A couple of things have struck me as we’ve began our negotiation- the first was that I found myself agreeing to things simply because they didn’t feel important enough to disagree with, or because he wanted them and they didn’t seem “too bad”.
The second was that when I realized what I was doing, I recognized that I was negotiating from a position of neediness, weakness, and general apathy about the state of things (and because I hate to see him pout). I realized I was doing the exact thing that I’ve warned so many others about in the past- I was negotiating from the bottom.
So back to square one.
I may be a “wholly owned subsidiary of Septimus”, but I’m still a person, with a personal life, needs, obligations, and personality. It may be kind of fun for him to think about having a cookie cutter Stepford girlfriend, but in reality, he’d be bored with that after a couple of days. It might be fun for us to play around with that “someday”, but not while we’re negotiating. Tacit agreement and passivity have no place when trying to figure this out.
I’m sure that most people, when you ask them about a power exchange relationship would say that “RULES” are the most important thing. Making them, obeying them, and enforcing them.
I think that the first question one asks themselves when entering into a power exchange relationship is: how much power am I willing to give and how much does he truly want to have? Now, and in the future? How will we know when it’s time to give more? And are there benchmarks that we can recognize within ourselves and about each other that will let us know that we’ve met the same goals?
It seems that before you can figure out the “rules”, you have to have a meeting of the minds about those areas where one is willing to give, and the other is willing to take.
One of the first things we’ve run across is the “assumption” problem.
One of the first things that I offered as an opening was “asking permission”. Since I’d gotten out of the habit of asking permission, mostly because it felt to me a lot of times that he’d rather just not have to make decisions, I thought that was one we could work on. I narrowed the areas that I was comfortable with giving him the power to make those decisions for me by removing work or family from the table. I offered to ask permission to attend events, go out with my friends, leave the house for shopping, etc., or even going to bed if that’s what he’d prefer.
As I said, it was an offer. A point of beginning.
I assumed that he would let me know which things he wanted to control. I assumed he knew my schedule, and I assumed that when he was otherwise occupied, that he didn’t want me just twiddling my thumbs. He assumed that what I’d offered was fait accompli. But we never talked about it (at least I don’t remember doing it).
The first time I left the house without asking permission, he got angry. When I got back, he didn’t hide his irritation, and then I got confused. We hadn’t talked about what I’d said, he just assumed that I was going to do it. I was upset that he’d taken my offer and made it a rule without telling me.
And that’s when I learned another important concept- don’t offer that which you’re not prepared to do immediately.
I don’t believe that he really wants to micromanage my life. We’re adults, and we know that each of us has obligations and responsibilities that don’t involve each other. But assuming that we know what each other wants, or is thinking, puts a lot of pressure on ourselves to be mindreaders when we both really suck at it. It’s easier to ask the question- given the above things, which do you want from me?
What I learned from this episode is that I won’t make any more proposals. And I won’t accept just any old rule just because he’s the dominant. For me, it has to make sense (even if it’s just because he prefers it that way); it has to be reasonable, the purpose has to be attainable, and it has to have a way to deviate from the application given unforeseen circumstances. Any rule based upon any power exchange needs to be accepted by the submissive or it’s not an exchange, it’s an edict.
Here’s some of what I’ll be asking myself before making any more overtures about exchanging any power:
Are there areas that I don’t wish to have him meddle in? Or is this an area where he even wants to control anything?
Is there a way that we can adapt a given circumstance that is likely to occur to meet both our needs?
Is this a model that is reasonable given our lives? Can the goal of the rule be met or am I doomed to failure because of contravening circumstances? Is it a rule that I might need help with in order to meet his need? Will it still allow me to meet mine?
I’m not assuming anything anymore. The way to figure out what we want in our relationship is to offer, talk and negotiate, make a counteroffer if it’s appropriate, and then for the final result to be accepted by both of us. Edicts are not exchanges, they’re unilateral decisions that should not be the starting point of a negotiation.
Next: Specific Rules/General Guidelines/Custom and Etiquette- Which are “real” rules?