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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

SL Letter of the Day: Dom and Dommer

Posted by on Tue, Jun 10, 2014 at 3:17 PM

Within the last six months, with a little sexual exploration, I found out that I am kinky. I am a 35-year-old female and have been sexually conservative for most of my adult life. (I was even celibate for six years.) Finding out that I am kinky, I am a sub, and I love bondage play led to my finding incredible fulfillment experimenting with Doms. I actually entered a relationship with a Dom and lived with him for four months. The fit was surprising for me, and I felt the most happy and content I have ever felt in my life. Things went very quickly, we fell in love, we agreed on a period of exclusivity, and after a short time my Dom decided he wanted to change jobs and move away. He asked me to go with him and I said yes. However, my family panicked about me moving away after knowing someone for such a short period of time—and then I began to panic and I was triggered. (As a young woman I eloped with a man who turned out to be an abusive drug addict that I had to run for my life from.) Once triggered, I became hyper-vigilant, and the only thing I could do was run. I ran out on my Dom. And I wounded him deeply in doing so. We were not able to pick up the pieces after that. I still desire to work things out, but he says that he is done. Does this relationship have any hope? If so, how do we begin to pick up the pieces?

Unhappy Free

My response after the jump...


Here's what your partner—and he's your partner first, your Dom second—should have said to you, UF, after your family's panic induced your own: "I'm not the abusive person you had to run from. But even if you didn't have that shitbag in your past, honey/slave, it's perfectly understandable that you would get cold feet. I am asking a lot. So why don't you take some time to think about it, come visit/serve me in my new place after I'm settled, and then you can make a decision about moving."

But that's not what he said, UF.

Instead of reminding himself that you're new to Dom/sub relationships, relatively inexperienced romantically, and still working through What This All Means—instead of being the grownup here—your Dom tells you he's "wounded" and says he's done. And you know what? That's a pretty good indication that moving with him would've been a mistake. Dom or not, UF, any guy who gives you shit about panicking at the thought of leaving everyone you know behind to start a new life with him somewhere else—after only knowing him for 16 weeks!—should make you want to run. You were right to listen to your gut on this, UF. That was a panic attack. It was a moment common-sense clarity.

And rest assured, UF, that there are lots of other Doms out there. Get on Fetlife, get involved in the kink community where you live, read Mollena Williams and Lee Harrington's excellent book for BDSM/kink newbies, and always remember... kinky women are in demand.


Comments (42) RSS

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Eudaemonic 45
@39: Yeah. I think the degree of sacrifice involved in a move can vary a lot, too--if it's moving to another country that doesn't share a language and where the asked partner (askee?) wouldn't be employable, that's a huge sacrifice... but if you're moving to the next town over, asking your partner to move with you is no a big deal.
Depending on specifics, I might think it's really unwise to make that kind of move without a real commitment (for the "I'll be stuck in a foreign country and completely dependent on you" move), or that it's crazy to demand that kind of commitment (for the "this will add fifteen minutes to my commute" move). LW just says "move away," so I'm not sure where this is on the spectrum between those two extremes--I assume it's closer to the first one, but I don't know.

The latter is problematic if one person is doing things because they believe themself to be in a committed relationship equivalent to marriage the other believes, hey, they chose to make that sacrifice for me and it's on them.

So much this. I run into the same problem--where you can say that X, Y, and Z are necessary for a relationship (or that A, B, and C are relationship-death), and then see a dozen stable ones that do ABC and not XYZ, and vice versa--but I think "Both of you should see the relationship the same way" is probably the closest thing to a rule. It might not be universally true, but yeah... if one person thinks it's a committed relationship and the other one thinks it's good for right now but not much else, they're headed for trouble.
Posted by Eudaemonic on June 12, 2014 at 8:17 AM · Report this
Eva Hopkins 44
I'd need more information before offering this woman advice, but I guess since we don't have the more information, I'd settle for telling her she should wait awhile before getting seriously involved with anyone. Go, do some FetLife, meet some new friends, go to some munches, learn some things about yourself & others. But she sounds like she has to unpack the rest of her baggage before packing it up again to follow anyone new. Take care of yourself, UF/LW, & work through your issues more before committing to anyone new. (& IMO 4 months is still when you're in the heady bliss stage of a new thing, domme or no dom. Moving far away from everything you know that soon - IDK if that's a wise plan, even for someone with fewer past-relationship problems.)
Posted by Eva Hopkins on June 11, 2014 at 2:04 PM · Report this
He asked her to move with him. The worst you can say for certain about that is that it's maybe a bit impulsive or reckless. He didn't demand that she move or force her to do so or retaliate against her for not moving. There's nothing inherently abusive about simply asking a question, and we don't know that he did anything else.

