23 May 1995

Thank you so much, Covenant, for being a "big boy" and answering the
questions posed, rather than throwing a temper tantrum because someone
can't read your mind and doesn't have the same experiences. Remind me
of that when I go off the deep end again, will you?

Well, about those two headed creature cold shower scenes, well, perhaps
you can find some balance here.

Well, I've never gone as far as TPE, and would myself like to hear
Rosie's answer, but I _have_ gone pretty deep into 7/24 D/s.

One of the things my slaves have had was a tremendous faith in my
godlike ability to pull them out of something difficult, particularly
during extreme play when I would have the explicit responsibility to
catch her if she fell. In daily life, OTOH, even though I was the
master, she was often as strong as I. She knew that I made mistakes,
that I was not perfect, that I was _human_. Sometimes, _she_ would
catch _me_ if I messed up. This had nothing to do with our decision to
exchange power, but it had everything to do with our relationship.
(Well, it _was_ part of the power exchange dynamic, but it enhanced it,
not reduced it.)

Aha! A clue!

Even when we played, she knew deep down that I could mess up, but she
had tremendous faith that I wouldn't. I did my best to uphold that
faith; one way of doing that was that if I was in the middle of some
crisis or the other, that was _not_ the time we would "play."

Makes sense. Makes lots of sense.

Just basic common sense, if you ask me. 'Course it's usually the
painfully obvious that, when left unstated, becomes, well, painfully

One of the reasons for her faith was my honesty to her regarding

Yeah, I DO know that one. The honesty justifies the faith, i.e.,
nothing hiding up their sleeve, and you've seen the "worst parts,"
to the best of someone's ability to show them without BEING the
worst parts.

Well, sometimes that too. Us Doms _are_ human after all.

We often speak here on ASB of the vulnerabilities of the submissive,
but any of my slaves could have wounded me very deeply had she been
of a mind to. The fact that she knew my weaknesses as well as my
strengths made her submission all the more powerful and all the more
real. She was not submitting to some image, she was submitting to
_me_, flaws and all.

Got it...and it takes a while to get to know someone this well. Maybe
a very long while.

Oh yes.

So for us, when I needed support, she supported me. It certainly never
detracted from my Domliness (tm), if anything it added to it because it
added more reality and humanity to our relationship.

So there it is...you realize this totally "blows" some ideas of what a
"dom" is... but it makes sense to me.

GOOD! I _want_ to blow some fuses in this area. Being dominant entails
far more than merely having the power to give someone a bunch of orders
and expect to see them carried out, or to be able to do with them as you
please. That _is_ one of the many rewards of dominating someone, but
there really is an important balance (responsibility) to go with each one
of those rewards.

Even when she _was_ supporting me, I was still very much the Master. I
would simply inform her that I was hurting, and would appreciate some
comfort, and she, being the absolutely wonderful, kind, sensitive,
empathetic slave she was, always took the hint, but never took

Not being a "full sub" or "full dom," I am a little puzzled here.

I can "tell," often, when someone is hurting...in fact, it's kinda hard
to not notice. So, I want to help, of course...and then I have to
think carefully about whether the kind of "help" that occurs to me is
appropriate or wanted, and ask. So, are you saying here that someone
who is (completely) submissive doesn't "automatically notice" these
sorts of things and make the offer? Or did I misread and this is

Oh no. You misread that one _entirely_ :-)

She almost always _could_ tell.

It's just that she wasn't always sure exactly what she was sensing, and
she never wanted to presume. Sometimes she'd ask if something was wrong,
I'd stop, think about it, and realize that she was right on the money.
But other times I was closed to her, (that being one of the indications
that something was wrong,) because I had something fiendingly delicious up
my sleeve, and I wanted to surprise her.

So I got pretty good at letting her know when certain actions might be
appreciated, and when they wouldn't. I guess that my original comment
had more to do with her actions than with her perceptions. I just tended
to take a bit more of an active (read Dominant) role in initiating "warm
fuzzy" sessions.

