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I struggled for a moment with this title. I began writing “Balancing the D/s Life…” and then I couldn’t think of a way to finish the title. Balance it with what? The vanilla parts of our lives? No, no part of our lives has to be vanilla necessarily. The other parts of our lives? That didn’t quite fit either.
For those of us endeavoring to live D/s as our lives, what we’re trying to do is have D/s permeate as much of our lives as possible. And what is possible is going to be unique to each relationship and family. So there’s no way to complete this title without restricting it’s applicability.
At the same time leaving it as “Balancing the D/s Life” seems way too broad for a single post. And it probably is, but we’ve got to start somewhere. Balance is essential to our lives in terms of physical, emotional, sexual, and spiritual health. D/s is certainly no exception. I think most of us realize this already, so what may be wanting is the awareness of what can throw our own balance off in any given area. We have our needs, our desires, and our commitments. There are D/s needs, desires, and commitments as well as non-D/s needs, desires, and commitments.
Add to the picture, the fact that for any given arena, that needs, desires, and commitments don’t always play well together and you get a very complex picture indeed. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed, especially if you’re a busy person to start with. I am a busy person and I was before I entered into a D/s relationship with it’s responsibilities. This presented and continues to present balance challenges for me as well as for my submissive, Ren. We’re both working hard on our careers and managing our household, while tackling health issues, participating in various social spheres, and daily trying to stay true to our roles with one another as dominant and submissive. And it’s easy to get out of balance.
In our poly family, we refer to our needs and desires in terms of “meters”, borrowing from the video game “The Sims” terminology. In those games, characters are created and they each have their own sets of needs, like hunger, socialization, career ambition, etc. And you can tell how strong that need is by how low their meters are for a particular area. We’ve found it very helpful to refer to our own needs and desires this way. We’ll say something like “My social meters are low today. I’m feeling a need to go to a party or hang out.” We can then ask one another how low those meters are if we want to get an idea of the strength of that desire or need. It’s important to understand the depth of need or desire because it can not only aid in the decision about what to engage in at any given time, it can also clue us in to an imbalance. If my social meters are way low, but my artistic expression meters are maybe low, but not critical, then there’s a natural logic that pushes us towards “filling” the social meter in that case. So I would say that awareness is the first order of business. Use whatever system works for you, try to stay mindful of what your needs and desires are and the level to which they are satisfied or unsatisfied, make note of this and share it with your partner or partners.
Of course whether you’re dominant or submissive and depending on the protocols in your relationships, you may have different ways you’re expected to communicate this, but I believe it’s essential to be aware of and share this information.
The next question is how to deal with your external commitments and the conflicts that often come up between what we’re obligated to do versus what we want to do for ourselves. This is a particularly difficult challenge I think in the United States because of what we have chosen to call our “work ethic”. What seems to be the thing referred to as “work ethic” goes beyond simply working hard with integrity. There also seems to be an expectation that we as workers will forgo our own desires, needs, and sometimes health or safety in order to “get the job done”. While I think this is admirable in some case – I would appreciate this for someone doing some kind life-saving job – for most of us it’s just self-destructive. So let’s start by adjusting our attitudes and assumptions about these external commitments.
Let’s understand that yes, for most of us, there is a job to do, but we are infinitely more valuable than these jobs we do. And once we have a healthy perspective about ourselves in relation to what externals want or expect from us, we find that our internal energy and enthusiasm can be more easily preserved and is then available for what is truly important to us – our relationships with our loved ones. And if we have more personal energy and enthusiasm, the question of balance is already partially solved, having more resources available to spread around.
I think the other essential in solving the problem of balance is to be aware of and understand your own values and the values of the other or others in which you are engaged in power exchange relationships. It’s a great idea to, on a regular basis, review your own value system and those of your partner or partners.
What’s important in life for you? For your partner? Respond to the question about what you’re doing to pay respect to your values and understand that those values can be expressed in any creative way you can imagine. For example, if you have a connection ritual that involves certain clothing or bondage gear and a certain length of time, think about whether perhaps the point of that ritual could be also served in another way when that time is not available or you can’t pull out the bondage gear for various reasons.
Using our imaginations in concert with full mindfulness of our hearts and our values is an extremely powerful combination. Rely on your own internal genius and communicate communicate communicate… oh and communicate. Not all of these conversations will be pain free, but the reward of growth and greater life balance waits on the other side of any pain. Let me hear your story and your ideas about Balancing the D/s Life.
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