Thursday, March 26, 2009

Soapbox Thursday: DO NO HARM

Leo Tolstoy
What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how
compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.

Do no harm.

Some musings on musings if you like … engendered by various discussions lately (both my own and others) on kink, on whether we can suppress our tendency towards submission or domination, on exploring our sexuality and the impact, ultimately, on our lives and the lives of those with whom we are entwined.

The reality of course is that we do not live in a vacuum.

Each of us has threads and connections to others; to family, to friends, employers and even to acquaintances.

For many, those connections are a tapestry of colour and sensation and emotion, connections which entwine and at times choke, threads of caring, of responsibility, skeins of experience and pasts that can’t be undone, each of our realities encompassing and including a myriad of other souls, through choice and through necessity and through the realities of connections which cannot be severed.

People change and forget to tell each other.
~Lillian Hellman

For many, it seems that discovering their dominant or submissive nature was actually triggered through their explorations in our global village – or as I have often heard, they recognized those moments we all come to at different points in our lives, where we recognize what to that point had been a yearning had a NAME.

Many of you have vanilla partners, whose own inclinations do not - and will not EVER – incline them to the same desires which sent you yearning into the ether of perhaps to find the answers.

I felt it shelter to speak to you.
~Emily Dickinson
And the yearning becomes overwhelming and the searching begins. And connections occur. Some transient, ethereal and insubstantial… phantoms thought solid but when touched and embraced, are simply smoke and mirrors. Other connections creep into the hearts and souls of the participants and bonds are formed, links created from thought and emotion, mutual explorations and the deep satisfaction engendered by having a need met that you may not have known existed in your earlier lives, satisfied, massaged and fulfilled.

But what then your primary partner?

You know, the one who has not and never will experience that same yearning?

Where do they fit in to this new dynamic?

In many cases it seems to me, they don’t “fit” at all…. I see the same tired excuses given, the vilification and the contempt expressed as I’ve heard and read about when it comes to non-BDSM extracurricular affairs.

“Blaming” the partner as if they had expressly designed their psyches to thwart the need you’ve only newly discovered. Vilifying them for their “vanilla” wants and their reluctance to push or explore in the direction you now seek to embrace. Seeing in their lack of enthusiasm or outright repudiation of sexual kinkiness, a denial of your perceived wants.

In short, often the same people who ask for understanding and acceptance of their “needs” denigrate and deride a different kind of need not just in anyone, but in someone they profess to love.

This thankfully is not true of every relationship I see where a married individual takes on a dominant or submissive who may or may not ALSO be married.

In fact, I have been heartened recently by the number of people I am seeing out there that DO in fact not just “account’ for the non-participating partners, but cherish them, care for them and factor their possible reactions into any equation – including the potential impact of knowledge of the introduction of another factor in what to that point had been a two-person dynamic and/or the inclusion of a third into the emotional and sexual repertoire of the other person.

Those are people I can respect.

People who recognize that none of us chooses, at the core, who we are and that includes those who are not inclined to kink.

I didn’t choose to be submissive. No one sat me down at some point in the creation and being of the selkie and offered me a choice of inclination.

I didn’t have to guess which ‘stick’ was the dominant one and which the submissive, nor was I ever actually presented with the opportunity to switch sticks. Had I been given that opportunity, I think in view of my own perception of self, I would most likely have chosen not just the Dominant Stick but damn it, the KICK ass, get on your knees and WORSHIP ME Dominant Stick – because the reality is that being a “pushy broad” (as D. is wont to refer to me as) – I sort of find that concept delicious.

Problem is, I wasn’t asked.

And thrust into the Dominant Role in a relationship dynamic leaves me very unhappy. It leaves me anxious, dissatisfied and unfulfilled.

But when I had D. to submit to, I felt to the core of me - “right” - … I used to feel as if I had come home and for those moments, was finally open to the endless possibilities of what I am. It made me content. And I KNOW I was damn fortunate to be with someone with whom I could mesh my real world needs as well (which makes the lack of it now all the more poignant).

But, as I wander the web I see more and more justifications being articulated for choosing to scratch the need – which in itself I could tolerate – what outrages me, is do NOT denigrate your real life partner in the doing …

They didn’t get to choose their sticks either after all!

They are who they are – they love, they laugh, they feel, they anger, they just exist like the rest of us. But they do so without the yearning or the need for something beyond traditional roles.

Vanilla is a flavour after all and a delicious one at that.

Stop using the word “vanilla” as if the designation as such justifies cruelty, neglect or contempt.

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind."Pooh!" he whispered.
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw.
"I just
wanted to be sure of you."
~A.A. Milne

What does encourage me, however, is that I am seeing individuals who do NOT practice deception or pretence. Who factor in the fragile needs of their real life partners and factor in the potential effects and possible impact of an extra-curricular (particularly a kink-oriented on) on their primary relationship.