And sometimes I simply _liked_ being comforted, for no reason other than
the fact that I desired it. So I simply exerted my DomlyDomness (tm) and
ordered her to "make it so." I consider my self Masculine and Dominant,
but not macho. I think it's because I am "not macho" that I have no
problem with wanting to be comforted or with admitting that I have flaws.

What is missing from all I have read is a clear "picture" of how one
goes from "real relationship" with d/s scening and/or experimenting
to "power exchange."

Um, I just notices this. You seem to imply here that "real relationships"
and "power exchange" are opposites, that one somehow leaves the former
behind and embraces the latter.

In my experience, nothing could be farther from the truth. I have found
that the more power is exchanged, the more "real" the actual relationship
becomes. It _has_ to, by the very nature of the beast.


But the "right plan" if someone
is serious about "power exchange" is missing. As is a real crystal
clear picture that people could look at to decide if that is what
they really want.


That's kind of difficult to answer, Dryada, but I'll throw in my two
one-hundreths of a dollar anyway.

What follows are some of my thoughts on PE. They are somewhat random,
and do not necessarilly flow from one concept to another.

To me, power exchange has always seemed to come naturally, even in
vanilla relationships.

Is this good or bad for your "vanilla relationships"? Or is it the
vanilla relationships that are a good or bad idea, for you?

In the past it was very bad in all non-BDSM interactions, professionally,
socially, personally, and all the rest. That is, until I finally
realized what was going on; I can almost _see_ power, and I kept
expecting others to react to things the same way I did, but they didn't.
This was because I saw things very differently from the rest of the
world. They would see what was on the surface; while I noticed the deep
undercurrents, often actually missing the obvious that everyone else saw.

Now that I understand this dynamic, I find it an incredibly powerful aid
in _all_ of my interpersonal interactions. (God, should I be a speech
writer or *what*.)


One thing I have seen over and over in what I would consider true,
healthy power exchange relationships is the dominant partner always
cares a great deal about helping other people. I don't know if this
is always true in every case, but it has always been true for me, and
it has appeared to be true in the admittedly limited number of others
I've encountered.

That would be consistent with what little I am beginning to understand
of this concept. And yet it confuses the shit out of me, since *I*
care about helping people. Sometimes a little too much...again, are you
saying the submissive partner in such a relationship DOESN'T care about
helping people? Or just needs a lot of help?

Neither. I have simply stated that I have noticed a high degree of
correlation between Item A and Item B. I have not at all addressed Items
C & D, or for that matter Items L, M, N, O, or P.

To wit: I was only stating my own personal headspace, and how I've found
a part of it to be in common with a surprisingly high number of other

All of my slaves have been very caring people. They have, in my
particular case, been very strong people who had suffered terribly and
were very wounded. I every case, BDSM came along _after_ a friendship was
established. I don't mean that we agreed up front to "let things take
their own course, I mean that the thought of BDSM or sex or anything like
that hadn't even _occurred_ to either of us until well after we were well
down the path of friendship.

I don't think that a submissive necessarily has to be needy. The one
relationship that worked out really well succeeded, I think, in large
part because while she was wounded, she was also strong and _could_ take
care of herself, and she had strength left over to give to me when I
needed it.

Perhaps, and this is purely conjecture on my part, perhaps a lot of
submissives find their submission, their "sub power" if you will, during
periods of great need. Often a person's thoughts turn inward at such
times, and being dominated _can_ be an immense release from the stress of
being needful.

[on dominants needing to care care a lot about people in general]

If it _is_ true, then that would automatically rule out a whole lot of
folks. Again, this is not The Truth, but simply my limited

Power exchange for me has never been a sudden thing for me. It's
always been gradual, and very carefully agreed upon. When something
is given to me, I want it to be mine. If I happen to decide to give
responsibility for the daily upkeep of that thing to someone else,
including the one who gave it to me in the first place, the ownership
is still _mine_. For example, if my slave gives me the right to use
her asshole for my pleasure any time I wish and in any way I wish,
that does not mean that I will take pleasure in wiping it for her
every time she uses it for it's daily function.

