What is dominance and submission to me?


aveburysarsenTNOK – usual health warning. This is a personal point of view and I’m not disrespecting what works for others. This is what these things mean to me.

Our dominant and submissive relationship is based on being the best we can be for each other. We’ve previously defined it as being equal and opposite. It is – but it is also complementary and it is always our aim to minimise compromise.images

Our dynamic is founded on strength and responsibility, service and obedience – and there are dominant and submissive aspects to each of these.


This seems to be a given for the dominant (but I know there are times when I am not strong). It’s sometimes assumed that obedient, non-resistant (the reverse of bratty?) submission is doormat-like and not worthy of respect – because submission is based on resistance that must be overcome by the dominants strength.

That’s not my view.

It’s easy/lazy for both partners in a service/obedience based D/s dynamic  just to pay lip service to what is required. But delighting your partner always takes effort and subsumes self. And that’s a job for both.

She never stops delighting me. I hope I do the same for her. But it’s especially difficult for the submissive to be true to her part of the dynamic when it doesn’t suit. Often simple submission takes strength.


For me (and my partner) this goes a lot wider than just us (and just BDSM). We both reckon that if more people took their responsibilities seriously there would be less need for rights.

For me as a dominant it means I need to use what she has consented to for my satisfaction, but as safely as I can and not abusively. It means I make it possible for her to give me what I want by taking away concerns and worries that stop her doing so.

This includes domestic trivia. I’ll cook if she needs time to do her nails.


Service for us is partly ritualistic. There are small but important things we do (I plait her at bedtime, she makes her obeisance when she leaves the room) which keep us in our places. But they aren’t the essence of who we are – just a way we remind ourselves and each other of who we are.

Service is asymmetric. Mostly she gives and I receive. But it is freely given and something she wishes to give. It’s not a chore to her – it makes me glow and that makes her feel powerful.

She is also the power behind my throne . When I weaken she holds me up. That too is service.


BDSM couple, top, bottom in handcuffs, on Euro...
BDSM couple, top, bottom in handcuffs, on Europride Cologne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Obedience is something I earn. It is the reward I get for making her feel secure, desired. cared for and respected. If it needs to be enforced then we both have failed.

Obedience will not always be easy. Like service, it is part of who she wants to be, even when it doesn’t suit her: It is only real when it isn’t optional. And that means I have to enforce it – even when I’m in the mood to be laissez faire – or not in the mood for much: She isn’t who she wants to be unless she feels controlled and respected for her obedience.

Why my relationship isn’t better than anyone else’s and what’s wrong with “vanilla”?

aveburysarsenTNI saw a blog on UK BDSM website fetbook today. It made me think and drove me to post some thoughts on this, reproduced (and slightly edited) here.

First, concerning “vanilla”:

I love vanilla ice cream. I hate the term vanilla used in connection with BDSM and haven’t used it for some years now.

Why? Well, if people in D/s relationships are ever going to live their lives in the open then we need to be accepted by the wider world. Vanilla is sometimes used by BDSM people in a pejorative sense, which won’t help acceptance.


I don’t think that was the intent in the article that sparked this blog – but it still comes across that ‘vanilla” might be a less exciting, intense, trustful choice. There’s a sense of superiority that I don’t feel is true.

There are many differences between relationships based on D/s dynamics and non D/s relationships. For me, the first important distinction is that D/s can look like abuse from outside, but it isn’t, as long as it is based on consent. Getting the wider world to realise that would help us move into the light.

It looks likely that around 10% of people have a BDSM urge. Far fewer do anything about it. Fewer still make it a major focus for their lives. Most of the world would be very surprised at the thoughts expressed in the original article, a few of which would probably, in the wider world’s eyes, condemn the piece. Take the end of that blog:

Will you be satisfied having mild to medium Trust in your heart for your partner? 

Perhaps even a sense of deep trust in your heart?  

Or do you need MORE – do you need the Living Experience of those moments when Trust is so In-Your-Face that their is plainly and simply no denying it, when you can almost taste it, feel it, and hold it in your hands?

I think few people in non-BDSM relationships will believe that the trust they have with their partner is in any way less than the trust we experience.

What follows is very personal. Many will differ – and that’s fine.

