Love is a Battlefield

Posted: December 1, 2010 in BDSM, M/s

Recently, I was in the unique position of trying to explain heterosexual BDSM relationships to a gay Leatherman.  Yes, apparently, this wacky bisexual girl is now the spokesperson for heterosexual BDSM, or at least I attempted to be one night at 3 in the morning.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.

In reality, though, I could no more explain all heterosexual relationships to him than he could explain all gay relationships to me.  We each can only speak of our own experiences.

One theme I kept coming across was that, at least in my experience, heterosexual relationships and sex are either like a game or like a war.  We grow up knowing what strategies our genders employ.  I grew up knowing that mine was to be a defensive position, that women were meant to pretend that we did not like sex or in fact despised it and that, by doing so, we gained power over men, who were meant to always want what we were so reluctant to give.  Their position was to be one of offense, constantly scheming to get what we held back and, in doing so, gain power over us.

Even in the vanilla world, sex was a power exchange.

In this cold war or marketplace of sexuality, I was raised, jealously guarding my chips from the other players and making men jump through the requisite hoops before giving any of them away.  It’s a tiring game and one that turns lovers into adversaries.  I was meant to view any man who expressed admiration or interest as having ulterior motives and not to be trusted.  Since trust is a cornerstone of healthy relationships, everything I grew up learning about how the sexes relate to each other set me up for dysfunctional relationships.  I learned that you absolutely could not communicate honestly and directly with the opposite sex because this would give them inside information that they would use against you in order to get you in bed.  I learned you should never trust a man who seemed to be interested in you.  Only men who didn’t seem to care for me at all could be trusted.

When I entered the world of BDSM and then M/s relationships, I still found some of this thinking, but I found many people who had called a truce in this ongoing war.  Oddly enough, by being clear and direct about what they wanted and what they were prepared to offer, these people were able to remove the conflict and actually build a relationship built on mutual respect and trust.  It seemed ironic that these relationships often, from the outside, resembled exactly what both sides feared might happen if they let down their guard.  I saw women groveling at the feet of men and men led around on leashes by women and yet, these people were honest with each other and with themselves about their wants and needs in a way I had never experienced in the vanilla world.  I couldn’t help but wonder how many vanilla relationships would benefit from being forced to negotiate or write contracts or at least come up with a clear idea of what they wanted from a partner BEFORE they went out looking for one?

Love is a battlefield.

We all too often spend so much time putting on our layers of armor and looking across the field at our lovers like they are an invading army.  The very people we lay naked next to are the ones we often fear the most, so frightened that they will betray us in the most personal ways, splitting our hearts in two.  I don’t think this is unique to any sexual orientation or any configuration of relationships.  The truth is that those we allow closest to us are the ones who can most easily harm us and so we often try to protect ourselves from future hurts by keeping up defenses now.  We hold back words, thoughts, feelings in the hopes that it will help keep us safe or help us keep the upper hand.  We let the invader closer and closer, but how many of us ever really let down all of the defenses and let them in?

As human creatures, we hide our true selves even from ourselves.

We make up stories of who we are, stories that make us feel better about ourselves and keep us from having to face the harsh realities that maybe we aren’t the knights in shining armor we wish we were.  Meanwhile, we glorify courage if it comes in the form of someone submitting for a whip scene or bravely stepping into harm’s way for another, but we barely acknowlege the bravery that it takes to completely lay bare one’s heart to another.  Emotional courage is downplayed and even considered a weakness.  Submitting to the will of another or acting in a selfless way is seen as weak as well.

In the BDSM world, I finally found people that seemed to understand that the courage to be emotionally vulnerable is the most difficult to cultivate and that it takes more strength to bend to the will of another than it does to resist.

In this world, I found emotional giants, people of such rare courage that they were brave enough to be who they really were, not just to themselves, but to the world.  I found people who were strong enough even to deny their own egos and find happiness in serving the needs of another.  I found people who’s strength as they cast aside their armor and threw down their weapons, was inspiring enough to help me begin to lay mine down as well.

And yet…I am still a warrior at times and sometimes I need a reminder that my lovers are not my enemies, but my greatest allies.

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