You've read some BDSM erotica, and you've heard about Dominance and submission (D/s), but you're happy to keep it in the world of fantasy, thank you very much. Even if the sex does seem hot, you can't imagine that kind of relationship for yourself. And if you aren't a kinkster, you might be pretty sure you have nothing in common with them. That's where you might be wrong. Good, solid relationships - of any kind - have more in common than not.

As someone who writes about BDSM and D/s relationships. - a lot - I receive comments from people all the time who want to point out that good non-kinky relationships (often referred to as vanilla) have the same characteristics as good kinky relationships. They're right. A good relationship is built on a solid foundation regardless of the flavor of your sex or your relationship dynamic. Let's take a look at those commonalities.

Communication and Trust

If you've read or heard anything from people in the BDSM lifestyle, you know that we talk a lot about communication and trust. In BDSM, people get hurt physically, mentally, and emotionally without communication. With consistent and open communication, trust grows. When people in BDSM trust one another, they allow more control to be taken, more fetishes and fantasies to be explored, and they grow within the lifestyle. The two go hand-in-hand and work together to build a strong, solid bond.

In the vanilla world, communication and trust are no less important. The reasons people have for refusing to communicate with their partner range from hurt feelings to a fear of rejection. Solid vanilla relationships have learned that speaking openly, with respect to the feelings of the other party within the relationship, can lead to new revelations, new understanding, and growth within the relationship. You might not be discussing your newest fetish or the best time for some bondage play, but talking about how a situation makes you feel, good or bad, only strengthens your relationship and builds trust.

Love and Respect

I'm a big believer that if you don't love your partner (assuming your relationship was supposed to include love), you either need to be willing to work on it or get out of the relationship. Too many people will stay in a bad relationship for fear of being alone. When you do that, you shut yourself off from the potential of a better partnership and the love and respect that you deserve.

For a vanilla relationship, love and respect is often the stuff of Hallmark cards. Make no mistake, many D/s relationships have that same level of sweet-nothing-sentimental-love, as well. Both vanilla and kinky couples become stronger with love and respect. The pleasure of your partner becomes more important than your own. You would do anything to make your vanilla partner happy, and I would do anything to make my kinky partner happy. Regardless of sexual preferences, a deep love and respect for one another gets couples through hard times - death, illness, loss of job, moving, you name it. When we care about someone else's happiness more than our own, we'll do anything for them. That only comes with love and respect.

The Small Things

I'm a kinky girl in a D/s relationship. My Dominant has control over many aspects of our life. For those who prefer vanilla, this may sound foreign or downright unbelievable. Dominants, from the outside looking in, can appear harsh and distant, while some submissives appear meek and mild. Yet, the little things still matter as much to me as they do to anyone in a vanilla relationship. Hand holding. Flowers. Breakfast in bed. The small gestures we make for our partner that show our love, show that we're thinking about them, or show our need for intimacy are all commonalities in good relationships, be they kinky or vanilla. Hugs. Walks on the beach. Quiet conversations over a glass of wine after the kids go to bed.

The most intimate moments of a relationship are not the domain of any one type of relationship. They matter in all relationships, and they make the difference between a successful relationship and one that's bound to fail. Bondage, whips, chains, kneeling, control - all of those things may separate the kinky couple from the vanilla couple. However, a good relationship is built between people who can communicate with one another, learn to trust each other, show love and respect, and never forget the importance of small intimate gestures. No matter what flavor you prefer for your sex, all good relationships have these things in common.