Show Me Unkindness, and I’ll Show You the Door

I’m the queen of boundaries. I will show you the door without hesitation if something tells me you’re destructive… as long as you’re a vanilla partner. With D/s, it’s a whole ‘nother story.

A dom can lie to me till his nose falls off, and I’ll still sit at his feet like a rescue dog for months afterwards. In my lifetime, I’ve tolerated truckloads of red flags without leaving, and yet when vanilla partners played that kind of game, I left within a day. Why?

Sex, pain, and fear are like flour and water: put them together and you have the kind of glue that’s well-nigh impossible to disconnect from, so I’ve often wondered if there are similarities between S&M and trauma bonds. Reward and punishment create an emotional attachment that’s far more potent than love and sex can achieve on their own. The combination of pleasure and pain, reward and punishment in the abuse cycle creates the kind of intensity healthy vanilla relationships can rarely compete with. I’d be surprised if BDSM didn’t have a similar effect. We’re dealing in precisely the same elements, after all: pain, fear, and sex; punishment and reward.



That bond is the reason I go on and on about only having relationships with ethical partners. I’ve written about trust, respect, and a hundred other abstract ideas, but at the end of the day, one trait usually takes care of all the rest: compassion. A dominant who’s not guided by compassion is going to harm you over and over again, advertently and inadvertently. A compassionate dominant will do their damnedest to treat you well.

At risk of stating the obvious, compassionate people don’t abuse you or their power. Compassion comes with a built in conscience, and conscience is like an umbrella that protects you from a whole hailstorm of abusive behaviours. It also comes with empathy. A compassionate dominant is rarely so self-involved that they use D/s to serve their needs, damn yours to hell.

I can list a hundred deal breakers, but what I’m really looking for is someone who gives a fuck, who will be there for me when life throws lemons at me, who won’t exploit the all-too-powerful connection D/s fosters.

In the past, I’ve let myself be so blinded by good traits that I’ve missed the awfulness right in front of me. I’ve accepted deal-breaking behaviours because I didn’t trust my own perceptions. I’ve accepted them because I found a hundred shades of awesomeness in-between. I’ve accepted them because the bond between masochist and sadist is dangerously powerful. It’s hard to think clearly when you’re dealing with a flood of oxytocin, so compassion will be my compass from here on out. Show me you’re unkind, and I’ll show you the door.


12 thoughts on “Show Me Unkindness, and I’ll Show You the Door

  1. I like your writing; its perceptive but I am puzzled by your world. Trauma bonding is not confined to sexual relationships. Survivors of accidents, war and other catastrophes are also ‘trauma bonded’. Its because only those who experienced the ordeal can understand what it was like. This creates the exclusivity and intimacy of the bond. I think of myself as an assertive man and enjoy a responsive woman. ‘Assertion’ is simply being clear about what I want and where I want to go in life. I don’t feel any need to dominate as such. Women will respond or they will not and if they do not then I go on my way. A dominants need for submission seem a different quality from assertion altogether, as in no extreme form of assertion ever becomes ‘dominant’.

    I understand how you value compassion and consideration in your dominant partners but the two qualities seem to me to be contradictory. Human beings are contradictory creatures and contain many paradoxes, it is true, but sure this combination that you value must be extraordinarily rare?


    • Wow. That’s a big question. I want to answer it, but it’ll take an entire blog post, so I will do that when I have more time on my hands. But in short, no, compassion and consideration are not at all rare among dominants.


      • Incidentally, trauma bonding is not the same as survivor bonding, to my knowledge. Survivors bond over a shared experience. Trauma bonding is a chemical process.


  2. “Sex, pain, and fear are like flour and water: put them together and you have the kind of glue that’s well-nigh impossible to disconnect from, so I’ve often wondered if there are similarities between S&M and trauma bonds.”

    Probably something to that, yeah. I’d like to read more about this. I mean, how do you safely navigate a problem like that?


  3. I am surprised to hear that these two qualities are common – I live and learn, and look forward to your post.

    Yes, you are quite right “trauma bonding’ is a specific term about the conditions within a sexually abusive relationship. I had thought incorrectly that the term would also apply to other areas such as the relationship between torturer and torture victim during warfare or that between psychopaths and their victims during con games, the psychological underpinnings of which I am more familiar.

    However, all kinds of bonding, trauma or any human experience can be either be reduced to brain chemistry, as with the cognitive approach to psychology, or expanded to find meaning as in the psychoanalytic approach. So I still wonder if there are similarities despite the completely different context.

    I hunted down this link searching for ‘surviver bonds’ under ‘bonding after trauma’ and reports a similar addictive nature of bonding, in this case burns survivors.


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