Squipped with permission from rmjwell
A new way of looking at d/s relationships (courtesy of Teramis)
I went to a presentation tonight titled "Getting the D/s relationship you want" but could've more likely been called "A sociological examination of power dynamics in intimate sexual relationships." Either way, it was a exceptionally good presentation, not that I would expect any less from Teramis.
She ended her presentation with the phrase "equity does not require equality," and I think that is a good place to start. Negotiated, consensual d/s relationships --of whatever duration-- are not based on each partner behaving equally, but each partner behaving fairly towards the other(s). The degree to which that inequal behavior permeates the relationship is a good measuring stick to classify the type of d/s relationship the partnership has.
At the rarest extreme is what might be called Owner-Property Relationships (OPR). In an OPR it is not necessary for one party to control all aspects of the other's behavior at all times, merely that that option exists and should it be exercised it would not alter the relationship power dynamic. Other, more historically loaded terms for this sort of relationship is Master/slave, Total Power Exchange, or consensual slavery.
Less rare are what might be called Very Controlling D/S (VCDS) relationships. In these relationships, the superior partner has the option to control many aspects of the inferior partner's life but still some things remain out of bounds --choice of job, child-rearing, political affiliation to name a few examples. While VCDS relationships provides equitable returns for both partners, the power dynamic within the relationship is asymetrical along many lines. Both partners refer less to themselves "doing D/S" but rather use the language that "they are in a D/S relationship."
Moving towards a greater allignment of equity and equality are Fluid D/S (FDS) relationships. In FDS relationships switching of roles between partners may occur and it is not unlikely that either or both parties will vacilate in their language about whether they are "doing D/S" or "in a D/S relationship." It is less likely that one partner is the de facto superior partner when it comes to decision-making.
Ultimately, the point where equity and equality are almost indistinguishable are Scene-Delimited D/S (SDDS) relationships. These are relationships where erotic role play is a spice to the interaction rather than a core ingredient. People in SDDS relationships engage in negotiation and renegotiation for every scene. It is in these relationships where one will most often hear the phrase "we do D/S" as in "we do D/S on the weekends when we role-play master and servant." It is important that both parties are satisfied on a transaction-by-transaction level.
One key to having an enjoyable D/S relationship, looking at these models, is that the partners match up not only in their fetish interests, but that they compliment each other on their desire to impose control or structure and their lattitude for self-determination. A dominant who desires to micro-manage her submissive would be poorly matched with someone who desires or requires a high degree of self-determination. Contrariwise, a submissive who yearns for her choices to be limited and her behavior guided and molded inch by inch would likely feel lost and abandoned by a dominant who delegated tasks and with only a deadline as her guide.
Teramis introduced two concepts that I think are very useful: Regemence and Electence. She deliberately coined terms that did not previously exist to avoid much of the history and vagueness that other terms --such as Master, slave, dominant, and submissive-- carry with them. Regemence is the desire to for control; in the case of the dominant it is the requirement to exert control and structure in and around your life so as to feel contentment. Different people --different dominants-- require differing levels of regemence in their lives. The compliment to Regemence, Electence, is the degree to which one requires control over the choices in their own lives. Some people must decide every little detai, others are happy to comply with another's wishes, and yet more are in-between.
For a D/S relationship to succeed in the long term, the partners should have compatible desires for regemence and electence; if they do not, stress will likely ensue and the relationship will be strained, possibly to the point of breaking.
Additionally, I believe that it is important that partners be compatible in their desires for regemence and electence at several differing levels. The relationship level or who decides and how is it decided whether the relationship continues and in what form? The goal level is where specific outcomes are decided. Finally, there is the process level where how goals are realized is the key consideration. A submissive partner who agrees with the dominant partner on who controls the exit from the relationship and how the goals of the relationship are determined, may have a problem if zie prefers a great degree of autonomy in carrying out a task (so long as it is accomplished) and a dominant who wishes to micro-manage each step of the task.
So, I think I learned something new tonight. Thanks again to Teramis!