All relationships are different, but some more different than others. When it comes to relationships that explore fetish and kink dynamics, the everyday rules that dictate "normal" relationships don't always apply.
When we decided to do a series on fetish and kink relationships, we started writing a list of couples who we knew. We decided that a couple with a Dom/sub dynamic would be good starting point, and one that came to mind was Dean and Ben AKA DomLad90 and CollaredBoiUK.
I met Dean and Ben at FWL2018 through a mutual friend and was struck by how warm and engaging they were. They're what you could easily classify as 'good lads', and it seemed like they had a great dynamic that would be interesting to explore. They also seemed up for anything and good for a laugh, so we figured this would work well with what we had in mind for the video.
It's clear to see how well these boys fit together. Part of this due to their extended shared history. When I asked them how they met, Ben's answer was indicative of the common overlap in gay circles, and the cylindrical nature of how we often move in and out of each other's lives. "His first ever boyfriend happened to be my first boyfriend straight after each other." He says with a smile "We went our separate ways for 8 or 9 years, then kind of got back together and I introduced him to the world of Recon and fetish."
Dean wasn't exactly new to kink, but he didn't have the words for it or know how to approach it. As he puts it "I think I always had a bit of a filthy side, but I never really knew how to express it". Ben helped him to see that it wasn't all just about sleaze and that community played a large part of the scene too. In doing so it made him more comfortable and freed him up to explore his kinky side further.
One incident in particular got the ball rolling. "It snowballed really from an eventful night in Brighton…" I ask him what he's referring to and they share a story of their first, drunken watersports session on the streets of the seaside town. In reference to this inciting event, Dean laughs that he "Literally broke the seal" on kink that night, and there was no looking back.
Fetish relationships, as with all relationships, are not a one-way street, though, and Dean introduced new things to Ben as well. "He expanded my mindset about what fetish can be." He says "I may have been a bit two-dimensional in thinking it was just bondage, sub/Dom… now I've expanded into the whole sportswear/scally look. Trainers/sneakers." As a couple their tastes have grown and evolved together.
We move the conversation onto the Dom/sub dynamic of their relationship, and it sounds like the process was an organic fit. As Dean tells it "I'm quite a dominant character in normal life anyway… it wasn't really something we had to sit down and plan". You can see his dominant nature in their conversation. Dean has a tendency to jump in and take over points from Ben or silence him when he disagrees. Ben, for his part, allows Dean to take the lead, only occasionally hitting back with a jokey retort.
The Dom/sub dynamic carries into their day-to-day lives, which is a natural part of them living together. Dean says he likes to keep him on his toes. "Randomly out of the blue I'll come up with, like, 'You're gonna wear this' or 'I want you to lock up' or 'When you get home from the gym, I want your chastity device on'. They both agree that it's about keeping things unpredictable, and that's the way they like it. "It's all about testing boundaries and pushing each other" adds Ben.
I ask Ben what makes a good Dom. He starts to speak, but is distracted by Dean waving "Well, of course, this one's perfect" he smiles. "It's about having that respect for the sub you're owning or playing with." He goes on to say that trusting each other 100% is key, and that having such trust allows him to let go when Dean's in control, helping him to find the right headspace.
When asked what makes a good sub, Dean agrees that "it's about mindset and headspace". He confesses he finds it quite difficult to control or be in charge of a sub who doesn't have their headspace right. "I think for me to really thrive and dominate over somebody… they need to be ready to accept the fact that they're not going to have any control." For him, if the sub's not in the right headspace it can be quite difficult, and it makes it hard for him to enjoy himself.
On the subject of playing with other guys, they both say that it's a bit of a grey area. In their relationship there aren't black or white rules when it comes to fun with others, except that everyone has to enjoy themselves and be comfortable with the situation. "You might be out with a group of really good friends and then two of you just start playing and I think it's important to have a relationship where you're comfortable enough to not have problems with that happening." Says Dean. "If you're playing in a fetish sense, then group fun or fun with other guys is completely acceptable because there's meaning behind it." Adds Ben "It might be something I'm not into or Dean's not into, or it could be that we're both not in the mood for something, but we know something turns each other on". In their relationship, fetish and kink play with others is fine and expected, but a vanilla fuck would be more questionable. These are the boundaries that they set, and as they both state at different points, boundaries must be respected.
Rules and boundaries are always important in any relationship and having a clear understanding of what they are is important. Ben and Dean have a clear understanding of what they expect from each other, and you can tell from their chemistry together that their dynamic works well for them. I ask them what they believe to be the key to their success. "I think, just openness and honesty and just being willing to not be close minded about stuff." Says Dean. "Yeah, I agree. 100%." Confirms Ben "It's about being open and honest. Trust that you can talk to each other about anything and everything." From how open they've both been about their relationship, I imagine that communication between them is definitely not an issue.
As stated at the beginning, all relationships are different, and my conversation with Dean and Ben has highlighted this further. Initially we considered these guys for this series as we thought they could represent a Dom/sub dynamic, but through the process it became clear that no one relationship can wholly represent any one dynamic. Their Dom/sub relationship will look vastly different to any other. Though there's no arguing that Dean is the Dom and Ben's the sub, small moments demonstrate that dynamics can be in flux. Throughout the conversation, Dean is usually the first to answer a question, but often he'll look to Ben for confirmation that what he's saying is accurate. Ben also isn't afraid to correct Dean or elaborate on points he makes with confidence. Every relationship is different and every role within a relationships is changeable. Dean and Ben might not represent all Dom/sub relationships, and they can't be expected to fully represent such a broadly defined dynamic, but what they do represent is themselves as a loving couple who know each other's boundaries and limits, and who learn from each other and grow together. In other words, they've been a great starting point for our fetish relationships series.
If you're in a fetish relationship with one or more people and you'd like to take part in our Partners in Kink series, contact us at: email@example.com
To get a fuller picture of their relationship, watch Dean & Ben's Partners in Kink video, using the below link.