Communication, communication, communication.
We hear that word so much in the Kink Community it is a wonder we aren’t all sick to death of talking about talking. The problem is, do we really talk about it? Do we really teach others how to do it? Or do we, instead, say the word and assume that is enough? You have to communicate better. Lesson learned. Why didn’t I think of that?
I took piano lessons as a kid. I studied for five years. I would dutifully go home and practice whatever I had ploddingly banged out in my lesson, repeating songs over and over, going back to the beginning if I made a mistake.
The beginnings of my songs were always spectacular. The ends, not so much.
In college I took piano lessons again. After a couple of weeks my professor stopped me.
“How are you practicing?” he asked.
I looked at him in confusion. Obviously I was playing the song.
After pulling details out of me about my practice habits, he clarified his expectations of practice. I was to review individual sections when I had trouble, repeating them until my muscle memory engaged the corrections. Only then would I put the completed parts together and play the piece from the beginning. According to him, I had never practiced before, not really. But then, no one had ever taken the time to frame their expectations of my practice time. What I had done instead was to just play songs. With his assistance, my playing became that much stronger.
The same lesson applies to communication. If no one ever breaks down how we should communicate and only says that we should, we are left to puzzle out the method ourselves, and will fully believe any conversation should qualify.
It begins with honesty. First honesty with oneself, for without that, you cannot be honest with another. This isn’t the kind of honesty about casual details, such as where you grew up and your elementary school best friend’s name. This isn’t even the kind of honesty that comes when we talk about past trauma, though that is extremely important. Often, that honesty is mistaken for a much more rare kind.
The kind of honesty that it really starts with is the ability to share feelings and express them in words in a kind way. It is one thing to be able to share feelings when they explode out, but completely different to be able to have those conversations when they can happen before resentments pop up. This may sometimes mean talking through an issue more than once until all stress points are resolved.
Just as important as being able to communicate those feelings, is an ability to listen and process without deflecting. We have a tendency to take things personally, and feelings are often mistaken as attacks. For example, a situation came up with my Daddy when I was extremely jealous. He had gone to see Thor the Dark World with some friends, and I hadn’t been able to attend due to scheduling issues. We hadn’t realized that I found Marvel movies to be our special “us” thing, and that while I welcomed company, him seeing it without me was upseting. I talked to him about my feelings, including the fact that I felt irrational having those feelings, which contributed to my confusion, and we were able to work out a positive compromise for future events in order to deal with what we identified as my needs.
It could very easily gone another way. Had I become angry and attacked him for my feelings that exchange would likely have been unproductive. Instead, I discovered a feeling, identified it as such to him, and we calmly discussed it. Had he responded defensively, it is also unlikely that I would have wanted to continue sharing my feelings with him when future opportunities arose, since I would have learned that those conversations were unproductive.
Both partners are responsible for good communication. Every time an opportunity arises, they both have to fully participate, once as an active communicator, the other as an active listener.
We have a saying in our house.
Feelings aren’t good or bad. They just are.
Most of the time they happen without our permission. Being able to discuss first that a feeling occurred which needs to be shared, and then what its possible root causes are is essential to good communication. Just like learning a song on the piano, it isn’t just about plowing straight through without attending the problem spots along the way. It is, instead, about discovering a rough place and taking the time to smooth it before continuing the journey, hopefully with more skill to work through future rough spots with every experience.
About the Author
Christmas bunny has been exploring kink since she was legal to do so. Her serious writing started in college, where she accidently got some of her papers published in educational journals. She has recently expanded her writing to include her kink journey. She began writing in the physical realm, but shed some of her inhibitions and began sharing those entries with others. She now keeps an active blog of her personal growth and her relationship with her Master / Daddy Dominant and writes helpful educational posts on a variety of subjects.
Great article. They say, the best communicator is the one who listens. One of my favourite books is Rumsfeld Rules. Whatever we think of him as a person, you don’t survive at his level of politics for as long as he did, if you don’t communicate. In every aspect of life, communication is key. Just all IMHO.
Love this piece!
Your work always has such heart