BDSM Domains: Part 4 of 4

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The Domains identified are Activity, Relationship, Persona
The Three Domains

This is the fourth and final part of a series which reviews each of “domain” of BDSM.  To review, in Part One I introduced the notion that I have found there are often three thematic groupings of activity, or Domains, within most of BDSM and related alternative lifestyles.  We then examined the first and most common element of BDSM, that of the Activity Domain.  In Part Two we took a look at the Relationship Domain, and then in Part Three we explored the Persona Domain.

Here we conclude the series by offering some observations as to the overlap and interactions between these three domains.

Observations

The degree in which there is an overlap between the domains of Activity, Relationship and Persona will vary greatly from person to person.  Some may involve all three domains to varying degrees, or may focus on only one domain. For example, you can have a very high interest in the Relationship and Persona domains with very little traditional Activity domain elements (such as the way some M/s or Daddy/babygirl dynamics might).

Let’s take a look at some key differences in the Qualities of these domains…

Fluidity

Generally speaking, there is greater fluidity within the Activity domain due to its dynamic nature and the variety of experiences available. The types of play engaged upon often depends on an individual’s internal needs, their emotional states, and the quality of connection and chemistry between individuals.  As such, the preference for a given type of activity can vary widely and is highly dynamic.  The type of activities preferred may seem contradictory in nature (thuddy flogging vs sharp knife), but nevertheless provides a valued experience with unique qualities to satisfy the needs at that time.  In addition, one may feel “toppy” with one person, “bottomy” with another, and this may change on any given hour or day.

Altruism

Those that focus more within the Relationship domain seem to display more altruistic qualities than the other BDSM domains.  This is largely due to those involved valuing the health and wellbeing of the relationship versus a given range of activities or personas engaged.  In my observation, there is more of a priority concerning stability and longevity in the Relationship domain than other quality.  This is, of course, subject to much variation on a theme.  For example, there are those polyamorous that may play and may have some D/s elements, but it’s the Relationship that takes clear priority.  There are also those within the M/s lifestyle that use the power exchange dynamic as a tool to keep their relationship stable, communicative, and healthy.

Transformational

While any personal interaction or shared experience has a transformational quality, none possesses this feature as does the Persona domain.  The very nature of identifying and bringing to life any given persona or psycho-emotional aspect requires significant transformation of the mind. The exercise of transformation often involves shifting one’s perceptions and experiences, which leaves a mark on our development as a “whole” being.  By exploring the inner-self and allowing various aspects to live and breathe, one can learn more about what core needs drive and motivate our choices.

Commonalities

As with any of the types of BDSM Domains explored above, or with others you may have identified for yourself, there are commonalities we all need to be mindful of…

  • Connection: The biggest commonality between any of the discussed domains is they all answer a need for Connection. The need for connection is what makes the human condition so dynamically complex. We are social beings as a result, yet in such differing ways that it can challenge our ability to connect.
  • Difference: No two people are the same even if we share very similar needs. We should never make the assumption that what works for one will be the same for another, or that our interests, goals, or priorities are the same even if the underlying need is.  We can each envision ourselves in any of these three domains very differently.
  • Respect: People are similar in that we’re all caught within the human condition, seeking connection while celebrating our differences. This needs to be respected even if we cannot always identify, relate, or agree.  One way of showing respect is with polite and peaceful tolerance, if not with genuine interest in learning more about them.  Asking someone to tell their story, how they got into something, and why they like it, is a way to show respect and allow the door to connection to remain open.
  • Communication: Of course, the only way to learn more about another and to connect is through communication.  Without communication we cannot share commonality, nor can we negotiate how one might engage and explore responsibly that which can lead to very positive experiences.  Any difference can be an invitation to learn more about the other and gain deeper appreciation and fuller understanding of the Person you are connecting with.
  • Consent: Lastly and most importantly we need to ensure there is explicit and enthusiastic consent and full disclosure about how we engage, our needs, our limits, and any risks.  Incomplete disclosure is lying by omission and little more than an attempt to manipulate.  Reluctance or refusal means there’s been an error in judgment and one has assumed a level of commonality, comfort or safety which has yet to be established.

Closing

I have tried to position the vast array of BDSM related interests into three domains based on thematic characterizations.  Certainly there is much more one could compare and contrast between the identified BDSM domains.  So while neither perfect nor comprehensive, I think this overview provides a sound example of how similar needs can be, even if we search for or express them in very different ways.  It also provides a way to value certain qualities within these domains which we could explore or appreciate in another, and which may be worth exploring ourselves.

It is important that we acknowledge how different everyone can define their modes interaction and the underlying needs. As such, the importance of thorough discussion cannot be overstated.  Everyone uniquely defines their goals and lifestyle for themselves, and then (hopefully) seeks those with common goals, values, or interests.

So learn, share, and connect by exploring these three Domains. Do so with personal responsibility and respect towards the self and others.  In the end, there’s much more to gain and benefit from than from fearing or closing down.

 

-Sir Vice
Copyright 2018 Limits Unleashed

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