Friday, March 23, 2012


I have been thinking about reciprocity in relationships of all kinds:  friendships, romantic relationships, and kinky relationships.  I have been trying to be more aware of these interactions in my life lately, really looking at each relationship I have with a person and spending some time analyzing what it is that we get from one another.

A couple of weeks ago, Hedo had a task for me that involved creating Venn Diagrams for my closest partners, separating each person into circles of Love, Lust, and Kink.  He also had me rank each person based on time spent compared to my interest in that person.  This was a very challenging task.  Some people were easy to place.  Damascus, being my primary love interest, of course was in the center of all three Venn circles and was strong and steady on my list of interest and time spent. It became an exercise in discovering which relationships had a clear balance of give and take, and which ones were unbalanced.

I had one partner that was much more difficult to place and gauge my interest in, as there has been conflict between us often lately.  This task made me think about the balance of how much time I was spending trying to communicate with him, having conflict, being unhappy, having to talk about my difficult feelings about him to others, and working on resolving issues with him. When I measured all of this time spent dealing with difficulties against the time I spend with him being happy and blissful, I noticed a disconnect. We have since talked about this and are trying to work with each other to fix this disconnect, which may involve meeting each other halfway on some of the issues we have, or perhaps eventually deciding that we are not compatible and changing our relationship. I at least feel better about acknowledging that there are issues that need to change, and right now I am feeling optimistic that we will be able to work things out.

One of the things that has been hardest about my relationship with this partner is feeling like I have been chasing him without being responded to in a similar way.  It may have been that his method of response is different than what I expect or desire, but that makes me feel as if the amount or intensity of his emotion was not on the same level as mine to him.  I spent many years of my failed marriage feeling like I was chasing my ex down, wanting to spend time with him, but he did not reciprocate.  Yet he still wanted me to want him. I am so scared to make this same mistake with new partners, and I find that I sometimes I shut down when it comes to reaching out to them, especially if I am feeling that the balance of attention is off and I am not getting reciprocal love and attention in return to what I am giving.  I get stubborn and refuse to play the game of chase and give up.  Except nobody knows I am even playing this game but me. Which is kind of what I did in my marriage, too.

After a while, I had foolishly accepted my marriage would be filled with loneliness and I stopped trying, to the point where I was just numb and alone, yet still married. I had accepted that I would be living this way until some friends with some tough love saw my misery and suggested that what I was accepting was not fair or right and that I could actually be happy.  That tough love started me on the path I have been on for the past few years, my post-divorce years.  Those friends stood by my side through the most difficult times of my life, listened to me talk and read what I wrote, even the most confusing and painful stuff, and selflessly helped me through it all.  And then they stood by me as I started dating again and fell in love and started to find a new happiness that I didn't think was possible.

I think about those relationships with my friends, how much they helped me and how much they gave me.  Listening ears, lots and lots of hugs and snuggles, laughter, encouragement to be social and find love again, a place to sleep when I was lonely. For a long time, I felt indebted to these friends, feeling like I could never reciprocate the love and support they gave me.  I no longer feel that sense of debt, as I have been by the sides of many of them to listen and support, as I have grown stronger and more self confident as I have healed from the divorce.  I feel like I do and have given back and feel appreciated for that.  I think one aspect of why having a play party was so important to me was that I have developed, in my kinky life, something that I can share with others that they haven't experienced in a long time (or ever) and I have some of the confidence to create an event (and plan another) to share this aspect of myself with them.  It is a little way of giving back, and it fills me with happiness to see these friends start to explore the things that have been so much of a struggle for me to explore.  And if I have some kind of hand in that, I am very pleased.

And, back to the start of this exercise, I think about the reciprocity in the relationship I have with Hedo. There is a give and take that I don't always understand.  Sometimes he is like a mentor or a counselor, but then again, it's not as simple as that. I feel like I ask a lot from him by asking him to give me tasks, but I enjoy challenging myself as I do them.  The best parts are reporting back to him by either blogging, writing, or talking about my experiences. I clearly benefit from the tasks, but I wonder what it does for him, even though he has told me that he very much enjoys giving them to me.  I mean, I can see the appeal of some of them... making pretty girls blush and squirm and get excitedly anxious at the thought of being demanded to push their sexual limits and watching them DO it to please you is pretty sexy and powerful.  But what about these more cerebral, psychological exercises?  What is the benefit there?  Maybe when I accomplish the tasks and learn or explore something new I am giving back to him a sense of his own accomplishment, as the task maker.  Maybe it is an exchange of power or control, a pushing of boundaries of the mind or heart, intended with a positive outcome of learning or discovery.  The D/s dynamic is much easier to understand in the physical and sexual realms, but this psychological part is much more heady and complex, which is part of the whole appeal to me.

I hope one day I will be able to just accept this give and take and not spend so much time analyzing it.  But I think I need to do this to be aware, because I have such a hard time understanding relationships still.  It would be nice to be able to feel and accept reciprocity like breath, giving and receiving, breathing in and out, to and from, without burdening myself with so many questions and insecurities.

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