A recent discussion interested me with two very different schools of thought in response to this question:
“Do you use anything to invoke and maintain submission from your partner?”
- One school of thought seemed to be that his submission is just *there* all the time once he has agreed to submit and if the dominant has to do anything to invoke or maintain it, then there is something wrong.
- The other was that submission requires some kind of action from the dominant to invoke and/or maintain it.
I’d guess that most people who have been reading my blog would think I would belong in the first school of thought. But I don’t. I don’t think it’s realistic. And maybe there is a problem with the language of the question which actually made it an interesting discussion.
I think proponents of the first answer maybe picture a guy who is some dominant chest beater who they have to constantly pull into line (to ‘invoke’ his submission) or they picture a bunch of work they have to do to ‘make’ him submissive (like ‘force’ him to wash the dishes), or they imagine something very specific and random (like ‘maintenance spankings’). I don’t see it that way. I see the idea of invoking his submission as a kick arse reminder when there is a natural lull (because life happens), and maintaining it as oiling the wheels (encouraging it to run smoothly).
Everything I do with him acts as some kind of relationship maintenance, whether it’s maintaining the ‘best friend’ part, the ‘love’ part, the ‘D/s’ part, the ‘hot sexy’ part. It’s all built in, and maybe the word ‘maintenance’ isn’t very sexy, but that’s pretty much what it is. It’s not about grand gestures, but it *is* about actively participating and leading the relationship and the dynamic.
His submission doesn’t exist in a vacuum. If it did, all those submissive men with vanilla partners would be delightfully happy. I mean, if they are submissive, they can theoretically *be* submissive regardless of the context. But it doesn’t work like that. D/s is entered into by TWO parties (okay, sometimes more than two), and without active dominance, submission is meaningless. Each person has a part to play to keep it running smoothly and well.
So it makes perfect sense that I have to *do* ‘something’ to keep the D/s dynamic working the way I want, especially as the dominant partner. It’s not just *his* job to ‘be submissive’, it’s my job to ‘be dominant’, and to me, that’s part of ‘invoking and maintaining’ his submission. I need to live up to my end of the agreement, and to me, that’s kind of a no-brainer. It could be argued that he needs to do the same with me to invoke and maintain my dominance (and he totally does), but as the leader in the relationship, I feel as if the onus is much *more* on me to, well, lead.
If I replace the word ‘submission’ with ‘love’ in the above question, my answer is the same. If a man says ‘I love you’, I don’t expect him to love me in a vacuum or somehow assume I’m kind of ‘set’ and don’t need to *do* anything to kick it up or maintain it. All those sweet things that we do for and with each other when we are in love? That’s part of maintaining the love, of nurturing it, and in times of trouble, we do things to remind each other why we are in love, to re-invoke that feeling, to bring it to a peak. Without that, it will eventually die.
In a D/s context what that ‘something’ is that encourages and tends his submission is almost irrelevant, but for me it ranges from our natural interactions where he defers to me to the little rituals and rules that I put in place for him. Then there are small ad hoc things, simple things like grabbing him by the throat and shoving him into a wall to take his mouth, are a kind of ‘maintenance’ to me (also, hot!). In fact *everything I do* that reinforces the dynamic is a kind of maintenance, and on a busy day, when I call him to me to kneel at my feet so I can pet him for a moment, I’m essentially ‘invoking’ his submission when his head may have been full of bills and work a moment before.
The day I stop maintaining his submission is the day I shrug and say “Eh, do whatever you want”, and that essentially means that I expect his submission to exist without my input. And that’s not going to work because it won’t take long before he correspondingly goes, “Eh, fuck it then…”
If you want to read the original discussion, it’s here: Fetlife: Invoking and maintaining submission in your partner