I try really hard to be inclusive of everyone and every possible relationship setup when I write these blog posts. So, I don’t make a lot of definitive statements like, “If you do this you are wrong!” Every submissive is unique, every Dominant is unique, so of course each relationship is going to be different. But in my experience if you don’t get mad at your Dominant now and then there is usually a problem because with real submission there needs to be both challenge and growth and neither of those come without frustration.
I hate to use the phrase ‘real submission’ as if one kind of submissive is somehow more legit than another, so I need to clarify that I don’t mean limited submission that takes place in the bedroom, or in a club, but the whole relationship deal. I’m also not referring to relationships that are primarily romantic, so rules and punishment aren’t involved, even though D/s is a part of it. (Though some could argue that if you don’t get mad at your romantic partner now and then that might also be a problem.) In this post I’m aiming specifically at relationships where the Dominant sets rules and maintains discipline.
Keeping that in mind, there’s a reason teenagers fight with their parents a lot. They are testing their boundaries as they grow up and experience new things. Submissives aren’t dissimilar in some respects, but the biggest difference, of course, is that a submissive is choosing to be held to certain standards. That doesn’t mean the submissive never struggles or fights the limitations though, far from it.
They do, and they should. Blind obedience in all things is unhealthy; I know, I’ve been there. It’s a fantasy, to be completely controlled at all times. To leave every decision up to someone else, but it doesn’t play out well in the real world. It fosters complete dependence on someone who may not always be there, and I’ve seen first hand what’s left behind when someone depends entirely on someone else to tell them what to do every waking moment—and then that person is gone.
I’m sure there are people out there in 24/7 slave relationships who will argue this, but it’s not being a slave, or in a 24/7 D/s relationship that destroys a submissive. I think you can manage those things and still be healthy; what you can’t do is surrender every bit of your will to another person until there’s no fight left. I’m not even sure why a dominant would enjoy that, but I know some do their best to get it.
Submissives should struggle because submitting to someone else’s will is hard. So, if you’re a submissive who sometimes feels like a fuck-up because you find yourself rebelling at common sense things you know you need, then I should tell you that it’s normal and it’s okay! Following rules is frustrating as an adult and it should occasionally piss you off, even if you asked for them and need them. I hate most of my rules, but they are there to keep me on track and safe because I’ve proven that left to my own devices, I tend to let things slide.
That doesn’t mean I don’t snarl occasionally about having to do things, or whine when I get called out and get in trouble for missing things, because I do.
While lecturing you or punishing you for being recalcitrant your Dom probably isn’t going to remember to reassure you that it’s normal to resent having limitations, so I’m doing it instead. We all know that most of our rules are for our own good. We all want the rules and structure, or we wouldn’t be in this kind of relationship—and we all have moments where we want to fight it. Every single one of us. So, tuck that away and remember in the future when you feel like the world’s worst sub.
But what if the sub doesn’t get mad at their Dom or hasn’t felt that frustration that causes them to tug at the leash or rebel? There are lots of reasons why a submissive might not get angry at their Dom; just off the top of my head: there’s just no fight left in them, they aren’t being challenged enough to feel any restriction, or they feel that any misbehavior is too inconvenient for the Dom.
You do need to look at a couple of factors before deciding there is a problem. First, how long have things been smooth and calm? If it’s just temporary; a week or month, then it’s normal. They’ve probably fallen into a complacent place where it’s easy to follow all of the rules because there is an established routine. And that works nicely on the short-term, but it can’t last. It shouldn’t last; if things are that easy it means the sub isn’t being challenged or that they are denying their own needs.
There’s no need to struggle if nothing is hard. But if you are actively submitting then some things, on some days, should be hard. Sometimes I go weeks where I do everything perfectly and everything is fine. I’m not fighting anything because I’m in the groove and I’m happily productive, but then I hit a stumbling block and, oops, everything drops.
When that doesn’t happen, when the good behavior goes on and on, it means I’m fighting myself. I’ve become more attached to the idea of being ‘perfect’ than to my submission and I’m denying my own needs. A submissive, at least most of the ones I know, want to be pulled up short sometimes. That leash tug that warns them they are straying from the path is important. They need to be taken to task, pushed to do things they don’t want to do. It’s important to feel the dominance, and most of the time if you are running on auto-pilot all you’re feeling is routine.
It becomes stressful to maintain, but hard to pull out of because you’ve gotten so much praise for being good, but if all we needed was to be occasionally reminded of what we had to get done then we’d get an assistant or a secretary. (I’m being facetious since most of us can’t afford that, but you get the point.)
What we need is to be dominated. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, as they say, and an obedient sub doesn’t squeak. It’s very easy for a Dominant to praise that good behavior, without considering how long it’s been since the submissive got attention or was reminded that they are owned. This is especially true in a D/s relationship where most of the scenes are punishment. Some dominants, when they notice, will take care of things as a kind of maintenance, and that can work really well for submissives who have trouble acting out on purpose to get the attention they need.
Brats usually know how to get attention, but service-oriented submissives, for instance, often feel that pleasing the dominant is their priority, which means they try to hold their needs for a convenient time. The problem is, outside of fiction, there usually is no good time and things end up spinning out of control. Sometimes those submissives quietly and miserably continue their tasks while distance grows in their relationship. Other times the submissive eventually has a complete meltdown and what should have been a small matter turns into a huge event.
