Blending D/s and vanilla

This cracker of a question was asked by someone on my Ask Me page all anonymous-like:

What is the best advice you can give to a new Domme? I’m feeling uncertain about how to blend the vanilla and the D/s in a new relationship.

It’s tough not only to be figuring out yourself and your needs but learning someone else’s, too! And yet difficult to separate the two.

It can be really tough, yes!!

I have a few posts that I have categorised as ‘Advice for Dommes‘, so please take a look at those for random snippets. This one entitled “You iz doin’ it wrong” is specifically about the expectations put on female dominants, and the bottom line there is “just be you!”, so you might find it useful.

Back to your specific “how to blend the vanilla and the D/s in a new relationship” question though.

Obviously I have no idea as to the nature of your relationship, so I’m going to assume that you are in a romantic relationship with your submissive and you are struggling with ‘being the dominant’ and ‘being the girlfriend’.

It’s really common for dominants to struggle with this, so rest assured that you aren’t alone.

I’m going to separate “play vs vanilla’ from ‘dominance vs vanilla’ because I think they are two quite separate topics.

Play vs vanilla

I’m defining this as having some problems reconciling ‘being mean’ in play and then ‘being lovely’ as the girlfriend.

If your play is about ‘being mean’, perhaps in tone (“here, bitch!”), or in acts (sadism), or in how you treat him (humiliation), then it’s presumably quite a departure from you as ‘loving, giving girlfriend’. The difference can be quite jarring, and it can be difficult to manage it if you aren’t used to it, both for internal reasons (‘ugh, I feel bad about it’) and external reasons (‘I don’t know how to be both’).

The ‘feeling bad about it’ is often about guilt that you have behaved that way with him, and I think there are two ways to combat this:

One is to work at re-framing how you are looking at it from ‘being mean’ to ‘giving him what he wants’. The first is just… well… mean, and the second is an expression of love. And it *is* an expression of love, caring, desire, passion, intimacy… all of those good things. It’s just that your head doesn’t quite know it or accept it yet. It takes some work because of course that’s not how we’re taught love looks, but when you see whatever you do in play as expressions of love, it totally changes things.

The second is to talk to your boy about it and enlist his help. Make sure that he gives you lots of reassurance that he enjoyed it, that not only aren’t you a bad person but that you are awesome for giving him that, that it was wonderful for him, that he is grateful that you did that for him, and that he receives all of it as an expression of love.

With the ‘I don’t know how to be both’, I think this issue is actually easier to resolve because if it helps, you can make a distinct line between ‘play’ and ‘not play’ so that you can draw a line underneath ‘mean you’ in play and ‘nice you’ outside of play. The simplest way to do that is to introduce a ritual that signals the start and end of play.

For example, you are the loving girlfriend right up to the point where you tell him to kneel and you put his collar on him (or perform some other ritual, or say a certain phrase, you get to choose what works for you both). From that point until the collar comes off, you are ‘the Domme’. You play madly and unleash hell on him and when you are done, you have him kneel again to take the collar off, and then you both curl up and cuddle and kiss and be super sweet.

Dominance vs vanilla

By this, I mean asserting authority *outside of the bedroom* and balancing that with normal vanilla sweetness.

The two are not at all mutually exclusive. You have agreed to a D/s dynamic, your boundaries are clear, he has given you the authority to make decisions or choices, so all the foundations are in place. Here’s the thing: Asserting authority doesn’t mean ‘being a bitch’ or ‘shouting’ or ‘being mean’.

How does it look for me?

Us sitting on the couch:
Me: “Go and get me a glass of wine, baby.”
Him: “Yes Ma’am.”
Me: “Come here and give me a kiss first…”
Him: *beams, offers his mouth*
*kissing and more kissing, then he goes to get the the wine*

or

Random chat:
Him: “Want Thai for dinner?”
Me: “No, Italian.”
Him: “Yes, Ma’am.”

I think a lot of women struggle with asserting themselves (even nicely) because they feel selfish or demandy instead of ‘nice’ and ‘accommodating’ like they were taught. If you feel that (and if it extends to ‘Oh hell, he’ll never put up with this behaviour!’), you are in good company. It’s really common and I think that unlearning that lifetime of conditioning can be really hard.

