One thing I've observed quite a lot, is an apparent conflict between caring feelings for someone, and the ability to be sadistic to them. Similarly, the few truly creative and intense sadists that I know, tend to have quite a bit less empathy than the general population, a couple of them would pretty much be described as 'bad' by most people, even though in the time I've known them, both have been much more honest about their feelings and nature than most normal people I have met. I've also heard many times, people in Sm relationships run into problems after a while, as the creating of emotional bonds lessens the ability of the top/sadist to be harsh in bdsm play with their sub/masochist. I actually experienced this myself in two prior relationships, and although open communication helped a lot (once I realised what was happening), there does seem to be an element of holding back once deeper feelings or love get involved. There are only really two situations where I've seen this not be a problem. One, where the top/sadist is borderline sociopathic (or worse) - which is obviously not good in other respects, for relationship material. Two, where the top/sadist was initially somewhat too extreme for the sub/masochist, so that after they got involved, the mellowing out actually brought them to roughly the same level of intensity they each felt happy with. Personally I've found the times when this issue didn't occur, there were a few occasions of the opposite problem (i.e. the top being a little too pushy sometimes). Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon? Anyone had experiences or ideas as to how to work around it? It reminds me a little of the common scenario with long-term vanilla relationships where the passion reduces and they become more like friends or room-mates than lovers. There seems to be a kind of tension between being harsh/abusive to someone in a way that's sexually gratifying to both, and not going too far so that you cross their non-sexual limits (dignity, lack of lasting physical damage, self-esteem etc). A pretty tricky line to straddle. N.B. I don't really notice this in doms/dommes so much, it seems to be confined more to sadistic infliction of physical or emotional pain. In fact in D/s relationships, I'd say the empathy factor from romantic feelings seems to strengthen things.