Who practice HONOUR, DIGNITY and DECENCY …. and in so doing, prove themselves in the BDSM world (to my mind) to be the paragons that the rest of us should respect and emulate.

When all is said and done, at the end of days, if one can look back over the course of your life and say “I have done my best to DO the LEAST harm” then perhaps that is an epitaph to be proud of…


Just to clarify - I believe that people, their dynamics, their needs, desires and motivations are endlessly unique ... I believe that given the right mixture of personalities, relationships apart from the primary one (speaking in the context here of kink-related)- CAN and DO work for some dynamics.

It's about choice. It's about seeing what works. It's about taking responsibility.

It's about doing your best to NOT hurt your partner if she or he is unaware of your inclinations - and not using their DISinterest simply to scratch on itch.

I do not and will not condemn choices made by others; my own life experience continues to show me more and more that simplistic answers are just that - simplistic and in many ways trite.

Life is not perfect, but as I said above, just strive to DO NO HARM or at least, as little as can reaosnably be done in the context of your choices.


Buffalo said...

Problems arise when there is a prevailing attitude of "it's all about me." Over the course of my life I have found that very few people try to understand the other person's sense of reality and then deal within the framework of that understanding.

selkie said...

You know, I hesitated about posting this. I have several friends and many acquaintences who are involved in D/s or M/s relationships apart from their primary relationship - and I did not EVER want to hurt their feelings, think I was critical of their choices or in any way label them.

The bottom line is, I have GREAT respect for many of the couples I know who are kind, compassionate, caring and do their uptmost to ensure their primary partner is either acquiescent to the arrangement OR if not involved, does not get hurt or find out - and do NOT denigrate or in any way undermine the importance of their relationship with that partner.

Its just on my forays around the place so often I find individuals justify their choicse at the cost of "blaming" the other individual in their lives and that just pisses me off.

Amber said...

Very well written and well thought out, Selkie. I was nodding all the way through.

Love the Hellman quote, too.

Yes, some married people just cave to the pressure and decide to cheat and stay with their partner at the same time and I do feel sorry for them. I know what it was like to have these feelings un-named and feel vaguely frustrated all those years with my ex but I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to know it's out there and not be able to have it. My ex was very vanilla (he actually had sexual issues, too, intimacy issues...all kinds of issues), just...didn't "get" what I tried to get from him. That's not why I left him, because I didn't know any of this existed when we separated. I just lucked out or maybe I sensed it in Dan; I don't know. We had no words for it back then.

Good, thoughtful post, thank you.

selkie said...

Amber, I think as we get older we become more self-aware too and less inclined to look for what people say we should be looking for and instead, search for what WE want - you probably did sense it with your Dan and didn't allow others to sway you!

I actually don't have a huge issue with married people who have a non-kink relationship forming attachments outside IF they are honest and HONOURABLE. I know that sounds odd but I know of several arrangements where the vanilla partner is fine with the person they love fulfilling the kink they seem to need outside as LONG as they are neither neglected nor ignored.

People are all so different; all look for different things, have different needs.

I couldn't do it simply because I'm ridiculously monogomous PLUS more than that, I CANNOT and have no desire to separate my kink from my regular life.

But god knows, the older I get I realize there is NO one size fits all - what I AM critical of is people who "use" their primary partners as an excuse rather than just taking responsiblity and being honrouable!.

Impish1 said...

I could not agree with you more. I live in a "mixed marriage", and so I understand the frustrations. I do not understand the disloyalty. If you want to have an affair, get out of your marriage first. You are just making excuses for why you are betraying your partner. If the marriage will not sustain you, at least let your partner choose between sharing you or getting out. Respect, loyalty, and honesty lie at the heart of a successful relationship and your partner deserves to know if they don't have that.

Val said...

Honor, what a concept!
Great post Selkie... I'll be back to read more.

David said...

I think you are absolutely right selkie.
If someone is going to have another connection, outside of your primary relationship, they should at the least be honorable enough to insure that it does not in anyway impact your primary partner. This would include forgoing opportunities that would take away from them.

Be so completely circumspect as to be absolutely certain that they never find out about it. It is not their fault you developed interests outside the prevailing sphere. Do not harm them.

Surely you love them enough to realize you are the one who changed - - love them enough to accept that you are the "problem", do not denigrate them. Their love for you has not changed, and won't, nor should your love or respect for them.

I guess I just said what you said in my words, oops.

kannakat said...

Attagirl, selkie! Three cheers for Love!

Aneris said...

Good and thought-provoking. Thank you for this.

Anonymous said...

You have an amazing ability to communicate on such piercing and difficult topics.

I have so many perspectives but I especially like your quote from Liiian Hellman: People change and forget to tell each other.

I know I have changed. I'm not nearly as bunched up or concerned about what others thought as much as I use to be, but I'm not proud of all that I have done either.