I’d again reiterate the two things I said above about viewing things differently and enlisting his support.

If you find yourself feeling like you are being unfair/demandy in a bad way, try to consciously make a mental shift in how you frame it. In my head, when I ask something of my submissive, I’m saying “Come closer”, and when he does something for me, he’s saying “This, sweetheart, is for you”. It’s an exchange that signals sweetness and connection.

Also, ask your submissive to show his appreciation when you assert yourself with him, to reassure you that he enjoys it, welcomes it, wants more of the same. You can make a ritual out of it if it helps (for example, every time you ask something of him, he could say ‘thank you’).

As you gain more experience, you will figure out what fits best and what works for you both, and the blending will probably become more natural as you become more comfortable both with yourself and with him. In the meantime, I hope you find something in this lot that helps.

Best of luck!

Want to ask me a question? Hop on over to my Ask Me page!


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19 Comments

  1. “Asserting authority doesn’t mean ‘being a bitch’ or ‘shouting’ or ‘being mean'”

    This is so true, and I especially love the way you describe it. To me, it is the sweetness that brings out my desire to submit to the authority.

    It is the expression of loving authority that means she has an interest in inviting me to be an integral part of her life and just as importantly, it tells me that she cares for me.

    “I think a lot of women struggle with asserting themselves (even nicely) because they feel selfish or demandy instead of ‘nice’ and ‘accommodating’ like they were taught.

    This is one of my pet peeves against society! Not only are women, who choose to assert authority seen as “pushy” or “bitchy”, but men who choose to submit are seen as “weak” or “pussy whipped”. I was even told once, by a certain lady, that “real men are not submissive”, and it is a topic that we remain at odds with to this very day

  2. One is to work at re-framing how you are looking at it from ‘being mean’ to ‘giving him what he wants’. The first is just… well… mean, and the second is an expression of love. And it *is* an expression of love, caring, desire, passion, intimacy… all of those good things. It’s just that your head doesn’t quite know it or accept it yet. It takes some work because of course that’s not how we’re taught love looks, but when you see whatever you do in play as expressions of love, it totally changes things.

    This is one of the most difficult concepts that Mrs. Edge and I had to work through (and not *all* of it on her part, BTW). Being “mean” takes practice, because most women in a relationship aren’t naturally demanding, overbearing bitches. There are bound to be some faltering steps before a person finds their groove. For example, Mrs. Edge at various times might have said things like:
    “Hey, my goddamn, wine glass is empty; aren’t you paying attention?” to “Honey, could you get me some more wine, please?” before settling into arching her eyebrow and saying “Tom?” and giving me a significant look at her glass.

    On my end, though, I’ve had to be patient while she finds her groove, her way of expressing a desire while still feeling like a caring partner. However, I’ve *also* learned to help her along by anticipating her desires; i.e., focusing my attention on her, and (for example) noticing that her wine glass is almost empty, and filling it before she needs to ask.

    1. “Being “mean” takes practice, because most women in a relationship aren’t naturally demanding, overbearing bitches.”

      Yep, AND THEY DON’T NEED TO BE!! (shouty caps!).

      Now we are almost in another realm of ‘finding what style of dominance works’. Some women will *never* be “mean” because that’s simply not their style and they aren’t EVER going to feel like it fits them.

      Cue Mrs Edge’s raised eyebrow.

      And then we run into the problem where HE’S insisting that she must ‘be mean’ and she has to choose either to ‘pretend for him’ (which is a bunch of mental busy-work, and not at all sweet or hot for her) or ‘fail at being a Domme’. Ugh. A different topic. Don’t even get me started!!

      “On my end, though, I’ve had to be patient while she finds her groove, her way of expressing a desire while still feeling like a caring partner.”

      Yes! Giving her the time and space to figure out what works is vital in getting there. And giving her *support* in whatever way works – I think anticipatory service can be great for that: kudos to you for that.

