Relationship Landmines: Conflicts Between Power & Authority

SDC Katherine Zitterbart Kayteezee Katie Z Power Exchange Swingers Authority Relationships Sex
SDC Katherine Zitterbart Kayteezee Katie Z Power Exchange Swingers Authority Relationships Sex
Personal power and consensual authority dynamics are subject to a distinct set of unexpected, agreement-stressing actions within consensually-non-monogamous relationships.

Greetings, Friend!

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope your day is going well. This is Part 2 in a several-part series about the relationship between and among personal power and consensual authority structures in intimate relationships. In Part 1, I defined personal power and consensual authority, so please go take a gander there if you missed it.

This article is about some of the conflicts that can arise between personal power (power) and consensual authority structures (authority) in intimate relationships or, as I sometimes refer to them — landmines: consequences of actions that are a surprise. These conflicts can arise even though everyone involved is aware of and meaning to operate within agreements. I recently facilitated a workshop for swinger couples to be able to share fantasies without having to out themselves individually to their partner. One fantasy had to do with a gang bang, as an example. Another had to do with a lovely dinner party that would grow into an orgy and a sleep-over. It was remarkable how much of a yes so many people were — even when the fantasies weren’t classically heterosexual in nature.

Fantasies that had to do with forming ongoing, intimate/sexual relationships with people outside of the core pairing, however, folks found not as appealing, and this makes sense given the context and the attendees — workshop for fantasies that swingers have.

Swingers’ Struggles with Openness & “Rules”

There’s a massive range of comfort for all of us, and generally speaking with regards to this particular group, swinging is about having experiences and not necessarily about forming new, emotionally invested, resource-sharing relationships. From a power perspective, everyone was happy and able to consider possibilities, generate wild dreams, and even share some of their deepest desires. From an authority perspective, the boundaries of their relationships (this particular group) were such that anything was OK, as long as it didn’t mean having a third or more person in their relationship.

Fair enough. We are all consenting adults. We are all working to co-create the experiences and be enriched by relationships.

What happens, though, when you are following all of ‘the rules,’ and you are doing everything ‘right,’ and you are acting in integrity, and yet — something power-full happens?

Catching Feelings

I remember a college reunion I went to ages ago, and there was this beautiful young man who was flirting with me, and I kept saying no. Until I said yes, under the condition that it be a one-time thing.

We found a room at the event space and proceeded to have sex. Somewhere in the middle of it, something happened, and a lightning bolt went off between us, and I thought it was just me having a feeling, so I didn’t say anything. Emotionally, I mean.

My open relationship allowed for me to have sex outside of it, but the feeling part? That presented a problem. I found myself in the place of asking the question, ‘do I tell my partner that I had feelings while I was having sex with someone else?’ To add to the mix — my one-afternoon-stand also felt something while we were having sex.

So, what to do in a moment like that? When you stay in integrity with the authority of your relationship, but power steps in and has a different agenda — what can you do?

Read Part 3: 7 Steps to Building Balanced Intimate Relationships.

Katherine "Kayteezee" Zitterbart

Katherine "Kayteezee" Zitterbart is an educator and coach who centers on compassion, communication, and consent. She has worked with thousands of people over the last 25+ years, during which she has created and delivered custom workshops and classes on a wide variety of subjects, including Taoist Tantra, BDSM, Sex Positive Yoga, and Compassionate Communication. One of Katherine’s superpowers is helping people in power exchange relationships cultivate their relationships in a way that empowers the bottom/submissive. A powerful submissive in a power exchange relationship has the capacity to communicate their needs without ‘topping from the bottom’ and can serve their top/dominant in such a way that creates the freedom so many submissives desire — strange as that may seem. In fact, power exchange relationships can create a felt sense of liberation for the submissive, and helping people find that is one of Katherine’s great pleasures in life.
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