November/December 2002
Consideration in a Lifestyle Relationship

by Caliann

We often speak of the components necessary for a successful BDSM relationship. We discuss discipline, safewords, contracts, experience and protocols, etc. These and numerous other elements make up our lifestyle and the relationships in which we engage. The formula seems to be different for everyone even if the ingredients are the same.

Yet we seldom discuss the more basic elements of relationships and how they might be applied or disregarded in our lifestyle. We don't discuss companionship, humor, mutual interests or compassion as they might be insinuated in WIIWD.

For the purposes of this article, consideration will be defined as thoughtfulness of others. This may also be taken as solicitude toward the well-being or comfort of another. Also for the purposes of this article, bottoms, submissives, masochists, slaves and any other word you may have for that element of the lifestyle will be grouped under "slaves". Their opposite number will be grouped under "Dominants". This saves me a lot of time, makes the article shorter and does not stick me with the job of finding the genderless BDSM pronoun.

Is consideration necessary to maintain a lifestyle relationship? In a single word: No. A slave has no need to be considerate of their dominant; the only actual need is for them to be *obedient* to their dominant. As long as a slave honors the terms and agreements of their relationship, consideration does not need to enter the picture.

As most dominants will tell you, they do not have any obligation towards consideration either. A dominant's obligations are to the safety and health of their slave; and to also honor the terms and agreements of their relationship. No more, no less. Consideration does not need to have importance in this arrangement.

So when does consideration enter into the lifestyle relationship? It is when shared affection also enters into the relationship. Consideration is a symptom of caring for another. Without caring, whether that caring is for a friend, lover or even one's fellow human, consideration is almost impossible. When caring enters the relationship, the comfort, happiness and well-being of another becomes a much stronger force. Consideration becomes an emotional desire. We can see this in slaves that go beyond the basics of obedience and take the time to learn the likes, dislikes and preferences of their dominant. The obedient slave has dinner on the table at the required time. The considerate slave prepared it to the very best of their ability and might have made their dominant's favorite dessert to top it off.

Most of us know a few considerate slaves. In our culture, consideration is almost a requirement in a slave. Very few dominants desire their slave to *only* be obedient. They desire a slave who truly wishes to please them. However, what about the considerate dominant? Emotion and caring are supposed to be a two-way street, right?

I don't know what the rationales behind it are, but many dominants treat even the lightest forms of consideration as if it were a crime and they need to come up with an alibi for it. I have heard such remarks as: " I have ordered my slave to bed for the day. She is sick and....eeerr...uuuhhh....slaves don't serve well when they're sick and I dislike my property not being at peek performance." I have to admit that I have been guilty of similar remarks. I have been know to say things such as: "Drive carefully. I do not want my property to be damaged." as if it would be some sort of strike against myself and the entire dominant community to admit I care for and worry about my slave.

It has only been recently that I have come to question such an attitude. It is not that I believe that such an attitude has no place in a lifestyle relationship; only that such an attitude is a hindrance in a lifestyle relationship in which shared affection is, at least, one of the primary considerations. We, as a community, like to pride ourselves on our honesty and sense of responsibility in our relationships, yet we will adamantly refuse to admit that that our consideration of our partner(s) wants, desires and comforts stems from our care and affection for them rather than our responsibility to them.

Where is our grand sense of honesty when it comes to things like this? We have even been known to say such remarks as the previous to ourselves to preserve the integrity of our attitudes. Again, I am not saying there is not a place for such attitudes. I have been involved in relationships that were based *only* on the lifestyle dynamics without mutual affection. In these relationships, such an attitude was honest.

I tend to prefer those types, probably due to my own selfish desire not to be emotionally vulnerable. However, when the relationship moves beyond lifestyle dynamics to include shared affection, one needs to learn how to adjust one's attitudes to the change. While lifestyle dynamics involve honoring one's obligations, mutual affection involves thoughtfulness and consideration on how your actions (or lack of them) are going to make your partner *feel*. This is when honesty and attitude can become sticky points, at least for me.

The very thought that, through some action or inaction of mine, my slave would feel emotionally hurt, or worse, in doubt of my feelings for him, turns my stomach into knots. I am just as attached to my slave as I am to my master, although I am much more capable of showing my feelings and being considerate towards my master than I am to my slave. Slaves seems to have the upper hand when it comes to showing consideration within a shared affection lifestyle relationship. While a slave will actively seek out many ways in which to show thoughtfulness towards their dominants, dominants don't seem to have the same diligence. How many dominants can name their slave's favorite color, flower, food or even what they like on a cheeseburger? How many dominants can tell when their slave is cold, hot, uncomfortable, stressed, worried or unhappy *outside* of a scene? How many dominants would know what to do if they *could* tell?

Which brings the interesting question: Does a slave have the *right* to consideration from their dominant? I would imagine that if a dominant desires historical slavery and that, as property and nothing more, then the slave would not have the right to consideration... or anything else for that matter.

However, I also imagine that if the dominant shares affection with their slave, and desires to continue to share affection, that it will be very difficult for the slave to do so without also sharing mutual consideration.

Perhaps these will be points to ponder on your slave's next birthday. What did they do for you on your birthday?