September/October 2002
Trubled Times
Picture Herefor those times when you're having troubles
by Celeste aka BitaTruble

Dear Bita,

Are love and sex always part of BDSM?

Celibate in Cincinnati
Dear Celibate,

Sex can, and often does play a role in D/s or S/m relationships. It is not, however, a requirement. The exchange of power between two or more people is an intimate affair in and of itself. There are a number of schools of thought, as many as there are people in the lifestyle, regarding sex and BDSM. For many, the thought of a BDSM relationship automatically assumes a sexual intimacy. For others, the power exchange is all they are seeking and require from their play. Either is fine as long as both or all partners involved agree beforehand it is the type of relationship in which they wish to be involved. For a Dominant to insist that the submissive engage in sexual activities is not a taboo as long as the submissive agrees it is what they, too, desire from the power exchange. For many, BDSM is simply a prelude to an incredible sexual encounter. I have played both ways, being involved in sexual relationships with submissives and Dominants or having strictly an exchange of power between myself and a partner or partners depending on my mood, the type of relationship I have built and even the time of the month. There are times that I crave the power exchange, but have no desire for any sexual intercourse or intimacy, and likewise, there are times where the BDSM is secondary to my sexual needs or desires of the moment. And, of course, there are the days when it all melds together into an intoxicating association of sights, smells and sounds where the sexual acts are naturally a part of the play scene. What's so wonderful is that it truly doesn't matter. I am fortunate to be in a relationship with a partner where I can have my cake and eat it too, so to speak. There is no single or correct way to engage in a BDSM relationship. Actually, there is… and that way is the way that works for the people involved. No one can assume to tell anyone else that 'his or her way' is 'the only way.' The variety in BDSM is endless, limited only by the creativity and imaginations of the players involved. Every way is 'the way.' And every way is the right way. BDSM is too complex a social interaction to be so limited that one person's thinking is going to work for the vast majority. The judgments that the vanilla community places upon the leather community do not need to be perpetuated by our own. So how do we alleviate years of nurture and nature and avoid the kinds of judgments that the vanilla community places on us? It's simple, really. Acceptance. Realizing that everyone's life is theirs to lead, that the choices belong to the individual and consenting adults have the right to choose how to live their lives, we are much more likely to avoid judgments in not only BDSM, but in all the areas that people may choose to indulge their fantasies. Just as the leather lifestyler does not want his or her life to be judged unfairly, the vanilla lifestyler does not want judgments placed on his or her life either. Too often I am guilty of teasing the vanilla person for his or her lack of what I perceive to be an exciting lifestyle, but truly, if vanilla is what works for them, then more power to them. The traditional courtship rituals of the vanilla life, everything from hand holding through and including marriage, are long prevalent in our society and the simple fact that it has worked for hundreds of years points to the conclusion that there must be something right about it or so many people wouldn't be doing it. That BDSM is becoming more open and tolerated by the mainstream society as an acceptable lifestyle decision only proves that we are growing as people. The players determine sex or the lack of sex in BDSM, just as it is in a vanilla relationship. The couples in vanilla that may agonize over the decision to indulge in a sexual intimacy are neither more nor less than the agonies that the individuals involved in the leather lifestyle ponder. We are more alike than then we may think.

Is love necessary to a BDSM relationship? No more so than it is necessary in a vanilla relationship. Love can make intimacy sweeter, but for the power exchange, as for vanilla sex, it is not required. Those long married vanilla's can tell you that they still love their partners but in a different way than that first blush may have brought. Long term relationships tend to mellow in excitement, in BDSM as in any other lifestyle. Love of your submissive or Dominant can be a natural outcome of the relationship. The submissive, who for many years, may have searched for that perfect Dominant, may find himself falling in love with the person that has helped them in their journey, helped them to grow as a person and a submissive or just may be the kind of person that it is easy to love. The relationship will only be sweeter for it. But at the same time, the submissive that loves from a sense of gratitude for this person, that is willing to expend their physical energies and time on them may be fooling themselves into thinking they are 'in love.' There is a difference between loving your Dominant/submissive and being 'in love' with your Dominant/submissive. I have loved a number of people in my life, but until I met my current partner was never before 'in love' and the difference in my mental attitudes, my physical reactions and my emotional growth is tenfold over any other relationship I have ever had. That doesn't mean it will be like that for everyone. Many will be content to love their Dominant or submissive without the emotional ties that being 'in love' entail. The harsh word from my life partner is much worse than the harsh word from a play partner for whom I may hold a kind of casual love as opposed to a consuming love such as I have for my lifemate. Love in BDSM is not necessary to a good play session. Love in BDSM is not even necessary for a 24/7 relationship. What love does for BDSM is what it does for vanilla life. It turns the sweet into ambrosia. It tends to ensure that we make that extra effort to enhance our partners life and make him or her more comfortable, more content. It allows us to feel on deeper levels that mere friendships cannot hope to achieve. To find love in a BDSM relationship is no hard thing. If you are lovable, you will be loved. To be in love with the partner of your choice is not so easy. The search for a life partner can and does take a lifetime and does not always end in a positive result. I would suggest it is because we put our ideals on a pedestal and no human being can match that ideal. A more realistic approach to a partner will do wonders for the BDSM or the vanilla couple. Knights in shining armor come along once in a blue moon. Good Dominants/submissive are worth the efforts of good submissives/Dominants to accept those things that we wish were different with a loving and determined attitude that while they may not be perfect, they may just be perfect for you. Finding that partner that is perfect for you, whether it is BDSM, vanilla or some other lifestyle, can only improve us and help us in our journey to self awareness. Sex, love and BDSM are for each of us to determine. Based on our individual natures, morals and influences, there is no right or wrong in our decisions when it comes to determining what it is that we are truly seeking in our relationships. For the casual player, who seeks only the thrill of the moment there may be no decisions other than what to wear to this weeks play party. For those of us that imbue BDSM into our daily living, the decisions are never ending and include all those things that will effect not only our own lives, but the life of our chosen partner. Compromise is the keyword to making a relationship work. Realistic expectations will go far in alleviating hurt and heartache on the part of all concerned. Sometimes those dreamboats that seem too good to be true, really are true, if only in your eyes. And yours are the only eyes that count.