Fantasies and terrible surprises

Another rant about people who can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality! This one is inspired by a pretty old Ask Dr. Nerdlove post (I started drafting this post ages ago and forgot about it, good job me!) about some poor bastard who is infatuated with a camgirl.

Dr Nerdlove’s answer, not terribly surprisingly, largely boiled down to it being incredibly easy to think you have a real connection with someone whose job is to make you feel special. He also mentioned that “you’ve only seen a very small and carefully curated slice of her life; you have yet to truly see her when she hasn’t been “on”.” and I want to go into more detail about that.

For one, it’s incredibly easy to stay infatuated with someone when you’ve never had to argue about whose turn it is to clean the cat’s litterbox. If you start out as a client and actually manage to transition to a romantic relationship, you’re potentially setting yourself up for a lot of nasty surprises. Not because sex workers are bad girlfriends, but because mixing up fantasy and reality will reliably make you miserable.

More specifically, when you see a sex worker, whether online or in person, you’re seeing her freshly made up, wearing a cute outfit, in a good mood (or able to fake it convincingly), happy to see you (or able to fake it convincingly), interested in whatever you want to talk about (or able to fake it convincingly), and willing to behave in a way that makes you feel special. That’s a massive amount of emotional labour and sex workers absolutely deserve the money they make. That’s also a very, very different relationship from one where your girlfriend has a shitty day and acts like a bit of a jerk when she comes home, or where she spent all day helping a friend move and doesn’t have the energy to care about how your favourite soccer team did when she’s a hockey fan, or where she looks like death warmed over after a big night out (no judgement here, I look like death too when I’m hungover), or where she ever expresses emotional needs that aren’t convenient for you.

Now to drag this back to kink, from the complaints I see online it seems pretty common for submissive guys, particularly the new ones, to become infatuated with the idea of the all powerful dom who is effortlessly in control every second of every day and never has a shitty day or a cold or needs to lie down and have someone stroke her hair. Then they try dating an actual human woman who has, like, needs and shit and it ends with her complaining on Fetlife and asking why guys keep saying they’re submissive when they really just want their fantasies acted out to their exact specifications.

I think that’s part of the appeal of pros – when you show up for an appointment with a pro she’s freshly made up, all dressed up (and she probably has an amazing fetish wardrobe), enthusiastic about seeing you, and ready to start the scene. It’s not just the particular kink activity you’re paying for – would you really pay top dollar to see a pro who did her sessions in kitten pajamas no matter how enthusiastic she was about beating your ass? Some people would, and you know, maybe there’s a market for the girlfriend experience dom. But most customers also want the fantasy of the dominatrix look and attitude. When you date someone, on the other hand, you get a very different experience and I think it can be a shock for guys to realize that this relationship doesn’t revolve around what he wants. They end up unhappy, their girlfriends end up unhappy, everyone ends up unhappy when you can’t separate fantasy from reality.

Stabbity’s pet peeves part AFGERSDF

One of my many, many pet peeves in written profiles is the mating call of lazy little brats everywhere: “if you want to know anything about me, just ask.” What that actually means is “I’m too fucking lazy to write a profile so I’m going to ask you do to all the work based on absolutely nothing, since you can’t possibly tell if you even want to know anything about me from my total lack of a profile.”

“Just ask”? How about I just don’t.

People, you can only ask someone to meet you halfway. You cannot ask someone to do literally all the work, that’s a) not fair, and b) makes you look like a lazy little bitch. Do you really want your first impression on a potential partner to make you look like a lazy little brat?

Seriously, why on earth should I bother asking about someone who can’t be bothered to fill in their profile? To be clear, if you actually did fill in your profile and added a line about it being okay to ask any questions that weren’t already answered in your profile, that’s completely fine. What bothers me is when slackasses leave their profiles largely blank with “if you want to know anything about me, just ask” as if that makes up for being too lazy to fill in a goddman profile. No, I’m actually not interested in doing literally all of the work of figuring out whether we have anything at all in common. If you can’t be bothered to fill in a profile, we have nothing in common. To be fair, I’m a bit of an outlier given that wordpress stats tell me there are a little over 200,000 words on this blog but come on, being lazy is attractive to basically 0 female doms no matter how few words they’ve written online.

