Sunday, February 15, 2015

50 Right Ways to Approach BDSM/TTWD: Not So Fast and Furious

Welcome to Part 3 of my Valentines Day/50 Shades of Grey series, which compares the unhealthy, abusive approach to BDSM in the popular book series with that of a healthy approach to the lifestyle.

The first two portions are here:

Getting to Know You

Making a Decision

This next part deals with the beginning of the relationship--the passionate, can't-wait-to-get-started phase (or the terrifying phase, depending on your experience level). So, at this point, you've gotten to know the other person, you've weighed the pros and cons with getting involved with BDSM activities with this person, and now you're ready to dive in! Not so fast! If you take the approach that Christian and Ana take, you're setting yourself up for heartbreak and/or abuse. Taking the beginning of any BDSM relationship slowly is key to not burning out and getting frustrated two weeks into it.

To repeat from earlier posts, the purpose of this list is to highlight everything that is unhealthy about the FSOG approach to BDSM and to contrast it with a healthy, safe approach that protects both partners. We'll call this phase the "Not So Fast and Furious" portion of a BDSM relationship:

Not like this, ladies! Slow that man down!

Not So Fast and Furious

23. Christian Grey intentionally gives Ana alcohol so that she'll "communicate honestly" with him and more readily agree to what he wants--a healthy dominant knows that honest, uninfluenced communication is the most important part of a BDSM relationship and will only accept consent when his partner is sober and thinking clearly.

24. Christian Grey blames his desire to inflict pain on his abusive past--a healthy dominant knows that BDSM and abuse are not the same thing and will never, ever link the two when speaking with his partner.

25. When Ana tells Christian Grey she felt abused and aroused during her spanking, Christian Grey tells Ana that a submissive would embrace those feelings for her dominant--a healthy dominant will immediately stop and re-think his approach when a submissive says she's feeling abused, regardless of feelings of arousal; he will never ask his submissive to "embrace" confusing or conflicted feelings, as he wants BDSM to be an enjoyable experience for his partner.

26. Also, when Ana tells Christian Grey about her conflicted feelings, he blames her for a) not asking him to stop, b) not using her safe word, and c) listening to  the "wrong" part of her body--a healthy dominant knows that every. single. feeling. is legitimate when it comes to BDSM and will never, ever dismiss his partner's feelings or blame her for not stopping the scene when she felt conflicted.

27. When Ana forgets to call Christian Grey, he tells her to "learn to manage" his expectations, because he's "not a patient man"--when it comes to a new partner, a healthy dominant is, first and foremost, a patient man; he will devote as much time as needed to helping his partner set and manage expectations for him and for herself.

28. Christian Grey tells Ana that he doesn't want to punish her for the missed phone call, but that if she'd caught him the previous evening, when he was angry, that "would have been a different story"--a healthy dominant carries through and punishes for agreed upon broken rules, regardless of how much time has passed, because he does not punish out of anger (!); he never tells his partner that she has escaped punishment because he's "not angry anymore," because he would never punish her when he's angry in the first place.

29. In the same evening, Christian Grey "threateningly" whispers to Ana when she says she wants to visit her mother and says he is "palm-twitchingly mad" when he finds out she had a drink with a male friend--again with the anger thing, a healthy dominant simply doesn't spank, threaten, or engage in any BDSM activity when he's angry with his partner; he also does not isolate her from her family and friends.

30. Christian Grey becomes angry with Ana at his parents' dinner party, so he takes her to a boat house, fucks her, and doesn't allow her to come because he wants her "frustrated"--ugh, so many things wrong here; a healthy dominant, again, does not engage in any BDSM activity when he is angry and certainly does not use a dinner party at his parents' house as the time and place to introduce a new concept of BDSM that has not previously been discussed (in this case, orgasm denial); a healthy dominant introduces all new activities with his partner in a safe space, and only after discussing with her what it may feel like for her.

31. Christian Grey withholds his affection toward Ana because she wants to go stay with her mother for a few days--a healthy dominant gives affection because of the love and care he has for his partner, not as a tool for manipulating her actions with her outside family and friends.

32. Ana can't tell if Christian Grey's threats are serious or joking--this is a tricky one, because dominants and submissives often have a good enough relationship where they can get away with banter, including teasing from the sub and joke threats from the dominant, but a healthy dominant never wants his sub to confuse the two, so he makes sure to use clear communication and indications when speaking as a dominant.

33. When Ana tells Christian Grey that his threats scare her, she admits that she needs some space and time with her mother to think clearly. Christian Grey tracks down her mother's address and shows up uninvited--a healthy dominant would take any admission of fear or need for time and space as a very serious matter and would do everything to honor that for his partner; and for God's sake, he would wait for an invitation to be introduced to his partner's family before showing up.

34. While Ana is gone, Christian Grey goes out to dinner with his ex-partner/ex-abuser who sexually molested him when he was a child--a healthy dominant does not continue to see someone who he admits sexually molested him when he was a child; he is able to let go of the past (assuming there are no absolutely horrific things like this) and/or not let past partners manipulate his current relationship.

35. Christian Grey opens up to Ana about his abusive past, and a) equates it to his current fascination with BDSM and b) uses it as an excuse for why Ana must accept and not question his behavior toward her--a healthy dominant, again, never equates BDSM to abuse, and does not allow past relationships to influence what his current partner's desires are; he allows his partner to negotiate rules, set boundaries, and voice apprehensions.

Any new relationship can be rocky, especially if it involves BDSM. But, unlike Ana and Christian, taking it slowly can lead to some of the most fulfilling and earth-shattering experiences of your life. Instead of constant fear, apprehension, and confused feelings, there can absolutely be fulfillment, trust, and confidence in the beginning of a BDSM relationship.

To sum up what a healthy dominant does with his partner during this phase:

  • gets consent when she's sober and alert
  • validates all of her feelings
  • does not blame her for confusion or conflict
  • practices patience with her at all times
  • does not engage in activity when angry
  • introduces new activities in a familiar, comfortable space
  • gives affection freely
  • communicates dominant language clearly
  • allows her time and space to work out new feelings
  • lets go of past relationships


  1. Hi Autumn, yep, slow is good, slow is wonderful. I think that some these points are about deciding freely again. I’d never have this idea that bdsm and abuse go together, on the contrary, abuse is more likely to stop anybody from being willing to do bdsm. Either this, or you really have a wonderful and loving teacher to introduce everything, slowly. And even then there are limits for victims of abuse. Just like you, I’d not want to see anything abusive connected to bdsm. It cannot be, because then the whole relationship starts from the wrong point. If the issues are unsolved, then there should be parts of bdsm simply left out. Anything that could invoke old memories is pure horror. An absolute no-go and that would always be the moment to stop any scene and simply talk and cuddle to get rid of the memory.
    I am with you on the anger management, and it would all be a mess, if these things happened real life. Well, being left frustrated can be fun too, but not if the reason behind such an idea is anger.

    I loved your conclusions, because they make so much sense and are very well thought. What you write is how the healthy approach works and what can happen as a result is wonderful and awesome. Thank you for this.



    1. I agree, Nina. Obviously, not everything is going to be roses during BDSM activity--sometimes things go wrong and trigger bad emotions. It's important to approach *those* moments the right way too (see next post). And sometimes, emotions during a scene are unavoidable, but a good dominant should know not to do anything when he's angry.

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