“One of the most fundamental human needs is the need to belong. Noted psychologist, Abraham Maslow, identified it as one of the five basic needs. We want to be part of a group and to feel loved and accepted by others. That is, we want to be a member of a tribe. A tribe-or a pack, clan, elected family, posse, crew, network, or true friends–is a group of people who share common interests and values and show genuine appreciation and care for each other.
Your tribe members are those people who accept you just as you are, and who want the very best for you. They make you feel understood, and they encourage you to go after your goals and pursue your dreams. Also, the members of your tribe help you to get through difficult times, and they provide you with a sense of community and support.”
D/s, M/s and BDSM offer a massive and diverse range of communities willing and happy to gather you into the fold. Most of us at some point seek community, seek to belong and feel less alone. One of the difficulties of finding community…finding our tribe….in a D/s or BDSM world is that you may not yet know “who” your people are…. maybe you’re still in the process of finding yourself….who you are, what you need, what you like, what you want….and so your journey can become somewhat chaotic as you bat between finding yourself and finding your tribe. Perhaps you sometimes feel like you are bouncing around between understanding yourself, fitting in, feeling isolated, questioning yourself, and so on.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Which comes first, joining a community to help find yourself or finding yourself in order to identify your community?
- Safety – the community can and does look out for each other;
- Belonging – feeling alone can be crushing. Being part of a community can be a liberating experience when you feel that you are not alone;
- Learning – many people in the community have valuable and diverse experiences to share;
- Support – having people to turn to when questions or difficulties arise, or even just being able to share experiences with people that understand.
Some of the challenges that face us within communities might include:
- Cliques – inclusive communities can be rather exclusive….if you’re not part of the “in-crowd”. This can sometimes escalate to conscious exclusion of individuals and further isolation;
- Drama – social behaviour of groups dictates that there is going to be some. Gossip, bitching, rumours and back-biting.
- False security – often the community can turn a blind eye to wrong doers for fear of being accused of being judgemental or “getting it wrong”;
- Peer pressure – to try things or do things we’re really not into ….so that we fit in.
And what about when you think you’ve found your tribe, your community……….and then one individual becomes a barrier in your feeling like you belong there? Personal conflicts can easily leak into the community and spread.
Communities can offer such a wealth of knowledge, experience and a wonderful array of anecdotes. Some funny, some quite awful, some just everything we want to hear. Sometimes of course the messages that come from others are not what they seem and for those coming into PDR’s it is a mass of contradiction and a minefield of information good and bad. PDR’s in all their forms have a huge variety of different definitions, protocols, rituals, and stories. We might hear them all and might be wise to be careful which we choose to listen to – be open – and not restrict our listening to one or two sources. Listen widely.