Temporary submission can be based on a lot of things. Passion, fear, respect, lust, trust, boredom, loyalty – whatever reason you have are yours, and if you’re still feeling good about it in the moment (and afterwards) then they’re working. But a longer term, on-going submission needs to be built on specific things – really just like any other relationship does. Mutual respect, desire to build/continue the relationship, trust – these are key ingredients. I’m not talking about a temporary power exchange for a scene; or a weekend event – but a day in, day out, power exchange that is built into the foundation of your relationship.
Now I’m not about to make any judgement calls on which style of submission is better. One of the amazing things about being out here in the sexual badlands is that we get to create fresh, unique relationships and connections that work for us and our partners. But sometimes we need to take a moment to reflect whether or not these relationships really are working out for us.
Just like you shouldn’t stay in a bad relationship just for the sex; you shouldn’t settle or stay in a bad relationship just for the submission. In the short term you can make a go of it; let the desire or the freshness of it all overtake you. Or you can temporary breath a sigh of relief knowing you aren’t “alone” anymore. But I challenge that that’s not enough. Submission without desire to serve another’s will quickly turns bitter and hollow. You cannot forever give your power over to someone you don’t respect without it taking a massive toll on your concept of self.
And truthfully? If you don’t have a committed partner beside you, you might as well be alone, because without that commitment to your wellbeing that warm body beside you isn’t going to provide the support you need when times get hard.
Dan Savage likes to say that all relationships require settling – in fact that’s relationship advice that gets touted a lot. And while it is so very true that almost no one is a 100% perfect match for us; if you’ve walked into the relationship in a state of compromise and the idea that you’re settling, you’re setting yourself up for resentment. Resentment which will either be directed at yourself for settling, or the other person/people for not being somehow better, or more – or really, what you wanted before you settled. Or you know going in that this is a temporary relationship until something better comes along; which at best is not kind to the other person (unless you have both agreed to this), and at worst can wind up trapping you into a relationship you never meant to stay in.
So what do you do if you realize you’ve settled your way into submission?
Get out. You don’t have to leave with hatred, or long laments about how you wasted so much time; just end things.
Get good with you. Stop looking for submission to save you from yourself. Giving your life responsibility over to someone because you can’t handle yourself leaves you completely vulnerable in so many ways. Kink, BDSM, and fetishism can be oh-so-very-therapeutic; but it isn’t therapy. If someone is going to save you; they need to be Disney kinda right-for-you; freakishly right-for-you; upwards of 99% so-right-for-you-that-it’s-not-actually-settling. Have your next relationship because you want to have it – not because you need it.
Get it on your terms, or not at all. I get it. Kink can be a hard dating pool. The more specific our fetishes are the more difficult it’s going to be to find a match; but compromising (or ignoring) core parts of yourself will move you further away from your authentic sexuality – and with that, further away from your empowerment. Trust me when I say it is better to be single than to get some and feel like an awful person the next day.
Take a moment to step off the relationship escalator and think about some alternatives that will allow you to feed these parts of yourselves without putting you in the same position you just left. Maybe that means creating a service contract with someone. Maybe it means finding non sexual play partners – or lovers that maintain a bedroom only power dynamic. Maybe it means exploring playing as a bottom or offering a tiny level of submission to various casual play partners.
Remember my comment about sexual badlands? You truly do have permission to explore different connections, styles, and facets of yourself until you find the ones that work best and help bring The Good Things to your life.
Keep exploring – don’t settle for making camp just because you don’t know what’s beyond that ridge you see in the distance; there was a time when you couldn’t see the spot you’re in right now. Keep exploring.
Want more on this topic? Check these out:
- 5 ways to be happier single (Authentic Sexual You)
- Musings on being single in the BDSM scene; posts tagged BDSM and the single girl