Building trust

Trust doesn’t flow one way. I know that’s obvious, but we D/s folks talk a lot about how the submissive has to trust their Domme and all that. Yes, true.

But as a dominant, I have to trust him also.

I have to trust him to accept my dominance happily, I have to trust him to glow under it, I have to trust that he will tell me when something is wrong, I have to trust that he is sincere in wanting to give me the things that I want, I have to trust that he is happy to be treated the way I treat him, I have to trust him to say ‘yes’ to me over and over.

Without that trust, I can’t exercise my dominance. I can’t. Because I will be second guessing myself over and over. Without trust in him, I will feel like I am not at all able to understand where he is in it, it will be as if I am blind in trying to read him, like I am groping around in the dark while worrying that I am going to knock him over some cliff and I won’t even see it coming. And that doesn’t work for me.

And that trust comes slowly for me. It must, that’s how it works.

The basis, the underlying and initial way of building my trust is simple:

 

Do what you say you will do.

 

That’s it.

It’s not complicated. It’s not difficult. It’s not scary.

And yet, it seems to be a serious challenge for some. I don’t know why that is. I mean, it’s not something that is unique to D/s. I expect that of my vanilla partners, my friends, my family, my work colleagues.

And yet, it’s not unusual for a new potential that I am talking with to fail at this.

“You said you would look this up for me by end of today. Where is it?”

“Gah, sorry, I forgot / thought tomorrow would be okay / didn’t realise it was urgent / was busy / something etc…”

The first time it happens, I figure that they just didn’t understand how important keeping some small commitment is to me. They didn’t quite ‘get’ that this is how we build this thing, with small fundamentals where I learn to trust him to do what he says he will do. So I explain it in excruciating detail.

The second time, I am truly baffled since I explained it the first time and he said he understood.

The third time, I am going, “Okay, I don’t care what the excuse is, this is obviously not working.” and we have *a serious talk*.

It may be any number or combination of things on his side, and it varies from one case to another of course. But I don’t choose to speak with men who aren’t smart enough to understand what I am saying to them about it, so whatever it is, it’s not some kind of misunderstanding.

Once is a mistake, twice is baffling, three times is ‘serious talk time’. After that, it’s simply incompatibility.

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46 Comments

    1. I don’t like the term ‘flaky’ for this, even though it really does fit since I define ‘flaky’ pretty much as ‘unreliable’.

      I save the ‘flake’ label for really big things (like saying they will meet for coffee and standing me up, or one day just disappearing without a word).

      I *know* my expectations aren’t unreasonable, but on the other hand, I see plenty of discussions where both doms AND subs react to this sort of thing with ‘well, how important was it anyway?’ or ‘if they were a good dom, they would understand’ or ‘Geez, don’t sweat the small stuff’ etc etc.

      My point being NOT that I will lower my expectations, but that many people in general don’t value this quality, don’t think it’s important, and that attitude seems to be reinforced a lot out there *points vaguely out into the world*.

      So I tend to be a little kinder, and think of it as a difference in values and simple incompatibility versus saying ‘they are this or that’.

      Ferns

      1. I’ve always associated “flaky” with forgetfulness, not blowing something off or not realizing the seriousness/importance of a request. While being forgetful isn’t great, to me, it’s always felt better than “I didn’t understand you really meant what you said.”

        1. Heh. I suppose it’s another word that is used differently by a bunch of people.

          Of course I looked it up, urban dictionary style: n. An unreliable person; someone who agrees to do something, but never follows through.

          I don’t like it for this (even though it fits) because I have in my head the statement “he flaked” (i.e. disappeared/stood her up/did a runner), so I tend to think of it as more severe.

          Ferns

  1. “Do what you say you will do;” it sounds so simple. But I have to deal with it on a daily basis. I manage a small staff at work, and it is always a problem. I even qualify the statement. If you can’t do something you said you would, let me know immediately so I can reassign the project or reassign you. I don’t want to get to the deadline an find out you just gave up on it.

    Nobody is perfect, but you are what you make a habit of doing. If you make a habit of committing to things and then forgetting those commitments or brushing them off, you’re unreliable.

    1. Yes, exactly. And my frustration with it in the workplace has been similar to yours.

      If you can’t do it, then come and tell me, don’t just keep quiet until the deadline and then tell me you didn’t get it done at the last minute. Gah!!

      Ferns

    1. There is no ‘worse’.

      If I can’t trust him, we are never going to get to the point where the issue of being unable to read him even comes up. That’s kind of the point.

      Ferns

    2. “Once is a mistake, twice is baffling, three times is ‘serious talk time’. After that, it’s simply incompatibility.”

      Why bother with steps one two and three?

