“It’s not service unless the master wants it.” – Joshua Tenpenny, Real Service
It’s such a simple concept, but you’d be amazed how many people can’t grasp it. Hand washing your partner’s underwear may make you feel submissive, but if what she actually needed was her car taken to the shop then all you’ve done is waste your time. It really should be obvious, but doing what you want instead of what your master wants is in fact the opposite of submission.
That is, you’d think it would be obvious, but according to far too many discussions I’ve seen, including these two comments in a thread about kinky people with vanilla partners, the idea that you should try things your partner actually likes if you want to have some kink in your relationship is apparently a mind blowing revelation. In related news I have a theory about why so many men complain that their female partners have no interest in kink.
I understand that it can be hard to let go of the vision of your ideal relationship, but come on guys. Either you give a shit about the actual living breathing human being you’re in a relationship with or you don’t. If you care more about the fantasy than the person, don’t go acting all surprised when she doesn’t seem to care that much about what you want either. After all, you started it.
Even doms can fall into this trap. Credit where it’s due, Lily Lloyd talked about this either on her (sadly now defunct) blog or in her excellent book Discipline (no longer available). It’s terribly easy to get the idea that being a dom means you’re supposed to give your submissive all sorts of rules, particularly if your submissive happens to like rules. You can end up desperately trying to remember and enforce a set of rules you don’t care about until your whole d/s relationship feels like a chore. No matter how much the submissive enjoys it, it’s not service unless the master wants it. No amount of telling yourself you’re supposed to want something or beating yourself up for not wanting it is going to change your feelings about it.
I used to think I wasn’t actually dominant at all because I had precisely zero fucks to give about slave positions or making my partner ask permission to sit on the furniture. Given that being a dom is an important part of my identity now, you can safely assume I was pretty motivated to want what I thought I was supposed to want. It didn’t work. I still don’t care about slave positions even a little bit, and unless someone can magically making learning them stop feeling like a chore, I’m never going to care.
This, of course, makes me a terrible dom for a sub who loves high protocol. Neither one of us is wrong, we’re just a bad match. Honestly, if I found a high protocol sub I got along with and tried to convince him to stop loving rules and structure and doing things just so, I would be the asshole in that situation. I rag on submissive men more because I can’t understand how you can call yourself submissive while trying to mold your partner into someone they’re not, but self-centeredness is definitely not exclusive to men.
Finally, I would say that it is service if the dominant wants it, no matter how much the submissive enjoys it. A really excellent footrub, for example, given to a woman when she wants one doesn’t magically stop being service just because the submissive giving it happens to be a foot fetishist. Now, it certainly does stop being service if said foot fetishist makes things weird and sexual when she just wants to relax, but a submissive person especially enjoying something doesn’t make it not helpful or pleasing to the person they’re serving.
Service, like so many other things, is in the eye of the beholder. The person being served is the only one who gets to decide whether x or y is in fact service. You can wish they liked other things, you can look for someone who likes other things, but trying to make your partner like the form of service you like providing is blatant assholery. If you’re going to pull that shit, at least admit that you don’t care what your partner wants.