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The online diary of an ethical pervert.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

In praise of tests

A coffee with Milady turned into two as we picked over bones and compared battle scars. There's satisfaction in discussing life, the universe, everything with a like-minded soul. Our outlooks marry up pleasingly so conversations include a lot of nodding, agreeing and general wonderment over the rest of the world which does not appear to see things the way that we do, declaring them as mad and both of us sane. It's not about being able to get on with someone or about having the same opinions or tastes - we have disagreed in the past on a number of concrete issues - but more about having similar ways of relating to what is at hand, of navigating the emotional and intellectual landscape of a discussion. It's nice to be able to say "this is like such-and-such" and feel as if the other person understands what you mean rather then just the words that you said.

The topics rather naturally turned towards the kinky once the private business of life and work had been thoroughly raked over the coals. She knows The Photographer and we discussed responses to breaking up, able to laugh at the realisation that until recently we had both thought the term "heartache" was a hackneyed metaphor rather than an actual physical condition. We shared our frustration at feeling unable to get the meat of what we wanted across to other people and she revealed to me her ongoing problem with submissives and text messages.

Like me, Milady prefers to develop D/s relationships not just one-off play sessions. Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed many individual sessions, however there is a depth of feeling that only comes with an intimate connection created over time, with effort. For me, it's the difference between bottoming and subbing - I can turn up, strip off and enjoy being tied up for the physicality of it. However, if someone I care about does that to me it creates a totally different (and more powerful) response. The D/s doesn't switch off. The SM does. So to, with her. We both like the idea that when you are in a D/s relationship, no matter where you are, what you are doing, somewhere in the back of your mind is the knowledge that you own, or that you are owned. The method of expressing this is through ritual - I talked to her about my Monday morning emails to The Photographer in which I shared by upcoming week with him. She mentioned she likes to get text messages and frequently instructs her submissives to send her one in the morning then one in the evening. The part that interested me was that despite protestations of wanting to be trained by her, of needing her terribly badly, so many of them had fallen down on following up on this simple little request.

We mulled over whether it was really "simple" or really "little", eventually deciding that, yes, it was not a huge thing to ask. I pointed out that if someone had asked me to do so I'd have enjoyed the fact that they wanted to hear from me at regular intervals - it would have felt caring and supportive to have them require something from me. And if it made them happy, I'd have done my work as a submissive with the mere press of a button. Plus it was a test that I could win at, then be considered a good girl. Perfect. But the boys she contacted could not seem to do it. Or they would do so for a couple of days then forget, or cite drunkeness (a cipher for forgetting, no doubt). So we wondered - could they all be so forgetful or could it be something else, a difference in attitude? Perhaps, unlike the pair of us who view D/s as part of ourselves, they saw it instead as something to pick up and drop, whenever you were in the mood or in the moment.

It was, we realised, a litmus test for a perfect pairing. The task reflected exactly the sort of relationship that both Milady and I enjoy - it was ongoing, but not overly invasive or impractical and showed a consistent duty of care for both parties. The inability of the boys to complete the task foreshadowed other incompatibilities that arose later on. We became fascinated by it, from a social anthropology point of view, wondering if perhaps it was something gender specific that made the boys unable to follow through despite their stated desires or something else and how you could use this behaviour to understand the type of relationship they wanted. Only an experiment will do, we decided. Take an hundred submissives and set them the same task: "text me twice a day for five days without fail and then we can meet and play". Difficult to do without leading anyone on and there would have to be an amount of untruth to not skew the end result. However, we both agreed that those who did send the messages would be those who were interested in the act itself and consequently interested in that style of D/s - in short, the ones worth meeting up with.

Maybe my attraction to this idea says more about myself than about those I might survey. The need for games, for tests, for people to prove themselves. That I have been let down and want reassurance before trusting, that I have problems with abandonment and require ongoing, frequent contact to assuage the constant worry of being left or being forgotten about. But since I know these anxieties are part of me it's not especially revelatory to find that I seek someone who can provide those things. Unlike physical attraction, compatible psychological characteristics are harder to see at first glance, or even at the first meeting. You get them through question and answer. Input and response. In other words - tests.

There are those who look down on tests, who argue that it is a ridiculous female obsession - to be constantly checking and re-checking in such an obvious fashion. Like a version of those "is he the right one for me" quizes in terrible magazines that decant a relationship into five to ten a, b, c or d responses. However I do think that being able to question a relationship, to analyse it and understand it is important in order to know whether it is right for you - or, to put a more positive spin on things, to work out the bits that aren't working so well and make the better. If you can firmly say that "when you do X I feel bad" because you have been able to filter out that particular cause of stress then provided your partner is supportive and willing, you can eliminate it. If you do not know what is wrong then how can you ever make something right?

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