Discovering, Embracing, Revealing the Self
I simply stumbled into my first D/s romance. At that time in my life, I knew I loved kink—bondage erotica was far more compelling than pretty girls undressed—but I had no clue how to seek a kinky partner. I began dating a gal I met dancing, and several dates in I tried pinching her nipple, sharply, and suddenly we both knew who we were. In that moment, my sadistic or "top" self sprang into the real world for the first time. Her sub self surfaced to meet him. A hidden door into a different world blew open, and we tumbled through it.
During our romance, she was conflicted about our S&M play. One event in particular rattled her badly. In retrospect it wasn't serious, a bare-handed breast spanking in which I went hard too quickly. A good top ramps up pain in sensitive areas gradually. But the pain wasn't what alarmed her, it was the dime-sized purple bruises on her chest that resulted. Looking in the mirror afterwards, she said she saw a battered woman. Most subs I've spoken with subsequently don't mind such bruising; they even relish it. I, too, love to see evidence of my handiwork on my lover.
After that relationship ended, I fell into internal conflict. My vanilla persona, which was taught from an early age at home and school of the evils of domestic violence and the virtues of egalitarian partnership, could not accept my dark side! Or specifically, could not imagine that a smart, secure woman would want to be as submissive as I knew that my top-self would demand. Meanwhile my top continued to surface in any sexual context, hoping some unsuspecting vanilla girl, who had liked an apparently vanilla guy, would turn out to be kinked! I now assure anyone who asks that attempting to "turn" vanilla girls towards kink is a recipe for disappointment and possibly disaster. (Introducing kink to gals with a latent kinky streak is another matter entirely.)
I often wonder whether other educated men have this same conundrum, and choose to dismiss dominant or sadistic instincts as unhealthy due to their upbringing. Men as a whole aren't as aware of their internal lives and needs as women are.
My own internal strife stretched out for years. During that period, I repeatedly fantasized about asking my first sub to return to me as my slave. It wasn't until I discovered a BDSM dating site (where one could browse profiles without first joining) and found seemingly smart, attractive women identifying themselves as submissive, that I finally gathered the wherewithal to reach out to other kinky singles. There began a long process of interpreting my seemingly dark fantasies as a roadmap to fulfilling romance.
When I finally had the opportunity to practice D/s with a gal whom I knew from the get-go was submissive, I discovered another facet of my romantic persona, the dom. Alongside the playful, collaborative vanilla gentleman, and the ferocious top with its taste for cruelty, my dom aspect is fatherly; he's protective but demanding, directive and particular, possessive and nurturing. This then became my predominant style with a submissive partner. Ironically, I believe I learned much of this pattern from the way my mother was with my sister and myself as young children.
I'm often asked where the top side stems from; is it due to childhood events? I really couldn't say. I had dark fantasies that I recall as far back as adolescence, but I can only describe the experience and satisfaction of embodying the top, not where he was born. I have no trauma or abuse in my past.
Unearthing three distinct, and strikingly different, patterns of relating to a lover taught me that embracing all aspects of the self is essential, yet not always natural. And I've met other kinky people who've reported challenges in accepting their own radically different aspects. Probably the most effective method I found to integrate my trio of romantic personae was describing them to others, revealing them. Also I needed a new metaphor by which to understand personality. The myth that an individual makes choices—based on the situation at hand and his skills and preferences and his spirit/karma—didn't make sense any more.
So here is a new metaphor. Your personality is a globe. Its geography is formed by your ways of thinking/feeling, your modes of interaction, all your implicit and explicit behaviors. Each region of your globe is always there; many are inter-connected. Some places lead to others; you can't necessarily travel to a certain spot on the globe from any other locale. There are places on your globe that are comfortable, or beautiful, or dangerous. And there are places that you've not yet seen! And places you will never go. Your globe has no center—or not one you can visit; merely zones where your attention lingers, mostly due to habit. Your terrain has well-worn trails, which you seldom venture away from; you carve new ones by investing the necessary effort. But new paths won't always take you where you meant to go! Exploring your globe, embracing as your own what you find upon it, revealing your discoveries to others who are exploring theirs—that is a path to fulfillment.