Here at Kink Weekly, the emphasis is, obviously, on kink. In the kinky world of polyamory, there are many approaches – from threesomes that even vanillas partake in, to the more formal D/s “families.” In this installment, we will specifically address those who are either in – or contemplating – a BDSM based triad.
Polyamory, wherein a Dom/me has multiple slaves, remains one of the most exciting, yet difficult, BDSM lifestyle choices. After all, it is incredible for a Dom/me to have multiple slaves to serve him/her. And it is equally wonderful for a slave to have a sister or brother slave. The phrase “ultra hot” often comes to mind to describe these unions. Sadly, most triads fail in short order. (On average, they are usually the shortest lived of all BDSM relationships.) There are many reasons for this, some of which I touched upon in a previous article, “Polyamory.” So let’s offer up some new strategies to give these arrangements a longer shelf life.
In most poly relationships, the usual setup is one Dom/me and two submissives. Almost universally, one of the subs is deemed the “alpha” and the other the “beta.” For those of you unfamiliar with this nomenclature, it means that one slave is higher in the pecking order than the other. The alpha, often the one with longer service, usually gets more time and attention lavished on him/her and is treated as the “number one sub.” Theoretically, the beta would be released were there irresolvable friction between the two slaves. But this is all in theory. And theory won’t keep your slaves!
Thinking outside the box, I personally think that the standard alpha/beta hierarchy is one approach that should not be etched in stone. Even in this new world of mass media BDSM, when it comes to poly most just accept alpha/beta as gospel. But when you examine the pros and cons, it just might be that alpha/alpha, not alpha/beta, is the way to go.
I instinctually have the feeling that equality is easier to manage than an inequitable hierarchy. In an alpha/alpha situation, if the Dom/me gives one slave too much attention, he/she can easily rectify it by giving the other one special treatment. It is easy to keep both happy, because the Master/Mistress can adjust and measure the care given each of the slaves and adjust it as needed. On the other hand, in the typical alpha/beta arrangement, if the Dominant starts lavishing too much attention on the beta, the alpha often gets all bent out of shape. And then there is the problem of how much is too much? Keeping the alpha feeling alpha, while not neglecting the beta, is a lot harder than doling out attention equally. People being what they are, there is less of a chance of jealousy rearing its relationship-destroying head when both submissives are getting equal treatment. It seems, at least to me, easier to treat two slaves equally than to basically slight one. Alpha/alpha is so simple and elegant; I am surprised it isn’t used more.
Furthermore (and this is my opinion only, but based on personal experience), in the alpha/beta system, if there is any competition between the two subs, the beta has a decided advantage. By assuming the position that requires more sacrifice, the beta creates the appearance of being the more submissive of the two. This can get on the alpha’s nerves – especially if the alpha jealously perceives that this “ultra-submissiveness” is captivating the Master/Mistress. Then, if the alpha says, “Ditch the beta,” and is not careful in the way this request is phrased, it could appear that he/she is dictating to the Dominant and the demand could backfire. I have seen this scenario happen far too many times to think it is just coincidence. Although jealousy and competition between slaves is rather common, alpha/alpha appears to level out the playing field when gamesmanship rears its ugly head.
In practice, alpha/alpha is probably easier to set up when the Master/Mistress meets both submissives somewhat simultaneously. A slave, with time put into the relationship, will oft times need to feel “alpha.” There is no doubt that seniority and loyalty count for a lot. And there is nothing wrong with making this fact known to both. Long-term service, marriage or other commitments are all good reasons for using the alpha/beta system. Those considerations aside, a Dominant should not automatically use the alpha/beta system. Alpha/alpha should at least be considered when setting up a relationship as complicated as a triad.
Polyamory is no doubt awesome when it works. But making it work is the trick. Many have tried. Few succeed on a long-term basis. The alpha/alpha system I have outlined here is clearly not for everyone. Nor does it solve all of the problems inherent in relationships with more than two people. But I offer it as another way of setting up a poly relationship. After all, as so many triads bite the dust so quickly, we might need alternate ways to set up a relationship — other than the ubiquitous alpha/beta hierarchy
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.
This girl came into a poly house with no alpha but one that once was alpha and three other sisters. This girl had known the family a long time especially the Master. The treatment of each slave was all different and yes there was more attention paid to one or two than the other three. One he was in love with. This caused slot of jealousy and bad feeling in the house. In fact the house can be chaos at times. Any thoughts of how this girl should handle this. This girl loves and respects her Master with all her heart but the confusion caused by some may be hurting the house
Jess Mahler says
Really tired of the default assumption that polyamory means triads and BDSM polyamory means D/s/s triads. The most stable and long lasting polyam relationship are networks and constellations that allow for flexibility and evolution of varying relationships and don’t tie different relationships together such that everyone is required to be involved with everyone else.
It is possible for a sub to have two doms. It is possible for someone to sub to one person while being dom to another person, a rope slut for a third person, while their dom is the masochist in an S/M relationship with someone else and their sub is in a vanilla relationship with a spouse.
You want to help folks have a better chance to “make it work”, maybe give them a look at just how broad their options are and how they can find the option that is right for them rather than reinforcing a “one twue way” stereotype.
its hard to be part of the pecking order, personally. i don’t struggle with jealousy unless i fee like I’m not as important. though it can be hard to give equal attention, especially if you’re joining an existing relationship, which is common. i think its important to try and at least give consideration there.
prudence23: As I have said many times, poly is awesome when it works. But it is hard to keep it going over the long haul. (And I have not, in either of my poly articles, devoted much time to examining the antipathy that the vanilla world can bring, which can be considerable.) Of course, one should not use “time together” as the determinant as to success or failure of a D/s triad — as many do when talking about marriage. In my case, I have had triads of varying length. And, looking back, I would say they were all fulfilling, each in their own unique way.
Currently, I am in what I call a “modified triad” wherein I live with my slave and are joined from time to time by a third. And this has lasted for five years or so; it works, and I think that should be the number one goal.
It is in this spirit that I am offering different strategies to help Kink Weekly members who are interested in poly have a better chance to “make it work.”