Dominance makes me vulnerable for lots of reasons. I have talked about vulnerability previously, but I don’t think I have tackled it as it relates to my dominance before, probably because it’s so complex.
Dominance makes me feel vulnerable because I expose myself in it: I give of myself, I share secrets, I let him in to see who I really am, I offer him my control, I trust him to revel in it, I open my inner self up to judgement and rejection. It’s no different a vulnerability than anyone feels when they shed their outer shell and let someone in. The only difference for me as a dominant is that my vulnerability is well hidden behind authority and control and working at getting what I want, so it’s not as visible.
I listened to this Ted talk by Amanda Palmer, “The art of asking“, and what struck me was the statement that “Asking makes you vulnerable”.
For me that’s part of it, and that’s the one I wanted to explore a little because it rings true for me.
Generally speaking, I don’t like to ask people for anything. I don’t like how it makes me feel; weak, needy, beholden, in debt, grateful. That is, it makes me feel vulnerable. It’s one of the reasons that D/s works for me. The understanding that he *wants* me to ask for things frees me of the conflict I feel over it.
Still, my dominance is not some all-powerful force that runs roughshod over everything. It is an agreement, a contract, an exchange with my submissive… and every time I ask for something new, I am testing it, which means there is a chance of failure, and that makes me feel vulnerable. Fear of failure, fear of hurt, fear of rejection… they all lurk there quietly when I take us somewhere new, when I ask him for something and am not sure he will say yes.
It makes me vulnerable to him saying ‘no’, to him ignoring my request, to him going ‘I don’t feel like doing that’, and if he does that, I feel it as rejection, as wrongness, as shaken trust, as hurt.
I am like a lawyer in my approach to D/s in that I never ask for something unless I’m pretty damn sure I know the answer already. And a big part of that is because I don’t like how vulnerable I feel if I ask for something when I have doubt about the answer. If I genuinely don’t know that the response will be positive, then I’ve clearly not done the groundwork necessary to get him to where I want, and I’m not ready to ask the question.
If I am venturing into something new with my submissive, I feel him out well beforehand. I raise it with him in an abstract way, I explore his mindset, I talk around and over it with him, I seed thoughts and ideas, I see how he reacts. And when I think he is ready to go there, I ask it of him.
At the beginning of the relationship, I feel much more vulnerable than later when I know him well, when I trust him. But even then, it’s largely an invisible vulnerability. I tend to be very cautious with men I don’t know well, I am much more likely to wait for him to *offer* than to ask for something (and I recognise, and enjoy, that this requires *him* to make himself vulnerable to me). I do find that I get to the stage, though, where I *need* to make myself vulnerable over and again, to nudge at him a little, to see if he will come with me, to reassure myself that he will, to feel safe.
When I DO make myself vulnerable, when I’m not so sure of the outcome, it actually doesn’t *look* like hesitant fearful vulnerability. It still looks like confident-demandy insistence, but if I have pushed at him, and I am not sure he is going to go there for me, I *feel* vulnerable.
And I really don’t like it much.