Vanilla submissive vs D/s submissive

I wrote this post earlier about how some people call lovely, attentive, considerate behaviour from a man ‘submissive’ instead of thinking of it simply as the behaviour of a fabulous man in love.

I coined the term ‘vanilla submissive’ to refer to vanilla men I have been with whose behaviour is pretty much exactly what I expect from my submissive. Only, they weren’t my submissive.

The comments on my previous post were lively and quite wonderful, and raised the very valid question of “well, what is the difference between ‘vanilla submissive’ and ‘D/s submissive'” and I thought my view on that would be too long (and much too important!) for a comment, and you will see from this rambling why I made a post about it (even though I could probably have summarised it into a paragraph, I am practising for NaNo, which is all about the volume, you know!).

To me, the difference between a vanilla submissive and a D/s submissive is not in the behaviours, which might be pretty much the same, but in the explicit agreement to the way the power dynamic will work and the motivation for it. The agreement part is pretty clear, but it is motivation that makes it work. D/s submissives who are compatible with me (big qualifier there!) have all of the motivations of vanilla submissives (love, sweetness, wanting to make me happy etc) *plus* they see acts of dominance from me as not only acceptable, but desirable as a way of expressing love.

See, I could have ended the post right there, but there’s more, you see…

A vanilla submissive does things ‘when he feels like it’. A non-vanilla submissive does things ‘when he feels like it, but even if he doesn’t because that’s what we agreed, so he will do it anyway and be happy that I used my authority to push him to do it’.

Let me explain why I draw the line so easily.

I call what I have an obedience kink, but it’s more than a kink. It’s a necessity for me to be happy. A vanilla submissive will do what I want *most times*, but there is no explicit agreement that he will, so he can say ‘no’ any time, he can argue any time, he can refuse any time, he can just ‘not do’ things because he doesn’t feel like it. And that’s 100% fair enough. From my side, I have to accept it, or fight about it: I really have no right to say a word about it because that just makes me a demanding unreasonable bitch because my man won’t do what I want, especially when he is so lovely and does it most of the time.

What I need as my counterpart is a man who enjoys me exercising my authority in the relationship, who sees it as an expression of love, and to whom submitting to that is an expression of love. This versus someone who feels as if he is endlessly giving with little return because he will end up being unhappy with the unfairness of it all.

In my experience, eventually the vanilla submissive will resent ‘giving’ *all the time* and he will start to feel as if it’s unfair (which it is), then I will start feeling guilty about not compromising more (I have a huge capacity for guilt) and off we go downhill at a rapid rate.

So what makes a D/s submissive is that we have agreed how the relationship will work, and that dynamic is, in and of itself, a big part of what makes each of us happy. I want him to be bouncing with joy when I assert my authority, I want to feel as if ‘who I am’ in being that way is not only accepted but that he adores it, and I want him to feel as if my telling him to get me a drink is a whisper of love in his ear.

GD Star Rating
loading...

You may also like

65 Comments

  1. Fern, that last post fills me with thoughts and personal inventory about what and who I am: Vanilla submissive or D/s submissive. The major point to me is that there is an agreement which requires being specific. I have never been there in a relationship. Spider ~~~/;;/|~~? Thank You for consistently posting.

  2. Yes. Yes. Yes.

    As I read it, it felt like a lecture. I *know* haven't been the best submissive in the past few days. I actually feel pretty badly about this. Real life has been happening though… horrible insomnia, death in the family — perhaps I'm a bit hard on myself. This morning she asked if I wanted any expectations and I kind of shrugged my shoulders. Pretty terrible response. I feel pretty bad that I did that.

    I should write something soon about submission during illness and hard times.

    You did highlight pretty much exactly what I want to be, and how I feel when she asks me to fetch things she could easily get up and grab herself — love it totally. I need to get better at stuff she's not directly overseeing. Go-fetch orders are some of the easiest to follow, but I want my obedience and devotion to go *deeper* than that.

    I'm still learning though, still growing. And I guess neither submissives nor dominants are always in top d/s gear all the time too. Sometimes we need rest and healing. Sometimes it's hard to see the line and where resting and healing overtakes the dynamic itself.

    Thank you for this post, as always.

  3. What I wonder is what you would do if you were in a relationship with a vanilla submissive and you wanted to avoid the resentment and guilt scenario, at what point do you lay your kink cards on the table, and furthermore how do you go about that?

    More specifically for myself I wonder how to do the reverse. How to make “it turns me on when you tell me what to do” sound less creepy and more appealing to a Vanilla Dominant.

  4. That was an awesome post, i'll be bookmarking that one for reading later.

    The question Peroxide raises above is an interesting one though, i'm in a fairly similar situation with what he calls a Vanilla Dominant and working my way through that as well

  5. Ferns,

    All I have to say is wow, this is why I keep reading.

    Seriously, while reading this, it was like, wow, that totally makes sense. You sorta put impossible to describe emotions into words.

    I'm totally stealing this
    “Who sees it as an expression of love, versus someone who feels as if he is endlessly giving with little return because he will end up being unhappy with the unfairness of it all.”

    and your last paragraph to use when explaining the *why*, if that's okay with you.

    Thanks,

    Jake

  6. I've been with women a bit like you Ferns. I say a bit because we are all different.

    I change over time. And yet I stay the same.

    In what do I stay the same? 1. I feel happy if I can make someone feel happy. 2. I feel hot if I can make someone feel hot.

