Hey RP, I checked with Mono to make sure he was ok with the topic of this post and me using his words and life as a jumping off point before posting... I probably should have checked with you too, I certainly don't want to misrepresent your life or call you out in an inappropriate way. So, apologies if I did that.
"The idea is to walk together, not be owned, bossed around, controlled or made to take no responsibility in ones life. Be very careful with this kind of dynamic. I fear it breeds laziness and lack of personal responsibility. Don't assume your shared love wants to be boss for the rest of her life. That kind of dynamic means she is not independent and if she is anything like me she may just end up feeling smothered and resentful."
For the record, my relationship with Gia is nothing like what you describe there, so don't worry. I don't let her make all of the decisions and she doesn't seek to. We both have full responsibility for our lives. If we ever do choose to make D/s a bigger part of our lives, well, power exchange would be involved. But I have faith in each of us, in our integrity as strong individuals who know ourselves and know what we want, so I believe we'd do it in a healthy way.
However, I do really appreciate your warning. Since she and I have not, in fact, negotiated a power dynamic that is other than egalitarian, I have to remind myself... just every now and then, but it happens... not to start deferring to her in ways that are going to give her more responsibility than she wants or make her feel put upon. I think she would identify a lot with your concerns about feeling smothered or resentful, and would also agree that being a hinge is a role that looks like it's all cake from the outside but involves a lot of hard work!
In terms of co-dependence or damaging hierarchy, again, I didn't mean to imply that those things are present here -- I truly don't believe that they are. I greatly respect the life that you, PN and Mono have built. And I see a great deal of health, strength, flexibility and potential for growth in my relationship with Gia. It's not like she's my whole life and I'm just a passing fling to her. But is there a hierarchy? Yes. Her primary relationship, with her husband, takes precedence in her life, for a variety of reasons. She would never leave me just because he asked. But if something came up from the outside... a move across the country for instance... she would do what she had to to preserve her relationship with him versus prioritizing her relationship with me. I am ok with that. Hierarchy seems to be a really dirty word around here, but I see it for what it is and I accept that it's not about levels of love or respect, it's a practical thing.
Some people, though, have a hard time accepting the idea of not being "first" in this way, especially when they're not first with someone who really, really matters to them. I've seen folks ponder that on this board, and struggle mightily in situations where they are either in a secondary relationship, or showed up third, timeline-wise, in a relationship that involves three people and thus are going to have to fit themselves in to an existing dynamic. A dynamic that will, in time, change to accomodate them (assuming the relationship is healthy) but that isn't always so flexible to start.
In both cases -- whether you're in a secondary position or you're a third -- there's a letting go of ego that has to take place. You're forced to see -- and accept -- the idea that "this is not all about me."
I'm not saying that naturally dominant folks can't deal with that. What I was pondering was whether or not it might be harder for them, and easier for people who are used to happily accepting the idea of not being in charge... whether at work, with friends, in the bedroom, or in a D/s lifestyle setting (and don't get me wrong, I'm *not* trying to conflate any of those things, though I realize I may have skirted that line with my "two sides of the same coin" question... I know that you can easily like one or more of those things without seeking the others).
Does that all make sense? I'm open to the idea that I'm totally off base here, but this is actually a set of thoughts that's been brewing quietly in the back of my head for a while now. Reading Mono's two year old post and thinking "YES, that's completely me!" just brought it to the fore.
The major players. Me, under-30 bi female. Gia, girlfriend of 3+ years. Clay, new boyfriend/dom. Davis, ex/"it's complicated."
The supporting cast. Eric, Gia's husband. Bee, Gia and Eric's toddler. Dexter, Gia's lover. Helen, Eric's lover. Izzy and Nikki, Clay's partners. June and Royce, Izzy's partners.