Are lifestyle power dynamics compatible with polyamory?

What do you think of combining lifestyle power dynamics like dom/sub or master/slave with polyamory? I feel like they are mutually exclusive, almost polar opposites, but can't quite explain why.

They are not mutually exclusive or polar opposites. In fact, there is a huge overlap between people who practice both. This is partly philosophical: both involve a rejection of arbitrary social norms around sex and relationships, and the communities have such a large overlap that you are exposed to, and educated about, one wherever the other is. And it’s partly practical: kink encompasses lots of different things, and polyamory allows kinksters to explore more niche or specific kinks without putting pressure on a single partner’s boundaries. Plus belonging to a community that’s so open about sex makes it easier to make sexual or romantic connections within your social group.

It can be confusing, because I often talk about polyamory as a radical rejection of capitalistic norms whereby relationships are seen in terms of property ownership. Therefore, a relationship founded on terms like “slave ownership” would be mutually exclusive, right?

The thing about “lifestyle” power dynamics is that even for the most hardcore kinksters who “live the lifestyle 24/7,” it is, ultimately, a fantasy - the people involved remain people with whole, complex lives. So while literally owning another person as your chattel would be incompatible with polyamory, people who live a BDSM lifestyle are not literal, actual slaves and slaveowners. Those are convenient terms and symbols to reflect what they really want out of their relationship, but the actual reality of a “master/slave” relationship is not “slavery” in the economic, exploitative way that word is typically used.

For some people, polyamory is incompatible with their BDSM relationship - monogamy is a core aspect of the “ownership” dynamic. That’s a perfectly reasonable way to practice lifestyle BDSM! But for other people, polyamory is part of their BDSM practice. For some submissives, being “shared” (or lent, rented, etc.) at the whims of their partner is part of the thrill and contributes to the fantasy of being owned. For some Dominants, having multiple submissives is part of the fun, and those submissives often enjoy each other’s company as part of the fantasy, with elaborate sub-hierarchies, rivalries, and solidarities.

So it might seem incompatible to you because of a misunderstanding of how the power exchange really works within these types of relationships - there are tons of blogs out there where people document their lifestyle relationships and fantasies, so check those out if you want a more comprehensive look. Or, it just might feel incompatible to you because of how you experience your desires for ownership, in which case, it’s totally fine to be a monogamous kinkster!

I think my lover is sleeping with other people and not telling me

I am a 27yo poly woman with both a boyfriend and a BDSM lover. I think my BDSM lover is hooking up with men on the DL and don’t know what to do. We were hanging out and I saw an email over his shoulder that was a response to an MFM craigslist ad and he quickly closed out his email when he noticed I saw it. I do not care if he is hooking up with other men ( I am bisexual myself) but I don’t want to confront him about this and have him blow up in my face. How do I talk to him about this so that I 1.Feel safe in our relationship and 2.Trust in him that he is being open and honest with me as we agreed at the start of our relationship?

You say, clearly and openly, something like:

“Hey, I need to check in with you about something that’s been bothering me. I didn’t mean to snoop, but a few days ago I noticed you replying to an MFM ad and then you seemed to get nervous and hide it from me. Here’s the thing - I don’t care if you’re seeing other people or seeing men or anything like that. But I do care about secrecy. In order to feel safe in this relationship, things need to be out in the open. Partly that’s about trust, and partly that’s about health, safety, and informed consent.

I’m sorry if I did or said anything in the past that made you feel like you had to hide part of your sex life or your relationships from me. I just want to put it all out there that, as far as I’m concerned, openness is a non-negotiable part of this relationship - and I’m sorry if that wasn’t clear before. Can we talk about what else you’ve been up to, and come up with a way to keep it from being a secret or something that’s hidden?”

If he gets defensive or accusatory; if he refuses to talk about this; if he won’t agree to a relationship with the terms of openness and honesty, then end the relationship - it’s not what you need, and his insistence on secrets like that is a dealbreaker.

I was wondering if you know of any advice blogs that are just as active and nice and friendly as your but oriented to the S&M sort of world at all? Most blogs I find are all straight-up porn and that’s not what I’m looking for…I Have Questions, people! Lol and nobody to answer them.

Well, I am a kinky fucker, so I am down to try and answer any BDSM questions. Or, you can check out some of these blogs (many of them also include porn): (a list of blogs, many of which answer questions and give advice even if they aren’t explicitly advice column blogs) (behind a Patreon pay wall) (specific to age play, which some may find triggering) (specific to furries, but covers BDSM as well)