And she said yes - not "I need more time" or "let me think about it" or "yes but not yet" - and then she "ran out" and became "hyper-vigilant" (whatever that means, but it doesn't sound good). Of course he doesn't want her back, she didn't treat him fairly and she didn't act like a responsible adult. The fact that he's not willing to take her back is actually a good sign - it means he has some self-respect.

I'm reminded of another letter from a while back where someone cheated on their ex and basically crashed and burned the relationship, then regretted it, and wrote in asking how they could undo the damage. Dan's response there was much better: "you can't - learn from your mistakes and do better next time".

Dan blew it, the LW blew it, and the Dom dodged a bullet.
Posted by Chase on June 11, 2014 at 2:01 PM · Report this
The Beatles 42
What the hell is wrong with you, Dan? You just made up this scenario of what the Dom actually said and did right out of your ass, putting words in his mouth and ascribing motivations that we have no idea if they are actually true. It's the kind of thing you usually (and rightly) call others out for. Those trannies must've REALLY got to you this week. You're better than this, and your readers deserve better.
Posted by The Beatles on June 11, 2014 at 12:21 PM · Report this
@37: When you are in your 30s and dating someone seriously for 4 months, then decide to move away and ask her to come with, you're free to do so. And she's free to look at you like you're nuts.

Or happily say yes because you guys were on the same page about where your relationship was and what the next move was.

I can make all sorts of incredibly sensible timetables--two months is too early to talk marriage or moving in or any big life change; one year is reasonable to ask if this is heading toward marriage; two years is the absolute maximum to not have an answer to that question. And yet all sorts of successful relationships violated them, and unsuccessful relationships followed them to a T. Sometimes people are on the same page of a relationship even if it moves more slowly or quickly than officially suggested. Sometimes people are on different pages (e.g. one ready to get married quickly and totally sane, the other cautious after a really stupid first marriage) but they're able to communicate where they are and where they see it going in a way that leads to things working out happily.
Posted by IPJ on June 11, 2014 at 8:32 AM · Report this
Following on 39, I'm making a distinction between being willing to make a big change early in the relationship (because this has real promise and could really go somewhere, and if it doesn't work you'll nonetheless be glad you tried) and later (because you have promised your partner you are in this together for better or worse, and will find a way to make things work).

The former should be because you know you are taking a risk and you've decided the benefits--even if the relationship doesn't work out--are worth it. The latter is problematic if one person is doing things because they believe themself to be in a committed relationship equivalent to marriage the other believes, hey, they chose to make that sacrifice for me and it's on them.
Posted by IPJ on June 11, 2014 at 8:19 AM · Report this
@38: I mean marriage as a shorthand. If there is some legal reason not to marry (e.g. same sex, existing spouse w/ dementia in nursing home, etc) it would be a discussion about whether this is seen as the emotionally-equivalent commitment, in sickness for poorer for worse. The sort of thing that makes making big sacrifices for a partner worth it over time, whether the relationship is legally formalized or not. If the only barrier to legally formalizing this is wanting to make any future breakup as simple as possible, then the person being asked to make a big sacrifice can legitimately step back and decide they don't want to do that without a greater level of commitment. (Assuming one or both parties care about marriage: if they are on the same page, then things are fine and they don't need to write to advice columns.)

I recall a letter somewhere from a guy around 30, moving for his job, expected his girlfriend to come with. For the second time in the 5 years they'd been dating, except this time she wasn't ready to move for him unless they were planning to get married. Like there was a timetable or something and he was supposed to want to get married within some arbitrary deadline, how insane was this woman?
Posted by IPJ on June 11, 2014 at 8:07 AM · Report this
Eudaemonic 38
@36: I have developed a real pet peeve around the complaint that dumped partners don't want you back. Love (or any relationship) is a reciprocal thing, and treating someone poorly is a great way to change the way they feel about you.

