That being said, long-distance is not in-person, and there are key differences. The most glaring is, of course, the actual distance involved. With Doms and subs separated, the rules and instructions are delivered via different channels, usually some kind of social media, texting, or phone. This leads some to argue that long-distance dynamics have less structure than in person, but it’s difficult to see where this comes from. In some ways, long distance might be more structured because most of the time these things are scheduled right down to time together.
This week I’ve got a special treat! Sinistar has agreed to write this post with me and give all of our dear readers a collaborative view of this week’s topic!
Long-distance relationships are about the hardest thing to endure, whether your partner is away for a job, such as military or trucking, or you just live in two different places and met online. Add the element of D/s, and it becomes exponentially more difficult. Dominants and submissives have the same basic needs in terms of exerting and feeling Dominance. Modern technology makes long-distance relationships and dynamics possible, but it does not remove all the handicaps that come with the miles in between.
We have to acknowledge that long-distance dynamics have their detractors. Some even maintain that Dominance and submission is not real unless the parties are together in person. The truth of the matter, however, is that these relationships are no less valid simply because those involved are not within touching distance. Feelings exist regardless of whether you are looking at a computer screen, speaking over the phone, or standing right in front of your partner. Long-distance dynamics look and function differently than one in person, but they are still working relationships with every bit as much reality to them.
A Rose by Any Other Name…
Regardless of whether one is involved in a “real-life” or online dynamic, both function much the same way. At its most basic, you have a Dominant and a submissive. That does not change regardless of the space your D/s occupies. The Dom sets rules and expectations. Tasks and rituals are common. The sub has an expectation to follow those guidelines. Consequences are established and levied for failing to do so. The people involved negotiate and communicate. The things that make up the basis for a successful, stable dynamic do not change. D/s is D/s and has the same basic nuts and bolts no matter the circumstances.
Often times, long-distance requires a stronger commitment to your partners. The Dominant has to make time to check on the submissive without having them there. Someone’s physical presence can be a reminder that is lacking over long distances. Making sure the submissive remembers to eat, for example. Self-care can be difficult for some subs. In person, the Dom can see the sub and physically make sure they are eating. Over distance, the checks must come verbally or via text, which can sometimes fall through the cracks. Doms must come up with tasks and rituals that subs can execute on their own, and they also have the difficult task of coming up with rewards.
As counter-intuitive as it may sound, a submissive in some ways has the most difficult part of this. The Dom must devise the plan, but the submissive has to have the integrity to follow through — even when they don’t feel like it — and to fess up when they don’t. There are ways to help enforce the rules, but the fact remains that much of it is on the honor system, which can be taxing for people on both sides of the slash. A submissive might have to learn to do different types of solo play. Vibes, dildos, clamps, and similar toys work well enough alone, but what about impact play? Spanking one’s self to a Dominant’s satisfaction can be quite tricky.
Never Promised a Rose Garden
The validity of long-distance Dominance and submission notwithstanding, this type of dynamic does have its own unique pitfalls. The relationship has special pressures and a need for a certain focus that are missing when people interact in person. For one, the partners have to figure out how to make themselves as available as possible. Time can still be an issue even when the people in a dynamic live near or with each other, but it does tend to happen more organically. When they are a significant portion of the globe apart, scheduling becomes of greater importance. Emotional blows that are easily handled in person might be difficult to deal with when issues of distance, time, and availability come into play. Something like a bad day at work that might be cured with a few kind words and a hug in person requires more effort over distance, and can evolve into something more stressful if the Dom is not available for an extended period of time.
That lack of physical contact can be stressful sometimes. Being able to kiss, hug, touch, caress, spank, restrain, and have sex with another person is a level of intimacy that long-distance dynamics struggle to meet. The cyber equivalents can help (more about that in a moment), but for someone accustomed to cuddles and other, actual physical affection, words on a screen or spoken over a phone line may feel a bit hollow. Anyone considering a long-distance dynamic needs to keep in mind that, as with everything else in BDSM, this particular kink or practice may not be for you.
As we say consistently here at Kinky in the Middle, open communication is key for a successful dynamic. This is as true of a long-distance relationship as it is for one that happens face-to-face. Unfortunately, communication can fall short when it takes place across the miles. Communication relies on a variety of factors. The words we use are almost the least important part of the whole thing. Body language and tone offer shades of meaning that are lost when the people trying to communicate are not together. Text in particular can be an awful form of communication, especially when emotions run high. English relies on tone to deliver much of its meaning, and text is toneless. A text-based conversation needs great care to avoid missteps and miscommunication. Even talking over voice or video chat can fail to deliver the cues that the speaker needs to get across to accurately deliver their message.
Of course, even face-to-face interactions suffer some of the same problems, but some issues are greater when trying to make a dynamic work from afar. Still, these problems are not insurmountable.
Finding the Rose Among the Thorns
Near the beginning of the second Pirates of the Carribean movie, Jack Sparrow says that “Complications arose, ensued, were overcome.” No relationship of any sort goes smoothly 100% of the time. If we’re being honest, probably not even 70% of the time. Complications will arise; they are sort of built into this kind of dynamic. With care and determination, however, you can overcome them. Be there for your partners. Know one another’s schedules and be consistent in the time spent together. Even if the hours in between are largely silent by necessity, knowing that you get to see your Dom or sub at a certain point is a comfort all its own, especially during times of stress or upheaval.
Yes, intimacy has to get creative in long-distance. It may not be quite as good as in person, but with a little ingenuity, it can be satisfying enough to get you through to the next time you can be together in person (should that be a factor in your dynamic). This might mean emailing fantasies to one another, cybersex, sexting, or even phone sex. There are toys that operate via an app on your phone which allows your partner to control it from theirs no matter how far away they may be. Not every touch is about sex, of course. Most touch between people is not sexual. However, the same tools used to simulate sex can help to address the need to touch and be touched. Scenes of snuggling, kissing, hugging, crying, and comforting can have at least as much impact as their sexual counterparts. And as with the more naughty scenes, the use of words and descriptive powers are important for everyone involved.
Communication must remain open, clear, and consistent, of course. Communicators need to take care to ensure that the meaning comes across as clearly as possible. Listeners should make every effort to keep the limitations of long-distance communication in mind and try not to jump to the worst possible interpretations. And all those in the process need to maintain open lines and talk about any points of confusion or misunderstanding. That being said, communication is not just about words. There are other ways that we communicate our feelings to one another. Time together, even at a distance, is invaluable. Some Doms, especially Daddy Doms, enjoy streaming movies, playing video games, or using apps like iHeartRadio to listen to music with their subs. It’s all a matter of what you enjoy together.
At the End of the Day…
This may sound like we are trying to talk people out of ever attempting a long-distance dynamic, but nothing is further from the truth. Regular readers know that the contributors here are involved in plugged-in D/s in one form or another. The truth of the matter is a long-distance dynamic can be every bit as rewarding and meaningful as its in-person counterpart. But it is important that anyone considering it come into this with open eyes and an awareness of the issues as well as the benefits. That is the only way to get the true reward and meaning from your own relationships of any stripe.
As always, remember: This is your life; live it your way!