My partner is my partner. I have the same concerns and cares as people who have a non D/s relationship. What differs is not the relationship, we love each other, we enjoy cooking and theatre…

What differs is who we are. We are D/s people. Equal but opposite. She forgot to telephone me the other night, I spanked her – both of us are cool with that. (actually, that’s peachywrong: for both of us that was a perfectly natural thing to do).

What differs for me is not the deepness or intensity of the relationship, nor is the level of trust, or passion, or intensity different to what people in non BDSM relationships can achieve or experience.

What differs is who I am. I thrive in a relationship where I’m expected to take responsibility and be the leader. She thrives in her non BDSM marriage because that part of her which needs to serve and support is who she is when she is with me.

So, I used to be a BDSM evangelist because I thought I’d discovered a true way to the most fulfilling possible relationship and that people who chose BDSM automatically had deeper, richer lives than those that chose not to. I was wrong.

What I have is a relationship that is right for me, because D/s is at the centre of who I am. It’s my orientation. I need it and I fail when I deny it.

But I’m no better or worse than anyone else. And I want to be accepted for that.


What do you call your partner – poll results

aveburysarsenTNFor nearly a year I’ve run a simple poll asking whether dominants and submissives have special names for each other and when they use them.

I’ve closed the polls, really because I’ve got bored more than anything else. Here are the results.

Naming policy

(ie what do people call each other).

NamingSubmissives most frequent response was that they used a general, not a unique name for their partner, followed by using their partner’s given name. However, only around a quarter of the votes from submissives were for using their partner’s given name and just under half were for using a special name – just not an unique one.

Dominants reversed this order of priority, being more likely to use their partners’ given name rather than any special name.

Naming protocol

(ie when do people use these names).


I asked people when they used their special names – if they had them. Nearly one in four dominants voted that they didn’t have a naming protocol whilst less than half that proportion of votes from submissives agreed with this.

Dominants were most likely not to have any form of naming protocol. This was the least common choice for submissives.

Setting aside those who didn’t have a naming protocol, The most common result, for both submissives and dominants, was to use a naming protocol when by themselves or at scene events. The second most common return for submissives was using special names only when alone together.

Not proper research

This is a self-selecting sample of people who have responded to this poll over eleven months. I did my best to prevent repeat voting. But:

  • It’s a self selecting sample drawn from fetish/BDSM websites and Twitter.
  • People could vote on any or all of the options – so one vote does not mean one person responding.
  • There were 326 votes on the poll for dominants and 458 on the poll for submissives.

Thanks to all those who took part.

I’m still eagerly looking for participants in my US/UK BDSM and money survey. Absolutely anonymous – find it here.







Pain or pleasure – it’s only love

standing stoneI love to make her come. It’s one of my greatest pleasures: But last night it occurred to me that it is really like my other great pleasure: making her cry (not through mental anguish, shame or hurt, but just through physical unpleasantness, with maybe a little added fear and trepidation).

I lay her beside me and put an arm under her neck and then begin to play her with my other hand, waiting for her lips to redden, her legs to stretch and her clitty to unhood itself and decide whether it will be a raisin, a peanut or a grain of rice. I take rosin from inside her or wet her from her own lips. This is the way it happens most of the time. I play the instrument (her), the same way, but rarely do I play the same tune.

 I feel utterly selfish about this – just as I do when I hurt her. I can choose if she comes or not. I can take her orgasm as soon as she’s ready – or I can keep her hanging on…

… She knows it’s for me. She knows it’s her gift to me and that she only ever comes, with me, when I want it and, if it happens in her other place, that she will pay.

At the moment the little death strikes she knows she is mine and that I have done this. We both feel a surge of elation. And, I feel power. I did this. She will not get it without me. Her release is in my hand. She feels possessed by me. Only through me can she experience this.

Feel Good Together
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And, I feel almost exactly the same as when I flog her, cut her, pierce her, wax her, spank her, choke her and I see her finally leave me for her own special place or, not reaching that, dissolve into tears. I do this. She has given me the power to do this. She does this only because it pleases me.

Pain or pleasure: It’s only love.

Making our relationship work

BelasariusHard to write this one. It came in response to this thread on “Informed Consent and at the request of some of the posters

Here’s what I said:

“Okay, here goes. I am not going to go into the ins and outs of c_b’s marriage – that’s their affair. I will try to look at the concepts of ownership and possesion in these circumstances.

