Communication Gamification

I had a bit of a realization today.  Might even border on epiphany.

You always hear people *say* that chastity and FLR and these assorted things we all collectively do tend to have a generally positive impact on relationships.   As a matter of record, this has been extraordinarily true in our own case – having had a profound impact on our own lives together (for the record, for the better).

But I can’t help wondering why.  Why does putting a piece of steel around your privates, locking it down and handing over the key change a relationship, sometimes shaking it to the core?  How does that “fix” communication issues and “fix” other issues going on?*

* It doesn’t, of course, automatically fix mortally wounded relationships.  It’s been said before, but it can be a catalyst-type of event, but it doesn’t fix a broken relationship.  It can represent a change in approach, a turning point.  But if there are underlying issues, those aren’t going to go away with a padlock.   More on this here.

I think I have a clue about this – an idea of at least one significant thing that gets rolling when you do this stuff.  I suspect, depending on the type of play you get interested in, it can have a more or less profound impact, but for the sake of this post, let’s go with enforced chastity, D/s and FLR.  Yes, I realize those are huge areas, but bear with me a bit.

I think, net-net, that gamification comes into play.  Gamification turns otherwise more typical things into contests or games or just generally makes ’em more fun.  Sort of like “whistle while you work” or getting the neighborhood kids to whitewash your fence for you.

But, in this case, gamification flips the relationship on its ear.  It forces you to talk.  To talk about expectations, to talk about ideas.  For many, it opens the floodgates by making the folks in the relationship uncomfortable even with with things that go well.  I know this is the case for me – things happen, I can’t believe they impact me the way they do.  So then I go learn about why in the world that would be that way for me, then I tell (and sometimes tell and tell and tell and tell…) [SSC:  He really isn’t exaggerating.]  Charmer about it.  It gets us talking about why something is hot, or something gets wrapped around my core and won’t let go.

That talking is huge. I think it’s a core thing of relationships.  Opening your marriage with everyone’s consent?  SWEET!  It’s going to flip your switches and push your buttons – and you’ll be talking about these new experiences, feelings and making sure it all works right.  Discovered impact play?   Awesome!  If you really like it, you may not be able to shut up about it – BAM! Communication.  Your partner will be excited if they enjoyed their part, you’ll be excited about yours – and if you like that, what else should you try?

But here’s where things really got interesting as I was thinking about this.  In our FLR, it seems like it ratchets up in formality in steps and phases.  I think that’s largely true in a whole host of relationship stuff.  But stick with me here.

A couple of things have been added recently for us:

  • A hand signal to stop something I’m doing in public.  Now. (more on this in a minute)
  • Infractions and logging.

These have had a profound impact on me.  And have yet again upped our communication and relationship game.

The hand signal came about when I realized that my goofing around (sorry, it’s what I do) was getting on Charmer’s nerves while out and about.  [SSC:  I love you, but you are a classic class clown.  And dance seems to bring it out even more when you’re nervous about getting new routines down.  No one needs to see the Disco moves…]  But she didn’t want to say anything, so it just stayed bugging her, and I stayed oblivious.  We talked about it (there’s that talking thing) at home in FLR mode and I came up with a hand signal, extremely subtle, that stops whatever is going on.  Goofing around, disagreeing, even outright arguing or any other action or thing that’s going on that I’m doing.  If I see the hand signal, it stops, right now.

I like to think I’m not this obnoxious person.  But I was missing clues every now and then and she wanted to maintain control of our FLR even when we were out other places.  [SSC:  The signal just stops it now.  Disagreements or such are always open for discussion later.]  Sounds fair.  We’re completely committed to making it work.  So we did it.  Instantly she could shut stuff down.  Guess what?  Any time it’s been used, I didn’t realize I was bugging her or kidding around too much.  I can’t tell you how many times it’s been used, it’s not many, but each and every time, it never occurred to me that I was missing a cue.  And I stopped immediately.

Instantly the power is back in her hands.  Instantly we’re silently communicating about being better for each other.  <– That right there is magic.  It’s huge for a relationship.  When either person feels powerless (not in a good way) and stepped over or on, feelings and relationships can suffer.  I’ve now learned, for the most part, what those lines are.  I’ve changed because of it.  I watch for the line and watch for the signal that I’m missing the boat.  I’m happy to report that it’s very, very infrequent that I miss.  She feels like she’s able to get what she needs, she also gets to maintain the FLR out and about, and we have our moments of communicating with no one getting uncomfortable who doesn’t understand our dynamic.

The same is true of infractions.  Infractions came about only recently after we started getting into impact play (spanking – though I don’t like the term much).  It started as a fun way to keep track when I goof up something or just miss something.  Laundry not done?  Infraction.  Out for work late?  Infraction.  Usually the pattern seems to be that each infraction is worth 10 “impacts” of her choice – more on that in the future.  [SSC:  For the moment.  🙂  We all know that I’ll change my mind when I feel like it…]  We just cleared 11 this last weekend.