Same pet peeve, and for the same reason. An offer is an offer right now, not a perpetually binding invitation--someone who wanted to date you a month ago doesn't have to do it right now just because you've changed your mind in the interim; they may have, too.

...the person who's had years to figure out where they want this to go who asks a partner to move for them but remain easily dumpable...

What's not-easily dumpable? Like, marriage, or something else?
Posted by Eudaemonic on June 11, 2014 at 7:38 AM · Report this
Philophile 37
@33 I agree that no means no.

When you are in your 30s and dating someone seriously for 4 months, then decide to move away and ask her to come with, you're free to do so. And she's free to look at you like you're nuts.

I don't disagree that LW could use some therapy. She seems to have the same self esteem issues as the woman in 'No Loss'. Low expectations and trouble letting go.
Posted by Philophile on June 11, 2014 at 7:32 AM · Report this
@31: Fact is, people have the right to end a relationship for any reason, ill-conceived or well-grounded.

I have developed a real pet peeve around the complaint that dumped partners don't want you back. Love (or any relationship) is a reciprocal thing, and treating someone poorly is a great way to change the way they feel about you.

@32: I'm actually more sympathetic to the decision to make the big risky early move (assuming someone does not have minor children whose lives would be disrupted) than I am to the person who's had years to figure out where they want this to go who asks a partner to move for them but remain easily dumpable (in case the new assistant is hot). In the former, so long as the person moving for a dice roll knows that most relationships don't become permanent and that this is about trying something new and not being left with a bunch of what-ifs (you're allowed to move back), it can be a good learning experience. Whether you learn that this is the love of your life or that you really dislike LA.

Here, whether the move was a random whim of his or a good career decision, whether wanting her to come was an attempt to isolate her or a sign he doesn't want to lose her (long-distance being a notorious relationship killer), whether the invitation was couched as "if you love me you'll do this" or "I want you to know that if you consider moving, I'll be thrilled": those are all open to interpretation. I fall back to the position that everyone in the relationship needs to be an adult and own their actions, because the exact same suggestion can be alarm-bells-early for one person and perfectly timed for another.

In this particular case, had she asked about the logic of a) moving for a relationship less than a year old; b) doing so in the context of a similar very bad experience that still haunts her, I'd be on board with a full range of advice, with both (b) and any hesitation on her part suggesting "go visit him, see how things are going, and for the love of Pete be honest with him about the background and how it's impacting your emotional reactions." Since it seems likely he didn't know about any triggers, and her adult response was to be thrilled then dump him, the advice for where they are now is that they are broken up.
Posted by IPJ on June 11, 2014 at 6:41 AM · Report this
This post was boring, dull. I expect better. I want psycho-drama.

Maybe Dan was too filled with hate from Chicago to care about a kinkette?
Posted by caution&daring on June 11, 2014 at 6:39 AM · Report this
Eudaemonic 33
@32, and @LW: No means no.

If someone doesn't want to date the woman who goes crazy and disappears, he doesn't have to. It's not abuse, it's consent; she turned out to be a person he didn't want to date, and he declined to date her further. The same applies to saying "I'm moving, want to come with?" to a woman in her 30s. Mistaking her for an adult is not abusive, nor is refusing to get back together with her after he found out it was a mistake and got dumped.
Posted by Eudaemonic on June 11, 2014 at 6:10 AM · Report this
Philophile 32
@27 Ok, you don't think that asking for huge sacrifices without deep commitment is abusive. And I don't think that changing a decision is abusive. We'll have to agree to disagree.

@19 I disagree with your second point as well. I think that the ideal behavior in the most generous circumstances (that he had attained an opportunity for a better career that required an immediate move) would be to announce the bittersweet news, while reasonably assuming that she'd need more time before moving. It is romantic to welcome a partner's decision to move with or to follow you. To ask of your novice sub of 4 months? Not.

