Power dynamics are more than common within the context of BDSM, so I am fairly familiar with this concept. But what’s interesting is that my studies provided a webinar discussion over the topic, but instead of being bound to the subculture of BDSM, they discussed how power dynamics are present within all romantic relationships.
For most people, this won’t come as a surprise, but the question is, where exactly do these power dynamics manifest? Are they negotiated, or even discussed? Is the power dynamic a reality or an illusion to the couple at hand? These are some powerful questions that can shed some light on the source of a lot of conflicts found amongst couples.
So what is a power dynamic and how does it manifest in our romantic relationships? This can be a really sensitive topic for some because sometimes the power is handed to us by emotionally dependent partners, while for others, power is taken from us by abusive and manipulative partners. It can be the tool that consolidates a relationship or the weapon that destroys it.
Luckily, power within relationships can bring healing and growth if exercised with care and empathy.
An equal power exchange allows for both parties to exercise individuality and divergent opinions within a space that facilitates respect and tolerance. If someone is constantly interrupting you, walking away, fitting in the last word, or utilizing gaslighting techniques, this is a major red flag and an example of unequal power exchange. On the other hand, if your partner is validating your feelings, offering their support, or simply giving you a space to vent without advice, green lights all the way, baby!
Signs or feelings that indicate a power imbalance:
- feeling intimidated
- second-guessing yourself constantly
- your needs come last, especially in the bedroom
- you make decisions based solely on your beliefs or preferences
- you never hear ‘No’ from your partner
If some of these things apply to you, never fear, there are ways to address them but this is only if both parties are willing. Open communication facilitating safe places to share honestly; emotional responsibility empowers us to accept our behavior and feelings and no longer tolerate abuse; relationship counseling is something I will endorse until the day I die. A great place to find counselors or therapists is on Psychology Today; they even have filters for what you’re looking for.