But if the submissive hasn’t done anything to warrant guidance or correction for a long time and the Dom just goes with it, I’ve found that the relationship begins to lose something. Most of us aren’t in a D/s relationship because we are looking for calm complacency after all. Almost every article I write about relationships comes back to communication and this one is no different. Find out why things have been smooth sailing for so long, and if something needs to be fixed.
No stress over all the daily tasks? Well, then maybe it’s time to stretch and add a couple more. Almost everyone has long-term goals, things they’d like to do but never find the time for. Is it time now to start working on one of them? Maybe! Make things a little bit harder and see how that goes. No reason to punish? That doesn’t mean the submissive (and possibly the Dominant) doesn’t have need for some emotional catharsis. Plan an intense scene to shake the feelings loose.
Submissive never complains, never argues, always obeys? Time to find out why. Are they afraid of upsetting the Dominant? Why? Do they think you’ll leave if they are too much work? Do they feel like a burden and the Dom has too much on their plate, so they have to be perfect and not cause trouble? They’re probably denying their own needs to do that, and that can only go on so long. Time for some relationship discussions. Maybe the sub needs a reminder that the Dom gets things from the relationship too—and sometimes punishing can be a stress relief for the Dom.
Heck maybe the submissive is just too busy to get in trouble. They’ve got so much going on that obeying is easier and they don’t have the energy for anything else. Sometimes that’s just how life is, but again this doesn’t work on the long run. Too busy to express your needs tends to lead to sudden explosions. If this is the case the Dom needs to step in and guide the submissive towards slowing things down. If the sub is feeling overwhelmed and overworked this is likely going to get you the show of frustration that’s been missing anyway and the problem can be mitigated from there.
But I’ve been focusing on the physical side of things and now I want to focus on feelings. I’d like to return to the title of this post for a second. I said, “If your Doms don’t make you mad sometimes there might be a problem.” And this is important. I didn’t say you had to do anything about that emotion. Anger is what you feel when you have to do something that you don’t want to do. That doesn’t mean, as a submissive, that you don’t do it anyway. You can feel completely pissed off at being forced to be in bed by ten P.M. on a Friday night because you have to be up in the morning, and still get your butt in bed.
We talked about why a submissive might not be acting up and most of those reasons are fairly easy to work through once they are noticed, but not feeling any irritation can be a deeper issue. Is the submissive stomping down the emotions and feeling nothing? Are the rules just too easy? The fixes are still the same really, communication first, catharsis if possible. Shake things loose and find out what the problem is—but believe me the relationship is going to crash if the submissive isn’t being reminded that they are a submissive.
Not acting up, behaving perfectly and following all your rules for a long period of time are the external clues that something is off. The Dom can pick up on these things and take steps to remedy the issue, but feelings are internal and it’s going to be up to the submissive to examine them and notice if something is wrong inside.
If the submissive just sees no reason to disobey and is content following the rules right now, then that’s okay. It may be time to tighten the rules to make them a little harder, or maybe the submissive has enough going on and adding more would be too stressful. That’s perfectly fine because not everyone needs frequent punishment, but it’s essential to make sure that the bottom in the relationship is still getting attention. Specifically, they need to be getting some kind of domination.
A month or two of perfect behavior in a sub can be normal, but every relationship needs a spark, some excitement and one based on D/s is no different. It’s easy to slip into complacency and stay there until you look around one day and you’ve drifted apart. Communication can help to pin down the problem if there is one.
If you’re the Top, you might mention that you miss feeling needed or miss the intensity of a deep scene. That can encourage the submissive to let go. If you’re the sub you can suggest that you’ve been feeling like you need something but have been waiting for a good time to bring it up. Fiction presents us with a lot of “Dom grabs sub knowingly and decides to give her what he can sense she needs.” but that’s fiction and is unlikely to solve anything.
In the real world the Dom isn’t a mind-reader who can always tell from your body language when something is wrong. They have insecurities too and those can kick up when the submissive seems to be handling everything without help. What’s their purpose if the submissive no longer needs them? This is why I always recommend communication first. After that there are some other things that can help a relationship that’s seeming a bit quiet.
Consider non-punishment scenes for bonding and maintenance. They can help a lot of problems in a relationship. I should probably do a separate blog post on that topic (note to self) alone. I highly recommend you do not try to trap the submissive into getting in trouble or pretend there’s a reason to punish unless it’s in an obvious context of role play. If they’ve been good, but you feel it’s been too long since they were reminded of their submission, then just call it a reminder, or maintenance—faking a need for a real punishment can seriously backfire unless everyone involved is aware that it’s only a pretext to play.
Pull out the list of rules and go over it. See if changes need to be made or things added to encourage growth. It’s entirely possible that when you do go back over it, you’ll both be reminded of rules that were accidentally forgotten—maybe the submissive hasn’t actually been following all of them and that should be addressed.
Establish some new protocols. Not necessarily time-consuming tasks or new rules, but maybe some things that will reinforce the power balance in the relationship and fill those subby needs without breaking rules and dispensing punishment. In the end a D/s relationship is still a relationship. It takes work on both sides to keep things fresh—and sometimes a little anger too.