Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month six bloggers - Amanda Jones, An Open Book, One Sub's Mission, More Than Nuclear, Post Modern Sleaze, and Rarely Wears Lipstick - will write about their views on one of them. This month: Domestic arrangements.
"But how does it work, do you kiss and cuddle as well as the other stuff?"
Dinner with a friend of mine who is starting to explore the world of BDSM and we're getting into the real nuts and bolts of daily D/s life. So this month I'm going to write about how a power exchange works life and how this works in a poly context.
Ganymede recently pointed out an old post of mine on the subject of "what I want" in which I talk about Total Power Exchange, which is a form of D/s. There's a good article on it here, but in a nutshell, this is how we live. More or less. I make the rules and he lives by them. That's all very easy to say, but how does it work, and how does it work with other people? Let's start with some myth busting, as I'm in the mood, and as we go along that might help explain how it all works.
Normality rules OK. D/s relationships, and poly relationships, are a lot like other relationships. They are loving, caring and, for those in them, "normal". Ganymede and I do not spend our entire life in tight fitting black latex, with him permanently on his knees and me looking serious whilst holding a bullwhip. This is roughly the equivlant of assuming that vanilla couples in 2012 dress, talk and behave like characters from The Good Life. at all times. It's dated and it's hugely stereotyped. We do all the things that other couples do. We hold hands, we kiss, we joke about our kink, ourselves, our lives, we do silly things, we snuggle up on the sofa, we go to the cinema and we do the shopping.
Let's play Master and servant. All relationships have roles: modes of behaviour and a general "who does what" when you are together. This happens whether you realise it or not and once things get settled then they become standard. D/s relationships have roles, but they are very conscious ones, we decide, often in a very detailed fashion, who is going to do what and how. But most of the "what" is exactly the same kinds of things that any domestic set up needs, except with a thread of kink through them. For example, I do the cooking. I love to cook, so it makes me happy, and I like to provide for my submissive. I control what he eats, how much and when. I control what goes into him. I also take care of him, making sure he eats well.
Because we have these roles, it means that adding other people into the mix is actually relatively easy in terms of people for play. We have played with Blush, for example, several times. Coming from the kink scene and knowing her in advance really helped make those dates work. We know what we are to each other and what to expect from each other. We're very much still in a dating phase, which leads us on to the final point.
What's love got to do with it? I want to make it very clear: Ganymede and I love each other very much. We look out for each other, we want to make each other happy. The way in which we express this love is mostly the same, but crucially different from what you might term "traditional relationships." We do not believe that "love" is the same as "monogamy", and we certainly don't believe that if one or the other (or both) of us wants to have sex with someone else that points to a critical flaw in our relationship. Bodies are bodies. Bodies are fun. We like playing with bodies.
Feelings for others are a different thing entirely. And that's where you have to start thinking ethically, and considering your impact on other people. We are not in a place to add someone else into our relationship in a romantic, emotional, ongoing sense. We're not ready. We don't know if we will ever be ready because we've only been together for a few months and are just getting a handle on who "we" are. We're still very new to each other and are enjoying spending time with "just us". We have so much to learn about who we are and how we work that adding other people into the mix beyond friends and play partners would be madness. Our experiences of poly have been different. We've both been in open relationships, of different kinds and I've been part of a poly V, which had limited success. It's something we have only briefly touched upon and whilst we certainly haven't closed it down as a possibility, it's something that would need to be negotiated within the context of our D/s relationship.
What I have learnt is that there are so many different types of relationships, and no hard and fast rules for what a relationship should and shouldn't look like. There is no "one true way" of loving someone, or some people, no way of living that is the gold standard beyond what works for you, as long as everyone is honest, open and happy. And that nothing is set in stone. Things change, people change. Life moves on and you learn as you go along. I know when I first wrote about what I wanted, many years ago, the idea of a TPE relationship was terrifying in terms of what I perceived as a huge weight of responsibility for someone else. I'm actually finding it very easy, to the point of being the most simple and pleasurable to manage relationship I've had. What this says to me is that how I thought TPE would work - one person, constantly issuing orders and planning everything, is not in fact, how it works for us. I imagine that any poly situation would be the same. We would find something that suited us, and others involved, and come to our own arrangements.