So you have a dominant who you feel lucky to get to submit to. You trust them. You respect their judgment. You’re comfortable following their lead, and you get a little thrill every time you get to say “yes” to them. Still, there are those occasional times when they say something that you’re pretty much certain just isn’t true. Or they make a decision you’re sure they’re going to regret later on. Or you have an idea or a plan that you think will work better than theirs.
As sexy as it is to pretend that people who dominate are infallible, let’s remember that they really aren’t. Sometimes those of us in the dominant role really are wrong. Sometimes we do wish someone had pointed out our bad decision in time to make a different one. Sometimes our plan really isn’t the best one.
But disagreeing from the submissive position can be a delicate thing.
There are a lot of folks around our communities who are eager to be trained as s-types. They want to be appealing to the D-types they lust over. They have hot, juicy Marketplace-inspired fantasies about the training process itself. And just maybe, they have a sincere desire to be good: to be as useful and pleasing to their partner as they can be. The idea of training holds out the promise of all three.
There are also a lot of folks ready to tell them that there is no such thing, and those folks have a good point. There certainly is no universal standard of best submissive behavior. There isn’t a right way to kneel; there is only the way that your particular partner prefers for you to kneel. So if “training” means learning positions, forms of address, rituals and protocols and such then it mostly only applies to the person doing the training. Switch to a different partner and you’d have to be trained all over again. (Which might be fun, really.)
But there are other kinds of training, including some that I believe really are transferable to submitting to most if not all dominant partners, and really can make you fundamentally better at submission. Be warned though, those kinds of training tend to involve real effort and focus less on kneeling, posing and getting spanked.
Four Kinds of Training in Power Exchange
1. Play Training
Like play punishment, play training is a fantasy roleplay exercise. The real goal is to have a hot fun time, and you aren’t actually expected to learn anything.
“The only discipline that lasts is self-discipline.”
— Bum Phillips
“Discipline” is a very popular, very sexy concept for those of us who love power exchange, but what is discipline, really, and how does it work?
Discipline is responding with a crisp “Yes, Sir!” every time we receive an order. Discipline is noticing and correcting every time our partner slips up and meets our eyes after we’ve told them that is not allowed. Discipline is immediate, unhesitating obedience. Discipline is kneeling and waiting for permission to enter the bed every night, even when we’re tired or cranky. Discipline is both partners treating the rules like they’re important because they are the rules.
For a definition: discipline is the art of maintaining a high standard of behavior or achieving strict obedience to a set of rules. The word can refer to both the process of establishing and enforcing that kind of high standard, and also to the end result–a state of smoothly flowing, habitual obedience to an established structure. Continue reading
Pretty often I see people ask for ideas of things they could do with their submissive, and usually most of the responses they get are super dismissive. But I think it’s a fair question. We can all run short on inspiration sometimes.
So here are twelve relatively simple ideas for regular dominance in a relationship, sorted by what flavor of dominance they’re best suited for. All of them are designed to be able to work at a distance, so they can apply to LDR dominance just as well as to an in-person relationship.
1. Require Them to Ask Permission
Want to foster a sense of subordination in your partner and give them a regular reminder of your control over them? Pick some simple thing that they do often, and require them to get your permission before they’re allowed to do it. Classic choices include permission to get into bed for the night, permission to masturbate, or permission to use the bathroom.
They’ll feel your control in a very present way every time they ask, and it creates regular points in your day-to-day routine at which it’s convenient to insert more dominance if you so choose: “Before you get into bed, I want you to…” Continue reading
“There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who believe there are two kinds of people in this world and those who are smart enough to know better.”
— Tom Robbins, Still Life With Woodpecker
If you ever want to start a fruitless argument among any group of power exchange enthusiasts, just ask them “What’s the difference between a submissive and a slave?”
