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Old 01-20-2010, 12:23 PM   #1251
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Thank you for taking the time to challenge me on this, Netzach. I really need it.

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Isn't that just the human condition?
Yes. I think most of my "great discoveries" are about being human. Slavery is just the vehicle I use on this voyage of exploration.

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I think you're disparaging a degree of power you don't want to own. There's nothing wrong with choosing not to use it, but if you have to denigrate your own wants in order to do that maybe you're overstating the case that when you make a choice involving others it automatically means a running of roughshod over them. Also, is consensus always a toothless middle ground? Are people in D/s or TPE sometimes too eager to dismiss the possibility around consensus or compromise simply because we're of the opinion that they're not mandatory? They may not be the only way to solve problems or even the best, but I think taking them off the table completely as a way of viewing the world is a danger, is a denial of possibility.
I've had opportunities to be the decision-maker, and I love the feeling I get when I am in charge. I have an ability to make things happen that thrills me. And I love the feeling of moving forcefully through the world as it opens to clear a path for my intentions. I feel like I'm riding this tremendous wave of energy as it cuts through the underbrush.

But I also have a tendency to run roughshod over other people when I start moving on my plans. And I hate the feeling I get when I suddenly realize that I have been stepping all over the people around me, ignoring their concerns and trivializing their worries.

Since I don't like the way that behavior manifests in myself, I tend to attribute negative connotations to that power-driven activity. I'm a much nicer person when I am actively cultivating my more submissive nature. I move more slowly. I listen. I see other people more clearly, not simply as agents to further my own intentions, but individuals in their own right.

On the other hand, I have also found myself trying to please everyone around me, weaving that web of small kindnesses, and losing sight of the bigger picture and the wider world where I suddenly think more decisive action needs to be taken.

I have this idea that maybe there's a golden mean. That maybe I'll stop swinging on the pendulum that is characteristic of this M/s and D/s mindframe. That all-or-nothing thinking that can be very exciting, but unsustainable.

How possible is consensus? Without one or another party submitting.

I'm wondering if it's approachable through the neutralities you discuss below.

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Re-read what you just said. Neutrality never holds enough interest to get in the game? That might be exactly where more of your attentions are needed. In the places that are neither aha! nor hell no!. The places where someone else isn't going to get you on track and maybe you yourself can't because there's no compelling voice dictating from within. Maybe I'm a boring person but about 99.9 percent of my own decision making takes place on this, well let's try that, kind of a plane.

It works, it doesn't. Adjust accordingly.

When I make lists in an effort to decide things I list positive, negative, and interesting - an old creative thinking trick. Interesting in the absence of pos. and neg. helps tilt my decision making also. Neutrality takes on great import for me - I generally reject and then allow myself to return to those first emotional states, and they look the same, but different, when I do.
I find you a brilliant thinker, Netzach. But you are almost speaking a foreign language to me.
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Old 01-20-2010, 12:36 PM   #1252
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How possible is consensus? Without one or another party submitting.

I'm wondering if it's approachable through the neutralities you discuss below.
Everyone submits a little. And what they're submitting to is a planned vision of what's "good" which is measured by observable metrics and not just "here's what I want, here's what I feel."

By approaching my most cherished decisions the way I would solid financial ones at times, I've found I've done best.

"I want that. Well, I really can't have THAT right now, but if I do this, maybe I can have that. If I don't do this then maybe I can have something LIKE that."

If you are really particularly horrified by making your emotions not the PRIME drive at all stages of the decision, it sort of explains why you might be uneasy with your decision making and how it goes over, I guess. I'm trying to explain this better...
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Old 01-20-2010, 07:25 PM   #1253
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I'm not so good at making choices.

It's one of the reasons the M/s relationship appeals to me. In my idealized vision, I make a couple of big choices and the rest of my life is determined. I follow instructions. I do my best. I please the one I'm serving and all will be as well as can be expected. Right?

Of course not. I am not spared the responsibility of making choices. And when deciding what to cook for dinner becomes a big deal, there are no easy decisions.

I piss someone off with every decision I make.
I don't like making decision. I don't like pissing people off.

But I've learned to accept that not making an active decision is still a decision in its own right. And pissing people off is an inevitability of living among them.

