I’ve taken the data referred to here from the responses of the 210 people who responded to my BDSM ownership and symbology survey, done through surveymonkey.
However, my earlier “BDSM styles and relationships” survey had a question on this as well – I’ll add data from the much larger response to that survey to this blog when I have time.
I’d prefer to talk about this data as relating to multiple, rather than polyamorous or “poly” relationships, because I’d define the latter as transparent to all and mostly with respect and affection between all parties. There was no way of knowing whether this was the case or not for most of the answers.
So, in the BDSM ownership and symbols survey we asked people to choose from six options that defined their relationships. Here are the responses, charted and as a table.
I am not in a relationship
I have one partner ( not BDSM)
I have one partner (BDSM)
I have multiple partners and my primary relationship is BDSM
I have multiple partners and my primary relationship is not BDSM
I am in more than one relationship of equal status
It’s important to point out that only 42 S/m people 114 D/s respondents and 48 who said they were M/s answered the question.
Those who said their BDSM component was S/m were much more likely to be single (36%) than the other two groups.
M/s people (67%) and D/s people (54%) were more likely to be in a monogamous relationship. A third of S/m people were in more than one relationship. This was slightly higher than both the other groups, where 28% (D/s) and 27% (M/s) had more than one partner.
I’ve found myself telling this story to people on several occasions because it seems to illustrate something that is, to me fundamental to my understanding of the nature of submission. But, before the story, a bit of a ramble about submissive wilfulness and resistance.
I have let myself down badly in the past by not understanding wilfulness and resistance and finding ways through it: In fact this issue destroyed, a few years ago, what was, otherwise, a promising relationship with all the lifestyle M/s content we desired. I have a pretty rigid view on how to deal with resistance to submission and I know I may have put on an unhelpful set of blinkers.
First, my s and I will share a clear set of goals (moveable through agreement) and a basic set of attitudes towards D/s issues: If we didn’t, why would we have even bothered to start anything?
Secondly, I expect to lead her on our journey and to need to deal with her feelings of fear, nervousness, excitement, perhaps disgust – maybe anger (but hopefully not) by picking a careful route through the brambles and observing and understanding her sufficiently to know which doors to unlock first, so that it becomes easier and easier to reach those things that are at the core of our needs – and which are, at first, out of reach.
I’ll listen so that I may understand her, I’ll watch her behaviour to do the same – and all so I can get the relationship to where I want it to be, confident that she really wants it to go there too (I should know this because we communicate and I observe, or try to).
I’ll use observation, discussion, experience, reward, punishment and more observation to bring her to the point where she gifts me that part of her that I want – and which takes us a step further on our journey together.
But, from that point on, in any area where she has given me the gift of control (having experienced the consequences of that control and having given her informed consent) I cannot tolerate wilfulness: Once she has given me the right to control an aspect of her life – then she has no right to resist my use of it. To resist, just occasionally, demands punishment and then discussion and explanation to make sure it does not happen again and if there are issues I’ve not understood or resolved then these must be settled.
To resist control, in an area which has been willingly given, more than once in a very long while undermines the dynamic and damages the relationship deeply. To understand that and still resist, destroys the relationship.
Such resistance seems to me to be a basic function either of not understanding each other at the outset of the journey, or a symptom of change that has rendered the partners’ D/s motives incompatible. In either case, I’d not waste much time trying to resurrect things once a trend of willful disobedience has emerged.
Informed consent should be followed by informed obedience, in my view.
Now, the story of the stag party.
In my mid late twenties, many of my former school friends found girls and got married. We’d been scattered to the four winds by our careers and the stag nights that brought us back together invariably became occasions for much re-buddying and reminiscence. And teasing.
There was this one night. We’d met and had a few beers. We’d gone bowling (and had a few beers). To the dogs (and – oh, you get the picture).
I seem to remember that after the curry, during the lock-in (and before the naked best man and groom race down a cobbled street one frozen February morning – which had calamitous consequences, but that’s another story) someone turned the topic to sex after marriage – and, specifically, masturbation.
One by one every married chap there confessed that he resorted to a hand-shandy far more often after wedlock than he’d needed to in the months and years before (except of course when ovulation was due).
Well, as Frankie Howerd might have said, “I was ammaaaazzzeeeed”.
Cos that wasn’t my experience of life. Yes, her indoors was not necessarily always up for a night of rampant rumpy-pumpy. But she was very considerate of my needs and, mostly, the slightest hint of an erection would be enough to bring solicitous enquiries about his welfare and whether he might need relief. She knew I adored her for this. But up until that night, I did not really realise how much she deserved to be adored for this focus on me – which happened because it made me feel wanted and made her feel needed.
My girl is my possession. But sometimes she can’t quite understand my possessiveness.
Why, she says, should I be possessive when I know, as night follows day, that she is mine? She has a point. But it won’t stop me.
Doms foolish enough to approach her ( not many these days – in fact none for a while) get a dusty answer. Get stuck with a single dom at a munch ( even the nicest of chaps) and she gets told to circulate.
It’s not, I tell myself, a lack of trust in her or a lack of maturity in me.
No, it’s that she’s mine, mine, mine and she’s worth having. And I like the world to know she’s mine. And, most of all, I like her to know she’s mine and guarded. Protected. I am her rutting stag.
I am protective too. Even when I hurt her, I take pains not to harm her and, after, I cherish her and again feel she is mine.
She has a protective/possessive streak too. I am her man right or wrong. In public at least. On our own, I do get given advice. Quite often actually.
And the protectiveness we feel extends beyond ourselves. It’s, maybe, a weakness. We both move to protect friends, even when they don’t need protecting. It’s not such a great weakness I guess. Possessiveness, outside our own relationship, would be.
I’ve been around long enough in the D/s community to see that what goes around, comes around, I think, more often than in the life experienced before.
We are a small, sexually focused, community. Relationships can mean more than only couples. People play together who have little else in common. People play together who are good friends and who see this as nothing more than friendship. people don’t play together but, severally, they are lovers.
Possessiveness, in these circumstances, is a poison that could quickly make it difficult to stay friends with anyone you liked. Taking sides in relationship break- ups would do it too. But unwise possessiveness means it is impossible to keep up an equable chumminess with someone who was your playmate and has moved on or found others to play with.
So. I won’t ever deny my protectiveness. But I’ll do all I can to curb my possessiveness. Except in the case of my girl, of course. She’s mine, mine, mine.