What’s a ‘service submissive’?

I wrote a bit about my view of service submission in response to a couple of comments on my last post, but wanted to pull it out and expand on it a little to specifically explain what I mean when I refer to a ‘service submissive’.

I use the term ‘service submissive’ to describe someone who offers domestic services (or sometimes other useful services) for their own sake, because they get something out of doing it for a dominant. That is, the exchange is solely or primarily about giving and receiving service of some kind (and no, sexual ‘service’ doesn’t count).

And hell yes it’s rare.

Various kinds of service within the context of a sexual/romantic/fwb/play partner/whatever *relationship* is something very different. And many forms of it are common in a D/s relationship. For me, once it’s in the context of a wider relationship, while it’s obviously still service, it’s also obviously no longer primarily about service. I’m not devaluing that (not at all!), it’s just that expecting certain kinds of service from my submissive in a wider D/s relationship is a very different thing from a pure service relationship where the giving and receiving of service IS the relationship.

This boy actually put up personal ads offering domestic service, nothing more. Essentially just ‘I’ll come to your house and do your chores’: he was actively seeking service arrangements. When he first contacted me, it was also about service.

Pure service submissives (I don’t like the word ‘pure’, but I mean where it’s solely about service) do it for different reasons, but there is a D/s exchange in both giving and receiving service.

In my experience 99.9% of self identified service submissives, when questioned, will reveal that actually, they want some play in return, or they are angling for a relationship, or their service comes with caveats, or they just want to prance around in a maid’s outfit and get spanked for being naughty and etc. For that reason, I’ve never had one, though I’ve spoken to quite a few self identified service submissives over the years.

The strings attached to their service meant that they weren’t *really* offering service: they were offering a tit-for-tat arrangement disguised as service. There is nothing wrong with ‘I’ll clean your house in return for play’, but these situations are never presented that way and it takes some digging to find it under the service focussed spiel.

So yeah, in my experience a genuine service submissive is a total unicorn.

In fact this boy is the first one I’ve met who seems to genuinely want to provide domestic service and seems to want to follow through.

From my side I will introduce some minor protocol, give clear instructions, provide guidance, correct where necessary, and show appreciation for the effort from a dominant perspective. By that I mean that there is a dominant energy that communicates ‘I *see* you, I appreciate you, I enjoy you *as a submissive man* doing this for me’ (I’m really not ‘woo woo’ but I think most of my readers would know what I mean). By the same token, I expect to feel that submissive energy from him, a desire to please, to get it right, to do the best job he can, to feel as if it’s a personal service he is doing for me versus it feeling like ‘random person doing chores’. It is NOT the same thing as ‘random person doing chores’. Not at all. Best case: it’s sweet and fun for both of us.

I guess I’ll see soon enough.

Loves: 21
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  1. One finds oneself… skeptical AND curious.

    It seems like a tenuous relationship; also one without, if the setting can be taken at face value, subtext.

    You instruct, he performs, you appreciate.

    It seems … how can I put this … pale and watery and lacking all intensity.

    Part of me says “big deal, he’s going to clean the kitchen/dust the furniture/clean the floor” and is skeptically hooting from the back of the gallery, throwing peanuts “jeering grow some balls”… but …

    Another part says “how, exactly, is this like doing chores at home and having them go unremarked?” which, of course, highlights the real difference…

    The appreciation part.

    It’s the knowledge that, no, this person is not put here to serve the dominant; it’s not her entitlement; it’s not her right. It’s not hers to demand; no one is owed those things, neither by birth, nor power, nor status, nor for the wanting.

    It’s his to give; and taking that fealty gives rise to obligation of appreciation in a way that is meaningful to the submissive. Or one becomes just another Robber Baron, the worst of humankind.

    And that’s far from simple, or pale, or lacking.

    You might be able to tell that feeling unappreciated is where I’ve been. Master Yoda would say “much anger do I feel in you”. He wouldn’t be wrong. Being unappreciated burns the soul.

    Gosh I do love Ferns blogging :)

    1. Lee has it spot-on. In fact, his point expands to pretty much all of WIITWD. If you’re a male person on this end of the leash what you want to do is fulfill your calling to serve, and the tangible “proof” of that is appreciation from the party of the second part; in a “pure” service interaction or a full-time M/s marriage. Ferns, you’re also spot-on in as to your expectation of the energy exchange that should occur between you and the boy. [and, of course, should you wish to engage in productive unicorn-hunting, c’mon over to this side of the ocean…the bad news is I’m too old to interest you, the good news is I have absolute permission to render such pure domestic service to Ladies around here as needed]

      1. Am I, one asks, kinkier than I think I am?

        Such a shame I don’t inhabit continental Australia, ma’am.


