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Negotiating Flexibility Into Your Dynamic

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

Hand drawing a diagram

So often newer kinky folks hold up the 24/7 dynamic as the "pinnacle" of kinky relationships. The fantasy of this dynamic is that it somehow is sustainable for years on end with no break in a dynamic.

Here is the secret about sustainable, long-term power dynamic relationships: these couples have flexibility. No relationship with a power dynamic which has lasted for years has a method which allows partners to take a break from formal dynamics when they need too.

Why Would I Need a "Break" from My Dynamic?

When you first experience a power dynamic, it is often intoxicating! To finally be in a relationship which manifests the style you have been craving is freeing, erotic, and powerful. It can be hard to imaging you would ever want to go back to another style of relationship dynamic. Unfortunately, life will intervene and change this!

One of the primary reasons people need breaks from dynamics and protocols is stress. We all have lives outside of a primary relationship. It might be a stressful period at work; you could be really sick; a family member could need a lot of help; you could be moving; there are millions of things which require more attention and limit your resources for the dynamic.

Another thing which happens in all long term relationships is we all age. With aging, physical and emotional needs will change- drastically. If you think you can exercise, diet, and manifest a life without illness or aging getting in the way, you are kidding yourself. If you are young and healthy, it can be difficult to imaging this. Planning for it, however, will make your relationship more resilient to problems.

Does Asking for a Break from a Dynamic Mean I'm "Bad" at D/s?

No. In fact, recognizing when you need to take a break is a sign of a mature relationship and kinkster. If a partner criticizes you for needing a break from the dynamic, its a red flag. You should never feel you have to choose your dynamic over your health (mental and physical) needs.

How Do I Ask For Flexibility?

If you already have an established dynamic, you need to bring up the idea of negotiating ways to reduce, change, or pause a dynamic when one or both of you cannot maintain your current D/s relationship. If you are negotiating a new dynamic, bring it up as part of normal negotiations.

If you have not had a period of extremely high stress, are healthy, and young, it can be difficult to imagine what you might need during such times. However, most of us have expereince high periods of stress- finals week, family emergencies, being really sick with the flu. Most folks have very little energy to spend doing anything other than basic life sustaining functions. We also tend to get short tempered and more emotional.

1. Communicate what you need when you are very tired (do you need someone else to make food? Do you need help with chores? Do you need to let go of things like daily showering in favor of every other day?

2. Communicate about your emotional needs at these times. Are you someone who likes additional verbal processing? Do you prefer more alone time or down time? Do you need fewer rules or more?

3. Listen to your partner and what they need in periods of stress or poor health. Make sure your plans include them as well.

4. Consider a "step-down" model. Have two or three versions of your dynamic which can be implemented depending on what is going on in your life. Have a way to suspend all dynamics and protocols in case of severe illness or very high stress. For example, if you break both legs, there will be little chance you can continue the dynamic in the same manner as you did with two functional limbs. You will probably need extra help and things like shaving and kneeling will be out of the realm of possibility for several months (or more). Other times, you or a partner may have a depressive phase, a period where your work hours increase substantially, or other crisis which will not necessitate a complete ending of the dynamic, but you won't be able to meet all D/s and protocol requirements without a lot of extra stress and effort.

5. Negotiate a way to ask for a releasing from protocols and dynamics. Will you have a formal request process? Will you just need to let your partner know you are a bit overwhelmed with the process? Will the Dominant have more say in suspending the rules than the submissive?

What If My Dominant Refuses to Negotiate This?

This is a red flag! Refusing to recognize that there will be periods in your relationship where you or your D-type will need to relax your dynamic suggests they do not have your needs in mind at all. It is unrealistic to think a submissive will always have full capacity to meet their needs and the dynamic parameters. Communicate concerns about their short sightedness.

If they still refuse to consider a step-down model, consider limiting your interactions with this person. They are not ready for a mature, responsible role as Dominant.

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