Maybe a bit of irrational behavior can indicate healthy strong feelings. Extreme or frequent irrational behavior is a big problem.
Posted by Philophile on June 11, 2014 at 5:51 AM · Report this
Alanmt 31
Put me in the "Dom dodged a bullet with this one" camp. The narrative in the letter doesn't support Dan's conclusions. The LW needs to get some more therapy before starting another relationship and may need a third date disclosure along the lines of "If you ask me to move, I will go crazy and disappear." People have the right to say no to crazy. Fact is, people have the right to end a relationship for any reason, ill-conceived or well-grounded. And once such a person says they're done, the relationship is over and the other person has to accept and respect that. The LW's failure to do so is concerning.

Posted by Alanmt on June 11, 2014 at 5:36 AM · Report this
It's really hard to tell from the letter what exactly happened. It could have been the scenario that Dan was picturing, and in that case his advice is probably right, but it also could have been something else entirely where Dan's advice wouldn't be as right. It seems to me that both LW and her boyfriend made mistakes (not communicating well and rushing the romance respectively), but LW's boyfriend accepting her decision not to go with him also doesn't mean that he wouldn't want to have her in his life anymore? He didn't pull a big damn romantic gesture, but that could mean "he doesn't want to be a creepy demanding stalker" just as much as it means "he isn't interested in LW anymore".

You seem like you love this guy, LW, so for your own peace of mind, you should reach out to him and explain your actions, and see where he wants (and you want) to go from there. You should probably also talk to a therapist, if you can. I don't mean this judgmentally, but it sounds like you do have some things you'd benefit from a therapist's help with: it seems that you're not over your past as much as you'd prefer to be and that you might have trouble speaking your mind when you think it's not what other people want to hear. Plus, if you do want to get back together, hearing that you're in therapy might help him be more confident that a second try might not necessarily end in exactly the same way as the first. Not that it would necessarily last forever, but that you'd at least be able to talk about the problems instead of freezing him out.
Posted by miracles on June 11, 2014 at 5:15 AM · Report this
50 th Anniversary today, 11.6.14.. Of the day The Beatles turned up in Australia.. Just thought I'd share that.
Posted by LavaGirl on June 11, 2014 at 2:12 AM · Report this
I suspect that "deeply wounded him" in the context of "I became hypervigilant" is that she started seeing everything he said and did as coming from the motivations of an abuser, and eventually left him because she worked herself up into seeing him as one.

If you did that to me, I wouldn't take you back either.
Posted by avast2006 on June 11, 2014 at 2:09 AM · Report this
@26 - you're constructing a situation that has nothing to do with the actual letter. The only emotional abuse that we actually _know_ has taken place from the letter is that she first told him she'd move with him and then dumped him. Everything else, including the idea that he isn't moving, are things you're making up with no basis in the latter.
Posted by adam.smith on June 11, 2014 at 12:30 AM · Report this
Philophile 26
@23 Maybe the violence issues were worse than the emotional abuse here? But I def think it's dubious to make a huge request like moving cities and not accommodate the time and space she needed to process or follow him. He's not that into her and should not have asked. Especially if he knew her history. And she didn't say anything about following him. If he didn't move because she left him, the whole situation comes across as a scary isolationist ploy.

I think that's worse than breaking something during a fight, and better than a batterer, to compare to violence issues.
Posted by Philophile on June 10, 2014 at 9:39 PM · Report this
Cynara 25
@9 Yea, I'm starting to be triggered by hearing about "triggers" too.

And must we use such gun-centric language. :)…
Posted by Cynara on June 10, 2014 at 8:04 PM · Report this
seandr 24
@avast2006: You are being just plain wrong.

A more generous interpretation is that Dan's just being a pal and saying the kinds of things that would help her move beyond the fact that she had a good thing and fucked it up.
Posted by seandr on June 10, 2014 at 8:02 PM · Report this
@22 maybe the difference is that there isn't anything particular dubious about the partner here, whereas the reason for the original split in the "No Loss" letter was "About 6 months ago I moved out due to some violence/anger issues my partner had."

