ASK THE THERAPIST
by William A. Henkin, Ph.D.
Copyright © 1999 by William A. Henkin
<Q> Two years ago I met the woman of my dreams. She looked right, she felt right, and she looked to me as her Master from the start. She was devoted, obedient, as masochistic as I am sadistic, and one all-around pleasure to me. Naturally enough I took her as my slave, and ever since we have lived a very happy life with her in my collar and at my feet. I didn't even see trouble coming until she told me that she no longer wants to wear my collar or belong to me, even though she says she still loves me.
Why? At a party last winter I met a boy I'd known a couple of years before I met my slave. Though I generally prefer to be with women I've certainly played with men in the past and at the party I played with this boy some, and later I invited him over. He and I have been playing ever since. Like my slave, he is obedient, devoted, and masochistic, and I've thought about collaring him too: I think a matched brace of slaves would look very good on my leash, and having him around would reduce my girl's obligations around the house considerably.
Now it turns out that my slave is not happy with the situation I've described, but I admit to some confusion. First, since I'm her Master, why can't I do what I want? What right does she have, in other words, to dictate who I can or cannot play with? Second, even if she did have the right to control me, why didn't she tell me what she was feeling before she asked to be set free? She won't or can't tell me.
Our situation is not resolved. I haven't agreed to release her but I haven't refused to either, and I said I would seek counsel on the question. While I want to keep my slave and cannot abide the thought of a different sort of relationship with her, I also love my girl and do not want to lose her. What can I do?
<A> The notion that Tops always get to do whatever they want is a happy fantasy shared by many people, Tops and bottoms alike, who've been masturbating to BDSM imagery for years or maybe decades. It is also a fantasy that is a common part of what brings couples in this lifestyle to my door, because while the fantasy is dearly held, it turns out not to be true. Your slave girl is a fully-fledged human being with needs and desires of her own that are just as real and just as important as yours. One of her needs or desires apparently has been to belong to you in whatever configuration you and she worked out, and the way your desire and hers matched seems to have been a happy coincidence.
But another of her needs, apparently, is not to share you, or at least not to share you with this boy, or maybe not to share you without being consulted about and agreeing to the terms, and in this matter your desires and hers are at odds. If she also needs to presume that your needs are more important than hers, then when you brought the boy aboard she may have felt a conflict between two of her own needs, and may have had to make a painful choice. I don't know her, so this is a bit of a guess, but I suspect she isn't trying to dictate who your play partners can be. Instead I'd guess she is trying to take care of herself by making the best of two bad choices in an untenable situation: either your needs come before hers, or she has to ask you to give up the boy. As I read your letter, then, you can play with anyone you want without losing her love, but if you do, she won't be part of your stable. The choice is probably yours.
Why your slave didn't make her feelings known earlier is a thornier question because you can only get the real answer from her if she can tell you. My observation of 24/7 relationships is that Tops very often either refuse or decline to hear what causes bottoms to be unhappy. Sometimes a Top who claims to want to hear about a bottom's distress makes the bottom pay a high emotional price for such a disclosure, by obvious disapproval, or by becoming peevish, or by withholding some form of love, permission, or other grace. Whether out of a desire to please the Top or from a desire not to feel rejected, the bottom learns to keep complaints from the Top until they reach the bursting point, and by then the relationship is often bruised or damaged. If your girl is serious about wanting you to set her free she is saying the damage is so severe it may be beyond repair. In that case, sooner or later you'll probably have to let her go. On the other hand if her request is a plea of desperation, the damage may be less and negotiation may still be possible. In this case you will almost certainly have to let the boy go in order to keep her.
Finally, successful BDSM relationships are usually about relationships first, and BDSM second. Master or Mistress may own his or her slave outright and the possession may be very complete and real, but in our little erotic world of "safe, sane, and consensual," this is always possession made by agreement between two equal entities. Some famous Hindu sage whose name I don't recall has been quoted as saying that "reality is an illusion but a very convincing illusion." We might say something similar about 24/7 Master-Mistress/slave relationships: when they're good their reality is very convincing, but it is an illusion. Perhaps your 24/7 was so good you forgot that piece of the puzzle, and perhaps your girl is asking you to remember it.
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