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How do you know you've made a good choice? How do you work with the choices you've made?
I live with the "Time will tell" outlook on outcome. It does not keep me from worrying thou, but knowing (or convincing myself) that I made the best decision I could given the circumstances and who I am, helps. Also having planned for all the possible outcomes, including the most adverse and outrageous aides in not feeling helpless.


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I want to look at this with my slave-mind.

I've made two big choices in a. my life partner, and b. TPE. Choices I made on the basis, first and foremost, of a purely visceral response.

And what is the nature of that visceral response? In its barest form - Attraction. Aversion. Neutrality.

But then the thinking sets in. Attraction is supported by all the reasons this would be good (or bad) for me. Aversion is supported by all the reasons this would be bad (or good) for me. (Neutrality never holds enough interest to even get in the game.)

And then a moment comes when I have to act. And I decide . . . to move closer. Or farther away.
Personality plays a big role in the decision making process I've noticed. And current state of mind, past experiences and so forth.

When I don't have a clear "attraction" or "aversion", my most common course of action is a sort of "study, wait and see". I used to get mighty frustrated with the uncertainty of living in limbo, and that is when it would get dangerous for me, as I would then try the "let's throw a bomb and see what happens" approach, with the end results that I had to spend all my energy to mend the broken pieces of what I actually wanted (a sort of let's destroy everything so I can see what I really miss and as such really cared for ...).

I've learned since to be patient. Sort of. Instead of throwing a real bomb I do "what if" bombs and play out the scenarios and consequences in my head/writing. Much safer that way.

When the attraction is strong I try to cool it off by making sure I know what I'm getting myself into. And when the aversion is strong, I try to follow my gut.

Of course if the aversion is for something that I'm asked within my D/s dynamic(s) I need to, more often than not, work through it, suck it up and do it, knowing that I will survive, and perhaps even learn something in the process.


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Do I have a right to ask that of my children? To use the same kind of decision-making I would use for myself? I know what I have gained by putting myself in difficult circumstances. Is it fair to assume that my children would gain similar benefits?

If my child is making that kind of decision for themselves, do I have an obligation to choose a safer route for them?

Obviously, it's my responsibility to protect them from physical danger. But where does my responsibility end and theirs begin?

And the question that keeps haunting me . . . If I'm the kind of person who chooses TPE for herself, can I trust the choices I make for my children?
Being a parent is an incredible responsibility and it feels overwhelming many times.

And when that happens I try to keep in mind one thing: my job is to give them a safe environment to try out the skills they will need when out on their own.
So I try to guide, prod, challenge and protect without being too cuddly or nice.

The hardest thing is indeed not to project my own thinking, my own desires, my own view of life on them. So I try to focus on showing them the consequences of their decisions and respect their choices, knowing that they are at the moment young enough that I can override them, but the day will come when I will not have that power, and hopefully by then they will have learned to live and handle the consequences of their own actions/decisions.


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Depends on their age, their own history of responsibility and track record (have they ever been allowed to make significant decisions for themselves in the past) the nature of the decision. Can "we will try this for X-duration and if it is not working using X-neutral-standard we will TRY it my way" be offered. Again, TRY it my way versus we will DO it my way is extremely seductive if you are dealing with people old enough to be making any major decisions for themselves. TRY acknowledges their agency and your lack of total wisdom about everything.
Thank you for a totally different perspective and way to make decisions. I'll have to ponder on it for a while.

But I also wanted to thank you for the above. The "let's try" approach is something I will try with my older kid. She is getting toward an age where I will not be able to override her decisions as easily anymore and it would be also highly counterproductive. I know her weak point and strength, character wise, but I cannot protect her forever from her weaknesses and I need to show her both trust and that mom is indeed a reasonable person (even when she yells ... )
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Old 01-20-2010, 08:37 PM   #1254
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Old 01-20-2010, 11:13 PM   #1255
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Are people in D/s or TPE sometimes too eager to dismiss the possibility around consensus or compromise simply because we're of the opinion that they're not mandatory?
This is an interesting question.

We - as a couple - don't interact with each other as though consensus is possible. There's almost an understanding - or perhaps expectation - after living together for so long that we will not agree with each other. We share the same fundamental value structures, but beyond that we see almost everything from diametrically opposed perspectives.