      1. Because I like him or we would not be doing this. Because I don’t expect perfection. Because I am willing to work for what I want. Because he deserves to be given chances to correct his behaviour. Because part of the process is teaching him how to please me. Because I want him to succeed. Because I need to be sure I have given it my best shot. Because he has other qualities I really enjoy. Because habits take time to form. Because sometimes saying you understand and internalising it aren’t the same thing. Because because because…

        But mostly, it’s because I want to.

        Ferns

    1. Yes.

      I might write another post asking what people use as trust-builders since I know that a lot of people in general don’t consider *THIS particular thing* one of them.

      Ferns

  2. Yes! This is something people don’t talk about enough.

    If subs treat the power relationship as real, then it will be real. If they treat it as optional, or a wrapping for some kink, then nothing works.

    1. I’m struggling a little with your meaning.

      Do you meant if he is not meeting my expectations that he is not treating the power relationship as real?

      In this example, it’s early on, there *is* no power relationship yet, we are just feeling each other out.

      Or did you mean more in a general sense?

      Ferns

        1. I think it relates across the board. I am not impressed with people who don’t do what they say, regardless of the context.

          The difference here is that we are ostensibly in the early stages of feeling each other out for a D/s relationship, so I would think that his motivation would be high. If he can’t deliver when he is eager and motivated, he is certainly not going to do it when the eagerness settles.

          But yeah, there is no agreed power relationship at this early stage.

          Ferns

  3. This sort of conundrum brings me back to the stereotype of: to women (Dommes) its about a relationship, and to men (subs) its about rubbing genitals together or doing “naughty” stuff. Doing what you say you’re going to do is confusing and not important to someone who feels “all this” with genitals and not soul and spirit.

  4. Timeline
    0__________________________________________________

    Satan did ask Ferns something. But do you know (roughly) on that Timeline when Satan was asking of?

    Timeline
    0__________F?______________________________________

    0 = Ferns meets man.

    F = Man is first time at fault.

    ? = When Satan was asking of.

    Wait, Satan has forgotten.

    What did he ask of Ferns?

    Oh yes! I know! It was – you know – about man!

    It was about how you feel about man.

    I meant when man was or is first time at fault.

    I ask:

    “Which one is worse; his fault or not being able to read him?”

    Satan

    1. I’m not sure there is a ‘worse’ in it.

      At F+1s, I’m surprised and disappointed that he didn’t meet my expectation, and I’m disappointed at my (incorrect) assumption that he would (because I obviously made a mistake there).

      Quantifying which is worse is kind of irrelevant.

      Ferns

      1. Thank you Ferns,

        To me the second one is infinitely worse.

        I mean it is worse to give my heart to someone who I can’t read. Some may say they do not want to read their partner. Some may say they like mystery. I say there is always some mystery. I read my partner.

        Satan

        1. You will get the right one who you can learn to read and who almost always does what he says. I know it.

  5. I mean to read your writing regularly, but I get sidetracked and am very happy to find this post off of the FL discussion thread.

    God. Yes. Just yes.

    I’m dealing with this now in the midst of a relationship which is ever so much harder than at the beginning. It’s harder because of my propensity to make excuses for his excuses. I *like* him.

    But really, I am so fucking simple to please. Just do what you say you are going to do, right? So fucking simple, one of the least complicated women on earth. How does something that simple get complicated?

    Thanks for the big type to remind me of the mission statement.

    1. “It’s harder because of my propensity to make excuses for his excuses. I *like* him.”

      Ugh, yes!

      I’m just like you in that if I like him and I really *want* him, I will be looking for ways for him to succeed. I will be rooting for him like a manic cheerleader, all pom poms and shakin’ it.

      COME ON, BOY, I REALLY LIKE YOU!!! DON’T FUCK IT UP!!

      But yeah, if he won’t or can’t step up, I know that liking him isn’t enough. I will end up being disappointed with him over and over and that will make us both unhappy. And it will be my own damn fault for putting blinders on.

      The bottom line is that if he can’t do it, he just doesn’t care for me in the way I need him to, despite any pretty words to the contrary that go along with it.

      If you are already invested, then it becomes that much harder. I wish you the best of luck with your situation.

      Ferns

      1. This. ^^

        You were my inspiration or more accurately, kick in the seat of the pants to make a change I needed to make. I changed the terms of the relationship, which I *knew* I needed to do but would make him sad (see “I really like him” for reasons I didn’t want to make him sad).

        Change, not an end, but a significant change. I feel 50 pounds lighter (whee, size 2!) and he’s mending.

        Who’s the woman? You’re the woman. :)

        1. “I changed the terms of the relationship, which I *knew* I needed to do but would make him sad”

          Good for you!! I’m so glad my post helped you make the change. And I know what you mean about feeling ‘lighter’ after – you obviously made the right decision!

          “Who’s the woman? You’re the woman. :)”

          *laugh* No no, that makes YOU the woman!