If I have to do all the work of getting to know you that does not bode even a little bit well for how the rest of our relationship will go. That’s why this is one of my many pet peeves when it comes to profiles. Why on earth would you want your first impression on a potential dom to be “you’re going to have to do all of the emotional labour in this relationship, doesn’t that sound like fun!”? No, how about I do literally anything else. Honestly, staying home and playing videogames would less of a pain in the ass than trying to drag any sort of conversation out of someone who thinks it’s okay to make me to all the work of keeping that conversation going. Guys, if you have nothing to offer me that Witcher 2 (it runs on linux, yay!) can’t, you’d better stick with shitty femdom porn.

While we’re on the subject of things that irritate me in personal ads, can you please for the love of god have something to say besides listing your fetishes? Yes, I realize you’re posting that ad because you want someone to act out your fetish with you. I also realize you’ve never thought about what makes a person want to answer a personal ad. Having compatible kinks is not enough, you’ve got to have something in common as human beings.

Also, can you be honest for thirty goddamn seconds and replace “hight-weight proportionate” with “no fatties”? We all know that’s what you mean, all you’re saying by using the spineless little weasel translation is that you’re dimly aware that it’s tacky to say “no fat chicks.” And spare me the fucking concern trolling about how you’re just so worried about their health. You fucking aren’t, you just like being an asshole. If fat shaming made people thin, there wouldn’t be any fat people. Literally every fat person has been relentlessly fat shamed and guess what, fat people still exist.

For that matter, saying “Caucasians only, I’m not attracted to blacks/asians/south asians” only says that you’re a racist asshole and a lazy little brat. Have you seen every single black person? No? Then how the shit do you know you aren’t attracted to any of them? Protip: black people actually do look different from each other. Have you seen every single asian guy? Every single south asian guy? Oh that’s right, not only are you racist, you’re lazy as shit. Now, if you’re stuck living in an especially racist part of the world and bringing a black guy home to daddy would be both miserable and physically dangerous for him, that’s one thing, but if you say you’re “just not attracted to black guys” you’re a racist. Admit it and move on.

The reason this stuff makes me so cranky is that it’s so goddamn easy to get it right. I know nobody loves writing profiles but come on, think for just five minutes about the kind of profile you would reply to. Go out and find some profiles you like and steal their structure. DO NOT COPY THEM (yes it makes me sad to need to say that), but look at the things you like about a profile and add the same sort of information to yours. Come on people, this isn’t rocket science.

“shit, am I evil?”

A while ago I wrote about self-acceptance and a reader left an interesting comment about how they had never heard before that it was normal for sadists to worry about whether they’re evil. Let’s talk about how thoroughly normal that fear is.

First of all, the single most common portrayal of sadists in the media is serial killers. If that’s the only place you’ve ever seen people who like the things you like (and if you haven’t been exposed to actual bad people), of course you’re going to worry that you’re evil too. On that note, if you do happen to be a perv who worries at all about whether being a sadist makes you a bad person, don’t spend a week binge reading the Sword & Scale blog when you’re sick and don’t have the energy or brain to do anything else 🙂 I even know I’m not evil and that gave me a bit of “well shit, this is what non-kinky people think of when they hear the word sadist isn’t it.”

Aside from exclusively terrible portrayals of sadists in the media, we’re also taught from earliest childhood that it’s mean to hurt other people. So what does it say about us that we want to be “mean” and that we like it? It’s undoubtedly even worse if you’re an emotional sadist (hey, there are emotional masochists, why can’t there be emotional sadists?). All of this sucks even worse for dominant women because being “mean” goes against everything we’re taught about how to be women. God forbid you enjoy chastity/orgasm denial/tease and denial/cuckolding – that obviously means you’re the most terrible woman ever to be terrible and no one will ever love you.

Liking blood play or heavy pain play can be especially scary if you’re already a little worried you might grow up to be a serial killer. It’s a lot easier to brush off a hand spanking as a bit of fun that only left someone’s butt a little bit pink, but what if you want to leave bruises or welts that last for days? Or you’re interested in consentual non-consent? There’s no shortage of stuff kinky people as a whole do that looks scary as hell even to other kinky people.

And I haven’t even mentioned relationships yet! Being controlled by your partner is listed as a warning sign on practically every domestic abuse checklist. I bet there are tons of newbie doms who are interested in social justice and are terrified that wanting to call the shots in their relationships means they’re abusive assholes. The more control you want, the scarier that gets.

