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The Importance of Trust In BDSM

The idea of good and bad when it comes to sex is entirely subjective, but it’s largely true to say that if ‘good’ sex is of the body, then ‘good’ BDSM is of the mind. That is to say, if sex is the physical act of love, then BDSM is the psychological act of love. And yet, sex and BDSM are not necessarily different things, nor are they the same. They can be part of each other, and they can be the opposites of each other. They can exist together or independently, and in both cases they are equally strong and equally satisfying. Together, they are more than the sum of their parts.

bdsm trust

Does that sound confusing? It should, because the relationship between sex and BDSM is a complex one, especially if you’re a bondage beginner. That means that there’s one element of the participants’ relationship that’s more important than any other: trust.

Let’s define a couple of terms, starting with BDSM itself. There are several different interpretations of this acronym and none of them are set in stone. A good way to think about it is not as a single acronym, but a blend. It looks something like this:

BDSM-Acronym-Meaning

We’re talking more about the domination/submission elements of BDSM here, with some reference to restraints and impact play, although the concept of trust really underpins any healthy BDSM activity or relationship.

Why Is Trust Important?

Offering your submission to someone requires an extraordinary amount of trust, not to mention bravery and confidence too. In doing so, you are making a very bold statement, and the implication of it is that you expect that trust not to be abused by the receiver. Accepting someone’s submission is similarly an exercise in trust: you have to acknowledge that they’ve put a lot of faith in you and respect it, because the moment this trust is damaged for any reason or withdrawn, as is the right of the giver. You must also recognize it might be impossible to earn it back.

That is the truth of sexual dominance: it’s not about demanding submission, but earning it. Being a trustworthy person is absolutely fundamental to that.

So What Does Trust Look Like in BDSM?

When you’re on the outside of such a relationship, you might be tempted to think the participants are unequal, particularly in a D/s relationship. But the truth is quite the opposite. Dom and sub are two sides of the same coin, both equally dependent on each other.

And it’s the trust between the partners on which everything hinges. Trust is the pivot that keeps them equally aligned and perfectly weighted. Whenever a BDSM relationship is abusive, it’s because of the absence of trust, and by extension the absence of respect.

(This, incidentally, is the essential reason why Christian Grey is the subject of so much criticism: disregarding all the arguments about poor writing and characterization, at the most fundamental level Christian Grey is simply not a trustworthy person. As such the intimacy between him and Ana Steele feels dangerously out of synch with the real life tenets of positive BDSM. It is purely because more experienced readers of 50 Shades don’t see anything to trust about him, and therefore struggle to relate to him as a ‘good’ Dom.)

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BDSM is Dialogue

Depending on the dynamics of the relationship, the enactment of any kind of BDSM activity is essentially a continuous dialogue between the participants, both verbal and non-verbal, and the better the communication, the better the sex. This dialogue is incredibly important because, at the risk of over generalizing here, the emotions wrapped up in a BDSM relationship are more intense and than those of a non-kink relationship.

The emotions of participants in D/s relationships often need more support, more analysis and more understanding than other types of relationships, and as such there needs to be constant communication. The trust required to bare your most honest feelings is profound and unquestionable.

Conclusion

There are many excellent guides and resources for those looking to add a BDSM element to their existing relationship, or embark on a new one. The key thing to remember is that at all points, your ability to have your needs heard, respected, and met (within reason), should never be questionable.

Sensual Spanking -

About Donna Turner

Donna is a Volonté contributor and freelance writer who lives in San Francisco with her husband and two sons. Her work has appeared in Psychology Today, Go! Magazine (Australia) and is regularly featured in the San Francisco Herald.

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2 comments

  1. Very insightful article that should be read by anyone whose education about D/s relationships comes from “50 Shades,” as well as by all of the 20-year-old “Domly Doms” on FetLife who think it’s as easy as ordering a self-identified sub online to drop to her knees & suck his cock.

  2. Thank you for the comments! I like to call those online doms ‘bulldoms’ because all they understand is blunt force. But every Dom has to start somewhere, right?

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