Posts from the ‘Negotiations’ Category

Wants, Needs and Abilities.

The issue of wants and needs is often discussed in terms of those on the right side of the slash, /s.  It is often said that it is the submissive’s or slave’s responsibility to expose to their Dominant/Master/Owner all their perceived wants and needs (not necessarily an easy introspection) and it is the Dominant’s or Master’s responsibility to decide which are in actuality a want even if perceived by the sub/slave as a need and vise versa.

It is also important for an equal or greater introspection on the part of the Dominant/Master/Owner to understand Their wants and needs, also a difficult task. From people I respect it is generally thought to have an order of priority:

  1. submissive’s needs
  2. Dominant’s needs
  3. Dominant’s wants
  4. submissive’s wants

It is important to note, thought not the point of this post, that the submissive’s needs come first.  Get used to it.

Another firmly held belief of mine is that while the submissive is responsible to the Dominant, the Dominant is responsible to the relationship, and this takes me to the point of my post.  While it is lovely to have the authority to structure a relationship where you are totally in charge, your sub always does what you want, and if there is any variance you have the right to be that gloriously firm and commanding presence who can punish to your hearts content.  There are times when as much as you and your loving submissive wants them to do as you wish, there are things about their physical or emotional history, condition, or experience that make that impossible.  Their Abilities.

So what is one to do?  As is usually the case, you are not told about these things in advance.  You discover them through a series of failures.  After a long, possibly painful series of minor or major disasters, constantly questioning whether or not your submissive truly wants this relationship, you are continually presented with a choice. Possibly a long series of repeatedly seeing this choice, perhaps only once.  Is this inability something I can live with?  Is it outside of My needs?  Is it permanent, will it ever change, or with care and help, will the ability grow as maturity evolves?

Because this is not something that responds well to “Dominance” however much you want to respond with, “I say to do it, so do it”.  It responds to care, patience, and a responsibility to the relationship.  This is why the submissive’s needs come first and your needs might have to wait.

But, and to make this so incredibly more difficult, you have to continually respond to that choice.  Is this something I can live with, is it truly an inability or is it an easy out and a form of topping from the bottom.  There I can give you no help.  It is a question you much continually face and answer, moment to moment.  Such is the life.

The Eroticist

Wants and Needs

It has been a while since writing.  For that I apologize.  Holidays, health and births have taken my attention.  But here are some thoughts.

It was often told to me that it is the Dominant’s responsibility to satisfy the Needs of their submissives, but it is their choice as to whether or not they satisfy their submissive’s wants.

To me that seemed a relatively simple, understandable and reasonable statement.  If I am taking some level of responsibility for the well being of this person, much like a parent has responsibility for their child, it is understandable that I would be responsible for their needs, but just because my little girl wants a pony, that does not necessarily mean she will be getting a pony.

But even in Daddy/little girl relationships, understanding the statement is not easily translated into a practical application thereof.  H0pefully we are dealing with adults here, adults who may have had many years experience in deciding exactly what their needs and wants might be.  But deciding the difference between our needs and wants is profoundly different from responsibly deciding what is a need and what is a want in someone else.

The situation complicates because in most cases we are not dealing with simple subjects.  We are not dealing with things but with aspects of our relationship.  Does she want the excitement of being bound to your bed each night or does she need it as a representation of being held within your sphere.  In one case, it is a hot kick which is fun and you can do it or not, and in the other it is a symbol of your surrounding her with your protection and you had best NOT forget about it.

Let us look at the following example:  The two of you have talked extensively about the mutual desire to broaden your sexual relationship, go for a triad for example.  She may a great desire and vast experience with bi-sexuality, for instance, and truly enjoy girl/boy/girl porn.  She thinks that doing that would be so HOT!  You may feel that adding a third to your family would be a delight.

