So I’ve been reading Power Circuits: Polyamory in a Power Dynamic – a book by Raven Kaldera on doing power exchange and non-monogamy at the same time. At this point, I’m only through the first three parts, midway through the fourth (of I don’t-know-how-many because I’m reading this on an e-reader and can’t just flip back to the ToC… that I know of), so there’s still some left yet to read. But it’s already got me thinking.
Boy, has it ever got me thinking.
As is frequently the case, it has me mostly thinking about the stuff that didn’t get mentioned, or that didn’t get talked about as much as I would have really liked.
The book has numerous contributors – D-types and s-types, folks who wrote essays about the experience they’ve had being in their particular type of dynamic or leather-phamily, or what-have-you… and it’s all relevant stuff.
But. (You knew this was coming, didn’t you?)
By and large – with a few notable exceptions, which I’ll talk about shortly – the book is about how to be (or have) a fairly monogamous/monogam-ish submissive in a relationship with a poly/open dominant. Most of the time, the scenario of a submissive with multiple partners was one where she (usually she) had a vanilla spouse and a dominant. Not always, but frequently.
So there was a LOT of information/suggestions in the book for how to calm a submissive’s insecurities, how to acknowledge the vulnerable place they’re in, and all the rest of it. Which is useful information, to be sure – I can extract a lot of the stuff about vulnerability, fears, insecurities and what-not and apply them to my own situation.
What was barely even mentioned in the book, though, was, well, my situation. Being a dominant who is less poly than her submissive, being the dominant one and the insecure one at the same time, figuring out how to Be The Boss and hold your sub the way then need to be held (a) without using your power for evil[1], and (b) while balancing their time, energy, and attention so you AND your sub’s other partners all get enough face time[2].
The only contributor (so far – I’m well past the half-way mark on this book, but I’m not finished it yet) to even mention that Dom(me)s get jealous/insecure was Andrea Zanin. And, yeah, being at least slightly familiar with her philosophies on power (and poly), I’m not surprised that it was she who brought it up.
What I am surprised at is that nobody else did.
There were a LOT of quotations from, and examples of, submissives who were hoping their mono dominants would come around to trying polyamoury, and even more on the subject of poly (on the dominant’s part) being a deal-breaker for the submissive in question. It felt like the implication/assumption being made by the author/editor was that a dominant could/would just say “Nope. We’re not doing poly,” or “Nope. I get to have multiple People but, as my slave/sub/property, you don’t,” or some other form of one-sided polyamoury that conveniently means that the dominant in question never has to worry about dealing with hir own insecurities around sharing hir People.
I think this was a mistake.
I mean, yes, it would have been awfully convenient for me, as a “monogamish” owner with a polyamourous[3] Person, if the book had included a heap of essays and anecdotes from dominants talking about how they handled jealousy, time-management, prioritizing, and insecurities while in a relationship with a submissive who was the central point – or the not-so-central point – of an amoeba that included both power exchanges and vanilla relationships[4]. That would have been awfully handy.
But “handy to have had” isn’t the same as “mistake to not include”, and I do think it was a mistake to not include that stuff – particularly a significant amount of that stuff – in a book like this.
Andrea’s essay talked a little bit – very, very briefly – about why it’s important for a person in a position of power to not use that power for evil[1] to build hirself an unhealthy, “co-dependent”, force-teamed microcosm wherein zi never has to face hir own insecurities. (This applies in pretty-much any situation, btw, but it’s particularly relevant within the context of the intense emotional/personal relationships that one gets in D/s, M/s, and O/p). But I need more than that.
What I said, above, about being able to extract stuff and apply it to my own situation, that’s still true. But I would have really liked to see examples about how a poly submissive can remind hir dominant they they’re still wanted (both in general and) as Large and In Charge[5] without giving off the vibe that getting vulnerable[6] and opening up about feeling insecure was, in some way, not being Dom(me) Enough[7]. I’d also have liked to see stories/essays from individual dominants about how they negotiated their own insecurities about Sharing, how they differentiated between territoriality, desire to provide/maintain control, and straight-up fear-of-loss: How did they mess up? How did they succeed?
The long and the short of it is that I want to know how you – or you, or you, or you – do it with grace and generosity and the recognition that it’s not just you that you’re looking out for when you’re In Charge of someone else’s life.
So that’s my question. Got any suggestions?
Ms Syren.
[1] By-which I mean remembering that, as The Boss, it’s your job to guide your sub and encourage hir to flourish into hir Best Self, rather than to use your Control over your sub’s life to build yourself a cocoon wherein you’ll never, ever, ever have to deal with your own Issues.
[2] The opposite of Using Your Powers For Evil is, in this situation, becoming a martyr by putting yourself last… when you are supposed to be providing your sub with direction and being the center/anchor for hir life.
[3] She’s poly-fuckerous, too, but by and large she’s far, FAR more likely to wind up loving someone, with or without sexual involvement, than to wind up having a one-nighter. This is both harder and easier for me to deal with than if it were the other way around. I’ll probably have to write a post about that at some point.
[4] There was one. A fellow wrote about his experiences in a queer leather family with multiple levels in the familial hierarchy that were more complicated than “X is my owner, and we both own Q” or “X is my owner and Q’s owner and we are sibling-slaves”. It was a help, in terms of finding language to describe, say, what Kitty – Ghost’s freshly-collared serving girl – is to me, or how to describe our relationship… which is a little more complicated than “two arms of a V” because of the once-removed power relationships that are also in the mix.
[5] Example: My Ghost once had a submissive of her own, in another city, and she’d periodically go and visit them for a weekend. But she’d come home and curl up at my feet because she needed that anchoring from me to know that she was home. Her doing that, and needing that, made things easier for me as well.
[6] Vulnerability, as we know, is sort of where it’s at when it comes to connecting with other people. It sucks that it gets such a bad rap.
[7] So much of this is also tied up with gender dynamics. The “masculine ideals” of being the knight on the white horse who will die in battle rather than run for safety, the “feminine ideals” of being able to do every, perfectly, without breaking a sweat or getting an eyelash out of place… they both map really, really neatly onto the ideas that dominants “should” be control-oriented and submissives “should” be service-oriented and that, along with that, dominants “should” be invulnerable and stoic and submissives “should” be able to Do All The Things automagically… Gah! It’s just fucking us all up from the inside out!