Posts Tagged ‘control’
Cricket; general reference points: I identify as a butch genderqueer boi and I’m a student at a liberal arts college.
1. What insight about open relationships do you wish you had when you started?
I can be a very controlling person at times – I am drawn to “help” or “fix” people even when that isn’t something they really want or need, and I depend on the people close to me to be bluntly honest and call me out when I try to take on responsibilities that aren’t mine to take or treat people like projects I need to get an A on. As a result, I’ve learned that it’s a very bad idea for me to commit to a person who has very few other support systems in their life, because I will attempt to guide and support them in everything, which is stressful for me and generally both emotionally uncomfortable and enabling for them, because then they don’t have to look for other sources of support or work on self care, and the stress I feel in trying to give too much support mainly serves to put stress onto them.
When I first got involved in an open relationship, I thought the fact that I was dating multiple people who were themselves also with other people would keep me from being anyone’s “one and only” and attempting to intensely overmanage their life. It turns out that is absolutely not the case. Regardless of the number of people I’m with or the level of commitment I have to them, I need to watch myself and work to manage my controlling tendencies. Don’t expect a shifted relationship model to turn you into a new person or magically erase unwanted traits or habits you display in monogamous contexts. Being someone’s lover/partner/term of your choice is a conscious process of interaction. Assuming you know what’s best for your partners without communicating and evaluating your own thoughts is a bad idea, whether you’re with one person or a dozen.
2. What has been the hardest thing about opening your relationship, and how have you overcome that?
Everyone I’ve been with has exercised the dynamic of openness in a different way. We each have different degrees of comfort with being sexually or romantically close to other people, an different activities we’re generally drawn to. A fear of imbalance has definitely been present at times. When I’m close to people other than my primary partner, I sometimes worry that she’ll be jealous – not that other people are close to me, but that opportunities haven’t arisen for her to do the same kinds of things with others. This goes both ways – she’s expressed some jealousy that I’ve found a Dom friend who’s a willing play partner, while I’m jealous of her warmth and social acumen, and her resulting ability to initiate casual kisses and cuddles with friends in a way I seldom have the nerve to suggest. We aren’t jealous out of a sense that we own or possess each other, but when one of us has a positive experience outside our relationship dyad that the other desires, we are jealous from our own lack of access to the experience.
3. What has been the best thing about your open relationship?
I am intensely grateful for the lack of shame. I know I’m capable of having monogamous relationships – I was in one for over three years – but when in it I felt a deep sense of shame around my own sexual and romantic feelings. I was attracted to and had crushes on other people. Even though I didn’t have any particular need or even an intense desire to act on those feelings, I felt ashamed. The simple act of finding other people attractive made me feel like a failure in my relationship, perverse and unable to control my desires. In my current relationship, which started out relatively monogamous, I was extremely clear and upfront about the fact that I would be attracted to other people while in the relationship. I wouldn’t act on those feelings without some serious pre-negotiation, but I would still feel them. As a result, even when the open elements of my relationship are not directly in practice, I feel far more secure in myself because I know I will never be vilified for finding others attractive. Knowing that not only my feelings but even actions associated with them are permissible is beautifully freeing. It is so good to have affirmation that I can care about someone, even love them deeply, without pledging exclusivity, and that having feelings for others does nothing to lessen the romantic commitments I have already established.
4. Anything else you’d like to add?
Not seeing the relationships you practice or desire represented in the media can seriously mess with your head. It gives you a sense that you aren’t meant to exist, and that you will never find community and acceptance. Without a group of close and caring friends, many of whom also practice various forms of non-monogamy, my relationship would feel far less comfortable and possible. I am also deeply lucky in that my parents don’t have a problem with the way I run relationships. I’m not out as poly/open to all of my extended family, but being able to tell my mom how awful I’m feeling after a breakup with someone other than my primary partner without facing judgment for simply attempting to run multiple relationships is something I am hugely grateful for.
I’m on my way to the airport back to New York City from Seattle; the trip has been fantastic. I may post a few more guest treats tomorrow, but expect some writings of mine soon. Meanwhile, here’s something from lily on control and kink.
when i began playing with control, it was the ideas of being bound and hurt i liked. these were surrounded by a swirl of pleasing associations~ ribbons, bites on my skin, an underground of beautiful ones whose abuses heightened each other’s allure. what i had was sometimes like this, other times wonderfully improvised. a boy was begging to be gagged, and the closest fabric at hand was a washcloth- regardless of the tools, the emotional aspects were powerful. yeah, at times neither i nor the other knew the first thing about where this was going. we laughed, and made things up.
in the beginning i was the shy, the taken one. i’d enjoy certain pain and bondage, and the accompanying lust in my partner/s. then, after telling another these stories, it became apparent they wanted to be the tied one. they asked half with words and half with posture, and i took a deep breath and began to take control. it took a great deal of focus- i’m quiet, mostly, and unused to controlling circumstances. but when you’re intimate with someone, you can read their skin and face and cries to learn how they react to you. when someone loses conscious control, they can no longer play the social, kindly deceptive games people engage in together. they’re utterly honest- this was part of the appeal of topping, along of course with the sensuality of observing and drawing out lust-
and the giving and receiving of control. at some point, while being played with, i began to understand submission. i talked to someone who conflated passivity with submission, but these are quite different. submission is an active process, or it begins as one- to give someone control of you, you have to first gather this self-control. you have to trust the situation, give yourself to someone, and then- i suppose its like using an opponent’s chi against him, but this isn’t competitive. someone touches you, and in a submissive headspace you draw out the touch, move with it- if i can use a physics analogy, its like constructive interference. you move towards a peak or a well together.
i experienced submission first, and then its converse. it also takes a great deal of control over yourself to top someone and not only this, you must be strong enough and… have enough capacity… to hold them while they’re vulnerable and hurt. holding someone while they cry, or while you hit them in the face and growl abuses, takes understanding as well. you must be responding to their headspace every moment, not your own lust. you can’t become carried away, because guiding someone near their edges is tricky. you must be very aware, and connected.
being brought to my limits, and bringing others, shows me things i take into the rest of my life. playing with control, whichever side you are on- opens you up, brings you strength and self-awareness. you find not just edges, but centers. you’re left sometimes strong and immense, feeling able enough to cradle the entire world like a baby; at other times fragile and needing to be held. either way, the aftermath is delicately intimate. sweetness is at the end of all things, especially the cruel ones.