Ask Amy #7: “Respectful Flirting for Queer Women”

Today’s advice question comes from one of my wonderful Patreon supporters, who has been very patient in waiting for me to get to it. I’ve also, I must admit, been sitting on this one a bit because knowing how to answer it was tricky.

The reader in question is a woman, in case that wasn’t clear from context. Let’s go…

Two women drinking coffee at an outside table. Only their arms are visible. For a post on flirting as a queer woman.“Hey Amy,

I like girls but am very nervous about flirting, in part because they’re so cute my brain melts, and in part because I want to be polite and respectful.

What are your tips on approaching cute humans in public places (cafes, bookshops, etc.) in a respectful way, to tell them their shirt is nerdy and cool, and to maybe indicate I want to start flirting with them?”

Oof. My dear reader, if I knew the definitive answer to this one, I’d date a lot more girls. But I will do my best, writing from the perspective of a woman who likes women and is maybe open to being flirted with by them.

A cool thing I learned about flirting a long time ago, which has always served me well, is to consider treating it as an end in and of itself. Flirting is a joyful activity as long as both parties are fully on board with it, and it does not necessarily need to lead to sex/a date/a relationship in order to be “successful”. This mindset will both help to guard you against crushing disappointment if that cutie you’re chatting to turns out to not be interested in taking things further, and helps to prevent you coming across as “creepy” or having an “agenda”.

To approach or not to approach?

When it comes to deciding whether to approach someone in public, it’s important to look for visual clues as to whether they may be open to being approached or not. If they’ve got headphones in, for example, or are hiding away in a corner behind a book or laptop, they’re probably either super busy or wanting to be left alone. Body language and general demeanor are important too. Does she look sad, stressed out, pissed off? That person is unlikely to be in the mood to chat. But someone who seems chilled out, happy or content is more likely to be open to meeting new people.

What to say?

A good way to approach someone and gauge if they’re interested in chatting to you is to offer an opener that they can either pick up and run with, or answer quickly then get back to whatever they were doing.

“I love your shirt! Where did you get it?” is a great one, especially if they’re wearing something that reflects a shared interest. You can also substitute “shirt” for bag, item of jewellery, shoes, cute notebook, etc. etc. Anything that clearly reflects an interest or personality trait. The key is to be genuine in your compliment. That way, if she’s not interested she can say thanks and you’ll have made someone smile. If she is open to more conversation, you’ve got a perfect first thing to talk about.

“Oh, I love [Author Name]” is also a good one if, say, you’re browsing the bookstore and see a cutie checking out one of your favourites.

Then, if she seems open and receptive, you can maybe tell her your name and ask hers, and see if you can get a conversation going. Ask if she wants to sit with you, or if she’s up for company at her table or would prefer to be alone. If you’re scared of backing her into a situation where she feels unable to say no, try the ball-in-her-court approach: “I’ve got to go meet my friend, but I’m [Name] on Facebook if you fancy looking me up. I’d love to get coffee and geek out over [shared interest] with you sometime”.

The “is she even into girls?” problem

Of course, you can’t usually tell by looking at someone if they’re queer or interested in your gender. There’s no easy way around this unless they “flag” in some way. Many people prefer not to be openly queer until they know they’re in a safe space to do so. This is particularly true in small or conservative communities.

There’s not a super easy way around it. Often, you’ll find out if someone is queer or available in the course of conversation and getting to know them. But one way to show that you’re a safe person to be open around is to flag queer in public, however subtly or overtly you’re comfortable with. This also makes it more likely that other queer folks who think you’re cute will approach YOU! Consider a rainbow bracelet, a “queer” or F/F symbol pin badge, a bi pride necklace, a risque phone case, or an LGBTQ/sex-positive tee.

Other ways to meet people

It’s probably also a really good idea, if you don’t already, to try to join some activities where people like you will congregate. Is there a feminist book club, a queer women’s social, an LGBTQ+ film group, a board game geeks’ night, anywhere near where you live? Go along and make friends, not with the specific intent of getting a date, but with the intent of meeting other people who share your interests and making friends. One of these people could be the next love of your life! Or they could invite you to a party, where one of their friends will turn out to be the cutie your heart desires.

In these environments, you’ve got a huge advantage over just meeting people in public. Everyone is, presumably, there to socialise and meet others to a certain extent. Not to mention you’ve got a ready-made thing to talk about! If you’re nervous, “I’m new, how long have you been coming?” is a fine opening gambit.

