The paradox of D/s and Non-Violent Communication

Bita von Seil
2 min readJan 10, 2021
Photo by Artem Labunsky on Unsplash

Since refreshing my familiarity with Non-Violent Communication (NVC), I’ve identified what seems like a paradox in being dominant and playing D/s games involving punishments and demands including giving commands, and the NVC approach to interpersonal relations, in which requests are based upon needs, and do not involve any bossy demands.

For example, in D/s, the D is not being ‘bossy’ the way people are in regular life, but underlying the dynamic is the true respect for the subs’ autonomy as a human, and acknowledgment that submission can be withdrawn at any time.

I’ve identified a paradox while naval-gazing about my life experiences: I have competing interests. On the one hand, there is a struggle for autonomy in relationships, on the other hand, I avoid commitments for fear of losing my autonomy, yet I continue to experience a desire and longing for devoted submission. This has manifested in my jumping into things too quickly, like marriage or enlisting in the military. Total submission! For a long time, these competing drives resulted in the pendulum swinging in one direction or other (fleeing commitment, then false/inappropriate submission).

Since discovering BDSM and the language of power dynamics, and the language of NVC, I’ve been at the stage for some time of liberation from feeling responsible for other people’s feelings, but I’m not yet clear about my own needs.

I’m interested in what it could look like to live into the paradoxes: autonomy and submission, each impulse and need in its appropriate realm of life.

Does anyone else have experience mixing and meshing these two worlds? That of BDSM and NVC? I’d love to hear from you!