Five to One

There’s this pop-psychology idea running around that a healthy relationship has five positive interactions for every one negative one. I don’t know about the exact math, but I love the general insight that negative and positive interactions balance one another in a relationship, but they don’t balance one another evenly.

If your partner forgets to take out the garbage and you snap at them for it, just having them remember once and you thank them for doing it once doesn’t bring your relationship back to the same place it was before. You’re both likely to still have wee little lingering questions and concerns that will persist until and unless you see several more confirmations that you aren’t going to make a habit of lashing out, and that they can be relied on to do their share. Even small signs that a partner is pulling away from us, or angry with us, or disapproving of something about us loom large. It takes a bunch of affection and intentional connection and positive regard to really put those doubts to rest and get back to feeling confident and happy with the relationship.

What that gets me thinking about is that D/s dynamics work the same way. For every interaction that undercuts, questions or diminishes the power relationship that you and your partner want to create between you, you need to have five that feed it, reaffirm it or take it deeper. Continue reading “Five to One”

Consensual Dominance

What is Consensual Dominance?

The most concise definition of consensual dominance I’ve ever been able to come up with is that it is the exercise of interpersonal power by the mutual agreement of and for the mutual fulfillment of all involved. Consensual interpersonal power is expressed in the hot, complicated space between what someone wants to do on their own and what they want to do for you. That space can extend in a wonderful variety of directions. It can mean taking someone down to where they beg permission to perform degrading acts they would normally find repugnant, but it also encompasses building them up to achieve heights of discipline and accomplishment that they would not have reached without firm encouragement.

Some people are very specific in which directions they prefer to take their dominance: interested only in degradation, or only in receiving service, or only in nurturing and guiding, or some other particular flavor of dominance. Others are more flexible, exploring different sorts of dominance at different times or with different partners. Regardless of the style, the essence of dominance is in the “because I said so” or the “do it for me.” It’s in the influence one person wields over the thoughts and actions of another.

It is a misconception to say that dominance is about making a person do things, though. It’s impossible to really make another person feel, think or do anything, and competent dominants tend to understand that fact better than most. Dominance works by inspiring, seducing and enabling submission, not by forcing it–it’s dominance driven by an engine of consent. Continue reading “Consensual Dominance”