Welcome to week 7 of my 30 Days(weeks) of D/s journey! This week is about communicating, so let's dive right in.
The number one factor in whether your relationship will succeed or fail is communication. It doesn't matter what kind of relationship you're in. Without communication, you can’t build or keep trust, you can’t negotiate your kinks, and you can’t deal with problems that arise, because guess what, you're dealing with another human being, so yes, problems will arise. It’s worth thinking about how you communicate and what’s important to you. It’s a big topic, so let’s start here:
I just said the number one factor in the success or failure of relationships is communication. Does this mean if you communicate, you’ll have a successful relationship? Not always, but at least you’ll know you put in the effort required (at least on your end) to lay the groundwork for success.
Sometimes relationships just don’t work out. This is the case not only in D/s, marriage, significant other(s), but also in family relationships, friendships, work relationships, etc. Sometimes there are simply incompatibilities that can’t be worked through. Putting those aside and assuming you and your partner are compatible and generally enjoy each other's company, communication is going to be the glue that holds you together, or the crack in the foundation that causes the house to crumble.
Communication Defined: (Thank you, Merriam-Webster)
- A process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.
- Information communicated : information transmitted or conveyed.
- A verbal or written message.
- A technique for expressing ideas effectively (as in speech).
- The act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., to someone else.
- A message that is given to someone : a letter, telephone call, etc.
When we think of communication, we generally think about talking, speech, but communication involves so much more than that. For this post, I’m going to break communication into four key (what I feel are key) areas that you may or may not consciously give thought to, but are each important in their own right.
- Verbal (speech – in person, face-to-face)
- Physical/visual (physical touch, visual cues)
- Written (written word, illustration)
- Electronic (phone call, texting, sexting)
Verbal communication is the most critical part of your relationship no matter how you define yourselves, but especially if you are in, or considering entering into, a D/s relationship. You have to be able to talk, to communicate your needs, wants, desires, CONSENT, areas of difficulty, struggles, feelings, etc.
“But Mrs. Robinson, you’re not in a D/s relationship. What do you know?”
I know what it takes to make a relationship work, and I know a great relationship is a great relationship no matter how you define it. I don’t call my Husband Sir, and he doesn’t call me his submissive, but he is my Dominant partner and as his wife, I submit to him because that’s how we’ve structured our relationship. So, I understand the dynamic to a certain extent, and I understand that every couple (or threesome, etc.) will have their own structure and labels that work for them. Relationship rules are like physics – you can’t cheat them. One foundational rule of any relationship is that you must have communication – healthy communication, if you want to succeed and have longevity.
Does healthy communication mean you won’t have disagreements? Absolutely not. If you have healthy communication though, you’ll be able to communicate to resolve disagreements rather than fighting, becoming bitter, festering, or collecting resentments.
Off the rant, back on track:
If you are not able to verbalize your thoughts and feelings to your partner, you will not have the best relationship you can have. You might have a good or decent relationship for a period of time, but ultimately, if you aren’t able to communicate, the relationship will not survive in a healthy state.
“But Mrs, Robinson, what about people who can’t talk?” says you who can talk just fine and are looking for an excuse not to. I’ll address that later, for now, listen up.
No human (that I know of) is an actual mind reader. You may be in a relationship with someone where you know each other so well, sometimes you’d swear they’re reading your mind, but no, unfortunately, that is not the case. So, you have to talk to each other.
This is not easy! For some, for some it is easy. If it’s not easy for you, don’t be discouraged. I was never a good communicator when it came to things beyond surface interactions. Therapy and my Husband’s patient, intuitive ways have helped me learn to communicate what I’m thinking and feeling before it gets out of control. So, if you’re not good at the talking about feelings stuff, don’t worry, you can be. It takes a bit of effort, a little time and concentration, but it can be done. And yes, it’s definitely worth the effort!
Most people know this as "body language", but don't necessarily think about how it effects your everyday interactions. When you and your partner are talking, pay attention to their body (not sexually for now, stay focused!). Is their posture open towared you, or are they turned away? Do they look you in the eye and give you their attention, or do they look away, avert their gaze, or stare off into space?
Flirtation and seduction are pretty easy cues to read, but what about when you or your partner are upset? What does a particular touch mean? What does it mean when you or he or she stand in a certain way?
My Husband knows me and reads me so well, he'll often catch my physical cues before I even realize what's happening, before a word has been said. For me, that's both good and bad. I can't hide anything from him. Also, I can't hide anything from him!
When I make a mistake, I hate talking about it. I just want to fix it and move on, but Hubby will make sure we talk about it so it doesn't happen again. He wants to find out why the mistake happend, get to the root cause and chop it out. He's like this with himself and everyone who gives him permission to coach them, so it's not just me!
I used to cross myself up when he would ask to address a mistake I'd made - Literally, not even thinking about it, I would cross my arms, legs, toes, make myself a shell to hide behind. Why? Because the only thing I knew about being found out in making a mistake, was that the consequenses would be dire, so I always went into defense/hide mode. In the early days of our marriage, he would say, "TJ, uncross yourself and sit up straight. I'm not going to attack you." Then, we started going for walks when we needed to talk. It's really hard to cross yourself up when you're walking and holding hands!
My physical communication was telling him I was on the defensive before he'd said a singe word. Fortunitely, my Husband is a smart man, also I was blatently obvious even though I didn't even realize what I was doing.
Do you pay attention to the physical and visual communication of your partner? Of the people around you?
Written communication is one of the most effective means when verbal communication is difficult. When I first started seeing my therapist, I would sit on her couch for twenty minutes sometimes, completely unable to make words come out of my mouth. I am not the kind of person who has a difficult time holding conversation - take me to a party, a dinner, a social setting of any kind, and I can carry my own in conversation with the engineer just as easily as with the party girl/guy. I'm good with people, I'm smart, and I have enough variety in my background that I can hang-out easily with anyone.
On the surface.
I have an extremely hard time opening my mouth and talking about myself underneath that surface layer. But I can write it. So, my therapist had me write. I wrote everything and then read it aloud. I slowly learned how to turn my feelings, struggles, thoughts, into speech and today I can talk pretty openly and without hesitation when I feel safe to do so. Actually, I'm at the point where I've started talking even when I don't feel completely safe, and that's kind of a huge deal.
Written communication can be other things too. My Husband and I leave each other cute little notes. He draws the most adorable faces with expressions to say he loves me or misses me or appreciates me. I leave him little notes of encouragement or a schedule for the day or just hearts drawn all over a post-it.
Written communication can be just as intimate (even more so sometimes) as verbal or physical communication and it's something that can deepen your love and aprreciation for each other with very little effort.
I'm not going to say a lot about electronic communication, except that sexting is awesome (as long as no one's peeking over your shoulder!), emailing each other periodically is a great way to sneak some happy into the mundane work-day, and a random phone call just to say hi, I love you, or I was thinking about you, will brighten any day.
One thing I want to stress about electronic communication is this:
If you are having a disagreement, or an argument, or something is being misunderstood - don't hash it out in text/email. Just don't do it. So much can be misconstrued, taken out of context, not interpretted correctly when you're doing that. It can easily become a frustrating back and forth instead of a communicative process to work toward resolution. Save it for a face to face meeting or a phone call where you can see and hear each other.
That's all for now. As always, thank you for taking your time to visit and I hope you've enjoyed the read! If you'd like to hear/see more about communication, simply click the links below to visit Loving BDSM or Kayla & John for fantastic insights.
© Hey, Mrs. Robinson | T.J. Robinson