And we've still managed to run a business, buy a house, raise children. (I do remember being absolutely amazed - and deeply relieved - that we both liked this one house - probably representing the last genuine consensus reached ten years ago.)

Given this foundation of disagreement, the TPE offers a formal power structure that helps to organize our decision-making. But it really isn't as simple as all that. He cedes authority in many areas, and doesn't want to be bothered with the details. He also makes compromises, a lot, taking into account the needs of the kids, the house, our extended family, me.

It's interesting, because it really isn't me who has to compromise. I am free to voice my opinion - as it is. He works with it. I may or may not get what I want. I may have to accept an alternative. But I feel free to form opinions based purely on my own understanding of the circumstances, while I'm certain that he feels he has to make compromises all the time, because of his position of authority.

I take our experience, and then start extrapolating to international and/or inter-cultural negotiations. If an expectation of consensus seems impossible, and force is not an issue, will it always be true that the dominant party has to compromise and the subordinate party accept?
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Old 01-20-2010, 11:16 PM   #1256
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He started reading the post above, and hadn't gone further than the second sentence before saying "I don't agree."
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Old 01-20-2010, 11:54 PM   #1257
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He cedes authority in many areas, and doesn't want to be bothered with the details. He also makes compromises, a lot, taking into account the needs of the kids, the house, our extended family, me.

It's interesting, because it really isn't me who has to compromise. I am free to voice my opinion - as it is. He works with it. I may or may not get what I want. I may have to accept an alternative. But I feel free to form opinions based purely on my own understanding of the circumstances, while I'm certain that he feels he has to make compromises all the time, because of his position of authority.
I don't consider my marriage TPE, but I also do feel that I'm more in the authority position than my vanilla relationship of old and I relate to the above *immensely*. I feel as though I have to have my eye on the "greatest good" factor, weighing in M's desires and my own, often no one getting exactly what they want in the "I want a candy bar!" sense but living to fight on leaner and meaner overall and often pointed in the direction of progress, in love, life, and functionality. Could he do this on his own? Could I? Probably not as well.
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Old 01-21-2010, 09:08 AM   #1258
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Thanks again for taking the time to respond to all this, Netzach. I think this is another interesting point, in relation to TPE -

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Most people enter into things and then decide if that's where they want to be and adjust, in my observation. I know of very few people who know what they want, dive in, never look back.
I have observed the same thing. But I have also had the experience of making a choice over 20 years ago in which there was no exit route.

True, I could have run away. Yes, if it were truly abusive, I might be able to see my way out of it.

But I have lived the majority of my adult life in a relationship where I felt I did not have a choice to leave. And I made this decision when I was young, diving in, thinking I knew exactly what I wanted for the rest of my hopefully long life.

Now it is true that both of us have changed within the relationship. Adjusted. Adapted. Both to each other, and to the changing circumstances of an adult life. But both of us have also been unhappy for long periods of time.

Throughout this relationship, I have fully embraced the fact that there was no exit route, because it has forced us to work with the real sources of our unhappiness which are almost always primarily internal conflicts, unrealistic expectations, and fear. Or habits of disappointment and resentment.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I have embraced the idea that you make a choice, and then learn to live with it - not try it and then if it doesn't work out move on - for so long now, I'm wondering how it affects my guidance of my adolescent children.
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Old 01-21-2010, 09:26 AM   #1259
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As for TPE, you're looking at the result and not the process. If you are the kind of person who chooses a difficult, unpopular, and all-encompassing mode of relationship how does that NOT make you acceptable as a model in decision making? You're not dealing with the abdication of decision when you are talking about the act of deciding this is the best life for you - that's just the contents of the scripture.
But my desire and willingness to abdicate decision-making, even if it's impossible, extends into the lives of my children as well.

I am specifically being called on the carpet for not challenging a decision that my son made, a decision about what high schools he was interested in attending. I have been asked "what kind of parent sets their child up to fail?" I have been told that I let my son "choose his own poison." Granted I'm being told this by someone I do not trust, someone who wields his authority like a bully, but it has gotten under my skin.