Most importantly: give yourself credit

Meeting people is hard. Saying hi to someone in public is even harder. This is all amplified by a thousand when you’re a queer person trying to get by in a heterocentric world. So if you say hi to someone cute, congratulate yourself! Maybe you’ll get knocked back, maybe you’ll make a friend, maybe you’ll get a date. The result isn’t the only point. The point is you put yourself out there. Confidence, coupled with a healthy respect for other people’s boundaries and comfort, is sexy as hell. So go you!

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Ask Amy #6: “The Care and Feeding of Your Unicorn”

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Whew, it’s been a while since I had an advice question from a lovely reader. This one, I must confess, has been sitting in my inbox for a while. Thanks to the person who sent it in, both for the excellent question and for waiting so patiently for an answer.

An artistic drawing of a sitting unicornNOTE: For those who don’t know, a “unicorn” is a person (usually a woman or AFAB person, though not always) who gets into some kind of relationship with an existing couple. So called because this type of person is almost as rare, precious and highly sought-after as the mythical horned horse. “Unicorn hunter” couples get a bad rep because so many of them approach this type of relationship from a fantasy-fulfillment perspective without due regard for the third person’s feelings, needs or, well, humanity.

Let’s dive in…

Hey Amy,

So my primary and I have suddenly and quite unexpectedly acquired a unicorn! We love them so much (we’ve been friends with them for years). So far we are all three having a delightful time. We are, as much as possible, using our polyamory skills to continue this state of affairs.

But I am nervous. Obviously being a unicorn is a terribly vulnerable position and so many unicorns end up really hurt. So: can you give me some tips from your own experience on making sure we keep our unicorn as gloriously happy and safe and secure as they deserve, while also making sure that we look after our own needs too? Because, my goodness, they deserve all that is good and wonderful.

Dear Nervous Unicorn Handler,

Okay, first of all, I LOVE this one. Not only because you say you are all having a wonderful time in your newfound triad, but because you are obviously as invested in your new partner’s happiness as you are in your own and your Primary’s. So, yay for you! You’re already way ahead of the curve here.

You’re also doing the right thing in realising that being a unicorn is a vulnerable position. Your unicorn has a certain level of advantage in that they’ve been your friend for a long time, but you and your Primary will still have tonnes of shared history, intimacy and knowledge that your unicorn has not been privy to.

I find myself wondering if you’ve talked to them explicitly about this? Even something as simple as “hey, we understand that being a unicorn can be a really vulnerable position, and we want you to know that we love and value you so much and are really invested in your happiness in this relationship. Please don’t be afraid to tell us what you need and let us know if something doesn’t work for you” can go a really long way. Then, obviously, follow through on that with actions such as listening actively, consulting them on things that affect them, and not getting upset with them for expressing needs or emotions.

Balancing multiple people’s needs is tricky in any relationship. It does, of course, become somewhat more difficult the more people are involved. However, there’s no reason you can’t keep all of you safe, secure and happy for a long time to come!

Communication, as ever, is key. It sounds like you’re well aware of that and all making efforts to communicate well. Keep doing that!

I also advise, in so far as it’s possible, each of you having one-on-one time with your third partner sometimes as well. Just as the two of you need alone time together in order for your relationship to flourish, your relationship with your unicorn and your partner’s relationship with them needs the same to a certain extent. But, of course, lots of lovely all-three time is also really important to schedule and prioritise.

Looking after your own needs is vital in any relationship. So, try to keep a good handle on where you’re at internally. Ask your partners to look out for themselves similarly. Have you considered a periodic check-in meeting for all three of you? This can be by Skype or phone if you live far apart, or around the kitchen table over coffee, or even snuggled up in bed together. It doesn’t have to be serious. It can just be, “how are we all doing? Anyone got any issues they want to raise?”  Then if anything comes up, you talk about it. If it doesn’t, you carry on doing the snuggling/coffee drinking/kinky fuckery. Obviously, you can react to things as they arise. But don’t underestimate how useful it is to have a designated time to check in with everyone and focus on your three-way relationship.

