What to Do When Your D/s Relationship Ends | 30 Days of D/s
No one ever wants to think that their seemingly blissful D/s relationship will end. For some, it won’t. But for others, it definitely will.
It’s rare that I say something is better or worse in kink than in the vanilla world, but this is one time I think it might be true. Power exchange relationship break-ups can be absolutely devastating and, for some, will be worse than any break-up in vanilla relationships.
Think about it. You’ve wrapped up your lives in each other, inhabiting roles that (by definition) require the other side of the slash. You depend on one another in many ways. A break-up tears that in two, leaving people floundering, as if their sense of gravity is gone.
D/s break-ups fucking suck. When they happen, you may go numb or feel incapable of doing anything other breathing and existing. That’s fine. You’re not alone.
Once you get past the initial shock (assuming that’s your response), there are some other things you might want to do as you move through the end of your relationship.
Feel Your Feelings
If you’re the type to push down your feelings or tell yourself to “Just get over it,” this may be the time to practice a bit more self-love than that. Regardless of the reasons for the break-up (or who’s at fault), if you feel sad, confused, angry, or whatever, don’t repress those emotions. The more you push your feelings down, the more it’s going to explode out when you least expect it.
There’s a time (in the future) for a post-mortem on what went wrong and what you or they could have done differently or whatever. In the immediate aftermath, as long as it’s not self-destructive, allow yourself to say, “This fucking sucks.”
Unless, of course, you’re overjoyed by your break-up. And if that’s the case, celebrate. Don’t feel guilty because you’re happy (or relieved) that it’s over. That feeling is information you can use later in future relationships.
Feelings are complex, and there’s no single right way to experience them. As long as you’re not harming yourself or others or spiraling downwards, let yourself grieve the loss of the relationship.
Take Your Time Getting Back Into Power Exchange
Depending on the circumstances of your break-up — assuming it’s sad for you and not something to celebrate — take your time getting into a new D/s relationship. Is it possible that you’ll meet The One™ within days of ending a relationship? Sure, there’s always a chance of that.
But most people are better served by easing into a new relationship and not seeking one out right away. Often, when you do that, it’s from a fear of being alone, thinking you “have” to be in a relationship to call yourself Dominant or submissive, and/or a fear of never getting the chance to be kinky again. That last one can take on the characteristics of Dom or subfrenzy but with the added layer of grief and strong emotions.
How slow you might want to take things will be determined by why the break-up occurred in the first place. Are there things you know you need to work on about yourself? Did you miss glaring red flags in your partner? Were you simply incompatible and it didn’t work out?
If your split was amicable and respectful, you may need a lot less time than someone who had their trust betrayed and has to handle their feelings around that.
Think About What Went “Wrong”
When you’re able to (and this may happen sooner or later) do your best to think objectively about what went wrong. In most relationships (barring unhealthy, toxic, and/or abusive situations) the “fault” often lies with both partners. That’s because both partners contribute to a relationship — good and bad.
Fault is a loaded word, though. Not being compatible isn’t anyone’s fault at all. Blame shouldn’t be assigned just because you grew apart or your lives/needs/desires no longer align the way they once did.
But there are things we do in a relationship, especially power exchange, in an effort to keep it together beyond its expiration date. Ignoring signs of incompatibility or trying to change a partner might be behaviors you want to recognize now so you can (maybe) avoid them in the future.
Trusting someone’s word when their actions didn’t align — that’s a lesson to consider for the future, too. Ignoring red flags or doubting yourself when things didn’t seem right are all-too common. And if you’re in a mental space to look back and see what you did or didn’t do, hopefully you can avoid it in the future.
Note: predators are often charismatic and it’s not your fault if you didn’t see the signs. But if you can look back and see the signs now that the relationship is over, that’s valuable information for next time.
Try Not to Let This Keep You From Kinky Dating
Some people have such a bad experience from a D/s break-up that they vow never to get into a kink relationship again. And…fair. That’s always your prerogative.
But if your kink identity or being in a power exchange relationship feels important to you, give yourself time to process what happened before making any decisions about the future.
Not all relationships end as badly as this. Not all Doms or subs are assholes who only care about themselves. Sometimes it takes a while to find the right person (or people) for you.
Focus on growing in your own understanding of kink. Let yourself explore your Dom/sub/switch self solo for a while. In doing so, you may become clearer about what you want and don’t want from a partner. Which may help you find the partner who fits you best.
Lean On Your Kink Community
Break-ups are just one reason (of many!) we highly recommend forming friendships within the BDSM community. This might be within a local munch or Dom/sub group in person. It could be an online kink community where you’ve made a couple of friends.
D/s break-ups can leave many of us feeling isolated. Our vanilla family and friends might know our relationship ended (maybe) but they probably don’t know anything about power exchange. So they don’t know that you built an entire life around your role within that relationship. Even the best friends/family can’t offer enough support if they don’t get the important nuances of your relationships.
That’s where your kink friends may be able to help. They can be sympathetic shoulders to cry on. The good ones will big you up and tell you how amazing you are. The best friends you’ll ever have will be real with you about your own behavior or what you did that was out of character. (Something that tends to happen when we’re desperate to save a relationship that needs to be allowed to die.)
Note: if you have these friends, give yourself time to grieve and work through your feelings before asking for “real talk” from them. You may not be ready to hear hard truths in the beginning, and you don’t have to when you’re in the thick of your emotions.
Also, if you lean on your kinky community in times like these, don’t forget to give as well as receive with your kink friendships (within your boundaries, of course) when you can.
There’s no single “right” way to handle a break-up in D/s. For some people, it will be devastating and require going through all the stages of grief. For others, it’ll be a relief. And for many others, it’ll be a complex, convoluted mish-mash of something else. There’s no script for what to do next.
Just know that the way you feel right now won’t last forever. Whether you move on or the pain simply lessens, at some point in the future, you won’t feel as bad as you do in the immediate aftermath. When that happens, then you can decide where to go from here.
As part of the 30 Days of D/s program, we ask participants to face the reality that sometimes a D/s relationship ends. Everyone will react differently, and no one wants to believe their power exchange will end. It’s not a comfortable thing to imagine, but it’s an important thing to recognize as a possibility.