Defensiveness and trust

There is a line between defensiveness and trust that oddly often feels ugly to me.

I don’t expect a stranger to trust me. That’s ludicrous. But I expect a potential partner to come to me with an open heart and willingness to speak to me without the expectation that I want to do him harm in some way.

I have spoken to some men who are constantly defensive about me ‘taking too much’ or ‘crossing their boundaries’ from the very beginning, suspiciously weighing every exchange, every request, every conversation and seemingly looking for some way that I am trying to fuck them over. They build walls from the very beginning and in it is an unspoken demand that I capitulate over and over to ‘prove’ that I’m not going to be one of ‘those Dommes’.

In that kind of attitude, he is always measuring the ‘cost’ of things, or the ‘fairness’ (whatever that means to him) of it, and he is likely to then balk at stuff because it’s ‘gone too far’ and now he doesn’t like it any more.

It’s hard to explain, but to me, this leads to an idea of submission that comes across as hugely conditional, not in the sense of limits, but in the sense that he will bring me a glass of water any time I want, but if I ask him 6 times, on the 7th, he will go “Hey, this isn’t fair! You are totally taking the piss!!” or “Okay, but then I get *this* in return because now I feel taken advantage of.”

When I feel that suspicion, that need to protect himself from me before we have even started, I pretty much know that I am never going to be able to get what I want from him. That might be unfair because there could be a million and one reasons that he is like that and maybe he will ‘get over it’ with time, or with me, but if he is a mature, grown up man, I don’t think that he *will* get over it. I think he is displaying a pretty fundamental part of who he is, and my ego isn’t big enough to believe that he will ‘change for me’.

The men I like are the exact opposite. They come into conversations with curiosity, interest, openness. If anything, they are perhaps too open because I am drawn to that potential for vulnerability. Their level of trust is generally appropriate for where we are in the process. And when we hit a point where it seems promising, they tend towards seeking out things that they can do for me, they lean heavily into “Here take it, take it, please, please!” and I’m the one going “Woah, hold on.” They trust me not to be looking for ways to harm them, and later, they will trust me to draw the lines for us.

It’s a little tricky because of course everyone has defensive walls, it is sensible to have them. I think the line is crossed for me when they are suspicious that *I* (me personally) am trying to find a way to do them harm when we are speaking as potential partners instead of coming into the dialogue relatively neutral. Dealing with it makes me exhausted, and there’s no way in hell that it’s going to be something that I am willing to bring into a relationship.

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30 Comments

  1. You have standards. Most men aren’t going to measure up, but once in a while you’ll find what you seek. If you lower your expectations, you’ll not only be disappointed in them, you’ll end up being disappointed in yourself as well.

    1. *smile* Don’t fear, I am not considering changing my mind on this. When I encounter it, it causes an almost instinctual recoil from me, depending how strong it comes across.

      But I’m not sure it’s about ‘standards’ as much as compatibility. ‘Standards’ imply that there is a ‘higher standard’ I am seeking and what I want is not necessarily ‘better’, just very different.

      Ferns

  2. Sounds like these fellows seek to control, when pure ecstasy lies in giving it up – worth at least taking a chance, matching you doing same. To read your chronicles or, I imagine, encounter you directly, should be enough for any red-blooded submissive to throw open all the gates and greet you with open arms.

    1. I think you are right about the control. For whatever reason, they are fearful, and keeping tight control on *how* others are allowed to enter their space makes sense, and it comes across to me as defensive suspicion. They may have very valid reasons for being that way, but that’s not really my concern.

      “To read your chronicles or, I imagine, encounter you directly, should be enough for any red-blooded submissive to throw open all the gates and greet you with open arms.”

      *laugh* I’m not so sure about that, but I would hope that if we are talking, they would get a sense relatively quickly that I’m not ‘out to get them’. If they don’t or can’t or won’t, then we have this problem.

      Ferns

  3. I think the line is crossed for me when they are suspicious that *I* (me personally) am trying to find a way to do them harm when we are speaking as potential partners…

    What you describe here goes well beyond mere “defensiveness”. This kind of mistrust casts doubts on your personal integrity. Not only would that suspiciousness rule the person out as a potential partner, but as a friend as well.

    1. “This kind of mistrust casts doubts on your personal integrity.”

