Great Expectations

August 30th, 2012

While sitting in the theater, waiting for Avenue Q to start, hubby turned and asked me about expectations. Hubby felt that my boyfriend and I had a good handle on setting expectations and asked how we did it. Or more specifically, how He had done it with me. I jokingly said that when you tell a girl for a year and a half that you are a sexually satisfied man, and then start dating her, expectations start out pretty low. In all seriousness, though, he and I usually played three times a week during most of the year prior to dating, and had already started conversations on expectations and happiness.

One of those conversations began with him asking me if I could be happy without him suspending me for a whole year. I had passed through most of my newbie sub-frenzy by that point, so I could actually consider the question. It took a little back and forth before I understood the intent of the question. It wasn’t about him denying me what I wanted, it was about expectation crashing with reality. What if he got hurt (which happened)? What if we lost our suspension point (which has happened repeatedly)? What if I got hurt? The real question was did my happiness depend on suspension, or could I be happy without it? This started the thought process in my brain that expectations have to mesh with the reality of the situation.

Another set of conversations we had was him asking me if I Deserved to be suspended. At the time it felt like a trick question, given the dynamics we were involved in. But it was really about suspension not being a think I could deserve or earn. It was a gift, given because he wanted to. Not because I deserve it or expect it. Giving affection only because it is expected or only when someone has “earned” it can lead to abusive situations. For me, affection must be given because both parties want to give it. But beware putting expectations on what defines affection.

Back to the question that I started with. When he asked if I could be happy without suspension, he wasn’t asking if I would be happy not seeing him for a year, simply without one form of play. In our relationship, I expect to see him fairly regularly and I expect affection. Sometimes that means a hug, sometimes a text message, sometimes a flogging and sometimes it means dinner and a movie. When it’s been a long day, it can simply means his arm around me while he falls asleep. He shows me affection in whatever way he is able, mentally, physically and emotionally. As I do him.

Another way we have set expectations in our relationship was to write them down. In our contract with toy, we wrote out what all the expectations were. What we all did before play, what types of play there would be, and what could preempt or prevent play. It was very clear what we could all expect, and even then there were surprises.

So, what do we do then? What happens when expectations are not met? No matter how clear you think you have been, or how mutual you think your expectations are, you will still face disappointment occasionally. The important thing to do, of course, is to talk about it. What were my expectations? Were they the same as his expectations? What happened that caused them not to be met? Was it reasonable? Were the expectations reasonable to begin with? Was it just a special case that won’t happen again? How can we prevent this situation from repeating itself? Do the expectations need revised, or does one party need to be more conscious of meeting the expectation?

For me, another good conversation to stay on top of is wants and needs. My needs tend to be where I set my expectations, so I have to communicate that those things are needs. And I have to set reasonable expectations of where I’m going to get those needs filled. Being poly, they don’t all have to be filled by one person. Wants are things I would like to have, and I have to communicate them, too, else they won’t have a chance to be fulfilled. But the important thing to remember is that I cannot expect all my wants to be fulfilled all the time. Life isn’t that simple. But I can work on getting them filled through expressing them and making plans. And sometimes my needs aren’t met either, at which point we return to the previous paragraph of questions to have another look.

As always, the most important part of setting expectations has been clear communication. Second to that is acceptance that we are human and life isn’t perfect. Talk about your expectations. Unspoken expectations Cannot be met. Understand that life gets in the way, even of needs sometimes. Be flexible, accepting, and keep talking. And while you are talking, offer solutions. Once the problem has been stated, clarified and understood, move forward and find ways to avoid future disappointment from that source. During your conversations, if the other person has expectations that you cannot meet, have a conversation about why and about what can be done instead, or how to change that expectation. Expectations are a two-way street, both parties must be actively involved in setting, meeting and revising them. Everything changes, keep talking.

Share

Lessons in Negotiation

December 30th, 2010

These last few weeks have provided many lessons in Negotiation. First as an observer and then as an active participant. I watched several new people learn their first lessons in trying to fence with him, and in trying to assist one of them, became part of the scene. Bear with me and I’ll tell you all about what I ended up agreeing to do. So, what have I learned?

