Dominance and conflict

There is a perception by some out there in the world that dominants enjoy conflict. Maybe some dominants do, but I’m not one of them.

One of the reasons I operate better in a D/s relationship is because I *dislike* conflict. I don’t like arguing, I don’t like fighting, and I *really* don’t like wasting time on stupid irrelevancies that shouldn’t even be a ‘thing’.

I want a harmonious, happy relationship where my sweetheart and I sail along smoothly and sweetly, and having a clear line of authority makes that easier.

Theoretically, if that was all there was to it, I could be submissive and have the same result with the harmony and all, but then add to the mix the fact that I am also stubborn and resent being told what to do and that is never going to work. I want things my own way and when I don’t get it, I become unhappy.

With friends, strangers, and random people, I don’t have to resolve things in my favour, and I have absolutely zero interest in creating conflict to do so. If they want to have something a certain way, I’m happy to go ‘sure, fine’ and unless it’s somehow vitally important, there is no way that I am going to argue about it. I don’t have to live with their preferences day in and day out, it doesn’t impact the harmony and happiness in my daily life, and I have no driving need to get my way with people with whom I am not in a relationship. In my own home and with my intimate partner, it’s a very different story.

My last vanilla relationship ended up being characterised by conflict where the one of us who was most willing to incessantly argue about stuff got their way. Our relationship was complex (aren’t they all?!), so of course this was not all there was to it, but if we had a difference of opinion about something, my choice was to argue longer and more loudly than him to ‘win’, or give in. Both options were hateful-making. The former made me loathe myself, and him, for wasting my time arguing about these things, and the latter made me resentful and angry. There was no goodness in it.

While it would seem an easy thing for two smart, articulate people who cared about each other to resolve, it wasn’t. What was really happening in all of that is that we were jostling for power in these small things, daily and relentlessly, and without the ability to step outside of it. No matter how many times we discussed it sensibly, like proper grown ups, we could not ‘get over it’ and we would find ourselves arguing over and over, or one of us would resentfully capitulate and then snarl quietly about it to ourselves while shooting daggers at the other. It was exhausting, beyond ridiculous, and ultimately unhappy-making.

One of the things I love about D/s relationships is that we agree up-front that I have the final say, and he trusts that I will consider him and his happiness in it. It makes me happy, and that makes *him* happy also. A lot of that potential conflict just goes away.

So for me, among other things, my dominance acts as a conflict-resolution strategy. Hmmm. Sounds about right. I should start couples counselling based on this concept, write a book, do the talk shows. Someone call Oprah!

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29 Comments

  1. “conflict-resolution strategy” Beautifully put. I would agree that this has been the most important change in our marriage after the D/s aspect was introduced. Unlike the other stereotype, it has not made a doormat of me either. My opinion still matters. The D/s dynamic has taught me how to share that opinion in a more respectful, non confrontational, and might I add appealing,manner.

    Over the years one of the biggest sources of conflict and bickering was over the fact that my wife would get annoyed because I didn’t do something, My annoyance came in that she wouldn’t tell me what to do, or what it was that I didn’t do. She would say I should know without being told. Now she has no problem telling me what to do and I have come to learn what she expects. I can’t begin to tell you how much stress that simple dynamic has taken out of our lives.

    1. I’m so glad to hear that your D/s dynamic has helped to smooth out some of those rough edges. Congratulations to you both!

      “Over the years one of the biggest sources of conflict and bickering was over the fact that my wife would get annoyed because I didn’t do something, My annoyance came in that she wouldn’t tell me what to do, or what it was that I didn’t do.”

      I think there is a higher expectation of clear communication in a D/s relationship than in a vanilla one. Theoretically that shouldn’t be the case, and practically it doesn’t always work out like that, but I think the *expectation* of it can help make it happen.

      For me, communication + agreed authority = much less conflict.

      Ferns

      1. I agree with you, Ferns. The person with the weakest ego and, correspondingly, the biggest need to control – should control.

        The child should control the adult, n’est pas? ;-)

        I was once a submissive male, but am not, any longer. The reason being that I cannot see a woman who demands power as anything other than childish, these days.

        You see, as a male, you already have power. As a leading male, as I am, you end up not caring what power you keep or give away. It is a child’s game.

        I wish that I could submit to a woman. But, these days, I too often can only see girls with brittle personalities who can’t do anything but lead because they’re too fragile to do otherwise.

        I am beyond leading and beyond following. I don’t care anymore. Philosophy killed my D/s!

        1. “I agree with you, Ferns.”