    In what do I change? I do change to suit the woman I'm with. I don't need to tell myself to change. I just feel like it.

    I don't ask any woman to be dominant. I don't ask any woman to be submissive. I don't ask any woman to be kinky.

    Please just try to have a kind and loving heart. That's all I ask.

    Now I'm going to pretend that I'm in a relationship with you Ferns.

    I could not see any real problem. I mean you're a Ruinart person. I'd be happy with a beer. I'm proud to be common. But so what?

    Ok I could see a problem if I try. I mean sometimes I would have to say no. You should not feel guilty if I said no. You should not think that I did not care. But what if you'd like something right when I'm not free? What if my close family needed me too? Or what if I was very tired? What if I even just needed space to think something through? So you seem lovely. And I could not see a real problem. Not unless you asked for the moon. Yes I would love that whisper of love in my ear. I would love to get the moon for you. But what if I could not?

    Satan

  7. Nice essay, and I have to think about it some more.

    “A vanilla submissive will do what I want *most times*, but there is no explicit agreement that he will, so he can say 'no' any time, he can argue any time, he can refuse any time, he can just 'not do' things because he doesn't feel like it.”

    Well…I met my dominant partner two years ago; we've been in a relationship for eighteen months. We don't have an explicit agreement, and–while I guess I *could* do any of these things, I never have; indeed never felt any wish to. I do everything she asks me to, and then some; not because I'm especially “obedient”, but because everything she says–everything she tells me to do–makes so much sense, I usually wish I had thought of it first. I'm always free to suggest a slightly different way to get to the same place, and sometimes do, and she doesn't mind.

    The other aspect of it is–the giving is not one-sided at all! She gives me at least as much–in terms of her time, talent, creativity, caring–as I give back to her, and probably more. So I don't experience my doing what she tells me to do as one-sided in any way.

    (I'm the Anonymous who wrote the last two comments to the other post,as of Oct 31–oops! Nov 1 already!)

  8. Spider: “Fern, that last post fills me with thoughts and personal inventory about what and who I am: Vanilla submissive or D/s submissive.”

    *smile* Introspection is always good, no?

    “The major point to me is that there is an agreement which requires being specific. I have never been there in a relationship.”

    For me, explicit agreement is part of it, yes, because I can't get what I want without it. For you (or anyone else), it may be completely irrelevant. As long as you are happy, it makes not a whit of difference.

    Ferns

  9. clawlesscat: “As I read it, it felt like a lecture.”

    *laugh* Next time, I shall add finger-wagging and stern looks!

    “I *know* haven't been the best submissive in the past few days. I actually feel pretty badly about this. Real life has been happening though… horrible insomnia, death in the family — perhaps I'm a bit hard on myself.”

    It does sound like you are being hard on yourself. I am sure that your Domme understands that you have a lot on your plate at the moment and is adjusting her expectations accordingly. We aren't robots living in a vacuum, stuff happens, and for people to be happy together, being realistic is important.

    The best thing you can do in any case is to communicate honestly and openly with her about what is going on with you.

    “I should write something soon about submission during illness and hard times.”

    You should. And interestingly, some submissives want a tighter reign through rough patches, it grounds them, gives them comfort. Others need more freedom. One size never fits all.

    “I'm still learning though, still growing. And I guess neither submissives nor dominants are always in top d/s gear all the time too. Sometimes we need rest and healing. Sometimes it's hard to see the line and where resting and healing overtakes the dynamic itself.”

    I think if you are ill or struggling, then your priority, and hers, is your physical and emotional health. I know some D/s folks have a primary rule that comes before others that says 'look after the property'… that's you.

    “Thank you for this post, as always.”

    You're very welcome.

    Ferns

  10. Peroxide: “What I wonder is what you would do if you were in a relationship with a vanilla submissive and you wanted to avoid the resentment and guilt scenario, at what point do you lay your kink cards on the table, and furthermore how do you go about that?”

    Personally, I have never 'laid my kink cards on the table' in the 'obedience' sense, and I don't believe that I can do it successfully. In the relationships I have had with vanilla submissives, I nudged the relationship in the direction I wanted by pushing at the boundaries of what he would accept and seeing where they were, I discussed specific areas where I would not compromise, and I got enough loveliness all over the place to determine that it was worth it.

    The reason I don't think I can do it successfully is because of this: I am essentially saying to a wonderful man that I want you to do what I say, and I want you to *enjoy* doing what I say *because that's my kink*, mmmkay?. Unless he is a latent submissive, that is really *really* not an attractive proposition, and there is no way to put lipstick on that pig.

    I can introduce a vanilla man to kinky play without a worry, and with a vanilla submissive there is a certain (and often very high) level of 'service' or 'pleasing', and I can *mostly* get him to do what I want just because I ask, but the next step is largely insurmountable. I know that it would not have been successful with the vanilla men with whom I have been involved.

    “More specifically for myself I wonder how to do the reverse. How to make “it turns me on when you tell me what to do” sound less creepy and more appealing to a Vanilla Dominant.”

    This is a huge question, and has been asked since the dawn of time. If submissive men could be happy with providing submission (i.e. acts of service) without getting active dominance from their women, it would be much easier for them to find happiness, but it doesn't work that way.

    I don't think you can turn someone into something they are not. To me, it is no different from someone you love saying to you, Peroxide, that they want you to order them about because they love it. You might do it for them, but it's not who you are, so it can't ultimately be successful.

