I attended the Master/slave Conference over Labor Day Weekend. One of the sessions in which I participated was a conversation facilitated by Vi Johnson, who is an incredible resource for our community, as she has a traveling library of kink; and you get to touch the old books!
Vi opened the conversation with a question: What do you wish someone had told you when you started out? There were many answers given in the circle, but I can't share them here, as I agreed to keep the confidence of the space.
What I *can* do is share some of what I wish I had known. It's highly probably that people did, indeed, tell me all of the following.
The problem with hindsight is it comes from a place of greater growth than how we see and live in the moment. But I just loves me my Mama Vi, so in honor of her wisdom and contributions to our Community, here are some tidbits I've picked up along the way...
Use Your Words
No matter how much you love someone - and how much they love you back, the vast majority of human beings are not mind readers. Speak up, people!
Work to Share Definitions of Your Words
What's 'sex' for one might not be sex for another. Same with 'play', 'love', 'submission', 'dominance', 'dinner', 'fun', 'Relationship'. In fact, rather than writing a contract, you might consider writing a dictionary together...
Expose All Sacrifices
One of the shortest paths to resentment is the experience of not doing something for someone and having them ignore the sacrifice. How does this work? Quite simply: "I can give you a ride home. It will mean that I can't go to class, though." This gives the person you are with two opportunities. The first is the opportunity to make another suggestion or request. The second is the opportunity to thank you and acknowledge the sacrifice. And kids? I'd suggest you consider this regardless of where you fall in your power dynamic.
Know How You Work
Are you led by intention or by rules? I'll write more on this in another post, but the jist of it is this: do you subscribe more to the letter of the law or the intent of the law? What I've found over the years, is that people who operate from differing frames can find themselves at odds with each other, particularly when mistakes are made.
Negotiate from a Position of Equality
In my opinion and experience, it matters not how dominant or submissive you are and wish to be. When you are talking with someone about how you want your relationship (scene, service, D/s dynamic, romance, etc.) to look, do so as equals and THEN shift the power and authority dynamic. This is especially useful when you are in a new-er dynamic.
Learn how to Give and Receive Feedback
Let me illuminate something for you. Feedback is not the same as criticism. Nor is it necessarily editorial. Feedback is simply stating your experience as it relates to you. Look for a more fully fleshed out post about this in the near future. For a quick explanation; "I feel afraid" is feedback. "You scare me" is not.
Know your Why
Are you doing this to get off? For personal growth? To escape your boring marriage? Because you really want X to tie you up? To have fun? To experience what it's like to ...? Knowing this will make it easier to use your words.
There IS a Right Way
There. I said it. YES, there's a right way to do what it is that we do. Here's the catch, though - your right way isn't the only right way. Please remember that, 'mkay?
I leave you with a question - do you see how all of the above concepts work unilaterally - across all relationship structures?
At the core, being able to relate really has to do with self-actualization, maturity, and response-ability.