When your submissive says ‘no’

A blog post by Die Starke Frau prompted me to write this response because I see in her writing a struggle that a lot of new Dommes have.

She said:

When I develop an idea of what to do with him and how to fuck with his mind, and if then, out of the blue, the man does not obey.

Note: I am not talking about playful disobedience here. I am talking about a serious refusal. No joking around, no fun. Just a “Nah… this does not turn me on. This is not hot to me. I am not interested in doing this/ or getting this done to me.”

It’s a great question… what if he just says ‘Nup, don’t feel like it’?

In the fantasy world, the answer to this is simple: you slap him across the face and hiss, “Go do it NOW!” and he will leap up and run to do your bidding, abjectly chastened with the awesomeness of your power (yeah, that’s hot, try it in a real relationship and see how that goes… come back and let me know…).

In the real world, and assuming a full time romantic D/s relationship, the answer is much more complex, and to get to it, I have to go back to the beginning of how I build a relationship for context. 1

1. BUILD THE RELATIONSHIP YOU WANT
(oh look, aren’t I cute, subtitles!)

When I talk to a potential submissive, our discussion is wide ranging and broad. It is not about ‘how this relationship will work’, it is not about ‘rules and protocols’, it is not about any of that.

In the early stages, I’m just getting to know a man who seems interesting. And if we are right for each other, this gentle dynamic starts to filter in. I’ve talked before about D/s flirting and that’s exactly what it is, it’s fun and playful and zing-making. We are feeling each other out.

He might roll his eyes at something silly I have just done.
I laugh and look shocked. “Did you just eyeroll at me?!”
“Um… yeah… I was just kidding, really… um… sorry…”
Maybe he blushes, maybe he is made shy by being called on it, maybe he smirks. We both recognise the moment.
I might act indignant. “I should think so!”
There is a little frisson in it, a hint of sexual tension and hotness, a recognition of each other.

Yummy yum yum!!

If that little exchange (and every other bit of D/s flirting that I initiate) doesn’t work that way, doesn’t feel sweet and sexy and natural, doesn’t draw out his submission in the way I need it to, then he is not right for me.

That is how we build the dynamic. In small ways. Gentle nudges, warm reactions, hot little push-pull.

By the time we get to the point where we ‘formalise’ the relationship, he would be no more likely to disappoint me by saying ‘no’ than he would be to smack me in the face. If I can’t get him to that point, if I do not know that he is at that point, then we are not ready for this relationship, and maybe, we are just not suited for each other.

Having waxed lyrical about all that and how lovely it is, I have much more to say because in all of that, I am setting the groundwork and not actually answering the question “What if he just says ‘nup'”. I’m getting there, I promise…!

2. MAKE EXPECTATIONS CLEAR

Whatever your expectations are (on both sides) make sure you each understand them. Obedience for me is key, and if he doesn’t understand that, then I have failed to communicate it properly.

When I enter into a relationship, when it becomes an agreed D/s dynamic and we discuss it more formally, one of the things I often say is this:

“All you have to do to break the D/s dynamic is say ‘No’. That’s it. Say ‘No’, and keep saying ‘No’, and you will break it.”

It really is that easy, and it’s true, because by doing that, he is withdrawing his consent to being in the dynamic and no matter what anyone says, I cannot MAKE anyone submit to me if they genuinely don’t want to.

We are not talking play here where someone is bratting, we are not talking about hard limits, we are not talking about extenuating circumstances, we are talking about a submissive who genuinely says “No, I don’t feel like doing that, so I won’t” and then turns back to the television.

In my relationships, this is a signal that there is something really wrong. It is the vanilla equivalent of him saying ‘Fuck off!’. It is hugely hurtful and awful and I completely understand why dominants struggle with it.

So, what to do?

3. CLARIFY

Firstly, you know him, I don’t, so I can only speak from personal experience. Underlying all of this is ‘you have to know him’. If you want a man who has finished a 16 hour day of manual labour to go and clean out the garage at 10pm at night, then you better be bloody sure you know how that will impact him. For some men, it might be a blessed stress relief, for some it might be a signal of love, for others it might be a ‘what the hell is wrong with you?!’ moment. You need to know this even if (especially if) you decide to tell him to do it anyway.

I am assuming in this scenario that the request is reasonable and within the bounds of the agreement.

The first thing I would do is clarify that he is seriously saying ‘no’ because he would know what a big deal that is, and then I would want to know whether he had some reason that I am missing.

“Are you saying ‘no’ to me?”

(best case, this is all it takes, he looks up sheepishly, goes ‘Eep, sorry Ma’am’ and runs off to do the thing… He has a few chances in this dialogue to change his mind. So let’s continue with ‘worst case’…)

“Yep, don’t feel like it, it’s not hot or fun. Not doing it.”

(as a side note, seriously, if that happened to me, I would faint with shock… who the fuck is this person and what the hell is he doing in my house?!!)

“Is there a particular reason why you are saying ‘no’ to this?”

(again, another chance here for him to think about it and change his mind, or to explain what is going on with him (and there might well be a valid ‘why’ that I haven’t understood)… Continuing, though, with the worst case…)

“I’m watching the football/am tired/don’t feel like it/it’s just no fun.”

“If you are saying ‘no’ to me, we have a serious problem here. You understand that, yes?”

(seriously, last chance…)

“Look, I just don’t want to, okay? Just this one time, geez… what’s the big deal?”

“No, it’s not okay, I’m hurt and angry, and we will discuss it later.”

I say ‘later’ because right now, he is being a petulant child and you are likely so hurt and confused that you aren’t seeing straight. Having a fight about it is not productive.

But don’t let it go.

4. DISCUSS/REASSESS

Later, when you are calm, talk to him about why this is important to you. Ask him why he said ‘no’, what his submission means, what he wants out of it, what has changed and *listen* to the answers. Explain how this makes you feel, that you can’t ‘be the Domme’ if he refuses to submit, that it hurts your feelings, that his saying ‘yes’ is the cornerstone of your dynamic. Have him reiterate how he sees his submission working.

At this stage, either he ‘gets it’, or something has changed and he no longer wants to have the dynamic that (presumably) he agreed to. If it’s the former, then you have reiterated your agreements and you move on with it (hopefully) resolved.

If it’s the latter, and he really no longer wants this, then you need to reassess where you are, and maybe redefine what your relationship looks like, or, if you have somehow diverged so much that you can’t come to a new agreement, then perhaps this signals the end of your D/s dynamic.

I’d be very surprised if one ‘No’ led to such a discussion, but perhaps it has been a series of ‘Nos’, or perhaps this is the only way he has been able to communicate that he is having serious issues with the relationship.

