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Absolute and Total Power Exchange

Author: midnight

Filed in: relationships, d/s, tpe



This term is used to describe an absolute master/slave relationship, that is to say a relationship where the slave has irrevocably given over complete control of her person and life to her master, so that the resulting power exchange permeates every part of their lives, leading to a complete inter-dependence. The slave cannot relinquish her legal and moral responsibility as an adult for her own actions, but it is understood between master and slave that her consent to the TPE, once given, can only be withdrawn under very particular circumstances (safety, sanity and legality cover most of these). Physical restrictions may enhance the slave's commitment, and although of course legally either partner is free to leave the relationship, TPE is as much a mental as physical state for both master and slave.

Definitions of "TPE" vary considerably, from relationships that aim for consummate levels of dependency, to Modified TPEs, to stable 24/7 relationships. In my view the latter may be aiming towards a TPE, but cannot be described as having the level of inter-dependency required by a strict definition of the phrase. That being said, most popular BDSM phrases seem to have a myriad of definitions floating about nowadays and I don't think it matters what you call your relationship so long as it meets your needs; there really is no necessity or particular kudos in aiming for a TPE - it suits a few but not most who want a fulfilling BDSM lifestyle.

It takes an immense amount of time and energy to even begin working towards a TPE relationship, let alone reach a stage nearing absolute power exchange. A strictly defined TPE is a long-term goal. Any level of TPE can only be attained by slow and careful sculpting of a relationship where the partners have already acquired deep trust, understanding and knowledge of each other and themselves - sometimes a stressful and painful process. The bond becomes so strong that it is "impossible" for the slave to leave the relationship. As for the master, perhaps the extent of inter- dependency, and level of responsibility taken on, mean the possibility for him to leave the relationship also diminishes in line with the intensity of the power exchange. In my view these factors are what set TPE apart from other Master/slave relationships. Just as "ownership" can be a state of mind, though not a legal reality, so the partners in a TPE relationship are absolutely committed to an immutable "no way out " bond.

Physical restrictions can also make it more and more difficult for the slave to leave - for example most TPE slaves consent to having no control over, or access to, finances or property without their master's permission, and may well have restrictions on their movements. This intentionally frees the slave to concentrate on the relationship, her duties and her master, other matters being beyond her control. Well-founded trust is of great importance, and the freedom felt by the slave has an empowering effect.

The master's power, and slave's submission to that power, do not mean the slave is necessarily micro-managed - the essential factor is that the overall authority, the level of control set, and the ultimate responsibility, belong to the master. He aims for a precise balance between supervising the slave's life and encouraging creativity, the aim of the relationship being not boredom and the stifling of spirit, but excitement, deep physical and mental contact, and the freedom to evolve. The relationship hierarchy becomes second-nature, affecting every part of life, and making formal negotiations and contracts redundant.

In return for taking control of, and responsibility for, the life and body of the slave, the master is free to mould the slave and relationship to his requirements. In real terms, a genuine master does not make any decision detrimental to the well-being of the slave or relationship. This plus consent are two of the most important factors that set any level of master/slave relationship apart from abusive relationships.

The slave gains a known structure to her life, security and most importantly the fulfillment of the need to be owned as a TPE slave - as with all matters BDSM, need (and desire) play an important part in guiding the relationship towards things that satisfy and benefit both partners; in this case the partners need and want more than the levels of permanence and security afforded by a conventional relationship.

Both partners' positions, duties and responsibilities become clearly defined. This certainty allows the partners the freedom to realize their full potential rather than have to continuously negotiate and struggle for a balance of power. They become not so much "a couple", as two halves of one entity - again this dissolves the need for contracts and conscious expressions of control - one half automatically balances, acts and reacts with the other.

I have purposefully left out any mention of limits in my attempt to explain my view of a Total Power Exchange. Everyone has limits, including masters and slaves in TPE relationships. Even if you are open to the exploration of most activities your mind can dream up, legal and moral standards apply, and there are a whole heap of things you just wouldn't contemplate doing. Any caring relationship involves discussion and negotiation (even if not described as such) as to likes, dislikes, desires and needs, but in a TPE the master does have the final say in all matters, and his molding of the slave may include anything from giving her duties or restricting her activities to body modification.

And just like other master/slave relationships, TPEs don't always run smoothly; I doubt there are any slaves who do not every-so-often feel the need to rebel against their situation because of frustration, worry, an inner conflict between how they see their role in life and what society finds acceptable, or plain moodiness. And I don't think there are any masters who do not every-so-often feel the responsibility is overwhelming, or on a bad day just feel plain un-masterful. However a TPE is set up so that problems are dealt with openly, and when they do arise they do not shake it's solid foundations or the ideals aimed for.

"Total Power Exchange" infers that every thought, deed and part of the partners' lives is affected by and reflects the absolute power exchange in their relationship, and the power exchanged is formidable; those in a TPE have spent a long time building up their strengths and dissolving weaknesses - power and independence have to be known before one can relinquish them or accept them from someone else, and benefit from the results. It takes determined characters to know exactly what you want out of such a relationship and build towards that.

Finally I'd like to add the obvious. Every BDSM relationship is different - the diversity is part of the thrill. The above is just a personal view of what a possible Total Power Exchange involves… other views may vary and that's fine!

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