Topic 5 - Emotional safety and well-being - notes

The emotional scars which can come from a relationship with someone else can hurt deeper and last longer than the physical scars from most any type of BDSM scene gone wrong. Some of the sorts of emotional harm which may befall us are:

  • Betrayal of trust. Being let down by the person we care about. We develop an expectation that they will behave in a certain way---possibly because they're said that they will---ad we make an emotional investment in that. Then they don't do what we expect and we feel betrayed.
  • Loss of innocence. Because we have, or are developing, strong feelings for this person we make ourselves available to have new and intimate experiences with them. We may lose our BDSM virginity to them but then find out that the feelings we thought they had, they didn't have and we somehow feel we've cheapened ourselves with someone who isn't who we thought they were.
  • Disappointment. When we have strong feelings we may look for words or signs which indicate that our partner is feeling the same way, if for no other reason than we don't want to be the only one being vulnerable. It may turn out that they don't have anything like the feelings we do. We have to pull ourselves back, scrape ourselves off the floor, and move on.
  • Hurt. When we have strong feelings for someone and they're mostly reciprocated we make ourselves vulnerable to that person. They then may say or do something which from someone else we would simply brush off, but from this person to whom we are emotionally strongly bonded we get hurt in a major way.
A lot of what happens is due to us having strong feelings for our partner, finding these feelings pleasurable and then lowering our own protective barriers so we can have even more of these feelings. It means we're vulnerable to that person, to what they say and do, and even to our hopes and fantasies about that person.

When the feelings aren't reciprocated some sort of hurt or suffering is bound to eventuate. To some extent this is unavoidable and we risk this sort of situation starting to develop any time we engage with someone.

These bad experiences can drive a person away from BDSM if their first experiences are bad which may be entirely their own fault if they're trying too hard for something that's never reasonable, if they're seeking a fantasy, and thus making themselves into a target a la' "Kick Me!"

A big reason why this can get out of hand is that the intensity of many BDSM scenes and activities can be overwhelming and can utterly convince the unwary or the inexperienced that they have found Master Right or Subby Superb when it was merely lust instead of love that they were experiencing.

Poor communication can be a significant factor here. By not being very open and honest with each other, both by saying what we're looking for and talking about our feelings, our new partner can develop the idea that there's more than there actually is.

Better communication---openness and honesty---and by recognising and acknowledging both the good and bad points of the developing relationship early gives us the option of backing out before becoming too committed. This, of course, very rarely happens.

Part of this communication should be openly saying what we're looking for straight off. There's nothing wrong with admitting that you're only interested in some hot and horny flogging followed by animal sex. It can avoid confusion and embarrassment later on. Likewise, saying you're looking for dungeon-based romance is not a bad thing either if that's the reality for you.

Importantly you need to be honest with yourself, and certainly this needs to happen before you can be honest with someone else. You need to admit to yourself exactly what you're looking for and what level of commitment you're prepared to make. You need to accept how much you're being driven by lust, hormones or fantasy.

Don't go into a new relationship with only vague hopes and fantasies. Discuss your goals and intentions with your prospective partner and find out what theirs are. Say what you can realistically offer and find out the same about them. It can avoid much pain later.

Last modified: Monday, 10 October 2011, 4:42 PM