If DD is the glue, do the parts really fit?

I wrote in an earlier post about the challenges my partner and I are having with long distance Domestic Discipline (DD), (see "Why Spanking Matters"). The short summary is that for us at least, DD doesn't seem to work when we're apart.

The problem is that without it, we're back to where we were before we started DD in the first place. That is, tears, anger, accusations, eroding communication and intimacy. A gulf between us that's as wide as ever it was. I can hardly believe we're the same two people who, only a month ago, were as close as I can imagine being with another human being.

The situation so upsetting for both of us that last night, after yet another tearful and angry encounter via phone, he suggested that perhaps we should consider not communicating at all when we're apart because it goes so poorly without DD to help us negotiate our differences.

The good news is that we'll be back together again in a few days. And I have every confidence that -- after a much-needed disciplinary session and reconciliation -- we'll find that loving, intimate place back again.

All of which brings up another nagging question in my head:

Is it really a good relationship if the only thing holding it together is DD? Put another way, if the relationship collapses so dramatically without DD, is it worth saving?

I think the answer is yes, because I think any healthy relationship is defined largely by how well individual boundaries are negotiated and enforced.

A genuine, intimate relationship requires boundaries in order to endure. In most non-DD relationships, those boundaries are much less clearly defined than they are in a DD relationship, but the boundaries are there nonetheless. They're negotiated over time, through communication and trial and error. He learns not to talk to her first thing in the morning because she's grouchy. She learns that he gets angry when she makes social plans without consulting him. Etc. etc.

If one partner violates the other's boundary, an argument and hurt feelings generally result. If it happens frequently, trust is impaired. Too many violations and the relationship is over.

The relationships that last are the ones where the boundaries are solid enough to provide safety, yet permeable enough to allow intimacy. In other words, just like good fences make good neighbors, good boundaries make good relationships. Remove the boundaries and you remove the safety net for building trust and intimacy. The container in which the relationship is held isn't strong enough to sustain the love and trust that goes inside it.

At its heart, DD is fundamentally nothing more than a more formalized and externalized system of setting and enforcing boundaries -- a container in which a relationship can grow and thrive. It's also, I believe, a safer and healthier container than most couples have the benefit of.

In a traditional relationship, it's generally a case of "cross my boundary and I will passively-aggressively punish you for the rest of our time together," or more likely, "cross my boundary and I'll leave you for someone who respects my boundaries." But in DD, it's "cross my boundary and you will be disciplined, firmly but fairly, and then we'll let it go and get on with our lives together."

So is it a "real" relationship if it's held together with DD?

I'd say absolutely.

A clear, mutually agreed-upon system of maintaining healthy boundaries while enhancing intimacy isn't the glue that holds an otherwise unhealthy relationship together -- it's the way in which a relationship stays healthy in the first place.

In other words, without a strong container, even the most loving relationship will fall apart.


  1. Great thought "In other words, without a strong container, even the most loving relationship will fall apart." I agree. I can't wait to read more, I have already linked you on my blog.

  2. Anonymous16:30

    Your comments in the last couple of posts about how your relationship goes when you are apart really struck a chord with me. My ex was given a temporary assignment in a town about an hour and a half away, I couldn't leave where I was because of my job and his daughter (in high school). He was set up with a temporary apartment. The six weeks ended up being six months with him only coming home about every third weekend and me trying to get to see him in between.

    What I discovered from that episode was that more of our communication was non-verbal than either of us had realized. We could say things to each other in person and they'd work, but without the non-verbal clues and the touching, the message being received was not the message being sent.

    If I were in that same place today, I'd make sure he traveled with a laptop with a camera and that there was a camera on the computer at home! It might not solve the problem but it might help!