I think some submissives cannot get their head around the fact that D/s takes two people. As a dominant, I CANNOT be second guessing whether he will do what I want or not, I need to trust him to submit. If I can’t trust him, it leads to a headspace that looks like this:

“Should I ask him to get me some water? What if he says ‘no’? He looks pretty comfortable, maybe he won’t want to get up. Ahhh, he’ll say ‘yes’, I’m sure he will. Maybe he won’t… what if he doesn’t. Ahh, hell, I’ll just get it myself, I don’t want to fight about it.”

Soon, she is not dominating him anymore, she is just getting him to do things that she hopes he won’t mind doing. He then wonders what happened to the fearless Domme he used to adore and she wonders what happened to her lovely submissive.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not let it go.

Seriously.

I know full well that the ‘FFS, it’s only a glass of water, get it yourself, just this once… God!!’ argument from him will sway many dominants and they *will* go ‘Yeah, maybe he’s right, I’m making a mountain out of a molehill’, but the point is not about the glass of water. The point is about whether he will or will not submit to your authority.

I can guarantee you that letting it go will cause more problems in the long term. Why? Because then you are being inconsistent, and being inconsistent in asserting your authority will erode it as surely as if you just said,

“Can you get me a glass of water, please… I mean, if you feel like it… if you don’t feel like it, that’s okay too… never mind, I’ll just get it myself…”

If you end up there, both of you are likely to find yourselves frustrated and unhappy and wondering how the hell that happened.

So in summary (I’m providing Cliff notes, I’m good to you!):

1. Build the relationship you want. This takes time and work, but you have to, really.
2. Make expectations clear. Have clear expectations from the start so that he knows what saying ‘no’ means for the dynamic.
3. Clarify. IF he says ‘no’, clarify that he understands that this is serious, and make sure you understand what is going on just in case you have missed something
4. Discuss/Reassess. Calmly talk about it, reset expectations if you need to, and be prepared to keep your core requirements for the relationship intact.

If you have to keep repeating 3 and 4, your dynamic is pretty much toast. Live with that fact or walk away.

1 To pre-empt the inevitable, this is how it works for me in the very particular type of romantic D/s relationships that I have where obedience is a cornerstone: it is is my personal opinion, I am not the arbiter of Truth or the Oracle. If this helps you at all… great! If it doesn’t, that’s okay too. If you deal with this issue by smacking him over the head with a smelly fish and screaming “I’m a little teapot” and it works, then that’s awesome! and etc… Really do I have to add all that?

Aside: This post is *above* the daily word target for NaNo… the implication being that NaNo should be easy as pie for me, I AM CAPABLE OF RABBITING ON INCESSANTLY!  But it isn’t easy. At all. That is annoyingly baffling…

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83 Comments

  1. “we are talking about a submissive who genuinely says “No, I don't feel like doing that, so I won't” and then turns back to the television.”

    Maybe it's because I've only had vanilla relationships so far, but I'd find that really hurtful in a vanilla relationship as well.

    Although, I have had that headspace moment, because I have a weird dynamic with my best friend. He's usually… I don't know if I'd say submissive (I know he wouldn't!) but he does what he knows will make me happy. But then when he decides not to, it's hard because I have no right to expect anything.

  2. Candice: “Maybe it's because I've only had vanilla relationships so far, but I'd find that really hurtful in a vanilla relationship as well.”

    I know what you mean, but the 'right to expect' is the key… If you are both all comfy on the couch and you say “Can you get me a glass of water, sweetheart?” it would be lovely if he did, and he might 9/10, on the 10th time, he goes “Awww honey, I'm really tired” and it might smart a little, but it's a completely reasonable response. When he is your submissive, it becomes a violation of one of the basic tenets of your relationship, so there is hurt plus 'WTF just happened to 'us'?!'.

    In a vanilla context the equivalent response would be more akin to him not just saying “No”, but saying, out of the blue, “Fuck you!!” instead.

    “But then when he decides not to, it's hard because I have no right to expect anything.”

    *laugh* Yes!! This is perfectly what I described in the vanilla vs D/s submissive post, and partner vs friend is a little different, but there's still the fact that they are doing it out of the goodness of their sweet little hearts. “Expecting” something in that scenario kind of makes you feel like a selfish cow, but you are *still* going 'But but… *sigh*'.

    Ferns

  3. Ferns,

    I just want to say I love you and I want to have your babies. I'm very happy that NaNo has made you so desperate to procrastinate that you were driven to write so much on the subject.

    Seriously, the most striking thing about this essay is how little difference there is between a D/S relationship and a “vanilla” one. Even in the most egalitarian relationship one of the most important things you need to do is identify what each person expects from the other person as opposed to “nice little touches” that add a touch of romance.

    Even if the agreement is something as simple as one person doing the dishes and the other taking out the garbage, it's a real problem if you've done the dishes and end up taking out the garbage too because the other person “didn't feel like it”. Even if doing his/her half of the chores isn't meant to be “submissive”, it's still a broken agreement and has to be dealt with exactly as you describe: make expectations clear, clarify, discuss, and reassess.

    Adding a D/S dynamic changes the relative power levels of each partner in the relationship, and perhaps the number of commitments each person is agreeing to, but you still have to use the same methods of conflict resolution to stay on the right track.

    The one other thing that I would add is that you really have to do exactly the same things if you are a submissive and faced with a dominant shirking her (or his) responsibility. Unfortunately, this will almost inevitably result in you being told that you are “topping from the bottom”.

  4. When he is your submissive, it becomes a violation of one of the basic tenets of your relationship, so there is hurt plus 'WTF just happened to 'us'?!'.

    Errmmm… let me just mention that there are different ways that people see themselves as submissive, or perceive how “submissive” should be. That's why you need to have constant discussions, at least at first, in order to assess and reassess where you are and what those expectations might be.

    Think of “Aww, honey, I'm tired” as being a class of safeword. It means that the scene (i.e., the relationship) isn't going according to expectations. That's when it's most important to check in to see what's wrong.

  5. Splitting Image: “I just want to say I love you and I want to have your babies.”

    Thank you for your high level of affection and your interest in procreating with me in a physically impossible way. I shall refer you to cleverbot, who says “I love you too!”

    “I'm very happy that NaNo has made you so desperate to procrastinate that you were driven to write so much on the subject.”

    *laugh* Yes, now if only NaNo was also responsible for a clean house and washed car… I'm not THAT desperate yet!

    “Seriously, the most striking thing about this essay is how little difference there is between a D/S relationship and a “vanilla” one.”

    Touche! You are absolutely right! Nicely pointed out.

    “The one other thing that I would add is that you really have to do exactly the same things if you are a submissive and faced with a dominant shirking her (or his) responsibility.”

    What? I have no idea what you are saying to me.

    *sigh* Fine. Okay, yes.

    This would be a great 'other side' topic. It's actually relatively easy for a dominant to determine when a submissive is not doing their bit. Often trickier the other way because how do you measure it ('you aren't dominating me enough'?).