But then comes the day when the two of you invite some hot and horny woman into your bedroom.  Your partner, with whom you have worked for years so she can feel as open and vulnerable to you as possible, look at you as her guide and director, her adviser and teacher, the one who who she allows within this vulnerability to take her to really incredible heights of sexual passion by all those lovely things that You do to HER.  Now she is watching you do all these lovely things to this other woman who shows incredible appreciation for the passion you are lifting in her and you are sincerely loving that appreciation that previously you got only from your partner, and your partner sees that and suddenly things are not going as wonderfully as you both had anticipated.  This is immediately complicated by her knowing she agreed to this, and it is, after all, obviously pleasurable to you.

Or possibly she has wanted to experience two men all her life, and you find another Dominant and you both Top her and you find her responding to His Dominance as she does to yours, and eagerly following His directions or responding to His sadistic thrills as she does to yours.  Suddenly you do not seem as special in your partner’s eyes.  Your appreciation is just not quite as great.  That disillusionment, in either case, can drag on and effect your relationship for quite a long time.

What is a Dominant, a Master to do?  That is a very difficult question and one I have been struggling with for quite a while.  Let me say now that I do not have an answer.  But I have some thoughts.

Something I dearly wish to avoid are disastrous mistakes.  We are dealing, after all, with deeply personal levels of behavior that are often glossed over in relationships.  Most people don’t do what we do and a disastrous mistake can result in the end of a relationship, particularly in times when people jump into fantasy behavior without thinking about the practical and realistic results.

So my first thought is, Take Your Time.  There is no rush here.  Talking about it is fine, describe it, suggest different scenarios.  Suggest different outcomes, even unpleasant ones.  Talk about how the two of you would handle them.

Then Listen.  You will hear the sincere joy or the concern.  There will always be hints.  Be aware of long pauses with questions such as, “Is that what you want?”  Is she just asking, or is she expressing a deep concern.  Then be honest with yourself?  Is it what you want?  Is it important enough to examine the basis of your relationship, because that is what is required?  May be, may not be.  That is up to you.  But make an honest decision.  If you discover that there is an area of fragility, then it is up to you to decide if your relationship is strong enough to test it or whether or not this activity should be postponed.

Observe.  Does she come back to a subject the next day?  Does she seem unsettled?  As a scheduled event approach is she quieter or are there disagreements over unrelated subjects that usually do not happen?  Does she do her service with less joy?

The question is, is it more important to go forward with an event with the possibility of unsettled issues which can cause difficulty in the future, or is it better to wait, postpone the event, and for both of you to work towards transparency and trust?  Which is more important?  What exactly are Your wants and your needs?  I usually move towards waiting.

The Eroticist

Some interesting blogs on the subject by some knowledgeable people, my good friend and a very KinkyLittleGirl.  A multiblog post from the Submissive Guide, but it aims particularly at how a submissive can discern between Wants and Needs, and not from a Dominant’s point of view.  A longer post from A Submissives journey.  He does tend to tell you exactly what those needs are for all submissive women, and you should know that this site has the following policy, “This website is dedicated to the belief and practice of “Absolute Submission” and “Unconditional Surrender” within the “Ancient” and “Biblical” documented and practiced “Natural Order” of women consensually submitting to men.”  Not a philosophy with which I totally agree, but it is an interesting read.

Thinking of a Beginning

As many of these things do, this began by being asked how things should begin.  (For some reason, I am having strong remembrances of 1950’s fairy tale movies.)  A gentleman wished to talk about being a Daddy Dom, and what was needed.  Many things came to mind, but this was my answer…and so it begins.

It is terribly difficult to start a process such as this. Far easier to respond to questions or situations. Primarily because the path each person takes is so completely personal and unique to them. Let me emphasize that the relationship is unique to the PEOPLE within it. What your Daddy/lg relationship dynamics ARE (and let me say that a Daddy does not REQUIRE a “little” girl. While my partner is considerably younger than I, she does not really identify as a “little” in any way), what these dynamics settle down to being are determined by your partner just as much as yourself.

But let me throw some things your way to chew on. These may be settled in your mind to a great extent, but I would suggest that they are a process, a living flux, so change is inevitable.