      Ahhh… interesting, and you are right, of course. But I never take it personally because they don’t *know* me. It’s *their* problem and not about me at all, so I take no personal offence at it.

      I suspect, but am not sure (I’d have to think about it some more) that they might view ‘non potential partners’ with less suspicion because presumably they will never get close enough to cause real harm. Food for thought, thanks for that.

      Ferns

  4. Great post! I think you’ve nailed a very important aspect of the BDSM relationship that is discussed far too rarely.

    An open heart and mind is a valuable asset for a submissive.

    1. Thanks for the compliment. And actually, when you put it that way, an open heart and mind is a valuable asset for *anyone* looking to enter into a relationship.

      I do agree with you, though. I expect *more* of that openness from my submissive than I give myself. One of the reasons I am in awe of submissive men is *because* those special ones are capable of a kind of open vulnerability that I am not. It completely blows my tiny little mind.

      Ferns

  5. So many reasons why a man seeks out a Domme. I have met a few of the ones you describe here. What I have found is that they are seeking out a ‘role’ not a person who has that role as a part of her life. Even though dominance will run through the life, I am a woman and human being first. Get to know me first and you’ll find the Domme.

    The fact that they approach you with scars and fears from the past proves they are looking at the ‘role’ and are not seeing you first in that role. I’m drawn to men who have a vulnerability that they sense is safe to reveal to me. Not as a Domme first…but to me who can approach them and build something with them that is uniquely found with that relationship only.

    Great thought provoking post.

    ~ Vista

    1. “What I have found is that they are seeking out a ‘role’ not a person who has that role as a part of her life.”

      I’m turning this over in my mind and I don’t agree with it.

      I think that those men would be exactly the same in a vanilla relationship: suspicious that some vanilla woman wants to take his money, interfere with his family, is intending to hurt him in some way.

      I think their fears are *highlighted* and exaggerated with D/s because they see the potential for harm as much higher due to the ‘inequality’ inherent in it. This makes the defensiveness so much more brick-wall-like.

      I find most men who want a woman to fit into the Domme role are more about having a script for her to follow. Undesirable, but to me, quite a different thing. They are not so much defensive as dictatorial. Also, much easier to see wayyyy up-front.

      “I’m drawn to men who have a vulnerability that they sense is safe to reveal to me.”

      Yes, this. And I can’t see the potential for it when they come to me from a place of suspicion and mistrust.

      Ferns

  6. Ferns it is tricky. I wish that I could fix this for you. It is surprising too

    I think that dominance and submission has an image problem. At first glance, the dominant cares for the dominant and not for the submissive slave. At first glance that’s what people think. I do not think that it is a fair image. But even you Ferns say that lots of people play with this in a D/s sense and some, though not that many even want it in their long term romantic partners.

    This post shows us the same image in these men’s minds. What if a man who you like says to you that Ferns I have to be honest? I’m trying to get rid of these silly fears. I’m trying to shut up about them. I do hope that you are as lovely as you seem. I feel mixed up. But please be patient with me. Please let’s get to know each other. What if a man said that?

    S.

    1. “What if a man who you like says to you that Ferns I have to be honest? I’m trying to get rid of these silly fears. I’m trying to shut up about them.”

      It doesn’t matter what he says. Someone who is suspicious and defensive with me, who expects the worst from me, is not someone who I can proceed with.

      There are plenty of women who will be fine with it, who will do a bunch of work to try and get him past it in the hope that they can ‘fix him’ and find gold in them thar hills, but I’m not one of them.

      Ferns

      1. Yeah, never thought I would be stuck in this sort of mire. I thought we all understood what this was to be at the outset. I have always wanted My boys to be who they are, in addition to serving Me with all that they are.

        I am dealing with the conditional crap, I know that one cannot really Dominate one who is unwilling, but for pete’s sake…I should not HAVE to ask for things six times before I am obeyed. They wear My collar, but I do the bending. I am at a crossroads. Too bad for Me, I have to chose between the Dominance they both supposedly handed to Me at the outset, and the love I have for each of them.

        I feel I have been treated meanly, To have them each promise submission well defined before hand… then to show that they are incapable of it, or unwilling unless it is on their terms. I was promised My due as Dominant, but I feel tricked.

