What Is "A" Lifestyle?
Author: Raven Shadowborne © 1999
|What is a lifestyle? That
is one of the most confusing concepts when it comes to BDSM. The most
basic way to explain it is, a lifestyle is how you live your day to day
life. For example, there are homosexual lifestyles. This means people
who live their day to day lives with another person of the same gender.
There are "rich" lifestyles. This would be people who have a good deal
of money and can afford such luxuries as expensive cars, large houses,
and vacations in France.
When it comes to BDSM, the word lifestyle seems to have taken on another meaning. Many define it as anyone who engages in any b/d, d/s, or s/m activity is living a BDSM lifestyle. Also, the word has been used to describe the entire scope of BDSM as "part of the BDSM lifestyle" or just "the lifestyle".
For me, a person who lives a BDSM lifestyle, is one who lives in a d/s (or m/s) relationship on a daily basis. (this could be long distance, live in, monogamous, poly, homosexual, whatever!) For me, the deciding factor of whether or not someone lives the lifestyle, is whether or not the power exchange is the basis of the relationship and is present at all times. In such a situation the dominant is always in charge and makes all final decisions, and the submissive is always submissive, even if he/she has many responsilities. For many people, this is a mental thing. It is the quiet knowledge of who is in charge and what the heirachy is in the relationship. This knowledge is present whether the people are at a public function, or just sitting around watching television together. For them, it is not just a kinky sex game. Nor is it based on physical sensations created during play.
Not everyne can live a D/s lifestyle. However, this should
not deter you from enjoying BDSM to whatever degree you are comfortable
and happy with. In my opinion, it does not in any way, lessen your relationship
nor you as a person. Nor does it make you a "player" or "wannabe". Even
those who engage in BDSM on a semi-regular basis, must still face many
challenges and follow the same guidelines that are present for a 24/7
relationship. Safety must be adhered to. Communcation, trust, and honesty
are of great importance. The relationship dynamics are the same, just
not present all the time. There are plenty of people who engage in power
exchange, or kinky sex, on a semi-regular basis (the vast majority of
main stream BDSM it seems). They are indeed a part of the "lifestyle"
as a whole, but are not living a d/s lifestyle. The do fall under the
term BDSM, and are a part of the BDSM lifestyle as whole. For these
people, the BDSM part is based more on physical sensation, sexual gratification,
and experimentation. There is not as driving a need to submit or dominate
outside of the sexual context. This itself can be a type of lifestyle.
Some people narrow the definition of what "living a d/s lifestyle" is to one that includes only those who live in a 24/7 relationship with their dominant or submissive. This defintion excludes quite a few people that are in long distance relationships. I have learned that if the submission in domination are indeed real, distance will not change the knowledge of who is in charge. The participants can, and many do, live by the power exchange agreement even when apart. For me, this makes it a "lifestyle".
As you can see, lifestyle is many different things when
it comes to BDSM. As with so many other things, you must decide for
yourself how the word applies to you and your relationship. The best
thing you can remember is this: