Thoughts on Power Exchange

*Disclaimer: This post may piss a few of you off. That’s not my intent. This is meant to be more of a “these are my thoughts, what are your thoughts.” So if this pisses you off, please tell me what your thoughts on the matter are. I seek to understand…*

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A random series of events led to a conversation between M and I the other day regarding Dominance and submission and power exchange. I think I’m going to have to back up a little bit for this post to have any flow whatsoever, so please bear with me…

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A long long time ago, well before I knew any intricacies of D/s first hand, I wrote a post about different roles in bdsm. It doesn’t really matter what I thought then, but here is what I think now, that is relevant to the point at hand.

  • Top/bottom: A Top takes the dominate position in sexual play. They are the one that holds the whip, the one that pulls the hair. This is just for play and enjoyment. A bottom takes the submissive role in sex. They are the one getting flogged, the one that gets choked. Again, this is for enjoyment, and for the bedroom only.
  • Dominate/submissive: A Dom is dominate in the bedroom, perhaps outside of it. They choose what is going to happen and do it. A sub is submissive in the bedroom, perhaps outside of it. The do what they are told because they are told to do so. There is an exchange of power. Often there is a mind fuck to some degree.

*Disclaimer: Often times these terms are used interchangeably. But here, I want to distinguish them from one another, for the sake of meaning. Neither of these are better than another. One is not more meaningful or less than the other. They are simply different.*

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In Lily’s book, she has this quote, which I think is a fantastic demonstration of a power exchange. She is discussing talking to strangers regarding one of her relationships:

I could tell them about the fact that I own 200 feet of premium bondage rope and know how to use it. It might raise their eyebrows a bit, though in this post Fifty Shades world, not very much. But if I really wanted to flip them right out? I’d tell them that I determine my girlfriend’s bedtime.

To me, the power exchange is at the root of a Dom/sub’s relationship. I think without it, there is simply play. More on this later.

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A little while before our date, Paige and I were discussing D/s relationships. She is very familiar with bdsm and considers herself a switch. I had disclosed that M and I engaged in a power exchange, and that our dynamic leaked out of the bedroom. She didn’t know what I meant by power exchange, and had some initial difficulty with the idea. And when I told her about the belt, she nearly panicked. Said something along the lines of “There’s a difference between punishment and abuse.” She struggled with the concept of actually being punished for something and me truly being okay with it.

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Over on Speaking Out on Nate a few weeks ago, there was a discussion of D/s and some of its components, including power exchanges (here and here). Here were some of my comments, with some more explanation that will eventually be relevant, I hope, by the end of this post. There are many other great comments and exchanges over there by some great bloggers, so if you’re interested, check them out.

For me, the D/s dynamic is psychological. The physical is simply the manifestation.

I submit because I want to, because I want to give that gift to M. It’s something deep inside me that helps me express to him the importance of him in my world, the importance of our love and our life. Take away the emotion behind it, the meaning of it, then it’s not there, neither my submission nor his Dominance.

Our dynamic could be in place, just as it is now, without kinky sex. Hell, without any sex. Without nipple clamps or paddles. Without orgasms. *sad face* Without any of that. Because it is a mindset, it is a way of life, it is beyond just fucking.

A D/s dynamic… is an exchange of power. If you take away that exchange, you simply have kinky sex.

And not that there’s anything wrong with kinky sex. I’m a big fan. But I think most of us would agree that D/s is something more than just kinky sex. That “more” is the power exchange.

Power exchange occurs when the sub gives up, to some extent, their power to their Dom. In exchange, the Dom gives something in return, whether it be pleasure, a lesson, discipline, any number of things. For M and I, I have given him the ultimate say in matter regarding our relationship, and to some extent our life. He has the final say, always. In exchange, I get to let go of certain stressors and work on becoming a better person (with his assistance). He also makes me cum a whole lot. Don’t forget that.

Power exchange is such a hard thing to explain to someone who is not involved in one. At its most basic level, it is simply exchange of power. I give you some of mine, you give me some of yours. But what power do you give, what does it mean? It means different things to different people. It’s about complete trust, to give someone something that they could use to harm you, psychologically and physically. Yet to know that they won’t. That they’ll use it for good. That they know what you need and they’ll give it to you.

