Help! My Spouse Is Into Erotic Power Exchange
Imagine. The two of you have been in a relationship for years. You are either married, living together or have been long-time companions in some other form of relationship. Suddenly, you start to develop erotic power exchange emotions and fantasies. Or your partner does. Now what? How do you introduce this to each other? What will happen to the relationship? Will there even be a relationship? How will your partner respond to this?
This is hardly an uncommon situation. In fact, a lot of people have this problem; it is not unusual for people to be confronted with feelings and fantasies about erotic power exchange in a later stage of their lives. It may be these feelings have been there for a long time, but have been suppressed. Or they "just came out of the blue," so to speak. Since it is hard to determine what exactly triggers these emotions, it can happen in any stage of your life. And, many people find it difficult to find an outlet for these emotions, especially when they already are in a relationship. People are afraid of being rejected, or just called crazy. They may be afraid their partner may not be willing to share their feelings. In fact, it is entirely possible the partner already has rejected it.
You may be kinky, but you are certainly not insane
First of all: whatever your emotions are, you are not crazy, you are not alone and these feelings are perfectly normal, even if what you fantasize about seems extreme. Scientists estimate some 15 percent of the adult population has fantasies about erotic power exchange in some form. Next, these emotions - dominant or submissive - are very hard to suppress or ignore. Sooner or later they have to come out. Ignoring them may seem a short term solution, but in the long run it is not. You may be "kinky," but you are perfectly sane.
The best advice is to talk about these emotions, no matter how difficult this may seem to you. If there is mutual trust and respect between the two of you, there should be no reason to be afraid. This may sound rude, but if you seriously think there is not enough trust, understanding and respect in your relationship, well, you may have to consider what kind of relationship you are in.
Next, do not overdo it in the beginning. It may be that you have cherished your fantasies for several years, before coming to the point where you want to talk about them. Remember that everything you are going to talk to your partner about is probably entirely new to him or her. Your partner may be open minded, but you should give him or her sufficient time to get used to this new situation. Another wise thing to do is to prepare yourself. Before you start talking, try to identify exactly what it is you want to talk about. Try to acquire some more general knowledge about erotic power exchange, so you are able to explain the phenomena and not just your own emotions. It is usually very helpful to have some general information on the subject available for your partner, so he or she can form an independent judgment, based on your emotions, plus objective, outside, general information. Printouts of our FAQ sections and this document will probably be very helpful at this point. And there are several good books. If you are not sure which ones, check our book list.
If you are the partner on the "receiving end," the best advice is to be open. Of course, this new information may trouble or even scare you. That is very understandable. If it does not, well then both of you may share quite a lot here and there is much to talk about. Still, if your partner does not do it, see to it that you get yourself informed.
What you are looking at are, in fact, two different things: one being the general "coming out" and the other being the relationship with your partner. Although this may sometimes be difficult, try two separate these two topics. Do the "coming out" first and than look at the perspectives for your relationship. This will require time, patience and mutual understanding. A coming out situation has been described as difficult to most people. Coming out usually is preceded by a period of uncertainty, and sometimes very strong feelings of loneliness and fear. That is what makes coming out so difficult. Even when the coming out process has started, it may take some time to get rid of these hidden fears and uncertainties. People in a coming out phase are usually very vulnerable and overly sensitive to even the slightest indication of possible rejection. That makes it hard to talk to them.
Another form of behavior, typical to coming out, is to drain yourself completely. Once the waterfall of words finally starts, it looks like the entire dam is giving way and the overwhelming flood can not be stopped. To the partner on the receiving end this is very difficult and it may feel like a blizzard coming at them. It is very wise to try and do this in small doses at a time.
A third factor you should try to take into account here is something that a lot of people, attracted to erotic power exchange, tend to do. This is called shopping list behavior. What happens is that novices probably have had one particular fantasy for years and the first thing they want is that fantasy to be carried out exactly as they have envisaged it, including every little detail. This of course is first of all almost always impossible. Secondly, it does not leave any room for your partner, who may have other thoughts about this. It usually kills the situation, before it even started.
The last factor we should mention here is over prioritizing. A lot of people tend to over prioritize their (newly discovered) power exchange emotions and put them in front of everything else. Although this is very understandable, it is also very impractical and may make things rather complicated. Please check our FAQ-section and the Stages of Development for further information on this.
A playmate outside your relationship
Quite a few people will tend to look for what they call a "play partner" outside their relationship. They do so in order to avoid possible rejection by their partner. Sometimes this is done based on mutual consent between the partners. To some people this may be a solution, especially in those cases where one of the partners is incapable of following the other. However, there are some major risks involved here. Although some people tend to make a difference between erotic power play and a relationship, in fact there is no such difference. The power exchange you will have with your play partner, will without doubt lead to a very intimate exchange of emotions and will create a very strong bond. The other partner may feel left out and since it may be hard to share all these feelings and emotions on an equal basis between the now existing threesome, the risks and dangers towards your "prime" relationship are both real and immense. Although people will often indicate otherwise, very few people can live with a situation where their mate or spouse shares very intimate feelings and emotions - let alone the physical part of all this - with somebody else.
If you have trouble to working out the erotic power exchange feelings between the two of you, the best advise is get help. Most modern day therapists, marriage counselors, psychologists and sexologists will not have any trouble to discussing the subject of erotic power exchange and role play. They will also understand the risks and problems involved and they will have an open-minded discussion with both of you and will take an objective attitude towards erotic power exchange. If yours does not, simply find another one. And do check the local bookstore. There are a lot of books around to help you out. Finally, you may want to talk to some people from a local BDSM-group who are experienced and can help you.