The hardest thing for me in my growth as a Daddy/Dom was/is to resolve the constant conflicts between what I see around me as to the scene, the books and lectures I have attended, the society in which I have grown, the mentors I have had and the way I have been raised as a child, perhaps my life environment, and what it is I actually want or what pleases me. There is so much around each of us telling us what it is we should want. We may have beliefs firmly established within us as to what is “right” or “appropriate” to want because we are “Male”, “American”, “Dominant”, “white” or any kind of identity label you can think of. But those labels are NOT who you are. They are labels which we conveniently use to communicate a small part of ourselves to others. Those labels can mean something entirely different to others because of their societal upbringing. It gets transmitted as a package that is defined by the person receiving it. So they treat you in a way that is appropriate to that package. Haven’t you felt, at times, that because someone sees you as a Dominant or a Daddy, that they suddenly treat you in a way defined by them rather than as who you actually are?

The importance of this lifestyle, at least to me, is that it allows you the freedom to examine what it is that you want out of your life and your relationships rather than what you have been and are being told every second of every day. Freedom.

Sigh, but freedom comes with proportionate responsibility. A large subject there. To my mind the first expression of that responsibility comes in the form of communication. If and when you are comfortable with what you want, you have to communicate it. But communication does not just mean that you are confident in what you have said, it means you are confident in what the listener has heard. So in order to communicate to your partner, the best quality you can develop is how to listen.

So here is the major tip. The most valuable thing to hear from your partner or partners is, “What do you mean by that?” You want to hear that a lot. We use a lot of words in the scene. Dominance, service, submission, responsibility. Well, just like the labels I mentioned before, these are packages that are defined by the listener and what is service to you may not be service to them. So make sure they understand you.

Whew, that is a lot and a good beginning point. It just pored.  I hope you understood.  If not, ask me what I meant.

The Eroticist

The Triumvirate, the Second Leg

Last time I spoke on Transparency (as I have often and before), and the necessity for those on the right side of the D/s or M/s slash (the s) to be clear and complete in their communication to their partner on the left (the D and M) no matter how contradictory or embarrassing that communication might be.  I also mentioned that the requirements are not quite the same for those on the left side.

I do not mean to say that the Dominant partner in a relationship is not required to be Transparent.  I might even say that the requirements are more severe, for a Dominant must be Transparent to himself.  (Do I need to repeat that I tend to speak of a Dominant Male Sadist and a female masochistic submissive because that describes my relationship?  What I speak about, hopefully, is equally applicable to male, female, Dominant, Master, slave, submissive, masochist and sadist, no matter what combination or pattern your relationship might take.)  This transparency requires a strong emphasis on self-reflection, insight and acceptance.  While it may be quite difficult for a submissive to admit to their Dominant their most embarrassing thoughts and desires, it may be quite a different degree to admit and accept them as part of yourself.  For a moment, try to think of your most embarrassing, possibly disgusting desire as an integral element of who you are as a human being, a necessary part of the wise, compassionate, intelligent creature you believe yourself to be.  For that is what it is.

I want to emphasize that this difference in requirements is not a power play.  It is not the Dominant saying, “You have to do it, but I don’t.”  As my good friend Skip Chasey said, a Master has to keep one step ahead of his property.  A Dominant has to be in a position to see just a step further, and to help his slave or submissive see that further distance can require the Dominant do things without telling his property why, for to tell them why may work against them.

To be transparent to yourself or to your partner requires a deep level of Trust.  Trust that your relationship is bigger and broader and far more firmly based than whatever it is that is going on inside right now, trust that whatever filth you dredge up will be accepted by your partner with love and compassion, trust that whatever pain you expose will be accepted, trust that whatever is asked of you is asked with wisdom, compassion, and respect.

If you find someone you can trust, trust deeply, whose wisdom you respect, respect to the point where you choose to give them authority over you, the only way they can truly take that authority and make the right decisions is by having all the information you can give them.  That is all your wishes, all your desires, all your fears, your pain, your uncertainty, your misgivings.  How else can they know what to do, what is best for you?  How else can they take the responsibility you wish to give them?

When you get to the point where you trust yourself, trust the benefit of your dark parts, when you find someone whose heart is strong and open to you, someone who you trust to share the whole of you, someone who accepts that whole, when you trust yourself to take responsibility for that person, for that relationship, that is the point when you can begin to ask for the third leg of the Triumvirate, obedience.

