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 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.
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.
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.