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July 21, 2010

Poly And BDSM

As I travel around the web, I am struck by all the people who are poly. Every where I turn, there is another individual or couple who is part of a poly relationship (household) and seeking to add another. Without any scientific data, I can only estimate the percentage of people in this lifestyle who are poly.

The Stats Do Not Match

Poly relationships are not exclusive to the BDSM community.  In fact, as you will see, most of the exist outside this world.  The vast percentage of true poly relationships reside in the traditional realm of society.  For these people, the lifestyle choice is not based upon sex or control.  Rather, it is a matter of the heart.

Estimates are weak in terms of the numbers or percentage of the population that truly is poly.  I heard claims that there are somewhere around 500,000 people in polyamorous relationships in the United States.  This number, according to some, is low when you consider the conditioning and promotion of monogamy by society at large.  How many more would embrace the poly life if our culture promoted it as an acceptable alternative?  Some claim that this number might reach 10% of the populous.

How does this compare to the BDSM community?  Based upon my informal survey on the internet, I think there are somewhere around 50% of the people who are seeking to live in some type of poly situation.  Compare this with a 10% number if society promoted poly as a reasonable alternative and one is left to conclude that something does not add up.

My belief is that either people who are involved in BDSM are a great deal more open minded about matters concerning the heart or there is something misleading about the statements people are making.  I make this claim because the numbers do not add up when compared to reasonable statistics in general.

Polysexual vs. Polyamorous

Poly is something that is easy to understand.  It simply means "more than one".  The question is more than one what?  Here we need to have a further understanding about the terms we are using.  Part of the statistical problem mentioned is because people are dealing with two definitions.

Polysexual means having sex with more than one person.  At the same time, polyamorous means being in love with more than one person.  Basically, when someone says they are poly, are they referring to sex or love?  That is where the big difference arises.

The polysexual community includes everyone who lives the open sexual lifestyle.  Swingers and porn stars fit into this category.  Their sexual escapades include numerous people (at least 2 others).  Sharing, swapping, and orgies are commonplace.  Bisexual encounters are also frequent.

Polyamorous people are those who focus more on the relationship aspect of things.  These are the ones who believe in love and commitment to more than one person.  While they may embark on the open sexual lifestyle, that is actually a rarity.  These people tend to have sex as a secondary issue.  Traditional arenas for polyamory is the Muslim and Mormon faiths.   Here a man (since the are male dominated disciplines) can have more than one wife.  The male is poly with monogamous wives.  Love is at the core of each of the relationships.

Poly and BDSM

This brings us to the BDSM community.  So, are upwards towards 50% of these people poly?  The answer lies in the definition.  They might be polysexual but they arent polyamorous.  In fact, these individuals are actually clueless about the poly lifestyle.  Their interest is in polysexual at best.

The classic example is a post where a M/s (or D/s, D/D) couple is looking to add another sub to their "poly" relationship.  What actually is occurring is that a Master is actually seeking to be a multi-slave owner.  He is not interested in creating a poly atmosphere.  The male wants two slaves while the female wants a sister and a bisexual lover.  That is what they are truly after.

In a true polyamorous situation, both relationships are given equal opportunity to grow.  One is not more important or given priority than the other.  Naturally, the second relationship trails the first in terms of familiarity and trust.  However, it also have the advantage of providing new energy (called NRE-New Relationship Energy) and excitement as compared to the first.  While the first person (slave in this example) has the knowledge of the Master, the second is given equal opportunity over time to become just as trusted.  Naturally, we do not see this in most of those offering poly BDSM relationships.

Alpha Slave

The alpha slave is a term used to describe the slave who is the head of a household in a multi-slave situation.  Traditionally, it was when there were a plethora of servants that one was placed in charge to make sure all tasks were completed to satisfaction.  This person was the de facto "Mother Hen".  It was her job to tend to all the other slaves while keeping them in line.  This freed the Master from the responsibility of discipline and micro mangement.

Many in the BDSM world claim they are being set up as alpha slaves.  They believe that their place is the incumbent slave entitles them to prestige over the newer person arriving.  This is bunk.  To start, in the M/s world, few have so many that they need an alpha slave.  Besides, who says the present slave has the ability to become a leader among slaves.  In fact, there is a chance the newer person is 10 times the slave the first one is.  She might be more obedient, knowledgeable, and talented.  Perhaps the second one is more qualified as the alpha slave.

Instead, the alpha slave is a method used for the first slave to keep her place between the newer one and the Master.   Typically, there is a long term relationship (possibly a marriage) in place when they go seeking another.  The first doesnt want to lose her status.  Anyone new is a threat.  In fact, there are many who state that if one is to go it is the new one.  Again, if it is true polyamory, one cannot make that assertion.  Each relationship exists on its own merit.  The success or failure of a slave depends upon her interaction with the Master, not on the other slave.  If one is to go, it is the one who doesnt meet the expectations established by the Master regardless of the number of years with him.

A Third Wheel

In the end, most of the people seeking poly are only interested in a third wheel.  As mentioned, the Master is interested in owning multiple slaves while the existing slave wants a sister.  The new person is nothing more than a third wheel to their arrangement.  She is there to perform tasks and enter into their sexual games.  That is all.  While this is a perfectly acceptable arrangement for anyone who is willing to enter it, one needs to be aware of what she is agreeing to.  To think that she is going to have an equal opportunity with the Master is foolhardy if this is the situation.  Most Masters are not polyamorous.  The existing relationship is the one that they will side with and not let go of.  The other slave, since she has no idea how to exist in a true poly situation, will eventually do things that will sabotage the newer relationship.  In the end, the new one is out since her relationship with the Master was never given a fair chance to develop.  She came in as and was always treated as a third wheel.  

The situation failed because it wasnt poly to begin with.  

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2 comments:

  1. Anecdotal, of course, but I have not met one polyamorous person who was not into BDSM.

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  2. Perhaps you missed the part about the Muslim and Mormon traditions which arent necessarily BDSM although there is a male domination. Check out this site and you will see how BDSM isnt a part of the polyamorous society.

    http://www.polyamorysociety.org/

    ReplyDelete