I'm pretty sure if she had mentioned abusive behaviors by the boyfriend that triggered her running, responses would be rather different.
Posted by adam.smith on June 10, 2014 at 7:50 PM · Report this
Philophile 22
This letter was so similar to "No Loss" a few letters back. Both written by women breaking up/hung up on dubious exes. There the ex gf announced a new relationship via social media after a 6 month separation. Here a guy in a sensitive (bdsm) and whirlwind (serious fast) relationship decides its a good time to suddenly switch jobs and cities. (Not necessarily for opportunitiy @19; it sounds like he wanted to change careers and didn't even move without her)

In both it may be possible but is inadvisable to work things out with the ex. And getting angry and grateful they're gone and meeting new people is great advice.

I'm surprised the comments are so different. In the last, no one stuck up for the ex.
Posted by Philophile on June 10, 2014 at 7:35 PM · Report this
Dan you are usually better than this, but this one was a complete swing and a miss.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with not wanting to go back to the person who just dumped you. It doesn't matter what her reason was. She has established with him that she is the sort of person who gets triggered and responds by dumping her partner. There is nothing wrong with him for deciding he isn't up for that, having been subjected to it once already.

If she had gone to him with her concerns after being triggered but before dumping him, THAT'S when he should have said all those wonderfully adult things you mentioned. But she didn't. She dumped his ass first and asked questions later. If that's her modus operandi, she has no business dating until she gets some serious therapy.

You aren't even being "a little rough on him." You are being just plain wrong.
Posted by avast2006 on June 10, 2014 at 7:34 PM · Report this
jumping on the bandwagon here, but I don't seen how "I left my partner in"—what we can only assume is—"a super dramatic fashion and now he doesn't want me back" tells us much about the partner. Maybe he has, say, a traumatic past relationship with a girlfriend who put him through an emotional roller-coaster of love-me/leave-me. Or maybe what she described as becoming hyper vigilant and running included behavior so crazy that he didn't feel like he wanted to/could deal with it in the future. Maybe he would have liked to have the discussion as scripted by Dan with here, but she didn't let him.
Posted by adam.smith on June 10, 2014 at 7:29 PM · Report this
Unless Dan cut a lot out of the letter, the boyfriend:

• Decided to move for a job opportunity, as one does.
• Asked his girlfriend of a few months to come with him. (A lot of people would view this as a plus, a statement that even though the relationship is fairly new he sees it as very serious and with long-term potential: there really is no right question or answer that will make generic person happy here.)
• His girlfriend abruptly dumped him.
• He doesn't want to get back together.

Posted by IPJ on June 10, 2014 at 6:39 PM · Report this
UF, there aren't any pieces to pick up. Consent runs both ways. He's told you it's over. Let it go. Learn from it.
Dan, I think you're being a little rough on the Dom. Could he have handled it better? Probably. Assuming the writer is a reliable narrator, I'm getting that she didn't put all of her cards on the table about her past until things started blowing up. One makes certain assumptions about someone in their mid-30s that one doesn't about someone in the their mid-20s, which sounds a bit closer to her relative relationship age. I say that in sympathy as someone who missed some important years of dating practice hiding in the closet for a lot of years and being a high schooler in my 20s' relationships as a result. This shit takes practice.
Posted by usagi on June 10, 2014 at 6:28 PM · Report this
LW, did you tell this man of your prior experience?
Even after your melt down- if so, and he couldn't see that your behaviour was understandable/ then yeah, agree with Dans line. Lucky you found out now, saved yourself the effort to move, that this guy isn't into looking after you.
Posted by LavaGirl on June 10, 2014 at 6:28 PM · Report this
Dan, I'm pretty sure you meant "That wasn't a panic attack" in that penultimate paragraph. It would certainly be stronger worded that way.

Otherwise yeah, LW may not have handled the panicking and running well, but lordy, the Dom handled it even worse. Find someone else.
Posted by Action Kate on June 10, 2014 at 5:41 PM · Report this
Therapy. Lots of therapy. The issue about the dom/sub nature of the relationship is irrelevant, what matters is you judging a current partner based on the sins of a previous partner. Go to therapy and unpack all that "trigger".
Posted by hurrdahurr on June 10, 2014 at 5:34 PM · Report this
Who isn't "wounded" after being abruptly dumped? You're either wounded or relieved.