    “Unfortunately, this will almost inevitably result in you being told that you are “topping from the bottom”.”

    Gah! That term gives me the irrits, but you are right here also (how much rightness can there be in one comment?).

    If you (D or s) can't talk about your relationship openly and honestly (and that shit is HARD when something isn't going well), then you are already half way down the road to screwed.

    Ferns

    1. So long ago… yet this prompts me to answer.

      I think again the D/S-vanilla analogy is here potentially clarifying. I don’t think it’s much harder for a submissive to realize something is not going the way it should: when his/her expectations are not met. S/He will notice this in general because the feeling of happiness dwindles and fades; and specifically, because a given situation left him really hurt.

      (There is a difference between ‘play hurt’ and ‘really hurt’, basically the sexiness: when you are ‘play hurt’ it makes you go into subspace, when you are ‘really hurt’ it makes you withdraw — since moving away from sources of real hurt is a normal instinct in living beings.)

      The ‘domineering’ behavior of the dominant is, well, expected. S/He has associated pleasure with it in ways that are difficult to understand to non-submissives. If this behavior stops, or changes substantially, s/he will be really hurt.

      If the enjoyment the dominant feels disappears or turns to something else; if the verbal abuse becomes stale, repetitive or unfocused; if the dominant doesn’t seem “to be really there” or really interested in being obeyed; if the dominant doesn’t seem to be deriving pleasure from the submission; in other words, if the feeling of ‘loving engagement’ that underlies the play (‘you’re playing with me, I’m playing with you’) suddenly disappears, for whatever reason, then the submissive feels really hurt.

      If the submissive says ‘no’, that hurts the dominant; the contract is broken. If the dominant doesn’t seem interested in what s/he is doing to the submissive, the same happens. If the dominant doesn’t feel like playing the role; if s/he ignores the routines they already had; if s/he doesn’t perform in a way that makes sense to the D/s dynamic, the submissive will be really hurt.

      Of course, it is possible to re-sexualize that as the dominant “fucking with the submissive’s mind”. And sometimes it works, just as it is possible sometimes to ‘smack him on the head’ when he says no and tell him to go do it anyway — and it works. But as you point out, this doesn’t always work, because there are different kinds of “no”s. Likewise, there will be situations in which no re-sexualization of the dominant’s loss of interest in playing the role is possible.

      And the submissive will then feel hurt, unloved, taken advantage of. Betrayed. Pretty much as you described yourself feeling when the submissive said “no” — and precisely for the same reason: it will have the same vanilla “fuck you!” feel to it, since it is ultimately an expression of real lack of concern with the RELATIONSHIP — not playful lack of concern with the comfort of the submissive, but real lack of concern with the relationship at that point. “I don’t care about our dynamic,” it says. And that hurts. Really.

      1. Thank you for commenting way back here! *smile*

        “… if the feeling of ‘loving engagement’ that underlies the play (‘you’re playing with me, I’m playing with you’) suddenly disappears, for whatever reason, then the submissive feels really hurt.”

        Agreed, but not just play: this is relevant to the entire relationship.

        If either party stops engaging in a way that makes their partner feel loved, then you have a problem.

        I think the difference from the submissive side is that it’s less easy to ‘see’ it. When a submissive says ‘no’, it’s easy to identify that something is going wrong.

        If a dominant ‘does nothing’ then there is a (perhaps long) period of waiting and doubting and hoping before the submissive can be sure that there is something going wrong.

        ““I don’t care about our dynamic,” it says. And that hurts. Really.”

        Agreed. 100%.

        Ferns

  6. Tom Allen: “Errmmm… let me just mention that there are different ways that people see themselves as submissive, or perceive how “submissive” should be.”

    Your 'errmmm' implies that you are gently wanting to nudge at one of my points without causing offence or having the hand of God (that's me) strike you dead, or magically shrivel up your penis until it clunks around in that chastity device like a walnut.

    I would point to exhibit a), the postscripted caveaty caveat, which covers not only the post, but my assumptions in comments following said post UNLESS explicitly stated otherwise by this author in a clear and definitive fashion.

    Ipso facto, I say unto thee that you are absolutely correct, and no polite errrmming or coughing gently was required to make your perfectly valid point.

    All relationships are different, and I can do no more than put things in the context of my own, caveat the hell out of it, and hope it helps someone somewhere.

    “That's why you need to have constant discussions, at least at first, in order to assess and reassess where you are and what those expectations might be.”

    I agree, and the above is really a 'crisis point' of sorts. Communication (and we do all go on and on about it) is easy when things are going well. I think creating the space to have those discussions, and where raising things that aren't going well feels safe, is quite a challenge. It's human nature to be hurt when your partner says they aren't happy with you/the relationship in some way, and it's equally hard to potentially hurt your partner by bringing it up.

    “Think of “Aww, honey, I'm tired” as being a class of safeword. It means that the scene (i.e., the relationship) isn't going according to expectations. That's when it's most important to check in to see what's wrong.”

    *laugh* Okay, now you've lost me (“hand of God, locusts” etc)! Next you will be telling me that “Don't wanna!” is a class of safeword.

    I agree it's a signal and agree with the 'what next', but if my submissive has an issue, saying 'no' to me is absolutely *not* the best way to bring it up. To me, it's a childish and unproductive way to raise a problem because it hurts my feelings (like a 'fuck you!'), and that's not a great place to start any discussion.

    Okay, for some D/s relationships, perhaps that's a perfectly valid way to start a conversation about the shortcomings of the relationship (really?!)… *sigh* okay fine, really.

    Ferns

  7. The lady in question also wrote: “For me, submission is a gift. And a man who is withdrawing his submission is punishing me. Because basically, in not submitting, he is telling me: you did not read me well. You did not deliver the right things. You did not chose the right approach.
    Getting such a message is hard to stomach for me, because in the end, I want to please the guy.
    Does this make sense to you?”

    And i commented on that: “Yes it does. U r not a femdom.”
    Up till now she didn't allow this to appear on her site, lol. But who knows, maybe it will be there tomorrow (grin).

    ——————–

    Ur essay on this is larded with too many assumptions, which makes it rather hypothetical and difficult to respond to. I can tell u this tho. In my life none of my slaves will ever say no to me. But then again, i will never ask from them the “little things” this not so Starke Frau is whining about, like, “not watching a football game on tv”, “not having the glass of wine while being in a fancy restaurant”, and certainly not what u brought forward as an example, “clean out the garage at 10pm at night”. Asking such nonsense from ur slave is just plain silly. It resembles girls (and woman) who constantly need assurance of being loved, by ad nauseam asking their bf or spouse, “do you love me sweetie?”. Yuck!