I understand why my son made the choices he made. I supported him all along the way. He has made other choices that were difficult and challenging - but because they were "his idea," he has been willing to step up in ways that I don't think he would if he was doing it simply to please me or his father.

But I also wonder if maybe my willingness to abdicate decision-making isn't also a problem here. Habits. I certainly exert my authority over my children. I am highly influential in their lives. But maybe when there isn't an obvious choice, I cede control where I shouldn't. This is what I'm wondering about.
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Old 01-21-2010, 09:28 AM   #1260
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I guess what I'm trying to say is that I have embraced the idea that you make a choice, and then learn to live with it - not try it and then if it doesn't work out move on - for so long now, I'm wondering how it affects my guidance of my adolescent children.
Part of me has the tendency to deal as you, by sticking to it no matter what. But part of me has learned that there is a time when calling it quit is not a sign of weakness nor taking the easy way out.

So in regard to my children I give them a time frame withing which they have to stick with the decision and the consequences. And after that, if it does not get better, they can change their mind.

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Old 01-21-2010, 10:41 AM   #1261
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I don't consider my marriage TPE, but I also do feel that I'm more in the authority position than my vanilla relationship of old and I relate to the above *immensely*. I feel as though I have to have my eye on the "greatest good" factor, weighing in M's desires and my own, often no one getting exactly what they want in the "I want a candy bar!" sense but living to fight on leaner and meaner overall and often pointed in the direction of progress, in love, life, and functionality. Could he do this on his own? Could I? Probably not as well.
This is my experience as well. Were it not for the others in my life that I am responsible for, I doubt I would be where I am. I am not one that pays overmuch attention to myself or my needs. Responsibility, at some level, for others, makes me be a better me.
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Old 01-21-2010, 11:05 AM   #1262
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Thanks again for taking the time to respond to all this, Netzach. I think this is another interesting point, in relation to TPE -



I have observed the same thing. But I have also had the experience of making a choice over 20 years ago in which there was no exit route.

True, I could have run away. Yes, if it were truly abusive, I might be able to see my way out of it.

But I have lived the majority of my adult life in a relationship where I felt I did not have a choice to leave. And I made this decision when I was young, diving in, thinking I knew exactly what I wanted for the rest of my hopefully long life.

Now it is true that both of us have changed within the relationship. Adjusted. Adapted. Both to each other, and to the changing circumstances of an adult life. But both of us have also been unhappy for long periods of time.

Throughout this relationship, I have fully embraced the fact that there was no exit route, because it has forced us to work with the real sources of our unhappiness which are almost always primarily internal conflicts, unrealistic expectations, and fear. Or habits of disappointment and resentment.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I have embraced the idea that you make a choice, and then learn to live with it - not try it and then if it doesn't work out move on - for so long now, I'm wondering how it affects my guidance of my adolescent children.
I said "adjust" not "ditch when it's not a bed of roses."
What you're describing is a kind of adjusting.

It's not a walk in the park or else leave thing that I'm talking about, nor is what you're talking about that foreign to me.
There's a difference between less than happy and completely unhealthy and you're not the sole influence in their lives either. Chances are there's some messaging out there that tells them "there's a point where you can declare yourself unwilling to live with something."
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Old 01-21-2010, 11:17 AM   #1263
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But my desire and willingness to abdicate decision-making, even if it's impossible, extends into the lives of my children as well.

I am specifically being called on the carpet for not challenging a decision that my son made, a decision about what high schools he was interested in attending. I have been asked "what kind of parent sets their child up to fail?" I have been told that I let my son "choose his own poison." Granted I'm being told this by someone I do not trust, someone who wields his authority like a bully, but it has gotten under my skin.

I understand why my son made the choices he made. I supported him all along the way. He has made other choices that were difficult and challenging - but because they were "his idea," he has been willing to step up in ways that I don't think he would if he was doing it simply to please me or his father.

But I also wonder if maybe my willingness to abdicate decision-making isn't also a problem here. Habits. I certainly exert my authority over my children. I am highly influential in their lives. But maybe when there isn't an obvious choice, I cede control where I shouldn't. This is what I'm wondering about.
OK, consider the reverse. You put your foot down, you send him to X.

