Tuesday, August 10, 2010

QUESTIONS FROM FORMSPRING: How do you cope with living with a masochist?

"How do I cope living with a masochist?"

Hmmm. I could answer this Formspring question two ways - from the point of view that it's being asked by someone outside the BDSM lifestyle ... or from the point of view that's is being asked by someone within the lifestyle. Not knowing which the questioner is, I'll have to try to cover both!

Masochists are a strange, rare breed. It's an honor to share my life with one.

It's not a case of "coping". Life can be challenging because you can never take a masochist for granted ... they'll be off searching for new sensations *grin*.

Sol wrote about the paradoxes of being a masochist on my blog here and, part 2, here. Here's a quote from those posts:

"I know that many people are interested in how masochists perceive pain, so I asked Solipsist to comment on this. He wrote:

"Some people describe masochists as experiencing certain types of pain as pleasure - as though the nerves are somehow wired to different centers in their brain. It's not so for me. The pain is just pain. I feel the stroke of a cane much as I would imagine anyone else does, I just happen to like that pain in that context administered by someone who cares. Psychologically I like the fact that I am submitting willingly to being hurt, and it's hard to do if I don't feel I am submitting. There are times when I would like to have a session, but can't bring myself to ask, because if I have asked for it, it's somehow not as satisfying.

"Pain on the 'sweet spot' of my ass is 'good pain', and when a flogger or cane strays outside that area, for example if it 'wraps' around to the side it quickly becomes intolerable. But a well chosen word from Mistress ('Did I wrap ? Oh dear. Don't you dare move, let me see if I can do it again', or laughingly "that got your attention!') can snap me back into a space where even the 'bad' pain can be enjoyed.

"Another often touted explanation is that masochists are endorphin junkies - I certainly get enjoy the endorphin high that some sessions produce, but I also enjoy sessions that don't get that far.

"I have occasionally likened the start of a session with beginning a rock climb. If you have ever led a free climb, you will be familiar with a surge of fear and excitement that comes when you start a climb, particularly one that is poorly protected. You think 'I can't do this', 'Why do I put myself through it', but you push yourself, concentrate on the technique, and when you reach the top you look back at how exhilarating it was".

"Sol and I know that masochism is a difficult subject, that for many in the vanilla world the line between it and abuse seems a thin one. So it's worth our repeating that BDSM activities only ever take place between consenting adults, and recalling for you once again the wise conclusions of Havelock Ellis who in Studies in the Psychology of Sex noted that the sadomasochist generally desires that the pain be inflicted or received not in abuse, but in love. And there is extraordinary love between Solipsist and myself. How could I deny such an important part of him? After each session with him I remember the words of Raven Kaldera who asked of those who reject SM:

“Look into our eyes. When we return with those bruises, do we walk taller and stronger? When we touch our cuts, are we more serene? When we give up our power, do we grow more sure of ourselves? When we accept power over another, do we learn more compassion? Do we return from the Underworld better for the journey? That's how you know, those of you who are worried, whether we're doing it right”.
If you'd like to learn more about masochism, you might like to read some of the resources listed below. It's also worth joining groups like Fetlife's "Sadists and Masochists" group, to read discussions such as the "Masochists: how do you react to pain?" thread.


Bullough V, Dixon D and Dixon J (1993) 'Sadism, masochism and history, or When is behaviour sado-masochistic?' in Roy Porter and Mikulas Teich (eds.), Sexual Knowledge, Sexual Science: The History of Attitudes to Sexuality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Peter H Donnelly My bdsm life experiences as a male masochist post on Masochism and BDSM Blog
Epistula Rasa Confessions of a masochist: BDSM culture and you post on Epistula Rasa blog
Havelock Ellis

  • Studies in the Psychology of Sex
  • 'Love and Pain', in Studies in the Psychology of Sex Volume III: Analysis of the Sexual Impulse; Love and Pain; The Sexual Impulse in Women (2nd edition). Philadelphia: F A Davis Co.
Fetlife groups:
Gibson I (1978) The English Vice: Beating, Sex and Shame in Victorian England and After. London: Duckworth.
Goodwin, Laura Retraining a SAM (Smart Ass Masochist)
Lesley Hall. "Pain and the erotic". The Wellcome Trust
John Kucich 2006 Imperial Masochism: British Fiction, Fantasy, and Social Class
lili The Spirituality of Sado-Masochism (excerpt, incl Raven Kaldera quote) 2005
Nick Mansfield (1997) Masochism: the Art of Power
Phillips, Anita (1998). A Defense of Masochism. ISBN 0-312-19258-4.
Thompson B (1994) Sadomasochism: Painful Perversion or Pleasurable Play? London: Cassell.
Weinberg, Thomas S., "Sadomasochism in the United States: A Review of Recent Sociological Literature", The Journal of Sex Research 23 (Feb. 1987) 50-69
Wikipedia entry on Sadomasochism (discusses the history of the term, biology (regarding the release of endorphins) and psychology as well as providing examples of SM in popular culture)


Ask me anything about BDSM and D/s lifestyles

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