Beyond this, the things that spring to mind seem obvious and I’m sure you’re doing them/not doing them already:

  • Don’t try to control/limit who your unicorn can date. Having a secondary relationship with them while being in a primary relationship with your existing partner is A-okay, but don’t try to make them be exclusive to you or make it difficult/impossible for them to date others.
  • Discuss, with your Primary AND all three of you together, what will happen if someone feels jealous or left out. “We’ll close down the relationship and kick the unicorn out” is not a valid answer to this.
  • Keep your promises and honour your commitments. Emergencies happen, of course, and a degree of flexibility is important. But your partner should feel that the two of you are reliable and will do what you say you’ll do.
  • Related to the above, don’t make promises you may not be able to keep.
  • Never, ever, for the love of all that is sexy and good in the world, throw your unicorn in the middle when you and your Primary have a disagreement.
  • Try not to set rules on who is supposed to feel what for whom. This is a recipe for disaster because the heart doesn’t obey rules. Expecting your new partner to feel exactly the same way about each of you, for example, is unrealistic at best and straight-up coercive at worst.

I just want to finish by saying this seems like a really positive, healthy relationship. I’m not getting any of the red flags I so often see in a couple+unicorn situation. You’re doing everything write, Letter Writer, and I wish you all the best for a long, loving and wonderful relationship.

Again, please submit your questions to me for an anonymous answer on the blog. Patreon supporters get priority!

Kink from a Distance: How We Did It Before We Lived Together

Mr CK and I were lucky: we were only in a long-distance relationship for just under a year. We were also close enough to make seeing each other at weekends possible. As long-distance love goes, we definitely had it on the easier end of the spectrum. That said, there were times when it was really difficult, and the constant traveling was exhausting and expensive. Moving in together was a challenge in its own right, but neither of us missed the sight of Megabuses or train station terminals or the M1.

The inside of a train station with a domed ceiling and two trains at opposite platforms. For a post about long distance kink.

One of the challenges of living apart, especially in the early days, was maintaining a sexual connection when we couldn’t just fuck each other’s brains out whenenver we wanted. We’re not a 24/7 D/s couple, but in reality he’s usually the Dominant and I’m usually the submissive.

This post is part of my #KinkMonth series, inspired by Kayla Lords’ 30 Days of D/s, where today’s prompt is all about maintaining D/s when you’re apart. Today I want to share with you a few of the tricks we used to keep our sexual connection sizzling and have kinky fun when we weren’t in the same place.

Sexting

I love sexting. I love the anticipation when the other person is typing. Tap-tap-tapping out my fantasies, planting filth into their mind with my words. The delicious collaboration of building a sexy story together. The vulnerability, tempered with the distance created by this medium of communication. I especially love the way I can save the words, read them back as many times as I want and, let’s be real, wank to them furiously later.

We sexted at least once a week, and sometimes a lot more, in our first few months together.

Skype/phone sex

Skype and phone sex is a bit like sexting, only more immediate, more visceral. You can hear the other person’s words, hear their voice catch when you say something that really gets them, hear them gasp as they touch themselves.

We fell in love through late-night calls and Skype calls and illicit phone sex. Later, when we were officially together, we used it to maintain our connection across the miles. Hearing his voice in my ear wasn’t as good as being able to reach out and touch him, of course. But it was a damn good substitute.

Orders and accountability

In the long-distance days, I’d often get orders from Mr as I was going about my day. He’d text me, next time you go to the bathroom, take a sexy picture or go and edge three times. I would report back, tell him I’d done my task, and hear what a good girl I was. Sometimes, I’d need to send him a picture as proof. Obeying his orders and having a sense of accountability, even from a distance, kept me both red-hot for him and feeling the submissive feels I craved.

Planning and negotiation

One of the things that was surprisingly effective in keeping our kinky connection going was using the time we were apart to plan and negotiate for future scenes. Talking limits, boundaries, ideas, possibilities and future plans for all the pervy sex we were going to have helped to build anticipation and excitement. So by the time we actually came to do the things, we were both amped up and raring to go. Efficient and sexy!

What do you do to keep the sexy, kinky fun going in your long-distance relationship?

Kinky item of the day: a long-range, app-controlled vibrator like the Je Joue Dua. Just hand the controls over to your lover via the app. Then they can have their way with you whether they’re right beside you or on the other side of the world.

Communication When Your Partner is Carrying Trauma

It’s #KinkMonth! I’m celebrating by writing posts inspired by Kayla Lords’ fabulous 30 Days of D/s project. #KinkMonth is brought to you by Lovehoney, who are currently offering 2-for-£15 on gorgeous sexy stockings, as well as lots of other exciting sales.

Today, we’re discussing my second favourite c-word. No, not CUNT (that’s my first favourite.) It’s COMMUNICATION. Communication, the experts will have you believe, is the key to life, the universe and everything. (Or was that 42? I forget.)

