Once upon a time I was following along with an interesting conversation in a chat group I belong to. It wandered to the subject of partners and scening, impact and desires, as conversations do on occasion amongst kinky folks. I wasn’t particularly engaged until something caught my eye. I shall paraphrase: “It’s most certainly a need for me. Getting pain safely from my Dominant keeps me from self harming.”
I suddenly saw red flags and heard alarm bells everywhere. First issue: this person was claiming that the endorphin rush from pain was a need rather than a strong want. Second issue: this person was placing their mental health directly on someone else’s doorstep rather than taking personal responsibility for it. Third issue: this person was creating a situation which had become manipulative – they were making their D-type feel guilty for not giving them what they wanted when they wanted it.
Need vs Want
The debate over whether kink is a need or a want is one I’ve heard a lot of takes on. Ultimately, the arguments boil down to a few simple ones. On the side arguing for it being a want, needs are defined as the things our bodies require to live, such as food, water, shelter, etx. Spankings are not required to live. On the side arguing for it being a need, people point out that in order to feel totally ourselves or release stress or whatnot, these releases are required, making it a mental health need. Except I still feel that the word need is too strong. Unless someone’s brain chemistry is such that they have become addicted in a way that going without regular doses of strong endorphins could be physically harmful, I still see kink as a want rather than a need.
Which means we need to discuss the possibility of being addicted to the endorphins. I poked around the internet quite a bit before finally stumbling across an article discussing becoming addicted to endorphins, and mentioned the possibility of addiction to dopamine and oxytocin. It basically suggested seeking out safe ways to indulge in scratching that itch, such as riding roller coasters.
Personal Responsibility for Mental Health
I absolutely believe that even if somene has become addicted to endorphins, placing the responsibility for their mental well-being upon someone else is just shitty behavior. We are all each only responsible for ourselves. I say this as someone in a 24/7 Total Power Exchange. I am absolutely the only person responsible for my mental health. It is not my partner’s job to “fix” me. If I have an issue, I need to seek counseling or other professional assistance. Dropping that burden at someone else’s feet is a cop-out, and completely unfair to them. Most people sign on for a competent and functional partner rather than someone for whom they have to keep at a certain numerical score of happiness. That’s what Sims are for, not romantic partners.
Bringing Manipulative and Passive Aggressive Behaviors into Relationships
Manipulation and passive-aggression are tools for the unempowered. If someone has a relationship built on good communication, they have no need for those things.
It begins when they talk their partner into guilt that they shouldn’t rightfully bear. The couple who agreed upon an open relationship with full disclosure shouldn’t be a cover for lying. “I never really wanted this but I agreed because you caught me cheating, which I totally had an excellent reason for that I will justify, but now that you’re actually seeing someone else, you need to know how much it hurts me. So just do whatever you want and I’ll find a way to deal with the pain you put me through.”
Yeah. The genie is flashing red whilst reciting warnings of an imminent plane crash. They seem like a loving partner because they are sacrificing their needs for the other person, when what they are really doing is trying to guilt them into doing what their will.
Of course, that wasn’t their first play. The first thing they did was play on their partner’s insecurities. The manipulator points out what their partner does or has done wrong and how they could have done it better, because helping them learn means they have their partner’s best interests at heart, right? Except what they really want is for their partner to feel like they know things they don’t so they look to the manipulator for guidance. Like setting themselves up as an experienced top, and then getting angry when they hurt their bottom and they want to stop, because the bottom must not be doing something right. A loving partner would be concerned rather than angry they didn’t get their way. Or like leading a group on polyamory and choosing a partner new to that relationship style, because that way they can be the expert and everyone else is “doing it wrong.”
Most of all, manipulators make other people responsible for their emotions.
Because then, their happiness, unhappiness, anger, or whatnot is all someone else’s fault.
So please be cautious. People who don’t take personal responsibility, people who manipulate their partners – these are the kinds of people who are potentially dangerous, both to the individual and to their communities.