    “(yeah, that's hot, try it in a real relationship and see how that goes… come back and let me know…).” If that would be hot indeed or not, remains to be seen. Still here i am, telling u it works great.

    “…….I cannot MAKE anyone submit to me if they genuinely don't want to.” I believe u. U can’t. Doesn’t mean others couldn’t. I can even make vanillas follow my orders.

    Do i hear the usual litanies and lectures about consent, and worse, in combination with sane and safe, now knocking on my door already? Don’t bother. I’ve listened to these diatribes way too long already. And dismissed them as not belonging to the world of femdom.

  8. Ayesha: “…and certainly not what u brought forward as an example, “clean out the garage at 10pm at night”. Asking such nonsense from ur slave is just plain silly”

    I'm not going to comment on what someone else says or does, but I trust you are smart enough to know that the actual example wasn't the point.

    “Still here i am, telling u it works great.”

    Good for you and I am sure you won't be offended when I say that I don't believe you.

    “I believe u. U can’t. Doesn’t mean others couldn’t. I can even make vanillas follow my orders.”

    I don't believe this either. I believe that you can make someone *want* to submit, but that is something very different. Maybe you can't tell the difference, I don't know. It matters little that our views are so divergent.

    “I’ve listened to these diatribes way too long already. And dismissed them as not belonging to the world of femdom.”

    You do seem to have an interest in running around telling people that they are not 'femdom' according to however you have defined it, and I am not quite sure why that is.

    You have your version of it, that's great, so do I, and so does every other femdom who runs their own relationship and no two will ever be the same, and that's okay, truly. We don't have to all live in a big collective and agree how we are going to run our relationships.

    To point your paragraph back the other way:

    Do i hear the usual litanies and lectures about the 'one true way', and worse, in combination with how everyone else is wrong, now knocking on my door already? Don’t bother. I’ve listened to these diatribes way too long already. And dismissed them as not being credible.

    Ferns

  9. Anonymous: “Epic 'Straw man' in these comments.”

    But but… who where how…? That was such a wide reaching comment! Come sit by me, we can talk about it…

    Or I can just say, “Yes, yes there is…”

    Ferns

  10. I’d say just sit by a big-big jug of water. But it seems that this is nothing to do with the water! We all like someone to care for us and to show it.

    In football, there is the break called half time. It is the time for Satan to fetch water, show care or both.

    It’s silly to let things get tense. I wish more women were just like you Ferns. You sort everything out for Satan to watch his football.

    It would also help if you could please light his pipe, fetch his paper and put on his slippers.

    Satan

  11. Ferns-

    I'm in complete agreement with you on this one. If a woman wants a FemDom relationship as you describe, then the steps you describe are sensible. And if the male doesn't want what you are offering, isn't totally turned on and mind-blown by having the privilege of obeying your orders, no matter how whimsical or profound, you need another partner.

    I see the usual suspects– Tom, Ayesha- have given their usual responses. Particularly the latter, but you have a nuanced misunderstanding of her point.

    It's not a one true way as if it's True North. It's Ayesha's one True Way du jour, whatever that may be.

    But for the larger part of the distribution of alternative FemDom lifestyle relationships, your advice and expectations are, I think, apt.

    Regarding Tom's point, as usual, I also disagree. Safewords on small stuff is just pointless. If that occurs, it's the wrong relationship. Otherwise, let me say I asked my Mistress to drag me out of a sound sleep and bed at 2am by her leash on my collar when she needed to use the toilet, so I could share her wakefulness and consumer her Holy Water. We discussed it, because she had begun to weaken and leave me in bed instead.

    If the FemDom relationship is meant to be close, intimate, and sharing what the Domme demands, and the submissive understands this and agrees, then the most trivial request or command is as important as the most momentous one.

    To argue over importance is to challenge or deny the Domina's role and authority.

    As my old friend Lenora used to write,

    “submissives….just want to submit!…so when in doubt, PUT THE HAMMER DOWN!”

    In the end, the FemDom relationship should be mutually fulfilling. If it's too much work or sacrifice for the submissive, or the Domina is hesitant for fear of losing her male property, then it's probably the wrong relationship.

    -saratoga

  12. I think that the very first point on building the relationship you want, cannot be over emphasized. It is at the very beginning, when there is such a desire to “make it work” that those little warning signs that all is not well can easily be ignored or overlooked completely, thereby sowing the seeds of heartbreak.

    By the time the harvest is in and you go from “I love her so much” to “What was I thinking?”, it is far to late and perhaps years have passed.

  13. *laugh* Okay, now you've lost me (“hand of God, locusts” etc)! Next you will be telling me that “Don't wanna!” is a class of safeword.

    You may have missed the subtle nuances of my meaning, especially since I'm not in person making the appropriate eye rolling and arm waving. So, let me try another, er, try thingie.

    Asking for a glass of water for the tenth time is, in some ways, not much different from asking your day-laborer partner to clean the garage at 10 pm (to use Starke Frau's example). Are you kinking on obedience? That's great for you, but what is your sub kinking on? My guess is that it's not pointless or mindless obedience, but rather a desire to serve, that is, perform an important or needed duty. I'm suggesting here that a refusal to obey (“Naw, don' wanna.”), that is, cooperate, is a nuanced, albeit immature, request for a re-examination.

    Yes, you would hope that by this point in the relationship he would have been better able to express himself, or would have had enough consideration to express himself with the proper nuances so as to be as sensitive to your needs as possible. So, maybe it's time for not only a reassessment, but also to outline a process in order to get such points across in a more respectful manner.

  14. @slapshot “It is at the very beginning, when there is such a desire to “make it work” that those little warning signs that all is not well can easily be ignored or overlooked completely.” Yes, very much so.

    Had to dismiss someone recently because he was being very deceptive and disrespectful. If I'd known then what I know now… of course he was very popular in the community also and had a lot of women wanting to play with him.

  15. Satan: “It would also help if you could please light his pipe, fetch his paper and put on his slippers.”

    Just wait there, I'll get right on that…

    Ferns

  16. I see the inspector Clouseau of male submission is rounding up his usual suspects. How about fetching the pipe and slippers for him? He's such a prominent patriarch, and these days he's on the eve of handing his dusty old gossip column over to a conservator, hehe!

  17. Hi:

    Thanks for asking a great question! I very rarely tell Her Majesty “no” when she requests some form of service. She often makes requests of me and I have also learned to anticipate many of her needs. Most of the time I enjoy playing the role of “step n' fetch it”. I love to serve her and she enjoys being served which is just how it should be.

    In matters critical to the family, decisions about child rearing for example, it becomes a little more difficult. In most matters I acquiesce to her whenever possible but if I feel she is seriously missing something critical then we must discuss the problem as equals until we come to an agreement on the best way to move forward. There are also many times when she asks for my advice about what to do in important matters. What's best for the family unit as a whole must come first and that often means stepping out of our Mistress/slave roles, putting our heads together and tackling the problem as equals.