        Sorry to spew all over your post but YEESH! This is something I am so far into that I can’t back out our respective relationships will survive and flourish, but I may have to lose the D/s, and that makes Me sad to My core.

        hmmm… I guess there are doormats to be had, should I feel like finding one. I think they may be the only ‘type’ that will brook none of these petty arguments over stupid shit.

        thanks *hug* I feel better

        1. M.FV. says… “…Sorry… …This is something I am so far into that I can’t back out our respective relationships will survive and flourish, but I may have to lose the D/s, and that makes Me sad to My core…”

          I see nothing at all for you to say sorry for M.FV. I hate rows. I hate for you to lose what makes you happy. You can’t back out, so you have to fix this somehow.

          S.

        2. Oh, you are welcome to vent your spleen here, and I’m sorry you are having such troubles.

          I can imagine your frustration, I know you have been having some ups and downs with your boys.

          I know you didn’t ask for input, but my only advice is to not compromise away your own happiness in order to keep the relationship/s, because the end game in that is entirely predictable.

          I do hope that you can resolve it in a way that gives you all happiness.

          *virtual hugs*

          Ferns

      1. You DO know what makes a cattle prod work right ?

        So much for being all like arch and enigmatic and stuff honestly *stamps foot*

        Coug

  7. Ferns: Your blog has been an invaluable aid in my personal awakening to my submissive nature. The question of trust is very important to me now as I have begun to meet other women 8 months after the death of my wife, who was the queen of my heart for 30 years. We were quite vanilla sexually, but in all other respects, she was the dominant partner, and I believe my absolute trust in her from the very beginning was what made it work so well.

    1. Thank you for the your comment, and I am really pleased that you have found useful things in my blog.

      I am so sorry for the death of your wife, I can’t imagine how devastating that must be after 30 years.

      You are right, trust is vital and often hard-won, as it should be. I wish you the very best of luck in finding someone special again.

      Ferns

  8. I wanted to write more, but somehow this form crashed and I couldn’t type. So, here’s the rest:
    I think there are many stages of D/s, and for a relationship to work, you have to be on the same page. I don’t think those boys you talk about necessarily have trust issues. They might just not want the same level of involvement in all parts of life as you.

    1. “I think there are many stages of D/s, and for a relationship to work, you have to be on the same page.”

      I agree, yes.

      “I don’t think those boys you talk about necessarily have trust issues. They might just not want the same level of involvement in all parts of life as you.”

      Yeaaahhhh… nup. That’s a different issue, and is pretty easy to figure out in normal conversation. That’s just about discovery. This is something different, and it’s hard to articulate clearly.

      The closest I can get to explaining how it feels to me (other than the above, obviously!) is that it’s like someone hanging onto their wallet extra closely when I’m talking to them because they are fearful that I am going to snatch it at any moment. And I’m all, “Wha?!! Seriously?!!”

      Ferns

    2. I was thinking about my response last night (a good thing, you got me thinking!), and wanted to add that ‘wallet’ was not a reference to money (in case anyone thought it was), it was just the thing that made most sense in picturing that mistrustful ‘clutching it tighter because they think you are going to steal it’ scenario.

      I’d like to try and come up with a conversational snippet that illustrates what it sounds like, but I will have to think about that.

      Ferns

  9. That’s what makes D/s relationships so awesome! I must admit, in vanilla relationships I don’t like to be taken advantage of purely because it often leads to being taken advantage of or getting “played” (especially with younger women).

    The real zing-zing! of D/s is that there’s an understanding beforehand that the D is the boss and if something is important to them, they will always get their way.

    I think being defensive at first is instinctual at first, but being truly submissive to someone is based entirely on trust and opening up completely to your dominant.

    Very thought-provoking post Ms. Ferns, I’ve never really thought about it so much until now.

    1. This is an interesting perspective and I do get what you mean about vanilla relationships in it. Inequality in a vanilla relationship is often not pleasant because there is no *agreement*, no boundaries, no consent. I always picture a ‘hen pecked husband’ scenario where neither party is happy.

      “I think being defensive at first is instinctual…”

      It is, yes. But ‘normal’ defensiveness is not what I am talking about here. I will work on that conversational snippet I mentioned to sprinkles to try and put up an example of what I mean without it being a caricature.

      Ferns

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