It's strange that so many "shoulds" have crept into my life. I've always tried to be the kind of person who avoids those prescriptions, who doesn't do things just because they should be done. I think that's the lesson of my early 20s, when I was in a relationship that epitomized societal expectations. When that relationship ended, I had the rare opportunity to rethink every decision that I had made. I realized that I was heading down a path toward a conventional life, marriage, children, all because I thought that was what I should do. I chose to take a different path and found a richer life as a result. I found my own way and I found myself.
Now He and I find ourselves back in that place. We became beholden to what we thought we "should" be doing, rather than what was right for us. A recent example:
We both were talking about opposite-sex friends at work and I think we were both a bit jealous of the other. Not that either of us thought the other would be unfaithful, just that we were mildly jealous of office flirtations. Anyway, I asked a few questions about his work friend, but He shut that conversation down very quickly and told me to stop being a brat. But when he asked me about my friendship with my work friend, I had to answer every question. I even had to hand over my PDA so he could read our (innocent) e-mails and I had to do it without complaint.
As we went to bed that night, I told Him that I was unhappy at what I perceived to be a double standard. I told Him that I didn't think it was fair that I had to answer all of his questions and submit to his suspicions, while I was barred from questioning him at all. He told me that no, it wasn't fair but that is the way it is. I am owned and things are different for me. He turned over and went to sleep. I was annoyed and I spent half the night turned away from him in a funk.
We talked about it a couple of weeks later and it turns out that he didn't want things to be so unfair. He didn't like that we are held to a different standard over something that concerns both of us in this relationship. His instinct was to apologize and agree to treat each other equally, but instead he laid down the hard line because he thought it would be more dominant. He thought that it would be what was expected of him as an owner, even though it didn't seem right to him and even though it only caused resentment on my part.
We've said that we're 24/7, but that doesn't mean that we can't have limits for ourselves. There are things that neither of us is comfortable with, so why should we do those things? If certain restrictions or rules work for other couples, that's great, but we're not all the same. We need to figure out what works for us and where the line is.
We've started thinking of our relationship as made up of concentric circles. The innermost circle is what we started with: bedroom kink, pure and simple. That is the essential for me and what drew me into BDSM to begin with. The next circle includes non-bedroom kink that we both enjoy and find beneficial, such as my bedtime and the spontaneous way that he exerts his control on me in public when I least expect it. The outermost circle holds the things that we've been doing but aren't necessarily essential for us or aren't exactly working. The key will be to figure out what is working and what isn't, and to decide for ourselves what we should do.
For a few days, the prospect of such an adjustment had me in a right state. I was nervous that too much would change or that He would want to give up kink altogether. But things seem to have settled down and we're talking about what we should do going forward. A bit of change isn't all bad, right?