The first thing to say is that both he and I love her and that she loves us. The love isn’t apportioned. We both get all of it, just as a parent does with children.

If the love did not exist, then what has happened to the three of us would not be possible.

Ok, the O&P thing.

First it took time – roughly three years between our first meeting and her declaring herself to be a possession. Even when we dedicated ourselves on black pudding day we still agreed she was not possessed (no exorcist cracks please).

Next, our dynamic (which is distinct but inseparable from our love) has evolved slowly. She determines what is included in it (she gives informed consent) and I determine all that happens within the dynamic, she has no veto.

Our dynamic has always been based on the fact that once something has been agreed her submission, in that area, is total. I believe this is important to her feeling of posession.

Now, the fact is I have had a long term O&P relationship before and she has a deep need to submit (not just to have scene time with a Dom – she has tried that and it did not compute). Her husband could not do this for her and she was as driven and as unhappy as I was (My problem was I was without someone to take responsibility for).

Please understand that our life together has real depth. it is a sharing.

Getting to that has had its challenges but I have, to all intents and purposes, half her life and we live it as any couple would do, except that we do it entirely within our D/s dynamic.

And, we do our damndest to be different. I take responsibility, I decide and I adore: She serves and is the best she can be, for me.

Spending time apart means we don’t need time off. This helps the feeling of possesion too. In fact, it feels more intense than my previous fulltime O&P relationship (and I know about intensity).

So, I don’t own her, but when she is with me I possess her. And (you are getting no more details) there are some areas of her life I own, just as there are things that belong in her other life but impact on our life together.

Her life with her husband involves no submission and no aspects of ownership and possession.

Then, our relationship is highly ritualised. It is probably never less than medium protocol at any time. This makes it entirely different from life in her other home and because she is so obviously a possession when she is with me it has become true for us.286723

What has emerged is one wonderful woman with two lives, lived with energy and dedication.

And two happy men (mostly – there will always be challenges).

Best to all.”

Originally posted to “Informed Consent”, 15 June 2010.

Also see:

BDSM Punishment; BDSM Play – and Play Punishment

standing stoneThere are times when I give the girl a good whacking for my entertainment and she takes satisfaction in that: We call that play. Wikipedia defines it thus:

Play is a term employed in psychology and ethology to describe a range of voluntaryintrinsically motivated activities normally associated with recreational pleasure and enjoyment. Play is most commonly associated with children and their juvenile-level activities, but play can also be a useful adult activity, and occurs among other higher-functioning animals as well.

There are times when she is a bit naughty. I spank her. That is punishment of a sort. Wikipedia says this of punishment:

Punishment is the authoritative imposition of something negative or unpleasant on a person, animal, organization or entity in response tobehavior deemed unacceptable by an individual, group or other entity

Punishment Chair
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are rarer times when something hurtful has passed between us and something that hurts helps mend things. That is punishment too. Rather more intense, serious and upsetting to both.

For us, play is joyful: punishment is anything but.

All this is consensual, she lets me do this to her. But that doesn’t make it something she volunteers for. Our dynamic, and the limit it is controlled by, means she has given informed consent to me playing with her, within our limits, when I want and punishing her, within our limits, when i find it necessary. Both things feel real to us and, I believe, to many others, whether they are in long-term relationships or not.

BDSM Punishment

I find it very difficult to think of anything as punishment if it leaves the punished person with a sense of joyful satisfaction. That’s play – and there is nothing wrong with that. But punishment’s satisfaction is in forgiveness and atonement, and not in the physical or mental stimulation of the thing for its own sake.

When I spank her for something trivial it’s quite often quite gleeful for me. Not for her though (and this is the weird-but-important-to-us bit): She reacts quite differently to spankings of similar intensity depending whether it is punishment or play. The head space is different: she is genuinely remorseful and requires comforting, in the case of a punishment. She is quite smiley and proud of taking what I dish out if I whack her just because I want to.

English: The old stocks at Chapeltown.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course, you run the risk of inadvertently making her smile by imposing a penalty she rather likes. But, you can usually find something they won’t love (or that they love to hate) and use that when punishment must be given. YKIOK (Your kink is okay), but my kink, if it is one, would be to make sure that, if real punishment is required (something rare – I’ve not done it this year, I don’t think), that it was something that provided no comfort or satisfaction other than that experienced in atonement and forgiveness.