    Then when all is right with the world I can go fetch her a cup of tea and rub her feet! ;-)

  18. Ferns said… “Just wait there, I'll get right on that…”

    Hold on. Slow down. Get comfy. Relax. Really relax. Relaxing? Relaxed? Ok. Then let yourself drift.

    Fresh cool sparkling water, this is for you.

    Satan

  19. Saratoga, I understand that you are retiring from the blog scene. If nothing else, you deserve some kudos for having stuck it out for over 5 years. That's like, what, 35 years in real life?

    Anyway, I've been looking at this comment, and a few things struck me. One is this sentence:

    And if the male doesn't want what you are offering, isn't totally turned on and mind-blown by having the privilege of obeying your orders, no matter how whimsical or profound, you need another partner.

    …especially taken in context with your own efforts in topping from the bottom ^W^W^W^W hoping that your string of paramours would come around to your own one true ^W^W way of practicing domination. What I mean is that in your statement to Ferns, you seem rather quick to recommend a split if things don't seem to work according to some arbitrary plan; yet, your own relationships seem to have dragged on for quite some time when it seemed apparent – even to you – that there was a mis-match.

    My point to you – and to Ferns and everyone else – is that sometimes in the concept of “female domination” it's easy to remember the “domination” part while overlooking the “female”. In other words, there is a relationship here, and it's quite natural for each person in the relationship to have their own needs, insecurities, and agendas (hidden or not). In the amazing variety of kinks in our human natures, it's only natural that some of them are simply not going to mesh. That's why this part of your comment:

    If the FemDom relationship is meant to be close, intimate, and sharing what the Domme demands, and the submissive understands this and agrees, then the most trivial request or command is as important as the most momentous one.

    … sounds great from a theoretical perspective, but most human relationships don't work according to white papers. I'm sure you know the saying: “In theory, there's no difference between theory and practice. But in practice…”

  20. I think there's a difference. In Ferns' original post, the example was basically “No” and then back to watching TV. To me, that reads as dismissal.

    Then, in her reply to me, the example changed to the tenth glass of water thing, and the reply was “Oh honey, I'm tired” which is not as dismissive.

    I can see how both are hurtful and “wrong” in a D/s context, but to me, the second one seems to be more hinting at something's up than the first, which doesn't even leave room for discussion.

    Also, people are weird, right? Sometimes people don't even know what's going on in their own heads. I don't know what's going on in my head half the time. Which I think is the point of the post?

    Notice step 4 is discuss & reassess; it doesn't just give the sub an opportunity to think, it also gives the dom/me an opportunity to decide if their expectations are unreasonable.

    Because I might not have any experience but I assume (ha, yeah I know I'm not supposed to do that) that a happy D/s relationship isn't just about the close, intimate & sharing of what the dom/me demands, but also the close, intimate and sharing of the sub's desire to do as the dom/me demands.

    At least, that's what I got out of it, anyhow.

    PS. is dom acceptable for women? Using slashes is exhausting.

  21. What? U don't believe me Ferns? That's awful! But tell me, is it cos u r a seasoned skeptic, or do u simply belong to the crowd which always resist to belief there could exists something else outside of their comfort zone?

    “…..that they are not femdom….” Why? Here it is in a short and polite way. The concept of femdom became contaminated, inflated, and almost meaningless, due to the fact that many claim that any interpretation, any definition of it, should be respected and valued by others. Well, i don't!

    Like I more than once suggested, for people who r not living it 24/7/365, who r not driven by it from an early age on, have to grow in to it, need endless exchanges of thought about it to find some harmony or whatever in their relationship, a term like FLR or WLH would be way more appropriate. But no, no, no, they want to call it femdom. And i am not quite sure why that is (grin). Well, that’s a lie. I do know why that is. But this time i will refrain from poking , cos i would hate it to give Tom another chance to reprimand me again :)

    “The one true way”? It doesn't exist? Is that the truth, and nothing but the truth, so help u….well….um…Lilith?

  22. Brilliant post.

    on another matter…
    I haven't visited in awhile as I have been busy painting until my wrists ache. So…when exactly did the nuts arrive?

    MistressKimm

  23. Also, people are weird, right? Sometimes people don't even know what's going on in their own heads. I don't know what's going on in my head half the time. Which I think is the point of the post?

    If I knew half of what was going on in my own head, I might not like myself anymore!

    But before this goes much further, we should probably acknowledge that we're all discussing a hypothetical example that has sort of mutated in the various explanations, so each of us may have a different idea of what's reasonable and workable.

  24. But this time i will refrain from poking , cos i would hate it to give Tom another chance to reprimand me again :)

    Gosh, that's a switch. Usually *I'm* being told to stop poking things…

    So…when exactly did the nuts arrive?

    Hey, I've been here all along!

  25. saratoga: “I'm in complete agreement with you on this one. If a woman wants a FemDom relationship as you describe, then the steps you describe are sensible.”

    They are to me, yes!! Which is good because I am a woman and I want a relationship like the one I described… huzzah!

    Ferns

  26. slapshot: I think that the very first point on building the relationship you want, cannot be over emphasized.”

    I think the 'building' thing is huge, and I think, somehow, that in D/s there is much more propensity for putting a bunch of ticks in a box and declaring the relationship started. That might work for a relationship that is *not* a primary romantic one, but if it is, you can't skimp on the building.

    Ferns

  27. Her Majesty's Plaything: “There are also many times when she asks for my advice about what to do in important matters. What's best for the family unit as a whole must come first and that often means stepping out of our Mistress/slave roles, putting our heads together and tackling the problem as equals.”

    I don't see that as 'stepping out of role' (nor do I 'step into role'). My submissives have had skills and knowledge and experience and all sorts of wonderful qualities that I expected them to exercise in all sorts of ways. That includes bringing all that into the relationship and discussing/arguing over/sorting out any number of decisions. Plus there is a huge great chunk of life-stuff that I am not interested in controlling, so he doesn't get to shut down and leave it all to me somehow.

    “Then when all is right with the world I can go fetch her a cup of tea and rub her feet!”

    *smile* Now that does sound like a lovely way to signal that all is right with the world.

    Ferns

  28. Hi Ferns:

    That is a lovely (and entirely correct) way of thinking of it. I don't really think of it as stepping out of role either. I guess when I post to the D/s community I feel like I have to explain why it might be valid to disagree with your Mistress about a problem, talk about it as equals and come to a mutual decision about it. Many people in the scene seem to have a pretty inflexible way of viewing things. Obviously you don't so kudos on that score! ;-)

  29. Tom: “You may have missed the subtle nuances of my meaning, especially since I'm not in person making the appropriate eye rolling and arm waving”

    I'm sorry about not getting to see the eye rolling and arm waving, I am sure they add a lot. And you are right, I am still missing your point.