    I will say that there are some dominant women who have been introduced successfully to D/s by their men. I'd suggest you find those men and see how they did it. I'd also suggest the book Uniquely Rika, which has advice for men on adding D/s to a relationship (including things that *don't* work).

    Ferns

  11. kinky bloke: “The question Peroxide raises above is an interesting one though, i'm in a fairly similar situation with what he calls a Vanilla Dominant and working my way through that as well”

    I was thinking more about this just as I posted my previous comment.

    A really simple suggestion if you are starting to introduce the concept (vs 'having the talk') is to make sure you *show* your pleasure when she asserts herself. Let her know how much you enjoy it when she does that, that it makes you happy to do things for her, that she can ask you anytime etc.

    I think you, kinky bloke, are well past the point where that idea is useful, but I'm throwing it out there for other readers just in case it helps.

    Ferns

  12. SimplyJake: “All I have to say is wow, this is why I keep reading.”

    *smile* Thanks, SimplyJake, I'm glad you got something out of it.

    “I'm totally stealing this…”

    Steal away!

    Ferns

  13. Satan: “In what do I stay the same? 1. I feel happy if I can make someone feel happy. 2. I feel hot if I can make someone feel hot.”

    *nod* That makes perfect sense, but there is, of course, an assumption of compatibility there (it is not so simple if what makes her happy is something you hate doing, and in that case, I would assume there would be no relationship). Compatibility is a big part of the equation, and it is really what underlies the above.

    “Please just try to have a kind and loving heart. That's all I ask.”

    I think we can all benefit from one of those.

    “Now I'm going to pretend that I'm in a relationship with you Ferns.”

    Well then, Satan… where's my dinner?!

    “I mean you're a Ruinart person.”

    I do like attention to detail… this made me wonder where I wrote that, but I obviously did. Kudos. A man in a relationship with me benefits from paying attention to the details.

    “I mean sometimes I would have to say no… But what if you'd like something right when I'm not free? What if my close family needed me too? Or what if I was very tired? What if I even just needed space to think something through?”

    We all live in the real world, not some fantasy, and any dominant partner who doesn't consider her submissive in her decisions is not going to have him very long.

    Having said that, some things are unacceptable to me. I have to find a submissive who feels the same, and we have to agree on it *before* we get involved. I won't enter into a relationship with someone who doesn't agree with the way I am going to run it. That would be folly.

    “So you seem lovely. And I could not see a real problem. Not unless you asked for the moon. Yes I would love that whisper of love in my ear. I would love to get the moon for you. But what if I could not?”

    I don't expect the moon and would not ask for it… only a few of the stars, the brightest ones of course.

    Ferns

  14. Anonymous: “Well…I met my dominant partner two years ago; we've been in a relationship for eighteen months. We don't have an explicit agreement, and–while I guess I *could* do any of these things, I never have; indeed never felt any wish to.”

    I have no idea how your relationship works, but she is the dominant in the relationship and you are the submissive, yes? That's the explicit agreement (vs one where there is no acknowledged or agreed power structure).

    “I do everything she asks me to… because everything she says–everything she tells me to do–makes so much sense…”

    It is lovely when you agree with everything your dominant wants, but let's say, hypothetically, you disagreed and she wanted you to do it anyway, I assume you would do it, yes? Or would you say 'no'?

    “The other aspect of it is–the giving is not one-sided at all! She gives me at least as much–in terms of her time, talent, creativity, caring–as I give back to her, and probably more. So I don't experience my doing what she tells me to do as one-sided in any way.”

    Good, then it totally works in your relationship!

    In my experience, most people look at vanilla relationships in a much more direct 'tit for tat' kind of way ('I did the washing up last night, your turn tonight'). In D/s relationships, there is no tit for tat, no quid pro quo, each brings something so different to the table that you have to change the way you look at it.

    “(I'm the Anonymous who wrote the last two comments to the other post,as of Oct 31–oops! Nov 1 already!)”

    We will have to give you a nickname, Anonymous, you can't be meandering lost in the wilds of anonymosity (yes, I did that on purpose!)!

    Ferns

  15. Candice: “Well, that made me feel a lot less switchy.”

    Did it? Is that good or bad or indifferent? Why did it make you feel less switchy? You are so mysterious, Candice! Come tell me more!

    Ferns

  16. Gregory Allen: “Very insightful blog. Good luck with NaNo, looks like you're on pace, so far.”

    Thanks for both comments, and yes, I wrote some really terrible stuff today, but at least I can say (on day 1!) that I am not behind yet!

    I suspect if I counted the words from this post and my comments, it was more than I wrote all day for NaNo.

    If someone would be so kind as to count them, we can double check if it's close to 1736… If so, why why why is it so easy to write here and so difficult to write over there? Baffling!

    Ferns

  17. Ferns: “It does sound like you are being hard on yourself. I am sure that your Domme understands that you have a lot on your plate at the moment and is adjusting her expectations accordingly. We aren't robots living in a vacuum, stuff happens, and for people to be happy together, being realistic is important.”

    Yeah, in fact, we both know. I just want to be perfect for her all the time. I know she experiences a similar trouble with being the “perfect dom”, whatever that means. At the same time I know that perfectionism is one of the dumber things humanity has come up with.

