Healthy and unhealthy relating in committed Vanilla & BDSM Relationships plus the art of Conscious Relating

Relationships are the life experiences of committed love. They are the intangible vessel that allows love and intimacy to be expressed and received.  In essence, they are everything – confusing, amazing, testing, fun, but, ultimately fulfilling on a very deep level. This is why so many of us want them in our lives and can risk everything for them. They don’t however, guarantee that you’ll live happily ever after with no bumps along the way, even when we have risked it all. It’s been said that only you can make yourself truly happy. From my experience, this is pure truth and the way you relate requires you to forge relationships based on this premise.

I believe there are only really 2 types of long-term relationships – Healthy and Unhealthy ones. Let’s explore my idea of this.

UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS – ‘The Romantic Fantasy’

This kind of relationship is amazing at the start but doesn’t authentically grow over the long term. It’s where 2 people see each other as semi-circles and them coming together, in essence, makes them ‘one’ or ‘whole’. Also known as the ‘Romantic Fantasy’ as often the couple announces to each other what is so often portrayed in romantic stories – ‘We are one’ or ‘You complete me’. They derive all of their ‘happiness’ from the fact that they have each other in their lives – they look into each other for completion. Issues also arise as their individuality and independence are stifled. Rather than honouring and acknowledging each other’s individuality and especially the unique way their partner thinks and feels, they instead can’t tolerate friction that comes up in relationships. Blaming one another for causing their issues without taking responsibility for themselves. And sometimes, what they grow to resent in their partner is the very thing they can’t honour and accept in themselves. This kind of couple, in essence, are co-dependent.

THE CO-DEPENDENCY DEBATE

It’s been claimed that we’re hardwired for dependency, thus, co-dependency in a relationship is natural and great for intimacy and keeping couples together – especially in BDSM relationships. I understand that we all have some dependency needs and relationships can, to a degree, meet those needs and benefit us. But, we have found that codependent relationships rarely reap those benefits and can degrade the dynamic within a BDSM relationship over time. Often these relationships are unhealthy, and they relate to others in poisonous ways with patterns of self-sacrifice, obsession, dysfunctional communication, and control, which are both hurtful to others and ultimately self-destructive. They’re often abusive or allow themselves to be abused. There are power struggles. They try to control each outside of play so they can feel okay while getting their needs met. They may be resentful and feel responsible for their partner’s feelings and moods.

(Note: Financial dependence doesn’t necessarily create codependence IF the dependent partner has self-worth and emotional support outside the relationship)

From reading this, you may have recognised familiar patterns in your past relationships. If so, please treat yourself with compassion and empathy – the way you would treat a friend who is overly criticising themselves and you’re a witness to that. It’s ok – we do the best we can.

Time to explore something different…

HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS – ‘A Conscious Connection’

This kind of vanilla or BDSM relationship is interdependent, which I feel, is a beautiful and amazing paradox fueled by a very deep and authentic love. A paradox, as it needs two people capable of being fulfilled single and able to get through life on their own. When two people authentically love each other, it’s quite normal to feel a sense of desired closeness, connected and to feel attached.

And as I stated in the above section, to depend on each other. There is no doubt they are affected by each other as the fibers of their souls, their energy and their life’s ‘vision’ are entangled as they are on ‘the same page’. The difference here is, they take FULL responsibility for their emotions and especially for their actions, feelings and their input to their relationship. They realise and live the fact that they’re in control of their own feelings, emotions and how they react to their partner on this level. Thus, they have no need to control the other and live the fact that ultimately you can only control yourself. They also share power equally while honouring the individuality and separateness of their partner – they find joy and cause to celebrate their differences and not fear them. This means they are never afraid, to be honest when it really counts.

Honesty is embraced and encouraged and the ramifications of such honesty are dealt with – together. They acknowledge that ‘Understanding’ is the fuel of love and relationships so they seek to understand each other without judgment. They are active listeners, they can truly ‘hear’ their partner without reacting to what’s being expressed with guilt, defensiveness or retaliation.

Due to their strong sense of self and their self-acceptance not having to be derived from their partner, independence doesn’t degrade their relationship in any way. On the contrary, it allows themselves on the individual level to experience a greater sense of freedom. They’re both committed to the relationship, while they encourage each other’s ambitions. They find a healthy balance between their individual goals with their shared life vision.

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