If you’re worried about any or all of that, congratulations, you’re perfectly normal! And almost certainly not evil, if you were you wouldn’t be worried 🙂 That said, intent is Not Fucking Magic. More precisely, having good intentions and wanting your partner to be happy is not the same thing as checking in with them and listening carefully and making sure that the stuff you do in hopes of making them happy actually does make them happy and that you’re not accidentally or otherwise doing stuff that makes them unhappy. It’s totally okay to ask your partner (play, romantic, whatever) for a little extra reassurance and it’s also okay for you as the dom to scale things back to a level you’re more comfortable with. Doms have feelings too and all that 😉

It’s okay to like weird stuff and it’s also okay to be kind of freaked out about liking weird stuff. You’re not alone.

Bad pervert, no donut!

Or, for fucks sake your coworkers obviously do not need to know that you’re kinky.

Sometimes I binge-read Ask A Manager, an advice blog by, you guessed it, a manager. Alison (author of Ask A Manager and multiple books) gets some weird questions, but I think this is one of the weirdest: my coworker wants us to call her boyfriend her “master” (there’s also a followup post where, shockingly enough, the coworker leaves that job).

To quickly summarize, some asshole with either no boundaries or a thoroughly juvenile interest “freaking the mundanes” decided that it was totally fine and definitely not extremely weird to call her boyfriend “master” at work related social events. Even as a kinky person myself I have no desire to know whether my coworkers are kinky at all and I certainly don’t want to know what side of the slash they’re on. Then because her coworkers clearly weren’t uncomfortable enough, she started demanding that they not call her partner her boyfriend, partner, SO, or any other work-appropriate term for a person’s partner, but only call him her master because doing otherwise was apparently erasing her relationship on the same level as making up a new other gender name for a same gender partner.

First of all, oh my fuck that is not even slightly the same thing you creepy fuck. Not being able to tell people your partner’s actual gender because you’re afraid of getting fired is in no way, shape, or form the same thing as not being able to give people FAR FAR FAR more information than they ever wanted to know about your relationship because it’s fucking creepy. One of the commentors made a very good point about relationship labels like friend, roomate, or partner actually being useful in social settings. You might politely ask how your coworker’s roomate is doing, but you would probably reserve invitations to the company picnic for their romantic partner. Telling coworkers that someone is your slaveboy or sub or master or daddy, on the other hand, is totally irrelevant to them and also TMI dear god far too much information.

I’m honestly really pissed about that because it’s so gross and appropriative. Straight kinky people are not oppressed and it’s profoundly insulting to queer people to pretend that we are. When was the last time you heard of someone getting beaten because they were kinky? Gay bashing still happens, people can still legally be fired for being gay in lots of states, and people are scared right now today that their marriages may not be safe or they may not be able to marry their partner in the future. So no, don’t fucking tell me that experiencing consequences for trying to drag your coworkers into your scene is the same thing as being afraid that you could be barred from your partner’s bedside if they have to go to the hospital.

Not only is giving your coworkers way too much information about your relationship thoroughly inappropriate, but it seriously calls that coworker’s judgement into question. If they think it’s okay to tell coworkers how they like to have sex (whether or not kink is about sex for you, it’s that inappropriate to tell coworkers about), then what else do they think might be reasonable to tell people? You definitely can’t trust them around the public without constant supervision, and if you have to supervise someone that closely you might as well just do their job yourself. Even if they don’t communicate with people outside the company as part of their work, you still get to worry that they’re running around making other employees so uncomfortable that it’s affecting their work. If I worked with that woman I would definitely not talk to her directly if I could possibly avoid it (as it happens, one of the things Ms No Boundaries was unhappy about is that people didn’t talk to her anymore unless they absolutely had to), which really is not ideal when you have to communicate with people in a timely fashion to get your job done. And what if she outright sexually harasses people by, for example, telling her boss to spank her if she makes a mistake?

While I’m at it, I’m also side-eyeing the hell out of Ms No Boundaries’ dom. Does he have no idea how to behave like a grownup in public either? Because if he doesn’t, he certainly shouldn’t be giving anyone orders. Seriously, if buddy doesn’t realize that it’s both inappropriate and terrible for Ms No Boundaries’ career to refer to her boyfriend as her master at a work function and ask her coworkers to call him her master too, I’ve got to wonder if he also has no idea what nerve damage or safewords are. If someone is that lacking in common sense, for fucks sake don’t let them tie you up. And if he doesn’t realize you need people’s consent to involve them in your scene, don’t play with him at all.

