I feel like I’m really high maintenance. My bossy people tell me that I’m not, that my needs are reasonable, but it never feels like that to me. Anytime I get in trouble or ask for something, I feel like I’m too much work and I cringe and try to withdraw. I will put off asking for something I know is a need, for months sometimes, rather than lay it out to be discussed because of this fear I have.
Somewhere along the path I got this idea that being submissive meant being useful without having any needs. I mean, I didn’t just stumble over the idea on the ground and carry it home to keep forever because it sparkled.
It was ingrained into my psyche by Dominants who wanted the pleasure of a submissive without actually needing to put a lot of effort into caring for one. And when I say it like that, I’m sure the first instinct people will have is “They were dicks!” but I’m going to be honest with you…it’s not always that easy when you’re in a relationship to realize that’s what’s happening. Not on either side.
Dominants don’t leap from their mother’s loins wearing leather chaps and wielding a crop at birth. They start out new and unsure of what to do, just like submissives. And just like submissives their first experiences in the scene can shape how they think D/s relationships are meant to go. If your first submissive is someone relatively uncomplicated, without baggage, who thrives on doing things for you and doesn’t ask for things in return, you will walk away from the relationship with that expectation and then carry it right into the next one.
After that, someone with fairly normal needs and wants can seem overwhelmingly needy. When you feel like you’re being asked to do too much it’s easy to say as much without thinking. But there is a line for Dominants, between maintaining an honest relationship and saying things that can break their submissive and I’ll tell you right now “You’re too needy.” (or any variation of that) is not a statement that any submissive will walk away from without scars. I’m not sure even a non-submissive woman could be told that and not be badly hurt actually.
So, when I say that I have a lot of baggage and a lot of bad experiences I need you to know that I’m not always looking to place blame for failed relationships on the other partner. Life happens, and sometimes things just fall apart. The fact that they didn’t hurt you deliberately doesn’t mean you weren’t hurt, and it doesn’t mean they didn’t come away from the experience with their own wounds. I also need you to know that words matter, and how you say them can make a big difference in how they are received.
A submissive, no matter how strong normally, is vulnerable with their Dominant. There is a fragility that comes with the act of submitting to another person. When you open yourself up and let someone see all of you, you are stripping off your armor and trusting them not to slide a blade into your heart while you kneel waiting at their feet.
Unfortunately, metaphorical blades are a lot easier to wield, which means people can swing one at you without even realizing what they’re doing—and that doesn’t change how much damage is done as a result. Even the most skilled and experienced Dominant has messed up at one time or another. Somewhere in their past is a submissive carrying around scars from mistakes that Dominant made, because that is the nature of the game. There’s no way to avoid it.
Don’t assume, when I say games that I’m taking these relationships lightly either. I’m not. There is an aspect of make believe to the relationship because of the fact that we are consenting instead of being carried off by the rogue pirate to be his wench, or the evil king forced to be his submissive bride against her will, but that doesn’t make them less meaningful or necessary. I say this as a submissive who doesn’t function well on her own. I’m not, and never have been, someone who can self-motivate and even the simplest things fall apart when I don’t have a dominant force to guide me. D/s is not just foreplay for me.
So, I call it games, but they are also serious relationships.
That being said, these ‘games’ we play, of domination and submission, are dangerous. Even if you do everything right and take every precaution with your physical body…you are still opening yourself up to emotional hurt. If you’re not, then you aren’t opening yourself up completely and reaching the core of what real submission can be. Many, including me, are even more attracted to this life because of that nebulous danger. Without risk there is no passion.
You can throw out “Safe, Sane, and Consensual!” and explain that everything is in the submissives’ control and that you would only play with someone you trust, but you can’t deny that thrill of fear that rolls through your body when someone ties your hands or puts a blindfold on you. You can’t deny that you wonder… “What if he doesn’t stop when I use my safe word? What if it’s too much?” It adds to everything that fear.
You catch your breath. Your heart races, thumping so hard against your ribcage that you wonder if he can hear it. Your mouth goes dry and a shudder rolls down your back as you listen intently for a sign of what he’s doing while you’re bound helpless and unable to see.
Fear. You can almost taste it on your tongue, can’t you?
But if someone has cuffed your hands behind your back, stripped off your clothes and is slowly sliding his belt through the loops of his jeans…you know what’s coming. You know it’s a physical danger and you can prepare for it. You’ve taken precautions so that you can stop things if it gets too intense, or it’s someone you trust enough to leave it in their hands, knowing that they’ll stop if you need them to.
And it’s not just physical of course; it’s scary the things a Dominant can do to your mind, and that kind of fear can also add to the experience. Mind games let you go deeper, connecting your fantasies with reality. There’s a reason submissives don’t tend to have safe words and quick release cuffs in their masturbation fantasies—they want the illusion of being under someone else’s control.
He leans in and whispers against her ear, “You’ve been a bad girl. Looks like I’m going to have to teach you a lesson.” The words, low and threatening, tickled her ear, but laughter was the furthest thing from her mind and she swallowed nervously, resisting the urge to run.
“I’m going to take this strap to you until you can’t sit for a week, darlin’, and then, when your ass is bright red, and the slightest touch makes you whimper…I’m going to claim you like the slut you are and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.”
Those threats are hot when you know they are just in play, when it’s something you’ve already agreed to in advance. You aren’t going to walk away from that scene with a demoralized self-esteem and a sense of low worth—a limp maybe and a need to sit on a cushion for a while, but mentally and emotionally safe because you trust your partner.
And that’s the problem sometimes. No one really warns you about the danger of trusting your emotions too much when they teach you about safety in the BDSM world. That’s mostly because there isn’t really any way for you to protect yourself, as a submissive, if your Dominant is the one who inflicts the emotional kind of pain on you—either by accident or choice. You’ve already let down your shields and welcomed them in, so at that point, you are just as helpless as if you were bound and gagged.
It can be a wonderful thing to be that vulnerable, but it can also be terrible and there’s really nothing you can do to avoid the downsides because trust is necessary for a submissive. The only thing that will really help you is to keep an open and honest line of communication. I can’t stress this enough: Talk. To. Your. Dominants. And—Dominants, Talk. To. Your. Subs.
All of that leads to this point: because of my past experiences I have a lot of trouble with being as open as I should be with my Doms sometimes, especially when it comes to expressing a problem. I’m really lucky with W and K because they don’t have that issue and they will push until I get the words out. Instead of just accepting the fact that I’m being quiet and not needing anything gratefully, because it’s less work for them, they watch for signs that there are things going on beneath the surface.
The phrase “Still waters run deep.” describes me perfectly. I am an emotional iceberg and they are the only ones who see the frozen mountain beneath the water in time to turn the ship most of the time. (Insert humorous opinion that Jack and Rose could have taken turns floating on the raft here.)
Ironically this probably means I’m more work for them than I have been for some who ‘thought’ I was too much trouble in the past. It really makes me wonder what I’d be like, as a submissive, as a person, if I’d come to them all fresh and new. I’ll never know, but it’s something I think about at times. So yeah… talk, communicate, make sure you’re on the same page, and try not to let your baggage drown you. That’s my daily goal—sometimes I succeed.
Sometimes I don’t.
Have a great week everyone!