from the Submissive Guide Newsletter 6-7-14

I see it all the time on discussion boards and we talk about it at social gatherings. I've even thought it a time or two. D/s relationships are better than vanilla ones. We see them as deeper, more intimate, better at communication and meeting the individual's needs as well as the couple's. For those of us who have been in vanilla relationships, we see them as being more successful because there are less (no) secrets, no battle for who's in control, no awkwardness in the bedroom and so much more. We feel superior to our vanilla counterparts at times. But, in truth, D/s relationships are no better or worse than vanilla ones. They are, in fact, only as good as to two (or more) people involved make them.

So why do we compare ourselves in this way?

It' a natural part of our upbringing to compare what we have with other people. We are a competitive race. We want the better things, the more valuable things.  We get a silent thrill from knowing that someone is having a hard time, or that another person's relationship is failing while yours thrives. So when we find D/s and we are in a relationship that feels powerful and intimate we can't help but compare it to previous relationships. It's that way with any relationship - people compare it with the past to see if their needs are met, to learn what makes things work for us and to hopefully prevent us from ending up in a damaging relationship (again).

How are D/s Relationships Better?

If we base our assumptions on D/s relationships being better and more solid than their vanilla counterparts, then we have to be able to make a list of all the things that make power exchange relationships number one.

1. "They are more intimate. I feel closer to my Dominant than I've felt to anyone before."

Is this really only possible once we engage in power exchange? If we believe that a more intimate relationship exists only in a D/s relationship then how do we explain the 98% of other relationships in this world? Are they lacking in intimacy? How can you really know? The only thing we really can be sure of is that something about a power exchange relationship makes it feel more intimate to you.

2. "We communicate and share everything. There are no secrets between my Dominant and I."

One of the cornerstones of a power exchange relationship is detailed and in-depth communication about anything and everything. Any BDSM 101 class covers the importance of communication to assure that wants and needs are known and nurtured in the relationship. But does this mean that vanilla relationships don't have similar communication? Successful communication is unique to each person. If one person is open and can share their deep secrets but the other person can't, then the communication won't work; D/s or not.

3.  "I trust him with my life. I know he will never misuse that gift."

This is a declaration I hear a lot about the difference between D/s and vanilla relationships. It doesn't hold water. I trusted my ex-husband with everything about me. We were open and extremely close. He never misused that trust. Which is probably why our relationship fell apart amicably. We grew apart as people, not as a couple. I needed something he couldn't provide, and because of that, we said our goodbyes. Any relationship needs trust. The level of trust may be different but that' s as subjective as intimacy.

What am I getting at?

By now you are probably wondering what I'm getting at by tearing down the three most common statements about how D/s relationships are better, deeper, stronger than vanilla ones. Well here it is; the strength of a relationship is only as powerful as the two (or more) people in it.

Let's think about this for a moment. Relationships fail; D/s or vanilla. They could have very well started out with all the trust, intimacy and communication used as a beacon for better relationship stereotypes. But something fails. Communication breaks down, trust is broken or intimacy is lost. All relationships can fail because of one or both people in it.

As you can see, comparing a relationship as a single unit as better or more successful than another is the tipping point. It would be better to compare the people in these relationships - are they more open, flexible, amicable, passionate? Other than kink and power exchange, what makes us different from vanilla people?


Relationships are based on mutually shared experience. From your first to your last relationship, you learn and grow as a person and as a person within a relationship. For some people, it takes a lot of practice to find their most successful self in a relationship. Others get it right out of the gate.

Take your past and learn from it, apply what you know about successful relationships. Then devote all that work and effort into your current relationship. See how much better it is because you applied your best self to the relationship? If your partner does that too - you are in a successful relationship. No need to define it as D/s or vanilla. You still have the envy of every other person still learning what that looks like.

Stop comparing and start living.

Thoughts to Ponder

  1. Do you find yourself comparing your relationship with others? Why do you think you do that?
  2. What values do you see in a successful relationship? How do you nurture them?

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