I’m sure somebody out there is whining and crying about how if only society weren’t so sexually repressed people could talk about what great sex they had last night and introduce their boyfriend as their master but I just don’t care. Being open about sex is great and all but that doesn’t mean anybody wants to know what their coworkers’ favourite positions are. Topics don’t have to be taboo to be inappropriate for work – just like I don’t want to hear about your sex life, I don’t want to hear the details of the fight you had with your partner last night or how your quest to find just the right anti-depressant is going. You are not the only one who gets to decide how intimate your relationships with your coworkers are, they get a say too. Personally, I don’t want to hear that much about my coworker’s lives – I’m at work to work, not to hold my coworker’s hand through their messy divorce.

tl;dr don’t be a creeper, most people don’t want to know about the intimate details of your relationship.



How to ask your dom for a certain kind of play

I don’t know what it is but something about kink seems to make people immediately switch off their brains and then unplug them and then lock them in a box and then set the box on fire for good measure. Specifically, some submissive guys seem to not have the slightest fucking idea how to ask their doms if they’re willing to try a certain kind of play without being total douchebags about it and destroying their chances that she will ever be willing to discuss it.

First, a quick reminder: it is absolutely okay to ask for things in a respectful way at a reasonable time. Being submissive does not mean that you’re not allowed to have wants or needs or to leave a relationship because you’re unhappy.

With the understanding that you’re allowed to ask for things, let’s talk about how to do it without irritating the shit out of your wife/girl friend/female partner of some sort. Guys, it is really and truly not that complicated. Kink does not make relationship questions that different. Just imagine that you’re asking for something totally vanilla and it’s obvious what you should do, right?

Seriously, just do a mental find and replace. When you think “I want to try chastity” (just a convenient example that idiots commonly nag their wives about) replace that with  “I want you to come to the pickle festival with me.” You would simply ask if she’d like to come with you at a nice calm time when she wasn’t otherwise busy, right? If she’s running around packing for a trip, don’t bug her! If she had a terrible day, don’t bug her! If she just got some sad news, don’t bug her!

And if she said “No” or “Not now”, or “I’m not sure” or “Maybe later” you would stop fucking nagging her, right? Even if you desperately wanted to go the pickle festival with her? Because no means no, right? And it’s obvious that nagging someone relentlessly will just make them angry with you and guarantee that she will never go to that festival with you, right? And that really really really wanting to go with her is still not a good enough reason to keep fucking nagging?

The mental gymnastics some people go through to convince themselves a no isn’t really a no because it’s not the answer they wanted blow my mind. Even if you don’t respect her, and you clearly don’t if you’re whining at her to try something as if you’re a bratty five year old, it’s pretty fucking obvious that nagging someone makes them *less* likely to do a thing or ever enjoy it, not more. Seriously, are you fucking stupid? If you want to make sure that the idea of pickle festivals is forever tainted in her mind with the stench of your incessant whining, by all means, keep nagging. If, on the other hand, you would like to ever actually go to a pickle festival with her, ask if she minds explaining why she doesn’t want to go to the pickle festival. And again, if she says no, then for fuck’s sake drop the subject fod a good long time. Hint: a good long time is measured in months, not days.

If she explains her reasons, then a) that’s a fucking gift you are not owed (yes, it’s important to be able to discuss things in a relationship and it’s not a great sign if that’s not happening in yours, but you are not owed an explanation) and b) shut the fuck up and listen. No, actually listen. Don’t just wait your turn to start whining again, make sure you understand what she’s actually saying. And then think about her objections. Like, actually think about whether or not there’s any chance she will ever enjoy pickle festivals, don’t just think about how you might be able to talk her into it. If there’s any chance she might actually enjoy going to a pickle festival, then you can talk about compromises.

To be clear, I mean actual compromise, not “she does what I want so I’ll shut up and give her five goddamn minutes of peace.” For example, maybe she only comes to the pickle festival for an hour. Maybe she comes to keep you company but doesn’t eat any pickles. Maybe she shares one sweet pickled beet with you and doesn’t eat any other pickles. Maybe she tries it out with the strict understanding that you leave the minute she says she’s done. Maybe she gives you her blessing to the pickle festival with someone who actually likes pickles.

