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I have a sub, Mary. Mary is about as moody as they make them. Some days she is on top of the world, singing, dancing, throwing her arms in the air... On those days I can expect breakfast without asking, cute, little gifts, impromptu floor shows and spontaneous blow jobs. Other days she is hard at work, concentrating on finding that new job that pays better and treats her the way she deserves. Other days, she is sad. On those occasions she curls up at the top of the bed, clutching one of the large stuffed animals I bought her and pouting while she watches some afternoon talk show drivel. On rare nights, she's primal and hungry, practically demanding sex and even willing to try to take it before I put a lease on her collar and force her to her knees. She is a dichotomy.

When I met her, she was cold, unfriendly even. Once I got to know her, I discovered that she ran hotter than most. Mary, like many, has many sides to her. It has been up to me to learn these sides and respond to them in kind.

I have sides to me too. There is the professional side, the one who knows his job better than most and answers complicated questions without thinking. There is the socially awkward side, the one most people meet at first, friendly, but nervous. Then there is my dominant side, the one that has no trouble telling his sub to go get the belt. I, too, am a dichotomy.

In truth, most of us are. We learn to show different people different sides of us. If you've ever waited tables or manned the phone lines of a customer help desk, you know you can't just say and be whatever you want. You have to present something specific. But is this just learned behavior we use to survive in modern society? Or does it go deeper than that? I would suggest that it does. And nowhere than in the BDSM/kink world is it more apparent.

Those of us in the lifestyle all identify in one way or another: Dom, sub, little, Daddy, primal, princess, etc. Some times it's even hard to choose. That's because none of us can be all of it all the time. We'd snap. If I couldn't come home after an especially hard day and lay my head in Mary's lap while she pet my hair, I wouldn't be worth much to her as a Dom during the rest of the week. If she couldn't curl up in my arms and sulk when she wasn't feeling top notch then she'd never be strong enough to submit to me when it was time to beat the ever-loving crap out of her. We all have moods and we all have sides.

Some times those sides become so defined that they take on lives of their own. Most littles I know have a name for the "child" inside of them. A person I used to work with described his extremely bitchy and aggressive side as, "Ava," and claimed that he didn't even like her. It can happen and in the world of sexual fantasy, those personas can help us achieve our lustful goals. They allow us to step outside of our conservative, day-to-day identities and become who we desire. They can also be complicated factors that our potential partners have to decipher.

In her book, Multiplicity, psychological journalist, Rita Carter says of personas, “Our inner landscape is constantly changing. Various personalities form, change, fade away, reform, merge, shrink and grow.” So, even understanding the different sides of ourselves can be a constant process. But once we acknowlege that they exist, we can begin to get to know them and help each one gain what they need. It's tricky, underdevoloped and confusing. But it's also a thing.

So, if your sub isn't responding to the normal grab-and-go stuff, it may be because they've reverted to another persona, one that needs more equality in their passion. If your Dominant isn't particularly aggressive one day, it may mean that a more vulnerable and needy side has taken over. Talk. Discover every side of your partner and learn how to respond to each of the "people" that live inside of them. What one craves, another may abhor. Only through detailed communication can you ever learn to make it work the overwhelming majority of the time.


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