Again though, this has given her a tool to tell me expectations and keep them front and center in my mind.  I’ve learned SO MUCH about what she likes.  She’s not unreasonable at all, and I’m not trying at all to say that she’s difficult to understand. [SSC:  I try not to be unreasonable.  I know that I’m an enigma.]   What I’m saying is that we had no tools to put it out there.  To indicate that something was not the best it could be.  It turned it into a game (Gamification) and, at the same time, is an effective way of saying “no, we’re not going to continue doing that…”

Really, I think it’s a lot like when you start seeing someone.  Your radar is on high-alert for what they like, don’t like, etc.  What do they expect?  What turns them on?  Off?  It all comes into play and you talk, experience and go through and learn each other.  It’s amazing and fluid learning.

This turns that switch back on.  It’s under the guise of “playing” and infractions and all that.  BUT, the learning is real if you pay attention.  The learning is huge.  The talking and discussing likes and dislikes – it’s very real.  And as you weave it into your life, depending on what you decide to do, it can help address and fix a whole host of misunderstandings and things that just might not be apparent.

I’ll let you know right now – I was flat-out wrong about a *huge* number of things with Charmer.  What she likes (everyday things AND *those* things), doesn’t like, what she would love from me and so much more.  Plus, we’ve found all sorts of new things to try.  We get to try them together and see what works, what doesn’t – how do we figure it out?  Talk about it.  Can’t talk face-to-face?  [SSC:  We started our private blog so he didn’t have to watch me look like I was going in for a root canal every time he wanted to talk about feelings or analyze.]   Email each other on a regular basis.  Set up a private blog.  Whatever works.   But communication gets a big, sharp jolt of vitalization.

And, what’s more – when your partner starts to realize just how cool it is that they have control or participation or are being controlled (whatever their part is), they’ll dig in even more and look to enhance that communication more.  We’ve seen this over and over in our own relationship.  It becomes a self-reinforcing thing.  Each of us is actively participating in molding the relationship – “actively” being the magic sauce.

Charmer will dip her toe in the water and try something.  When new things happen, I try very hard to talk about it, what happened, good or bad, and what we seemed to do with it.  Then we figure out how to tweak it.  But inevitably, she’ll enhance it, she’ll increase the volume or whatever.  [SSC:  Sometimes to his great chagrin.]  We’ll move forward with it.  You can see this in nearly every single area of our lives – because we are actively talking about every single area of our lives now.  Even the tough stuff is up for grabs.  And we work through it, because this gamification of communication comes into play.

I think this is one of the keys to why this can be so life changing.  It’s not about the sex (although, I’m just sayin’…) but more about communication.

It might start with limits for a scene.  Or expectations, or ideas or trying new things (“honey, have you ever heard of a chastity cage?  It’s the damndest thing!“)  But all of a sudden, you’re talking about ideas, thoughts and… life.

Communication Gamification can breathe amazing energy into relationships and This Thing We Do can be an amazing tool to make that happen.

10 thoughts on “Communication Gamification”

  1. I honestly don’t even have the words to describe how much I love this. Even though our dynamic is totally different, this is the level of communication that I’m hoping to achieve with TN. It is so hard and I so admire the way you two talk describe it and model it. Beautiful, beautiful writing.

  2. Great read and very thought provoking. MrsL and I are talking much more which helps me identify what she wants, needs, and enjoys. I think it is a guy thing to miss those subtle cues/clues our wonderful wives give us constantly. Locking a piece of steel on my privates has made me a much better listener!!

    1. Honestly, I think it’s a general human tendency to *think* you have gotten to know someone, know what they like, don’t like, etc. But the world and people and you and they are always changing. If you just work off assumptions, that’s where it can get really dangerous. Because as soon as your assumption is no longer valid, and you’re not looking for change, things can get dicey.

  3. I think the gamification thing is an excellent insight. In a past relationship, she would lock me up and literally forget about it. That helped nothing; as you say, the lock isn’t magic.

    I also like the stop gesture.

    It does raise a question for me, though. While I am a bottom and a servant, I’m not so much a sub. The idea of an XLR bothers me for any value of X. I feel people are generally equal, and nobody has a corner on truth or rightness. I’m can see how useful the “knock it off” gesture might be for you, but does Charmer never need a discreet outside perspective?

    1. I’m gel’n some thoughts on this – but know that she’s incredibly fair and I never meant to suggest otherwise. But I’ll see if I can put together a bit more information about how this all works. Thanks for the comments!

  4. Love, love, love this post! And the hand signal idea is amazing, I’m totally incorporating that into all of my relationships *right-effin-now*. There have been so many times Kazander has done that exact same thing, not realizing that he’s getting on my nerves. And when we’re out with his family or his friends (as a couple, we hang out with his family and friends waayyyy more often than mine, and I like it that way), I can either call him out publicly to get him to knock it off, or just stay quiet. I don’t like either of those options, so the hand gesture is a seriously awesome idea.

    But that’s what I’ve always loved about D/s relationships, as opposed to vanilla ones. The level of communication in the average D/s relationship is so intense, compared to the level of non-communication in the average vanilla relationship. You’re right, it opens everything up. It starts by talking about sex and fantasies, but it goes in to *why* certain fantasies get us going, how that relates to who we are as people and who we are within relationships. You can learn so much about a person, so quickly, with that level of communication. I love it.

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