    I refuse to believe that I invented perfectionism on my own — someone, at some point, gave me this idea! jerk! — but I feel as though I really should be able to shed it like my rabbit's winter coat. So I'm also a perfectionist about how much perfectionism I ought to have.

    There are probably many experiences I can draw on to explain this evil perfectionism phenomenon. But I don't want to make your comments section a ground for spewing my personal problems. But maybe NaNoWriMo. :)

    I know in my heart that things will be steady again soon.

  18. haha! It's hard to write there because you know you're supposed to. I've lost nano about four years running now.

    Re: earlier post

    It's good. I haven't had any relationships since I was 21 and the second part of your post resonated very strongly with me.

    I usually identify a switch because it's simpler, but wonder if I'm really a domme who likes bottoming (or just fantasises about it for that matter). I have no real life experience so I can't say for sure.

  19. “I don't think you can turn someone into something they are not”
    I agree completely!… I think that there are people who are just “wired” that way. That is, they are naturally submissive in that they truly enjoy someone “exercising authority in the relationship, who see it as an expression of love”

    I have been doing a bit of study on the matter of submission and yours is the most clear and concise that I have seen. I'm sure that others may define it differently, but it is the closest to what I would imagine submissiveness to be in a D/s sense

  20. Ferns “This is a huge question, and has been asked since the dawn of time. If submissive men could be happy with providing submission (i.e. acts of service) without getting active dominance from their women, it would be much easier for them to find happiness, but it doesn't work that way.”

    I keep hoping that If I phrase that same question just right you'll come up with a magical one size fits all easy answer. sigh

    I'll look into Uniquely Rika even though that title sounds more like a children's book about a young ferret who has a wild adventure and learns the value of being herself than a guide to adding D/s to a relationship.

  21. Two general points: 1) D/s in the sense you're describing (whether “vanilla” or not) applies only to one's primary sexual/emotional relationship. There is also D/s-like behavior in friendly play partnerships that are mainly about kinky play (and is also “play”, in a sense), but that's another story.

    2) To play devil's advocate: you're trying to draw a sharp boundary where I think there is a continuum. In the triad observable behavior-motivation-formal structure, the first two are “soft” continua. So boundaries can only be based on structure. Well, formal structure (“I am supposed to do X because that's what our D/s agreement says”) would be a turn-off for me; we don't need it. If that makes me vanilla, I have no problem with the word.

    “She is the dominant in the relationship and you are the submissive, yes? That's the explicit agreement.”

    We never use these words between ourselves to justify behavior expectations or “demand compliance”; it's understood. “Dominant” and “submissive” describe permanent aspects of our personalities, observable even outside of the relationship, if one looks closely.
    We can both intuit what would make the other happy.

    “Let's say, hypothetically, you disagreed and she wanted you to do it anyway, I assume you would do it, yes?”

    It depends–I pick my battles, I want to keep her happy. In the day-to-day things, I yield easily. If it was something major, more detailed reasoning would be expected, and we'd talk about it. We're both rational people.

    “Most people look at vanilla relationships in a much more direct 'tit for tat' kind of way ('I did the washing up last night, your turn tonight').”

    Very good observation. I *hated* the measured, explicit tit-for-tatness of my vanilla marriage, and am happy to not have to live like that. The way we do it now–we each have our strengths, and emphasize those, with enough reciprocity and generosity overall that neither feels shortchanged; it is very balanced that way, without the calculations (for example, she is a talented gourmet cook, and has fun doing it; so I help where I can, and then do all the dishes).

    Kien
    (P. Kien, protagonist of the early 20th century novel Auto-da-Fe', by Elias Canetti)
    I loved “anonymosity”, by the way.

  22. A wonderful clear read and insight into the Fern-mind! Obedience to 'random' commands becomes an act of love. That you give a command reminds him you are there for him.

  23. clawlesscat: “Yeah, in fact, we both know. I just want to be perfect for her all the time. I know she experiences a similar trouble with being the “perfect dom”, whatever that means. At the same time I know that perfectionism is one of the dumber things humanity has come up with.”

    Oh hell yes, you two need to stop it!! Just the idea of it has me exhausted.

    “So I'm also a perfectionist about how much perfectionism I ought to have.”

    *laugh* Nice.

    “I know in my heart that things will be steady again soon.”

    I'm sure you are right. I hope you are there already.

    Ferns

  24. Candice: “haha! It's hard to write there because you know you're supposed to.”

    Ha! Yes! And plus, I apparently have to stay on some topic instead of just spitting out whatever happens to be on my mind.

    “I've lost nano about four years running now.”

    No no… you *participated* four years running… good for you!

    “I usually identify a switch because it's simpler, but wonder if I'm really a domme who likes bottoming (or just fantasises about it for that matter). I have no real life experience so I can't say for sure.”

    Thank you for coming back to tell us a bit more. I think if you aren't sure, sticking labels on yourself can often be limiting (though it's *really* useful to know what the options are, and I do completely understand wanting to figure out where you 'fit').

    It took me ages of fucking about in my younger years to figure out why my relationships didn't work, and that's really why I have pretty clear idea what I need now. I think experience is really the only way to figure it out.

    Best of luck… maybe you will come back with a happy femdom story!

    Ferns

  25. slapshot: “I have been doing a bit of study on the matter of submission and yours is the most clear and concise that I have seen. I'm sure that others may define it differently, but it is the closest to what I would imagine submissiveness to be in a D/s sense”

    *smile* Thank you, slapshot, I'm glad it resonated.

