Mapping motivations to activities

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It would be very nice if once you had worked out what a person's different motivations were for doing BDSM, that you could then simply go through a checklist and and pronounce that all they need for complete joy and happiness is to have a type XYZ relationship in which they played role ABC and where the activities they and their partner engaged in were activities P, Q, and R.

It may well be that with the right questionnaires and enough checklists that you'd be able to get within a stone's throw of being able to do this, but there are going to be variables which are always going to throw such simple solutions off target.

The factors which affect this mapping

As we've seen elsewhere, two of the important elements of effective BDSM are penetration and engagement. Anything which affects either of these two is going to effect how well a particular activity satisfies a particular want or need.

This often means that means that it's not just the activities, but also their context which determines how well they work. We can get an idea about this from the following book extract:


The following is an extract from Understanding BDSM Relationships by Peter Masters, pp. 5 - 6:

Why is it that being embarrassed at work in front of your colleagues by your boss is something bad, while being compelled to lick the boots of your partner at home can be the best thing since sliced bread?

Why is being beaten with a stick in a dark alley by someone who makes off with your money something to get totally pissed off about, but being accurately and deftly caned on the buttocks by your partner so hard and for so long that you can’t sit down for days without wincing can be an experience to enthusiastically share with your friends over coffee?

Why would you never think of pulling a knife on someone on the street when you actually have a wide range of knives at home which you quite happily “pull” on your beloved partner, readily drawing blood from them as you carve designs into their flesh?

What is it that makes all these otherwise unpleasant or downright excruciating activities so pleasurable and satisfying?

And, importantly, what is it about the person with whom we do these BDSM activities that lets this astounding transformation of suffering or pain into pleasure happen? Is it the person? Is it the relationship we have with them? Is it both?

This context in which we do our BDSM activities or have our BDSM relationship really leads us to the idea of our state of mind. If our state of mind isn't appropriate, then the deftest flogging, or the most painful torture, or the most dominating domination isn't going to take us where we need to go in our minds, and it is in our minds where we find BDSM satisfaction.

Some of the factors which are going to affect this include:

  • Trust
  • Communication
  • How strong our wants or needs are - if they're not particular strong then our ability to achieve them can easily be derailed

We can break trust down further:

  • Confidence in ourselves and our partner - how well we think we and our partner can pull off whatever activity or relationship we are trying to achieve; and this then leads into being able to surrender and be completely subject to what happens
  • Security - how safe we feel, both now and in the future, with what we are doing and who we are doing it with

Mappings we can be confident about

If we have a good context, then there are some mappings between motivations and activities or relationships which will satisfy them which we can be quite confident about. That's not to say that they'll always be OK, but they're likely to be OK in most cases.