The Eroticist

The Triumvirate, the First Leg

I was once told that a three legged stool was the most sable, because it could never wobble.  I am not sure if the analogy will hold through this.  But it is a good place to start.

I often have deeply insightful discussions with my partner pb.  Our relationship is slowly but, and most importantly, consistently growing.  A subject that has been discussed repeatedly in the recent past has been Transparency.

A simple definition of transparency within the BDSM context is the ability to communicate everything, rational and emotional, without editing.  We are not trained to do that.  We are trained to hide, even from ourselves.  (Psychologists make quite a good living from that tendency.)  Transparency is the ability to tell your partner what is happening inside.  How do you feel, even if it may hurt to say it?  What do you want, even if you know you can’t or shouldn’t get it?  It is the ability to communicate what is inside even if it is silly, embarrassing, stupid, contradictory, self centered, jealous, and insulting.  Most importantly, even if you don’t like it.

Gandhi once said he had an allegiance to truth, not to consistency.  Humans are inherently self contradictory.  Our feelings are true, but they may be totally contradictory to what we state.  Our beliefs are true even if our feelings brings us to contradictory actions.  No matter, to be transparent we must be able to express them.

Now here is the overwhelmingly sticky element in all of this from within an authority exchange relationship.  Transparency is required from the slave or submissive to the Dominant, but not from the Dominant to the slave or submissive.  That’s a real kicker, one of those, “How come it’s OK for YOU” elements.  But there are some caveats there.  The Dominant MUST be internally transparent to the best of his or her ability.  That is he must understand himself and his reasons for his behavior.  But he or she is not required to be verbally transparent about his or her actions to those who have given them authority.

This is not a power play.  If a Dominant is attempting to bring forth an insight within his submissive, telling her how and why would, at that point, only give her tools with which to armor herself.

Those on the right side of slash in the D/s or M/s relationship MUST be transparent to the best of their ability in all communication to their partner on the left side of the slash.  Those in authority must do whatever they can to encourage and train their partners to be so.  How else can the Dominant or Master make the best decisions?

But those on the left, to do their best work, to bring out the best in their partners, are not required to expose the reasons behind their behavior to those on the right.  To do their job, to intelligently take on the responsibility of the relationship, to assist in the growth of that relationship and those within it, a Dominant or Master must often do sly and sneaky things.  If he is able, he must, at times, trick his partner into insights.  He must eloquently finagle.

However, to ACCEPT that finagling, to be able to willingly give that authority, to say, “I may not understand, but I accept” requires Trust, and that is the second leg.

The Eroticist

Love, Obedience and being a Master

I have been talking quite a bit with close friends and important advisers over the past few weeks about what it is to be a Master.  Many areas of discussion came up, one of the most important was the emotional care and involvement that a Master feels towards those who give them authority over them.  His love for them, if you will.

Assuredly this comes directly from my own point of view.  I have heard strong arguments from many people that you can not maintain a D/s or M/s relationship if you love your s-type.  I disagree.  But this involves something quite different from what is usually experienced in the Vanilla world as “Love.”

I certainly can not say this is true in all cases, but I do believe in most.  In Vanilla relationships there is usually little discussion as to what the actual relationship entails.  What does it mean to be married?  There are assumptions, many of them, but few discussions.  What does, “Head of the Household” mean to you?  Which one of you will be the HotH?  What expectations does one partner have about the other, “now that we’re married.”  How does either’s behavior change?  Though I would guess that both people expect it to change.  I doubt that there is much discussion about what those changes might, or should be.

So what happens often is that the relationship changes through a sense of appeasement.  Internal negotiation, if you will.  “Ok, this doesn’t seem to be working, maybe I should change, maybe I should try things this way.” rather than sitting down for a time of clear, introspective communication.

It is my opinion that one of the greatest advantages of a D/s or M/s relationship is negotiation.  While just as I said about vanilla relationships, I can not say this is true in all cases, I certainly would hope it is true in most.  Before entering into a D/s or M/s relationship there are extensive discussions about what one person would be to the other.  What are each person’s responsibilities?  How is one person to behave towards the other, though these roles and responsibilities may be quite different for each partner.