    “Are you kinking on obedience? That's great for you, but what is your sub kinking on? My guess is that it's not pointless or mindless obedience, but rather a desire to serve, that is, perform an important or needed duty.”

    Why would you assume that I would choose a partner who doesn't share my primary kink? You are puzzling me.

    “I'm suggesting here that a refusal to obey (“Naw, don' wanna.”), that is, cooperate, is a nuanced, albeit immature, request for a re-examination.”

    Yes, it could be. My strategy still works: clarify, then discuss/reassess to get back on track. I truly am missing your point, and I know you've tried a couple of times to explain.

    “So, maybe it's time for not only a reassessment, but also to outline a process in order to get such points across in a more respectful manner.”

    Sure, that falls under 'discuss', no? The point is to sort it out. Perhaps you thought I meant 'discuss it in this limited way', but really it's just 'talk about it, then figure out what you need to do about it'.

    I get the impression that you think that my approach is too rigid, somehow, but if you apply it to normal vanilla situations, it actually works as well:

    – Your partner does something that hurts your feelings/impacts your trust/goes against expectations.
    – Clarify that they meant the badness.
    – Talk about it calmly and sort it out.

    I HAVE put it in a very particular context (because that was where the question was raised), but nothing in it precludes humanness, compassion, love. Female and/or dominant and/or vanilla, it is still a reasonable strategy for dealing with it.

    I'm interested: if you are frustrated that I am not getting it, feel free to send me an email about it… you can arm wave and eyeroll at me over there.

    Ferns

  30. Candice: “I think there's a difference…”

    Maybe you are getting the nuance that went completely over my head… Though for me, the two instances are a lot more similar than they would be for someone else for whom obedience wasn't such a big deal.

    Perhaps the point is “Everyone can decide for themselves when it's an issue…”

    I know that new dominants are often scared stupid that their submissive will 'just say no'… it comes out of that doubt of 'well, why should he do what I say?'

    It is really difficult to dominate from a position of doubt, so if something triggers your doubt, you need to deal with it and not let it fester there. If it truly is an 'Okay sweetheart' moment, then who cares.

    I'd add that most submissive men will not thank their dominant for 'letting him get away with it'.

    “Also, people are weird, right?”

    *laugh* True!

    “Sometimes people don't even know what's going on in their own heads. I don't know what's going on in my head half the time. Which I think is the point of the post?”

    The point of the post was to help those women who hear 'no' and go 'oh fuck, it's happened… now what?!' Hopefully when you actually talk, you get some of the weirdness out!

    “PS. is dom acceptable for women? Using slashes is exhausting.”

    Yes, it totally is (it's just short for dominant, so is gender neutral). In some circles 'Domme' is totally unacceptable for reasons I appreciate, but I like it anyway.

    Ferns

  31. Ferns, I think that you and I are in general agreement. Part of my inability to explain my point was probably because I was trying to write while at work, causing me to lose several trains of thought, which necessitated having to share a cab uptown.

    I think, too, that in flipping from Stark to Ferns, I may not have been addressing the same nuance of the situation as you may have had in mind.

    Your reply to Candice, BTW, really cleared up several points for me, and so you are back in my good graces again. I will continue to be an occasional nut around here.

  32. Ferns, what more can I say?

    Well done.

    In life we all find good reasons to say no. But:

    “…We are not talking play here where someone is bratting, we are not talking about hard limits, we are not talking about extenuating circumstances, we are talking about a submissive who genuinely says 'No…' …It is the vanilla equivalent of him saying 'Fuck off!'. It is hugely hurtful and awful…”

    That’s a bad “no”. I hate that one. I think that “no” would get stuck in my throat. I couldn’t say it.

    Take one more case. I pretend now that I am not in the mood for any kink. Pretend that I am not in the mood to do anything you say. I don’t always know how to make myself change my moods. In this case why am I still happy to do as you say? Of course you were a perfect angel about my pipe earlier. Pretend I don’t let that sway me now. So what is left? Why am I still happy to say “yes” to you? It’s because I still have a normal sense of duty. I still know that you have this crazy, silly, lovely obedience kink. And I still choose not to make you feel bad.

    I don’t know that I could submit for too long though. In practice could I shed a thousand years of conditioning? It’s fun and scary at the same time.

    Satan

  33. Hah… how am I, as a young D/s Rookie, supposed to understand what is going on in my relationships if not even you all, the real experts of femdom, are in agreement :-)

    Seriously: your comments and your discusion helped me a lot. Thanks!

  34. I would agree, honestly, with most of what you said above. I sometimes go both ways with your blog. I don't ask silly things of my sub unless he understands I am asking something silly because I can. For a while, he would say “no” and that did hurt. I think the key is always explaining WHY it hurts, not simply flying off the handle and screaming about D/s and why your way is better and how he HAS TO DO WHAT YOU SAY DAMNIT!! He doesn't have to do what you say, actually. He can choose to walk away. It's always an important reminder that D/s is a two way dynamic which seems like it was one of your very clear points.

  35. Tom Allen: “Ferns, I think that you and I are in general agreement.”

    Yes, I didn't think we were too far apart.

    “… so you are back in my good graces again.”

    Oh come on! I was never out of them. They are like a warm hug against a hairy chest (that would be your chest, mine is not THAT hairy…).

    “I will continue to be an occasional nut around here.”

    *sigh* Fine, but don't expect drinks.

    Ferns

  36. lawyer: “Hah… how am I, as a young D/s Rookie, supposed to understand what is going on in my relationships if not even you all, the real experts of femdom, are in agreement”

    Ha! Take what is useful, ignore what is not!! < = that's the best piece of advice here. “Seriously: your comments and your discusion helped me a lot. Thanks!” I'm glad! And you're welcome. Ferns

  37. Satan: “Why am I still happy to say “yes” to you? It’s because I still have a normal sense of duty. I still know that you have this crazy, silly, lovely obedience kink. And I still choose not to make you feel bad.”

    *laugh* I swear, Satan is an old softie under all the 'raining hell' stuff…

    Ferns

  38. Anonymous: “I think the key is always explaining WHY it hurts, not simply flying off the handle and screaming about D/s and why your way is better and how he HAS TO DO WHAT YOU SAY DAMNIT!!”

    I think that flying off the handle is always a bad idea, though god knows, I get as emotional as anyone. If I can talk about something more calmly, then it's always going to go better, but it's always tough to talk when people are hurt and angry. It always *sounds* so easy… ha!

    “He can choose to walk away. It's always an important reminder that D/s is a two way dynamic which seems like it was one of your very clear points.”