          Well, you might *say* that you agree with me but I’m seeing a few little hints there that indicate that you really don’t. Call it intuition…

          [… other stuff…]

          I was going to reply to your comment thoughtfully, but your assumptions are so flawed that I didn’t know where to start deconstructing them, and I suspect it won’t make a whit of difference anyway.

          In short:

          — Mu, motherfucker!

          Either way, I am sorry for your bad experiences, and I do hope you find your happiness in a wonderful non D/s relationship.

          Ferns

    2. “I was going to reply to your comment thoughtfully, but your assumptions are so flawed that I didn’t know where to start deconstructing them, and I suspect it won’t make a whit of difference anyway.”

      Are they, though? I’ve spoken to so many dommes, and so many have come across to me this way. I cannot see them the way I used to see them. God, hell, Ferns . . . you should see what I have in my inbox at CollarMe right now.

      I cannot deal with small people. I thought I could once, but I can’t. It’s got to be *real*. ‘Goddesses’ with tragic egos beneath what they want to be. They remind me too much of the flower in ‘The Little Prince’.

      1. “Are they, though?”

        Yes, they are.

        “I’ve spoken to so many dommes, and so many have come across to me this way.”

        Well, stop speaking to those ones. I mean, my goodness, if this were a valid way to assess dominants/submissives/people in general, then you may as well start saying to that everyone in the world is a dick because “I’ve struck so many”.

        If you are striking so many of these women, then guess what? You are the common denominator.

        “…you should see what I have in my inbox at CollarMe right now.”

        Right, because the Dommes on CM are of course, a true representative sample of all dominant women, just as what arrives in my inbox on that site is representative of all male subs.

        Pfft.

        Ferns

  2. See, I get it now. I get it now that I have someone who is more than willing to let me take control & tell him what I want (yes, I let him take control of things he knows more about: wine, foods, driving in the city, etc.) but I got it. He and I had a few arguments and I felt like I was fighting for control as I had had to with my last serious relationship. That isn’t and wasn’t the case. I may not control play but overall, I am in charge in the relationship. He actually ASKED me to do that. He hates being the one in control and I just automatically take the control. In the bedroom, we switch, but this has cut our arguments down to nil. I get frustrated with myself, but not with him. I am just hoping that this isn’t going to be short lived because of our possible futures; he’s a good egg… I want to keep him around… on a leash for the most part

    1. Oh, that sounds great. I’m happy it’s working out for you both.

      “I am just hoping that this isn’t going to be short lived because of our possible futures; he’s a good egg… I want to keep him around… on a leash for the most part”

      *smile* I hope so too!! And keeping him around on a leash sounds perfectly wonderful!

      Ferns

  3. Some do seem addicted to the drama of conflict.

    The one bit I love is the making up.

    But I do not look for conflict. Not with anyone I care for. I hate it.

    I am just happy to make someone happy.

    Now I’m just trying hard to imagine female authority all of the time, even outside of the bedroom as well! What is that yelling? Excuse me. I’ve just met my own Satan Inner Brat from Hell.

    Satan

    1. “Some do seem addicted to the drama of conflict.”

      I think this is true. I think a lot of passionate people *enjoy* flaring up and going at it hammer and tongs, and then following it with the fireworks of make up sex.

      I’d rather just have the latter without the former.

      “Now I’m just trying hard to imagine female authority all of the time, even outside of the bedroom as well!”

      I know, it’s an outrageous concept!!

      Ferns

  4. Oprah! For the happy-making!

    Nail… head… I could not even begin to explain in this lil box how appropriate this was for me today. This day was the day that I needed someone to ‘get what’s in my head!’ Occasionally I forget you must reside in there… at least for weekends it seems!

    /secret handshake

    1. “This day was the day that I needed someone to ‘get what’s in my head!’”

      I’m happy I could help with that. Anytime.

      “Occasionally I forget you must reside in there… at least for weekends it seems!”

      *laugh* I do! It’s busy in there, I struggle to keep up with all the action!

      *secret handshake, wink, nod, eyebrow waggle*

      Ferns

  5. I am not particularly conflict-averse in my marriage, when I am emotionally healthy (if depressed, etc. it’s a different story). I don’t thrive on it, or seek it out, but I will defend my patch or pursue my point as I feel necessary, and it is not typically too stressful to me to do so.

    Ferns, I know this topic is something we’ve shared ideas about before, and I love that you know how it all fits for you and exactly what you want. That is an amazingly difficult thing sometimes.

    Because of my anachronistic religious damage I have reservations about deeply uneven power dynamics, regardless of which gender is on top. EVEN THOUGH I do understand there is a massive difference between someone gladly embracing and desiring that dynamic vs. women being told that it is their duty because of their gender to submit to their husband/ruler.

