This week’s topic is conflict and how to handle it inside a D/s dynamic.

On the surface, this seems simple, but conflict never is. It is a tangled mess of emotional barbed wire surrounding a field of relationship land mines.

So how do you get through it? How do you navigate this subject with your relationships and heart unscarred and intact?



Stand Up For Yourself

There is a common misconception among those newer to this lifestyle that submissives shouldn’t stand up for themselves. That it somehow makes them less submissive if they do or worse not submissive at all. I thought so when I first began in the lifestyle. The Dominants that I knew at the time, many of whom had more experience than myself, agreed with this line of thought that submissives shouldn’t stand up for themselves with their dominants. Please, let me dispel this notion.

To my fellow submissive types, standing up for yourself does not make you less of a submissive. It does not make you a bad submissive. It makes you a person who knows your worth. A person who realizes that your wants, needs, and boundaries are every bit as valid as any other person’s. We go through the process of vetting a partner and then negotiating terms with that partner, partially as a way to set boundaries. If we do not defend those boundaries at the point the other person begins to cross them, then we are only sending the message that it is okay to ignore them.
To the Dominant types, these apply to you as well. Some submissives will try to push you to do things you are in no way comfortable with by attacking your status as a Dominant. Don’t let them. You have every right to stand up for your boundaries as a Dom. However, no matter what the conflict with your submissive partner, please, do not attack his or her submission. The damage that can be done is… life-altering, to say the least.  I cannot tell you how many conflicts with Dominants that I have had that ended with the phrase “you’re just a bad submissive” or “ you’re not any kind of submissive.”
I once got into it with a former Dom over high heels. I had been in school and then at work on my feet until eight at night and was tired, this Dom decided he wanted to take me to dinner at my favorite steak house. A sweet notion right? I thought so too until we began to fight over the idea of me putting high heels on my already swollen and hurting feet. The fight ended with him screaming in my face that I was not a submissive at all and needed to stop telling people I was.
I am not suggesting that you get into a screaming, name-calling, who-can-hurt-who-more match. I am simply saying that it is perfectly fine to stand up for yourself in this lifestyle. The only person who can do it is you. It took me the better part of fifteen years, and several nightmare situations, to figure this out.

If this post can save even one person from the things that I have seen, then it is worth the vulnerability that putting this information out into the ether causes me. There is, however, a way to go about it.



Know Thyself
First things first. Step back from whatever is causing friction. Dom or sub, you cannot solve any conflict in the heat of emotion. Being poly, I have had to learn to sit back and really examine what is at the base of any given problem. Because ultimately, it is most likely a need of mine that is not being met, an insecurity or fear that my partner is riding the wall of, or something that I just don’t like because it makes me feel some kind of way. I have to be able to communicate what the problem really is if I hope to resolve it.
Whether that means walking away for fifteen minutes or an hour, or agreeing to discuss the issue another day, it is vital to be able to say, “This is my issue, here is how it makes me feel, and here is what I would like to do about it together.”

 If you, like us, are a polyamorous Dom or sub with multiple partners in a D/s dynamic, this is even more important. If you have been following this blog from its inception there are a few perfect examples from our own Drake Addams on what happens when you don’t take the time to do this self-introspection.



Clean & Calm Communication
The next part of solving this for me, especially with Draggy or the Professor, is the way in which I communicate things. Clean communication is a must, in poly or D/s. I don’t make accusatory statements. I don’t try to put the responsibility for how I feel about things on my partners. That is on me.
This also means that I don’t tell them how they feel or what they think. I ask and then I tell them how I feel or what I think. I may say something like “when you say whatever, it makes me feel like you don’t care about me.” But I never just go off the cuff with “you don’t care about me.” Attacking someone is never the answer and it is a one-way ticket to a punishment that I am probably not going to forget anytime soon.
Another part of clean communication is listening. I mean really listening, actively listening, to what your partner has to say. Listening to what they think and feel. Trying with all your heart to comprehend where they are coming from. Not creating an argument as they speak or rehearsing your come back in your head. Just listening, with an open mind and an open heart.

If you feel like you need help with this or far more information than one blog article can possibly give, I highly recommend the book Couple Skills by Matthew McKay. This has been an invaluable resource for our polycule. It covers more than simply communication, but all of the information it contains can help to bring you closer to those you love and lessen the pain of conflict.



Time Bombs
There is a danger in not communicating during a conflict as well. If I don’t can’t or won’t do something that my Dom has asked of me, then I need to communicate why. If the problem is not addressed and simply gets stuffed down and ignored, eventually that pot is going to boil over or worse, explode. One day you are just sitting there looking at your partner and suddenly everything comes out at once. Usually blown so far out of proportion as to become ridiculous.

Often this causes the end of a relationship. One partner gets lost in hurt feelings and a sense of seclusion and disrespect, while the other is left reeling from everything being thrown at him or her. It can be nearly impossible to sort through everything and find the light at the end of the tunnel.



At The End Of The Day
There are many ways to handle conflict. However, it is in these times when we don’t want to remain open and caring to another that it is the most important to do so. There is no moment too small that it cannot change the course of a life without you realizing it. Often those moments occur in conflict.
So, be good to one another and remember: This is your life; live it your way!



What do you do when conflict occurs? Do you stand up for yourself? Do you walk away? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

Leave a Reply