Anyhow, today, Kayla and John ask:

What is your communication style? What happens when you try to communicate your thoughts or needs?

I can be hard to communicate with. This is a thing I know about myself. I do consider myself to be overall a good communicator, but these skills have been hard won and it hasn’t been smooth sailing. Sometimes I jump to the worst possible conclusion in a single leap, sometimes I find it hard to believe what my partner is saying to me even as they’re spelling it out in plain English, sometimes I look for the hidden meaning behind their words when there isn’t one.

This is all because I am still carrying trauma from past abusive relationships. Of course, it is my responsibility to deal with this stuff, which I am doing with the help of a therapist. However, there’s definitely a role for my partners to play. So here are a few things I’ve learned are helpful in communicating with me. Everyone is different, but if your partner is carrying trauma, here are some communication hacks I’ve found to be helpful.

Be prepared to offer reassurance.

Your partner might need to hear that you’re not mad at them, or that the discussion at hand – even if it’s a conflict – doesn’t mean the end of your relationship. They might need to hear that you still love them, that you value them, that they’re a good person, that everything is okay. Ask them what reassurance is meaningful to them. This is especially important if their love language is “words of affirmation.”

Be prepared to repeat yourself sometimes.

These things might not go in the first time. Or even if they do, they might need repeating the next time a conflict or important discussion arises. When someone is traumatised through abuse, the trauma is drilled into them over weeks, months or years – they’re hit with it again and again. You cannot expect to say something once and have it overwrite a trauma-driven narrative immediately.

Say exactly what you mean.

This isn’t the time for coded messages, hidden meanings or vagueness. Be clear, be xplicit, and don’t play head games where they have to “work out” what’s going on.

Speak and behave calmly.

Don’t shout. Try not to raise your voice. Watch your body-language and make sure it’s not intimidating. Clenching your fists, hitting or throwing objects, or even standing over someone who is sitting or lying down can all feel really threatening.

Don’t succumb to personal attacks.

“I felt upset when I came home late and had to do the dishes, despite you being at home all day” is a statement of what happened and your feelings about it. This is a great place from which to start a conversation! “You’re so lazy” (/stupid/inconsiderate/etc.) is a personal attack. You shouldn’t do this to anyone, but doing it to a person with relational trauma can be triggering and can seriously erode trust.

Above all: ask.

Ask your partner how they want to be communicated with! Ask them what makes them feel safe and heard, and what makes them shut down. And most importantly: listen to the answer and behave accordingly.

Kinky item of the day: This lovely blindfold, which is currently on sale. Sensory deprivation can be sexy as fuck!

The Price of Admission

Anastasia: And what do I get out of this?
Christian: Me.
– Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James

It is no secret that I am not a fan of those books. I might eventually write more fully about why, but other writers have already done this so beautifully I’m not sure I have anything to add to that particular conversation. However, the above quote captures the essence of this topic perfectly. Hmm… maybe Ms James did have some insightful moments after all!

An admission ticket torn in half

When we’re children, we’re taught that no-one’s perfect. It’s a platitude, though a truism, perhaps to encourage us not to criticise others – or ourselves – too harshly. And because no-one is perfect, I firmly believe there is no such thing as a Perfect Relationship. There are amazing, incredible, wonderful relationships – and I count myself lucky to be in one of these. But perfect? With all our flaws, foibles, beautifully messy humanity and inevitable mistakes? No.

My relationship has imperfections. So does yours, I guarantee it.

We come, all of us, with our Price of Admission. These are the things about us that are imperfect, maybe even problematic, that someone must live with in order to be in a relationship with us. These are the things, be they big or small, that we don’t see eye-to-eye with our partner on. The things that, if you dwell on them, form the end of the sentence “the relationship would be PERFECT if only…

We all have to pay a price of admission to be in meaningful relationships with another human. Whether it’s as relatively benign as putting up with your husband’s snoring, or as troubling as knowing your friend has a serious drug/alcohol problem but being unable to intervene, every relationship has one – or more likely, several of varying degrees of significance. But here’s the thing about prices of admission. We get to choose whether to pay them or not.

One of the major problems in my relationship with my abusive ex was that he believed that no matter the price of admission, I would continue to pay it regardless. And for many years, I did. I was madly – and I mean that in the literal, not-quite-in-my-right-mind-when-he’s-around – in love with the man. As such I felt I had to do absolutely anything to keep the relationship. When the price of admission was putting up with lies and half-truths, I turned a blind eye. The times that the price of admission was him screaming at me for a tiny perceived infraction, I tried to harden myself to the yelling. When the price of admission was an uneven, enforced mono-poly dynamic, I pretended I didn’t want anyone else anyway.