Do you see where I’m going with this? It’s not that fucking different if you want her to do something to or for your penis. Nagging does not work, do not nag. Technically nagging can be used to coerce someone into grudgingly doing the thing for about five minutes so you’ll shut up about it, but obviously that’s not fun for anyone. And honestly, if you enjoy making your partner miserable you can just fuck off.

The one area I think is a little bit grey is how often it’s okay to bring it up and ask if her feelings have changed. I think a good first step is to straight out ask if it’s okay to bring it up again after a good long time has passed. If she says she never wants to talk about it again, then you respect that and make your decisions about staying in that relationship accordingly. If it’s really important to you, for fuck’s sake say so. That’s information that’s really useful for your partner to have.

As intensely as anything that could possibly be perceived as nagging annoys me, I will grudgingly admit that it’s not realistic to tell people that you can ask for a particular kink once and only once and never bring it up again. People forget things, or mean to read up on them and don’t get around to it, or avoid the subject, or assume it’s not that important because you never brought it up again. Avoiding the subject is definitely a clear “No” if it goes on long enough, but I think it’s fairer to your partner to just tell them no if that’s what you really mean. If you’ve got to crush their dreams, don’t drag it out 😉

Don’t forget, you always have the right to leave a relationship. If you aren’t getting your needs met, leave already. That does lead me to an especially grey part of the grey area, though. While I think you should be clear about your relationship dealbreakers, is there really that much difference between telling someone “come to the pickle festival with me or I’ll leave you?” and “I don’t know if I can stay in a relationship with someone who won’t go to the pickle festival with me?” I mean, the end result is pretty similar, right?

For me personally there’s a difference between being told I have to do something and being told what the consequences are if I don’t and being allowed to make my own choices but I can definitely see the argument that that’s so much semantic hairsplitting. I recommend dodging the whole ultimatum subject altogether and just tell your partner clearly that it’s really, seriously important to you to be able to go to the pickle festival with her. If she doesn’t want to even discuss it when you make it clear how important it is to you, what difference is telling her that you’re going to have to leave if you can’t come to some kind of agreement that at least partially meets you needs going to make?

Okay, that was really long so I’ll summarize it quickly:

  • For fuck’s sake think about how you would ask for something totally unrelated to kink
  • Ask at a neutral place and time (not during or just before sex!) when she’s in a good mood
  • Remember that no means no. You don’t have to like it but you do have to respect it.

And that’s how to ask your partner to try a particular kink without being a total douchebag about it.

“how can i make my husband interested in femdom”

Another one from the search terms!

Here’s an interesting little tidbit: my very first thought was “you can’t”. Funny how we take men’s interests seriously in a way we just don’t for women. I can’t even tell you how happy I am to see this as a search term – I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve seen this question, where I’ve seen “how do I make my wife act out my desires like a puppet?” about a zillion fucking times.

The biggest difference is that I think it would be easier for a woman to ask her male partner to try femdom than the other way around. Asking someone to participate in a scene where you’re probably going to be telling them what to do anyway is much less scary for them than asking them to run a scene when they don’t know what they’re doing. To make a terribly nerdy analogy, it’s like asking someone to come play a roleplaying game with you versus asking them to be the dungeon master and run the game. One of these things is just less intimidating than the other.

I think the stereotype that men will do anything to get sex would be a bit of a wash in this case. Sure, many vanilla men’s idea of femdom is “having sex with a woman in a sexy leather outfit but with her on top” and that’s not exactly a hard sell, but let’s not forget there’s a reason so many submissive men have a terrible time accepting themselves. Letting someone else take charge is pretty fucking scary when you’ve had it beaten into you since birth that you’re not a man if you submit to anyone, especially a woman. Given the trouble so many women have getting even self-described submissive men to actually give up control, I feel pretty safe assuming it’s just as hard to get a vanilla man to submit as it is to get a vanilla woman to dominate.

All that said, if you’ve already read my post about how to introduce your partner to femdom, the rest of this post is going to be suspiciously familiar 🙂

Before you try to get someone else interested in femdom, you need to know what exactly you’re asking for. Do you want to keep it in the bedroom? Do you want to have some control of some things outside of the bedroom? Do you eventually want total control of everything? (spoiler: that one’s going to be a tough sell).

