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24/7 Dominant-Submissive

Published: Monday, March 3, 2003

Updated: Monday, January 18, 2010 09:01

When most people think about relationships they have a specific model in mind: two people who practice monogamy and are, or at least strive to be, equals. In modern, post-feminist America this is supposed to be the ideal arrangement; the one that works best for everyone.

But what most people do not realize is that relationships can take other forms that work just as well, if not better.

I got a crash course in one such relationship pattern last weekend at a workshop entitled “24/7 Dominant-Submissive Relationships.”

The stereotype of dom-sub relationships is that they are enacted only in the context of sex clubs and dungeons. People do their dominating or submitting and when it’s all over they go home and resume their lives as their “real” selves.

“I always felt a disconnect in that,” the presenter (who wished to remain anonymous) said. For her, being a dom is her real self.

Now she is in a 24/7 DS relationship in which she effectively “owns” her “boi”. They are not boyfriend and girlfriend. They are not equals. She is “Ma’am” and he is her property. The boi provides service and in turn Ma’am is responsible for his physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. They do not just act out these roles at certain times and in certain places. They are in them all the time. This is the reality of their relationship.

As part of this arrangement, they have a contract outlining what each person needs from the relationship and what is expected of them. Unlike most relationships, everything is clear and upfront; there is no guess work. They also have seven layers of protocol intended to guide the boi’s behavior in certain situations. For instance, at business functions or when visiting his parents, there is a specific protocol to help mask their relationship.

After the workshop I had dinner with Ma’am and her boi. It was fascinating to see their relationship in practice. The boi walked several paces behind and to the right of Ma’am at all times. He opened doors for her and took her coat. He was not allowed to sit, speak or eat until Ma’am gave him permission. It was all so seamless and subtle that no one, not even our waiter, seemed to notice.

“The whole point of this is not to get in the way of life,” Ma’am said. “It’s to make it more fun and sexy.”

The down side to being in a DS relationship is that most people do not understand it. Admittedly, the whole thing smacks of slavery. But the thing to remember is that Ma’am and her boi have both entered into their relationship consensually. When their contract is up either is free to opt out of the arrangement. And Ma’am has never thought of the boi as less than human or less powerful.

“We simply wield two different kinds of power,” she said.

Ma’am is quick to point out that their relationship is not the “right” model. DS relationships vary from couple to couple. Some people don’t have a contract; some are not 24/7. Other doms may have multiple subs to whom they are equally devoted. And while Ma’am and her boi both find their relationship fulfilling, DS is not for everyone.

I came away from the workshop with a new perspective on relationships. It’s interesting to know that there are more options out there than traditional hetero and homo relationships. If one model doesn’t work for you it doesn’t mean you are doomed to be alone for the rest of your life. My track record being what it is, I’m beginning to think I might stop looking for that special someone and start searching for that special submissive.

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