[M/s 365] Failure is not an option

I was reading an article about the new International Power Exchange couple for 2014 – Stefanos and Shay. I was curious what they were like. Then I read this part of the article:

Why did you decide to compete?

(part of answer removed for brevity …)

I think people can perceive Master/slave as “the way” to do power exchange, and if that specific dynamic doesn’t work for them (as it didn’t for us) they may feel that they’ve “failed” at power exchange. Discovering the vast array of alternative power exchange dynamics out there was an epiphany for us, so we are passionate about increasing awareness of these dynamics!

Now that part surprised me… the concept that if M/s doesn’t work for someone, they consider that they’ve failed. The question to my mind was – “why see it as failure?”

So in thinking about this, part of what slave angie wrote about the other day about “slices of life” brought an answer to mind. Many people will look at how others “do it” and rate themselves. The things they see at the dungeon, at the play space, at the bars, at the events and munches… these all are slices and usually ones with a lot of of the negativity taken out. Most people don’t feel comfortable showing up to a munch in a bad mood, or arguing, or to an event and sharing how sick they feel or how much pain they’re in or how the bills have racked up and everyone in the house is stressed out beyond belief…

So when M/s relationships hit these situations, or they fall into ebbs/ruts, or things happen, not a lot of people talk about how to deal with it. Or know where to go. There are resources – events, MAsT chapters or Power Exchange discussion groups, or even other couples… but it’s hard to go up to someone and say “Hey, this really fucking sucks right now and compared to ‘Master Shiny and slave sparkles’ over there, we feel like complete failures.”

Yea, I get that. So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that the concept gets extended to “I’ve failed at Power Exchange period” but I was.

Part of that goes back probably to that slave angie and I were just too damn stubborn to call things failures, although we came close once.

Also, we know how hard this is. That’s probably why our blog/365 sometimes reads as a diary of “hard day” “bad day” “we struggled” — but we are doing that in part to say “Hey, this isn’t easy. It’s not the erotica. It’s not 50 Shades or Marketplace or any of the shiny that you read on K&P on KinkyNet… it’s real, it’s got real life in it, and real life is a pure sadistic bitch.”

And yet, it is also beauty. What lies at the top of each hill we struggle to climb? A beautiful view. What lies at the bottom of a hill that we might stumble down on? A wonderful valley. And those things, those successes, those moments and times when things click, when service is effortless and Mastery feels like music, when it all works, those are the times that we revel in and recharge and rebuild.

We say that when we got into M/s, we “threw out the rulebook” and there’s a great deal of truth and freedom in that. We didn’t have a lot of expectations of how it should work. When we said “we are Master/slave”, it wasn’t with the idea that we’ve already reached the 36th chamber and defeated the boss. We learned to accept that this would be a constant journey with ups/downs.

That’s not to say that there weren’t the comparisons. I remember more than one occassion when slave angie would read a blog of “slave sparkles” and how wonderful things were and how easy it was and she would compare and think herself less. It took some time of working that out – to understand that I set those expectations… but it’s easy to get caught up in that. Hell, I am constantly learning from others, but it takes confidence in yourself to say “I’m going to pull that from this person… ” and not get caught up in comparison-wishing.

So I get how failure could be seen… and there are just people who are not cut out for Master/slave. It’s just not going to work, but it’s not a “failure” to admit such and to say “this isn’t for me…”

I don’t see folks in Sir/boy, Daddy/girl, Puppy/handler, Dom/sub, or any of the other combinations as “less” than “Master/slave.” Different for sure. I think of Master/slave as edge players in relationship dynamics, but that’s my own opinion, which won’t buy me too damn much these days. Not everyone wants to do edge play, or do that kind of edge play. Not everyone is suited for that… but that doesn’t make their rigging, or their flogging or their particular S/m play any less fulfilling, less of a journey… because it’s their journey.

So I’ve wandered a bit so let me try to make this clear – I hope there is some way I/we can reach out to people and say “Failure is not an option.” If you find yourself in the hard parts, that is normal. You can look at our blog, or come talk to us, and find that out. If you decide that M/s absolutely is not for you, then good for you! Find what works, and make it yours.

A11 Tindall-Kranz_W

Published by

Master Michael S

International Master 2014. Member of: Chicago Leather Club, Chicago Leathermen Group, MAsT: Greater Chicago. Longtime leatherman. One of the Four Horsemen.

6 thoughts on “[M/s 365] Failure is not an option”

  1. There is much truth here, , but two of these truths really speak to me:

    – This thing that we call M/s would not be nearly so rewarding if it were always easy, and
    – My authority exchange relationship is unique, and cannot be qualitatively compared to any other, because while there may be similiarities, in the end it is My and my slave’s being fulfilled and happy that measures its success.

    Thank you for sharing your daily journey, I get something new every time I visit!


