I hope you have been enjoying Rika’s Lair, my monthly column dedicated to thoughts and experiences regarding power dynamics in Service-Oriented D/s relationships. Look up “Ms. Rika” in the search box for links to all my articles in KinkWeekly!
Earlier this week, I received a question from a woman who was wondering how to approach her dominant partner regarding the time he was spending with an ex-submissive. She was expressing anger that he was not spending that time with her, and that she was conflicted about talking to him about it, because he was her dominant.
The day before that, I read a question in a FetLife discussion group regarding how to find compatible partners for a D/s relationship.
The day before that, a woman was complaining that her dominant husband / ‘daddy’ wasn’t paying her enough attention and was triggering a ‘fear of abandonment’ issue for her. According to her, it was ‘his job’ to take care of her…and he wasn’t.
These three problems share a common thread: They all highlight power dynamics in the relationship, and yet, all have absolutely nothing to do with power dynamics!
In follow-up discussions with each of these people, I was able to ascertain the root of the real issues…and in all three cases, the core values of the relationship were in question – not the power dynamics. In the first case, the woman felt he was spending time with his ex that she felt he should prefer he spend with her. In the discussion, I asked if she would feel the same way if it was a beer-buddy that he was seeing, rather than an ex – and eventually she admitted it wasn’t the time so much as the person. She was feeling insecure and threatened by an ex-partner of her partner. Who hasn’t felt that?
The gentleman in the second problem was receiving advice from lots of folks online: Get out there, go to munches, meet the person first then find kink compatibility, etc. It read like a lot of standard, vanilla dating advice…because it was…because ultimately, he was looking for a partner…we’ve all done that.
The third woman was dealing with an abandonment issue that she had already spent a lifetime in therapy working through. She knew the tools she needed to put in place to help herself, but was avoiding the effort and placing it on her dominant. But the real problem was the same as it always was and the resolution rested with her, as it always had.
I don’t know whether it’s a need for self-importance or just a correlation vs. consequence conflation, but I often see people who are in relationships with power dynamics giving WAY too much importance to the power dynamic and denying the fact that they are in a good-old relationship. I often hear how much “stronger” a relationship is, because it has a power dynamic. Or, how much better the people are at communicating because they have a power dynamic that requires communication.
I believe this is a correlation and not a consequence and I challenge it: Power dynamics are just one of MANY mutual dynamics / passions a couple can share – any of which will strengthen a relationship and many of which will exercise communications. In fact, any activity or dynamic in which you engage, that exercises communications, will TEST those communication skills – and your relationship will hang in the balance. Having a power dynamic doesn’t improve your communication skills – good communication skills improve your power dynamic. You can observe good communications in relationships that last, and that includes power relationships that last. But it’s not the existence of the power dynamic that creates the good communications…it’s the other way around.
When folks approach me with questions / issues regarding their power relationships, most of the time the problem really has nothing to do with the power dynamic. Most of the challenges we face are plain old relationship conflicts that need plain-old relationship solutions. What I have also found is that most of the people who approach me already know the answer to the problem, but are failing to see it, believing it must be different because they have a power dynamic! In some cases, they are HOPING it will be different because they have a power dynamic!
What I mean by that last statement is that many times the resolutions to relationship issues are difficult, and it would be awesome if having a power dynamic would make them simpler to resolve. There is an aspect of ‘giving up control’ that makes one’s life easier…and it is nice to think that giving up control will make relationship issue resolution easier too. Unfortunately, the layers don’t really mix that way. Relationship issues hit at a very base-level of NEED in people…and power dynamics aren’t impacting that level in that way. You must deal with relationship issues as equal partners in a relationship. There are no shortcuts.
I have found that resolution to most of these issues comes directly from the people themselves, once I force them to restate the question removing the power dynamic. When they voice their concern without consideration for their position in the power dynamic – and just look at it objectively within their knowledge of vanilla relationships, they suddenly can see the answer.
Sometimes, this is all that’s needed. Sometimes, they don’t like the answer they see, when they are forced to realize that power dynamics can’t be used as a crutch, an excuse for lazy behavior, or a reason to pass the burden of resolution onto their partner due to their role in the power dynamic. Issues with power dynamics need to be addressed without the D/s dynamic.
Next time you’re faced with a problem, try restating the issue without consideration for your power dynamic. What would a vanilla person do? If the answer to that question is clear to you, like it or not, it is probably the appropriate answer to your problem as well!
Ms. Rika is a lifestyle dominant, educator, and author; living in the suburbs of NYC with her husband/slave. She has written several popular books on her approach to adding Dominant-Centric, Service-Oriented D/s to relationships. You can find her books (in both print and eBook formats) at Lulu.com (http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/msrika), or at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the iStore, Books-A Million, Kobo.com, or anywhere books are sold. Search for “Ms. Rika”. Write to me at Ms_Rika@hotmail.com