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Trust is an interesting concept and has both intrinsic and extrinsic meanings to people in the Dominance and Submission (D/s) world. I define it to this venue because in BDSM play/scenes and in total power exchange (TPE) relationships (please note some call these D/s relationships as well) most will agree that “trust” is a critical element that allows this venue to develop and exist and remain safe. Some argue without “trust” you cannot even begin to have any type of D/s dynamic on any level let alone should one be participating in BDSM play/scenes because of the great risks and harm that could manifest without it, both mentally and physically.

When speaking with submissives and Dominants (for simplicity of writing I have created two categories for the men and women I talked to; but please note some people have other labels or non-labels for themselves and my intent here is not to offend anyone) the perspectives were very similar and at the core of all of their answers on my questions around “trust” they all believed it was a critical element in which all other components needed to build a healthy D/s relationship. There was not a single person who stated they could become fully engaged in a D/s relationship if the element of trust could not be established. Trust is so paramount that all other platforms cease to exist if this foundation is not present. Most Dominants saw trust as a character quality that one should innately have and thus meets the intrinsic concept; but, when asked if trust could be developed all agreed it had to be developed more fully in the relationship. However, trust came to the table innate within a Dominant first and foremost. This differed slightly from submissives; who seemed to focus on extrinsic qualities of how trust came about. Again, everyone felt strongly that without trust one could not give themselves over in mind, body, spirit, heart, etc. All also agreed that a submissive had to give the greater trust because they were literally putting themselves at risk when they handed control over to the Dominant. All also agreed that trust was paramount in building a platform for love later.

If trust is so critical and most were quite emphatic and passionate about this statement; what are ways people look to determine trust and help build trust in their relationship. It seems that for the intrinsic part of trust (some said a character element) to meet the extrinsic side of trust that perhaps both people have to want to establish that trust and therefore come to the table with an unspoken agreement they will start off honestly and with good intentions. It is arguable that we all give trust away every day in various scenarios. For example when I get in my car to drive to the store; I trust everyone will follow the established rules of the road so we do not have a plethora of car accidents. I also start every conversation with an element of trust. I trust you to speak to me respectfully and honestly. However, then I do a serious of “tests” or observations and even boundaries to ensure that it is maintained and consistent before I will delve into more personal areas of conversation with a person. In the example of driving, the “tests” or observations are called defensive driving. You do not blindly assume there will be no one who will not make a mistake or break a rule so you pay attention to the other drivers and swerve to get out of their way in order to avoid an accident. Tests and observations are in essence boundaries one can create for them as a source of protection. If I did not allow some trust, I would not be able to have any meaningful conversations because the walls and defense mechanisms would be so great that no one would want to talk to you for long. Then one would only succeed in isolating oneself and marginalizing your experience with relationships. From personal experience, I would argue you also cease to grow and expand from these limitations that have been self-imposed.

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Trust building takes time; commitment, honesty, transparency, and validation. How much time depends on the people involved. I would argue that if a person has had a lot of poor experiences with trust the time involved to build those layers in a new relationship will take twice as much work and be fraught with many fear fractures that will always challenge the new relationship until the past hurts are truly released. It should be a stepped in process where one starts with small trusts and gradually builds on those to deeper and more vulnerable levels to achieve the depth required to fully engage in D/s relationships. Time is important; the more time you put into anything and the more depth; the better the results. Yet, time and time again people become excited and move too quickly through the processes or skip steps in their pursuit of immediate gratification. I am guilty of it as well; and always have the benefit of hindsight to kick myself time and time again for rushing into something blindly. I sometimes wonder (not always as there are predators out there) if we often blame others for not being what we hoped when all along the true essence was there for us to see if we had not leaped over the stairs to get to the bedroom or that feeling of “love” people often seek.

Notice I have avoided quantifying a time for trust to develop on purpose. People often obtain levels of trust at different speeds. It depends on the two people coming together. Have you ever met someone and “felt” you could trust them instantly? People have natural instincts that send out signals; these should never be avoided or ignored. Yet, we also should not only listen to our internal signals; it is one tool only and needs the other “tests” and observations to continue to develop the trust to the level required in full D/s relationships. Because of how D/s is structured and the risks involved; the level of transparency and vulnerability is greater than in many other types of relationships People have the greatest rewards in D/s when they are able to bare their soul to another person and have the trust returned; that the gift will be cherished and protected even long after the relationship may have met its end. People in D/s tend to be emotionally and psychologically closer because of this depth once established; the Dominants and submissives share personal thoughts; feelings and fears they often do not even tell their therapist or best friend. We struggle in vanilla societies to go to these levels and often exist at a very surface facade because it avoids the emotional entanglements and time that many people do not create in their lives to achieve this depth in a relationship anymore. In D/s you literally are handing over your life to someone and to what degree are determined by your needs and boundaries. Due to this safety element; trust is also a cornerstone needed to create a safe environment needed to protect the sub and Dominant.

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Transparency; honesty; commitment are really rather powerful components of trust that requires the individual to know themselves well and be very sure of who they are as a person before engaging in D/s. How can a person share of themselves through the level needed if they are not sure of who they are and even where their weakness lies because we all have them. Honesty first starts with knowing who you are and being honest enough to take that dive within yourself to look hard without “rose colored glasses” and accept all of you; not just the parts that are palatable. Only then should you pursue a relationship of this nature; for if you try you will be in for some emotional roller coaster rides and possibly suffer some damage both physically and mentally. Knowing one’s self allows you to be able to develop the level of trust needed and even establish the necessary boundaries you will need to keep a needed safety net around you. It is not only up to others to keep you safe not even your Dominant. The Dominant’s success is also codependent on your ability to have strength in knowing who you are as a person and know what boundaries you need at what times and when they can be changed.

Invariably trusts can and are broken at times whether unconsciously or consciously. We all are human after all and inherent within us is the fallacy to make mistakes. Is trust recoverable? Most agree it depends on the degree of trust broken and or how often that occurs. When it does happen everyone said both parties had to first have the desire to repair the damage and then it would require a great deal of communication and time to repair the fracture created. This underscores again how critical trust is in these types of relationships and at the same time how valuable and fragile. It is precious the level of trust one aspires to in D/s and therefore should not be trifled with as a game. There are some once the trust is broken at certain degrees they never want to participate in D/s again because they know they will be unable to obtain the level of trust needed again due the barriers created by their own hurt and pain.

D/s is a symbiotic relationship in which trust is paramount and critical to safety. Trust should be developed carefully and consciously. Do not discount your internal senses that send out the signals to you; but also do not use them alone without developing things in a methodical system with a series of checks and balances. This process will not prevent hurts from happening but it will provide a measure of safety and minimize the damage that can and does occur when this process to develop trust is skipped.  The level of importance one puts on trust through time; commitment; transparency and honesty will also determine the level of respect that is given to it.

 

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