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I know now why my marriage was a short one. Time and distance have given me insight. I was naïve; I thought love was solely sacrifice. I thought love was staying even when things weren’t okay. Most of all, I thought that love, once promised, could never be revoked. I truly believed I had no right to renegotiate my relationship. How could I end something that had endured so much? Wasn’t our growing hardship proof that the relationship was strong?
I hadn’t figured out yet that we were trapped in an unnegotiated state of codependence. I hadn’t realized that not only were my needs not being met; neither were hers.
You might be asking yourself, why the hell is she giving me her life story right now? What does this have to do with me? Well…everything, actually.
In the Vanilla World, it’s commonplace to see relationships fail for the same reasons mine did. A lot of things fall to the wayside when you’re trying to live out the “forever and always” fantasy. A healthy marriage was one concept I never got to discuss until it was too late. Ironically, about 1/3 of the people I’ve met in the scene are also divorced, and it got me wondering why. Is it truly coincidence, or is there something more to this?
Three things that killed my marriage were lying by omission, codependency, and fear. I’ve noticed that in the scene, there’s a lot less of these things going on. I mean, it certainly happens, and no relationship is perfect, but being a part of the Kink Community is such a vast improvement. People express themselves without fear of judgement. Polyamory is more commonplace than monogamy, which I find leads to more openness and less jealousy overall. Relationships are directly negotiated, sometimes in contract form. In my opinion, all of these actions/attributes lead to healthier relationships and individuals. In the following paragraphs, I will explain why.
Lying by Omission
Many vanilla relationships have a “sweep it under the rug” attitude that can lead to resentment and dissatisfaction. The refusal to discuss the hard stuff has a damning effect on the relationship. Things go unsaid that need to be said, and secrets start to take root. It may be easier in the short run to conceal feelings of discomfort, resentment, and fear, but the only way for a relationship to healthily work long-term is if all partners are willing to be transparent with each other. In the Kink World, how we play and the type of dynamics we form require extra trust and communication. There’s so much more at risk for us if we make a mistake or treat our partners carelessly (due to a lot of us engaging in more extreme forms of play and relationships that can have serious physical, emotional, and mental consequences if not handled properly). As a result, most BDSM/Kink relationships practice more open communication and negotiation than their vanilla counterparts.
Poor boundaries and an unwillingness to take responsibility for your own emotional state equal one horribly codependent relationship. In my opinion, any partnership that doesn’t encourage each person to take responsibility for their own emotional wellbeing is a flawed one. For example, jealousy is often dealt with by one partner placing restrictions on the other. Not only does this erode trust over time, but it also creates tension and irritation that can shatter a brittle relationship. Taking personal responsibility means addressing where those feelings of jealousy come from, and not assigning blame or micromanaging your partner because they arose. Codependency takes many forms-from overly relying on your partner like a crutch to being utterly unwilling to let them lead a life of their own. While the Kink Community is not immune to enmeshment and codependent behavior, because we spend so much time practicing our negotiation skills, there is more opportunity for us to state our needs and to reflect on what’s going on internally. Debriefing after a scene is a perfect example of this behavior. And hey, at the very least, if somebody is micromanaging their partner’s personal life, it was pre-negotiated and consented to (if one is practicing BDSM/Kink healthily and safely of course)!
True love cannot survive if you are acting out of fear and suspicion. Fear of being abandoned is a huge reason why most people stay in unhealthy situations. Even fear of what your partner might do if you leave can shape whether or not you feel safe stepping away from a harmful relationship. When leaving isn’t on the table anymore…everything else is. Who knows what you’ll have to endure if walking away isn’t an option? It’s a horrible way to lose somebody, and this slow death was what ultimately killed my relationship. It was an act of love when I finally said goodbye. I no longer had to force myself to settle for vanilla sex. I no longer had to be somebody I wasn’t just to make things “work”. That’s the real reason why so many of us in the scene ended up here after a divorce. Fear kept us in the closet. Self-love unlocked the door.
In the end, the reason there are so many people who’ve experienced divorce in the scene is because we are a culture of pioneers who value consent and transparency. It takes a hell of a lot of strength to admit you’re into kink to begin with, and it also takes a hell of a lot of strength to walk away from a relationship that isn’t working anymore. Love shouldn’t be compulsory, ever. It shouldn’t just happen without conversation, and serious commitments need to be looked at very closely before they’re entered into. We might be a group of eccentrics, but we sure know how to communicate. Maybe the Vanilla World should take a page out of our book. Who knows? Maybe then the divorce rate would go down. Until then, for all of you readers out there who’ve been through a vanilla breakup…welcome home. The Kink Community is happy to have you.
About the Author:
Eden studied Creative Writing and Theater at one of the many Cal State Universities. She is a self-identified poly queer woman who draws on her experiences as a submissive to talk about various issues and hot-topics in the Kink Community. She hopes that her writings will reach other new people in the scene to let them know they are not alone. If you’d like to contact Eden, please feel free to look her up on Fetlife under the handle little_miss_eden.