Certainly, where one concentrates will vary depending upon whether that person is dominant or submissive. Nevertheless, each of us has a responsibility to take the necessary steps to ensure we are continually developing. For most, this ought to take place long before getting into a BDSM relationship. I am a firm believer that most BDSM relationships fail simply because the parties involved are woefully equipped to deal with them. Contrary to what the majority of the online community tends to accept, BDSM is not a game that is to be taken lightly. While there are aspects of play which are perfectly acceptable, the truth is that this is something that can cause tremendous harm. The path of destruction left behind by the pretenders is catastrophic.
Personal development mandates that one go inward to uncover the natural qualities which exist within. This is a primary step that few tend to engage upon. Instead, they feel that having an inclination that he or she is dominant (or submissive) is enough. Sadly, it is not. One needs to reveal where that quality lies and how it affects his or her life. What decisions are made from this? How does it manifest in other areas of life? Is it something that was repressed for decades or does it emerge on a daily basis? What is required to generate fulfillment knowing this quality exists? These are all questions that are basic in nature with answers which are fundamental to the success of a BDSM relationship.
Once the qualities within oneself are uncovered, what is an individual willing to do with this new found knowledge? Reading, learning, and practicing are crucial elements to mastering any craft. BDSM is a lifestyle that differs greatly from the mainstream. Thus, a new set of skills are required if one is going to approach things in a safe manner. One needs to have the motivation and desire to spend the time required learning about the different facets of the lifestyle before putting anything into practice. As I mention umpteen thousands of times, safety is always our primary focus.
Another area I feel is part of the basics of the lifestyle is the psychology behind the structures we establish. Power exchange carries with it a great deal more than just physical manifestations. There is a series of psychological needs that are to be met by each person. One who is willing to delve into this area will be able to understand what is required by each person thus increasing the chance of BDSM success.
Much of what I am going to write in this section is not solely applicable to the BDSM world. Anyone who deals with relationships will mention that they require work and that both parties need to commit to making the relationship grow. Healthy relationships will grow over time as each person is working on him/herself while dedicating the proper effort to the overall interaction. Sadly, since the percentages of relationships that end up in 'splitsville' is high, it is obvious most people do not engage in this behavior.
BDSM adds another element to this entire process. Since there is an exchange of power to some degree, the dominant one is responsible for the direction of the relationship. Thus, the submissive lacks some of the ability to decide what areas are focused upon for growth. At the same time, depending upon the structure, i.e. M/s, he or she might be dependent upon the Master/Mistress for authorization to seek personal development. Of course, my viewpoint is that this should always be a focus of the dominant one; growth of both individuals is what a BDSM relationship is all about.
As the parties interact, they will opt to experiment with different things. It is helpful if one person is experienced so as to approach things safely. However, in situations where both are relatively new, it is important that attention be paid to things such as safety, technique, and aftercare. Over time, the interaction of their BDSM play will expand and grow. Each will become aware of the limits of the other (yes dominants have limits also) and know to stay within those confines. Their interaction becomes more natural as the knowledge between the parties grows.
Also, qualities such as trust, dependence, and openness emerge in a healthy interaction. Again, these are things which are the result of putting in effort. Many seem to think that these are overnight developments; they are not. It takes time for one to peel away some of the connotations to past events and be able to move forward. Lack of trust is a common trait of those who were harmed in the past. A true Master or Mistress will dedicate the time to providing a forum where a person can develop. Of course, dominants often have trust issues so the reverse is true also.
Obviously you can see there are many different areas where there are 'basics'. It is similar to baseball where there are fundamentals to hitting, throwing, pitching, bunting, fielding, and sliding. Each are a part of the game and required if a team is going to be successful. The same holds true in a BDSM relationship. There are basics in the area of psychology, scening, communication, personal development, and interpersonal skills all which have an impact upon the success or failure of a BDSM relationship. Those who are willing to concentrate attention on these areas will enjoy a greater amount of fulfillment and success.
Remember, the most important part of the term 'BDSM relationship' is the word relationship.
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