24/7 D/s relationships are a lot of work. The title alone should be the give away, and I don’t mean the 24/7 or D/s part, those only come after the really tricky bit, the relationship. For some of us our sense of self is so tied up in the dynamics of relationship that we can forget which follows which.
Our dynamics are layered upon those parts of us that make up functioning human beings. We are a top, a bottom, a switch after we are a person. Those needs which are fulfilled by those dynamics are valuable. Often they can be very comforting, allowing us to choose the manner in which we engage with the people around us with clearly set terms of engagement. Within our relationships it can provide clearly defined expectations and responsibilities. However, we need the stable foundation of a relationship upon which to build.
We will all have times when we will struggle. Perhaps the urge to serve it strained, or the desire to tell someone what to do waines? For some reason that which came easily and we thought was core to our relationship, to our very sense of self, becomes difficult. It can be a source of panic as we try to diagnose the problem. Do I need to be more dominant, double down on the rules, forgive no trespass? We become so obsessed with the symptoms that we fail to diagnose the root cause of the issue.
The D/s aspect of a relationship is often the most emotionally vulnerable part of a relationship as it rests on the very top. Seen each and every day in the way we act, the way we talk, so any break in that pattern is very obvious. Often the D/s parts of us are the most extreme representations of us, the most vulnerable, the most self indulgent, the most us that we can only truly manifest when we feel safe. It can be the canary in the coal mine of troubles we aren’t even aware of.
If we are finding it hard to connect in a kinky way I believe it is worth working up through the layers of the relationship, rather than backwards from the fault. If we no longer feel safe enough in the relationship to be uniquely vulnerable in the way that D/s allows us to then we need to understand what has changed.
There is a risk that if we spend all our time struggling to work out why we aren’t enjoying the rules and making up new rules, or altering existing ones, then we are not exploring why the rules have stopped being fun. Layering more plaster over a crack in a wall won’t solve the problem. We need to work out why the crack is there in the first place. Stop the root problem, then repair and plaster over the crack.
If there is a problem on the top level of the relationship, the D/s aspect, then we should explore the foundations of the relationship. By starting with the fundamentals we can test each of those things that are essential to a healthy relationship.
The underpinnings of a relationship are not D/s, they are care, affection, love and much much more. You kink compatibility may be what brought you together, but it will not be what keeps you together.
What may have brought you together is not necessarily the same thing that keeps you together. I have been fortunate enough to have had some wonderful scenes with people. Our kinks were compatible, we enjoyed our time together, but a relationship was never a prospect. Kink compatibility does not naturally lead to relationship compatibility. So why would we focus on the kink aspect first rather than that which makes up the underpinnings of the relationship if there is a problem?
If there are uncomfortable things that we need to confront about our relationship we can be prone to distraction. It is easy to mistake activity for progress.
Recently the D/s aspect of my relationship had to take a backseat in order to focus on my partners needs. She did not need a dom at that time, she needed a partner. Everything but the most basic levels of D/s had to be put on hold. She still wore her collar, had to ask permission for the same things as always, but apart from those few things our focus shifted almost exclusively to taking care of her.
My role as Top in our relationship had to shift, changing from an owner, an enforced of rules, to far more of a carer. Our relationship became almost vanilla! Gasp, shock, horror!
Fortunately she felt better after a few weeks of care and we were able to start bringing our rules back to the forefront of our relationships. Shifting back to the D/s heavy nature of our relationship. However, there was a problem. I was really struggling. I found it hard to just turn the switch back on. Everything told me I enjoyed our kink dynamic, I wanted to get back to it in full, so did she. Everything we were thinking about our shared kink told us we should be right back where we were a few weeks ago.
Our mistake was in only looking at the issue from the kink layer of the relationship. We were so fixated on getting that back to normal that we didn’t even consider that there could be an issue on another level that we were totally missing.
For a few days we struggled. We were doing all the kinky things, and just not feeling it. It felt just like we were going through the motions. A horrible thing to feel in a D/s dynamic where our joint commitment is so integral to the relationship working.
After a few days of it just not working we had a long conversation. Forcing ourselves to verbalise what we were feeling, what was frustrating us and what wasn’t working. We didn’t have to come up with a solution, we were just diagnosing the problem. Neither of us pretended something was working that wasn’t, neither of us attributed blame (after all we both wanted the same thing). What we did was work up from the fundamentals of our relationship, asking the hard questions as we went. Did we still love each other, did we still enjoy being with each other, did we still excite each other…
It is important to ask these hard questions, because it is the answers that will help us. Fortunately after the talk we were able to understand why we weren’t clicking, it was as simple as the fact that I needed to feel confident that she really was okay. I needed to feel safe enough to be myself in full with her again, and to recognise that needed to give myself a couple of days to recover from being so focused on caring for her.
The spice of life
Kink is a beautiful, thrilling, erotic addition to a relationship. In my case it is so pervasive that it could easily be mistaken as the relationship in its entirety. If I am not careful I can make that mistake myself.
While kink might bring many of us together, and even form the language of intimacy that we use to grow emotionally close, it needs to be built upon a healthy relationship. We cannot mistake activity for achievement or conversation for construction. We need to ask the hard questions, to put each other first and build our relationships on a foundation of love.
About the Author
Will Hunt has been involved in the UK kink scene for the last 10 years; running clubs, teaching workshops, performing and generally encouraging naughty behavior wherever possible.