New to BDSM? Need BDSM advice? Not to worry, intimacy educator, sex coach and author Stella Starlight's monthly advice column is here to help. This month, Stella responds to a D/s relationship dilemma. 


Dear Stella,
I sort of fell into a D/s relationship, only it's way too much (for me at least). So many rules. Constant contact, all the time dirty talk, etc. There are periods where we talk about normal things, and at first, it was exciting, dirty and new, but it's all wearing off. I'm reading more into BDSM, and I just want to leave. I know I'm already pulling back from him but I feel like shit because it's like I've been leading him on this entire time... I've started lying to him about following some of his orders...I know this is all wrong, but I'm so lost and scared right now. What do I do?
~Anonymous



Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 11.59.17-min.pngDear anonymous,

First and foremost, D/s relationships are, well, relationships. Just because there’s kink, BDSM, or power exchange dynamics doesn’t change that fundamental fact. So the basic rules of how to relate to another person still apply - including all the elements of consent. You need to trust your gut, do what feels right, and only be in relationships that make you happy. All too often the D/s part trumps the relationship part, and people realise they’ve gotten in over their heads, or they’re so caught up in rules and protocol they fail to communicate basic human needs. 

Most people, at one time or another, have been tempted to lie to a partner to avoid a conflict. But the ideal in healthy relationships is that lying isn’t necessary because talking about what does and doesn’t work for you is safe. That’s what defines the difference between a request and a demand — whether 'no' is an acceptable answer. This issue can become more complicated when you’ve got a Dom and a sub with power dynamics between them. Because part of the relationship might be one person telling the other what to do, it can be hard to know when you can speak up for yourself. 

The short answer is that you can always speak up for yourself and you can always say no. But if it feels like you can’t while you’re in the dynamic, it can be helpful to have check-in meetings that take place outside of the dynamic, where you’re able to speak and negotiate as equals. 

All too often in the BDSM lifestyle, people are already within their roles when they meet. Whether it’s at a play party, a munch, or online. If people are already in their Dominant and submissive spaces, it’s possible that clear negotiation never occurs. The Dom might simply begin giving orders, and the sub complies. Before you know it there’s some semblance of a relationship, without anyone expressly having agreed to start one. 

In my kink adventures, I got into a D/s relationship that was anything but healthy. Whenever I struggled with something, my Dom was quick to tell me it’s because I was bad at being submissive. And foolishly, I believed him. I reached out to a handful of people in my local kink community for advice. We’d sit down for tea, I’d tell them my concerns, and they’d give their advice. Not one of them told me the dynamic wasn’t healthy. It took me far too long to figure that out on my own. 

I’m a lot more jaded these days and now that I’ve been around a lot longer, I see the ways that unhealthy behaviours can pass as part of kink. While the scene’s tendency to be open-minded, and a 'don’t yuck my yum' attitude is usually a good thing, it also means we aren’t always quick enough to call people out on behaviour that isn’t okay. 

Before engaging in any BDSM activities, least of all a D/s relationship, it’s important to know yourself well. Do the work to figure out what things you like, and what things you don’t - and maybe what things you enjoy not liking.  You’ll need this information when it’s time to negotiate a scene, let alone a relationship. Anyone who doesn’t want to have initial negotiations as equals should be looked at with great scepticism. Anyone who rushes you, or doesn’t want you to have limits, should be avoided altogether. 

Saying no is always okay. Changing your mind is always okay. It doesn’t matter how far into a relationship (or a scene, or sex) you are. In fact, the ability to say no and change your mind is the only reason we can do the things that we do. They’re far too risky otherwise. Just like a new flavour of ice cream, you’ve got to be able to try a little taste to see if you like it. And that’s the thing about trying something new — if you don’t like it, you can try the next flavour or fall back on your usual favourites. 

So never let anyone make you feel guilty or like you owe them something. Anyone engaging in kink & BDSM should be an adult who can take care of themselves. If someone can’t handle hearing no, they shouldn't be here. So take care of yourself, say no to anything you don’t like, and by all means pause or end this relationship if it isn’t working for you. 



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