My life had been filled with mostly ordinary conventional relationships, which, after the passion wore off, always seemed to leave me cold and bored. It never even occured to me that I wasn't getting what I needed. So used to pleasing others, I just assumed that if they were getting what they wanted that all was well, and if I became disinterested... well... then there was something wrong with me. I didn't realize until after I ended my last serious relationship and reviewed our sexual history how deeply unsatisfied I was with it.
Our society has done such a good job of shaping our views of ourselves in regards to sex and pleasure and relationhsip that when you first start to step out of that box it can be a very confusing and sometimes lonely place. We, for the most part, must make our own places in those areas of our lives and live with the fact that they are not restricted by social norms.
I began exploring the aspects of my nature that pointed towards a control-based relationship and found it difficult to accept. I am a female born of a very feministic generation...and so it's difficult to determine what place the feminine strength I have has in this type of relationship.
Which is where Taken In Hand came into my life. I was immediately drawn to the fact that here was a community full of articles that included aspects of this life that I was finding confusing and enjoyable. I absolutely love the variety of the different ways that these relationships have been shaped to fit couples' individual needs, and that there is absolutely no set standard, or recrimination when people express themselves and what works for them. It is just accepted that... here is a recipe different from everyone else's with one or two very key common ingredients.
Taken In Hand...such an apt name to encompass this subtle dance of control...and what I consider to be intuitive love. HERE was what I'd been craving, and things started to make so much more sense.
After reviewing my past relationships I realized that I'd only been with what could only be considered weaker men. Men who did not have alpha male qualities, and I was able to see how that one element led to the decline of each relationship. It begins with a lack of respect and ends with me being over-burdened because the man that I'm with isn't strong enough, doesn't have enough integrity or isn't intuitive enough to know that I need to be reined in. It is my natural inclination to do too much and between the two types of men there are those who will let me go while piling even more atop my load, and then there are those who will instinctively know what I need, even when I am unable to ask. Who will give me the gifts of security, honesty, integrity, strength, calm, and even restriction when I need it in response to my gifts of generosity, emotional support, nurturing, obedience.
"Obedience." A word that has gained a deeper and more complex meaning for me over these last weeks of delving into Taken In Hand. Again, something that a strong woman needs to, in the most serious sense of the words, come to terms with. How do we fit with this word and maintain our strength, our individuality? An issue that many women have brought up. I was relieved to see so many articles addressing these very same concerns, to know that I was not alone in my confusion.
In my unconsious search for this type of relationship I had the misfortune of tumbling headlong into a relationship that had the control elements but where they were employed with cruelty, manipulation... where having that control taken from me instilled not a sense of trust and wellbeing but instead a feeling of mental rape and a complete loss of control. For someone like me... who needs so much the feeling of security in my life... without the knowledge that I can hand the control to someone that I respect and trust, having it taken from me makes me off balance, out of sorts. Like I'm free falling with nothing to grab onto. I think that's a huge reason why trust is such a large element in these types of relationships. I'm noticing that alot of women who are drawn to this lifestyle are in fact, independant women who are very much in control of their lives. I think that's why there is such confusion initially as to what do we do with these feelings? It's very difficult for us to think about giving up that control until we have the experience of being in a relationship with someone that we trust so much that it becomes ok in our minds to hand over the burden... knowing without a doubt that Things Will Be Taken Care Of, including ourselves.
Which brought me to wondering where the idea of feminism really fits in with Taken In Hand, and if in fact, this isn't indicitive of a more widespread problem in relationships across the board. I truly wonder how many people out there naturally lean towards this type of relationship and were they to come across Taken In Hand would find themselves agreeing with or becoming even clearer about what they might have been searching for. What might be missing in their lives.
I honestly believe that in the beginning, feminsim was a necesary tool in every aspect of our lives. Society had been structured in such a way as that in order to gain respect in the workforce they had to fight for it. Equal pay, equal opportunity. In their households. Appreciation for all they did as far as the monumental task it is to keep a household running smoothly. And in their own minds. The power that comes from knowing that not only can you do all these things, but that it matters. You can make effective decisions.
I believe that there came a time, however, when the struggle began to shift and the idea of feminism did not shift with it. Women were beginning to be taught that they must be strong. You must remain strong in all areas of your life. Certain things are considered to be a weakness and if you display them, you will be taken advantage of. Allowing a man to open a door for you, allowing a man to make any kind of decision for you. It's wrong to think of ANYTHING as being "a man's job". Our feminism stopped serving us and began enslaving us, not to our men, but to our own minds and our own sense of responsibility. Men actually started pulling back. An overwhelming attitude of "well if she insists that she can do it all, why not let her" began to emerge. This is something that I am still witnessing in relationships and it's getting worse the younger the people in the relationship.
It's time for feminism to be recognized for what it has or should have grown into. A total appreciation and respect for feminine strength. I'm not talking about "whatever you can do I can do better", either. I'm talking about respecting a woman's strength in making decisions regarding her life, her ability to get things done, but the key ingredient that is missing from so many women's lives... the appreciation and respect of the vulnerability and delicacy of her female essence. It's still there. There is still strength and power in that most delicate aspect of the feminine. It's buried, though, under the misguided attitude that we women need show no weakness, that we must be able to Do It All.
I think that that's what makes the men who make Taken In Hand relationships work, so valuable. I see a pattern with these men. They are typically men who want a strong woman. Someone who in her outside life can display intelligence, integrity, strength, motivation. Something that our generations of feminism has cultivated in us. No longer will we bow down to others' opinions of us, expectations of subserviance in the workplace, in social situations.
The subtle submission comes in when a woman walks through the door into her intimate emotional life with her partner. This new feminism is the contentment that a woman can experience when she comes home to a man who will unzip her outer suit of armor that must be worn in our day-to-day hectic lives, and allow the strong yet delicate female to emerge. It's a vulnerability because it's that strength without reinforcements. It's transparency. It's falling backwards knowing that your partner will be there to catch you. It is allowing your partner to worship your beauty and softness as much as you worship his strength and assuredeness. It is the epideme of the yin and yang symbol.
I believe that there is also an element of intuitiveness that men of this nature posess, or learn to cultivate, that sets them apart from the rest. Women are naturally intuitive. We use it every day, in regard to the ones we love, knowing what they want and need. Men, I think, have let go of the responsibility for knowing what their partner needs. I'm not talking about complete mind reading, or no communication. Obviously communication is key in any relationship, but in a Taken In Hand relationship unspoken communication is more common. The groundwork has been laid, the necessary attention has been paid for both partners, but more so even for the man since he is in charge to know what his woman wants and needs. To know what is best for her, even when she doesn't know herself. An article that I especially enjoyed here mentioned that in her household control and obedience meant not just doing what she was told for someone else, but was just as much obeying when told to get into a bubble bath and relax, which sometimes is just as equally difficult for us. THAT is your partner being intuitive, and knowing what you need. THAT is the trust that brings great contentedness within a woman when she knows that her partner is paying attention to her, and can take the responsibilites from her when she isn't willing or able to give them up. Whether that is in the form of a spanking or a bubble bath...that's where the differences in each relationship and each individual needs start to emerge.
So far, these are my observations and feelings that I've been exploring. I have yet to step into a Taken In Hand relationship completely but coming here has brought me farther than I've ever been in being able to firmly determine what it is that I want and need out of a relationship and it is guarenteed that now that I know, I won't settle for anything less. I look forward to the continued learning process and the time that will come when I am able to craft a relationship to fit myself as well as have some of the others that I observe on this site.