A. he loves it in spite of himself in a couple of weeks.
B. not. It can be undone, right, but how painfully?

This doesn't seem like mindless caving to whatever is your kid's whim. It seems like a decision rooted in knowing him and trusting him.

I was being screamed at to apply to certain colleges. I applied early to one 1500 miles away, got in, end of discussion, and I go home once every two years. I never looked back from the lack of control that I had over anything in my life, so you are talking to the wrong person about this, perhaps. A lot of people get very psychotic about prestige and polish and not that into the nuts and bolts of the right educational environment for the right person.

I also met a girl this summer who has the career I fucking wish I had. She dropped out of Pratt her junior undergrad year.
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Old 01-21-2010, 11:22 AM   #1264
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I said "adjust" not "back out."
What you're describing is a kind of adjusting. It's not a walk in the park or else leave, nor is what you're talking about that foreign to me.
I noticed that, actually, while I was writing.

It's me that keeps focussing on this "escape route," who wants to "cut and run" when things get difficult, even though I already know it's not going to be an option. The old "fight or flight" response woven into modern urban living.

I have a new 12-step sponsor who is working with me on what she sees as a possible adrenaline addiction. With an adrenaline habit linked to both sexual and emotional conditioning, she thinks I might be prone to react to events in my life with a hyped-up fear response. In other words, maybe there are causes for concern, but maybe my tendency to stimulate my adrenal glands for recreational purposes has created an over-active stress response and I'm losing clear sight of the facts.
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Old 01-21-2010, 11:28 AM   #1265
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I noticed that, actually, while I was writing.

It's me that keeps focussing on this "escape route," who wants to "cut and run" when things get difficult, even though I already know it's not going to be an option. The old "fight or flight" response woven into modern urban living.

I have a new 12-step sponsor who is working with me on what she sees as a possible adrenaline addiction. With an adrenaline habit linked to both sexual and emotional conditioning, she thinks I might be prone to react to events in my life with a hyped-up fear response. In other words, maybe there are causes for concern, but maybe my tendency to stimulate my adrenal glands for recreational purposes has created an over-active stress response and I'm losing clear sight of the facts.
This is not a bad theory, it's incredible how those imaginary sabre tooth tigers can do a number on you. I'm on non-recreational substances at the moment which are playing with mine.
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Old 01-24-2010, 07:14 PM   #1266
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I am uncomfortable expressing my needs when I know it is in direct opposition to his desires. Often when I try to communicate my needs it leads to confusing conversations where we both feel frustrated and unhappy.

Example: Yesterday, he wants to go to the museum. My daughter has an event at school. We are going to meet him for dinner and a movie afterwards.

At the event, my daughter develops a migraine. She's young and unfamiliar with the pain and nausea. It is rough. An hour before we're supposed to meet, my husband calls and I tell him what's going on. We agree that the kids and I will stay home. He'll join us when he's finished.

I spend the next five hours with a screaming child.

By the time he comes home, she feels better, but I am exhausted. He tells me about the exhibit at the museum.

After the kids go to sleep, I want to tell him how hard it was that afternoon. That I needed him at home. That I want more attention from him. That I want a certain kind of love.

It comes out all wrong. I tell him I feel like a single parent. I want some clarification of the M/s dynamic between us.

I make us both unhappy. He is frustrated, and states that M/s is just conceptual.

For a moment, it breaks my heart. Even though I know he's right, I want something solid to stand on. I want these insubstantial concepts to give form to this life of mine. To make it easier to cope. With my children. My marriage. My emotional life. My creative imagination.

I want to be able to use this language to bind us into some kind of pattern. But he doesn't want to be restrained. Fixed in place by words.

It's funny, really. The relationship doesn't change. The actions remain the same. The sex. The power dynamics. But the language we use to describe it changes our perception of what we're doing. Defining our expectations of what we will experience.

If the M/s relationship between us is merely conceptual, what does that imply about its truth?
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Old 01-24-2010, 07:15 PM   #1267
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At the same time, we are communicating more clearly with each other today.

Last edited by eastern sun : 01-25-2010 at 09:39 AM. Reason: missing word - perfectionist tendencies
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Old 01-24-2010, 10:17 PM   #1268
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If the M/s relationship between us is merely conceptual, what does that imply about its truth?
That one, or both, of the parties involved in the dynamic do not feel that they can adequately put to words the dynamic as a whole.