And as a sub, sometimes my need is simply to submit, simply to give, to be used, to be a vehicle for His pleasure or release. Simply because I love him.

There are no one-way power exchanges. The trust that a power exchange requires,  in and of itself creates one.

Does this make sense? A power exchange requires a large amount of trust. Because you are giving that to someone, it automatically creates an exchange of power.

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Quick thought: A power exchange can manifest itself in many different forms. It can involve specific ceremony. It can become rules and rituals. It can be discipline and punishment. It can be nothing more than knowing who has what roles and doing them because you have the desire to please.

The comment by Lily is a prime example. People are almost accustom to kinky sex. It’s tolerated in polite society. But when you start talking about “rules” and telling another adult what to do and them obeying… Well, many would think that is a little weird. That’s a little “too far” if you will. That, my friend, is the power exchange. Because the rules are there for a reason, to serve a purpose, to reinforce that exchange of power.

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M and I were having a random discussion about something or another. Perhaps it was regarding someone’s blog post, perhaps it was about something I read or wrote.  Anyway, he says something along the lines of “I don’t really think someone can really be in a D/s dynamic if they aren’t in a relationship.”

Now here are my thoughts… Anyone can have kinky sex. But when you talk about being in a dynamic, engaging in a power exchange, you are talking about something else. It is a different type of relationship, but a relationship, not just a sexual preference. *key difference* I can’t seem to understand how it can be casual. It makes my brain glitch. And maybe this is simply my thinking, conditioning to society norms. I don’t know…

Because to me, my submission is there because of M’s Dominance. I could not do what I do with him with just anyone. It’s so much more than fucking, it’s so much more than kink.  *Damn, I wish I could phrase that differently. Again, I’m not saying it’s better, but almost completely different at a fundamental level.* It’s a part of my love, my devotion.

Do those of you that engage in Dominance and submission get what I’m saying? What about those of you that don’t?

I can bottom to any number of people, be on the receiving end of a spanking, etc, etc. But I’m not going to be collared to them. I’m not going to submit to them. I’m simply going to fuck them. And while it might be a damn good fucking, it is nothing more.

So… I think I lost my direction here. I guess the point was just to say that to me, there is a significant difference between D/s and simply kinky sex and topping/bottoming. There needs to be trust, extreme trust, to give yourself, psychologically, to someone else. To become theirs. To be owned. To submit to their will, without question. Submission is a gift, and should not be given lightly, to just anyone. It is earned and needs to be deserved.

And I guess I don’t understand how casual sex fits into D/s. How do you give yourself in that way casually? Can you be submissive, engage in a power exchange, and it not mean more, so much more? I just don’t know…

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Happy (late) anniversary Sir. I love you. More than words can say. You make me happier than I ever imagined life could be. Thank you. For everything. xoxo

8 responses to “Thoughts on Power Exchange

  1. Thank you for the kind words. I like how you wrote this out. You pointed out something I noticed during that conversation: there is a difference between D/s kinky sex and D/s with power exchange. The thing that stood out to me is that many people who have not experienced power exchange think that they are experiencing the same things as those who have experienced power exchange because many of the activities are the same. The mind set is what sets the two apart, but until you experience power exchange you just don’t know.

    • Simply call it as I see it Nate. And I wasn’t sure on writing it this way. I just couldn’t seem to get it out in any other fashion. I tried.. I’m still not sure if it actually says what I wanted it to. But damn buddy! I wrote 1000+ words that aren’t really all that clear, and you summed it up in two sentences! Exactly what I was trying to say. Damn!

