I read a heartbreaking story of abuse in power exchange recently, and one particular bit that stood out to me was this:
“…make me believe he was exceptional and the only one who could meet my needs.”
That caught my attention because it felt so familiar. It got me thinking about how often I’ve seen that same theme in other stories of abusive relationships, not always stated so clearly, but looming in the background: someone’s in a relationship that’s causing them harm, but feels like they can’t leave because that relationship is the one and only chance they’ll ever get to meet their essential kinky needs.
Hell, I felt like that in my first D/s relationship, and my partner wasn’t even intentionally trying to make me feel it. When you’ve hungered for something for ages and ages, and you finally connect with someone who gives it to you, it’s absurdly easy to believe that they are THE ONE: that they and they alone hold the magical key to your fulfillment. That is a terrible position from which to navigate a relationship. Believing that this is your only shot at getting what you need severely compromises your ability to set boundaries, in ways that the referenced writing does a great job of elucidating.
It isn’t surprising that people who want to compromise their victims’ ability to set boundaries actively encourage them to think that they are “exceptional and the only one who can meet [their] needs.” It’s an easy vulnerability to exploit with anyone who’s new.
Also it’s not true.
It does take some skill to do kinky things well, whether you’re dominating or submitting or rigging or whatever. But it’s not rocket science, and it’s definitely not magic. Most people who have good will toward their partners, solid emotional maturity and a sincere interest in kink can learn to dominate well, submit well, or practice all kinds of bondage and SM perfectly well. It can take some searching to find someone who’s got the right skills to be good at doing the things you wanna do, but they are not unique. If you’ve found one person who can make your kinky dreams come true, you can find another one.
It’s entirely possible to build a connection with someone who is a good match for you as a human being, and have them learn how to fulfill your kinky needs. That’s far more likely to work out than staying with someone who can push your kinky buttons from the get-go but who treats you poorly overall.
If somebody is telling you that they and only they have the True Natural Alpha Real Dominant Energy to give you what you need, that they are the only one who will ever understand the real you, that you’d better do whatever it takes to stay with them because they’re you’re only option—that is a flaming red flag. Either they know it’s bullshit and they are maliciously manipulative, or they believe it’s true and they’re childishly deluded about how special they are. There really isn’t a third possibility.
If you’re the experienced partner giving someone their thrilling first flights into some kind of experience they’ve never had before, consider *telling them* that you aren’t special. Recognize how easy it is for someone in their position to believe that you are magically unique, and actively dispel that notion. Introduce them to other people (ideally not just your best buddies). Connect them with social groups and education around their passion. Encourage them to spread their wings a bit, get some other experiences, and get proof that there are people in the world who complement their wonderful, unconventional kinky needs.
If you’re really as hot shit as they think you are, you’ve got nothing to worry about. They’ll come back with a richer appreciation for what you bring to the things you do together, based on having something to compare it to. They’ll also come back with a better understanding of their own desires, a capacity to consent in a cleaner and more authentic way, and maybe even some great new ideas to share with you.