That's so cool to hear, Rory.
Something from Franklin Veaux of xeromag.com (I am going to marry this man's writing style...), that covers the issue of respect and the issue of "what are the benefits":
"Respect for your lover is not just in behaving according to some ideal about the way "men are supposed to treat women" or whatever. Respect for your lover lies in exploring with your lover, creating with your lover, doing with your lover those things that you and your lover wish to do, sharing yourself on a very deep level with your lover... It's reflected in everything you say, do, express, feel, and think with your lover.
Different people want, need, and value different things. Respect recognizes those differences. And above all else, respect is an integral part of the mutual process of self-exploration and self discovery.
Now hold on a minute, kink-boy. We're talking about kinky S&M here, not Buddhism. What do you mean, "self exploration?"
BDSM is a very broad term that encompasses many wildly different practices, and many wildly different beliefs. But central to all these things is the idea of challenging boundaries and testing limits--and that's precisely what self-exploration is all about.
You cannot know your limits if you never test them and never explore them. You may know some general things, but you can't truly know yourself if you have never explored and never experimented. As Francis Bacon wrote, Your true self can be known only by systematic experimentation, and controlled only by being known.
BDSM provides a context and a set of tools for exploring your own personal boundaries in a safe, fun, enjoyable, and mutually reciprocal way. It provides a vehicle by which you can get to know yourself and your lover much more deeply and intimately than you might have thought possible. And hey, you often find along the way that you can be surprised! You probably have turn-ons that you don't even know you have, and you will never discover without exploration.
And that, my friend, can truly enrich your life and the life of your lover.
When it comes right down to it, if your goal is self-knowledge and personal enlightenment, I put six months in a BDSM relationship up there with three years in a Tibetan monastery any day."