The Three C’s

As a newbie in BDSM I have done quite a bit of reading and thinking and discussing. Both about doing kinky stuff and about having a D/s relationship. It did not take long before I saw some words repeat themselves, and I dubbed them the three C’s. The three C’s is probably on the top five list on how to make a D/s relationship work – or any relationship for that matter. For me, those words are the top three on that list. Better yet, they are all on the top of the list, together.

Consent. Compatibility. Communication.

Consent.

Consent is vital for any relationship. From consensual non-consent or blanket consent to enthusiastic consent and everything in between – consent is what distinguish a healthy power exchange relationship from abuse. I read and hear about consent everywhere, and for a reason. It is not easy to be new and not completely get how important consent is and how many shades consent comes in. In the beginning, consensual non-consent sounded awfully like abuse to me. Now I know a bit more and the term does not sound as frightening.

Personally, I like enthusiastic consent the most. It is not necessary all the time, but often enough to hold my doubts and worry in check. A lot of the time, I get her consent by asking her to do something and she does it, and by her sounds and other reactions when I do something to her. It is not as if I find something new and just do it without talking about it or give her a warning first. Informed consent is important. Here is where the two other C’s comes in.

Compatibility.

To find someone that you are compatible with is not easy, but if you find someone who floats on the same waves as you do, the wait is worth it. I am not only talking about kinks. For a relationship to work compatibility is necessary both in a vanilla setting and in a kinky one. It will not be easy to have a relationship when one partner only wants to party in their free time and the other only wants to go on hikes. If there is no middle ground, there is not much for a relationship to grow on. The way I see it, compatibility in a vanilla setting is as important, if not more, than having compatible kinks. (If you want to have a vanilla relationship too, that is, and not just a D/s relationship.)

As for compatible kinks, who cares what rest of the world thinks of your kinks when you have a partner that enjoys them as much as you do? To find someone that you have many kinks in common with can be a hardship for some. I have read about people who just cannot seem to find someone who is into the same things as them. And I have read about many people who have found the one that fulfill their own kinks to perfection, even if they did not think it possible at first.

I think it is important to remember that people are first and foremost not kink delivery systems, but people. Chances are you will not find someone who like all the things you like as much as you like them and nothing else. Do not write a list about all the things that a prospective partner have to be and like; you might miss out on a lot of great people if you do. Then there is the fact that some people might learn to like and love new kinks, because their partner like this kink or that kink so much. They might grow into it, given the chance and the time to get used to it. Then again, they might not. It is probably not smart to begin a relationship on the assumption that the new partner will learn to love a kink that you cannot live without. Talk about it, a lot, and be clear when you communicate. This is where the last C comes in.

Communication.

I have read a lot of post and articles that has claimed another version of the three C’s. Communication, communication and communication. In a D/s relationship, communication does not fix everything any more than in a vanilla relationship, but it is a beginning. There will not be possible to clarify or fix anything if you do not communicate.

In addition, open communication is even more important when one partner have all the authority in a relationship and a green card for giving pain when one wants to. I would think it is good to have a submissive who is a secure enough communicator that she may tell the dominant that she feels like she is coming down with the flu, before the dominant decides to give the submissive an ice cold shower. Informed consent goes both ways. I would feel horrible if I inadvertently made my girlfriend sick, (I would certainly not consent to do so) or harmed her in any way when it could have been avoided by open communication.

I can honestly say that I have never been in a relationship where I have communicated this much. I am not a great communicator. I like to talk to my girlfriend, my friends and my family, but I am not good at talking about heavier stuff. It gets stuck in my head, sometimes in my throat, and I cannot get the words out. If the other part is as bad as I am at communication, little communication will find place. I do not like the fact, but it is a fact.

Fortunately, my girlfriend is much better at communication than I am and makes it possible for me to communicate without having too much trouble. It does not make all conversations easy, but it makes it possible even when it is hard.

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Asking Forgiveness vs Asking Permission

Some say that it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission. Maybe that’s true in some cases, but not in all.

A while ago my girlfriend and I made a deal. She would do at task before a certain time. We discussed the task and the point in time until we agreed, so the task wasn’t too big or too small and there was enough time for her to do it.

A couple of days before the time was up I got a call from a stressed out girlfriend. She is generally a very busy woman and she had too much on her plate to be able to do the task I had set. So she asked for a postponement for the task. Because I know how busy she is, I also knew that there was a chance she wouldn’t be able to do the task in time. I hadn’t considered exactly how we should deal with this. It was the first task – of that kind – I had ever given her, and maybe I hadn’t thought it well enough through. (I know, bad dominant, but hopefully I learned from it.)

Either she already knew that it’s a good idea to ask for permission to postpone a task or she just went with the flow. The result was that phone call where she told me she was too busy and that she needed a postponement. We talked a bit and came up with a new time for the task to be done and then talked a bit more before hanging up.

My first thought after hanging up was:

“Huh, that was weird.”

I had never had anyone asking me permission to postpone anything before. I have never been in that kind of situation, so yes, it was a bit weird. After thinking about it a bit I realized that I was relived she had called and asked permission, because in doing so she had helped both of us avoid some less than fun stuff.

