BDSM: Some Assembly Required


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No matter whether you are top or bottom, Dominant, submissive, switch, or all of the above, don’t you sometimes feel as if your relationship is being put together using a confusing set of instructions like something from IKEA?  Like that bookcase or table that seems to be missing a piece or two?  It looks all right mostly, but you’re still not confident to put anything heavy on it yet?

No relationship comes ready-made.  They are all and every one a custom job, and it’s easy to think of them as being constructed from a kit with “some assembly required”.

Even if you’re not currently in a relationship, you may find yourself imagining one in which the potential “parts” need some extra finishing touches to comfortably fit together into something whole and practical.  You may also find the instructions are confusing, as if written in a language you aren’t fluent in.  And that’s okay, because the important thing is that you are building it yourself.

If you are in a relationship or not, it’s important to think of the “project” like a craftsman approaches an object to be used and admired.  To look at what you expect the completed project to be like, and then think of the individual pieces you will need, the tools, and the way you want it all to come together.

Sometimes we get both impatient and unrealistic in what we are making with a relationship.  The more the relationship will be “used”, as in a 24/7 kind, obviously the more sturdy and reliable it must be made to be.  The casual hookup or scene can be a little like those styrafoam cups for coffee, used and discarded before it crumples, but the longer term relationship is more like your favorite fired-clay, hand-crafted mug that you return to every morning or evening for a satisfying drink of tea or coffee.  The very feel of it should be comfortable and comforting, the roundness, the strength of the handle, no tell-tale cracks on the surface.

Like anything, once the basic construction is in place, you may begin to think of some fancy additions.  Bits of ornament here, a little embellishment there, just to add the marks of your personal style, and to make it more uniquely yours to enjoy.

What this means in terms of relationship dynamics will often be quite personal.  This is where the original list of “parts” will come in handy and you should – from time to time – look it over to make sure they are all included and still available for “assembly”.  For example, couples with children will have to factor in “personal time” as different from “family time.”  Your relationship “parts” may include special needs, allowances for maintenance and repair, and even replacement of parts that are no longer workable and supportive.

That support will be important, the more “load-bearing” the relationship will become.  One of the challenges facing new relationships, for example, is that each partner will have brought some unrealistic expectations to the project.  The submissive, say, who expects it to be all prancing unicorns and Prince Charming as Dominant, and the newbie Dominant who expects it to be 24/7 blowjobs and no responsibility will have to adjust to the realities of a working relationship where the dynamics can be radically different from the fantasy.

Again, this is where that list of parts plays a significant role in whether the project stands up to hard use or collapses.  There can be few things as shocking and devastating for a submissive than to prepare to kneel and find the floor falling out from under her knees.  Or the Dominant who expects absolute obedience and finds instead a bratty sub who is acting out her frustrations.  We cannot simply presume “it will all come together somehow in the end”.

The basic tools of your relationship, most agree, are trust and strong communication.  I would add passion and compassion,  mature responsibility, and a willingness to commit to the highest ideals and satisfaction to the list.  The individualistc choices for the relationship, such as spanking or no-spanking, bondage or no-bondage, and so forth can be worked out either beforehand or as the relationship deepens and grows  once the basics are in place.  Many relationships can be seen like a DIY home the two are constructing together.  Need an extra “shelf” here or there?  Make sure the walls will support it steadily.  Want to re-do the kitchen?  Make sure you both agree on a color you can live with.

Most of us – no matter what the particulars of a relationship are – will discover that equitable compromises may have to be made, but if the basic construction is solid that can be done with as little emotional upset as possible.  The tools of commitment and communication can make these compromises as easy as changing a lightbulb.

Assembling a relationship can seem daunting, confusing, and scary, but with your list of “parts”, a basic toolkit, and a desired goal in mind, you can do this.  I believe in you.  So should you.

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