In 1374, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote: “But at the laste, as every thing hath ende, She took hir leve, and nedes wolde wende.”
What that means, in modern English, is that “All good things must come to an end.”
It is an ideology where we, as humans, are fallible. We believe, naively, that when we enter a relationship (or a dynamic), it is a forever situation.
Most often, it is not.
It can be a great learning experience; but it is not always a forever. In fact, the ending of a dynamic teaches us coping skills and allow us to hone the ability to self-reflect. It can also teach us patience and understanding. It can even make us a better (or worse) of a person.
So, we are going to discuss what happens at the end.
First things first: Did you negotiate release protocols at the beginning of the relationship? Did you add them at any renegotiation point afterward?
Even Google, in all its infinite wisdom and resources, had 2 articles on release protocols.
Because we are optimistically naive.
Release protocols are essentially a structured outline of how to ease back into being a self-sustaining human being. Beyond issues like co-dependency, which is common, I want you to look at the very core of a dynamic. We become vulnerable. And we reshape who we are to make the dynamic work.
I feel the need to specify that any type of dynamic requires give and take. The amount of which is often dependent on the type of dynamic.
1) A dynamic that incorporates orgasm control has effectively trained an individual to respond to specific stimuli only. Most often, the submissive partner is required to ask for orgasm. This could be through verbal permission or a physical sign (such as a bell or snap of the fingers). Such training can take months of consistent, repetitive reinforcement to become effective.
So, what happens when the relationship ends? Will the submissive be left with an inability to orgasm ever again because the permission trigger (like the Dominant’s voice) is no longer available? How do you unlearn a conditioned response?
2) What about a long-term dynamic that involves a house sub or slave?
You both spent years working on your dynamic. You went from weekends only, to D/s, to 24/7 M/s. Now, your body, your finances, and your every decision belongs to someone else. It is a dream many of us have. But then you are looking at release. What is your plan? Where do you go? What next?
3) There is always a strong emphasis on routines in a Power Exchange dynamic. As the relationship progresses, everyday behaviors become both an expectation and a comfort. This is especially true for those of us with mental health struggles. I am one who is deeply unsettled when routines change, or life happens. I need the consistency to be at my best, as both a submissive and as a functioning adult.
4) Unexpected death is another thing to consider. My mother ran the household with her wife. She managed the money, social responsibilities, household chores, grocery shopping, managed passwords, banking responsibilities (like the mortgage, safe deposit box, car payment, etc), and familial expectations (such as remembering birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc). When she died, her wife was left floundering. She had no idea where to even begin, especially since she had limited computer skills. This confusion and headache could have been avoided if there had been a reference book or instructions (such as a list of passwords, bill addresses, or monthly budget) left for her.
As the dynamic is built, those involved find what works best to cement their connection. This could be centering, maintenance spankings, and/or frequent scenes. It is any reoccurring behavior used to cope and reconnect.
Now, you face the stress of the unknown without other coping mechanisms in place. How do you replace this form of coping? Who do you ask for help? Who becomes your safe place? What happens next?
I do want to stress the fact that the ending of a dynamic is not always a bad thing. Sometimes you simply outgrow each other and are no longer compatible. Sometimes it is mutual and sometimes it is not.
Either way, you now must reevaluate your life and figure out how to replace the structure, and accountability, from another person with something you build yourself.
So, what should you ask for?
As always, it is a personal preference. Every person will have different needs and different amounts of resiliency. I do, however, believe there are a few courtesies that should be extended.
- Transitional Period: Essentially, each person needs to learn to rely on themselves and live alone again. This may include continuing to live together, but in separate bedrooms. It could be moving to a roommate style situation. It could also involve living apart and meeting up periodically for a set amount of time until everything is resolved and both parties are secure in their surroundings.
- Time: Allow yourself to grieve the loss of your dynamic and your partner. There will be an underlying desire to throw yourself into kink (sometimes unsafely) and bury the feelings of loss. Power Exchange dynamics require a vast amount of trust and vulnerability. Give yourself permission to reflect on the dynamic, the positives and negatives, and allow yourself to find closure
- Self-Reflection: Always remember that it takes two people to actively participate in a dynamic. Reflect on your own behavior at the same time you reflect on theirs. Recognize the good and the bad within the relationship. Understand that incompatibility can simply mean you have grown in different directions. Reevaluate your boundaries, limits, needs, and wants.
- Safe Place/ Safety Person: While I do not advocate for bashing a partner, current or ex, I do recommend having somewhere you feel safe that you can escape to or having a person you feel safe talking to. A person who will keep your secrets, listen without judgement, and tell you the truth, even when it hurts.
- Plan for Gear: The allocation of gear and toys may not seem extremely important at the heart of a break-up, but it is important to address.
- A collar, for example, is highly treasured by the subs who have them. But, by traditional values, the collar belongs to the Dominant and should be returned to His care. By the same token, a collar is often created or purchased specifically for their submissive. It should be discussed on what will happen after the dynamic. I, for one, would be heartbroken to see Master’s collar on another sub’s neck, when it once adorned mine.
- Toys that consistently come in contact with bodily fluids (i.e. cum, blood, urine, saliva, or anal secretions) are another area that should be discussed. Most items can be disinfected and are safe to use on more than one person. Silicone is a great material that is easily cleanable. In comparison, wood tends to absorb the fluids it encounters, unless properly sealed. In my own dynamic, any toy that has my blood on it, or is used in my ass, is mine. It does not get used on anyone else. Should our dynamic end, those toys will either be disposed of or remain with me.
- Role-specific adornments: items like slave bracelets/chains, wrist/ankle cuffs, leashes, roleplay clothing, or gifts of a similar vein. Depending on your dynamic, these items may fall under the same expectations as a collar and be expected to be returned to the Dominant.
- Have Practical Expectations: Be realistic about setting a timeline for moving on. Set goals for where you want to go and when. Set a budget. Look for resources offered to those on hard times (things such as food or housing assistance, job placement, etc). Allow yourself a grace period for adjustment. Forgive yourself if things take longer than expected. You are human. You are allowed to struggle.
Regardless of when you discuss release protocols, it is never easy. It is important to remember that it is always better to be prepared, than left behind.
My name is Joji. I am 29 years old currently and I have been in and around the kink community about 15 years.I am a collared submissive to Magick42. I am also a Daddy to a wonderful babygirl, and have been for more than three years now and I find it very fulfilling. I am being mentored in and being taught electroplay. I am a masochist at heart and thoroughly love impact play, especially caning. I enjoy reading anything I can get my hands on and am a die hard Harry Potter and Doctor Who fan. I am also the secretary for a group in Idaho called Moscow S.P.A.R.K.E (Simply Providing Another Route to Kink Education). It is our mission to teach safe practices to those new to the community and give them a safe haven to ask questions and learn without judgement. We accept all kinks and all we ask in return is respect between all our members.