        Thankyou, Ravensron, for such a glowing commendation. It is greatly appreciated. <3

    2. I’m sorry you’ve felt unappreciated.

      I think in a D/s exchange the question that has to be asked of the submissive is: ‘what do you want out of this? how do you want to feel?’ because it varies wildly.

      I think feeling appreciated and valued NOT just for the work, but for the spirit of submission in which it’s done is very common, and is where this one fits.

      But I also think there are those who want to feel ‘used’ or ‘humiliated’ or any number of things.

      I can’t stress enough the idea that it’s a D/s exchange and if that wasn’t the crux, they may as well go and volunteer at a local charity.

      “And that’s far from simple, or pale, or lacking.”

      *smile* Yes. Well, I hope so.


  2. Service is part of my nature, and I serve as a way of life.

    My service is not particularly “submissive.” I enjoy pleasing and helping people, but I do it more from an “ally” role than one of submitting to control.

    We talk about “service submissives” and “service tops,” but it rarely occurs to people to separate and recognize the “service” component in each, and see it as in fact the same impulse.

    I specifically prefer a wide separation between service and any sort of BDSM play, because I also am not fond of the “tit for tat” thing.

    I’m very happy to serve without recompense, on a very occasional basis. However, if it is an ongoing relation, I need more than just the joy of service to keep me motivated. Otherwise, I begin to feel taken advantage of.

    I wish you both the best of luck!

    1. Thank you for your thoughts, Etienne.

      I only separate the service part out when it’s purely about that.

      And to be honest, I have blurred the lines with this boy already with my little foray into chastity. My choice. I know he’s happy for it, but it does kind of ruin any kind of objective look at it as ‘service-only’.

      I will introduce some very overt D/s aspects to frame his service. Frankly I’m not sure at what point it becomes more about that than service. But it’s what I enjoy, so I’m going there.


  3. Wow… This is so interesting to me….
    Interesting comments…
    Thoughtful as always Ferns

  4. Altruistic service, I would think in this context, to be extremely rare. He obviously gets something from doing it, but without there being a demand or expectation other than being controlled.

    Trying to ascribe some motivation to it seems to diminish the experience. Something to be enjoyed and savoured. From the outside looking in, its sweet and innocent, not normally how you would see D/s described.

    1. It IS rare, yes. Though not altruistic exactly: if he didn’t get something out of it, I have no doubt he’d stop doing it.

      He’s new, so I’m not sure he knows exactly what he will get out of it. His previous experiences did not put him off, but they also didn’t play out the way he hoped. I think I’m offering more, but am very aware that this might not work out either.

      I like him and it’s fun for me to try this out. So we will see.


  5. As one of the people who, I think, might have contributed to amplifying Ferns’ comment to be a full-on post, I just want to say “thank you” for the clarification about this particular young man. I can see how that might be far more rare. I am oriented towards service, but since I’ve spent pretty much my entire adult life in a relationship, I can’t say if I would fit this particular bill.

  6. Awesome article. It is exciting to see that there are some people out there that “get it” in terms of service orientation. It may be rare, but it exists. I’m proof of that. I don’t know if it should involve discussion of altruism (charity) vs. tit-for-tat (sexual).

    The focus, regarding what we get out of it, is not on sex or fetishism, but on romantic and chivalric notions of a personal connection or service relationship with someone we feel a strong attraction to and want to please and in return receive sentimental (not physical) gratitude from. Sort of like courting, before it gets physical.

    Am I as excited to provide service to the silver haired lady next door? No.

    Would I enjoy just running over to someone’s house every Tuesday and Thursdays to do errands for someone I don’t even see or interact with? Absolutely not.

    Do I want someone to make me sniff their feet or lick their heels? No.

    Do I expect anything in return, other than time spent, the joy of serving, and a true appreciation for service rendered? Nope.

    Do I want any sexual gratification out of it? Not at all, and actually just the opposite. I would hope that nothing happens, because that would change the dynamic entirely, and possibly or most likely ruin it.

    Think of it as a white knight syndrome. They don’t just serve anyone. They serve the queen, or the princess, or the lady they’re attracted to. But attraction does not have to be sexual, and it doesn’t have to lead to sex. That’s a different level, and a different relationship, with different motivations. Not everyone wants that. I don’t. I would expect that sexual gratification in any such relationship would be 100% altruistic, and service-oriented. Essentially no tit-for-tat, just “tit.” I personally would want “tat” to come from someone entirely different, etc.

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