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  4. Anonymous18:16

    Vivian, This comment is not necessrily for the public. I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate what you are doing with your blog! There are a lot of us out here, as I am sure you know. Bright, well educated women who are choosing this lifestyle. I am a 49 yr old professional. I live the life that from the outside looks to be the feminst ideal. I am also happily married and after 20+ yrs, we are now a a year and a half into the Dd part of our marriage. It has been hard to find other like minded women who I could relate to on any level other than having Dd in common. Luckily I finally found a few and we have become friends. I am lucky in that. Your blog will help to open the door, and to bridge the gap between the feminism of our mothers and the feminism of our daughters. This is very important in my opinion. Thank you! Lauren

  5. Thanks for your post, Lauren. I hope it's okay that I posted your comment, as I think it's an inspiring and valuable contribution to the discussion we're starting here.

    I hope you come back and comment often, as it sounds like you have an extremely useful perspective to share.


  6. Hi Vivian,

    You say that just as Robert Frost said "Good neighbors make good fences" that good boundaries make good relationships. You should know that Frost's view was quite the opposite, as you'll see if you read his poem "Mending Wall." But fences between neighbors, and borders between countries, have their place at times, and shouldn't be confused with relational boundaries anyway. What you say about setting parameters and boundaries in a relationship is quite true in my opinion.

    But I have to disagree on one point. I don't think it's the DD holding together an otherwise untenable relationship - I think the stress of being apart is more than most good relationships can bear, and it's not just DD, but physical presence, for heaven's sake! intimacy and "face time," time spent eyeball to eyeball that is the glue holding two people together. Together means together -- when you are apart, you put an enormous strain on the ability to relate normally. Give yourselves a break -- you may have already found that proximity is helping, as I understand from more recent posts that you are now living together. I hope so. At the very least, it can give you one thing you can't have when you're apart: consistency.


  7. I completely agree with Belle: "I don't think it's the DD holding together an otherwise untenable relationship - I think the stress of being apart is more than most good relationships can bear, and it's not just DD, but physical presence.

  8. Dionysius06:54

    >>>In other words, without a strong container, even the most loving relationship will fall apart.

    For perspective on lover relationships, I always look at best friendships. They hold together over time and distance, without any container. Of course, lover relationships need a container of commitment, and due to the human need for physical love and affection, they are stressed by time apart. But DD, while it may be necessary for some people, I don't thikn it can be sufficient.

    My own feeling--and of course you have to see if this seems to fit you, and it may not--is that lover relationships are made up of a slew of compatibilities, values, interests, sexual, pheromonal, personality compatibilities, etc. It seems to me that you two have interests, but if you really think that DD is all that's holding your relationship together, I don't think that's enough. As for DD in your life, my guess is that if you two split up, until you found a new lover you could probably find someone to serve as a disciplinarian on, say, a weekly basis, or some such. (Of course, I don't know you, and it's possible that wouldn't work at all for you, for reasons I am not aware of.) As for your chances of finding a new lover, you have a wonderful mind and sensibility to offer. Just reading your blog, I find you very compelling. On the other, the universe of men who are worthy of you is probably fairly small.

  9. Anon20:00

    Hi Vivian,

    I've been reading your blog for a little bit, and have just had my first spanking from the man I am in love with. It was so precious, and to his surprise he said he found he "enjoyed it much more than he thought he would."
    Anyway...we've talked about it a lot since. Having ventured into this realm, we both definitely found the experience a "keeper." We talk about doing it again. I want him to have full permission to spank me whenever, however, for whatever reason, for whatever length of time or amount of pain that he so chooses. I love the expression of submission that allows me to offer him. I think at this point, he likes that I like it.
    But we've talked too that we don't want this to BECOME our whole relationship. While he has full reign to spank me whenever it suits him, despite anything I might say on the matter, the fact is that both of us don't want to loose the other facets of our relationship into an overwhelming DD situation - his tenderness, gentleness, and patience with me are things I don't want to be completely overshadowed by spanking. He doesn't want to only look at me as someone to "keep in check." There needs to be some balance of the whole rest of the spectrum of how our hearts dance with one another. And yet, I know with an eager trembling that he'll also be looking for the next best time to spank me again. Whew. :)
    Anyway, I didn't exactly answer your question, but if you read between the lines, maybe this does offer some perspective on what you're going though?
    Love ya -