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Monday, November 29, 2004

notes to neophytes - part 1

Lately L and I have been talking with a charming, intelligent couple who are sincerely interested in the lifestyle, in exploring to see if it may be right for them. We try to offer them honest, cadid information about how we found BDSM, how we live the lifestyle, how it works for us. At the same time we try to emphasize that we don't have cut-and-dried answers, that much of what they want to know can only be answered by them.

Still, I'm new to this kind of what I suppose could be called a mentoring relationship. Below is an excerpt from an email I sent recently in which I responded to several specific questions. I'm posting this in part on the outside chance that someone new to the lifestyle might stop to read and perhaps find some value therein, but in particular in hopes that those with greater depth in the lifestyle than I possess may take a look and warn me if I'm giving someone bad advice.

"Is it possible that [we] are not cut out for this life style if I am not a masochist and he is not a sadist? What if punishment and accountability is all that I am interested in? Do we fit within those labels---since we are interested in experimenting?"

Short answer: yes. More realistic answer: maybe, but I doubt it. As [L] said,

"because of all the time and interest you’ve shown, i don’t think it’s very likely"

The level of your interest, the level of your commitment to your inquiry, etc., all make me think that you'll eventually find your "niche". One thing I think you're seeing is that not everyone lives this lifestyle in the same manner.

Labels in general are highly over-rated, and particularly so in this lifestyle. There IS no universal lexicon. There are no definitions of the relevant labels which are "canon". The only definitions which truly matter are the operational definitions worked out by each couple, by and for themselves. Being able to introduce yourself to a group as a dominant or a submissive gives them a very general idea of your orientation, which is plenty. In YOUR relationship, you are free to choose, use, and define whatever labels/titles/terms YOU wish, for YOU.

Back in the days when I was first making the transition from "online BDSM" to the realworld thing, and was having my first opportunities to play, I did some wondering about myself. I knew from the *very* fist time I saw a couple play that this was something I wanted *very* much to do.

When I began to get to play on occasion... well, I *really* liked it! I enjoyed having virtually complete control of a play partner's body: pain and pleasure both mine to give or withhold. I enjoyed being found worthy of sufficient trust by the submissive to enable the surrender of that degree of control. I particularly revelled in a sense of hyper-focus, tunnel vision of a sort that I experienced when playing. Early on it was not unusual for me to play with "an audience" of a dozen or more people. But once the scene began, it was as if the size of the entire universe suddenly shrank to encompass nothing more than me and the one with whom I was playing.

In spite of the amount of pleasure I found in playing, there was something I wondered about a lot. Some of the dominants with whom I was becoming acquainted had related to me that they found play to be quite arousing ...sexually. This was not the case for me.

I wondered if maybe I was just overly focused upon my technique, or just still a little nervous about the whole thing. But I also wondered if perhaps this meant I was "not sadistic enough". And if that was true, did it mean that I really didn't belong in this lifestyle as a dominant.

I'm very happy now that I didn't become too worried, too paranoid about this possibility back then. As time passed, I did become more at ease, more confident in my skills when playing and this led me to a more "physical" enjoyment of the experience. It's still not always a distinct physical turn-on for me (in anything like the sense that play is for [L]), and it very seldom is when I'm playing in public at a party. I can honestly say, however, that during the time that [L] and I have been together, I've gone from really liking to play to absolutely loving it!

So, please, don't worry about any kind of external labels. Do continue to experiment. Read about new things. Watch new things whenever you have the chance. TRY new things. Find the things that work for you and enjoy them to the fullest.

And do not worry about reluctance to launch into S&M-type play at this point. There's a lot more to this lifestyle than flogging and bondage. As [L] wrote:

"if punishment and accountability ARE all you’re interested in, so be it. if that’s what works best for you both, and it satisfies the needs you’re looking to fulfill, then it’s good. and it’s okay. and it doesn’t mean you’re any less 'in the lifestyle' than those of us who do want the pain with the pleasure and the dominance with the submission"

The only way you're going to know what's right for you as a couple is to continue on your quest for knowledge... and never, ever stop. I think it was Woody Allen who said that a relationship is like a shark ...if it stops moving forward it dies. For right now, find the things that appeal to you most and begin working on incorporating them as frequently as possible into your life. BUT... recognize that you're not static, as a couple or as individuals. The list of things that "work" for you in your relationship is most likely going to be significantly longer two years from now than it will be six months from now. Expect that as you learn and as you experience, you are going to grow. Which again, is a very good thing.

posted by John | 10:31 PM [permalink]


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