Remember when you were a kid, and your parents would say “No snacks before dinner. You’ll ruin your appetite!” and then you’d catch them snarfing M&Ms and cookies from a hidden stash in the kitchen?
Or maybe they’d tuck you into bed early, telling you how important it was to get a good night’s sleep… but then you knew they were up watching television until late?
Remember how annoyed you were that they would tell you one thing but do something different themselves? Well, set those memories aside, because when it comes to a D/s relationship, things don’t work like that.
Read more: ‘Do as I Say Not as I Do Attitudes’ or Struggling with Feelings of Unfairness
As a child you needed adults to model good behavior for you, because that’s how children learn. It was important for your parents to at least pretend to follow the advice they gave you, otherwise kidyou wouldn’t understand or believe that these were good things.
But by the time you are an adult and ready to submit to someone, you no longer have to be shown how to behave. Yes, even Littles know deep down that their behavior doesn’t depend on what they see other people doing—but we’ll address them specifically later.
Adults don’t need positive examples to model their own behavior on. As an adult you’ve matured enough to be able to accept rules and guidelines on their own without examples.
Of course, it can still feel really annoying and unfair when you’re told not to do something but see your Top do it all the time. That feeling of unfairness is left over from the childhood idea that everyone should be treated the same way, and should behave the same way. And it will creep up on you even though you know that’s not how it really works.
This is actually a really common problem for people who live in a D/s dynamic. The struggle to accept a punishment for something you watch other people do all the time can be hard for a submissive. It brings you right back to that ‘not fair!’ perspective, especially for submissives who sometimes have a younger mindset when dealing with punishment—like Littles and brats.
But this is also a struggle for the Dom/Top in the relationship too. Punishing someone for not getting their work done, when you’ve been having a Netflix binge yourself can make you feel like a major hypocrite. Spanking your submissive for getting a speeding ticket when you’ve had two yourself makes you doubt yourself as a Dom.
You start feeling like maybe you should just let it go… after all, no one punished you for it.
It can be hard to enforce rules on others that you don’t follow yourself. Bedtime, swearing, being on time for things, keeping up with the chores, etc… those are all things that most adults struggle with at times. Whether you are a Dom or a sub doesn’t matter because adulting can be difficult some days for everyone.
Being a Top doesn’t automatically make you a superhero able to accomplish everything in life without stress. If anything, it makes life harder at times. You might spend all your energy supervising what your sub needs to get done, and have nothing for your own list of chores.
So my advice is going to be for everyone in a D/s dynamic, no matter your role: set aside the idea that things are going to be fair. They won’t be and sometimes that’s going to grate on you.
Some advice that might be a little more practical and useful would be to make as many of your rules together as partners as you can. Doing that is going to make things a little easier on both sides.
You can check this article here, on why it’s a good idea to make rules with your submissive and not just for your submissive: https://kessilylewel.com/2020/03/06/making-rules-with-your-submissive/
Most of the rules that are going to become a challenge, will probably be life rules. Specifically, things that affect your quality of living and safety issues, because those are what all adults struggle with.
It’s perfectly fine for the Dom to lay down their own rules as long as everyone is in agreement, but when it comes to life rules, it’s a very good idea to find out from your submissive what they think they need. If their rules are based on things they have explicitly stated they want to work on, it becomes much harder for them to feel like things are unfair.
For the Dom it becomes harder for you to feel like a hypocrite when you are literally giving them exactly what they asked for. That doesn’t mean you can’t add to the rules if you see a problem, or if you have your own protocols you want to enforce. Most subs don’t want to feel like the entire relationship is being based on their needs only anyway.
But when these additional rules are added it’s still a good reason to discuss why. This idea that dominating someone should always be, “Do as I say and don’t ask questions!” is great… in fiction. In reality it tends to fall apart.
There are times when the sub/bottom/Little needs to hushed and listen to what they are being told. But when it comes to setting up a framework for their lives, they should always be part of the discussion, should be asking questions, and should have input on the rules they have to live with.
If you include them in all of that then you will find there are fewer moments of “That’s not fair!” from the sub or “I feel like a jerk for punishing him for this” from the Dom. Of course, that’s not the only reason to include them, but it’s still an important one.
The reality is that these moments will still pop up now and then because these kinds of dynamics can be hard sometimes. What everyone in the relationship has to remember is that this is not a parent/child situation. Even if your dynamic is Daddy/Little you are still two adults who have agreed to this structure.
Children don’t get to choose or consent to how they are raised or what rules they follow. They’re not capable of making the correct decisions for themselves until they gain world perspective and maturity. That’s not the case for a submissive.
If you, as a Dom, are feeling guilty that you don’t behave by the same rules your sub has to, then please remember that you did not ask for these rules, or consent to follow the structure like they did. Your job is simply to enforce and guide, not to be a role model.
