How do you learn from others?
I thought a good place to start writing again would be to pick up where I dropped off with regard to my submissive reflection prompts. Who doesn’t benefit from some submissive reflection? Fortunately I had made a list of them before I started (and stopped) so it was easy to find a topic. So, how do you learn from others? I wonder, actually if this has been part of my problem recently.
I have always valued friendships with other submissives. These have all been online, although sometimes things have moved forwards a bit and I have met my sub friends in the flesh. It can take a while to form these friendships but they have really been worth their weight in gold. Being able to share how I am feeling is really important to me, and I have learnt a lot from others by doing this. Sometimes I have not set out to gain an opinion, but via discussion with others, have come to see or think about something in a new or different way.
Friends who you know will be there for you when you need or want something are valuable, but those who ask the stray question or two, and help you to discover or uncover something that you didn’t even know you were unsure about, are important. I am always thinking. My tendency to analyse and go over things is actually one of my greatest assets, as well as one of my largest inhibitors. It allows me a depth of reflection that I would not have without it, but at the same time prevents me from switching off and letting go.
Regardless, it helps me to learn from others, even when I am not actually looking for enlightenment on a particular topic or issue. Friends and acquaintances, their behaviour, thoughts and reactions, can be the catalyst for a chain of reflective thought that takes me down a path I wasn’t even considering. This can be in terms of trying out new things, as well as drawing conclusions about current situations. This allows growth and often my friends are the seeds that my submissive growth germinates from.
This was really the reason for creating the online community that we have over at The SafeworD/s Club. With weekly chats and forums, we have not only made friends but also been able to gain an insight into the relatoinships that other people have. This has allowed us to explore BDSM and, in particular Dominance and submission, in a way that we would not have been able to otherwise. Learning from others in this environment is a natural and subtle thing.
Sometimes, of course, you reach a sudden realisation or learn something specific, but at others, it is a slow process as the information, ideas and suggestions settle and permeate, becoming your own. While we have made many lasting friends from being part of an online kink community, we have also learnt from others who are very different to us. This has offered exposure to things we might not previously considered and has certainly opened doors which would otherwise have remained closed.
They do say that once a teacher, always a teacher, and it is hard for me to separate the skills I use in the classroom from every day life. Whether I behave this way because I am a teacher, or I went into teaching because I behave in this way, I am not sure, but being able to help, support and ’teach’ others has really helped me to learn. Trying to teach somebody something is always an effective way to test your own understanding, and it has tripped me up on more than one occasion.
I guess that my blog is part of that. Being able to articulate and explain, not just what I am feeling and doing, but what I am thinking too, has been a useful practice for me. I don’t know that my meaning is always conveyed in the way I would like it to be, but the process of writing something which others will read is a valuable learning tool, as it aids not only my own reflection, but also my own understanding. The engagement with others, as well as with my silent audience, allows me to learn more than I would have done without it.
Reading – books and blogs
I can’t, therefore, disregard the impact of reading (both books and blogs) on the learning I have done from others. It was a book, after all, which brought me to where I am now, giving me the language I was lacking to put into words what it was I had always felt and needed. Following my discovery, I become an avid reader of erotic fiction for this reason, scanning the pages to enhance my own insight as to the sorts of things that would arouse me.
As it happened, it was all so new and exciting at this stage that pretty much everything aroused me, but I have since learnt through experience that I have some pretty specific triggers for letting go. I then moved to the more realistic genre of non-fiction to explore the ideas of others, arriving eventually in blogland where I had access to a whole range of real-life adventures. This allowed me to build on my early learning, as it was more interactive than simply reading because I could comment and ask questions and find out more.
Of course, at the heart of all of this is HL who steers and directs us, based on the ideas and suggestions that I bring to him during our weekly talk times. I am fortunate that we have shared much of our interaction with others, so we not only learn things from them during chats etc but also about each other. I suppose the other learning is more theoretical, but my time with HL is where it is all put into practice. It all impacts on our relationship, whether the sexual side or the lifestyle side.
While we live a full time D/s lifestyle, we are also two people within that, and the learning that one part brings to the other has influenced the direction we have taken. Life events too have taught us a lot and have shaped my views of what is possible, probable or even unlikely. Ultimately, my learning about submission and about D/s in general would mean nothing without HL, because although I have submissive tendencies and am naturally submissive in some areas, I am only a submissive to him.
Finding long term success stories
I suppose I am going full circle here, but despite such a wealth of learning from others, more recently I have felt a bit stuck, as it is hard to find people who have made this sort of relationship work for a long time. I have had a bit of a feeling of having been around the block and this has made things hard. I was pushing for growth but most of the long term couples I know who are making it work, have sort of settled into things in the way I see us having done.
I have met lots of subs and D/s couples over the time, either online or via blogging, and most seem to drop off. I don’t know whether they stop doing the online part and are still D/s or whether the relationship breaks down, but I have questioned how sustainable it is in the long term, at least with the energy and intensity it found at the beginning. Sometimes it can feel like a compromise, and that was not what my learning from others told me it would be. But where are those people now to tell me otherwise?
Essentially I think it matters not. I have decided that it is what it is and I will try to write about exactly what it looks like for us, even if this tends not to follow the usual path. I have always felt that when learning from others it was important to focus on what was realistic and sustainable for you, and I have discovered that a lot of what is out there actually isn’t either. Perhaps I am looking in the wrong places, and perhaps I will stumble upon some new source, but until then, I will learn from the others who are around me and share what I discover with you.