One of the sessions I attended at the NELA Fetish Flea this year was a talk by Dr. Bob and Jen. (If you want to learn more about them, their website is Kink Mastery.) I took a lot of notes during their talk (well, he did most of the talking). While not everything he said resonated with me, a lot did, and there are definitely things I want to revisit and think more about.
One thing he mentioned as something he finds particularly useful when establishing a new power exchange (or power-imbalanced as he would term it) relationship, is something I’d heard before but forgotten about. His suggestion was for each potential partner to write out a list of things they NEED in a relationship and a list of things they WANT in a relationship, then come together to read and discuss them.
I really liked this and as I’ve gotten to know new potential submissives recently, I’ve written, re-written, and tweaked my lists. I make a point of noting that the list I write is valid today, and may not be the exact same list I would have written a year ago, nor the one I may write in six months or a year from now. But that’s OK. Because it’s a good way to clarify (for oneself and any potential partners) where one’s head is at today.
While I’ve urged others to do this, I find that most submissive men I meet have a difficult time with this exercise. They either don’t really know how to articulate what they want and need and/or they can’t fathom how to separate wants from needs. I find this a bit sad and disheartening, but I continue to hold out hope that with time, experience and practice with clear and focused communication, they will be able to do so in the future.
I also figured it might be a good idea to list my current wants and needs here – both as a record for myself over time (especially as I tweak/change/update them – which I will do in separate posts in the future) and also as a matter of public record. Because I get asked this question a LOT: “So, what exactly are you looking for? What do you want?” Even though I think my profiles on various sites are perfectly clear, perhaps they’re really not. I’m not entirely convinced this sort of list really answers those questions, but I do think it’s an excellent jumping off point for conversation.
So without further ado, I give you my wants and needs for a (D/s) relationship (ver. 1.0):
Things I NEED in a D/s relationship:
- Complete honesty. In all things. I need to know he is honest with himself. I need to trust he will be honest even if it’s something he thinks I don’t want to hear. Without this there is no trust and therefore no foundation for a relationship.
- Willing submission. I need to feel wanted. I need to feel needed. I need to be pursued and wooed and romanced. I need him to want and need and pursue submitting to me. I don’t ever want to feel as though I’ve coerced him into submitting or convinced him into submitting. He must come to me of his own free will, and surrender that to me.
- To come first. I need to know, without a doubt, that my needs and wants come before his wants.
- To be trusted. I need him to trust me to take care of his needs, even if his wants are not always taken care of as often or when he’d prefer. I need him to trust me to take him to subspace and to bring him down safely. I need that utter surrender and trust that comes in time. (It’s understood that trust like this takes significant time to develop.)
- Space. Although I can play an extrovert very convincingly, I’m an introvert at my core. I need regular space to be by myself. This means I likely won’t ever share a house with a submissive, though if it was big enough, it might be possible (as in he could have rooms on another floor or wing).
- Regular, daily communication. Some may see this as being in direct contradiction to the bullet point above. But it’s not. I need to feel connected. I need to be the first thing he thinks about when he wakes up and the last thing he thinks about before he falls asleep. I need him to tell me that with good morning texts and good night texts. I need to hear how he is feeling, what he is thinking, what is working and not working for him, and when he’s aroused. This is not smothering, but rather a keeping connected. A way to strengthen and maintain the bond when not being in the same physical space.
- Normalcy. By this I mean I cannot and do not want to be in scene all the time. I need to be able to connect and interact on a “vanilla” basis. I need to do regular things like go out to eat, hang with non-kink friends, watch Netflix and snuggle on the couch. However…
- A constant underlying power dynamic. Not being “in scene” does not mean I am not his dominant always. Even when engaging in normal, vanilla activities, I need to know that dynamic exists. This might manifest in public display of politeness or chivalry that to us symbolize the power dynamic. This might manifest in the simple attention to my needs (rubbing my feet, getting my drink) when hanging out.
- Loyalty. I need to trust he is loyal to me and to the relationship. This means being mindful that he is representing me (and us) in all that he does and that he will not do nor say anything that reflects badly on me (or us).
Things I WANT in a D/s relationship:
- An openness to poly. While I’m selfish and want my primary submissive to have no other romantic or D/s relationships (although I’m open to another who serves us both), I want the option to bring others into my life who serve other needs that are not met by my primary. Note that this is a want, not a need.
- Nudging. Sometimes I get tired/stressed/distracted by everyday life. When this happens I am much less likely to initiate sexytimes or D/s play. I want someone who is comfortable with a gentle nudge and knows how to turn me on or get me in the mood without it feeling like topping from the bottom. (This was very nearly on the NEED list.)
- A circle of D/s friends. I know this is not exactly something that applies to the relationship itself, but it’s related. I want a submissive who is open to and perhaps can help facilitate a friendship with another couple or two for hanging out and/or play times. I am active in my local BDSM community and want someone who is willing to accompany me to munches and events.
- Someone who shares many things that are part of my non-kink life. Things like hobbies, taste in music and tv and movies and books, food, etc…
- Friendship. I want to know we’ll be friends even if/when the D/s fades or simply ends because it’s no longer right for one or both of us.
- Someone who knows themselves and is skilled at communicating and translating what’s going on in his head. This is a want, not a need, because I know many do not yet have enough exposure to/experience with kinks, D/s, etc… to be able to articulate what they truly want. But it makes the process infinitely smoother if he is able to articulate his thought process along the way.
I’m curious if any of my readers have tried this with a partner (or potential partner) and what the result was. Do you have a list of wants and needs in your head? On paper?