveness and co-dependence coincide. Is there a dilemma between the two? Or are they basically one and the same? Is co-dependency inherently destructive as so many of my vanilla friends say?
Baadmaster: Anti-BDSM forces often use the co-dependency argument in an attempt to make our lifestyle seem deviant or somehow wrong. Deviant we might be; say it loud, “I’m a perv and I’m proud!” There is nothing wrong, as I see it, about co-dependency in any relationship – BDSM or otherwise.
The fact remains that in most human endeavors, we are all co-dependent to one degree or another. I have yet to find a person who can do anything worthwhile alone; we all depend on others for everything from businesses to relationships.
That being said, the extreme bonding that occurs in most BDSM unions can be construed as co-dependency on a higher level than in your typical vanilla relationship. And that, to me, is not only a good thing, but is also a necessary part of any D/s power exchange. After all, even in play, the submissive must depend on the Dominant to keep the play safe and to make those decisions that ensure a good scene. This technical play co-dependence is matched by an analogous psychological co-dependence in most BDSM relationships.
Ideally, the Dominant makes all of the critical decisions in a D/s union. That, by its very definition, introduces a deep aspect of co-dependency into the relationship. After all, the submissive is depending on the Dominant to steer the ship. Without decisions, the ship will sink. Thus, submissiveness and co-dependence are, duh, co-dependent! You really can’t have one without the other. Thus, the short answer to your question is, “Yes, they are basically one and the same.” I offer as proof the popular slave contract. In this document, often the negotiated cornerstone of a Master/slave relationship, the co-dependency areas of the partnership are very evident. Here is a small excerpt from a typical “slave contract.”
Duties of Slave
Above all, it is the duty of the slave to please.
Personal Duties: Physical/emotional needs of Master, amusement, sexual toy/plaything, physical comfort, obedience, honesty, loyalty, waiting on Master as desired and needed.
Household Duties: Cleaning and keeping the home straightened, laundry, shopping, cooking, run errands as needed.
Responsibilities of the Master
Master shall provide a room for the slave during the period of contract. This shall either be, at Master’s sole discretion, in the Master’s bedroom or in a separate room.
Master shall pay all utilities.
Master shall provide for slave’s sustenance.
Master shall be responsible for the health of the slave.
Is this not a perfect example of Master/slave co-dependency? In fact, it can be argued that it is the very basis of this type of relationship.
Of course, problems can arise when this co-dependency becomes pathological. Sometimes a submissive can lose his/her ability to function in the world because of a total dependence on the Dominant for virtually everything. This can be especially troubling if the Master releases the slave; he/she might fall apart at the prospect of being alone. There are also instances where a Dom/me diabolically takes advantage of the power exchange. This can lead to rather abusive situations. A third danger is when the co-dependency dwarfs all other parts of the relationship. Co-dependency might be the currency of D/s, but it does present dangers when misused.
These abuses notwithstanding, there is nothing wrong with being dependent on your Dom/me or submissive. Just because the “Dr. Full-Of-It” types look at co-dependency as being bad doesn’t mean it is. The fact that Master/slave and Dom/sub relationships have a co-dependent foundation is a wonderful thing. After all, would you want a Dom/me whom you could not depend on? Or a submissive who really didn’t need her Dom/me? After all, without co-dependency, we just might be…alone!
About the Author
After a ten year run as head writer for the legendary bondage.com, and an equally long run as the host of the hit internet show “Baadmaster’s Dungeon,” we are pleased to welcome the one and only Baadmaster to KinkWeekly. His thoughts about all things BDSM will now appear regularly on these pages. From the mental aspects of D/s to the nuts and bolts of S&M play, Baadmaster will cover every facet of this ever expanding lifestyle.