And what did I get out of all of that?

Him.

Which was enough… except that it wasn’t. I convinced myself I was happy as long as I was with him, this person I idolised. But he didn’t meet my needs and he didn’t hear my voice. If I complained the price for the relationship was getting too steep, he might as well have laughed in my face and said, “but you’ll pay it, because the other choice is walking away and we both know you don’t have the balls to do that”. It was years before I finally decided the price had become undeniably too high.

In our final make/break conversation, with all the characteristic arrogance that believed I would never be the one to walk away, he laid out his Terms for continuing the relationship. And for the first time, I refused the offer. The price was too high and I wasn’t buying. It was no longer worth it.

The point of all of this is to say: you get to decide when the price of admission into any given relationship is too high.

However much you love this person, however much you think you absolutely need them no matter what, you do not have to accept the terms they are offering. You do not have to pay a price of admission that includes abuse of any kind, that includes being cheated upon or lied to, that includes a relationship structure that is unworkable for you, that includes sex acts you can’t or won’t consent to, that includes losing yourself or your self esteem, that includes fundamental differences in beliefs or values, that includes anything that makes the relationship unhappy or unhealthy for you.

You don’t have to.

The image featured in this post was offered for use under Creative Commons Licensing.

I’m Looking for Baggage that Goes with Mine

Roger: I’ve been trying, I’m not lying, no-one’s perfect, I’ve got baggage…
Mimi: Life’s too short babe, time is flying, I’m looking for baggage that goes with mine!

[If you don’t know what this quote is from, go and educate yourself immediately. Go on. I’ll wait.]

Close-up image of a pile of old fashioned suitcases. For post about baggage.

How often do you see dating site profiles and personals ads staying the owner is looking for someone “low drama” or with “no baggage?” Whenever I see this, I smirk wryly to myself, close the ad and move on to the next one.

Look, I hate unnecessary drama as much as the next person (though not as much as I hate people who use “drama” as a stand in for “has opinions” or “doesn’t tolerate my shit.”) But I’ve got baggage. And, I’m willing to bet, so do most of the people reading this post, to a greater or lesser extent. And you know what else? So, I am sure, do most of the people writing that they want to date someone with “no baggage.”

Unless we’re supremely lucky as well as immensely socially privileged, very few of us make it to adulthood with no baggage at all. With an estimated one in 4 women and one in 6 men suffering some kind of abuse in their lifetimes, and approximately one in 4 adults suffering from some kind of mental health condition at any one time, the odds of any given person having “baggage” of some description is high to say the least.

When I got together with Mr CK, he knew about some of mine and I knew about some of his, and more came out as we fell in love and learned to trust each other. With every turn, one or the other of us feared that the other would decide our baggage was too much to handle, turn tail and run. So why didn’t we? Lots of reasons, but one of the fundamental ones for me was simply this: he gets me. We can relate to each other’s experience, and we can speak to each other on a level that says, I understand.

I can’t relate to people who’ve had everything easy. I can’t relate to people with no baggage, no trauma, no scars. I relate to survivors, to people who have had difficult times, to people with their own struggles and hang-ups and anxieties and brain weasels.

I keep telling my newish sweetie, The Artist, that they’re dating Ms. Trust Issues. They are supremely kind and supportive about this while also not in any way denying or downplaying that my trust issues are, in fact, very real. Because I am more than my baggage and, for now at least, they’ve decided my baggage is not beyond their ability or desire to handle.

There are people with baggage which would absolutely not go with mine. Think about (not an example from my life) this situation: a survivor of childhood abuse due to an alcoholic parent, and someone who struggles with substance dependency issues. These two people should almost certainly not be in a relationship, because their respective baggage clashes in such a way that it will likely just amplify the issues for both people and make them thoroughly unhappy.

I’m learning to recognise the things I simply cannot deal with in another person. Someone with anger management issues, for example, should absolutely not ever be in a relationship with me, a girl who has a panic attack at yelling and shouting. Having baggage that is incompatible with mine does not make someone a bad person, too fucked up, or any other gross judgement you can think of. It simply means we will not be good for each other and one or both of us may be harmed more if we try to have an intimate relationship.

