Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Practical Questions about Our Relationships

Ernie emailed some questions and I think the answers deserve sharing. To begin, though, let me restate my usual themes. First, all relationships are created by the two people in them. That means they are freely negotiated and never unilaterally dictated. That statement applies to the master/slave relationship as well as any other permutation you want to create.

Second, the relationships we are creating are human relationships. Most of them, if they are going to be intimate, long term, and viable, are going to follow rather traditional guidelines involving finances, health, chores, responsibility, etc., since those guidelines have generally withstood the test of time.

In answering Ernie’s questions I am going to use the word partner instead of slave, because masters and slaves are partners. Denying or ignoring that fact is to create a relationship that is probably not going to last. Likewise, what applies to Ernie and his partner-to-be, applies to us as well.

(1)  Do you think it is acceptable or realistic to require that boy/slave deposit his income into master’s checking account? From your experience and knowledge, does this create problems?

Money is, for most of us, always a problem. My rule is that any assets a partner brings into a relationship, remain his or hers. Therefore, it is put into an income-producing account in the partner’s name. Current income, on the other hand, is negotiable, depending on the relationship. A slave’s income belongs to the master. A partner’s income is mixed and the two share equally. In some cases the partner’s income is separate and an agreed-upon amount is put into a common fund to pay common expenses.

Obviously if the partners (of any kind) don’t live together, there will be little sharing of finances.

You’ll hear more of this later on, but finances need to be dealt with responsibly. That means, for instance, that arrangements must be made for everyone in the relationship to have (or gain) financial security. Yes, a slave should have a retirement plan and a savings account, to say the least. That, by the way, is why you’ll often find heterosexual masters marrying their slaves, just to insure that the slave is legally protected when it comes to assets. If you aren’t able to marry, then you’ll need a good lawyer to help you write the documents necessary to accomplish the same goal.

(2) I am poz, but I am often contacted by boys who are neg and they declare that they want to be pozzed [i.e., infected with HIV].  Do you think something like that should be incorporated in some manner into a contract?

Most certainly! One of the concepts more often forgotten in our subculture is responsibility. The partners are responsible for one another. In this case, then, you are responsible to protect and maintain the good health of your partner. Acting in a way that endangers his or her health is irresponsible.

On another note, in some states, it is also illegal to knowingly infect another person with HIV.

Lastly, I would be very careful about entering into a relationship with a person who was so misguided as to want to become infected with HIV.  If it’s not a suicidal wish, it certainly is a foolish one. He or she obviously isn’t thinking about who’s going to pay the more than $20,000 a year for medication and how he or she will deal with both the physical implications of the infection or the very bothersome side-effects of the meds.

(3)  In your experience or from your knowledge, do you think it is likely that someone 20 or more years younger than the master can GENUINELY commit to a long-term slave relationship?

Of course “Winter/Spring” relationships can last and anyone can genuinely enter into a long-term relationship. That said, we are all human and subject to the realities of our humanity. When I was married in 1971, I genuinely believed that it was “until death do us part.” When I was divorced in 1983, I was as heart-broken and surprised as anyone else. None of us knows the future. That’s why I so often write about planning for a relationship and asking all the right questions before you agree to enter into it.

Planning means that we need to especially consider the financial implications of the relationship, as very often the older partner has significantly more assets than the younger one. Be careful here, as unless the relationship is a legal marriage, biological family members might be able to trump any but the most carefully written wills.

For a fuller explanation of this, you can consult many of my books. In fact I wrote about this in my blog of January 4th, which you can find at http://leathermusings.blogspot.com/. The books that are most pertinent are Partners in Power and Becoming a slave.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Creating a Relationship, Continued

In my last blog, I wrote “Creating a relationship, as I see it, is a three-process activity: communicating, experiencing, and deciding.” In this essay I’ll focus on the experiencing and deciding parts of the process.

In reality all three parts of the process are interwoven, very much resembling a dance between the partners. I place communication first in the list because it begins the courtship, which is the unofficial word for creating a sexual relationship. In our kinky subculture we don’t call it courtship. We call it “negotiating.” For us, they have same meaning.

As an aside, it’s unfortunate that we often take this process for granted. How, for instance, did you react to my using the word “courtship?” Did it sound too formal or out-of-date to you? I admit that relationships, even sexual ones, can certainly be casual and undefined, but my premise is that well-constructed relationships are more satisfying, more durable, and less risky. You can rush in where angels fear to tread but if angels won’t go there quickly, why should you? Now back to the topic.