    I feel obliged to point out (unnecessarily, really, but for clarity) that there are many flavours of D/s, though. The best you can do is figure out what *you* need and find your counterpart, which is really what I've done in this post (except for the 'finding my counterpart' bit…).

    I'm reminded of this. Anywhere on that scale is some form of D/s, but if you were to look at what those relationships, dominants or submissives look like at each end of the scale, they really don't resemble each other much at all.

    Ferns

  26. Peroxide: “I keep hoping that If I phrase that same question just right you'll come up with a magical one size fits all easy answer.”

    This made me laugh. I used to do that at work sometimes because if I didn't get the answer I wanted, I figured that *you just aren't understanding my question, people!!!*

    Ferns

  27. Kien (I had to go look that up, interesting choice): “1)…”

    Yes, I generally make a clear distinction between D/s and BDSM, but often they are intermingled in some way.

    “2)… you're trying to draw a sharp boundary where I think there is a continuum.”

    I take your point, it *is* a continuum, but I *do* draw a sharp boundary for my own purposes (I'm not *trying* to do it, I do it!). To me, someone either gets pleasure from my dominance in the way I need them to or they don't… it's binary. The idea of continuum that is relevant to me is exploring what sort of pleasure and why etc, so I agree that even after the binary do/don't there is still a whole scale there to delve into.

    Everyone else has to figure out their own way to deal with the continuum!

    “Well, formal structure (“I am supposed to do X because that's what our D/s agreement says”) would be a turn-off for me; we don't need it. If that makes me vanilla, I have no problem with the word.”

    Well, it's really about expectations of behaviour… maybe you call that formal, but we all have expectations of our partners no matter what sort of relationships we have and they are there whether anyone talks about them or not. Mostly in vanilla relationships, they are unspoken, which is a reason why people are often disappointed as they tread that path past the flush of newly minted goodness.

    The reason I seek a D/s relationship is because I have particular 'bossy boots' needs to be happy, and I need a partner who is complementary, and I can't know that unless we talk about our expectations and how it will work. I don't think that's about formality.

    For me (because obedience is my thing), the key difference between vanilla and D/s is in my having the right to tell him to do something and expect that he will not only do it, but be delighted that I exercised that right. I want no doubt about expectations, no arguing, no discussion, no resentment, just a happy skip of 'yes Ma'am' and off he goes. Along with that is the fact that it becomes reasonable for me to have an issue with it when he *doesn't* do that and I *need* that also or I will become resentful. And both of us expect it to go that way.

    The whole underpinning of the relationship is about communication and clarity of each of our expectations… maybe that's formality, but I'd argue that everyone should do it to the best of their ability (vanilla OR D/s) to avoid the long drop into the well of mismatched expectations filled with the acid of bitter disappointment (oh god, I do love cliches!).

    “I am supposed to do X because that's what our D/s agreement says” (as an overly simplistic statement, this rubs me up the wrong way, but I am letting it pass with a virtual raspberry blown at it, with spit flying everywhere…) is indicative of a position that is no different from any other relationship where you have obligations because you agreed to them (whether explicitly or not).

    In vanilla relationships, it's just as likely to be “I'll wash up tonight because you did it last night and if I don't you will get mad”. In a D/s relationship it might be “I'll wash up tonight because it's my job/you told me to” etc. Of course there will be many (most) instances of “I'll wash up tonight because I love you sweetheart and I know you hate it”, but I am putting that aside because the test is really in how you handle “Bah, I don't want to!”, “Well, I don't want to either!”

    … more to come, yes… really!

    Ferns

  28. Kien: Part 2 (ungodly long!)

    Re: “She is the dominant in the relationship and you are the submissive, yes? That's the explicit agreement.”
    ” We never use these words between ourselves to justify behavior expectations or “demand compliance”; it's understood. “Dominant” and “submissive” describe permanent aspects of our personalities, observable even outside of the relationship, if one looks closely. We can both intuit what would make the other happy.”

    If it's understood, then you have an explicit agreement, whether you use the words or not. It's not about whether anyone is chest thumping about 'being the dominant, therefore as my submissive you shall…'. I mean, I might chest thump sometimes because I do like a bit of chest thumping, but I'm not sure I am understanding what your point is here.

    Or is your point that if neither of you had identified as dominant or submissive, your relationship would be exactly the same as it is now. That is, D/s as a relationship construct where you do anything simply because you're her submissive is completely foreign to you, and you can't conceive of such a thing (this is what I was trying to get to with the 'saying no' question)?

    I am getting the impression, really, that you and your partner are pretty much 100% compatible (yay, you!), so the idea that you would do things you don't care about/dislike/don't want to/think are stupid just 'because she said so' makes you tilt your head and go 'eh?'

    ” It depends–I pick my battles, I want to keep her happy. In the day-to-day things, I yield easily. If it was something major, more detailed reasoning would be expected, and we'd talk about it. We're both rational people.

    Right, and no I wasn't really thinking about major things (like buying a house or those rare one off things). I was thinking about little things that crop up all the time because for me, THEY are the things that add up in long term relationships (and of course, now that I am trying to think of a few examples, my brain has shut down… the best I can do is 'what to have for dinner', that sort of thing, but many of them, small and consistent where vanilla men will start to struggle with *never* getting their way (yes, extreme example, it's not 'never', but I'm tired now, and flailing about a bit…)).