I think you can draw the distinction between BDSM play and BDSM punishment in pretty much every BDSM transaction from a long-term loving D/s or M/s relationship to a one-off interaction at a club (and everything in between): If it’s enjoyable to both parties, it’s play. If it’s being done to in response to something the Dom regards as wrong and it’s unpleasant to the submissive and, maybe, to the others involved, then it’s punishment, whatever it is.

The Dom’s dilemma

For us, punishment is sometimes part of a process of reconciliation and it does feel uncomfortable,

(Photo credit: Toban Black)

sometimes hateful, to me. What if I’m being genuinely unjust? I’ll hurt our relationship, maybe long-term. What if part of the fault was mine (it usually takes two to tango), then it only seems right if the punishment becomes, genuinely, something we both feel bad about. For me to enjoy it in those circumstances could be construed as me pleasing myself, and not as me taking responsibility for our relationship.

So, Play, no matter how severe, is still lovely and light and enjoyable by all. Punishment, no matter how light is something severe and serious which causes unhappiness for the dominant (and maybe his/her partner) because it is necessary, and for the submissive (or maybe both partners) in its infliction.

Making a clear distinction between the two makes it easier to explain both terms and the satisfaction experienced by BDSM people in both. My experience has been, from time to time, that trying to explain the concept of punishment as it works in my relationship ( and in others) has been undermined by the impression some have that BDSM play is the same as BDSM punishment ( as I’ve said above, we do both) and that punishment is always “just a bit of fun”.

This has led to people expressing the view to me that D/s relationships are trivial, unreal fantasies.

This is upsetting: Whilst I feel I am unlikely ever  to live my BDSM D/s  life discreetly but openly, I’d like that to be true for people sometime in the future.

I think it would be useful if BDSM punishment is seen as distinct from BDSM play, Almost everyone in BDSM plays. Some punish or are punished. Being aware that there is a difference gives depth to people’s views of BDSM relationships. I think that’s a good thing.

You can read the definition of BDSM punishment I’ve developed, with the help of of others, and vote and comment on it here.

Money, money, money…

acedc11cbeb3a2a0b4e3bca15378bec4A subject that gets discussed from time to time on BDSM forums is control of a submissive’s finances. Money is very important to most people and controlling access to it is an incredibly touchy subject for most. It isn’t part of my current dynamic with the gorgeous curvy_bottom but it was important in my first long-term D/s relationship, which took place in the days before electronic banking and the internet. But, in that once-upon-a-time,  taking control of her money made me fully aware of my responsibilities as a master and confirmed my girl’s need to be more and more submissive.

I knew her as a student for two years, and then for a year or so after she started training as a lawyer.

We never lost touch, but I spent a period of years working abroad, during which she found several someones and nearly settled down with a chap who was less man than mouse – something with which, curiously, they both seemed content.

Thank goodness (well, from my point of view), that failed. And, some six months later, things were back roughly where they’d started – except I now had a highly successful and deeply bouncy junior corporate lawyer crowding out my one-bedroom flat in Clapham.

In the first few months we had huge fun turning our lives into a beautiful mass of M/s rituals – something we both deeply desired… and soon she wanted me to start to subtly effect her behaviour at work too (not in a way that affected her career, she was a highly professional professional – and deeply ambitious too). We found ways.

But she wasn’t as content as I hoped I hoped I could make her. In fact, she was deeply unsettled and nowhere near happy. It took a while to establish why – basically, thrusting (pardon the unfeminine notion) corporate lawyers earn a lot more than middle-ranking marketing people. She hated it… But she was also damn sure it was her money!

Her money – under my control

The solution – which took a while to get to – came from me and was this: Her salary was paid into a building society account to which she was the only signatory, but I locked away the passbook. Monthly she transferred funds to deal with her living expenses, share of mortgage, holiday, etc, etc, to my account, plus an amount to be used to clothe her, groom her, buy knick-nacks and sundries, etc.

