The D/s relationship is different from any existing models of relationship. I think it’s beautiful and profound. At the same time, it’s been the hardest thing for me to learn in my life of slavery.
In my early weeks and months with Amanda, I often wrote about the ambiguity of what I was to her — slave or friend or lover or assistant or servant or yet something else. It bothered me for a long while that I didn’t have a single name or label for our relationship. As it happened, I never really figured that out, except to realize at some point I was all of the above. She wanted me to be each of those to her at different times.
I still wrestle with this sometimes. Having a label for the relationship we’re in feels necessary. It’s a way in which we find and know ourselves. I am “significant,” is the subtext — and so I matter because I am Amanda’s “girlfriend.” Yet Amanda doesn’t want my place and purpose in her life to be so neatly defined. That’s not just her — it’s every dom. He/she wants to have you in various relationships without adhering to just one.
I have learned to let go of that need for a label, although it’s been hard — in a way it’s a relinquishment of my self. Of course, in D/s, that’s sort of the point. We must relinquish relational labels as part of our submission.
I expect, dear one, that you’ll struggle with this just as I have. I found that it becomes easier over time. If you are fortunate, as I have been, you’ll settle into life with your dom and feel more sense of security. You won’t need to define yourself with him so much. It’ll happen naturally.
These days there are times in the vanilla public when I respond to a query about the relationship of Amanda and me. “I am with her,” I say. It is undefined, as is our relationship these days, not stating any specific role or tag or label. It’s ambiguous, certainly, and yet it may be the most accurate description of all.
I have imagined at times the proverbial end of life — my tombstone alongside Amanda’s — and I’ve thought it would be interesting for my epitaph to read, “I was with her.”
In D/s often there is a negotiation up front in which you and your dom might define the relationship in a specific way: as friend + slave, as wife + slave. Well enough and good to do so. But what happens in daily practice often changes that original intent and introduces new forms of relationship, perhaps friend + toy + slave. The fact is your dom will have you as he wants you, making you into any number of relationships with him over time.
We submissives long to be significant and important to our dom, and so we yearn for those relational definitions that say so. I painfully realized this with Michael early on, for in my first time with him, I wanted to define the relationship as romantic. He realized, rightly, that wasn’t true D/s life. I wanted D/s, I wanted to be his slave, yet I couched it entirely within a relationship of romantic intimacy. Yes, Michael felt for me romantically and saw me as his girlfriend, but he also knew that a real D/s life would put me with him as his servant and masseuse and fucktoy and slave as well. To be a D/s slave, he needed me in such a way that he didn’t have to explain or justify such uses, so to speak, to “his girlfriend.” He realized my commitment to a D/s life was “romantic-primary” with the D/s part secondary.
I learned that lesson back then, but had to learn a version of it again another time.
Early on with Amanda, my desire to define our relationship by certain labels was really just my desire to control her — how I expected her to think of “me with her.” Saying “I am her girlfriend” may have its practical purpose in conversation, but in a subtle way it might presume that’s how she should think of me.
Relationship labels also become a submissive’s wishful way of limiting her dom. In saying to someone “I am her lover,” it subtly implies Amanda is limited to lovemaking with me, when in fact in the context of our D/s relationship, she has every freedom to enjoy whomever she wants sexually.
That’s hard for me to accept — which is why at a time I was obsessive about those relationship labels.
It’s tempting to say that D/s is a relationship without strings. Yet that’s not true. Every relationship has strings — when two people connect, there are trusts and expectations and obligations.
But I think it is fair to say D/s is a relationship that defies labels. Vanilla relationships seem to depend on them. D/s relationships seem to disregard them.
See, I think the best relationships in life, vanilla too, ultimately transcend labels. You hear this in interviews with older couples who’ve been married for decades. As they talk, you sense their deep relationship is not captured in the label “husband and wife.” They may say they are “best friends,” and sure that’s true too, but you can tell what they have come to together is far beyond that and occupies a space where there are no words capable of expressing their truth. It’s beautiful.
At it’s best, I think, the D/s relationship pushes away the usual labels and definitions and becomes something else, something really transcendent.
I so wish this for you, dear one, as I wish it for me.