    1. Thank you for the kind comments, Master Wes!

      I agree, we’ve found that some of our best growth has come with great difficulty. Must be what makes us human.

      Your second point is one that was drilled into my head from Day 1 – that there is no “one true way” aside from the path in our hearts. That’s why the concept of “failure” struck me. Those who identify as M/s may share one thing only – the concept of authority transfer and all that implies – but beyond that, the only failure that I could see happening to me/us would be one of incompatibility or personal failure – like breaking trust or becoming someone harmful. It could be that for other folks, a lot more goes into that equation of success vs. failure, perhaps?

      The hard part for me is that I know what M/s feels to me, and I know when I feel parallels to other Masters/slaves who share similar views. “Real Coke” vs. “Diet Coke” I suppose. But the thing is, there is such a spectrum possible in authority transfer that defining “Real Coke” becomes a POV. If I share that POV with others, then I can have discussions more easily than with someone who is somewhere else on the spectrum. That doesn’t make them “less”, only “different” – and I know that I want to see my POV-style be one that passes its values and its concepts into the future.


  2. (comments made on the FetLife share of this article. Posted here with consent.)

    A wise man in the lifestyle once told me that there are not ‘rules’ in BDSM. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way. It just has to work for you. Who CARES if others don’t understand it. If it works for you, then it’s right.

    @Ghost_of_Winter Which we say a lot, but the forums and groups are filled with questions for people looking for a place to put their feet to get started. I get that. I was there once, I think we all were. Once on that path, it makes sense, but I know that there are many times I seek inspiration – whether from my own imagination, or observations, or something that just makes my dick hard.

    Mind if I copy/paste your comment to my blog? I think it’s a good comment that I’d like to keep there as well.

    By all means feel free to. I think the best way to find inspiration is to find someone you admire/respect and do a couple of things:

    If the way they handle the power exchange appeals to you, then use it for a starting point of your own, but know that you will have to tweak it to fit you and yours.

    Pick the brains of each and everyone you can find that you respect and admire.

    By doing this you will learn what feels right and what doesn’t. And by all means, do NOT limit yourself to just those of your nature, by this I mean only talk to subs if you are sub, or only to tops if you are a top.

    I learn so much about the top/bottom dynamic from talking to a bottom. Her views and comments and answers to questions I had gave me information I would have never gotten from a Master, Dom, sub, slave, or even a Top.

    Bottom line is listen and learn from ALL sides of the coin, not just yours.

    Yep, pretty much how I was taught and brought up.


  3. (comments made on the FetLife share of this article. Posted here with consent.)


    Hey, nice topic. I read the quote to possibly refer to two levels of perceived “failure.”

    First, ye olde perceived personal “failure” which taunts us with notions of us not being submissive or dominant enough nor clever enough to come up with 50 different protocols on how one is supposed to buy a loaf of bread.

    And second, there’s the “failure” of simply not fitting into whatever power exchange support structure exists in your local community. And that’s often accompanied by either a push to make changes in what already exists to make it address the needs of a larger population, or it can result in the formation of something new which addresses those needs. BUT, I think too often it leads to resentments felt on both sides of the coin.



    With the first, I went through that myself early on – and that was the realization of throwing out the “rule book” was the best path possible. So what if I can’t come up with 50 ways of buying bread? If I care about it enough, I’ll do it. It may not work well the first time, or the 50th time, but that’s part of the journey.

    I think to realize that though, takes having walked that journey. That’s one of those things that is hard to explain to someone. That’s when I remember my elders/metnors supporting me and my choices/missteps.

    The second is true too… because of how people identify with their groups. This takes me to a completely different place, though, because the way I see the world with my AS wiring, I wouldn’t be resentful, more puzzled by “why can’t it work for you here?” Hence why 3 years later, I’m still puzzled by the MDHL thing. Anyway, not to derail the topic to something else.

    I think there is a third… that the relationship, in and of itself, simply is not going to work. The people involved end up not being compatible , not being able to meet each others needs… and that too isn’t a “failure.” It’s a normal learning lesson. I look on my past relationships now not has failures, but as the steps I needed to take to get to here. We came together for a reason, we parted for a reason.

    (as I asked Ghost_of_Winter above, would it be alright to copy/paste your comment to the blog?)


  4. What a fantastic post! I can SO relate to angie’s headspace, there! I wonder if she knows how often she has been *my* ‘slave sparkles’? I have no doubt that this goes on for many on the other side of the slash, too. None, whatsoever. You two rock. Thank you, for yet another incredibly timely writing – or maybe just giving me the opportunity to read it, when the time was right, for me.


    1. And to us, we have a few “Master Shiny/slave sparkes” ourselves and I’m sure they do, and they do, etc. It’s a relative viewpoint, but we all have those places and spaces where we are just stuck. It’s just not an option to quit, not for things that can and will be overcome.

      Liked by 1 person

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