This first question is a good one, and might truly be the hardest one of the bunch. BDSM - Bondage & Discipline, Domination and submission, Sadism and Masochism - There are a whole lot of big words being thrown around there, and each one carries with it a whole lot of meaning and misunderstanding. The “alternative lifestyle” culture, for lack of a better term, is something that for the longest time has been looked at by mainstream (so to speak) individuals as being something that was shameful, despicable, scandalous and lewd. Things have changed for the better in that respect over the last ten to twenty years, but I think for the most part, society doesn’t want to label BDSM as acceptable any more than they want to accept same-sex marriage. Things will continue to change, however - and hopefully it will continue to change for the better.
Well, I went off on a bit of a tangent there, it seems. Back to the subject at hand! Looking at my own sexual history, it would be more accurate to say that I’ve undergone a polar shift in my own sexual mannerisms. In my younger years, I was dreadfully self-conscious, and I basically felt that the only way I could achieve a gratifying relationship with a woman was if I made myself subservient to her. This wasn’t a conscious choice, but more something I did unconsciously in an attempt to keep the attention of certain women. The problem was, my actions attracted only those women who responded to submissive men - and I didn’t gain any gratification whatsoever at being the submissive party in a relationship. Mind you, this was all very subdued and barely noticeable, even by me - I wasn’t ‘actively’ engaging in a D/s relationship, but more accurately I was living in a submissive manner throughout my life to women who dominated my desire to help them, make them happy, and keep them entertained.
It wasn’t until near the end of my long marriage to a woman who was mentally dominant in every way that I realized how much I hated and despised the position that I had been put in. What was worse was the reality of the situation - that everything was completely and utterly my fault, because I allowed myself to be put into that position. She dominated me because I allowed her to, and the resentment that grew from it eventually poisoned our relationship enough that I made the choice to leave.
Through this experience, I was able to formulate my core rule of life and relationships - you cannot change people. I spent years trying to bring happiness and contentment to my wife, while she continued to suck at my energies like an emotional vampire, unable to be sated no matter how hard I tried. Women who are constantly enmeshed in drama and need to be ‘saved’ are as poisonous to themselves as they are to the men that they lure in, because in their never-ending torrents of drama after drama, they eventually use up all of the giving that can be given by their so-called savior men. They savor the feeling of attention they receive when the day’s drama brings their rescuer in with guns blazing, but once their white knight has slain the dragon of their issues, they simply create another for him to slay until finally, in a fit of angst, the knight turns his blade on the princess and lops her pretty fucking head off.
You can’t change people. Have a chick who’s causing you endless drama at every turn? Stop trying to fix her fucked up life, and go fix your own.
Through my own revelations, I came to accept the fact that I enjoy, and am fulfilled by the application of my own assertiveness. I don’t consider myself egotistical, and I try to be humble in all things - but when I know I’m right, it’s a simple fact. Another revelation I discovered once my new-found self-confidence began to blossom was that women respond to strength and assertiveness like bees to honey. Once I made the decision to live my life the way I wanted to live it, and never apologize for my actions, it was amazing how quickly the attitudes of women around me changed. Call it what you will - the Alpha Male effect on females, what have you… Living my life with no apologies and no regrets almost instantly brought a change about me in the way females interacted.
That having been said - I suppose it would be most accurate to describe myself as a Dominant male. Asserting my will when interacting with my lovely, feeling the rush of power as she willingly concedes her control to me - they all speak to the deeper core of who I am as a spiritual being, rather than just who I am as a person. I don’t consider myself a sadist, and I don’t gain any pleasure in causing undue pain and agony to my lovely. There is a balance of pain in the sharing of pleasure that enhances the experience, taking it beyond the vanilla and to a new level that is generally beyond the comprehension of those who haven’t experienced it. The difference between pure sadism and that of Dominance in the sense that I refer to is that pure sadists cause pain for the pleasure of themselves, and Dominants cause pain for the pleasure of their submissive. The limit to a sadist’s pleasure is internal, and has nothing at all to do with the sub’s pleasure, whereas a caring Dom knows how and when to apply just enough pain to bring his sub to the peak of her ecstasy.
Discipline is a tool that I enjoy using to regulate and moderate the level of my lovely’s pleasure. In her public life she is a successful, assertive achiever that knows exactly what she wants in life, and she works hard to succeed in those goals - yet there is a part of her, the part that presses herself into my hand as I slide my fingers along her cheek - that part yearns and aches for the ability to be not in control, if only for a little while. Assigning her random tasks and goals, establishing behavioral criteria for her to follow gives her that tiny respite from her self-regulated world and allows her for those moments to simply be, and be desired and coveted, with nothing more complicated than that. I have no desire to control and regulate her every movement, like some dutiful parent watching over her so that she will not falter - she is an intelligent, beautiful grown woman, and she has no need of a parent to monitor her every step. My drive to control and guide reaches only so far, yet it has balanced in an amazingly perfect harmony with what my lovely needs in her own life.
Bondage is another wonderful tool that can be used to enhance discipline, and my lovely has spent many an afternoon enveloped by coils of my ropes or restrained by cuffs and straps. It is another method of freeing the psyche, I think - for when she’s tied and bound, subject to my every whim, all of those concerns and fears that she carries with her in regards to her everyday life - they all disappear under the wake of her own inability to do anything beyond what I command.
In essence, I believe that the introduction of D/s to the relationship I have with my lovely has allowed many deeper things - but what is most utterly important is that it has allowed me the freedom to be a Man - powerful and assertive and trustworthy, and it has allowed her the freedom to be a Woman - beautiful and sexual and desired.