This type of relationship is very special and deep. I have been in a S & M relationship before. The slave was one of my first relationships. and a real learning experience. This was some 20 years ago we met through yahoo profiles way back in the day.
I was still in the learning stage of BDSM with a lot to learn. What I had come across was a woman who craved pain and humiliation. in five years she never shed a tear.
What I did learn and she made it very clear is that after care was very important as well as praise. Telling her how well she did. I would hold her for hours after each session.
I remember very clear the first time we had a session I was scared I was terrified thinking to myself what the fuck have I done. When I left her house she was black and blue from the neck down. This is also where I learned needle play. fisting. wow anything I wanted or could think of.
We both knew though it would not last It was a very good learning process for me. Before I met her I knew nothing of after care. and I understand why this is so important. The slave or submissive gives so much. not just during play but as a whole. she gives herself unconditionally. without question or hesitation.
Now here is what I do know a submissive or slave can love so much or wants acceptance so bad she will do what ever it takes to please her partner.
I also know that a good Dominant would never push his property over the edge. push past her limits moral or pain.
On the other hand you can be a sadist and not be a Dominant. or you can be both. but that does not happen very often. 90% of the time its one or the other….
A real Dominant is very calm. cool and collective. he is in control not controlling. A big difference. I just told the same thing to a submissive I am seeing at this time.
BDSM is not an open door for abuse. but it just fucks with my head to no end when I run across a relationship like this.
So I did a little research and I came across an article. it was written very well and I hope everyone reads it.
Please remember no matter what your relationship is in the BDSM lifestyle I cannot express enough how much after care is important to the slave or submissive. A lot of damage can be done. and sometimes it can take years to repair…
It is important to emphasize that the relationship between the sadist and masochist is somewhat different to domestic violence. With those into the s&m scene there is usually some kind of voluntary agreement. With domestic violence this isn’t the case. In the s&m relationship there is often the swapping of roles, this too is different to domestic violence.
It is also important, in my opinion, to not define people just by their sexuality. People who engage in s&m sexuality also do the washing up, play scrabble, love their children and their partner.
The people I’ve know well who are into s&m usually have sexual abuse in their history. This means that a part of themselves has felt victimized. S&m can be part of taking back control of themselves and their sexuality. It is, in my opinion and according to my values, important that people do have control of their own sexuality – what they give and what they withhold. This can also be part of young people being promiscuous. I think that knowing the motivation for behavior can make a difference to how we respond to it.
One of the insights I’ve gained from gestalt therapy is that it is helpful to think in polarities. The poles here are sadist and masochist, victim and abuser. The polarities also occur within each individual. With s&m the victim is engaged with feeling powerful and the abuser feels victimized. This occurrence of the polarities is what gives the relationship its charge. The victim/masochist exercises their power by withholding orgasm – ‘you can do anything to me, but you can’t make me come’. The sadist/abuser feels both degraded and strong, doing fully and yet frustrated in their action.
It is essential to note that both partners achieve some sexual satisfaction. Again, this is different to domestic violence.
The dynamic in s&m is withholding and explosion. When the withholding is extreme then this becomes painful, and the normal pleasurable sexual release is mixed with pain. There are elements of this in other situations. I once asked a boxer why they did something so painful. They replied that, it was often said, the pain lets you know you’re alive.
Usually we wonder about the masochist. It seems to me that there needs to be some way in which these people feel bad about themselves. This may well be past sexual abuse (of which incest is by far the most common kind). They feel bad about themselves (perhaps especially their sexual selves) but they still want to feel sexy and achieve the sexual release. So they mix the feeling bad with the sexual. This attitude in a mild way is pervasive in our culture – eg the figure of the femme fatale, or the male who is ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’, and their is talk of a ‘dirty weekend’ (ie. one of sexual pleasure), and so on. The masochist is an exaggeration of a very common theme.
Often it is assumed that we understand the sadist more readily. This says lots about our culture, and none of it good. Once again this attitude is pervasive in our culture in a mild way. It feels good to ‘beat’ others – whether in sport or on an exam. Children for years on end are rewarded for ignoring their own needs and complying with the dictates of others (‘for their own good’ of course!). The dynamic for the sadist is that they have an inner victim. They feel pleasure in triumphing over themselves (the attraction of Nietzsche aristocratic philosophy is an example of this).
The s&m relationship brings us up against difficult moral terrain. Aren’t adults entitled to conduct themselves sexually however they like with other adults; as long as they both agree? But how can this kind of relationship which seems degrading be appropriate? The most extreme case of this kind that I know of is of cannibalism, where the person gave written permission to be killed and eaten. It seems that there is some distance between the legal and the ethical.
My values are that life is a positive strength with particular qualities: compassion, creativity and so on. (I also have religious convictions but these are only useful to other people of the same convictions – and even then there are remarkably strong disagreements within the same faith tradition – so I’ll stick to discussing life.) From this perspective it is possible to say that some things are bad (multiply death, bring destruction – everything from the corporate production of terminator seeds to our conduct with others).
I think behavior makes sense in context – and part of the context is our past experience, our present thoughts and behaviors. And if you wish to change a person’s behavior with their consent then it helps to know the context. In this situation: telling a person who is in an s&m relationship that they are bad and their sexuality is bad won’t help them leave. This is probably part of the reason they are in the relationship!
I think it is possible to offer people in an s&m relationship the possibility of healing bringing together the different parts of themselves and living a more pleasurable and fulfilling life. This is the possibility open to all of us, not just those of us in an s&m relationship. Most of us have splits between different parts of ourselves, most of us are drained by the fighting between these parts. Healing these splits offers us all the possibility of more life. And as I pointed out, in a mild form, s&m is a pervasive part of our culture: those in the s&m relationship are just acting it out our cultural norms in a more extreme way.
This is my understanding of the dynamic of the s&m relationship.
Now to the rest of the question. “The thing that most interests me, is the possibility of one person understanding well enough what is occurring and can still manage the retention of a relationship on some level. I just wonder if this absolute of having to remove oneself from the situation is the only solution.”
In an s&m relationship the dynamic is usually fairly well understood. They can be quite stable, long-term relationships. The people involved usually don’t want to leave. They find fulfillment in their relationsip – and I think the satisfaction is the confirmation of beliefs: that they, and their sexuality, are in some way bad. As well as the other benefits of being in a relationship.
My values are that it would be better to be in a relationship of mutual pleasure where no one gets hurt. And I can offer a path to this – a path that offers a gain in pleasure, not one where you discipline yourself ‘for your own good’.
If one person wishes to change in a relationship, and the other doesn’t, then sometimes the relationship will end. So sometimes leaving will be the only solution. Other times our relationships change and evolve for our mutual benefit.