Knowing that something I’ve done has made it easier for other people to live the sexually fulfilling lives they want is sometimes the only thing keeping me alive these days. So I was more than a little chuffed to read that Thumper drew from a post I wrote in 2007 called “How not to fuck up a D/s relationship” to help him overcome a bump in his relationship with his partner, Belle. Quoting him quoting me:

Maymay has this blog post that’s been sticking with me recently called “How not to fuck up a D/s relationship.” In it, he correctly points out that successful relationships are not a monolithic mass but are actually made up of multiple layers (like onions or, perhaps, parfaits), each building upon the last.

There’s this concept of layers, or more technically a stack, that is fundamental to the construction of many things in our world today. The basic idea is that one layer builds upon the things it receives from the layer beneath it and provides things to build upon to the layer above it. In this way, a robust and reliable system can be developed—and maintained—by segmenting different pieces of the system.

I think that a D/s relationship could benefit from a construction similar to this. It’s the way I think about my relationship with Eileen. I am at once her friend, her lover, her boyfriend, and her slave. Indeed, I am her slave because I am her boyfriend, and I am her boyfriend because I am her lover, and I am her lover because I am her friend.

I was reminded of this because, for the past two weeks or so, there’s been a kind of dissonance between Belle and I that’s taken the wind out of the sail for the sexual part of our relationship. […But o]nce the issue with the lower stack was resolved, the issue with the higher one was, too.

Now, Thumper’s blog is perhaps the only “sex blog” actually about the sex its author has that I don’t outright dislike for that fact. I hate most sex blogs, and even the ones that aren’t total bullshit (either because they are fiction or because they’re just flat-out terrible) give me pause since reading about someone else’s sex life while you have none of which to speak feels kind of like banging your forehead into a concrete wall over and over again. (Which, if it’s not obvious to you, is not my kink thankyouverymuch.) But I keep coming back to read Thumper’s blog because his ability to share his experiences with such sanguine simplicity while using marvelously empathic language leaves me feeling like I’m living vicariously through him.

And, for the record, there’s simply no other sex blogger whose sex life I want more than Thumper’s. Except possibly Tom’s. Sure, Thumper’s innately emotional phraseology can sometimes trigger downright rantings from me, but if you want to read about the sex life I wish I had, just read Thumper’s blog.

Anyway, beyond the fact that Thumper’s post was really life-affirming (literally) to read, it sparked a few comments that develop the D/s relationship layers (or stacks) idea further in a very valuable way. Mykey very keenly noted:

I might add though that the layers feed back to each other. I’m a better sub because [my partner Sandy and I] are in love. But I fall more in love when I see my submission is appreciate and valued. That is, a higher stack feeds back and strengthens the lower one as well.

Absolutely. And in the case of a sexual relationship, abso-fucking-lutely. This is true, techies like me will note, of many other systems whose architecture makes fundamental use of the layers concept. The Internet’s TCP/IP stack (which provides loads of sexual inspiration, if you’re looking), has an entire process for sending messages up and down its neighboring layers. So, too, must human relationships.

Perhaps the most obvious example of this is a relationship that begins when two lovers’ eyes meet across a crowded room, suddenly feeling lustful for one another. (Doubly true if this is a sex party.) These weren’t “friends first” situations, which means the initial spark for the relationship happened, in this parlance, on a higher stack, the lover layer. So the sex can beget friendship and, like a tree, the relationship grows both roots heading downwards and branches heading skyward.

In Thumper’s case, as he puts it:

I think in Belle’s mind my chastity has stopped being just a game we play. It’s been elevated over time to be a fairly significant commitment I’ve made to her. A sign of my devotion. A permanent part of our relationship. And for some reason, I played right into that by equating my chastity to her [far “lesser”] commitment. So, I guess, what this boiled down to was a conversation about our commitments to each other and how we need to keep them. And a tacit implication that I will probably be chastised for the rest of my life.

[…]

Before, I had developed a kind of begrudged resignation toward the device and had more or less lost my interest in being sexual with or even touching Belle. Last night, though, I was all over her and fell asleep clutching her body, my hands up under bedclothes. Her hand was down around the device and she stroked my balls as she fell asleep and I just about melted. On the way into work this morning, I sensed the tube on my body and the stirring of the cock inside and a warm, excited fluttering was in my chest.

In other words, as Mykey observes, Belle considers chastity to be a foundation layer now. And that not only makes sense, it’s an absolutely critical thing for anyone—straight or not, vanilla or not—to appreciate.

We’re so often told sex, or fetishes, destroys relationships. But for many people, it’s one of the strongest ways to maintain and even strengthen one healthily.

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