Even if you just want to have a little kinky sex now and then, you still need to be able to explain, in regular words, not kink jargon, exactly what you’re asking for. Are you interested in bondage? Impact play? Strictly interested in sensual play with no pain? Giving orders? Mind games? Humiliation? Chastity? Pet play? Even when both people are already kinky and theoretically already know all the jargon, there are still tons of opportunities for misunderstandings. It’s only going to be harder to explain yourself to someone who doesn’t have any idea what the difference between submitting and bottoming is, so for fucks sake use normal words. Making someone learn a whole glossary is not the way to sell them on kink 🙂

You’ve also got to be able to explain what’s in this for him. This is one of my biggest pet peeves with all the shitty advice submissive men get about trying to get their wives into femdom, practically none of it has a goddamn word to say about what could possibly be fun about dominating someone. It’s totally fine if one of the reasons submitting to you could possibly be fun for your partner is because it really turns you on and he likes turning you on, you’ve just got to have something to say about why he would ever want to do this.

Also, you’ve got to be prepared to compromise. Actually, what you really need to do first is accept that your husband may never be willing to even try doing anything kinky with you and that even if he does try, he might hate it and never want to do it again. What you should do about it if you need kink in your life and your husband isn’t interested in kink at all is a question I can’t answer for you, but I can say with certainty that you’ve got to be able to accept a no and not nag your husband relentlessly. Not only is that a dick move, it’s just not going to work so don’t waste your time.

But even if your husband does get into kink, there’s no guarantee he’ll like all the same things you do. If you’re lucky he’ll be willing to do things he’s not wild about occasionally to make you happy, but that’s not something you should count on. I recommend finding things that both of you actually like, if only because the more he likes kink, the more willing he’ll be to keep doing kinky things with you. I don’t know how that idea escapes so many submissive men but there’s a pretty clear precedent for kinky people just not getting that you have to make it fun for the vanilla person you’re trying to convert if you want them ever to show the slightest interest in kink.

And finally, you want to present this as a fun thing that might be fun to do together, not as some terrible personality flaw of yours. People take their cues from the people around them – if you act like being kinky is terrible, they’ll think it’s terrible. I’m not saying it’s not scary to tell your partner something so important about you, but it’ll go a lot better if you’ve accepted yourself as a perv and know that it’s pretty normal and definitely not a horrible secret.

Readers, do you have any advice for a dominant woman trying to get her husband into femdom?

“what is the difference between domineering and dominant?”

Some great questions are showing up in my search terms lately 😀 Thanks internet randos!

First of all someone can definitely be both dominant and domineering. Just like it’s possible to be dominant and abusive at the same time, they’re not mutually exclusive. Calling it bdsm doesn’t magically make it not abuse, and convincing someone to agree to it doesn’t magically make it not abuse either.

That said, I think there is a difference between being domineering and being dominant. Maybe not as much difference as kinky people might like to pretend there is, but I do think there’s a difference.

Let’s start with the dictionary definition of domineering. According to it’s “to rule arbitrarily or despotically; tyrannize.” Well, doms can be pretty arbitrary, and a 24/7 total power exchange relationship could certainly look tyrannical. To go a little further into that definition, a despot is “a king or other ruler with absolute, unlimited power; autocrat.” Gee I can’t think of anyone who would want absolute power 😉

So what’s the difference? Depending on your definition of dominant and whether you have a laundry list of bad experiences, there may not be one. My personal definition of dominant is “has dominant desires” i.e. likes being in charge in personal relationships, which isn’t actually imcompatible at all with being a domineering asshole. Being a good dom, on the other hand, takes more than just having certain desires. To be a good dom, you have to care enormously about the happiness and wellbeing of your sub, and that’s the difference between domineering and dominant.

Also, domination is supposed to be about freely given control/authority, whereas domineering jerks don’t care whether or not you want to give them control. They only care about whether they can take it.

Of course, there’s some grey area there. Some people find “force” really hot, and not to be an asshole, but not all of those people are great at telling the difference between fantasy and reality. And of course, not everyone communicates especially well, which, you know, can go poorly when you want to do things that are as difficult and easy to screw up as d/s where you’ve handed over a lot of control.

Not to mention many many people just aren’t compatible with each other. If a submissive isn’t interested in giving up as much control as their dom wants to have that doesn’t necessarily make them a bad dom, it just makes the two of them incompatible. Now, if that dom tries to force their sub to give up more control than they’re comfortable with, that’s definitely domineering.