    It is my bedtime, you kept me up, and I still could go back and clarify and remake points and revise and edit, but this is already too much and I'm… zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

    Ferns

  29. I never thought of it that way, but darned if I don't know more than a few tradesmen types, especially, who like to say, “Happy wife; happy life”, and then just go ahead and do whatever their wives tell them without, I presume, being spanked or dominated or anything. Huh! But you're quite right that she can't really insist that he renovate the kitchen, but even thought he thinks the kitchen is fine like it, he renovates it anyway… Very interesting essay. Thanks for writing it.

  30. This is amazingly well-timed, as I'm having issues with my boy not quite behaving the way I expect a D/s submissive to behave (and 100% with you on the difference between a D/s submissive and a vanilla submissive, as my expectations are spot-on with yours). I'm going to link him to this, as you've explained it so well, probably better than I have.

  31. DC: “A wonderful clear read and insight into the Fern-mind! Obedience to 'random' commands becomes an act of love. That you give a command reminds him you are there for him.”

    Thank you, and YES! I keep saying it that way because it's the best way to explain the bonding in it.

    Every time I assert my dominance, I am saying “Come closer, baby”, and every time he does what I tell him, he is saying, “This, sweetheart, is for you” and Oh. My. Fucking. God… the loveliness in it makes my heart ache and just about makes me fall out of my chair with swooniness (shut up, that is SO a word!).

    Ferns

  32. Ferns, I appreciate the detailed reply, and the fact that you stayed up late to compose it. I'm typing late too, on the other side of the world.

    And this exchange has been helpful–for instance, it confirmed that I'm in a D/s relationship; maybe at a different place in the continuum than the one you want for yourself, but this is similar:

    “tell him to do something and expect that he will not only do it, but be delighted that I exercised that right… no doubt about expectations, no arguing, no discussion, no resentment.”

    There is a whole spectrum of D/s intensity in relationships–including totally vanilla ones–and you've described the cut-off for one you'd be happy in.

    Now, what one chooses to call “vanilla” is a matter of personal choice. My usage of this word is simple: a relationship is “vanilla” if it does not include BDSM play. For instance, a FLR without “play” is vanilla in my book. (My partner and I play intensely and often). As I said earlier, I think vanilla D/s is very common (especially M/f).

    “Or is your point that if neither of you had identified as dominant or submissive, your relationship would be exactly the same as it is now. “

    You're right–if we hadn't openly identified as such, our relationship would likely be different. In fact, one of the great things about it is that we talk openly about anything and everything, kink- or relationship-wise. (Not so in my vanilla past.)

    “…the idea that you would do things you don't care about/dislike/don't want to/think are stupid just 'because she said so' makes you tilt your head and go 'eh?”

    We're very compatible (more than anyone I've ever met), but we realize there is no “perfect” or “static”. Asking me to do things on a whim, “because she said so”, without a clear reason, is not her style; were she ever to do that, I would wonder what was going on.

    I think it is less important to agree on terminology than to learn new ways to observe and analyze these things. So, again–thank you for that.

    Kien (and no, I don't identify with the character.)

  33. OTTO149: “I never thought of it that way, but darned if I don't know more than a few tradesmen types, especially, who like to say, “Happy wife; happy life”, and then just go ahead and do whatever their wives tell them without, I presume, being spanked or dominated or anything. Huh!”

    Yep, I think there are elements of power in every relationship, D/s or no, it's just that no-one talks about it out loud.

    “But you're quite right that she can't really insist that he renovate the kitchen, but even thought he thinks the kitchen is fine like it, he renovates it anyway…”

    *smile* Or… they have a huge argument about it, or he just says no. The thing I like about the explicitness of a D/s relationship is that I know up-front how many of those discussions will go.

    “Very interesting essay. Thanks for writing it.”

    I'm glad you found it interesting, thank you for your comment!

    Ferns

  34. I take the view that we kinky folk had some painful or moving experience back when we were younger. It may not have taken that much just to nudge us this way or that. It will help to shape our kinks now.

    I wonder. Did you ever think about it? Do you want to become the boss of your kink instead of letting your kink be the boss of you?

    Then your kink will be a wonderful game, yet not a necessity. Ok some say I think too much.

    But I mean. What if your man got sick? You might have to spend 1, 5, or 10 or 50 years doing a lot to help him and yet be happy with all the unfairness in that.

    And I noticed that you said you were tired recently. Please take it easy. Don’t write too much. What if you get a repetitive strain injury from writing too much? Then how will you write at all? Then we would miss you. Well, I was just thinking.

    Satan

  35. deviantlyromantic: “I'm going to link him to this, as you've explained it so well, probably better than I have.”

    I do hope it helps and that you sort it out with him. I wish you both the very best of luck getting over what I hope is only a little glitch.

    Ferns

  36. Kien: “I'm typing late too, on the other side of the world.”

    *smile* Thank you for it. I've enjoyed our exchange.

    “Now, what one chooses to call “vanilla” is a matter of personal choice. My usage of this word is simple: a relationship is “vanilla” if it does not include BDSM play.”

    *smile* We will have to agree to disagree on that one, but your point is solid: You can define it however you want.

    “We're very compatible (more than anyone I've ever met), but we realize there is no “perfect” or “static”.”

    Which makes me think that you are a perfect candidate for a 'happy femdom relationship' story! No hurry, I can wait… *tap tap tap*

    “I think it is less important to agree on terminology than to learn new ways to observe and analyze these things.”