    I grew up amid so much damage done because the leadership of the subculture insisted that female submission was the key to a successful and joyous marriage. Pervasive physical violence was grounds for separation, though not divorce, just as an example of how ridiculous their nonsense was. It was extreme, and it was unhealthy. I freely admit that my feeling on this are influenced negatively by that experience.

    So in contrast to what works you— for me, my needs in a relationship are met by a form that is ambiguous to some extent regarding control in general because I’d rather deal with some conflict rather than feel any sort of identification with the unhealthy model that was insisted upon by the fundamentalists in my past, even if it is female dominance and male submission.

    So all that long-winded rattling on to say, it is awesome that you are self-aware enough to know what you need and how to articulate it so beautifully. I bet your counseling would help many, but I probably won’t buy the book.

    :p

    1. “I love that you know how it all fits for you and exactly what you want. That is an amazingly difficult thing sometimes.”

      *smile* I love it too. It took me a long time of experiencing what *doesn’t* work to figure out what does. Mind you, I haven’t actually *found* it yet!

      “So in contrast to what works you— for me, my needs in a relationship are met by a form that is ambiguous to some extent regarding control in general because I’d rather deal with some conflict rather than feel any sort of identification with the unhealthy model that was insisted upon by the fundamentalists in my past, even if it is female dominance and male submission.”

      I can’t imagine growing up in that environment, but I do understand the result and why something that smells even vaguely like that would be a situation to avoid.

      “I bet your counseling would help many, but I probably won’t buy the book.”

      *smile* Fair call, but when I am a few dollars short of my first billion, I will be looking pointedly at you!

      Ferns

  6. Absolutely, you should writer a book on that! I’ve been my Lady’s slave three years now with nary a spat. Disagreements are moot when power has been given over in unity, we find. I trust her judgment as well as compassion, to be in charge, and enjoy those privileges that she allows and that make sense for us together as two, lively, creative, engaged people in the world and within our most intimate relationship, all of which glows with erotic energy merged into daily, caring life. With her encouragement, I feel free to inform her of any disagreements, or discomforts, knowing she will hear me out, and I accept whatever she decides from there, which is consistently fair, by the way, but even it if seemed not, I value my obeisance — and the serenity that goes with it — more than “winning” any games. I don’t know if it’s that we’re naturally compatible in vanilla as well as other flavors, or because of the power-exchange dynamic, but really, disagreements seldom even come up and arguing seems foreign to us. We just get along… And I never feel wimpy or compromised. Au contraire, I feel fulfilled and more alive than ever in this D/s partnership. Thanks again for your insightful, sexy, lively blog revealing all the making us think. You already have the makings of a great book in these blogs.

    1. It sounds like you and your lucky lady operate in much the same way that I do, and I am so glad to hear that it works so well for you.

      “…I feel free to inform her of any disagreements, or discomforts, knowing she will hear me out, and I accept whatever she decides from there”

      And I think that’s a really important point. It’s not ‘shut up, I don’t want to know’, it’s simply that when a final decision has to be made, it is ultimately hers.

      It’s great when it works!

      Ferns

  7. What conflict? I’m right and the sooner the rest of the world grasps that the better it will be for everyone!

    Coug

  8. Let’s say you have had a row. Let’s say you have had a reasonable talk about it. He is really sorry. Let’s say that in the row you said that you would never take him back (and meant every word). Ok let’s say that you don’t feel like using the cattle prod on him this time. Let’s say that all you want now is passionately to make up. Let’s say that the row was his entire fault. It’s not as if Ferns is in the wrong. No. That would be one thing. Here Ferns is entirely in the right. Yet more than anything she wants to give him just one more chance. Just for now she has fallen under a spell of beautiful love, sex and submission. Yes there is a thrill in it. Well she is making an act of submission to him by giving him his one more chance. She likes it. You both know it. It does not change the overall authority. It is human.

    Ferns is still the dominant. Her sweetheart is still the submissive.

    A happy relationship just sails on smoothly and sweetly, having a clear line of authority, just as before the storm.

    Satan

    1. “Let’s say that in the row you said that you would never take him back (and meant every word).”

      I would NEVER do this unless what he had done was absolutely unforgivable, and if that were the case, why would I take him back after I dumped his sorry arse?

      “A happy relationship just sails on smoothly and sweetly, having a clear line of authority, just as before the storm.”

      No, it’s over. Sorry Satan, but he blew it, and I think you should have a long talk with him about it and sort him out. I do hope he finds happiness with someone else, I do, really. I wish him luck.

      Ferns

      1. I told him what you said.

        He thanks you.

        He said it seems wise to have that plan ready in case you have that row.

