The topic for wicked wednesday this time is self care. I have written about Why D/s helps with my self care over on Submissy but I thought this time I would take a different approach and apply the principles to our D/s relationship.
Applying self care principles to a D/s relationship
Self care is “a multidimensional, multifaceted process of purposeful engagement in strategies that promote healthy functioning and enhance well-being.” It helps to build the resilience you need to cope with life’s stressors. So when applying this to my relationship I am looking at the strategies we use to promote the healthy functioning of our D/s, enhance the wellbeing of our dynamic and make our power exchange more resilient to stressors.
When looking at self care and applying it to an individual there would usually be a focus on a number of different areas: physical, social, mental, spiritual and emotional so I have decided to do the same.
Physical Self care
Question: Are we prioritising the physical in our relationship and if so what are we doing?
I suppose there is a tendency here to think of the sexual and while that is often a big part it doesn’t have to be the only thing. For example, we have self care rules which mean that I am less likely to be tired or stressed so that is part of looking after the physical side of our relationship. I have to eat and drink the right things as well as doing exercises so this will help me not just to keep in shape and physical strong, but also help me to feel sexier and more in the mindset for play. We use a set bedtime which also allows time for a physical connection if people have been around us during the evening.
In terms of the sexual, it is important to do things which will help to keep you desiring each other in a physical sense. Finding opportunities to be close and physically tactile will help with this. You might want to use toys and tasks to help keep in the right mindset. Basically anything that helps to reinforce that connection will keep things smouldering so sly touches, edging or orgasm control might all work well. Discussing ideas for play will hopefully help to keep you trying new things at the same time as allowing you to explore you deepest, darkest fantasies.
Social Self Care
Question: How and what are we doing to make time for the social side of our relationship?
We all know that socialisation is an important part of self-care but how does that apply to a relationship? Sometimes we live in situations where our D/s remains a secret for whatever reason. While this can be quite exciting, it can also lead to feeling a bit isolated, so finding ways to share and learn with others can really help to keep things working well. Fortunately there are lots of ways to do this so whether you are part of your local rope group, attend kink events, or meet with others online it will help the feeling that your relationship is seen and reinforced, which can be a powerful thing.
Starting my own blog has allowed me to connect and share ideas with others, as has being part of the community here. This has helped our D/s in so many ways as we feel supported and encouraged and also learn from others who have a different dynamic. The social aspect has allowed discussion that we wouldn’t necessarily have had, and led us to push our boundaries and grow as a couple. This is important for the health of your relationship and so I see it as being a key part of supporting our dynamic. When things have been tough, being part of a community has helped to keep us on track. It has felt that others were invested in us and believed in us so it has been a significant part.
Mental Self Care
Question: What are we doing to support the mental wellbeing of our relationship
In terms of where we are mentally, I think it is important to think about mindset. Is it positive? What are the things that you do to maintain a Dominant or submissive mindset? These are key questions because being able to feel positive and in the right mindset will allow you to be more resilient when things come along which are outwith your control. It will allow you to shift and adapt and bounce back. It can be easy when things are hard to let things slip but being mentally in the right space will mean that instead of ignoring the issue, you can talk and reach out for support.
You can feed your mindset in a number of ways, whether that is through the use of rules and rituals, things you do to keep the other in mind, or simply sticking to a structure and routine which prioritises the power exchange. Mindfulness is an important part of self care and you can apply this to your dynamic by slowing things down, focussing on the small gestures and actions and really celebrating what you have. Being able to see hurdles and difficulties as opportunities, and things that go wrong as learning opportunities, also has a big part to play.
Spiritual Self Care
Question: How do you ensure that the spiritual side of your relationship is given the priority that it needs to flourish?
Being spiritual doesn’t have to be about religion although for some who practice D/s this may be part, especially in some of the DD type dynamics. However, more loosely speaking I would see this as being about caring for the spirit of your dynamic. For us this would be the connection and the power exchange, the intimacy and the intensity. Being able to keep ourselves at the centre gives us the priority that we need. It means that when something happens it happens to both and not one. We are more connected on a spiritual level and that arises from being able to appreciate what we have.
Being able to see your power exchange as central to your lifestyle or relationship raises the status of it and provides a layer of support around you when dealing with things outside of it. It keeps things focussed and healthy so that it is not just something that you do but something that you are. In this way, it can feel quite spiritual and although it can’t always be seen, the connection between you can be felt on all levels, whether you are physically together or not.
Emotional Self Care
Question: How do we build and maintain a dynamic which is resilient to stressors?
Ironically, vulnerability is often something which promotes resilience and so building a dynamic around open, honest communication from both parties will really help. It can be hard to find the level of trust required to open up and allow yourself to be vulnerable but it means that the other person can come onto your level and be alongside you. This creates a really intense emotional connection and bond so, as well as meaning that you feel seen and heard, it also means you feel understood.
Talking about your feelings about the relationship and where it is going will be an integral part of this. Living a D/s lifestyle is a journey and it is one that you make together so being able to reflect, learn and grow is one of the real benefits. No dynamic will be static and any relationship will have to respond to the unexpected from time to time, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Taking the time to check in and to follow up on things will not just keep things ticking along, but will allow for a strong and resilient relationship which gives the space to try new things, explore and take risks together.
Although self care principles would usually be applied to a person rather than to a relationship, the need to look after what you have and make sure that it is working well is there. It seems to take so little sometimes to throw us of course, so being able to put strategies in place to try to keep things on track seems sensible. While I have only touched the tip of these areas, there are plenty of other posts which will deal with specifics in more detail, so please check out the highlighted links and the rest of our posts on Living a D/s Lifestyle.