In any relationship, BDSM or otherwise, a dance takes place. This sort of dance may be singularly beneficial, separate but equally beneficial, toxic (to one or both, multiplicative or otherwise), or synergistic. The goal of a BDSM relationship, as well as a vanilla one, should be synergy.

To start, synergy is not some sort of "woo" term with metaphysical underpinnings. It's not what powers the imaginary Illuminati. It isn't the stuff Jesus is made of; it's a concrete principle. Simply put, it is "the creation of a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts." The term synergy comes from Greek, and it means "working together." Two things, in this case adult humans with moral agency, merge to make a greater impact than they otherwise would separately. This all sounds well and good, right?

In practice, it's much harder. If you enter into the equation the fear that we will be hurt, I'd wager that most adults in America do not tell even their loved ones how they truly feel about them. They don't give out loud every compliment which enters into their head about someone, even when that someone desperately wants to hear it. When a relationship is more "safe" (i.e. less to lose, ultimately), it's easier and easier. Walking up to a stranger and saying "that's a nice car" is far more easy than telling your wife that you find it enchanting when she sings at the top of her lungs, wild-eyed, passionate. You might not even appreciate that aspect of her personality. Now, add into that lossy equation a marginalized minority of people with non-traditional (often taboo) forms of relating to each other and it can be quite difficult for a submissive to say "Goddess, even when you're being hard on yourself, I appreciate even the tiniest things about You." 

And so it begins. The Dominant feels a slave is waning in their appreciation, perhaps an ebb rather than a flow, so they start to recoil. When they rescind their affections or severity (whichever had been preferred until that point) the slave goes into panic mode and wonders what they've done wrong. Quite often this results in a slave who is unable to guess what they might have done, and then they start to be more critical of the Dominant, thinking They aren't as great as they'd once believed. This starts to dissolve the very root of their union. Honeymoon periods are always effortless and beautiful - it is the carving of the bond into stone that is far more painful and laden with labor-related injuries. 

How can we survive this period, and achieve synergy? The answer seems reductive, it's so simple:

Look at each other with artist's eyes. 

This is not a flowery, clickbait solution. Looking at the art created throughout history in honor of a beloved significant other, we see countless and exhaustive examples of the microscopic level of attention to detail and observation. From songs that feature The Doors pondering rhetorically, "Don't ya love her madly/Wanna be her daddy/Don't ya love her face/Don't ya love her as she's walkin' out the door" and of course a quirky and specific jam by The Butchies, singing "She’s a rocker dressed like a killer/she’s got lips like wine not sugar" it is evident that song lyrics are often very specific about certain things that we would generally miss if we were just observing someone we love in a neutral setting. In the poem She Walks In Beauty, George Gordon Byron tells of his love, "She walks in Beauty, like the night/Of cloudless climes and starry skies;/And all that's best of dark and bright/Meet in her aspect and her eyes". 

Short of composing lyrics and poetry, how can we incorporate these appreciation exercises into our lives? A Dominant must examine exactly what makes a slave unique. Each human, despite attempts at the opposite, is an individual with thousands of snowflake characteristics. A slave is no different! They are beautifully vulnerable creatures, with a desire to serve and give in the most selfless way they can, often losing their own identity to lift up Yours. What do We appreciate most about them? Be sure to inspect each thing, from their communication style, to the habits they retain when behaving toward us - their appearance, their smell, their humor, their resilience, their commitment to Us, how carefully and thoughtfully they tend to Our needs. Do they keep picking themselves up after they falter? Will they always strive to give you the most and serve you the best? 

And slaves: your Dominant is an intense force with extreme responsibility riding on their shoulders. Micromanaging the life of an entire other human and putting aside all conventions about how NOT to treat someone because it is socially unacceptable is a very heavy thing. Being thought of and regarded as a Monster is rarely fun for anyone, even Dominants. But this is the sort of stereotype they face, and they persevere. What do you appreciate most about Them? Be sure to take everything into consideration: their complex methods for solving problems, the seemingly effortless way in which they punish, love, or communicate, how they feel to lay against, the sort of comfort they may give you, how secure or protected you are. Have you thought of everything? What about their encouraging words? The softened edges of tenderness even when severity strikes? The lack of generic behavior and customizing each interaction to be unique and beautiful? 

Instead of commercializing your response, it is best to personalize it. Remember, you aren't showing or telling the other party how YOUR love is present, it is about them. How do they "hang the moon" in your eyes? Lift each other up, instead of chipping away with critical nitpicking. Of course there is a time and place for language that is generally considered to be humiliating ("you're such a dirty little whore" during sex, for example), but there must be an underlying tone of adoration, or at the very least appreciation, or resentment will build. 

Once this relationship pattern has been established, synergy can begin to build. Has Your little adult baby been talking about going back to the gym? Needing to shave their face and keep up more with their grooming? Has the Dominant love of your life mentioned that they want to take more risks in order to grow in their Professional practice? Encouragement, praise, practical offers of help, and being a cheerleader is part of the synergy process. Remember that a person may be fine on their own, but two heads can definitely be better than one. All the total experience, knowledge, wisdom, and troubleshooting of not one life, but two: there's value in that! Why else should people enter into relationships? So that they have another person to whom they must be accountable? Just a frivolous witness to stick by their side in the absence of more involved friendships? These are not the goals of a relationship in the beginning, and they should never become them once the relationship matures. Complacency is to be rejected in favor of construction. It is better to build the tallest building in the world than to walk around a construction site kicking dirt and debris for 50 years.