Relationship Dynamics & Labels

I recently read a post on Fetlife (Every Relationship is Different, by Lady_Elsa, if you have access to FL) that really resonated with me. I posted it in the Twisted Tryst group on Fet because we are headed there next week, and it seemed to echo so much of the philosophy of that wonderful group and what I found the last time I was among them.

One of the tenets of Tryst is this idea of radical inclusivity, the idea that we are all welcome, no matter what our kink, gender, dynamics, sexual orientation or lifestyle is. Both the post and the comments are insightful and I believe would make good reading for anyone attending Tryst–or any camp event, where we are more likely to witness day-to-day interactions and relationship dynamics than we might at a hotel event, or a one-night play party. But really, it’s good reading for anyone that has to interact with other human beings (which most of us do), vanilla or kinky. ;-)

One of the things that I (occasionally) struggle with is trying to explain the dynamics of my relationship with W, and, to a lesser degree, Ad. Perhaps “struggle” is too harsh a word, and implies a dislike of the resulting back-and-forth discussion that often ensues. Frankly, I love talking about our dynamics, what works, what doesn’t, why it is the way it is and what it is that we do. It doesn’t fit into any of the boxes that I’ve checked on my profile, though, and other people might (and often do) chafe at the inability of these labels to completely or adequately describe their dynamic. To me, those labels are an excellent place to start.

But that’s the kicker: they are an excellent place to start.

I believe we need some labels, some way to begin the discussion about what and who we are. Others don’t, and that’s fine too. But for me, those labels actually facilitate discussion.

One of the oddities of my relationship dynamic is that while I label myself W’s submissive, while I consider myself his submissive, he doesn’t necessarily agree with this labeling. Oh, he agrees that this label, and how I use it, resonates to me, and is how I perceive our relationship, but he doesn’t necessarily agree that our relationship is one that falls under the purview of typical “D/s” dynamics.

And nope, it doesn’t.

Still, I am his submissive. It is a part of our dynamic that is always there, always a part of who I am with him, and who he is to me. That we don’t exhibit any of the typical behaviors, attitudes or conventions of a D/s dynamic matters not one whit to me. I know what I feel. And that’s enough.

W and I are lovers. Friends. Peers. He is my Owner and he is Onyx’s handler. I submit to him and I am subjugated by him. I also argue with him and push him and admire him and sometimes act like a brat and always respect him. Sometimes we are best friends, and sometimes we are adversaries in the push and pull that is coercion play. We nurture each other and care for each other. Some days we are deep in our kink, deep in this space that we inhabit where kink IS how we relate, some days the kink is beneath the surface.

And then there is how our relationship in regards to others works. He and I had some intense, convoluted, interesting and occasionally heated (in a good way) discussion about what it means to be open, poly, coerced, swingers. As you might expect, though I label myself poly with Ad and open with W, those labels don’t do justice nor encompass the complexity of what it is we do.

And I’m fine with that, because that is exactly when/where we can start talking about it. Where we can start parsing out what those labels mean to me, and in so doing, find out what they mean to you. And that is the beginning of dialogue, and understanding.

1 Comment

  1. I like this a lot. I feel like domination/submission are really wide labels and they’ll never really be able to convey everything that’s under the surface of a relationship. I consider myself a sub, but my girl is not a dom, and sometimes I’m a brat. Like with you and W, my girl and I are equals, we’re open, but also committed, we’re friends, we’re life partners, we’re a millions things inside of and besides D/s.

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