    I think that as long as you can get to a common understanding of what each of you mean so you can actually communicate effectively, it's all going to come out rainbows and unicorns!

    Ferns

  37. Yes! I am unreasonable, unfair, and demanding, and I need that to be loved and obeyed too.

    It may be a continuum on the behaviour side but there is a sharp split in how much of it I need for my happiness in a relationship.

  38. I have to check that I have this straight. I am afraid that so far no one here has examined this scientifically. I will put this right at once. I will just make a list, of all the qualities that might make a man compatible. These are the important qualities for both the vanilla submissive and also the D/s submissive. Here is the list:

    1. Doesn’t hog the quilt.
    2. Doesn’t fart all night.
    3. Leaves seat to the Crapper down…

    Sorry I got writers block after no. 3. But still, if this list did go on. Even if it went on so long that it stretched all the way to you Ferns in Aus, and then all the way back to me here. And then on and on etc., it would be a long list.

    What next.

    Oh yes! You only need to go through the list, checking obviously each entry starting with no. 1. And see if each quality belongs both to the vanilla submissive and also to the D/s submissive. We do have a result. For now I have already done this, but I lost the list. But I have proved it absolutely that every single quality may be shared by both species of submissive. That is every single quality but one. It turns out that the D/s submissive wants Ferns to be unfair to him. He says he would find that hot. The vanilla submissive doesn’t get that.

    So there’s the difference.

    Satan

  39. “It turns out that the D/s submissive wants Ferns to be unfair to him. He says he would find that hot. The vanilla submissive doesn’t get that. “

    So, he does everything she wants. The fair thing would be for her to do what he wants. But what he wants is for her NOT to do what he wants. So, to be fair, she must be unfair, and to be unfair, she must be … fair.

    Oh, dear.

  40. Twoo Domina said…“Yes! I am unreasonable, unfair, and demanding, and I need that to be loved and obeyed too.

    It may be a continuum on the behaviour side but there is a sharp split in how much of it I need for my happiness in a relationship.”

    Yes. When I’ve been with a bossy woman, I’ve put my foot down to say look. This bossiness belongs in the bedroom. Just in the bedroom. It is just play. That's all. No one can be bossy all the time. To be bossy all the time makes no sense. That was before I came to places like this. Now I still feel the same. But then it would depend on the woman. I would have to see. It’s scary.

    How say you?

    I do agree that there is a split. That’s why there is a bedroom.

    Satan

  41. Satan: “I take the view that we kinky folk had some painful or moving experience back when we were younger.”

    Well, everything in our lives helps to shape who we are, and sometimes things are just hard wired.

    “I wonder. Did you ever think about it? Do you want to become the boss of your kink instead of letting your kink be the boss of you?”

    I would not say that my kink is the boss of me. I know what I need to make me happy. It really doesn't matter whether it's obedience or unlimited kissing (it's both, actually), we should *all* be looking for what makes us happy, no?

    The question is a more relevant for people whose kink interferes in a bad way with living happy lives.

    “But I mean. What if your man got sick? You might have to spend 1, 5, or 10 or 50 years doing a lot to help him and yet be happy with all the unfairness in that.”

    I don't think that anyone who is in that situation is happy, do you (really?!)? Their original relationship structure is completely irrelevant. Bad stuff happens, everyone deals with it as well as they possibly can, but it has nothing to do with this discussion.

    “What if you get a repetitive strain injury from writing too much? Then how will you write at all? Then we would miss you. Well, I was just thinking.”

    Then I will dictate my posts to a lovely submissive man who would be thrilled when I told him he was going to transcribe it for me because he would get to listen to my honeyed tones for the duration.

    “It turns out that the D/s submissive wants Ferns to be unfair to him. He says he would find that hot. The vanilla submissive doesn’t get that.”

    *laugh* And more… even if the D/s submissive doesn't find it hot, he will find it appealing, reassuring, desirable… all that.

    Ferns

  42. Twoo Domina: “It may be a continuum on the behaviour side but there is a sharp split in how much of it I need for my happiness in a relationship.”

    This.

    For anyone/everyone, being able to define what you need for happiness, however it works, is the first step to finding it.

    Ferns

  43. Étienne: “So, to be fair, she must be unfair, and to be unfair, she must be … fair. Oh, dear.”

    I was going to allow my head to explode at this, but instead, I boiled it down to this:

    “Me Domme. You sub. I say. You do. We happy.”

    Huzzah!

    Ferns

  44. Ferns: “Well, everything in our lives helps to shape who we are, and sometimes things are just hard wired.”

    Why not say this.

    We have both a dominant wire and a submissive wire. Everything in our lives (wires and all) helps to shape who we are.

    “…we should *all* be looking for what makes us happy, no?”

    Yes and each other.

    And when one of us gets sick?

    “I don't think that anyone who is in that situation is happy, do you (really?!)?”

    I do.

    “Then I will dictate my posts to a lovely submissive man who would be thrilled when I told him he was going to transcribe it for me because he would get to listen to my honeyed tones for the duration.”

    Really I do.

    “’It turns out that the D/s submissive wants Ferns to be unfair to him. He says he would find that hot. The vanilla submissive doesn’t get that.’

    *laugh* And more… even if the D/s submissive doesn't find it hot, he will find it appealing, reassuring, desirable… all that.”

    I get that. I’ve never tried to live it.

