Can we ever be CERTAIN?
EMOTIONAL STABILITY in D/s and BDSM
The phrase "Safe, Sane, and Consensual" is a common term that those of us who enjoy the D/s and BDSM lifestyle, often use. We talk a lot about SAFE, and I totally agree with the idea of being wise and prudent. Many of the activities we choose to practice can be physically or emotionally dangerous.
As for SANITY and CONSENT, both these words have implications that for some, may make the whole SSC concept useless. There is no doubt that most people who enjoy D/s and BDSM are SANE, and that CONSENT is implicit, if not specifically stated, in the practices we enjoy, but trying to create a phrase or slogan that sounds politically correct, simply adds to the endless Psycho-babble of Oprah, Dr. Laura and other Pop Icons and TV Gurus. In My opinion, this does little to legitimize Alternate Lifestyles.
Inevitably, some people who are attracted to D/s or BDSM lifestyles are emotionally unstable. Some people who feel an affinity for Alternate Lifestyles suffer from low self-esteem, the effects of childhood abuse, and a variety of attachment disorders. Humans are SOCIAL Animals, even simple loneliness can create stress and lead to irrational decisions. Social ostracization due to obesity, physical deformities, (real or imagined) and feelings of isolation or being different may lead a person to search for meaning, intimacy, and emotional fulfillment, within the D/s and BDSM community.
Emotional problems most frequently occur in submissive partners. This is a function of NUMBERS, not a reflection of inherent instability among submissives. MOST humans are innately subordinate. That is: We tend to seek out a strong and charismatic leader to bond with. Anthropologists, Sociologists, and Psychologists understand this instinctive yearning to find and bond with a Dominant or Alpha person. (Usually Male, in Humans) Decisiveness, Responsibility, and Charisma, are often used to define Dominance, but a genuine, genetic, Alpha Male, is truly different. He is not ONLY more responsible, more attractive, more aggressive, or smarter than the average bear. An Alpha DOMINANT inherits genetic gifts that transcend these simple ideas. Being attached to an Alpha, feels RIGHT to most humans. We seek out these Icons, and enjoy the sense of well-being that arises from BELONGING to them.
All social animals experience subliminal urges to behave in certain ways and the chemical rewards that arise from these behaviors are experienced as rewarding and pleasant moods and emotions. The cascade of brain chemistry evoked through BDSM and D/s activity, is a product of Millions of years of successful biological adaptations. Unfortunately, our CULTURE makes many of us mistrust our natural affinity to an Alpha.
OBVIOUSLY, a Dominant that is emotionally unstable is very DANGEROUS. An Alpha has the ability to subliminally influence the behavior of others and the emotional reward a subordinate receives for winning his approval is quite profound. A true Alpha is rare, and those few we may be exposed to during our lives are often confused, poorly socialized, misdirected, and unable to express themselves well. In our culture, a young Dominant cannot find useful role models or guidance. Some Alphas may never even begin to realize their true potential to lead and comfort others. Some will abuse their charisma because they don't understand or take responsibility for their power. When this occurs, it can wreak havoc upon any subordinate that has become attached to Him.
There is little doubt that such historic figures as; Leonardo DaVinci, Aristotle, Alexander the great, Buddha, and Jesus Christ were Genetically Dominant Men. BUT remember, so were; Attila the Hun, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolph Hitler, and Jim Jones. The famous serial killer, Ted Bundy, is an obvious example of an Alpha Male who wasn't attached to reality and went on a rampage. The simple fact that Bundy was able to win the trust of women who would have normally been wiser, is indicative of the powers of a Genetic Alpha Male.
On top of this danger, a submissive woman who seeks emotional and physical fulfillment is also faced with the fact that most subordinate males have learned the value of imitating Alpha behavior. We have all met men who try to trick any female into having sex by pretending to be strong and wise, then disappear when it's time to actually accept responsibility. A large number of American households consist of Single women, living alone and caring for the children of these men.
Any person who assumes the role of Dominant or Master, MUST demonstrate integrity. In almost every case it is up to the Dominant to recognize and diagnose relationship problems, as submissives tend to believe that any failure is theirs. A submissive is much more likely to recognize personal emotional problems and be willing to listen to advise or accept guidance or therapy. If the submissive has emotional issues that are severe, they may prevent submission, but more often, the sub will tend to give too much and be exploited. If a Dominant chooses to take advantage of another persons psychological disability, because the submissive consented, it is NO LESS ABUSIVE. For example, suppose a submissive has OCD, (Obsessive, Compulsive, Disorder) she may be a spotless housekeeper and an IDEAL slave, but it is totally unethical for her Master to avoid seeking treatment for her.
Unfortunately, in many cases, emotional issues leading to dysfunctional relationships will be met with denial. The most dangerous and difficult to resolve problems are with an emotionally unstable person in a Dominant role. Unstable Doms are incapable of keeping relationships together and tend to go through one after another. Sometimes other Dominant friends can step in and offer advice, or suggest the need for therapy, but if a Dominant cannot, or will not, recognize that they have unresolved emotional issues, its quite likely to result in abusive behavior. The simple fact that the Dominant partner has been ceded the power in the relationship, creates an environment where the submissive is likely to be hurt either physically or emotionally. A wise submissive may eventually leave this relationship, but probably not soon enough. In the worst cases it becomes necessary to warn people in the BDSM - D/s community about these dangerous predators.
The D/s or BDSM lifestyle is supposed to be FUN. The whole point of these behaviors and the bonds that evolve from them is to access the chemical/emotional REWARDS. Obviously, the majority of D/s and BDSM relationships don't involve a genetic Alpha Male, as they are quite rare. Most BDSM - D/s relationships are between two, or more, subordinate people and involve complex and ritualistic role playing. If you choose to create a role for yourself and to play these games or scenes out in real time, you should be enjoying yourself. Taking care to select an emotionally STABLE partner, is simple common sense. Of course, no one can consistently be a perfect Master or a perfect servant and any long term relationship, even the most vanilla, will experience differences in the partners preferences and see passion levels rise and fall. BUT, If a D/s - BDSM relationship isn't a significant and fulfilling aspect of your life, it is probably the wrong kind of relationship with the wrong person.
As a Man who has studied and practiced D/s for over 30 years, I have the greatest respect for the instincts that evoke these wonderfully rewarding feelings and moods. BUT, before any Dom or sub, gets involved in any relationship, it is wise to ponder and decide exactly what they want. There is no RIGHT or WRONG way to live, and no legitimate reason to disdain anything that is fulfilling, enjoyable, and works for the partners. The best thing is to be aware of how each person feels and bring an open mind and a willing heart into any relationship. It is foolish to expect that any relationship will NEVER encounter problems and a reasonable amount of emotional weakness or imbalance is manageable when both partners are committed to supporting each other. In fact a good, healthy, relationship provides an environment in which these problems can be healed rather than exploited and partners can find happiness.
A useful tool in the beginning of a D/s relationship is for each person to write down a list of personal options and a description of BOTH Dom and sub roles. They can then take time to compare and discuss the differences in their expectations and any major differences can be resolved by negotiation. Perhaps, this exercise may seem to be too Democratic for a Dominant and it may put too much responsibility upon a submissive for her own comfort, BUT this kind of egalitarian approach will avoid misunderstandings and preclude emotional harm for BOTH partners. When a relationship is based upon reality and responsibility and the goal of the relationship is to achieve the highest possible level of enjoyment and fulfillment for BOTH partners, whatever Fantasies, Role playing, Games, and Toys are brought into the mix as it grows, will only enhance things.