So, someone on the polyamory community livejournal posted a question: is it possible for a sub to have two masters?
To which, along the line in the comments, someone replied that it just couldn't work out, because somewhere along the line one of them might find their mastery called into question by not having "full control".
I told my liege about this and, after a little rambling about theory of control and mastery, he demanded, "Redefine local space-time to have a decreased permeability constant!"
Which ... probably tells you everything you need to know, but I'll keep talking anyway.
I'm pretty sure the person I was responding to was operating in some sort of A Twoo Mastah Has This Level Of Control paradigm, and defining "full control" as something that doesn't include the laws of physics, certain practical considerations, or limitations on interest or scope of control.
And I'm the sort of space alien pedant who, well. Permeability constant.
But here in the real world, and setting aside any poly issues: My liege does not have scope of control over my job, my practice of my religion, or the organisation of my bookshelves. His sexual control is limited by reasonable practical considerations about pregnancy and other health concerns. His scope of control doesn't extend into a lot of standard-fetishy control tricks because they don't interest him. All of these preclude any definition of "full control" that I would find sensible.
And then there's the limitations on "full control" that do things like preclude following through on an impulse to have noisy kinky rough sex on some friends' front porch because that would be rude. Or the limitations on "full control" orbiting around the fact that he's basically back in school full-time at the moment and time that might under other circumstances be spent on kink is currently being devoured by problem sets. Or ....
And then there's stuff like "My scoliosis means I can't hold that bondage position without dislocating my left arm, actually" or "Having a flashback now, need breathing space" or just negotiated limits around Actually, That's Not My Kink, Thanks. Still not "full control".
And then we get into the fact that I have another relationship, with my husband. Who is also a kinkster, though our sex life together is pretty much vanilla. Which adds other bits of lack of "full control" around not potentially causing harm to that relationship. The poly issues that might come up if my husband and I were kinkier together are minimal, because there's already a basic structure of respecting relevant space. And my husband and I have conversations sometimes about the fact that I'm in a full-time power exchange relationship with someone else, and how little that actually matters to our relationship.
And somewhere along the line I may have children, and one of the things my liege made clear early in our relationship, before we were even negotiating the power stuff, was that he would consider it immoral to interfere with my care of my hypothetical children.
I am pretty sure that I could not manage to sustain two relationships with the level of power flow that I get up to with my liege. But that's just a quirk of my me, not something more profound than that -- and nobody would wind up with "full control" no matter what.
Or, quoting my liege again:
Good control models are more about chaos management and direction and pushing the limits of what's capable with that rather than absolute rulings.
He is not less my master because our power dynamic is rooted in the real world; I would hold him far more so. I can serve without the constant caveat of needing to correct for reality.