Power Exchange and Competence

Some crafty meme-maker took a photo of a woman in a challenging yoga pose and wrote the inspirational:

It doesn’t get easier, you just get better.

Then some fresh meme-maker took that and did some line-through and insertion (oh baby) to make it read:

It does get easier, and you also get better.

I can’t decide which one is actually more inspirational. Or more accurate.

For instance, doing a handstand is hard. I can practice that and get stronger and at some point it would presumably be easier for me. I’ve gotten better. The handstand is still a challenging move – it isn’t like all handstands the world over suddenly got easier.

But the reverse is also true. Handstands are now simple, for me.

So which inspires me more? The message “Keep going, it won’t always be this difficult” or the message “You will become strong enough to even do this hard thing.”

It made me think about the thing I value, and around which I seek competence: power exchange.

I sort of think that people see katie and I do power exchange, and have thoughts similar to watching the yoga expert: “Wow, that is so smooth and easy for them.”

But 12 years ago, it was not simple to be in a power exchange for us. We didn’t know how to do it well. We didn’t have the strength to hold to the dynamic naturally.

So… did power exchange get easier, or not? In either meme above the “get better” is constant, so that isn’t really in question.

I’m inclined to say that relationships are hard. In order to be excellent they require all the buzz-words: communication, focus, patience, etc. And being in a power exchange doesn’t make that less true. With power exchange there is an even sharper focus on trust, discretion, fidelity, responsibility. Power exchange relationships are tough.

Do katie and I suddenly NOT have those same issues? Like with yoga or handstands – do joints suddenly hinge differently? Does gravity no longer apply?

Absolutely not! We still have to be extremely attentive and careful about how we do our relationship. It is still a carefully crafted merger between two souls. Things could still devolve into a relationship meltdown if either of us got stupid or lazy.

But… isn’t it easier, even if it isn’t *easier*? Fuck yes it is. We do all those hard things naturally now. We do those effortful things in a way that seems (and feels) somewhat effortless.

Which message is more inspirational to those we teach?

Power Exchange will not always be this hard. You will get better and stronger, and it will be an easy and natural experience. You won’t have to struggle to find and keep your role. You won’t lay awake at night wondering if you are doing it right.


Power Exchange relationships are extremely hard. Leading and following. Trusting and being trustworthy. Pushing for growth while protecting and providing safety. These things will always be hard, and you must be ever mindful or you will lose that which you value. But you will gain the skills and the strength to do it well, and it will become so much part of who you are that you can’t imagine life without it.

Both are true. Maybe like this:

It will get easy, but it will never be easy.

More IPE Prep

We’ve made progress on preparing for the International Power Exchange competition at Beyond Leather 9 in Ft. Lauderdale.  Some recent stuff:

  • We reviewed our 10 minute presentation.  We still like it.  We think it does a good job of explaining our Power Exchange relationship.  The fact that we are not going to seriously tweak it means that we have less work to do to be ready to present it again.  Just a bit of shine and recollection, rather than starting from scratch.
  • We spoke to a few of the amazing craftsmen in the local community and got a commitment of some extraordinary goods for our silent auction basket.  I am really excited to be offering their wares.
  • katie decided to do a piece of original art to add to the auction basket.  She often does pen and ink, so that it can be reproduced as a limited edition print.  Not this time!  Paint on hardwood, so it is a one-of-a-kind that will never be reproduced. (13×17)

We ended up with a bit of a dilemma regarding our Fantasy Scene.  The IPE producers shortened the time from 10 minutes maximum down to 8 minutes maximum.   However, they will allow those in the contest this year to grandfather in a 10 minute Fantasy if they wish, since the rule change may have caught people unaware.

We  wrestled with this, since our Fantasy was 10 minutes for our Great Lakes regional competition.  We felt that we got excellent feedback from the judges, and it did a good job showing our dynamic.  But, a lot of knowledgeable people suggested that we find some way to trim it.  At this point I have done a quick-and-dirty amateur edit of the music (down to 8 minutes) so that we can try out a shorter version.  If we like it, we will turn it over to our friend who does audio work as a professional.  His work on our 10 minute piece was amazing.