The problem with no-strings attached relationships is exactly that. No strings. No expectations. You can't berate casual partners for not dropping everything to come and be at your bedside on a whim when they are half way across town doing something else. Strings entangle, they make knots, and they pull. They pull both ways. Without them, there is less stress and worry. For the most part, "no strings" is good - it fits in with how busy I am, and how busy those I'm playing with are. Sometimes it smarts a little, when I can't instantly get what I want but I appreciate the fact this means I do not have to deliver at all times, either. A cancelled date or two just need to be shrugged off because in the grand scheme of things I am not the most important thing in their life. And neither are they to me.
Which isn't to say that my relationships are not important. They are and I care an awful lot about those under my auspices, but I am also trying to be easy going. A light touch. This all works very well when everyone is happy and not very much in need of anything deeper: it's fun, delicious and friendly. The drive for these types of relationships is self-imposed. Partly to give me physical and mental space and partly to protect myself and those I'm playing with from the encumberance of serious, weighty emotional entanglements. I know that my lovers' hearts belong to other people, and I know that my heart is not (not yet, not quite) ready to fall in love again.
But it has recovered enough for me to feel the absence of love.
Maybe it's because Valentines Day is approaching, and I'm a sucker for annual marketing schemes. Perhaps because a number of friends of mine are variously falling in, falling out or generally being in love. It's in the air. More and more I keep getting a twinge of wishing that there were more strings. Wanting to have someone who is mine, there for me, but not really feeling capable of getting it just yet. It's quite frustrating.
Dominance has its own set of anxieties. The worry about being "good enough" still persists but in a different kind to its submissive sibling, especially when you are playing with people who are not exclusive to you and who you don't see very often. There is a limit on what you can do, when and how much. It affects the quality and type of dominance, making it focus much more around the scene itself and then retreating back to almost nothing at other times.
The freedom of loose, unaffiliated exchange is also a freedom from the comfort, reassurance and solace of bonds and ties. Each time I play a scene I feel as if I am starting from scratch, on some level. Consent is given (and taken) for the first and last time every single time. I feel as if I need to improve on the last time we played, to reassert my will, my dominance, because it isn't an "always on" scenario. And that's just the physical side. I feel less sure about my ability to dig deeper into my dominance and their submission when levels of consent are always flickering - when they are only mine whilst they are there, laid out, naked.
And don't get me wrong, I love those times and the recent moments of submission that have been offered to me over the past few weeks have been beautiful. But like an explorer seeing the edges of a new land, I feel as if there's more to be found. Bigger highs. Deeper space.
No requirements outside of the scene itself means that emotions stay transient, and to a certain extent, abstract. Aftermaths are about feedback messages, memories and thoughts of what to do with them next time. All of these things are good and make me smile, but I'm starting to see how they could be better. A lot of my play is about the doing and less about feelings, especially deep, lasting emotions. Especially love. The dominant I want to become wants to play in those waters of the heart. The dominant I am right now, isn't ready and more to the point would do more harm than good by playing there.
Doesn't stop me wanting it though.