Love hurts

Love hurts

The book brought it into the mainstream. The movie made it a hot topic. But are there real couples here who are into the lifestyle portrayed in Fifty Shades Of Grey?

The New Paper on Sunday meets three couples who say that, yes, the lifestyle is real and it has even kept their relationship going. None wanted to be photographed for this report.


AMBER & WILL

THE MARRIED COUPLE

Amber, 30, and Will, 33, have been together for six years and have spent the last two as a married couple. These are not their real names.

Will discovered BDSM (bondage and discipline, domination and submission, sadism and masochism) more than 15 years ago and has been active in the community since he was 18.

His first foray into the BDSM community was via the Internet Relay Chat rooms (IRC), where he met others who are into the lifestyle, including his future wife.

Soon after, he attended his first munch, a low-pressure social meeting for newbies to learn more about the lifestyle.

Amber's interest was piqued after a playful tussle with an ex-boyfriend. She researched the lifestyle online and met Will on the IRC.

"I grew up in a normal family, it was religious, so I had some internal turmoil," she admits.

"I spent many years getting in and out of vanilla (conventional) relationships before I finally chose to commit to a BDSM one. It was a difficult step for me, but one I do not regret."

She managed to reconcile her feelings only in her mid-20s.

Terms like "dominant" and "submissive" and "master" and "slave" are used to describe the nature of relationships. Dominant/submissive relationships exist within the confines of the bedroom, while master/slave refers to the entire relationship and not just specific acts of intimacy.

Like ordinary couples, they say that communication is key. But for them, it includes a contract of what can and cannot be done.

For Amber and Will, a contract only came into the picture when they were married.

Will says: "The power exchange is 24/7 and not limited to individual scenes.

"We have a master and slave contract drawn up that clearly states our expectations, limits and the boundaries in which our master/slave relationship can exist.

"We came to a consensus on the contract after much negotiation based on what we already knew about each other."

Amber says: "He is ceaselessly supportive of me and in turn, I desire to make him happy."

They likened their relationship to one of a 1950s household. "Major decisions are made by him (Will) and the smaller decisions are made by me, regarding the household."

And like any couple, disagreements may arise.

The couple find it important to keep lines of communication open and constantly assess their relationship.

He says: "We frequently take stock of the relationship. Whether any limits have been shifted, what we have accomplished. Are there boundaries that we want to push?"

ROBIN

THE FORMER STUDENT

While studying and working in the US, Robin, 36, developed an interest in the lifestyle.

He recalls a group in New York City that held regular workshops and distinctly remembers one particular workshop. His first, in fact.

He says: "My first workshop was on spanking. They provided detailed explanations on safety, on where not to hit."

He has been exploring the lifestyle for close to nine years now and has attended local munches regularly for more than three years. He has been with his girlfriend for nearly three years.

They are 100 per cent equals outside of intimacy, but otherwise, she prefers to be the dominant one.

"We don't like gender roles. I don't subscribe to gender roles," he says with a laugh.

On a whole, he finds that the lifestyle has strengthened his relationship. He notes that they communicate more in areas that vanilla couples do not normally talk about - sex being an example.

"When you can tell someone 'I don't like you touching me that way', you are able to speak your mind about smaller things," he reasons.

"All have an area of interest, I feel confident about teaching my areas of interest."

ADRIANNA & HUGH

THE NEW COUPLE

Adrianna, 28, and her boyfriend, Hugh, 30, have been together since last November.

In those few months, Adrianna introduced Hugh to the lifestyle and he introduced polyamory - being in more than one relationship - to her.

Hugh says: "In polyamory, the relationship is open in a way that allows for emotional connections, emotional relationships.

"One of the things that really draws me to polyamory is that I really value being open to deep emotional connections, wherever they might occur. Before polyamory, I felt restricted by monogamous relationships. It's harder to be open to that."

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