5 Bad Tapes That Can Interfere In Your D/s Relationship

We use the term “bad tapes” a lot. This is our way of saying all the old memories, feelings, emotions, and junk from previous relationships that’s not good. It’s the stuff that makes us overreact to a perceived slight. Bad tapes are the reason we can’t handle a partner who drinks or gambles. They make us cringe when a voice gets too loud or a late night text message comes in.

Having bad tapes is almost inevitable. No one goes through life without at least one bad or not-so-great relationship. Understanding what your bad tapes are and how they’re triggered can help you communicate with your partner. It’s also a good way to give a partner a reality check. I can’t help that I have bad tapes, but I can remember to treat John Brownstone like the man he is instead of like a partner from a long time ago.

Anything can be a bad tape – anything. But to give you a starting point to think about the concept of bad tapes, here are five types that can interfere with your D/s relationship.

Tone of Voice

We all have that one person in our life who uses a “tone” with us. When it happens in a bad relationship (any kind of relationship), hearing it later can trigger an emotional reaction. I can’t stand a too loud, too sharp tone of voice. It reminds me of my father who yelled more than he spoke, and it causes an immediate and angry reaction from me. Poor John Brownstone has been on the receiving end of a “bad tapes” reaction more than once.

Anything Money

Money is a sensitive topic for most people. Not enough money. Spending too much money. Not earning enough money. Anything that smells of how a previous relationship handled money can set people off. For John Brownstone, it hits him when he perceives I’m about to spend money we don’t have on something we don’t need. I’ve learned that his reaction isn’t about me (I’m practically a damn miser, y’all) and about his previous relationship. I look at him and calmly say, “My name isn’t [his wife’s name]” and that usually gets him out of the moment.

Trust Issues

Most (but not all) bad tapes come down to trust issues. When you see behavior you recognize being repeated in a new relationship, you’re on guard for the worst. Staying out late? Not calling? Talking to someone attractive? If another partner fucked you over with untrustworthy behavior, it’s normal to be sensitive to it. The only way to get through those feelings is to talk about them. If you push them down, they’ll fester, and your partner won’t understand where your anger is coming from. And “they should know” isn’t an excuse.

Communication Issues

In my previous marriage, I learned to shut down my feelings and not talk about what bothered me. Talking didn’t change anything so why bother? My relationship with John Brownstone isn’t the same, and I can’t treat it the same way. Not talking would kill our D/s dynamic and make everything else harder. If the problem is an uncommunicative partner, you need to let them know it’s not okay. You also need to be someone who responds well to whatever they say – even if you don’t like hearing it. Being afraid to say what you feel doesn’t go away over night. Trust is required.


You or your partner might have gotten away from an abusive relationship, but the scars never completely go away. Mental, physical, or emotional abuse all produce their own bad tapes. Sights, smells, sounds, words, and memories can trigger a reaction. If you’re the one with bad tapes, talk to your partner as much as you can. Trust can be difficult to build even in the best circumstances, and it’s harder now, for sure. But if your partner doesn’t understand what’s causing your reaction, they can’t help you – or avoid the triggering behavior. If you’re that partner, be as understanding as possible. Treat your partner with kindness when the bad tapes hit. You can’t erase those bad tapes for them, but maybe you can record over them a little.

Absolutely anything can become a bad tape. Something as small as how your partner chews to as big as leading a double life with another family. You can’t avoid recording bad tapes in your head. If you try, you might as well live in a cardboard box, and then you’ll dislike the smell of cardboard (See? Bad tapes are everywhere). What we can do, though, is acknowledge they exist and that sometimes, what makes us angry is our memory and our fears – not the person in front of us.

In episode 101 of the Loving BDSM podcast, we discuss the concept of bad tapes in great detail.

Now it’s your turn. Do you know what your bad tapes are? How do you deal with them in your relationship? Share in the comments below!

5 Responses

  1. Floss says:

    Great post. Myself and Bakji talk about this A LOT!! We’ve never given a name to it though, so I’ll definitely be discussing Bad Tapes with him.

    Just this week I said I was so grateful to him for not belitting something that was truly annoying me, and stressing me out, especially as it’s a situation I am stuck with for a few days. After I was reminded that this was common place in a previously relationship.

    Instead he came to stay at mine to give cuddles and support and made it all feel ever so slightly better. I am so pleased we have spent many hours discussing our personal bad tapes so that we know better how to support each other.

    Loved reading this x

    • Kayla Lords says:

      That’s it exactly – supporting each other. The bad tapes got there for all kinds of reasons (sometimes bad partners, and sometimes other reasons) but if you have someone who will support you through it, it’s SO much easier to deal with. Yay for Bakji!! 🙂

  2. Pixie Heart says:

    Echoing what floss said, great post guys! We as a little family no all to well the whole ‘bad tapes’, Although they are called isuses and triggers, in are house. We all have them , even the big old tough boss man.

    I have a lot of them, after coming out of an abusive marriage and after growing up seeing a lot of stuff a kid should not see. Like you guys I don’t like shouting or angry tones, cos with the ex shouting was fallowed by a fist in the face or a kick to tummy. Abuse is a big one for me , I love the D/s side of things , but for a long time I would freeze up when I tried to play. The same thing happened when it came to sex. Trust is as well a big one for me to, but again that is from years of no safe word, a twat of an ex , and other stuff! I hate money, cos it only ever ends with family wanting ‘help’ or feelings of being beholdent to other people. I also have a phobies, that have been hard to deal with and put a massive strain on the family 🙁

    But we have found ways to cope with them and everyone else. For loud nose , shouting and angry voices , we have house rules of no shouting , if you want someone , if we get cross with each other we have to walk away and if its major we write down what is wrong, and everything is done as quietly as we can. We talk about things a lot and that is the main thing. We also have learnt what are each others triggers. For me and little bear , we have really massive problems with self estem around are bodies and education. So the boss man gives us tasks to boost conferde and we get rewards for doing good at college and uni! we have loads of little ways of dealing with them, but we relise that we are not perfect and we love the saying ‘we working on it’

    Pixie x x x x

    • Kayla Lords says:

      ((((HUGS)))) I adore you, Pixie, and I’m so glad you have a good family around you to help you.

      • Pixie says:

        Lol why thank you miss lords! It not for me to say what or why , but everyone in are little family are or have be broken at times! Aunty May calls are house the Frenchman home for waifs and strays.???? Even the Frenchman has issues .. He said I could tell you them. He can’t do the underground in London , on his own cos he was court up in the 7/7 blasts and he even spoke with a therapist cos he was worried he would not be able to be a good daddy. (His dad dies when he was 2) . So you see even big brave Doms have issues. It’s why I love my family so much. We can’t save or help everyone in the world , but the people in my family, well I can help them and I can surport them with everything I have! Cos they do the same for me!


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