      *hugs and kisses*

  2. “I submit because I want to, because I want to give that gift to M” – there was another part of your description that made me pause. Here it is “Because to me, my submission is there because of M’s Dominance.” – I technically disagree with you on this last statement. I am splitting hairs but I think this is a key hair to be split to understanding you. I think the whole trust, respect and all the “proper” traits are a GIVEN to your or ANY relationship. What struck me is your perspective on this reads to me like you are reasoning dominance….I could be totally wrong too – the real point IS that in your particular creation of this dynamic between you two. IF I AM CORRECT (FYI: I started reading you when you were having big problems in your marriage I believe. I don’t remember why you had problems but you were almost going to divorce)
    YOU were the one to place him in that role because of your needs of this exchange between you and him. You didn’t do it out of a burning need to be supplemental to another person or to fulfill your husband’s need reign. I could be wrong and I mean no disrespect to either of you or anyone. This could be the inside out view in my mind – but You, Lovely Lady are actually the dominant force in YOUR relationship. You needed to hand over the mantle of power to keep your ass in line. : ) You are too much of a wired ball of energy to maintain alone. You COULD manage it BUT, he was the man you ALREADY loved and respected and trusted enough to be vulnerable and open to his lead. He in turn was willing and accepting of the responsibility to guide and protect who you are, as you are and love you in this way. If I am remembering correctly, he had no driving force in creating the D/s relationship and after that, sex just became a smaller facet to your main relationship of the heart and mind. Sex is just an extremely salacious ( and powerfully loving ) activity that has the same dynamic as your heart and mind already had established. If I am correct – which I know I am on this – Both of you can back out of this – neither is bound to it. That may be the most ironic thing EVER! This is a bit drawn out but blame the coffee and hyper focus on the intellectual side. xoxoxo,Jayne

  3. First, dear Jayne, if you can understand me, bless your heart and you best be on your way over for coffee! haha

    Backstory: While writing this blog, we were never in a really bad space, except when our dynamic began, and that was simply due to me fucking up. I actually went back, after reading your comment, to my post Karma’s a Bitch to better remember that time. But other than that brief moment, divorce was never even a thought. We got along great, we had fun together, we fucked regularly. It was good. But I was struggling with myself, the need to go deeper perhaps. Who really knows? And I couldn’t bring myself to talk to him about it. Seems I still struggle with this at times.

    And you’re right that I was the one who asked for the dynamic. Had I never brought it up, we would have continued on as vanilla with a side of kink, and most likely been relatively happy with it all. So when you say I am the dominate force in the relationship, I would agree with a few modifications. I would say “I WAS the leading force in adding the dynamic to our relationship.” I asked, he said he would try. Since then, I’ve handed over the reigns. I have never been dominate in the relationship, at all, even before the bdsm. I would fight for it at times, sometimes there were lots of arguments about stupid fucking shit *man I don’t miss those* but M has always been the Alpha. There is no denying that.

    And I will agree that yes, I “need to hand over the mantle of power to keep [my] ass in line.” But not just in line. I wanted to be better, a better wife, a better mother (not that you need submission to do that, but it was a path that could help). I wanted M to know that I was his, more than anything. I wanted to serve him, wanted to the best LSAM I could be for him. Wanted to give and be used if that is what he would want.

    I’m somewhat confused *blame it on the marijuana* with the first part of your comment though. So I’m going to clarify, hopefully, what I meant and wait for your response… And I completely agree that this, all of this, is what I think about our relationship. I’m not talking for anyone else, but just my thoughts on my experience of power exchange.

    I can see that I almost contradict myself with those two statements. In the first one, I meant that my submission is a desire, a pull that I have, psychologically, and that it was naturally drawn towards M, obviously he is the man in my life, one that I share my life with. I thought that D/s could make our relationship better, mostly because, as you mentioned, it would keep me on a short leash *haha*. Do you remember my “I’m not a feminist” post? It sort of all ties into what I talked about there.

    In my second statement, regarding my submission being there because of M’s dominance… My thoughts are that if M were not the primary man in my life, I would not have been having those feelings in the first place. In past relationships, I never felt the need to submit. Not at all. Even in an LTR to a guy that I lived with for years, never had one little spark of submission. So I guess my point is that perhaps it is something in M that spawned my desire to serve him, to sit at his feet, to make him feel like a king.

    So… after all that, I’m not sure if I cleared the water for you, or made it more murky! *hugs and kisses*

  4. Very well written and described. I believe wholeheartedly that The Power Exchange is what the D/s couple agrees upon. It will not work if ones heart is not in it. Several points were made “I give because I want to give” that is the key. There are no set rules for the POWER Exchange but for one. The establishment that One is top and one is bottom. When both parties are in agreement …ahhhhhhhh what a beautiful mix you have. I truly enjoy your blog…keep posting those thoughts regardless you may or may not piss someone off *smiles* You are right on the money! Lidia

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