My first (pre – curvy_bottom) D/s (maybe M/s) relationship ended more than twenty years ago, and happened many years PI (pre-internet), so it thrived despite almost no external support.We were both undoubtedly kinky people but the lifestyle side of was definitely the most important part. In constructing the regime by which we lived I found huge help in the musings of a Roman Emperor and Stoic – Marcus Aurelius.
Below, I’ve put some of his thoughts accompanied by my take on them. I do this because they really worked for us and to encourage debate about the development of dominant and submissive natures in D/s, M/s and O&P relationships, and in creating the framework that controls interactions between partners in these types of relationships. Please, all, do add your thoughts to this:
Marcus Aurelius: “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment”.
For the submissive there’s obvious meaning; you can learn to take what’s dished out. But, at a more pervasive level, this is a reminder to both partners that they can control their feelings toward others attitudes and react logically and calmly. This is especially important for the dominant.
Marcus Aurelius: “Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look there”.
The strength of a power exchange relationship comes from the inner strength of both parties. Selfish encouragement of your own specific nature is a human trait that can flourish in D/s – each partner’s interests are opposite to the other’s and few compromises need be made.
Marcus Aurelius: “Whatever is in any way beautiful hath its source of beauty in itself, and is complete in itself; praise forms no part of it. So it is none the worse nor the better for being praised”.
So much of a power exchange relationship is about duty – you need to feel good about it yourself and not expect reward or praise. Understand the intrinsic beauty of what you do for another.
Marcus Aurelius: “By a tranquil mind I mean nothing else than a mind well ordered”.
For both dominant and submissive knowing exactly where you stand and precisely what your duties and responsibilities are frees you both to be creative, mischievous and fun. Like a train – staying on the railway track keeps the passengers safe to do whatever they want on the journey. It’s not for nothing we say relationships and people go “off the rails”.
Marcus Aurelius “Nothing happens to any thing which that thing is not made by nature to bear”.
A useful maxim when limits are tested. This is not carte blanche for doms. Rather, for the submissive the question should be: does my nature truly preclude me from complying with this new requirement? For the dominant it is “Is it in her nature? Will I harm her by insisting?”
Marcus Aurelius: “Never esteem anything as of advantage to you that will make you break your word or lose your self-respect”.
For both dominant and submissive this is an injunction to transparency and truth and a warning not to play mind game to get what you want. A useful reminder for those who top from the bottom. And for dominants? Well, I love mind games, but, you can easily trap yourself into using, tricks, falsehoods, aggression, etc in ways that should be shaming.
Marcus Aurelius: “How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbour says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy”. Also, “The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane”.
I don’t think a D/s or similar relationship can exist completely independently of the wider world: It will have public dimensions. Yes one must not frighten the horses, scare the children nor lose uncomprehending vanilla friends but, you must have the strength to make sure the true nature of your relationship is not compromised when out in the world. At the same time, whilst not acquiescing to the views of ‘the majority” don’t flaunt yourself to the point of being unacceptable in polite society.
Marcus Aurelius: “Remember this-that there is a proper dignity and proportion to be observed in the performance of every act of life”. And, “You will find rest from vain fancies if you perform every act in life as though it were your last”.
For both dominants and submissives this is nothing less than Baden-Powell’s maxim: “do your best”. But it also in finding satisfaction in yourself from doing everything well. It implies zero tolerance of sloppy pursuit of goals.
Marcus Aurelius: “How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it”.
Anger is always inappropriate in a TPE relationship. It is also always inevitable. D/s couples can formalise responsibilities for decision-making and dispute resolution. We should use the rules we make and never respond til anger has left us. Passion – now that’s a different thing.
Marcus Aurelius “A man does not sin by commission only, but often by omission”.
It’s alright having rules and rituals, but what about the spaces between them – a relationship can be ruined by failure to see a need and meet it.
- Does Wisdom Bring Happiness (or Vice Versa)? (theatlantic.com)
- Heroic Hunks in History: Marcus Aurelius (southernsizzleromance.wordpress.com)
- More Marcus (agrades.wordpress.com)
One thought on “Marcus Aurelius and a basis for dominant and submissive living”
People contrast this with Epicureanism. There is a lot about Epicurus I like (For example, that nothing should be believed unless it can be observed or deduced from observation). But, I can’t accept that pleasure is the sole intrinsic good, nor that (given my predelictions) an absence of pain is the highest form of pleasure.
The Epicurean idea that this is all there is – that we end when we die is attractive and comforting, but not something I’ve ever been able to convince myself of. Making the best of each day – because it it the only one you have… That resonates.
I’m more inclined to stoicism. Life is still what I make it. But more so. What I think matters more (to me – not anyone else). Honesty with oneself is, I find, the most difficult thing to achieve. I’m not sure anyone ever can. But at least a stoic will try to discover truth about himself through reason. My judgments and behaviour write my life, not anyone else’s.