No wishing for more wishes. This seems simple enough, most of us remember Robin Williams’ genie quoting this to Aladdin. But in the heat of the moment, when you don’t have any better ideas. A blank check, while dangerous, seems simple enough. You must, however, remember to stipulate, that it cannot be cashed in for more blank checks, otherwise, a single scene at his whim becomes many more.

Don’t forget your limits. Not that you might forget your limits such as they are, but always remember to include them in a negotiation. Whether it is telling a new partner what your limits are, or stipulating that the above blank check(s) cannot violate them. It is all well and good to push your limits when you want to, but make sure you want to.

Be specific. At all points of the negotiation, be clear and precise. What are you offering, what are you getting, what are the terms and the rules and the boundaries. “Test me!” might be a fun thing for an excited student to shout, but it behooves one to specify what they want to be tested on. “School girl outfit” can mean different things to different people. “Skirts” come in many different lengths and styles. “Tied together” sounds fun, but do you really want to leave the binding material up to his imagination? Stockings, hose, fishnets, knee-highs, socks all very important distinctions in how much leg is covered or uncovered.

Offer something of value. Different people value different things from different people. Some people value sex. Some people value service. Some people value suffering. Some value the passing of knowledge. Learn what it is that will be of value and find ways to offer it.

Be creative and then be even more creative. Don’t offer things you have already given or things he already has. Offer something new, offer something bigger, offer something more interesting. Start with new and interesting offers, and then push them one step further. And don’t be afraid to make them well rounded – paint the full picture, not just the center of it. Bootblacking is good, but bootblacking while naked and kneeling is better, and bootblacking while naked and kneeling followed by some boot worship is even more interesting.

Don’t let other people negotiate for you. Stay in control of your side of the negotiation. Keep your wits about you and keep your mouth moving. If you want to be happy with what is agreed to, stay actively engaged in the discussion. Stick up for yourself and stand your ground when you have to. You do not have to agree to everything they say, keep seeking compromises that work for both parties. Unless agreements to the contrary are already in place, you can always say no, and most times even then.

Be reasonable and trust the other people in the negotiation. If you have a real problem with something, explain it, trust that they care about you and will listen. (If you don’t trust them or they don’t care about you, well, that’s another entry entirely.) Then, negotiate to find a way to make it work for everyone. Try not to just say no, that is impossible. Look for solutions that benefit everyone. Most problems are only little bumps in the road.

Be flexible and open minded. Understand that everything is not going to go the way you want it to. Understand that your definitions may not be the same as his definitions. Accept that sometimes comfort zones are meant to be left behind, it is how you can grow. I am incredibly curious, sometimes I have to let the curiosity override the fear.

Relax and enjoy it. Negotiation is where you get to learn about the other person. You get to see how their mind works, what they like and don’t like, how they feel, what their state is. You get to know them, and get to share yourself with them. You are not going to get it all right, but you’re not going to get it all wrong,either. But if you’re both/all happy when it is over, then everyone wins. Keep talking until you’re happy.

So, I promised to let you know what I got myself into. A new friend was starting a negotiation with him, and I was offering some advice. When he was presented with that fact, he suggested that since I was trying to help out, perhaps I should join the negotiation. Her fate and mine became intertwined. We spent most of the rest of the night negotiating. When it was all said and done, we had quite the scene lined up:

Three of us, dressed as school girls (clothing was one of the largest parts of the negotiation) – Japanese, American and British, respectively (I hear there may be a chalkboard hung high up on the wall for sentence writing). We may not say no for the entire night (creativity will be flowing). The evening will start with bootblacking, and we will be available at any time for massage. At his leisure, he may put us in the dog cage (with a violet wand kit nearby), or bind us all together (quite possibly with saran wrap, followed by ice and then hot wax). And at some point during the evening, there will be a Japanese song and dance (whaddya mean I have to dance when I’m sober?) in front of an audience of undetermined size (our voluntary third musketeer is joyfully plotting choreography to the song chosen last night).

It shall be a Very interesting evening. I can hardly wait.

What are you thoughts on Negotiation? What traps have you fallen into?

Share