This year I made a New Year's resolution to try to have more focused relationships while cutting down on partners, partly for sanity reasons, partly for clarity, partly to be truer to myself, and partly to take care of myself emotionally. I am notorious for taking on too much at once, not really having the relationships that I do want, and getting into situations where I have two or more really dominant partners who, in my opinion, try to outdo each other. In any situation with two or more partners, questions of how many constitutes a crowd and how to find work-life balance come into play.
I'm going on a trip soon. I am going to see Eric; it's our five-year anniversary, and given that it's been a long-distance relationship for five years, it's a big accomplishment. This past spring I started to have an active-service dominant/submissive (d/s) relationship with a friend whom I refer to as "Sir." It had been a passive d/s relationship in the past, but since circumstances (and stars) aligned, it's become more relevant in my daily life. Both Eric and Sir are aware of each other, and because of the different relationship dynamics, there has been no collision. And hopefully there won't be.
Because the trip is coming up, I'm giving a good, honest look at how to take care of myself and preserve my free time. As I mentioned in a past blog, I believe that a healthy relationship is structured with needs first, wants second. Most members of the kink community view a healthy d/s relationship as placing the needs of the submissive partner first, then the needs of the dominant partner, then the wants of the dominant partner, then the wants of the submissive partner last.
For me, free time is a want. It's not a need. There are some risks when people don't get enough free time (or, as I call it, "me time"), such as burnout, but checking in with a partner (or partners) helps cut down on the risk. There are also other ways of managing free time to include everyone, and to allow a time-out.
Eric has two main partners, Patricia and I, and when I come to visit, I don't want to feel that I am taking the spotlight 24/7, for my sake and theirs. My other responsibilities still exist, and Patricia's feelings still exist. At the same time, understanding that I rarely see Eric, I try to remind myself even though I am very introverted, I need to make good use of the time. Including partners in free time, even just walking the dog together or going out for a drive, can be a beneficial experience in that it provides an opportunity to check in to see where everyone is. If you live in a triad or quad, plan a family picnic or a date night for all.
Ever seen Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood? I'm not saying I dance around with a decorated hat on my head, but girls' (or boys') nights (or days) in (or out) are great. For me, spending an evening indoors drinking tea with a group of female friends is a time-out, because my friends are nonjudgmental and help me work out things that are bothering me, which, realistically, are relatively small and not the end of the world.
Free time can come in so many forms. Occasionally (I would say about once a year), I go on vacations to get away and treat myself. These trips usually only include me and last for as little as eight hours or as long as a week, and I use that time to focus on me. I reassure any partners, both d/s and non-d/s, that they haven't done anything wrong and that my alone time is needed simply for recharging my batteries. Having gone on getaways to figure out how to break up with someone, I can tell you that no good can come from going on vacation upset.
When kink is involved, free time may be predetermined; there is no right or wrong, no rhyme or reason. Every d/s relationship is different. I've been in relationships where I cohabited for periods of time, and presently I am in one where I have my own residence, my own daily life, and my own activities. However, one thing stays the same, and in this instance, it's that when talking about free time, Sir's wants become the needs, and my wants are the wants. I may see a movie with a friend or focus on a report due for Sir in a week. I have daily exercises that I need to do, given by Sir to keep me healthy, that give me a brief but gentle endorphin rush. It's a breath of fresh air. When I don't have tasks to do, watching a show on Hulu or enjoying a game on Facebook is a nice five-minute break in my day.
Free time is what you make of it. As in meditation, if you're not fully aware, it doesn't matter if you're able devote two hours a day to sitting quietly on a cushion. Even a 10-minute break from a hectic schedule will help.