Like the fact that she had had to admit to an undone task.

Like the fact that I had had to acknowledge that the task or the timeline (or both) had been wrong and she hadn’t felt comfortable enough to tell me until it was too late.

Like the fact that I would had had to find a fitting consequence.

We don’t have a punishing dynamic in our relationship, not in the most usual way the term is used, anyway. For example, she never gets spanked if she breaks a deal. There are consequences if deals are broken, but they are there to help make it harder to break that deal again; at least, that is my intention.

Personally I have a much divided view on consequences. On one hand I dislike it when deals are broken and I have to find a fitting consequence. One the other hand, I like to watch my girlfriend accept the consequence without reluctance. She does what she is told and that is the end of it.

The first time I gave her an assignment that was the consequence of a broken deal, I could hardly believe that she did it. Not that it was a difficult assignment, but she is a grown and independent woman, and she did what I told her. (Yes, I’m new.) I had trouble believing my own reactions to it too. There were a lot of silent wows and she’s really doing it! and she is so cute when she looks concentrated. It was a rush and I had a hard time keeping my eyes of her. (Yes, very new indeed.)

That pleasure of an assignment well done doesn’t mean that I really like having to give her penalties. I don’t. I’m much happier when I don’t have to, because she doesn’t break deals of any kind.

So, I was pleased when she asked for a postponement. I would rather give permission for a postponement than forgiveness for a broken deal or task undone, any day. It’s so much easier to give. Not that I think it should be too easy to get postponements, either. There is a balance to everything.

Cuddly Pain and Trust

A couple of days ago, at a kinky gathering, I was cuddling with my girlfriend. It had been a week since the last time I saw her and I had a hard time keeping my hands of her. Hugging, stroking, kissing, running my hands through her hair, squeezing her hand, kissing her neck and cheek, pinching, biting and pulling her hair … Wait a minute, that’s not cuddling!

At one point I recognized what I was doing; I was giving her pain and cuddling at the same time. It was almost like I had been doing it on autopilot, not really aware, but having a good time nonetheless. I enjoy her sounds of contentment as much as I enjoy her sounds of pain. A hug there – a pinch here. A kiss on the cheek – a bite on the neck. The usual. The thing is; it kind of has become the usual. Not to say that we never cuddle without any pain, we do (I think), but cuddling and pain goes hand in hand, so to speak. Personally, I think they do great together.

When I realized what I was doing, I also realized that we hadn’t discussed whether my girlfriend was okay with it or not. At no point had she protested or asked me to stop, but still, I had to ask, to be sure. My girlfriend assured me that she was okay with the cuddly pain and of course she would tell me if she wasn’t. Her one reservation was that there would be no cuddly pain in vanilla situations and I readily agreed.

I have quite often come across writings that state that the bottom must trust the top before any play take place. The bottom must trust the top to respect his or hers boundaries, he or she must trust the top to release them at the end (if there is bondage), not to harm them and to help them if anything should go wrong. I wholeheartedly agree at all points and then some.

Something that doesn’t get as much attention is the fact that the top must trust the bottom just as much. A top must trust the bottom to tell him or her everything that might have an impact on the play and to be honest about his or her health, physical as well as mental and emotional. The top must trust the bottom to give feedback and to stop the play if anything should go wrong or feel wrong, and he or she must trust that the bottom won’t turn against the top should a mishap occur.

I have believed that being the bottom would have to be the scariest thing, what with the helplessness and all, and that trust had to be paramount for the sake of the bottom. I have felt that being in control in a scene is daunting too, but a bit less so. Now I’m not so sure. I doubt that I would be as relaxed if I didn’t trust my girlfriend and I wouldn’t be able to go from stroking to pinching and from kissing to biting without a thought if I wasn’t convinced she would tell me to stop if she disliked it.

I trust my girlfriend. I trust her to tell me if something is wrong, if something is too much, too little or simply not right. I trust her the same way I hope she trust me, to speak up for herself when needed. Even so … I’m not able to stop worrying. I worry that I might do something wrong, and not only with the cuddly pain; I worry about the all kinds of pain and pleasure in addition to the small dose of D/s we have dabbled with. I worry that I do or push too much, too little or in the wrong places or circumstances. In short, I worry – which is nothing new. What’s new is the fact that I give someone pain, I hurt her and I like it (a lot) and that’s worth worrying about. (Not that I like it, that’s not the issue here.) So now there’s a small, nagging part of me that goes: What if she doesn’t tell you if she’s had enough, what then, hmm?

Luckily the small, nagging and very annoying part doesn’t get a lot of room. Partly because I know my girlfriend quite well now, and partly because my girlfriend is very good at giving feedback; no matter what I do to her, her noises tells me how she feels about it. I might miss a hint now and again or misinterpret a sound, but if I’m in doubt I ask. (Right now I will most likely piss her of by asking is she’s okay, long before I drive her off by doing something really wrong. Not that I really believe that either of those will happen.)

While I wait for my doubts to shut up (and yes, it’s likely to be a very long wait) I will indulge in a bit more of cuddly pain with my girlfriend and take one day at a time.

And for the record, cuddly pain is so a term – as of now.