Money - Black and White Money
Money – Black and White Money (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

From then on she only ever had emergency taxi-fare in her purse and a small amount for daily living. Anything she bought she explained to me and presented a receipt. Meanwhile the surplus in her BS account grew and grew (years later, when the divorce happened – it was an annoyingly large amount).

The only rule was that any money of hers in my account had to be used for her benefit (which usually actually meant it benefited both of us).

Her whole attitude changed. She was spectacularly happy that she had given over control of her purse and felt secure that her money would remain hers. And, this prompted the biggest change in me: I realised once and for all that the choice this woman had made was not to have choice in her life. Finally I had the courage, if not the experience, nor yet the patience, to be a master.

Submissive resistance and “the stag party”

acedc11cbeb3a2a0b4e3bca15378bec4I’ve found myself telling this story to people on several occasions because it seems to illustrate something that is, to me fundamental to my understanding of the nature of submission.  But, before the story, a bit of a ramble about submissive wilfulness and resistance.

I have let myself down badly in the past by not understanding wilfulness and resistance and finding ways through it: In fact this issue destroyed, a few years ago, what was, otherwise, a promising relationship with all the lifestyle M/s content we desired. I have a pretty rigid view on how to deal with resistance to submission and I know I may have put on an unhelpful set of blinkers.

First, my s and I will share a clear set of goals (moveable through agreement) and a basic set of attitudes towards D/s issues: If we didn’t, why would we have even bothered to start anything?

Secondly, I expect to lead her on our journey and to need to deal with her feelings of fear, nervousness, excitement, perhaps disgust – maybe anger (but hopefully not) by picking a careful route through the brambles and observing and understanding her sufficiently to know which doors to unlock first, so that it becomes easier and easier to reach those things that are at the core of our needs – and which are, at first, out of reach.

I’ll listen so that I may understand her, I’ll watch her behaviour to do the same – and all so I can get the relationship to where I want it to be, confident that she really wants it to go there too (I should know this because we communicate and I observe, or try to).

I’ll use observation, discussion, experience, reward, punishment and more observation to bring her to the point where she gifts me that part of her that I want – and which takes us a step further on our journey together.

But, from that point on, in any area where she has given me the gift of control (having experienced the consequences of that control and having given her informed consent) I cannot tolerate wilfulness: Once she has given me the right to control an aspect of her life – then she has no right to resist my use of it. To resist, just occasionally, demands  punishment and then discussion and explanation to make sure it does not happen again and if there are issues I’ve not understood or resolved then these must be settled.

To resist control, in an area which has been willingly given, more than once in a very long while undermines the dynamic and damages the relationship deeply. To understand that and still resist, destroys the relationship.

Such resistance seems to me to be a basic function either of not understanding each other at the outset of the journey, or a symptom of change that has rendered the partners’ D/s motives incompatible. In either case, I’d not waste much time trying to resurrect things once a trend of willful disobedience has emerged.

Informed consent should be followed by informed obedience, in my view.

Now, the story of the stag party.

In my mid late twenties, many of my former school friends found girls and got married. We’d been scattered to the four winds by our careers and the stag nights that brought us back together invariably became occasions for much re-buddying and reminiscence. And teasing.

There was this one night. We’d met and had a few beers. We’d gone bowling (and had a few beers). To the dogs (and – oh, you get the picture).

English: Stag party Red deer stags on the hill...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I seem to remember that after the curry, during the lock-in (and before the naked best man and groom race down a cobbled street one frozen February morning – which had calamitous consequences, but that’s another story) someone turned the topic to sex after marriage – and, specifically, masturbation.

One by one every married chap there confessed that he resorted to a hand-shandy far more often after wedlock than he’d needed to in the months and years before (except of course when ovulation was due).

Well, as Frankie Howerd might have said, “I was ammaaaazzzeeeed”.

Cos that wasn’t my experience of life. Yes, her indoors was not necessarily always up for a night of rampant rumpy-pumpy. But she was very considerate of my needs and, mostly, the slightest hint of an erection would be enough to bring solicitous enquiries about his welfare and whether he might need relief. She knew I adored her for this. But up until that night, I did not really realise how much she deserved to be adored for  this focus on me – which happened because it made me feel wanted and made her feel needed.

For me, dominance and submission are opposite sides of a single coin: meeting your partner’s needs.

This only works if the people are opposites too.

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