Special Snowflake Syndrome

We’re all a bunch of bad-ass mofos, no doubt, but there’s this regrettable thing that happens to some people when they discover BDSM that I thought might be helpful to talk about.

When I say “regrettable”, I mean that if it happens to someone in your orbit, then one morning they’re probably going to wake up and regret it. Possibly in the same way you look back at all-night half-price tequila shooter night at your local.


The heady pleasures of discovering BDSM, your inner sexual outlaw and that feeling of acceptance when the gang of cool kids offer you a seat at the table is real, and even the most conservative among us get a little twinge. Perhaps you’ve had your desires coiled up like a spring, maybe you’ve finally found a dance partner that doesn’t step on your toes. For many of us it can be like hanging out all our life as a loner, and then we turn a corner one day and there’s our tribe. No-one gets us, but they do.

And, with that comes divisive language. Those who aren’t part of our gang are “the vanillas” or “regular folk” and we’re… something different. Perhaps… something better?

And that’s where it all starts tumbling down. Different, certainly. But better? There’s really no evidence of that.

You can pooh-pooh what I’m saying, and think that no-one you know would ever think that way, but let me give you an example of a common myth you’ll hear at least once from someone.


I wish to become a master because of the bond that develops between master and slave. It is stronger than in vanilla land. M/s relationships are so complex that by nature there’s no way a vanilla relationship can provide the same thing.

I didn’t make that quote up, really. Not only did someone say that, they said it with the expectation that their tribe would gather around and support their view.

This is “additive logic”. We all know that M/s and D/s relationships, at their core, are relationships. They’re two people entwined, stumbling through the world together the best way they know how, hopefully providing things for each other that make that journey easier, happier and more worthwhile. But, the additive logic is that our BDSM relationships are all this, plus MORE. It’s the vanilla, but with magical sprinkles.

Perhaps it is a video game mentality that makes many people believe that there is some kind of “levelling up” effect that happens when you discover the existence of all the different relationship styles to be had. That’s really not the case. Doing what is required to maintain a happy, healthy life (for you and your partner) is really the only “accomplishment” to be had. That end-game is the same for everyone, and it doesn’t really matter what path you take to get there. You just need to find the right path for you.

Viewing different relationship styles in a similar way to the way we view sexual orientations can be helpful for letting go of the idea that M/s and D/s relationships are inherently “deeper” or “better” in some way than more egalitarian dynamics. Would you say that being homosexual creates a deeper connection with someone than being heterosexual? Probably not.


Relationship styles that are “more” are simply more personally fulfilling for those involved. Kinksters don’t have a monopoly on deep connection, and hoping that your BDSM is going to provide some kind of shortcut to a deep and meaningful bond is not only lazy but wishful thinking. It takes time, trust and compatibility. It’s the people, not the dynamic, that makes a relationship work.

For you, a power dynamic may lead to a desired connection… one that for you would be deeper. Of course that’s true, and it’s the very reason we seek out the style of relationships that we do.

Happy, healthy relationships are born from compatibility. For some that might mean a set of complementary opposites. But, the more compatible two people are, including that desire to maintain a particular dynamic within their relationship, the higher the chances of achieving a happy, healthy relationship.

People in vanilla relationships can have extremely deep and complex connections… if they are deeply and complexly compatible with each other. Shifting the focus away from an ego-fuelled desire to “have the best type of relationship” to a desire to simply have the happiest and healthiest relationship for who we are as complex and unique human-beings, no matter how that compares with other people’s relationships, might just be the key to that sometimes elusive sense of deep connection with others.

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