Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Dominance and Submission

Okay, this is another weird personal one guys, so if you don't want to know these things about me, stop reading now.

I've spoken before about dominance and submission, and the relationship dynamics, and it came up today on the NoR forums in relation to dating. IN particular a submissive man is having trouble finding a dominant woman to date who isn't psycho.

This is a ctually a pretty common problem for "sceners", but usually a lifer will find someone eventually; they jsut have to be serious about it.

Anyway, there was certainly some misunderatanding on the board about the nature of dominant and submissive dynamics, one commenter saying:
Quite frankly, I don’t feel a need to dominate someone or be someone’s slave. Actually this whole domanite/submite master/slave thing sounds like a load of bullshit.
To which another responded:
There are people out there, both male and female, who have submissive personalities. People who are, quite honestly, weak. They will naturally be attracted to people who can lead them, and those that want to lead them will find them. In the end it usually makes for balanced and happy relationships. Opposites attract and whatnot.
Which is partially correct, but again, misunderstands the fundamental nature of the relationships. It's most definitely not about strength or weakness, of mind, will, character, emotion, or spirit.

Dominance and submission are not about sex, or kinkiness; though they can be. Natural dominance and submission relationships (as opposed to “scene” D&S) are about three things… or rather about seven things broken into three categories.

1. Power, control and responsiblity: Some people are unable to balance these things in their lives. THey feel lost with or without these things, intimidated by them or their lack, stressed by them or their lack, frightened by them or their lack, angered by them or their lack, whatever…

2. Trust and loyalty: The relationship between those with dominant personalities and submissive personalities is entirely best on two way trust, and two way loyalty. This applies whether it is a sexual relationship or not. If there is trust and loyalty, there is strenght, and there is the next element…

3. Freedom and safety: Some naturally must be in control to be free, some cannot be free if they are in control. Some naturally must be in controll to feel safe, some cannot feel safe if they are in control.

Let me go into detail further here...

I am a naturally dominant person. I lead naturally, and others follow me naturally. That doesn't necessarily mean I’m a control freak, though sometimes I can be; it means that I am comfortable with power, control, and responsiblity; and that I prefer to not be in a situation where I don’t have them (yes, the AF was far more of an emotional challenge to me than physical).

This also applies in personal relationships. I am impatient with the incompetent, and I am agressive in aserting myself. If somethign is wrong, I will act to correct it. If something is right, I will act to praise the responsible party and emulate it.

These are all natural personality tendencies, that are as inbuilt to me as my soul.

My girlfriend is naturally submissive. She was not aware of this until I made it clear to her, and she’s still not entirely comfortable with this, but it’s the way she is. This isn’t to say she is weak, or has a weak will, she doesn’t. She simply prefers and feels naturally better, and safer when others WHO SHE TRUSTS have the responsiblity. That said, if she is right about something, she fights for it. If she see something wrong, she goes after it. She will not agree to somethign jsut because thats what a dominant person thinks. She is independent minded, and very spirited, and jsut a bit nutty (but in a cute and endearing way)

What she feels with me is love, comfort, warmth, safety, and freedom. In fact when I'm not dominant enough, she starts to think I don't care enough about her. She's constantly testing me. Oh and don't get me started on the whole "passive agressive" thing. That's at the very CORE of overtly submissive behavior, and it can be the bane of every tops existence.

Though some dominants do see submissives as weak, those people will most likely never uderstand what is below the surface of the relationships; only seing the “scene” as it were. Some dominants also DESIRE the weak partners, but that extends into an entirely different level often involving debasement and humiliation, voluntary slavery, or human toys and human pets.

Has anyone ever said to you “I jsut want to let go”, or “I jsut wish it were all someone else proble”, in a serious way? If so, they are expressing the desires of the submissive.

Most people are neither naturally dominant, nor naturally submissive. Most folks, have a hard time dealing with responsiblity, power, and control all the time, and they sometimes want someone else to take care of it for them. They sometimes just want to be free of that burden.

That is the expression of a submissive desire.

Many people who have these desires are also very insecure about them, because they believe it makes them weak; or they are afraid of being taken advantage of.

Many people feel that they enjoy power, control, and responsiblity sometimes, but that often it is jsut too much hassle.

These are all normal things, and most folks have a balance of dominant and submissive tendencies in their personalities; though they will often lean slightly or strongly towards one or the other. True natural dominants are almsot vanishingly rare, and natural submissives are quite uncommon (though there are probably 10 times as many natural subs as there are natural doms).

Now, a moment on terminology to describe what I just talked about. Dominants are often referred to as “Tops”, submissives as “bottoms”, and if you go both ways you’re a “switch” (though these terms have more extensive connotations to do with play and scenes). Most people are really a switch to some degree or another; or may be a top with some folks, and a bottom with others. As I said above, true dominants who will naturally top, and true submissives who will naturally bottom are very rare.

In a dominant sumbissive relationship, while on the surface it appears that the submissive is sacrificing themselves to the dominant, actually the reverse is true. The top is in fact assuming responsiblity for the bottom, which allows the bottom to be freer, and more comfortable, more in tune with their nature. This can be a very heavy burden on the top, mentally and emotionally (and sometimes physically and financially). It is far more draining in every sense to top someone.

This is actually why I brought up the top and bottom terminology; because it illustrates one of my points. In play, the top is doing what the bottom wants; not the other way around. The top is recieving instructions; or is acting according to the known desires of the bottom.

The purpose of dominant and submissive games and gestures, is to enhance the feelings that these power relationships engender in the participants; the top feeling more responsible for the bottoms safety, and having more of a duty to live up to their trust and loyalty; and the bottom feeling freer, and more able to express themselves as they wish, without worrying about the cares or dangers that the top is protecting them from.

Trust me on this one, topping someone is hard work. Hell even being the dominant partner in every day situations is hard work, because YOU are responsible for EVERYTHING.

But we like it that way...

Do you think the dominant partner is really in control in this situation? Not if they care for the person they are topping they aren’t. The real control, and certainly the real freedom, lies with the submissive, because by making the dominant responsible for them; if their top cares for them and is loyal to them; their safety, protection, and satisfaction has become a central concern; as in an almost parental relationship.

This get’s even MORE complicated when you move beyond simple submission relationships and into the area of slaves, toys, pets, etc…

So it’s a lot more complicated than most folks think, and in general it has very litttle to do with sex, and very much to do with the three sets of factors I describe above.

Oh and the real lifers talk about “power and control” or “power exchange” relationships not dominance and submission, but that’s an even more complicated subject.