    Yep, unless I lock him in the basement, shackled to the wall, as you do…

    Ferns

  39. Ferns said… “I swear, Satan is an old softie under all the 'raining hell' stuff…”

    I thank you Ferns. You are most kind. Your heart is right there under your logic.

    I do try to be careful with all the ‘raining hell' stuff. It’s extremely dangerous.

    Satan

  40. “Your advice is always so sound, and oddly, pretty much always the same… How did you come to be so wise?”

    Cattle Prods = 42 that's why

    All the geeks will get it

    Coug

  41. *winces* Ah. The “No” word. That's a nasty one. It's like a blister on your foot that's just been grated with sand and then topped with a salt-covered band-aid.

    I'm pretty lenient on some of the things I ask my submissives to do. If they have any qualms they are to say, “Lady Donovan, may I make a request?” And a good portion of the time I reconsider my demand if there's a deeper reason behind the refusal.

    But flat out “No”? That results in a very long conversation. Sometimes, but rarely, they forget my rule and I just remind, “Remember, we don't use that word?” I'm less rough because all my subs have been new ones, so they haven't been as exposed and don't know how to temper their instinctual “No's”. =3

  42. Ms Ferns:
    If you do not find a partner that makes you happy, *I* will be a very unhappy man.
    How did you get such wisdom for a Domme? I am so used to the “no topping from the bottom” types, I could scream.
    A. You noted that some of your requests might be unfair or unreasonable and evaluated how they might interact with your submissive. Many Dominants seem to think it is just your tough luck if they ask something difficult, dangerous, or horrible for you to do. In short, you took your submissive into account as another person with his own needs.
    B. You recommend time and space and not flying off the handle. Many dominants feel that you must squash the slightest resistance at once without finding out WHY there might be resistance. Others simply don't give second chances – dare to disobey or disagree with them even once and its out you go.
    C. Communication is important, and you communicated that you understand that very clearly.

    In any case , I don't know if you've ever read any MayMay or Clarisse Thorn but you are a gem, at least if you do make a serious effort to follow your own professed philosophies.

    As ever, your brattish fan,

    Clarence

  43. That's one of the best explanations of what to do when your submissive says no that I've ever read.

    Come to think of it, it's generally excellent advice for any situation where your partner does something you're unhappy with. I don't think the particular example, or even whether it's a d/s relationship or not particularly matters.

  44. Lady Donovan: “*winces* Ah. The “No” word. That's a nasty one.”

    I agree, and if you are new, it can be scary.

    I think that fear might be one of the reasons why some Dommes don't want to get attached or fall in love with their submissives. They think their power comes from their ability to say 'you said no, get out!' If they love him, that's no longer an option and they feel powerless.

    “I'm pretty lenient on some of the things I ask my submissives to do. If they have any qualms they are to say, “Lady Donovan, may I make a request?”

    This highlights how we are all so different. I doubt I can ever be called 'lenient', on the other hand, I am quite casual, so a formal method of asking a question would be strange for me.

    I often feel like submissives have such a challenge trying to get things right. But then, they love a challenge, right? *smirk*

    “But flat out “No”? That results in a very long conversation.”

    Yep, for me too, even if he changes his mind when I clarify with him there's a chat a-comin'!

    Ferns

  45. Clarence: “If you do not find a partner that makes you happy, *I* will be a very unhappy man.”

    And I will be a very unhappy woman. That is not the way the world should be!!

    “How did you get such wisdom for a Domme?”

    It's wisdom born of pain…

    “I am so used to the “no topping from the bottom” types, I could scream.”

    It would be fun to hear you scream, bratty boy.

    “In any case , I don't know if you've ever read any MayMay or Clarisse Thorn…”

    Yes! I have both Maybe Maimed But Never Harmed and Clarisse Thorn on my blog list: both great reads.

    “… but you are a gem, at least if you do make a serious effort to follow your own professed philosophies.”

    *smile* Thank you. I don't always get it right, but I try my best.

    Ferns

  46. Stabbity: “That's one of the best explanations of what to do when your submissive says no that I've ever read.”

    Thanks Stabbity!

    “Come to think of it, it's generally excellent advice for any situation where your partner does something you're unhappy with. I don't think the particular example, or even whether it's a d/s relationship or not particularly matters.”

    I agree… Splitting Image (waayyyy up at the top of the comments) pointed that out too, and it makes sense, really. I think a lot of the things that we talk about in the D/s world are applicable to vanilla relationships, they just *seem* like something else because the context is slightly different (or we make up special terms for them!).

    Ferns

  47. Ferns: “I think that fear might be one of the reasons why some Dommes don't want to get attached or fall in love with their submissives. They think their power comes from their ability to say 'you said no, get out!' If they love him, that's no longer an option and they feel powerless.”

    I think when you love him it's even harder to tell /him/ no.

    “This highlights how we are all so different. I doubt I can ever be called 'lenient', on the other hand, I am quite casual, so a formal method of asking a question would be strange for me.”

    I think I'm lenient! Granted. The answer to that question is better answered by my submissive than me. I'm sure he would protest and say that I was lying. ;)

    But I like a level of formality. The trick is knowing how to convey to him when to turn it off and on. Though usually I turn it off myself when I accidentally knock something over. After that, keeping a straight-face on both ends is pretty futile.

    “I often feel like submissives have such a challenge trying to get things right. But then, they love a challenge, right? *smirk*”

    I can't answer that. ;P

    “Yep, for me too, even if he changes his mind when I clarify with him there's a chat a-comin'!”

    This line makes me chuckle. I am literally the same way. His response is usually, “But I corrected myself!” and I'm like, “That doesn't mean we're not going to talk about it.”

    Lady D

  48. LadyDonovan: “I think when you love him it's even harder to tell /him/ no.”

    I think for many it is, yes. I find it interesting.

    That which was hot and close-making and perfectly working 'before' suddenly becomes fraught with doubt and fear. They transmogrify discipline/control/authority into 'meanness' somehow *after* emotionality: it changes from being a goodness into something that makes them feel bad.

    To me, it means that they have compartmentalised it as a 'badness' (perhaps without even realising) and have never really considered it an expression of love. Either they can get to the point where they *can* see dominance as love, or they have to face the fact that they cannot have a D/s relationship that includes romantic love. It's not just female dominants that I see this with either, it's maledoms also (though often with maledoms, they find they can no longer *physically* hurt her after they fall in love).

    “Though usually I turn it off myself when I accidentally knock something over. After that, keeping a straight-face on both ends is pretty futile.”

    *laugh* I know what you mean. I once pulled at my supine submissive by the feet to try and move him, my hands slipped and I fell flat on my arse. Any pretence of cool and sexy control was a total fail at that point…

    Ferns

  49. Ferns said… “I think that fear might be one of the reasons why some Dommes don't want to get attached or fall in love with their submissives. They think their power comes from their ability to say 'you said no, get out!' If they love him, that's no longer an option and they feel powerless.”