I also can't fault someone for not wanting to get back together with the person who dumped them.

As Erica suggests, I think the base lesson here is that LW did not have her shit sufficiently together to date. If your past rules what you do--if your current partner is to be punished for the acts of past partners--you should be single until you work that out.
Posted by IPJ on June 10, 2014 at 5:29 PM · Report this
ferret 13
Good advice.
Posted by ferret http://!/okojo hide on June 10, 2014 at 5:04 PM · Report this
Yeah, I think the lesson is doms are people and they can be hurt if you jerk them around. If you're not mentally stable, work on that before getting into a serious relationship. She agreed to go, and then "ran out" on him. If she means that she left w/o a word, then he's quite reasonable not to start up with her again.
Posted by EricaP on June 10, 2014 at 4:57 PM · Report this
Solid advice.

I followed my partner across the country for a job once. We'd been together 4 years, were engaged, and it was STILL a big ask. We had a lot of serious conversations about it and what I needed to feel comfortable with it.

Without knowing precisely what "I ran out" translates to, it still seems to me that Dan is right to say her partner should have been more understanding of what he was asking.
Posted by wxPDX on June 10, 2014 at 4:38 PM · Report this
Keekee 9
So fucking tired of hearing about triggers...
Posted by Keekee on June 10, 2014 at 4:10 PM · Report this
lolorhone 8
While I agree that the move was almost certainly a mistake, I think you're being a bit hard on the dom, Dan. She didn't write "I came to him with my trepidation about moving away with him and now he's done with me." She wrote "I ran out on him and he was wounded." Which, just like her panic, seems perfectly reasonable, seeing as how she said yes and then ghosted on him- without, as far as I can tell, informing him of either her past trauma or her then-triggered state. Hell, it doesn't sound like she even told him she was scared. He didn't "give [her] shit about panicking at the thought of leaving everyone [she knew] behind to start a new life with him somewhere else"- he refused to get back together with her after she bailed on him which, again, sounds reasonable. They definitely needed to pump the brakes there- romance that fast-moving is almost always ill-advised- but I don't think his reaction was indicative of anything but a feeling of rejection on his part and a lack of some crucial information regarding the LW.


Even if he's now aware of the LW's trauma, it's fair for him to assume that she won't talk to him about what triggers her before she reacts. Which would be a dealbreaker for me as well.
Posted by lolorhone on June 10, 2014 at 4:06 PM · Report this
"your Dom tells you he's 'wounded'"
He didn't say that, she did
Posted by yuiop on June 10, 2014 at 3:54 PM · Report this
rob! 5
And here I thought we were gonna be dragged—kicking and screaming!—into the erotic life of one of your associate editors.
Posted by rob! on June 10, 2014 at 3:44 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 4
@ 1, it's likely she has some ptsd or other such conditions resulting from her previous experience. Freaking out is perfectly understandable and shouldn't be criticized.

But she needs to take a LOT of time with the next relationship. Like a year.
Posted by Matt from Denver on June 10, 2014 at 3:39 PM · Report this
seandr 3
Um, assuming that "I ran out on my Dom" means she dumped him, well, I think most people consider being dumped as one of those relationship "red flags".
Posted by seandr on June 10, 2014 at 3:38 PM · Report this
Collin 2
I'm not quite as ready to lay this at the Dom's feet....

"Once triggered, I became hyper-vigilant, and the only thing I could do was run. I ran out on my Dom. And I wounded him deeply in doing so."

She doesn't specify what she did or how she ran away. Did she not show up the day they were supposed to load the U-Haul? Did she stop talking to him for weeks before he moved? Or did she stop and talk to him rationally? Also, I'm not sure how to take that he was "wounded." Was it her not wanting to move that "wounded" him, or was it how she ran away that "wounded" him.

This whole thing seems very filtered from her perspective, and my gut is telling me that her filter is strong.
Posted by Collin on June 10, 2014 at 3:38 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 1
Good advice.

Hopefully she learned something from the experience though too... calm the fuck down and be thoughtful and rational instead of freaking out when you encounter a difficult situation.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on June 10, 2014 at 3:24 PM · Report this

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