Over the last couple of weeks in talking with several people this subject has come up, one I feel is very important in the community, one I feel is very misunderstood and misrepresented.
First of all, in my opinion, love is very necessary in a D/s relationship. It’s necessary in any relationship from strangers passing on the street to living with one's life partner. Of course there is a great deal of difference in these types of love. But I will be concentrating on the love that a Dominant and a submissive need and should have.
Love, in its basic form, in an attraction, the fundamental attraction that holds the universe together, and as such has to be there for any two people to interact. It is the same with a D/s relationship. The Dominant and the submissive has to have an attraction in order to interact, in order to play, in order to "share" a D/s session, experience or more.
One thing that is discussed between parties before playing is the subject of trust. With trust, love is also involved. It is one's attraction that makes up want to take the chance of exploring, of wishing to give/take more, to become free to submit and surrender. Trust takes time to build up, and as trust is built up, so is love for their partner. And it is/should be the same for the Dominant.
Trust is a two-way street. Where the submissive has to trust the Dominant to care for her, to keep her safe, to NOT take undo advantage of her, the Dominant has to trust the submissive to be honest with him, to express herself of the things she likes and doesn't like, to tell him if he is going to far or to fast for her (and the Dominant in turn has to not use this against the submissive as one should NEVER be punished for telling the truth).
We all have touched on the subject of abuse and D/s, what it is and what it isn't. To me there is one basic difference between abuse and D/s. That difference is love. Showing that one person cares for the other. An abuser will beat, humiliate, torture the submissive and then will leave her, or he will beat her till she cannot take it anymore. Then he will accuse her of not being submissive enough or some other line which is nothing but an excuse to try to justify his lack of showing concern.
In a true D/s relationship the Dominant will show care and concern, he will administer "after care" (the treatment used to restore a submissive's equilibrium after she has been made to submit to such levels that she has trouble functioning normally). He will do that because he realizes his responsibility to keep a submissive safe, to look after her well being, to let her know that no matter what the Dominant does to her she will never be abandoned or made to feel abandoned (as will happen if she is left to herself after a session).
To sum everything up, love is a requirement for a D/s relationship. With love comes the things both parties need from the relationship, and also to validate that D/s is not a relationship of two separate needs and desires, but instead is a relationship of two individuals that complement each other. That the submissive needs the Dominant to complete her, and in turn the Dominant needs the submissive to complete him. The D/s relationship is not about who's strong and who's weak. It’s about becoming whole and the force that brings that whole together is love.
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