When your sub complains that it’s not fair to punish them, reminding them that these are the rules they agreed to is often enough to move past the upset. This is especially true when it’s a rule that they put on the table in the first place.
That is surface level advice for basic rules.
If you want to go a little bit deeper, I would suggest that you look at the kinds of rules that make you feel hypocritical. Is it possible that you actually should be making some life changes? Not to placate your sub… but because you realize that you’re messing up and are embarrassed to be punishing someone for something you feel guilty for doing yourself.
Many Doms have found that having a submissive encourages them to improve their own life. If being a good example helps you to do better, than I’m all for it. But that needs to be up to you.
Your sub doesn’t get to throw it in your face because they are upset about being in trouble. However, when it comes to certain rules regarding health or safety you might just be stuck with either feeling like a jerk or improving your own behavior.
If something you are doing is bad for your health or dangerous then you should consider that part of the sub’s upset is that they are worried for you and have no outlet to do anything about it. When a Dom is worried they can tighten the reins and punish. When a sub is worried… all they can do is complain and hope you don’t ignore it.
It’s okay to promise them you’ll try to do better. It’s okay to team up with them to work together on both of you doing better. It’s even okay for you to tell them it’s not their job to police you, because it isn’t—but if they are truly worried, you won’t be doing your relationship any favors by doing that.
What you can’t do is stop holding them accountable for the rules just because you feel bad about not following them too. For example: Emily gets spanked for texting while she was driving. But her Dom Alicia, was texting back, while also driving. Now Emily is standing in the corner with a red butt, and Alicia is feeling like an asshole.
Alicia probably should feel guilt in this situation. She did something dangerous and illegal and will get away with it, while having to punish someone else for putting their life at risk over the same thing.
She can’t not punish Emily for it; that’s not fair to Emily. That’s not being a good Dominant. In a way Alicia’s punishment is having to follow through with her duties while knowing she messed up too.
That’s the hard part about being a Dom sometimes. You don’t get the whole cycle of punishment and forgiveness that makes it easier to get over things. Sometimes you just have to sit and stew on your own mistakes and hopefully that stewing will lead to making fewer.
Now, about the Littles (and some brats too):
Most of what I said above does apply to Littles when they are in a D/s dynamic. Not all Littles are, of course. Not all Littles want or need rules and punishment. But I figure most people who read this blog are, so I focus on those most of the time.
Littles are a bit of a special case. Not because what I said doesn’t apply to them. It absolutely does. They might act like children, but they are fully grown adults with experience and maturity enough to have entered into a relationship that gives someone else authority over them.
By doing that, they are agreeing to the parental style dynamic which often includes discipline. So even if your framework is built around a Caretaker with a Little you still have to bear in mind that this is consensual and that the Little wants/needs to be held accountable.
When Littles go deeply into that role, they may act immature or make poor choices. In that mindset they have put aside their adult reasoning and logic skills and have regressed to behaving the way a child would. They can be impulsive and act without fully considering their actions. Their Caretaker will need to deal with that.
Littles, like children, need consistency and boundaries. Regardless of whether Daddy sometimes breaks the speed limit or says ‘Fuck!’ a Little needs to be held accountable when they break the rules. Letting big things slide, tends to make Littles feel scared and unprotected which can be difficult in such a vulnerable headspace.
Where things are different from other submissives, is in how you deal with it. You can try reminding a Little that they agreed to follow these rules and that you warned them they would be punished. The adult side of them will, of course, understand that.
However, it’s very likely that when you are about to deliver punishment, the Little is not going to just settle into place with that understanding. Many Littles go straight to a kid’s headspace when they are about to be punished.
So you’re going to get the whining, the pouting, the complaining. You’ll hear “This isn’t fair!” and no matter how much you try to explain why it’s totally fair… they may not be in the headspace to agree with that.
You are not going to get a Little, deep in Littlespace, to agree that they want/need this punishment any more than a kid would agree with it. Littles are not made of logic. They are made of chaotic emotions and glitter.
You’re just going to need to proceed with following through on your duties as their Daddy/Mommy/Caretaker to deliver the punishment they earned. Later, after the punishment is over is a much better time to debate whether or not it was fair to hold them accountable—but they’ll probably still pout about it.
I think this can probably be wrapped up with this quick summary:
- Fair doesn’t always mean equal. Doms and subs have different sets of needs.
- It’s not hypocritical to hold someone accountable for the things they agreed to, even if they don’t like it.
- Adults don’t need the example of good role models in order to follow rules, so Doms don’t need to have perfect behavior before they can expect their subs to obey.
I’m always happy to hear input from my readers. There are quite a lot of you these days, so feel free to comment or email me with question. And please double check to make sure your emails are accurate. I always try to reply but many of them bounce, and I have no way to get ahold of you.