When we think of BDSM, we often tend to think of it in fairly black and white terms. Dominant/submissive. Master/slave. Top/bottom. Which, while understandable, does not begin to factor in all of the people that do not fit into one neat little box. Humans are complex creatures, and so is their wiring. Many of us do not fit into just one box. Our proclivities and desires may vary from day-to-day and person-to-person depending on our mood and headspace.
While this fluidity makes perfect sense to switches, others can find it off-putting. As Rodney Dangerfield puts it, “I can’t get no respect”, and this often seems to apply to switches in particular. Switches are rather like the bisexuals of the kink world. Many seem to want them to pick a side, finding their willingness to explore all the flavors of kink unsettling. Which is an unfortunate viewpoint. It isn’t that switches are greedy or indecisive, they just like a variety of things.
As a dedicated switch myself, I would never be able to pick just one side of the slash and stay there. It would not feel natural to me. My fluidity is part of my basic wiring and I cannot change that. Today’s column tackles the topic of switching and some of issues that can arise as a result.
How Can Switches Be Taken Seriously In The Kink Scene?
“I am a heterosexual guy who has always had kinky thoughts and am slowly getting into the scene. I know for a fact that I love being Dominant and in control. I do not think that in general I have a submissive side but I am a big foot fetishist and love breath play. In these two activities I enjoy bottoming as well as Topping. My question is how do I introduce myself to potential partners in the scene? I have heard that many do not view switches seriously. I do not know how to reconcile these various interest of mine.”–Switches Seen Seriously?
How do to introduce yourself to potential partners? With honesty. Honesty is always the easiest (and best) policy. One of my core beliefs is how valuable our time is. Time is your most precious commodity and where you invest it counts for everything. Be completely honest about what it is that you are looking for. Will some people find it not a fit for what they are seeking? Most certainly. However, now the both of you will have saved your precious time by not trying to make an unworkable situation fit..
By being completely honest and direct about your needs and wiring a funny thing happens…you find yourself surrounded by people that accept you as you are. No need for false masks. Some people find switchy tendencies confusing or unappealing. That is their right. It isn’t what they are looking for. But there are plenty of switches out there. For one, I am. And almost all of the people I chose to interact with are fellow switches. There are a lot of us, I assure you!
In your case, you identify as primarily Dominant but enjoy bottoming as well when it comes to foot and breath play. Sounds perfect to me! If, in the course of disclosing these interests to someone they kinkshame you or reject you for future play, did you really want to be with them anyway? Would you really want to suppress some of your innate wiring so that someone you are not fully compatible with will not freak out on you? That does not sound appealing to me in any way.
Be you. The true honest you. Be unashamed of your wiring. It is who you are. The longer and stronger you let your honest light shine, the more you will attract others that are looking for the same things you are.
Why Is Everyone In The Lifestyle So Focused On Labels?
“Why does it seem like everyone in the lifestyle is so fixated on labels? I am learning the terms but I find myself so confused. Why can’t I just do what I feel like on that particular day?? Why all the labels?”–Label Confusion
It is human nature to want to categorize and classify things–it is an innate tendency that has served us well over the millennia. This person is safe, that one is not. That person is sick, this person is healthy. This person can be trusted, this one should be avoided. We label things. It comes as naturally to us as breathing.
This innate tendency is at loggerheads with another innate human tendency–the fact that we do not tend to fit into neat little boxes. You are encountering the exact same thing that I did when I first entered the lifestyle, and I found it just as confusing. Everyone seemed so determined to slap a label on everything and incapable of knowing how to interact with things that did not fall into clearly defined categories.
As a somewhat heavy masochist, I thought this had to make me a submissive. And oh, how I tried to be a “proper” submissive when I first got into the lifestyle. I really did. And I was horrible at it. I am not submissive and the label hung poorly on me. My “failure” to live up to the label I thought I was supposed to be caused me a fair amount of distress and sleepless nights. These days I have shucked the “submissive” label and identify as a sadomasochistic switch who is a strap-on Top and a service submissive. I know, I know, more labels. But they also more accurately identify how it is that I am wired. Also, I feel at liberty to not adhere to any of these labels and can them as the situation deems fit.
The longer that you are in the lifestyle, the better of an understanding you will gain of your inclinations and tendencies and the easier it will become for you to communicate them to others. Forgive others’ desires to stick a label on things. Labeling is human nature. It is the shorthand that we use for ease of communication. Find out what it is that works for you and then accurately share that information with those that need to know. It will get easier the more you practice it, I promise.
How Do Switches Maintain Relationships On Different Sides Of The D/s Dynamic?
“As a switch, I have a partner that I am Dominant with and another partner that I am submissive to. My submissive partner says that she does not want to interact with me while I am with my Dominant, as it would be too weird for her to see me acting submissively towards someone else. Trying to maintain both of these relationships and not have them overlap is starting to become a bit challenging. What should I do?”–AC/DC
From one poly switch to another, I completely understand what it is that you are currently going through. Relationships are complex and ever shifting things, even so called “normal” monogamous ones. Add in poly and kink and there are suddenly even more factors to consider.
The core of this is that you have to respect your submissive’s feelings about the subject. She is giving you a very clear boundary: She does not want to see you interacting in a submissive manner. It sounds that while she is comfortable dating a switch, because she sees you as her Dominant she does not want to see you being submissive towards someone else. It would not work for her.
While that is her boundary and you have to respect it, your feelings are valid here as well. You say that trying to maintain both of these relationships and not have them overlap is starting to become challenging for you. Just how challenging? Is it a deal breaker? Or is it something that you can make work with some juggling and consideration and scheduling? Only you can answer these questions.
Either you can accommodate for your submissive’s request or you end up finding it too challenging to be sustainable long-term. It is unfortunate that there are subs that feel that any amount of submission from their top diminishes their Dominant credibility. However it plays out, I wish you the best of luck. Your best asset in this particular situation is lots of clear and honest communication with all parties involved.