So, Well Meaning Person on a Dating Site who wants a relationship with as little unnecessary angst and conflict as possible: you’re not actually looking for someone with no baggage, unless you’re looking for someone who’s barely into adulthood (ugh, I hope not) or you’re looking for a robot.

What you’re looking for is someone whose baggage is compatible with yours.

The image featured in this post was offered for use under Creative Commons licensing.

Core Values

Content note: mentions of abortion, abuse, cheating.

Everyone has core values. They’re the ‘north’ by which you set your moral compass, the guiding light by which you make any difficult decision. Core values might be something like, ‘always tell the truth,’ ‘do no harm,’ or ‘violence is always wrong.’

It’s important to note, though, that not all core values are inherently ethical. Humans are by nature complex and multi-faceted, and what seems morally necessary to one might be morally reprehensible to another. One need look no further than debates about the current Controversial Topic of the Week to see this in action. I believe, for example, that the absolute inalienable right of a human being to decide what happens to their own body is a necessity for a civilised society. An anti-choice crusader, on the other hand, probably feels with an equal level of conviction that compelling a woman to give birth against her will is morally justified because abortion is always wrong.

In a similar vein, it’s possible for a person’s core values to not go much beyond ‘do what benefits me the most in any individual situation.’ As I said – not always ethical. I once ceased communication with an otherwise attractive and seemingly compatible person on an online dating site when they revealed that they vote for a political party whose policies I find reprehensible, because ‘they’ve always benefited me personally.’ I know people who’ve cheated because they didn’t see anything wrong with doing whatever it took to get what they wanted, when they wanted it.

But what I want to focus on in this post is the core values of a relationship, rather than an individual. If you have a partner or partners, do you know what yours are? Does your idea of the core values of your relationship match your partner’s? If not, consider discussing it with your partner. Knowing the central tenets crucial to your partnership is vital for a happy and harmonious relationship. Ideally, you should be able to name just two or three things that make up the ‘bottom line.’ They will be different in every relationship depending on the set-up and the individual histories and baggage of the people involved.

I’m not talking about rules as such here. You probably have rules and agreements in your relationship. My primary partner, Mr CK, and I have a document of several pages which explicitly spells out our relationship agreements. Core values in a relationship are less about “thou shalt” or “thou shalt not,” and more about a small number of guiding principles against which any action or decision is weighed. I don’t personally advocate for relationships with no rules at all (though this is, I’m told, the Fashion Du Jour in the polyamorous world) but it’s theoretically possible to have a functional relationship without rules. I do not believe, however, that it is possible to have a healthy relationship without core values.

Ours are, simply, as follows:

  • We do not lie to each other. This includes little white lies and lies by omission as well as big, bare-faced lies.
  • Any agreement we make in our relationship applies absolutely equally to both of us.

They sound simple, but they cover so much. To me, they sum up the mutual respect, consideration and equality that underpins our love. Any time there’s a big decision to be made or a negotiation to be had, it will be held against these values. If it contradicts either of them, that’s a deal breaker – the thing won’t happen, the agreement won’t be made. We recently rejected an agreement that, on paper, made perfect sense because it would have violated Core Value #2.

Yours are bound to be different, but you need to know what they are.

One of the things that finally made me realise that my past relationship was abusive was the point at which I realised my core values were being eroded (as a Wiccan, my first is ‘do no harm,’ and my former partner was forcing me to act in ways that caused notable harm to others, a fact of which I am still deeply ashamed.) And when I look back now, I can see that our relationship had few if any values of its own – the ‘bottom line’ was He Says, CK Obeys. (Which is fine in so far as it goes – as a consensual kink – but it was going on a long time before he collared me and extended far into reaches of my life I’d never agreed to have controlled. It wasn’t kink. I was simply afraid of him.) Once I saw that I was not living in accordance with my values and that the relationship did not have a solid value-based framework of its own, I could not unsee it and the undoing began.

In my humble opinion: your partner may have different interests. They may come from a different walk of life. They may have life experiences you have not lived, and vice versa. But if your core values – or the way you view the core values of your relationship – are very different or even opposing, you will probably be in for a very rough ride.

What are the core values in YOUR relationship? Tell me in the comments!

I’m going to finish off here by echoing More Than Two’s technique of leaving you questions to ask yourself/your partner:

  • What are my personal core values?
  • What are my partner’s?
  • To what extent do they align? Are there any contradictory differences?
  • What do we think are the core values of our relationship?
  • How will we determine if a given decision upholds or transgresses these values?
  • Will I know if my values are being violated to an unnacceptable degree?
  • What will I do if so?