If I knew then… (alt: on being a bitch)

Hi Ferns.

I have been spellbound by your relationship with your first. One because you have talked about it so b’fully and secondly because despite being deeply submissive I can be the the kind of person who would not give his mistress the shirt he was about to throw away.

Having aspergers I have considerable difficulty understanding people’s intentions and having been emotionally manipulated and bullied as a child I can be quite suspicious. I am also at that age when I can tell when something is wrong but not the experience or understanding to do something about it. So I thought perhaps I could borrow yours :) .

I wonder how your first changed post his relationship. How he feels about his younger self now. And how would you have handled the situation if you had the advantage of knowing the things you do now.

Hello there,

Thanks so much for your note. I’m really glad you have found the retrospective interesting (it is to me also *smile*).

A few things I wanted to clarify first.

I think that when you are dealing with a mental or cognitive condition that impacts how you relate to someone (either in how you receive input or how you react to it), everything changes because the ‘why’ changes. And if you are open with your partners about your issues, then it creates an environment where they will hopefully take the time to understand your motivation, whereas when you are talking about neuro-typical folks who know each other well, most of the time an assumption about their motivation is going to be the right one.

Secondly, the sweatshirt incident wasn’t the act that made me think he was selfish: by itself it was an irrelevant moment. It was just the first time that I had a definitive example of behaviour that clearly demonstrated what I already felt but couldn’t put into concrete terms. That is, it validated a feeling that I already had.

“I wonder how your first changed post his relationship. How he feels about his younger self now.”

He talked about this quite a bit in his post and his comments as ‘Her First’ (I can’t create a link to those as a set). If you missed them, go and have a look. They are really thoughtful and revealing. I don’t think I have much to add.

“And how would you have handled the situation if you had the advantage of knowing the things you do now.”

It’s a good question and I want to answer it because while I have touched on the superficialities in other posts (creating a safe space, making communication part of D/s etc), there is something fundamental underneath that I haven’t yet talked about.

I can talk about handling the relationship differently, but the truth is that with the experience I have now, I think I would have seen early on that he wasn’t a good fit for me, and I suspect I wouldn’t have entered into a relationship with him. But I didn’t have that experience yet, and he was so many things that I wanted that I flew past all of my usual caution. And I don’t care what anyone says, finding a quality submissive man is HARD, so I wasn’t willing to let this one pass by without grabbing him.

The issue I had with him was the same issue that I had with vanilla men before him, and that was that he was scared of me. I don’t mean ‘quaking in his boots’ kind of afraid. I mean that he was a natural pleaser (which is exactly what I wanted), but some men are not just pleasers, they are *scared* of not pleasing. Scared that I will like them less, that I will be angry, that I will withdraw love, affection, all that. When you couple a man who is afraid of not pleasing with a woman like me, he loses himself in a never-ending spiral of contortionist-level manoeuvring to try and fit into the mould that he thinks I want, and still he will never feel good enough because that underlying fear is not what I want. In the face of it, I get frustrated and angry. Which makes it all worse. Cue never-ending cycle.

In my vanilla life, striking this kind of man over and over made me so frustrated I didn’t even know what to do with it: I was attracted to men who would do what I wanted, and they were attracted to me, and yet it failed over and over and I didn’t quite understand why. In hindsight, I can see that the problem was that they were scared to displease me, which meant they were doing those contortions to fit into the ‘perfect man’ box until they were jello, and there was nothing left of the man I liked in the beginning.

What I want is a man who is firm in the shape of himself, who has a strong sense of who he is and what he believes, who is opinionated and wilful, who is confident, knows his worth, and who *keeps* that even while he lays it all down at my feet and offers it up for me to do with as I please. He may hate and loathe displeasing me (as he should!), but it doesn’t make him *afraid*. I need him to be emotionally fearless.

There’s a big difference between the latter kind of man and the former.

From my side, I realise now that there is a chasm between ‘who I think I am’ and ‘who I really am’. I imagine myself to be easy-going, approachable, a good person. At the same time, I recognise that I am selfish and demanding and reserved. Men who get involved with me will feel a lot of the latter if it’s not working, and that can be a cold place. When I talk about wanting a man who is emotionally fearless, it’s because I need him to hammer down those walls and throw himself into the fray over and over and take whatever hits are coming. When I get that, I melt and we will mould ourselves to each other. He gets into the soft inner core, and I will hold him there with a level of care you can hardly imagine. But without that emotional fearlessness, I get colder and colder, more and more detached, and the walls do not shift. And that makes me impatient and frustrated and often unkind.

I’ve said before that I am difficult. That encompasses a lot of things, but of all things, I am difficult emotionally. I know this now. I didn’t then, I just figured I was a bitch. I expected too much and was frustrated when I didn’t get it because I didn’t understand why. And instead of caring for those who crossed my path and fell under the steamroller, I blamed them for not being what I wanted, for not getting out of the way. It was unfair.

Now, if I see someone standing in front of the steamroller, and I don’t think they have the ability to deal with it, I will simply turn the wheel and go around them.

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14 Comments

  1. Wow. Such wonderful self-reflection and so much shareable knowledge.

    Steamrollers, jello and more…

    Thanks as always for the thoughtful posts.

