I think I am very precise in the use of language. One of the things that frustrates me is how we combine the many meanings of love into four small letters.
Is there a place for care in D/s? What about romance? What about wanting to give of yourself to make another person happy? What about affection? A draw to a person based on liking and respecting them? Must it be an attraction based on sexual desire to be love? Does love demand intimacy?
D/s to me is an overlay to underlying ways on inter-relating as humans. I think to be healthy there should be positivity in those relationships. Positivity doesn’t have to be anything one needs to define as love. Equally, defining it as love shouldn’t exclude it. Each relationship, whether ten minutes or ten years, is its own mixing desk of all of the factors above and more.
Those who identify as Ace, grey and demi (romantic or sexual) can find a relationship through the lens of D/s when many people external to their understanding would struggle to identify how they define love because some of the building blocks of sexuality we are used to associating with love are missing. The exclusion of the romantic or the sexual does not necessarily preclude love nor does it bar you from sharing positive relationships defined in other ways.
Personally, my sexual attraction to someone is primarily based on a more dominant character and my desire to submit to that person than any other factors. This can be damn inconvenient. Not getting a crush on my boss is a constantly relevant hazard, unless I’m working for myself. The point I will meander around to, is that there doesn’t have to be anything romantic, nor affectionate, to trigger a satisfaction from offering submission and I would assume the same is true for a Dominant person. Basic levels of respect and a sign that what I do makes someone happy is my contented place at work. Learning to protect myself from this being abused has taken time, but I think I have a handle on it now.
All the significant friendships I have in my life have an element of (usually, but not always, non-sexual/ non-explicit) D/s in their structure, with me very happy as the little s. Having to take the lead for an extended period of time makes me unhappy and anxious.
At home, I am lucky to be in a relationship that meets many people’s idea of “loving”. Most importantly it satisfies both of us involved. But can I express what that means to me in words? I feel appreciated for both outcomes and effort applied. I feel valued. I feel supported. I feel respected. Desired. I feel the things I can offer make my SO, the lovely Mr Hunt, happier in his daily life. I hope he feels appreciated, valued, supported, respected and desired in return.
And sometimes, if I’m a very lucky person, I feel thoroughly (physically) used as an expression of all of that, in a way vanilla life might not associate with a loving relationship.
Defining love as different things can make it sound clinical and missing magic and I often wonder if I missed something by not really getting the bolt of lightening romantics like to think of as falling in love. That moment where it hits you. Because I don’t think I really did. Love, to me, creeps up rather arriving with a brass band and fireworks.
Love doesn’t have to be everything at once or all things equally. It doesn’t have to feel the same to both people in a relationship or be in any sort of balance.
In D/s some people might be happy with a transactional agreement based on short term needs being met and that is fine. Some people might start with rules and end up with fireworks and roses. Equally fine. Some people might build their relationship on love, some might use it to guild the lily. And the same person might be in all of those situations at different times and/or with different partners. This is just the same as vanilla life. Hook ups are a valid expression of need and sexuality, just as much as (serial) monogamy.
What is necessary is to know where the other person stands. Whereever the power lies, how you communicate is the relationship. Getting to grips with constantly crushing on anyone with dominant characteristics as a teenager meant I either had to get to grips with communication or be in a constant state of angst. I love D/s because the communication is (hopefully) explicit, and my autistic brain does not deal with inference well.
At Uni, I discovered others did not really do the explicit consent thing. Take a person back to your dorm room or go to theirs, break off from snogging and try to explain what your limits are, and more often than not the buzz was totally killed. And yes, that was both before the idea that consent was sexy was a theme and before I had mastered social skills so was probably my fault. But add in expectations of D/s and that type of discussion was not just accepted, it was expected.
With my natural attraction to Dominant people and my need for explicit communication, I don’t think I would ever attempt more traditional dating. But I hope I never need to either, because as things stand I know you can have the type of D/s we practice and love, and neither is a barrier to the other.
Whereas I think you can either have love in D/s or have a neutral relationship based on a positive understanding, the reverse is not true. There is no room for hate, or disrespect, carelessness or the desire to make another miserable. And often the misconception is that D/s is some of those things, especially if either thrives through humiliation or pain or denial. But, of course, those are very different things.
The underlying tenet is to take pleasure from meeting the needs of another person. To take pleasure without meeting their needs is not D/s. And whilst that might not be all love comprises of, it is nearer to love in its many meanings than not.