I’ve been involved in power exchange communities for over twenty years, and across all those years I’ve seen this same question asked, answered and argued over and over again, with no sign of progress toward a broad consensus. It is one of the Great Intractables of kink, destined to spur endless disagreement until end of the world, or at least the end of the Internet.
A big part of the reason why it is intractable is that different people have different reasons for wanting to draw the distinction in different ways. So instead of trying to give you a single definitive answer, I’m going to give you a question: why do you want to know? Continue reading
I once had a partner who I loved and whose happiness was super important to me. As her lover and her top I was particularly invested in her sexual satisfaction; I wanted to know all about her passions and her fantasies, and to be part of realizing the ones she wanted to see made real. I delighted in getting to support her in squeezing as much sexy juice out of life as possible, whether that was exploring new kinky territory together or supporting her in seeking and enjoying other partners.
I once had a partner who I trained to be nothing but a cum dumpster, and the hottest thing about owning her was how I could use her without any consideration for her pleasure at all. I’d make her lube herself up and wait silently on her hands and knees for me to decide to come and get off in her, without allowing her any of the kind of touch that’d make the sex pleasurable for her. Sometimes I’d have a romantic, sexy time with a real woman, and then make my dumpster eat the cum when I was finished.
As you may have already guessed, both partners are the same person. Continue reading
There’s this seeming paradox in what’s expected of those of us who aspire to dominate.
On the one hand, we’re supposed to be masterful. We’re supposed to be the kind of people who always have to have things their own way, and who bend others to their will.
On the other hand, we’re supposed to be scrupulously consensual. We’re expected to get permission for every little thing we do, and to stop doing it the moment our partner stops being enthusiastically into it.
We’re expected to be darkly mysterious and also to negotiate every detail of what we’re going to do in advance.
We’re expected to be merciless taskmasters, and also to never pressure our partners into anything they don’t want to do.
We’re expected to enforce unyielding discipline, and also to yield the moment that our partner isn’t into it anymore. Continue reading
“I’m 100% dominant.”
“I don’t have a submissive bone in my body.”
“I couldn’t be submissive if I tried.”
It’s the favorite humblebrag of folks who dominate but could never-ever not me no-siree possibly submit.
It’s a humblebrag because while it’s phrased as an admission of inability, it’s almost always really meant to be a boast. The implied meaning is that they could never submit because they’re soooo dominant. Naturally dominant. 100% dominant. So gosh darned stuffed full of dominance that there’s no room for even a speck of submission. It’s a claim intended to bolster someone’s status and to melt the pants off subbies for whom more dominant = more attractive. Continue reading
I’m always hearing that the world of kink doesn’t have enough mentoring, or that we used to have mentors but we’re losing that tradition. Our communities have multiplied, fragmented and spread out across the breadth of the Internet. Everyone doesn’t go to the same bar and belong to the same club like they used to.
Lots of people are learning our craft through books and online videos and message boards and maybe in-person classes where they listen to a presenter talk for two hours and then they leave, all without ever connecting to a more substantial community where they might be able to form relationships with elders and learn all the things that online videos are less good at teaching: social graces, community values, or the comfort and confidence that can grow from having a role model who’s walked the path before you. I hear from so many kinky folk that they feel isolated and wanting for connection and guidance.
If any of that resonates for you — if you wish you saw more community and more connection, more passing down of values and helping people find a happy healthy place in the world of kink — I’d like to invite you to change it. Continue reading
I just read another essay arguing that topping from the bottom doesn’t really exist — that the phrase is just a way that people try to shame bottoms for having limits, expressing preferences or negotiating for what they want. And yeah: that totally happens. I see “topping from the bottom” get used that way all too frequently, and it’s unfair and unhelpful and pretty shitty.
It’s also almost exactly the opposite of actual topping from the bottom. Someone clearly and explicitly negotiating for what they want out of their kink isn’t topping from the bottom; topping from the bottom is when someone negotiates to submit and then covertly and manipulatively tries to take control of the scene or the relationship — without admitting that they’re trying to be in control. Continue reading