Now, that sounds like it would be taking "dom reponsibility" more than a
bit too far...

Well, OTOH, if she _does_ have to wait until I'm available...

'course I suspect I'd still tend to take more of a supervisory role even
then, and delegate the actual work....

She is responsible for it's daily care, even though I own it.

But when I wish to use her asshole, no matter what time time, no matter
the place, no matter how I want to use it, in fact no matter _anything_
except the fact that I wish it, she has to comply instantly. For her
not to do so is a violation of our agreement, and a challenge to the
exchange of our power. If she continues to resist, even after being
reminded of this, that is a serious infraction, indicating that
_something_ is wrong.

Oh, that sounds like a standard miscommunication in any relationship,
for sure, i.e., a very "vanilla" version would be, gee, didn't we agree
to go to X place on vacation, and now you say you don't want to go.
People change their minds, sometimes.

But the whole _point_ of power exchange is that the power to change one's
mind is given over to the dominant. Of course, except in CIS it _can_ be
revoked. But such a revocation would, as Steven Davis put it so
eloquently a while ago in email, result in at least a partial
renegotiation of the relationship. (We were discussing something about a
hot poker in the eyeball, if I recall.)

Again, avoiding that miscommunication is why I advocate taking it slow and
easy for this sort of thing.

Many tops consider it a point of pride never to have a bottom safeword,
unless they (the top) are already expecting it. I consider it a point of
pride to never have a submissive snatch back her submission because I've
misjudged her. It's been kind of comical at times. "Master, I want to
give you this area of myself." "All of it, slave?" "Oh _yes_, Sir." "Oh
_no_, slave. It's too much. You know that once it's mine, you can't take
it back unless I choose to give it back, and you know I rarely do that."
"But Sir, I really want you to have all of this..." "I know you do, and I
want to have it. Completely. Now, you can start giving me that area by
writing an essay explaining why you started out giving too much, and what
a more reasonable approach might be. After I find it acceptable, you may
have dinner, or breakfast, or whatever. By the way, is _my_ dinner ready
yet?" "Oh SIR!"

I would have her submission take place slowly, over time, so that each
step can be done with assurance and confidence, rather than have it
happen too quickly and then be snatched back when I wished to make use
of it.

Sensible child.


However, it seems to me that for some things, slow or
fast doesn't matter so much as someone really, really being able
to look at whether something really works for them. For some people,
their yes today isn't going to be any less meaningful than their yes a
year from now, and for others their yes 5 years from now will still not
have meaning, because they can't know what will happen or whether or not
something is right for them until they try it, and then maybe not even
then, until the full "effect" of their choice starts to sink in. I
know, rambling again...

That's partially true. Some people are more ready to submit and to trust
their Master (or Mistress, got to remember to be fair here) than others.
And some Dominants are more ready to _receive_ that submission than

But there's still the factor of getting to know each other, and getting to
know oneself. Both of those, IMHO, occur _much_ more deeply in power
exchange relationships than _anywhere_ else. So no matter how "ready"
each person is, and no matter how much and how deeply they "click," it
still takes _time_ to do all that exploration of each other's psyches. It
goes far beyond the dominant being able to read hir submissive's reactions
to various stimuli. It's a melding of the hearts that is taking place.

Trust and trustworthyness are important, of course. I think it is more
important in PE relationships than in any other type of relationship,
BDSM or otherwise. The reason I believe this is because of the amount
of mingling of the Master's and the slave's identities. If I tell my
slave that she is bad, she will believe it. Not that she acted badly,
but that she _is_ bad.

Now, this sounds like submission, and love (combined).

I'd better watch it - others may start thinking the same thing...

You are, of course, correct. At least IMHO.

And a bit like a
danger of codependence around the corner...

