From childhood, we learn that a normal family consists of one male and one female. With the recent welcome wave of gay marriage rights across the globe, hopefully the next generation will not see that gender mix norm. The couple fall in love and share a life, perhaps with a child or two. Often the married couple is a similar age.
In BDSM culture, the social norm will be one Master one slave, one Dominant one submissive. Most things you read in print or online make monogamous assumptions. It is always written as M/s dynamic or D/s dynamic, rather than perhaps M/s/s or M/M/s or other combinations.
Polyamorous relationships are not particularly rare, yet kinksters who are involved in poly relationships can face additional difficulties when discussing their relationships. Because the relationships are more complex, with more people interacting and less written or real-life examples for them to learn from, this can be a problem.
When we are “social outliers” and there is no model for us to base knowledge on, it is not just an issue of normality, but also an issue of mental health. Social deviance can come with loneliness, lack of social support and lack of institutional support. Add BDSM to polyamory and there’s a good chance that you are in the “social outlier” category, in at least some aspects of your life.
POLYAMOROUS POWER DYNAMICS
Possible configurations of a polyamorous D/s relationship are almost infinite. It could be 1+2 (one Master, two slaves), 2+1 (two Masters, one slave), 1+3 (one Master three slaves) or any other. The people in the relationship could have different levels of experience, different sexualities or have been in the relationship for different amounts of time. Master A may have one s who identifies as submissive and one who identifies as a slave, or He might have a vanilla partner and a slave.
Power dynamics are important, because everyone in a relationship must be cared for. The kind of strong intimacy between two people we aim to achieve in D/s may neglect the others in the relationship. Clear mechanisms or protocols are needed to ensure every person within the D/s polyamorous relationship is being taken care of. So, a good question is always, how can that kind of two-person intense intimacy be achieved within a multi-person structure? If you can find mechanisms to do that without putting anyone’s emotional well-being at stake, that’s perfect. If not, engaging with D/s polyamory can be about tuning down the power dynamic to the right level to balance up your relationships.
You can no longer see your Master as only your Master, you have to see your Master as a Master of two slaves. The same applies to every person in the relationship. Everyone in the relationship has to sacrifice and compromise in certain ways to achieve and attain something more than a two-person relationship provides. Of course there are rewards as well as sacrifices, and it’s worth remembering the reasons that brought you into the poly relationship.
There’s also a lot more internal switching required in polyamory. You need to become an expert at switching dynamics, to accommodate your unique relationships with each person in the relationship and for the dynamic of you all being together. You may have a strong power exchange going on in one moment with your Master, and the next second you need to tune it down to accommodate a three person dynamic.
It requires some adjustment to control your own levels, and some may argue that it is not necessary. I’ve personally found it a very important skill in participating in a healthy power exchange. For instance, in triad D/s, your partner A and partner B may have a relatively low level of protocol between the two of them. To be yourself, and keep your attention high to serve in the D/s when the triad is together, may be seen as undesirable by your Master, because it doesn’t fit well with his relationship with his other slave. That affects his mood and it could spiral downward. i’ve found that having a poly dynamic that i consider a separate thing to the two persons dynamics helps me to ensure everyone feels good about each other.
WATCH OUT FOR D/S BURNOUT
In a triad, each person actually has 3 unique relationships: one to person A, one to person B and one to person A&B together. Any imbalance can result in D/s burn out. Imbalance simply means the power flow within the poly relationship is off. It doesn’t mean that things need to be equally distributed, just that the needs of the relationship at the time are met and in some kind of equilibrium.
When conflict arises within a D/s poly relationship, you need a mechanism to channel conversation and discussion, in a manner that doesn’t harm the others. Creating a mechanism is to prepare for potential conflicts in the future, because emotional burnouts or conflicts are unpredictable. You see the grey sky rolling but never know when it will rain, and that’s why you take an umbrella when you go out.
FORGET EVERYTHING YOU’VE JUST READ
Analysis and discourse is handy when it comes to solving technical problems, but we’re all humans and slightly irrational. We lose control once in awhile, rain happens and the beauty of being a human is to dance in the rain.
Feeling emotional allows your Partner to provide care to you, feeling angry allows you a chance to grow together, conflicts are opportunities to construct or destroy, and it is important to have conflict as much as it is important to handle conflicts correctly.
A lot of this thinking will also be irrelevant if your relationship is IE – Internal Enslavement, which follows more strictly to the traditional Master/slave dynamic.
Each to their own, because we both know that D/s is complex, polyamory is complex, and we’re out there doing the best we can.
• More Than Two – Home Page
• Huffpost – Polyamorous Relationships Are About More Than Just Couples
• Oddee – 8 Polyamorous Relationships