Problem-Solving in Structured Relationships – Introduction

Most of us have many kinds of relationships, including professional, friend-to-friend, sexual, and marriage. However, so-called structured lifestyle relationships, such as those between Dominant and submissive (D/s) or consensual Master and slave (M/s),represent very different types of accord, and can be profoundly different in purpose, structure, and appearance. Nonetheless, what all relationships have in common is that they define something substantial that we share together. This could be a common professional goal, the closeness and security of family, or an intimate role with a partner or lover. If they are healthy, they provide support and help us grow physically, emotionally and spiritually. People relating to structured lifestyle relationships – such as those between Dominant and submissive, or Master and slave – endorse a unique passion and affinity for the lifestyle and might also be partners or lovers for life. Like other relationships, these relationships have the potential to enrich our lives immeasurably.
Even the best and strongest relationships go through periods of distress and turmoil. Every person is different, and we may be in disagreement at times. It is also human to commit an error or make a wrong decision. Disagreements, misunderstandings and mistakes in a relationship can lead to contention and conflict. This is an obvious fact, but nevertheless it needs to be clearly stated and accepted. If any of us are drawn to structured relationships with the perception that it is the easiest way to eliminate discord from our lives, now would be a good time to reevaluate that idea. We may each believe it is meaningful and needed in our lives, but that does not mean it will ever be simple or without conflicts and disagreements.
Although many of the problems and issues we encounter in structured relationships are similar to those in “vanilla” or egalitarian relationships, there are also others that are unique to our lifestyle. Our relationships typically have a very different order. For example, many may practice protocols and rules that establish and enforce a structured dynamic. At a minimum, people in these types of relationships tend to identify and operate within a stratified control system that enables power exchange.
In this multiple-part essay offers a discourse to describe and support problem resolution in structured relationships:
Part I: How is problem resolution in structured and vanilla relationships different?

  • Part II: A roadmap to problem resolution (to come)
  • Part III: Dealing with feelings (to come)
  • Part IV: Overcoming obstacles together strengthens our bonds (to come)

Throughout this essay I refer to the person “in charge” as the dominant, and the person “who follows” as the submissive. Both are meant to be interpreted in a non-gender specific way. For expositional convenience only, I refer to the dominant as “he” and the submissive as “she”. Similarly, I use the term structured relationship for any consensual relationship that has a structured dynamic with some form of power exchange or surrender of control, such D/s, M/s, Daddy/boy, to mention a few.
slave jorgia assisted in the preparation of an earlier version of the essay that was circulated privately.

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