This may not be hugely helpful, but I think it’s less important to be able to decide whether someone is dominant or just domineering than it is to figure out whether or not you’re happy. You don’t have to have an airtight case to break up with someone, there’s no breakup tribunal. If you’re unhappy, you get to leave. You don’t have to prove anyone is a bad person to be allowed not to date or play with or submit to them. Not being into them is enough.

Is domination learnable?

After my last post, obviously I have to write a followup about domination :p

Honestly my advice is largely the same as in my post about whether submission is learnable: both doms and subs need to know what they actually want, they both need to know who they are and what they can deal with, they both need to be able to control themselves when they’re having strong feelings, and they both need to be able to communicate well.

For doms it’s probably even more important than for subs to have a handle on your emotions. Nobody submits to someone whose opinion they don’t care about, which means you have enormous power as a dom to emotionally crush your submissive by losing patience when you’re having a bad day. I’m not saying it doesn’t suck when your submissive has a shitty day and takes it out on you, but submissive people make themselves incredibly vulnerable to their doms and you have a duty to take good care of them.

Just like giving up control is a thing you can practice, so is taking control. I promise you nobody is amazing at that the very first time they try dominating someone. It is totally normal to feel tentative at first and to check in a lot and worry about whether all that checking in is ruining the mood and generally feel like a total dork. That feeling eases up a lot as you get more practice, which is why I say taking control is a learnable skill. I’m not sure a person can learn to want to take control, but if you do want to you can get better at it with practice.

Same with accepting service. It might seem silly to call that a skill, but it’s actually really hard to get used to when you’ve been raised in a society that says your purpose in life is to do things for others (especially men), not to let people do things for you, who do you think you are you lazy bitch what do you mean you asked your husband to bring you a cup of tea he’s going to leave you for a woman who actually cares about him. Ahem. Giving orders is very commonly hard for people in the exact same way – we’re basically trained from birth to hint and hope because what kind of domineering bitch straight up tells people what to do?

As a bit of a side note here, being a dom does not mean you have to learn to accept service or to give orders or to do anything that doesn’t do it for you, no matter how many assholes say you aren’t a real dom if you don’t ____. Fuck them, do what makes you happy. I’m only saying that nobody starts out amazing or even particularly good at those things and you can get better with practice.

And finally, self confidence is also learnable – well, buildable anyway. Unconfident people can certainly have dominant desires, but I think they should work on their self confidence because it’s not the submissive’s job to do all the work of convincing you that you’re good enough to dominate them. I firmly believe that if you want to have a submissive of your very own you’ve got to hold up your end of the bargain and part of that is inspiring your submissive to submit to you.

Come to think of it I wish I’d made a similar point in that last post about submission, because constantly reassuring your submissive that they’re good enough to submit to you isn’t any fun either. I can definitely understand how male submissives in particular are at a disadvantage there and that going against everything society says about what a man is supposed to be can do a number on your self esteem, but that’s also beyond the power of your dom to fix.

Of course hard skills like throwing a flogger or tying a knot are learnable too, nobody comes out of the womb good at those. Those are a lot easier to learn (well, it’s easy to learn enough to have a fun scene, I know you can spend a lifetime perfecting your rope technique) than the squishy soft skills I’m talking about here though, and basically everyone recognizes them as a) skills at all, and b) as important skills you should have. I wish we all talked more about the soft skills involved in being dominant or submissive instead of buying into the myth that a real ____ is magically good at all of those skills with no practice and people who need practice can’t possibly be a real ____.

Readers, what soft skills do you think are important?

Is submission learnable?

As much as the idea of training as a universally recognized path to Doing Submission Correctly irritates the shit out of me, I do actually think that some parts of submission can be practiced. To be entirely clear, the fetishy idea that there is such a thing as The Marketplace and one correct way to submit and you just have to learn the right way to kneel, the right way to beg, and you’re set forever is completely ridiculous. That is how scenes work, but that is not even slightly how relationships work and I really wish people could keep that shit straight.

When I talk about submission being learnable, I am absolutely not talking about anything anyone would ever jerk off to in any situation ever. I’m talking about boring relationship skills that take work to learn and that don’t get anyone off.

Now that everyone who thinks that submission is exclusively about what gets them off is gone, let’s talk about specific skills.