    Satan

  45. Thank you for this article.
    I spent years wondering why i never managed to make my dominant ex-gf happy despite actually doing what she asked me to. You see, i am what you call a “vanilla submissive”, and one of my most wonderful relationships was with a girl who happened to be a domme. We met thru a friend and under circumstances completely unrelated to the D/s lifestyle, and we quickly fell in love with each other, because we matched in so many different ways and agreed on pretty much all our views, all except one, the D/s lifestyle.
    However, because i admired and loved her so much, and because due to my “vanilla submissiveness” i already used to do most things for my previous girls anyways, i decided to just agree with her and become her “property” under her “rules”.

    However, while my words and physical acts did indeed follow her orders, my heart and my inner disposition did not. I obeyed her only because my natural disposition made me feel like it, but it was not a real act of submissiveness to her power which was in fact, nonexistant, and we both knew, at least unconciously, that i could just refuse and do my own thing the very same moment i had the caprice to.

    After a relatively short time, she started feeling anxious, she lost her natural confidence and strenght, which i admired so much, she began to slowly be less “dominant” by the day and arguements and frustration for both sides ensued.

    I was outraged,after all “i was doing what she wanted me to” and we had many fights and arguements over this topic. I would claim she was being unreasonable and spoiled, that even tho i agreed to her terms despite not being “my thing” she would never be happy or pleased, and thrown all the weight of our differences unto her shoulders.

    And so i have been doing ´till today. In truth, i found this article after using google for “fake domme”, in a fit of nostalgic frustration, and hoping to find other “victims” such as myself to share said frustration with.

    But after reading your article and the comments above, i realized for the first time that i had been quite blind, and that i never gave her what was the most important for her to receive.

    I thought that my flawless obedience in the trivial, day by day issues and in the bedroom was all she needed, all what D/s was about, but i guess i had missed the most important detail.

    I guess my pride and my ignorance got the best of me, and it made me treat poorly someone that was dear to me when our relationship ended.

    My only “defense” would be, that she was never able to articulate what was lacking, what she truly needed, what she truly wanted, which did not help at all and helped me missunderstand what our relationship was supposedly about.

    Still, from the bottom of my heart, i believe i owe her an apology and i thank you very much for helping me open my eyes on such an important matter.

    Have a good day.

    1. Oh my goodness, how did I miss this comment?

      What a sad story, I’m so sorry that it didn’t work out for you both.

      Your experience highlights the fact that a lot of this is *not* about ‘what you do’, but about ‘why you do it’ and ‘how it makes you feel’.

      Thank you so much for sharing, and I’m so sorry I didn’t see your very thoughtful and thought provoking comment until now.

      Ferns

  46. “A non-vanilla submissive does things ‘when he feels like it, but even if he doesn’t, that’s what we agreed, so he will do it anyway and be happy that I used my authority to push him to do it’.”
    “What I need as my counterpart is a man who enjoys me exercising my authority in the relationship, who sees it as an expression of love, and to whom submitting to that is an expression of love.”

    One of the things I admire most about you is how you always seem to “get it.”

    Respectfully,
    mysticlez

    1. *smile* I think my ‘getting it’ is a confirmation that you and I probably think very much alike on many of these topics.

      Thank you for commenting way back here.

      Ferns

  47. I’m in awe of how beautifully you described the rewards of a D/s lifestyle when it’s desired by both letters.

    My heart fluttered and my whole body literally tingled as I read this.

    I’m still fairly new to this lifestyle, having experienced it for the first time last year for the duration of a three-month relationship that ended for unrelated reasons. And after desiring it consciously for years and unconsciously since time immemorial, the catharsis of finally living it was extraordinary.

    Being so new to experiencing this lifestyle, I’m still trying to understand why I feel so innately drawn to it. There’s so much to process, and I’m far from being in a place where understand an clearly articulate the reasons.

    So to see you put it so succinctly and elegantly was amazing and revelatory. I kept thinking, “Omg, exactly!” as things I understood intuitively suddenly became clear.

    I guess I’d articulated bits and pieces here and there in bouts of introspection, but I definitely hadn’t been able to distill it down to essential truths like this.

    So thank you. I just discovered your blog and this was the first article I read. I came upon it while trying to find sources from which to learn, and you delivered!

    I’m definitely going to be reading (and commenting) more!

    1. All that thought and care that went into crafting this reply, and autocorrect inserts a mistake in the first sentence! Gah! The last word is letters but should be partners**

      And then in the paragraph starting with “Being so new to this….” the last sentence is quite unfinished. It *should* read as “…I’m far from being in a place where I understand and can clearly articulate the reasons.”

      I’m a writer, and have OCD tendencies, so I did a lot of revising as I went along, because I wanted to give a thoughtful and earnest impression. So of course I’d be silly enough to post without giving a final proofread xD which is particularly silly since I wound up reading it anyway once it was posted!

      1. Also, third paragraph, unconsciously is supposed to be subconsciously. It did say that the first time I wrote it, but then I moved things around and deleted some parts, and when I rewrote it I wasn’t thinking :P

      2. Thank you so much for your lovely and thoughtful comment (and your corrections on your lovely and thoughtful comment *smile*).

        I’m really glad you found my opinion useful. I know how valuable it is to find something that resonates, and I get a lot out of people who can relate (the ‘me too!’ is so valuable).

        I hope you enjoy whatever else you might find here. And welcome!

        Ferns

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.