      Ferns

  3. And if all else fails there’s always the cattle prod * nods all grown like*

    Once again Ferns has got straight to the vital centre it’s what works for YOU not me not her not him not those sweet adorable little Goth girlies who you just want to hurt and kiss and slap and… Ummm I digress somewhat

    TLDR
    Whut Ferns says

    Coug

  4. Extremely well thought out response with many important points.

    “Asserting authority doesn’t mean ‘being a bitch’ or ‘shouting’ or ‘being mean’.”

    So true! I find the ones who feel the need to try and act all Domly Badass McDomme to be a huge turnoff for me. If you are so threatened by your position then you are not the right person for me.

    I love your examples they show how you mix the dynamic of D/s with being a girlfriend. You don’t have to stop being one to be the other.

    “Also, ask your submissive to show his appreciation when you assert yourself with him, to reassure you that he enjoys it, welcomes it, wants more of the same.”

    I think a good and thoughtful submissive should automatically do this for the Dominant but that is just my opinion of course. I agree though that she should tell him to express his feelings and appreciation so there is open communication.

    Most importantly I love this part! “In my head, when I ask something of my submissive, I’m saying “Come closer”, and when he does something for me, he’s saying “This, sweetheart, is for you”.

    Yes!!! Even in play when she does things that vanilla people may conceive as mean or aggressive in my mind it is her saying come closer and my giving saying this is for you!

    Respectfully,
    mysticlez

    1. “I love your examples they show how you mix the dynamic of D/s with being a girlfriend. You don’t have to stop being one to be the other.”

      *smile* Thanks! And aww hell no, you don’t!

      “I think a good and thoughtful submissive should automatically do this for the Dominant but that is just my opinion of course.”

      Though, there is no way for a submissive to know if their dominant needs or wants this unless they say so. I can imagine that some dominants could find that kind of thing really annoying.

      “Even in play when she does things that vanilla people may conceive as mean or aggressive in my mind it is her saying come closer and my giving saying this is for you!”

      *smile* Yes. I’d say *especially* in play.

      Ferns

  5. ….This one entitled “You iz doin’ it wrong” is specifically about the expectations put on female dominants, and the bottom line there is…..

    (no pun intended ha ha)

    Nice post (again as always) Thanks!

    Don

  6. You make a really good point by dividing the conversation into dominance in play and dominance in everyday life. And honestly, for me, serving my partner in an everyday context is more meaningful to me than play.

  7. Once again.. a perfect post I wished you had thought up 2.5 years ago when I really needed it! LOL

    But yes.. finding how to most naturally voice your assertiveness is key and my not at all relate to what is most expected (ie the bitchiness). I know for me, my biggest hurdle was my own damn sense of independence. In day to day, it wasn’t how I demanded things… but the fact that I didn’t demand at all. When I wanted another glass of wine, if he didn’t beat me to the punch, I usually just got up and got it myself. It almost drove him mad

    I still do it a lot. But I did take the time to understand that he “needed” me to want him to do things for me. He also needed to learn that sometimes I got off the couch because I was simply tired of sitting and the glass of wine was an excuse to get up and stretch my legs.

    On a funny aside, I recently wrote a blog post and then later started a discussion on Fetlife on how I can’t seem to separate the vanilla from the D/s and kink anymore. LOL

    1. “Once again.. a perfect post I wished you had thought up 2.5 years ago when I really needed it! LOL”

      *laugh* Sorry about that! Obviously I just wasn’t thinking!

      “In day to day, it wasn’t how I demanded things… but the fact that I didn’t demand at all.”

      Ahhh, yes. I think that’s pretty common actually. I think that a lot of women have to ‘learn’ to accept and ask for service because we ARE so used to just doing things ourselves.

      “I recently wrote a blog post and then later started a discussion on Fetlife on how I can’t seem to separate the vanilla from the D/s and kink anymore.”

      I do think that if you are living with it, it gets like that. The line gets wavy and blurry and in a lot of places id disappears altogether. If you think about the *intent* as being the way D/s is defined then even the most vanilla things imaginable can become part of the dynamic.

      It’s interesting because a lot of my expectations and requirements in my vanilla relationships were *very* similar to those I have in my D/s relationships (even if we never defined it as explicitly).

      Ferns

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