Yes. That's one reason why I make it a point to exercise my Domley
Domlyness (tm) by sometime letting _her_ be the strong one. Nay.
_requiring_ her to be the strong one.

Now, if a dom can REMEMBER
that sie is holding a knife to sir sub's psyche (actually, I think ALL
people should try REAL hard to remember that they can do this to ANYONE
who really opens their heart to them...) this is not necessarily a "bad


And it would seem that the sub in your scenario is holding a
similar knife to YOUR psyche.


Are we getting warm yet?

And Yep.

Actually, "warm" was about four or five screens back. Scorching is a bit
more apt here.

Likewise, if I don't feel that she approves of me and my actions, I
tend to become very inhibited. Even when she is begging me to stop
doing some particular thing, I need to know that she still approves of
me and of what I am doing because she has chosen to give me the right
to do as I please.

Ah, yes, the knife held to your psyche, as well...this is real hard for
some people to not let loose with and lash out, and this also comes up
as a problem with people who don't "fit right." But many people make
this level of vulnerability to another wrong, real wrong.

Well you know, it _is_ wrong in many circumstances. If I ever go to a
kinky swinging party, (never have, but hope to someday,) and play with
someone, my openness and vulnerability will not be anywhere _close_ to
what we are talking about here. And that, IMNSHO, is how it _should_

I am not for a moment saying that kinky swingers don't have deep, open,
vulnerable relationships, but I _will_ venture a guess that they don't
have them with _every_ person they play with. Stealing a thought from the
Polyamorous thread, different things work for different people. Some
people can network well with numerous partners, and some with only one.
And some do relationships in depth, and other not so deep. And the number
of partners one has doesn't _necessarily_ dictate the level of openness
and vulnerability one is capable of.

Oh, and I use the term "kinky swingers" in a purely descriptive sense; I
do not judge folks who choose this lifestyle or play style.

Anyone with with a little more direct experience care to jump in here?

My main point is something I said earlier: our masks serve a _very_ useful
purpose, and lowering those masks should be done carefully and slowly. Of
course on occasion they just sort of unexpectedly fall off and expose part
of the person underneath. The classic BDSM example of this is when the
bottom suddenly get some unexpected button pushed and has a very vivid
flashback to some particularly unpleasant past headspace. I think most
folks would agree that when this happens the top all of a sudden has an
extra level of responsibility, both to help the bottom put hirself back
together, whether by helping hir process through the issue, or at the very
least helping hir pick up hir normal everyday mask and put it back on, and
to be responsibly discrete in what the bottom reveals while in their
vulnerable state.

One difference I see between power exchange and kinky swinging is that
in kinky swinging, as a rule, that knife at your psyche vulnerability
tends to come and go, whereas with power exchange it tends to be present
in a more constant way. It certainly can and does occur in kinky
swinging, but it is central to power exchange.

So it's important, at least in my view, to continually reaffirm each
other as people, as friends, and as lovers. This approval of the
person needs to be there, IMHO, even if I am sternly repremanding her,
or punishing herfor some reason. Even if there is some issue that we
agree she needs to overcome, _she_ still has my approval as a person,
and I hers.

To me, now, this seems to define love. Period.

Yes. Although the term "love" seems to be (a) rather un-PC in a lot of
circles, and (b) defined differently by every person on the planet. That
tends to make me a bit uncomfortable _describing_ power exchange as love.
But, approaching it from the other end, like we are doing, and then
realizing that love is a central component to it, this I am very
comfortable with.

Without that approval, our trust would be great foolishness, rather
than the carefully considered folly we seek.

Yep. Certainly would be a mess, you start throwing the anger and
blame around in this one. I know so few who are really capable of
choosing not to.


But I don't think that any human being alive is capable of that 100% of
the time. This idea opens up another whole topic of discussion about all
of this, that topic being forgiveness. And _that_, my friend, would make
the length of this already too long post completely insufferable.

Love, and Balance,

Folly, and Rationality, IMHO.

(The Unbeliever)