          Ferns

  6. I can relate, because the same goes for a dominant imho. If the dominant partner says something like “I’ll punish you severely for doing this or that”, I expect them to do so. If they don’t, it undermines their dominance for me. Just as I expect it undermines their submission to you. I actually experienced something like that. I played with someone and they kept saying what they’d do, but never did. Soon, I couldn’t submit anymore. Why exactly that is, I can’t tell. I have to give this some serious thought. Hmm.

        1. Thank you! Your perspective is really interesting.

          I’ve just left an ungodly long comment there (and deleted a sweary one when I thought the first one had gone into the void… heh…).

          Ferns

    1. @sprinkles: “I can relate, because the same goes for a dominant imho.”

      Yes, absolutely! I think it’s more commonly discussed and expected from the dominant’s side than the submissive’s.

      “I played with someone and they kept saying what they’d do, but never did. Soon, I couldn’t submit anymore. Why exactly that is, I can’t tell.”

      This makes perfect sense to me. If I don’t follow up with things, then I’m not asserting my authority, I’m just talking the talk and not walking the walk.

      For me, it’s an ‘I don’t care’ signal. And if I don’t care enough to do what I say I will do, then what are we doing? It all becomes a kind of meaningless blather.

      Ferns

  7. I think of the issue of doing what you say you will do is important in most any relationship. For example, at my work if I receive an e-mail that something will be done by Tuesday, then if it is something I am relying on (as is often the case) I will e-mail Wednesday about it. For me it depends upon the severity of the issue.

    However, for an ongoing relationship such as a BDSM relationship, it is important to me to avoid these sorts of issues in general. They happen from time to time, of course, that’s understandable but if it’s a semi-frequent issue or it occurs in very important times then that is something I would be very bad at handling.

    And I also agree with you about trust. It took time for my dominant wife to be able to trust that I would stop her (safe word, if necessary) if she were doing something in or out of the bedroom which was a problem. Without her trust that I would speak up, it would make her tentative.

    1. “I think of the issue of doing what you say you will do is important in most any relationship.”

      This is so true.

      Probably the only difference in this as part of a D/s relationship is that I find out earlier because I *do* ask small things of him to see how that feels for both of us.

      “Without her trust that I would speak up, it would make her tentative.”

      *nod nod* As part of trust overall, this is key, and it’s can be difficult for some submissives because they don’t want to disappoint their Domme.

      Ferns

  8. @Giles: ‘I suspec that, beyond violating Safe, Sane and Consensual, the biggest sin for a BDSM relationship on either side has to be “Not treating it as real.”‘

    I can picture it. Side one treats BDSM as real 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week/ 365 days a year. I can see the other side treat BDSM as real all except for when they are writing their book. I just use writing their book for an example. Let the book be on advanced cognitive cybernetics. I can see that wreck the BDSM relationship. Has anyone sinned any more than anyone else though?

    1. Yes, if it’s supposed to be 24/7 then if either of them switches it on or off, then that’s going to cause problems (see my recent blog entry). However, in the example you give, perhaps the couple needs to have some defined vanilla space and time as well.

      1. Dear Giles,

        Thank you your reply to my question.

        The Devil is in the details. That means that it all depends on the diverse details case by case by…

        There can certainly never be just one sweeping answer to fit each case.

        In so many words, that is what your reply says too.

        So yes, I agree.

        Satan

  9. As always You and I seem to see things from the same perspective in reverse as if looking into a mirror’s reflection.
    I don’t buy into the whole “submission gift” for this reason because I think that a Dominant has to “gift” her Dominance just as much and that is just as powerful and intense and requires just as much trust.

    Like you trust is something I do not give freely to anyone and it is hard for me because it throws out everything of me, all of my vulnerabiliteis and lays them in her hands. I have to trust her to handle that, to accept it and be able to caress it, mold it, manipulate it for both of us. Even in my friendships if you do something to lose that trust, such as not doing what you said you would, it chips away at that trust and what we had, whatever that was, is no longer the same value anymore.

    “Without that trust, I can’t exercise my dominance. I can’t. Because I will be second guessing myself over and over. Without trust in him, I will feel like I am not at all able to understand where he is in it, it will be as if I am blind in trying to read him, like I am groping around in the dark while worrying that I am going to knock him over some cliff and I won’t even see it coming. And that doesn’t work for me.”

    I think I have had this problem with trying to trust with becoming comfortable and showing my submission. It was a compatibility problem I am sure but still it left me feeling unsure, scared and ripped. I have to trust that you are sure of what you want of me, you communicate that clearly to me, and if you are unsure because there are times I am sure that you communicate that as well. I cannot trust you to give you all of me if I have no idea what is expected of me. I don’t do well with no understanding your expectations, your desires, your needs. And if I cannot trust you to control what I give you, it will quickly retract deeper than it was before.

    Respectfully,
    mysticlez

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