We most often use words as the ice-breaker that begins everything else. They may be spoken words or written, in print or online. We may be introduced by mutual friends, meet at a bar, church, or at work. Soon after the ice is broken, the communication will also include gestures, such as body language. Obviously, too, communication will continue throughout the dance, that is, throughout the negotiating and into the relationship.

Getting Experience with One Another

At some point, though, there will need to be more than simple communication, unless we are considering an arranged marriage, which probably isn’t part of our present-day scenario. We will have to get physical in some way to see if the other person offers what we seek and to give them an opportunity to experience us as well. This is an important part of the data collection process that will feed the necessary decision-making process that follows. Note well that “in some way” is in italics.

In my view, it is a matter of “Nothing ventured; nothing gained.” We can, and sometimes do, talk relationships to death. We don’t venture past the talk part and hence never get to the experience and decision making parts. Even worse, we decide to end the negotiations because we refuse to do the experience and data-collecting phase of the process.

The fear of what-the-experience-will-bring is a prime reason that people stop the process and remain single. I would venture that this fear comes in two forms. The first is fear of failure and the second is fear commitment.

Over and over again we hesitate to experiment because we fear we will fail. Note what I have done here. I have expressed the idea of getting experience with the concept of experimenting. Unless we are willing to experiment, we will never get the experiences necessary to evaluate. Additionally, when we recognize the experimental nature of our experiencing, we see that there is no danger of failing. Experiments always teach us something. They are de facto a learning experience and therefore they are always successful.

Why do I say that? Because learning is always a successful activity, no matter what we learn. If we learn that we don’t like something, that is good. If we learn the other person’s not for us, that is good. When we experiment, we cannot fail because we will have learned something. OK, sometimes we refuse the lesson,  but that is a topic for another column.

Unfortunately we too often hesitate to experiment because we have the mistaken idea that experience means commitment. Yes, experience means that we have made some kind of short-term decision but it is hardly the irrevocable, no-turning-back decision that we fear it to be. On another note, if we never experience, if we refuse to experiment, we will never learn and therefore never attain that which we seek.

Now please don’t jump to the conclusion that experiencing one another means sex, though in this day and age of the easy lay doing so is certainly a possibility. Experiencing includes any activity that two people engage in, such as going on a date or sitting down with one another for a soda. It is the doing together that counts. Make it a movie, a dinner, a walk. It is the time together that demonstrates what you need to know. It is the experience shared with one another that tells you what the future may hold.

As experiences demonstrate the viability and possibility of a relationship, we can then begin the decision-making process, which I will cover shortly.

When it comes to the experiential part of the process I am a strong advocate of slow movement and incremental intensity. Too often we rush into deeper experiences with one another without fully evaluating where we are in the process and where we are going. Now if your relationship is meant to be nothing more than a quick fling, then speed is probably of no consequence. I also agree that even quick flings can evolve into permanent and very satisfactory relationships.

On the other hand haste makes waste and if we fail to take the time necessary to evaluate during the experiential part of the process, then we are quite liable to misinterpret the experience and make decisions that we will later regret.

I advocate that we move incrementally. Take the experience in small, progressive steps, little bites. There is no need to go whole hog.


In fact, we are continually evaluating the environment around us and making decisions as to what we will say or do next. Unfortunately we too often decide without realizing that we are doing so. In other words our decisions are not based on rationale thinking and well-observed data. They are not planned. Often we don’t even realize that a decision may have a life-changing effect. Just as we can rush experiences we can make speedy and poorly evaluated decisions. We can misinterpret words and deeds. Both of these situations send the wrong signal to us and to our prospective partner, leading to poor communication, misunderstanding and therefore poor experiences and damaging decisions.

In past essays I have spoken about this same process in different words. Then I chose to talk about researching, asking, listening, trying, evaluating, and repeating the process until we were able to come to clear decisions about our being involved. In any case it is a small-step, many-step process that leads to increased self-knowledge and eventual success.

Have a great week.

Have you seen the new Kindle edition of Philosophy in the Dungeon?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Creating a Relationship

Every slave applicants wonders the same thing: “How does a master train and how does he begin the process?” It seems to me that those question hit at the heart of creating any kind of human relationship and so I’d like to share with you my response to Chris when he asked.