    Ok yes some women are scared to get close. Or for some reason they do not want to get close.

    That man must get out or do something that he does not agree to? Why do something that he does not agree to do? He must because if he does not do so then she says get out. She is policing him. The man can’t feel good about that. I could not see why the woman would like these terms either. Not unless of course for some reason she just can’t be close to him.

    Is that 'you said no, get out!' an expression of love? No.

    It is not Romeo and Juliet.

    Satan

  50. This is really interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger. I’ve joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your magnificent post. Also, I’ve shared your website in my social networks!

    1. Thank you Markham.

      Even though your comment looks spammy, I am leaving it because, hey, I might be able to use a landscaper in Toronto at some stage, and when people say nice things to me, I like to believe they are sincere…

      Ferns

  51. Doh this is an old discussion isn’t it oh and double damn I already posted twice in it… I’m old I forget stuff damn it….. * goes off to keep cats and scream at passers by *

  52. If your submissive says ‘no’ because it doesn’t turn him on, he isn’t submissive. I could go on for days about this topic, but there are a lot of kinky men who want to be bottoms that masquerade as submissive.

    Being submissive and being kinky are not the same thing, they just happen to overlap a lot. A real submissive man will not say ‘no’ if he believes the Domme actually wants what she is asking for, because he would rather suffer in silence than to displease her. That is the great curse about being the kind of submissive in Venus in Furs – we need that kind of domination, and yet we cannot refuse it either.

    A kinky bottom doesn’t want a woman to dominant him; he wants a woman to be kinky and in charge, but only so long as he is still getting what he wants.

    1. A “real submissive” (I confess to not seeing the value in that term) would also ‘only’ be submitting in order to get what they want or need.

      Motivation: it’s there in us all.

      1. @Anonymous: True. I think motivation is everything (ie the ‘why’) and it varies greatly.

        I tend to look for someone whose motivation leans towards: “To make my partner happy” because they get a level of happiness/satisfaction/comfort out of knowing that they achieved that.

        That kind of motivation is very different from: “Because it’s hot”.

        Both perfectly valid and both self serving in their own way, but what each means to the relationship is totally different.

        Ferns

        1. Indeed, motivations have to be compatible and complimentary between partners.

          And because people change and learn and grow and reveal more of themselves over time it’s essential that communication is ongoing and constant throughout the relationship.

          [Although … it does seem that a submissive trying to communicate their wants and needs is at risk of being accused of “topping from the bottom” – something else that you’ve talked very sensibly about here in your blog.]

          If you look outside of the seemingly narrowly defined roles of BDSM-land, in successful ‘vanilla’ relationships you’ll normally find both partners get a degree of happiness/satisfaction/comfort from making their ‘other’ happy. I’d speculate that compatibility, communication and commitment (ooh! I’ll call that “The three Cs”!) are just as likely to be important in long term BDSM relationships as in any other.

          I wouldn’t want to be in a relationship where I couldn’t find fulfillment in making a partner happy, even outside of sexual interactions. I’d expect the same of them, too.

    2. @Andrew Cole: I am loving your comments, thank you for them. But arrrgghhh… you are making me crazy with some of these definitive statements!!

      Maybe your relationship is one where nuances or complications just never come up, so you see things in a very black and white manner (‘doing this means you are submissive/doing that means you are not submissive’), but that’s not true for most people.

      “If your submissive says ‘no’ because it doesn’t turn him on, he isn’t submissive.”

      Bah! What if he has said ‘yes’ a gazillion times before this and suddenly says no? Has he suddenly gone from ‘submissive’ to ‘not submissive’ in that one word?

      If he is already ‘your submissive’, then presumably the relationship and the dynamic have worked up until this point and he has shown his submission in a million different ways. And now, he is balking. THAT’S the scenario I am addressing here.

      And in that scenario, it doesn’t mean ‘he isn’t submissive’, it means ‘there is something wrong’, and the reasons need to be understood and dealt with.

      If he has said ‘no’ all along unless it turns him on, then I would say that they are a bad fit and they didn’t discuss their expectations before getting into the relationship.

      Apples and gorillas.

      “A real submissive man will not say ‘no’ if he believes the Domme actually wants what she is asking for, because he would rather suffer in silence than to displease her.”

      There are no absolutes here, that’s why communication is so very important. Sometimes when something is wrong in a D/s relationship, rebellion is the first signal. It doesn’t mean he’s suddenly ‘not a real submissive’, it means ‘there’s something going on that needs to be addressed’.

      Relationships are not made up of ideals. They are complex and complicated and I don’t think dismissing things that happen with ‘well, he’s not a real submissive then’ is productive.

      Ferns

      1. True, on all levels.

        Relationships are all in some sense similar (including parent-child, friendships, vanilla and non-vanilla romantic relationships): they are emotional exchanges in which all partners get something, in the best cases in such a way that the sum total of all happiness is more than any participant could possibly have by him/herself.

        In some sense we’re all selfishly motivated (‘does he love me, or does she simply love the pleasure that my presence brings? Is it about me, or am I a source of something?’). Since we have no direct access to the world except via our senses (cf. Kantean philosophy, the “Ding-an-sich” and all that…), there is no way we can be really motivated by something outside of ourselves. We’re really always reacting to feelings inside of us. If love had to mean “motivated directly by an external source”, then there would be no love, and people would all be just selfish pigs.

        But love is, I surmise, a “genuine and sincere interest in the happiness derived from interacting with other(s).” This usually motivates the lover to act in such a way as to maintain the relationship: it is such a source of happiness, one wants to (a) keep it going and (b) pay it back, by also giving happiness.

        (Of course, there are all kinds of hang-ups and psychological problems that create non-ideal/manipulative/codependent/etc. relationships. These are not the ones I mean.)

        The submissive is ultimately also motivated by his own internal feelings, since there is no way s/he could be motivated by anything else. If to some people this feels like a betrayal of submissiveness (just as to some people the above description of love feels like a betrayal of love itself), then they haven’t really thought hard about the topic.

        It’s all about connecting our needs, and making it so that by getting what we need we are also giving others what they need — so they will give us what we need and thereby also receive what they need (because both acts of giving and taking grow more intertwined and become over time harder and harder to tell apart), till it all becomes a continuous circular motion, a “virtuous circle” if you will, leading potentially to… :-)

  53. OMG I am going to redirect ALL THE PEOPLES to this post!!! In fact, I am going to keep it and use it as an outline for myself as well.
    I think these are such vital steps in building any relationship and more importantly in a D/s relationship because of the aspects involved. I think; however, that often (and I am really guilty of this) we get caught up in the hotness and newness of things and forget the importance of these steps.

    Respectfully,
    Mysticlez

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