I thought that I would start with the Carol Ann Duffy poem, ‘Valentine’ because, through her metaphysical interpretation, she turns on its head our preconceptions of romance, and I have always quite liked that. In comparing love to an onion, she covers many of the aspects of relationships which are not represented by the typical ‘satin hearts’ and ‘cute kissograms’. Her poem addresses the intensity, the force and the impact that relationships can have on other people.
While there is a darkness in some of the undertones in the poem, Duffy claims that she is ‘trying to be truthful’, and those of us who are in, or have been in love, can probably recognise some of what she is alluding to. Love is about much more than the commercial packaging that we often speak of and a relationship with the intensity and darkness is often more appealing and longer lasting that the cutesie one of the cards and flowers.
Romance within D/s is definitely not of the traditional type. Many would not find ordering your partner onto their knees to suck cock a romantic gesture but within some dynamics, mine included, this can be seen as being the case. It is not about what you do, but how you do it. So really I think that romance is all about perception and what is romantic to one will not necessarily be romantic to another. However, I would agree with Duffy that over the years our interpretation has been shaped to see a certain type of action and behaviour as being romantic.
So what is romance?
Romance is defined as being a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love.
What is exciting and mysterious is clearly person and, indeed, situation dependent. I would think that it is also relationship dependent too and that is why a dynamic which is based around a power exchange might not be seen as having the space or the room for romance. While a partner being Dominant can be viewed as being controlling and diminishing the person on the receiving end, actually when put into another context it can be seen as romantic.
Buying sexy underwear, booking a surprise trip away, arranging a nice meal at a restaurant, all of these are things which would fall into being typically romantic and are things which will also happen as part of a power exchange. Holding open the doors, being attentive and highly attuned, open declarations of how much you desire and want the other person, can also be seen as being romantic to many. These are things which occur in many relationships vanilla and D/s alike. So where is the difference?
Kiss me so hard that my lips sting with your need for me. Touch me so gently that my skin burns for you. Embrace my darkness and show me your own.
I think that the difference is that for some, D/s crosses the line. It straddles the bridge between what is seen as being romantic and thoughtful to what is seen as being creepy and controlling. I go back then to the definition. If I experience a feeling of mystery and excitement then the gesture or behaviour which causes it can be seen by me as one which is romantic. Being told to wear the sexy new underwear which has been selected for me and left out on the bed, and being asked to come downstairs wearing nothing but that and then to kneel and wait quietly for him, creates that feeling of excitement for me.
As I get changed into the skimpy garments he has left out I am feeling excited at the thought of what will happen. I don’t know what he has planned and my mind races and skips through the things we have done before and the things we have talked about possibly doing one day. It creates a sense of mystery that comes from his control of the situation and my lack of it. Of course I could ask and question, but for me this would spoil the moment and turn it from something that works for me, into something that doesn’t.
I can disguise and hide my need to be controlled by you as much as I want, but you seeing that and unpicking it is what allows me to slowly give in, and to become what I really am, with you and for you.
This is romance as we do it. For some being told what to do would block the romance but for me, it allows HL to build things up to a point where I would naturally kill his good intentions by taking over. It allows me to follow rather than lead, by always being one step behind rather than one step ahead. The vanilla relationship we had at the start was laced with romantic gestures which were in many ways, the same ones that I see as being dominant now.
My responses were submissive without ever naming or seeing it like that. It was how we were and he created the mystery and the excitement in the same sorts of ways that he still does. There were boldly stated declarations of his feelings and his intentions; he pursued me with a sense of being absorbed by his need and desire for me; he settled himself inside my head so that he consumed my thoughts. I was excited by him and by the unspoken promise that we would delve together into things which had previously not been experienced or known.
After a time, things settled and familiarity and the normality and predictability of life took over and it diminished the sense of mystery and excitement somewhat. It was still there, of course, but it showed its face less often than it had when we first met. For us, D/s was a way of reintroducing that excitement and mystery. It allowed us to access those parts of ourselves and remain more fully in them than we had been able to do without the structure of it. So for us, D/s and romance are inextricably linked. For us, D/s is romance.
To read more about aspects of D/s, you might want to check out my other Tell Me About… posts