Rules are Condoms: An Imperfect Metaphor

I used to love rules. Rules, when my life was very completely out of my control, helped me make sense of things. I had rules for who I’d date and what I’d do with them and when. I had rules for who could do what to me and under which circumstances. I had rules about rules, and I was really great about closing loopholes in rules so that I would know exactly what to expect from whom and when.

I clung to the fantasy of a 24/7 D/s relationship. The idea of someone else making the decisions for me and absolving me of the need to willingly take care of myself appealed to me in the wake of my husband’s unexpected death and the realization that I’d lost my entire identity in that relationship.

And you know what? I don’t fault myself for that. It was my coping mechanism, and it worked for a while.

I didn’t know who I was, or who I wanted to be. All I knew was that there was too much stuff for me to carry by myself. I felt I would never be unearthed from beneath its heavy burden. As such, I was attracted to the “fixer” types. The “daddy” types of nurturers who wanted to help me get better. The ones who would set the rules down with the intention of moving me past my hangups and phobias.

And over time, they started having results.

I stopped being afraid of making decisions for myself, and graduated to just not liking it. I started to realize that I was entrusting some pretty important (and some not so important) decisions into the hands of people who weren’t particularly good at taking care of themselves, much less others. I began to understand that our dynamics had shifted – because I’d gone from the bird with a broken wing who needed a cage to be transported safely from point A to point B, to a fully-healed bird ready to take flight – were it not for the owner who kept clipping my wings.

The rules no longer felt like they were being set to help me. They felt like they were being set to control me, and I no longer wanted to be under that 24/7 type of control.

The rules were condoms.

The rules I put on myself and those I allowed to be put on me were an imperfect attempt to protect myself from ….whatever was out there. Just like condoms, the only way to truly be safe is abstinence; and I wasn’t willing to be kink-abstinent anymore.

Now I’m in a relationship with only one rule: Honesty. Everything else between us is more of a request. We’ve got a 24/7 love and trust dynamic. The D/s part is significantly more fluid.

I see people talk about setting “rules” for their partners to follow …especially when they’re opening up to some form of non-monogamy for the first time. Things like “My partner can sleep with whomever, but no emotions,” or “no sleepovers,” or “not in our home,” or “anything goes but kink is only with me,” or “I’m the only one they can use this term of endearment with.”

It’s a condom. These rules are meant to control your exposure to potential harm, but they’re not foolproof. Try to make a rule that your partner will never develop feelings for a sexual partner and be prepared to find yourself on the business end of a Klingon pain stick.

If you want to feel the full spectrum of sensation in your relationship once adequate trust has been established, then it might be time to assess the value of loosening up some of the rigidity of those relationship rules.

It might be time to explore the flexibility of allowing your partner to take flight, and see how they still come back to you – again, and again.

And if they don’t?

If you’d be happy with the bird in the cage whose wings you gotta keep clipping, then you do you.

I wouldn’t be, neither as owner nor bird.

My Monogamy is My Choice

A few years ago, my boss banned all soft drinks from the office.  I hadn’t had a soft drink in two years by my own choice, but the minute she asserted that I could not have any, the first thing I wanted to do was go down a six pack of Diet Coke.

Though I might identify as a “submissive” or a “bottom,” I still like knowing that I’m the one in ultimate control over myself.  That’s what the safeword is for.  At any time, I can opt out of whatever the fuck is going on and say “my life, my decision.”

I’ve known that type of “poly” where the guy says he doesn’t have a problem with his partner dating other women, but isn’t “comfortable” with her going near another penis. Her comfort, by the way, with him having lines of fresh new pussy to sniff every weekend was not really his concern.  She had to learn to overcome her insecurities, obviously.

Now I’m in a relationship where the man I’m sleeping with sleeps with other people, and I do not.  It’s my choice, though. I don’t feel any desire to date anybody else.  Doing so just to make him feel more comfortable, or to make me feel like we’re “even” is counter-intuitive to me doing what I want for me.

What I want is him.  I have him.

Now, I have a feeling he’d be more comfortable if I were poly as well. When we decided to level up from play partner to partner-partner, we talked about it. I accepted that he is hard-wired for polyamory and he accepted that I am hard-wired for monogamy(ish). It wasn’t like “sweet deal, built-in one-penis-policy!” for him.  It was “am I willing to risk that one day I won’t be enough for her?”

Could I date others if I wanted to?  Yeah. I could.  He’d not stop me. He might even encourage it.  But, ick, even the thought of it makes my stomach turn. It’s not what I want.

And it’s a good thing that he lets that be my decision.  Based on my reaction to the arbitrary soda ban, imagine if he were to suddenly demand that I adhere to an outside penis ban?