I recently started getting to know a man, having recently met online. Anyone who has done this square-dance knows how tough it is to establish sufficient mutual interest on a dating site and then establish, rather quickly, a pattern of contact and interaction comfortable and reasonably sustainable for all involved parties. Add to that distance and it gets to be quite a complex emotional ecosystem.
This man has, thus far, been good about returning email, we started on Skype, and have been in some sort of contact daily….that is, until he mentioned he was going to have a really packed couple of days of business and travel and would be back in touch toward the end of the week. I thought it was pretty cool that he mentioned it beforehand, and wished him well in his business.
Then, of course, because I’m me, I went into circular loops of ridiculous hyperspeculation where I froze and microtomed and analyzed each and every cell-layer within our interactions and tried to figure out how to survive TWO WHOLE DAYS without an epic rambling Skype chat. It is funny how quickly one can grow accustomed to and desirous of contact with someone, eh?
Upon returning from his trip today and before going to sleep, he took the time to catch up for a few minutes. I couldn’t figure out why I was so surprised and touched, but I was grateful for his taking the time, despite being tired and having shit to do, to stop to say hello and inquire as to how I was doing. When I thanked him for doing so, he replied “It is the least I can do.”
Then it came clear: he was right. If you are trying to get to know someone, or maintain a relationship, it IS the least you can do to respect the desire of the other person to do the same. And yet…I am so, so accustomed to men not even doing “the least they could do” to solidify and nurture our relationships, this small but significant gesture is something that surprises me.
It is not impossible to shift your life around when it means getting what you want. And yet some folks expect other people to do so to suit their needs without the thought of reciprocity. If a friend said to you “I want a car. But I am not willing to budget and save money for it, I don’t want to pay for insurance, gas or maintenance and I want it to run whenever I want it to.” you’d laugh in their face. And yet, in the context of Power Exchange relationships, we see this all of the time.
Dominants are often under the impression that they are free to remain calcified and static and let submissives turn themselves inside out in order to please them because that is the nature of submission, of slavery, of ownership.
I remember the slow, crushing sense of devastation when a dominant to whom I had submitted was finding it frustrating that we had to have some Big Talk go down in order to re-align things that had fallen off-track in our relationship. “I thought slaves were supposed to make your life easier!” he joked. Of course. For me, this was a tricky moment because my first reaction was to think “He is right. I am being too high maintenance and I should shut up and shut down.” My second reaction was to say “Hold on…Prime Directive” here…I am supposed to bring issues to his attention. Especially when the issue is that he is not keeping his word on having these heart-to-heart talks and that is impacting the foundation of our trust. Shit.”
The least we can do when we are trying to build trust to create relationships, to let someone know we wish to be there for them is to actually make time. Time is, hands down, THE most PRECIOUS commodity one owns. And to have someone offer me that is a gift I do not take for granted. And I hope none of us in power exchange relationships ever, ever forget that.
You are intrinsically worthy of time and attention from your partners. You ought not to have to “earn” that and you sure as hell are not “needy” or “high-maintenance” (I loathe this being used as a pejorative. High-maintenance often means high-performance) because you crave and NEED to attention and affection of a partner. Isn’t that WHY we form these relationships in the first place? Our need for attention? Affection? Contact? Love? To be seen and valued?
Anyway, who can say if things with this new Swedish dominant will flourish. Maybe, maybe not. I can however, already say I am grateful to have had the reminder that even “the least you can do” can carry some weight, and warm the heart of someone who has been a bit bruised in the past.