The first and most important thing you can learn is who you are and what it is you really want. One thing that will come in handy here is a BDSM checklist. Yep, checklists sound boring don’t they. Do it anyway. One of the big strengths of checklists is that they include stuff you had never thought about, which is really useful when you’re trying to work out what you want and what you don’t. One of many things that particularly annoys me is when “submissive” guys act shocked and surprised that a dom is interested in something that doesn’t make his dick hard. You can parially avoid that by finding a comprehensive list of kinks, thinking about each one of them, figuring out which ones you would ever want to do, and more importantly, accepting that there are kinks that don’t turn you on. You should never ever treat it as a terrible surprise that a woman is interested in something that you aren’t. Women are people and have their own desires, etc, etc.

Another thing I highly recommend, and which I stole directly from Ferns, is to literally write down your idea of an ideal normal day with your partner. If you don’t have a partner, this is going to be a little bit harder, but try to imagine a reasonable human being who doesn’t live to fulfil your fantasies and has a job and hobbies and friends and maybe wants to see her family now and then. The key here is to think about a normal day, not like day 3 of your most intense fantasy of 24/7 slavery or whatever. When you get up in the morning, what happens? Do you get up early to make coffee for your partner and bring it to her in bed? Are you the least morning-person ever to hate mornings? In that case maybe you stay up after she goes to bed to set up the coffee maker so she only has to hit one button before she gets into the shower. What happens when you get home from work? Do you get started on dinner right away so she can have a nice meal when she gets home? Do you get home after she does and take the dog for a walk so she can make dinner without worrying about that? Do you check in before you leave work and see if she needs you to pick anything up on the way home? Do you wait for her to give you permission before you start eating? Do you keep it strictly vanilla until after dinner or until bedtime? Does she control small choices like what you wear to work or does she want you to take care of the little things so she doesn’t have to worry about them? Do you check in with her during the way, or do you both concentrate on your work? No judgement from me either way, but you want to be on the same page about that. Personally I like some contact with my partner throughout the day but I can in no way be bothered to give him permission to use the bathroom or go for lunch or have another cup of tea.

For me, micromanagement is so much more work than I’m interested in. For another person, that may be how she shows love and how she likes to run her relationships. That’s why it’s important to figure out what you want, so you can tell people what you want, look at what they want, and figure out if there’s any chance at all you might be compatible. Knowing what you want is absolutely essential to communicating clearly with a potential partner, and communicating clearly with a potential partner is absolutely essential to actually having a happy d/s relationship.

Another thing that’s possible to practice is letting someone else be in charge. You can do it at work, right? And you’ve definitely accepted assignments from your teachers, whether that was in high school or college/university. It is a bit of a leap to accepting orders in a personal and/or romantic relationship, but that just takes practice. It’s not exactly the same thing, but theoretically it should be possible to practice taking orders with people who aren’t your dom. Think about what lets you do it in some situations and see what you can apply to taking orders from your dominant girlfriend.

It’s entirely unsexy, but something that could really help is meditating on a regular basis. No seriously, a big part of meditation is watching your thoughts as they pass by and learning that you don’t necessarily have to do anything about it just because you had a thought. You can figure out how this would apply to submission, right? Just because you have a reaction to an order in the moment doesn’t mean you need to freak out about it, maybe you just need to sit with it for a minute and think about whether it’s really you who has a problem with it or whether it’s just societal programming that says men should always be in charge or whether it’s just weird for you to take orders outside of your fantsies and you need a little practice.

Communication skills are also immensely useful. Not sexy, but useful, which I think is why they come up so rarely. One way to learn better communication skills is to learn about non-violent communication. In an emotionally charged situation, it can be really helpful to talk strictly about how you feel about another person’s actions and not make value judgements about those actions. There’s plenty of other advice about communication skills online if you google it. If non-violent communication doesn’t do it for you that doesn’t mean there isn’t something out there that will work better. And to be clear, NVC only works when everyone involved has good intentions. People can and do use NVC to be total douchebags and you need to be aware of that and to stand up for youself. If someone uses whatever communication skills or SJW language they have to make you feel like you’re a terrible person, ask youself why they’re still spending time around you if you’re so terrible. Hint: the answer is they want to control you.

To summarize, know thyself, understand that kinks that don’t do it for you exist, practice giving up control, mediate, and learn to communicate. None of those are sexy but I promise they’ll get you a lot farther toward finding a partner and having a happy relationship than babbling on about “training” as if that’s an actual thing that exists outside The Marketplace.


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