I’ll do my best to answer your questions but I’d like to remind you that I have written eight books on BDSM and that two of them, “Becoming a slave” and “Philosophy in the Dungeon,” total more than 600 pages. So please don’t expect this answer to be anything more than cursory.

There are several principles upon which I based the creation of a master/slave relationship: open communication,  holism, authenticity, trust, mutual empowerment, and mutual consent. Honestly they apply to any relationship but since there are so many false ideas about D/s relationships, I’m going to present your answer in that light. Others are free to use it as they see fit.

Creating a relationship, as I see it, is a three-process activity: communicating, experiencing, and deciding. In this essay I’ll focus on the communication part of the process.

Note, too, that I eschew the falling into method of developing relationships that are meant to last. Believe me, they have got to be built on mutual understanding, a shared vocabulary, and goals that each person can own equally with their partner. Let me take each principle in order.

Open communication

All human relationships begin with “getting to know you” and the master/slave relationship is no exception. In order to safeguard the process and well as to expedite it, I believe that the both creators of the relationship as applicants. Neither is in a position of authority, superiority, or favor.  Each must act and be treated as a free adult, with the right and duty to as much information as he or she needs to make a mature, rational, and healthy decision about entering the relationship.


Though what I am writing applies to all relationships, my words must be seen within the context of what kind of relationship the two people are creating. Hence a one-time scene only needs a certain amount of information but a long term relationship needs significantly more.

When we are considering a relationship of some durability then we need to consider more aspects of it. That means our discussions need to be appropriately inclusive with an eye to creating a holistic relationship. This predominantly applies to long term relationships and to lesser degrees to others. I don’t need to know your financial status to have sex with you once. I had better know it before we buy a house together.

There is no way to list the various aspects of holism as there are a multitude of specifics involved in the word. Generally speaking, though, we need to consider the physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual ramifications of what it is we want to do. Ask questions that address each of those topics, even to the point of developing your own discussion list. Better to learn the answers now rather than later when you are already entwined in emotional, physical, and financial bonds.

Unfortunately many people fail to consider all the aspect of a relationship before committing themselves to it, thereby setting their relationship up for eventual failure. For that reason, I believe that commitments should come slowly and incrementally.


The purpose of communication is to discover one’s authenticity and the characteristics of what would be an authentic relationship, i.e., Am I a master? Are you a slave? Would a relationship between us be authentic? This type of questioning applies to every relationship. Am I a teacher? Are you a student? Is entering into a mentorship authentic for us? Authenticity asks not only “Who am I now?” but just as importantly “What is my potential for the future?” Perhaps the best summary of what I have written so far are found in the words “highest potential,” as that is the best reason for entering into a relationship in the first place.


If this process is successful, then we have the ability to trust one another. Trust, as I’ve said, is earned and only given when it is proven to be deserved. Human nature being what it is, I am highly skeptical of assuming that a person is trustworthy, though by nature I am also very willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. In any case trust is the foundation upon which all relationships are founded and without it not very much is going to happen.

Mutual empowerment

Now we can move on to the purpose of the relationship, which is that the partners agree to support and encourage one another to attain their own and one another’s highest potential. In my own life, it has been my partners who have always empowered the writer within me, if only by allowing me the time and freedom to write. Likewise I have done my best to encourage Patrick’s cooking, his leadership role in the Hellfire Club, and the healing of his relationships with his biological family.

Mutual consent

Finally, all the above having taken place, we can freely agree to and live the relationship we have envisioned. Mutual consent is arrived at when there is as complete understanding as possible, no coercion of any kind, and full honesty on the part of both partners.

This is, of course, an on-going, never-ending process as we discover more fully our authentic selves and the even greater potentials that life offers to us as we grow as humans and as partners.


That said, you’ll see that there are few specifics as to training, protocols, and expectations of daily activities. How can it be otherwise? The specifics we long to know can only be arrived at as part of the process, not as established facts.

The answers to future training, regimens, schedules, and day-to-day expectations can only be given after open communication has allowed us to know one another’s authentic self and what exactly is the potential that our relationship is meant to empower.

So, I hope, you’ll forgive me if my answer isn’t more specific. I don’t have a crystal ball with me at the moment. Our answers will only be revealed a step at a time and our decision-making should follow our discovery process at the same pace.

Happy New Year