  2. So much this. I swear I see myself on both sides. I have been thinking lately that one of the most important things I trust a dom to do is to take what he wants, because I notice that one of my biggest insecurities is that he’s just doing something to make me happy. And of course that’s counter-productive.

    I don’t think you are looking for something impossible. Emotional fearlessness and vulnerability can be the same thing given enough trust and confidence, so all the qualities you are describing are part of the same thing.

    Trouble is, it is very difficult to hang on to that sense of self if you think this is your one chance at finding your opposite number. And I do think you are really special because you have managed to do it! I hope there is a good guy out there who can match up to you.

    1. I think emotional fearlessness *requires* the ability and desire to make yourself vulnerable, which is perhaps why it’s such a rare mix (it’s easy to be emotionally fearless when you don’t give a shit, that’s not ‘fearless’, it’s just not giving a shit!).

      “Trouble is, it is very difficult to hang on to that sense of self if you think this is your one chance at finding your opposite number.”

      Yes. And some people are more prone to that than others (not just submissives, either). And I don’t know what you (general ‘you’) can do about that when you strike it (from either side). I tend to think it means that you are just not a good match, which is the very fear that causes this behaviour :(.

      Ferns

    2. I know, as a Dominant, that I met a submissive who expressed this very fear. Constantly. Relentlessly. That I would simply cater to his whims. He said “But I want you to do this because you want to.” And I said “I am doing this because I want to” And he said “But I can’t do this, we should do that instead to make sure it’s because you want to” And I said “But I was doing the first one because I wanted to” And he said “But how will I ever believe that…” And I said “Bye.”

      Were we just not a match? I’m not sure. I honestly felt that he was too busy having a relationship with his own paranoia to have one with me so it simply didn’t matter.

      I think in the end, we (Dominants or submissives) cannot let our insecurity or fears rule us or we will end up having a relationship with them instead of with each other.

  3. Ouch, that paragraph about who you think you are vs who you really are hit me right in the fears and insecurities. I consider myself a very empathetic and approachable person, but I am also aware that making myself vulnerable to others is *really* hard for me. Combine that with chronic depression that presents first and most strongly with a sense of isolation which, paradoxically, drives me to further isolate myself (I mean, what the fuck brain?), and you have a cocktail for unapproachable Domme.

    1. Don’t let your depression become – or appear to become – the defining element of you relationship with others or with yourself.

      I understand how chronic depression affects a person and their relationship with all those around them, but you must fight as best you can against that becoming the defining characteristic in your relationship with others.

      You aren’t unapproachable, as your posting here proves. What you might be lacking, however, is confidence in who you are and in and your approachability.

      Let us consider, for the moment, that you are interesting, intense and have an appreciation of irony. When you aren’t isolating yourself, how would you use that to reach out to those you might meet?

    2. I think recognising personality traits in yourself is huge. Breaking out of patterns, though, is really hard.

      I remember when I was young warning boys who expressed interest in me that I was a bitch and I WOULD hurt them. They either didn’t believe me or didn’t care. It never put them off. I’m not sure if they were ever surprised when I WAS a bitch and I DID hurt them. I would kind of watch myself from the outside and hate that version of me, but I couldn’t seem to change it.

      When I met my First, I HAD broken out of that pattern through trial and error, I thought I had it sorted. I also knew that submissive men would be the *perfect* fit for me (strong-willed men who would lay down for me: aw yeah!). But with him, the D/s part on top of our organic power disparity threw me straight back to it.

      Now I’m much better at recognising when someone is not a good fit for me in that way. I also think that mature men are MUCH less likely to go down that route: they have enough life and relationship experience to have a pretty strong sense of themselves and they won’t go under the steamroller (I keep picturing that icoic scene in Tiananmen Square).

      I hope in that fear and insecurity that this post brought up there is something positive also. Sending positive thoughts your way.

      Ferns

  4. This will sound corny.. I think I just got a better perspective on “Who Ferns is”.
    I understand and totally relate on being emotionally difficult.
    I’m grateful that we get a bit wiser with age. Thank you once again for sharing (:

    1. *smile* Not corny at all.

      I’m grateful also about the wisdom that comes with experience also, though honestly, the number of times I make the same mistakes is legion!

      Ferns

  5. Ferns, if you keep going on like this I am going to die. I am so glad I asked that question coz your answer has been really insightful.

    However something you said caught my attention.

    “When I talk about wanting a man who is emotionally fearless, it’s because I need him to hammer down those walls and throw himself into the fray over and over and take whatever hits are coming.”

    Just a thought … But don’t you think its possible that being emotionally fearless maybe difficult for someone not because they are afraid of stepping into the fray but because they don’t want to put someone they care about/serve in a situation where they are being ‘hammered’.

    1. Ha! Please don’t die! That would be terrible!

      I had so much to say that I’m going to create a new post about it.

      It makes me smile because this is what a lot of my private correspondence looks like: these thoughts swimming around, requiring more clarity, more explanation, and when I try, they seem to get some kind of misty ethereal quality around them that makes them impossible to grasp, much less put words to.

      Ferns

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