Finding a Kinky Partner - Part V

by Tamar Kay
Copyright © Tamar Kay.

This is the fifth and final article in my series on finding a kinky partner. There's no way to cover all the aspects of this subject in the space I've had--even if I knew what they were. Instead I've tried to examine some of the basics that I consider most important. I've focused specifically on kinky relationships, but many of the points I've covered apply as well to any relationship: knowing yourself and your values (article 1), knowing whom you're looking for (article 2), being respectful and caring about others (article 3), having fun and sharing fun (article 4), and good communication (this article) are all important aspects of any successful relationship.

But please remember that this series is only a reflection of my personal opinions and experience. I recommend that you consider information about relationships with a critical eye. Only you can decide what works for you.

So perhaps you've found that special someone, but things aren't working out quite the way you want them to. What now? If the relationship turns messy, here are some questions you may want to ask yourself.

What are the problems?

Do you know? If not you might try writing about them. Often putting issues into writing can make them clearer, and can also give you a chance to review them later. If you're stuck, try making a list of incidents, how you felt about them, and what you wish had happened instead.

If you can't agree with your partner about the nature of the problems, perhaps you both could benefit from writing about them. This can be especially useful when tempers are short. Are you fighting?

Can you talk about the issues without fighting? If you can't, then that's another problem. It's important to try to communicate clearly, to fight, when you must, as "cleanly" as possible.

Be careful about assigning blame when trying to sort out the issues. It's very hard not to feel and act defensive when you feel attacked, so do whatever you can to make sure your partner doesn't feel attacked. For example, saying, "When you said that, I felt bad..." is less hostile than saying, "You made me feel bad." Try to keep blame out of the picture, and try to state your feelings non- judgmentally.

Are the problems D/S- or SM- based?

If the problems are rooted in power exchange, then you may be able to deal with them by renegotiating your power-exchange agreement. Remember that in order for power exchange to work, both partners have to feel they have power to begin with. After all, you can't give anything away unless you have it to start with, and you can't take something that someone isn't fully giving. Don't be afraid of renegotiation--you may find that your new arrangement suits you better, or even that it doesn't look very different from the old one. Sometimes a willingness to reevaluate is all that's needed.

Can you talk about the problems?

One of the differences between a vanilla relationship and one based on power exchange is that there are times when it's reasonable for one partner (often the top) to not want to talk about the problem with the other because it might damage the power exchange. Even then, that partner should talk with someone, preferably someone who has had experience with the issues involved--another top, for example. This is a good time to make use of the community. If you can't talk to your partner, for whatever reason, find someone you can talk to.

Can you ask for help?

It's common in our culture to keep our relationship problems private because admitting we need help is often viewed as weakness. But we depend on other people all the time, and helping each other is one of the greatest privileges of friendship. Ask for help when you need it.

Kinky relationships can be especially complicated, and some of the issues can't be taken to a counselor. (There are some scene-friendly counselors, though. Ask around.) People in the scene are usually quite willing to talk with you about your experiences and offer opinions. But everyone is different--if what you hear doesn't make sense to you, continue asking. Get different viewpoints. Trust your intuitions.

Are you still having fun?

Are the problems in your relationship preventing you from having good times together? If so, then you may be starving the relationship. A balance of fun times to hard times is necessary in order for you both to continue working and expending energy. It's not uncommon for two people dealing with hard problems simply to become exhausted. If the problems detract from your ability to "feed" the relationship, then you need either to solve them before the relationship starves, or to find new ways to feed the relationship so that you don't run out of energy.

Are you listening?

It's hard to listen when someone you care about is saying things you don't want to hear. But it's essential. Rather than blowing up, try to take a "time out." Even five minutes apart can help both people cool down. If neither is listening, you may find that it helps to take turns. Use a stopwatch.

Listening is a powerful tool. If you can say to your partner, "Why don't you talk and I'll listen," you may find it possible to transform a fight into a good exchange.

Do you like your partner?

If there is a feeling of good will between you and your partner, then you have the most important tool of all. If that starts to break down, try to get it back.

Don't forget to tell your partner, in all the ways you can, that you value and desire them. That is, after all, the essence of any good relationship.

Copyright © Tamar Kay.

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