        He says a plan seems wiser than a blank sheet of paper.

        He says that his thoughts are with you.

  9. Is the perception that dominant’s enjoy conflict, or is it simply that, power exchange feels more dramatic when there is reluctance on the part of the submissive?

    I’m thinking specifically of this post which has conflict, of a sort, and makes the scenario much hotter than it would be otherwise.

    How much fun would this be if there was never any resistance? Would you really always want to get you way, without even a little push?

    1. “Is the perception that dominant’s enjoy conflict, or is it simply that, power exchange feels more dramatic when there is reluctance on the part of the submissive?”

      This is a great question. I think the perception of *both* is emphasised in no small part by all of the stereotypes of how dominant women *should* be. Chest-beaty, barrel-over-objections, overtly aggressive women who will gladly stride into any situation and knock heads because that makes them hot, or happy, or something.

      But if you picture real people in a real relationship, the answer to your question starts to become self evident if you imagine *daily* power struggles about random ‘stuff’. Really. That’s no fun for anyone.*

      * I will concede that maybe that *is* fun for some people, so take that sentence as an incredulous ‘really?!’ vs a statement of fact.

      “I’m thinking specifically of this post which has conflict, of a sort, and makes the scenario much hotter than it would be otherwise.”

      Right, but resistance in *play* is something very different. That’s not a tedious argument about whether this or that route to some party is quicker or not, that’s hot push-pull sexy grrr-ishness.

      Pushing past resistance to having him take more when I am playing with him = fun and hot and awesome, more please.

      Pushing past resistance to having him put glasses in the dishwasher = soooo not fun, not hot and not awesome: “Just STFU and put the frigging glasses in the frigging dishwasher before I rip your head off!!”

      “How much fun would this be if there was never any resistance? Would you really always want to get you way, without even a little push?”

      I think I’ve answered that already, but I’d add here that my last submissive really worried that he was ‘too compliant’ in play. He was so eager to do what I wanted that he was concerned that it would be no fun for me. He was wrong. A lot of the resistance that is so uber crazy-hot to me is the one that creates conflict in his own head versus any resistance to *me*, pushing past *that* is beyond amazing.

      Ferns

      1. I just looked at that post. You don’t really want him to dress up when he does not want to. That would be another fantasy and conflict. You want to get him in the mood to dress up. That is the caring kind of conflict. There is a line which you do not cross. I guess you would not want to cross it. Though I guess you may toy with crossing it for fun.

        1. “You don’t really want him to dress up when he does not want to.”

          Yes, I really did. Of course, I couldn’t literally *force* him to do it, and when he said ‘no’, I was not going to harangue him about it.

          But yes, I wanted him to overcome his (expected) reluctance and do it for my pleasure even though he didn’t really want to. There is a big difference between someone ‘doing it for me’ and someone ‘doing it because now they *want* to’.

          In that instance, he resisted me *and* he had to deal with the conflict in his head about it, but then *he did it anyway*.

          Hot!!

          Ferns

        2. It goes without saying that any choice is a conflict.

          To start with your boy says no. So you coax him. This works. Part of him still wants to say no. Part of him wants to please you. There is his conflict. In the end the part of him which he wants to please you with wins. Then he is ready to wear your clothes. Why? He wants to. The proof is there.

          Satan

        3. I am not sure we are going to get to an understanding here.

          “Part of him still wants to say no. Part of him wants to please you. There is his conflict.”

          Yes, agreed.

          “In the end the part of him which he wants to please you with wins.”

          Yes, agreed.

          “Then he is ready to wear your clothes. Why? He wants to. The proof is there.”

          No. He wants to please me MORE than he *doesn’t* want to dress up (per your second point above). He *still* doesn’t want to dress up. You might not see the difference, but I absolutely do.

          Ferns

  10. No. It’s ok. Satan knows what he means.

    It is too bad that your vanilla boy is not available. Still he says his say for us thanks to the earlier post with him. What does he say?

    First Ferns your boy does say, at last, that he wants this.

    Here it is.

    “‘Didn’t I tell you this would be fun?’ I ask him.

    He looks up at me and nods.

    ‘Tell me you’re a slut,’ I whisper in his ear, ‘Tell me you want this and I will give it to you.’

    And he does, and I do.”

    So Ferns’ boy does say that he wants this.

    Satan has at no time missed what Ferns’ boy says.

    The next thing is what does Ferns’ boy mean when he says this?

    Ferns tells us, “…He wants to please me MORE than he *doesn’t* want to dress up…”

    And Ferns tells us, “…He *still* doesn’t want to dress up…”

    And at once Satan takes a view here that Ferns’ boy means what Ferns says he means.

    Satan

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