Saturday, March 17, 2007

Yes, My Lady: Fair, Well?

You learn just as much about your play partner through the process of ending the relationship as you do in the relationship. Most people, unfortunately, do not show just how ugly they can be until the relationship begins to unfold. I wish I could tell you that how your play partner negotiates with you at the beginning of the wonderful relationship will be how (and if) s/he negotiates with you the ending of the not-so-wonderful relationship. It is not so simple or diplomatic. And while there is always the clean, anti-climatic example of a "healthy" break-up that I am sure you could provide, we have all been through very troubling break-ups, and even some of us bloody ones. While many political, out SM practitioners want the world to believe that they are better at doing, and yes, ending relationships, SM practitioners, in the end, are just as messy, ambiguous, and yes, sometimes awful, at breaking up.

"I threw a dual-cassette player at his feet," barks Roberto. "I wanted to throw it at his fucking car, but I could just see me paying him for repairs in court," Roberto explains about his recent break up with his bottom.

"Why would you do such a thing?" I plead.

"The bastard was keeping my cat as ransom. He stole my cat and put him in his apartment. I wanted my cat back," demands Roberto.

"Well, what did your ex-bottom do when you threw the stereo equipment at him?" Need I ask?

"He fucking punched me in my right eye," explains Roberto.

"Oh, my g-d! What happened? Did you get your cat back?" I can't believe how awful the ending of their relationship is turning out to be.

"Yes, he finally gave my cat back," Roberto whines.

This was Roberto's first long-term SM relationship in which He was Daddy and his bottom, boy. Roberto has had many play partners, some that he has picked up at play parties, and others through the 15 Association, a gay men's SM organization in San Francisco. Many consider Roberto to be a sweet, respectable player and person. In the eight years that I have known him, he has only gained my trust and respect. In addition, many of my own friends have played with him, negotiating clearly and maturely complex scenes. However, how do we account for his behavior? Moreover, how could he have dominated such a manipulative asshole?

"And how about you, Desi?" I want more juice about how my fellow players end their SM relationships.

"Ah, I don't think my relationships ended as badly as Roberto's," Desi attempts to explain away the attention brought to Her. We all just stare at Her, waiting. "Well, I had one. It was very healthy and actually, boring. The same way we negotiated into a SM agreement is the same way we negotiated out of our agreement. No drama. It was actually anti-climatic."

Although we all seem a little disappointed with Desi's maturity, we recognize how useful it is to have encouraging examples of relationships. "Well, that is good, Desi. That is how our endings should be. I mean, why can't we negotiate the ending of a SM relationship the same way we begin one?" Why does it have to become so full of drama?" I remark.

Both Roberto and Desi's relationships could have happened to non-SM practitioners, vanilla people. I wanted know what makes these break-ups unique to SM players. Or rather, what makes SM players, or their experiences, unique to break-ups?

I believe the answer lies in the inherently complex, highly intimate relations in which we choose to engage in such a short amount of time. The length of time is possibly the essential element here. In a matter of a short conversation, we will have negotiated and played out, sometimes with a complete stranger, a highly developed hierarchical way of relating, all for the attempt to live out a charged, sexual power exchange. Indeed, it is only within the strict, hierarchical, consensual power exchange that we could share highly intimate, sexual play with someone we just met.

In the matter of a couple of play dates, many SM practitioners will have moved into a more complex SM relationship, where both parties will have negotiated and consented to a more long-term contract of power exchange. They know why and how they relate. This is why having a contract can be so beneficial to both parties. When the contract clearly states the process of how the relationship begins and how the relationship ends, it is possible to have an uneventful, even boring breakup.

So, the contract has come to an end it is time for me to say goodbye. This is the last Yes, My Lady column. Thank you for your readership, input, and spirit.

Love in Leather.

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