Personally, I can relate. The girls have two rules. They are broad, subject to interpretation, and occasionally conflicting. Tough. I refuse to codify things any further because it does not suit my needs. And when it comes to things like this, my needs outweigh the wants they may have vis a vis rules, definitions, etc.

Rules and definitions by design constrain both ends of the equation, both the ruler and the ruled. The ruled must follow the rules, but the ruler must also enforce them, else they have no meaning.

I have no desire to be forced to enforce rules. I have no desire to be forced to do anything.
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Last edited by Homburg : 01-24-2010 at 11:32 PM.
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Old 01-24-2010, 10:23 PM   #1269
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What more are you looking for from him?
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Old 01-24-2010, 10:30 PM   #1270
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I still puzzle over what our D/s relationship is. Sometimes I think it's so abstract that I could envision myself to be whatever I want - equal, slave, bedroom sub. And I don't think he would care. I mean, for him, it's what he wants when he wants it, and the rest just falls by the wayside. I could say no and argue. I could be obedient. My status doesn't really change with my behavior.
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Old 01-24-2010, 10:56 PM   #1271
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I have to say, eastern sun, you're a much better and more patient person than I, and for that, I admire you tremendously.
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Old 01-24-2010, 11:41 PM   #1272
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I have to say, eastern sun, you're a much better and more patient person than I, and for that, I admire you tremendously.
Thank you very much, Bunny , and though I do think I'm patient, a virtue developed over the years, I don't think I'm a better person than anyone. Not at all.

We got married when I was 26 and he was 27; and we spent much of that first year fighting. We always took our arguments out into the street because there was no telling how far we would take things, and there was safety on the sidewalk that was missing inside the house. I remember once the way the chain link fence sounded when he threw me against it. And the way my voice echoed in a parking garage when he took me by the throat. And these crazy ass fights we had would always turn out to be foreplay, cause as soon as we'd taken it right to the edge, we'd turn all that ferocious energy into sex.

We mixed this chaotic stuff with a lot of creative experimentation and role-playing as well, and there weren't a whole lot of things that we didn't try. We didn't have any community in those days to tell us that what we were doing was okay. We just lived this life we lived. But I've always felt conflicted between whether or not I was a healthy and sane wild child, or an overly dramatic and maladjusted girl.
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Old 01-24-2010, 11:45 PM   #1273
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What more are you looking for from him?
Certainty, I suppose. Of his affection. Of the rightness of my actions. And my understanding. Of the path we're walking. That kind of thing.

i want to feel more confident that all is well. Even when things are difficult and challenging.

That may not be something he can give.
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Old 01-24-2010, 11:49 PM   #1274
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I still puzzle over what our D/s relationship is. Sometimes I think it's so abstract that I could envision myself to be whatever I want - equal, slave, bedroom sub. And I don't think he would care. I mean, for him, it's what he wants when he wants it, and the rest just falls by the wayside. I could say no and argue. I could be obedient. My status doesn't really change with my behavior.
I totally get this, by the way. I have similar experiences.

I can agree that my status doesn't change with my behavior, but my behavior definitely changes the way he treats me. And sometimes, the way he treats me has nothing to do with me at all.
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Old 01-24-2010, 11:57 PM   #1275
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Originally Posted by Homburg View Post
That one, or both, of the parties involved in the dynamic do not feel that they can adequately put to words the dynamic as a whole.

Personally, I can relate. The girls have two rules. They are broad, subject to interpretation, and occasionally conflicting. Tough. I refuse to codify things any further because it does not suit my needs. And when it comes to things like this, my needs outweigh the wants they may have vis a vis rules, definitions, etc.

Rules and definitions by design constrain both ends of the equation, both the ruler and the ruled. The ruled must follow the rules, but the ruler must also enforce them, else they have no meaning.

I have no desire to be forced to enforce rules. I have no desire to be forced to do anything.
Thank you, Homburg. This was very helpful for me to read.

A question: I think we all agree that a "need" is by definition something that must be addressed. How can I express something that I feel I need, without making him feel like he's being "forced" to give it to me? I guess I'm asking - literally, how can I word it so it doesn't pinch?
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