When love gets in the way

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There's an interesting challenge for some BDSM enthusiasts: namely having a satisfying or rewarding BDSM relationship with a partner without the complication of love. Or maybe I should say without the complication of being "in love".

The reason why I added that qualification of "in love" is that, a) I think that friends can be eminently well-suited to being BDSM partners, and b) that friends can love each other. I think that there's no reason why a master and a slave can't be really good friends, or why a dominant and a submissive can't be friends either. In fact, building a BDSM relationship on top of a friendship means that you have a head start on trust and respect and this is very good.

But for many people being in love changes things. Maybe it is the case that we humans are predisposed to falling in love with someone we're close to and intimate with, and it's definitely the case that we try to be close to and intimate with our BDSM partners, even if it's not necessarily sexual and even if it does tend to involve pain for some, a lot, or all of the time.

Being "in love" seems to be its own justification and motivation for behaving in certain ways such as wanting to spend a lot of time with someone, looking deeply in their eyes or buying them chocolates. These aren't bad things in themselves and I can certainly see buying chocolates as something a submissive might do anyway, particularly if they're ordered to do so. But being in love really only works when both people are, er, afflicted and want to spend time together, look into each other's eyes and do things for each other. If both aren't in love then for one it becomes problematic and for the other it becomes painful, and not in a good way.

I suppose the nearest parallel we can get to this in vanilla relationships is where a friend falls in love with another friend. While they're friends then they can do things together, even intimate things, and have a great time. But they stay friends and there's a comfortable distance kept between them. There are boundaries which they maintain and they treat each other as separate individuals. It gives them a sort of freedom-through-separation.

When being "in love" enters the picture then it mainly seems to be boundary issues which arise. When someone is in love they don't want the same boundaries which they may have had before as friends. They want more closeness.

Boundaries equals freedom for some people and when someone wants to be too close to them - be it their partner, their friend, their master, their slave, their submissive, or their dominant - then they can find it terribly restrictive.

Falling in love with a BDSM partner can also change the nature of dominance and submission. For example, dominating and torturing may not be quite so appealing any more.

I don't think that there's a tablet you can take or an injection you can get which will prevent someone falling in love. It is though something to think about when considering a BDSM relationship. If either you or your partner think being in love is a good idea and the other doesn't then there may be rough seas ahead.

It's something important to discuss with your partner. It may not be something you can predict or forestall, but it can be something you can think about in advance so that if and when it does happen to you or your partner you're not completely surprised and you know how you both feel about it.