But this negotiation, this questioning back and forth, each (hopefully) asking the other, “What did you mean by that?” this does not, in any way, preclude a deep and overwhelming love and affection from each for the other.  What it does do (again, in my choice of relationship) is add to that love an understanding of expectation.  We understand what is expected of the other, and what is expected by the other.

One of the most important elements of those negotiations and expectations is the element of obedience.  It is often said that in an M/s relationship there is only one rule, obedience.  But there are many forms of relationship outside of M/s and many levels of obedience that are required.  In any form of negotiation, honesty, commitment and clear communication is necessary.  What you have said you will do, you are expected to do.  We are, after all, dealing with relationships where the transfer of authority is central.

If a commitment is made, it must be held to.  If the person giving authority has the ability to choose, after negotiations have concluded, to take back that authority, to willfully disobey a “request” in an area where they have given authority, that is a challenge to the basic form of the relationship.  It is destructive to its core principles.  It is an end point.

It may be easy to view the Dominant, the Master, the Authority as that strong willed person who sets the rules, holds the authority, punishes the transgressor, and if the commitments are not held, if the relationship falls apart, walks away with confidence and little regret.  Of course, the ability to do that, to see that the relationship is not working, and to call it, is truly vital.  As a very wise mentor told me, “Make the vocation of mastery more important than the relationship(s) in which that vocation plays out.  In other words, stay true to your calling and do not betray yourself in order to save, salvage or appease a relationship…any relationship.”

But that, in no way, means it does not hurt.  It comes with a sense of deep loss, a feeling of personal failure, and a questioning of your own value and understanding.  It can be devastating, and require a time of recovery and healing.

Unfortunately, to be a Master, you must take  that responsibility.

The Eroticist

The submissive’s choice

First I should apologize for my extended absence.  I am an artist by trade, if you can actually use those terms together, and have just finished three shows, one quite major.  Immediately following that, I was lucky enough to have some surgery from which I am still recovering.  All is going well.  But these things did occupy my time.  Glad to be back.

In my reading of letters and questions from submissives I often hear questions such as “Is it OK for a Dom to share his sub with others even if she doesn’t want to?”  Or perhaps, “Does a submissive or slave have to give over her finances to her Dom or Master?”  I would hope your answer to either of these questions would be “It depends on the relationship you negotiated.”

I sincerely have a vast respect for anyone who chooses the submissive or slave lifestyle.  I believe it can be a fulfilling and empowering position which can promote great growth.  But I question any who enters into it from a submissive or slave headspace.  Yea, I know, that sounds somewhat contradictory.  If you feel yourself to be a submissive or have a slave heart, how can you drop all of that when looking into the actual relationship you desire.

My reply is, how can you enter into a submissive or slave relationship by giving up your choices and needs to someone you do not yet know or trust?  You are entering into a relationship which may require vastly differing forms of behavior for you.  You may be told you can not use the furniture or wear clothing in your house.  You may be told you must perform sexual acts that are extremely unusual to you.  You may be told you must give up your career or family or friends.  You may be required to undergo body modifications from the simple to the extreme.  You may be treated in the most extremely disrespectful of ways.  Or you may not.  Do you know?

The question is, before you to commit to these changes in your life, do you know what they will be and have you considered if they are changes that you want?  My feeling is that you can not make these decisions in a headspace where you have already given over your personal power to the other.  You have to make these decisions as a calm, self respecting, competent, strong willed and independent person who has done extensive introspection, education and self examination.  This is negotiation, after all and you should enter into negotiations knowing what you want out of them, knowing where you are willing to compromise, and, most importantly, knowing what the possibilities are.

I often say, the best question is, “What do you mean by that?”  Consider the statement, “I like a bit of humiliation play.”  What, then, is humiliation to you?  What is humiliation to the other?  And what is, “a bit”?  If a form of behavior or play is unfamiliar to you, do not use it in negotiations until you understand it, and understand how the other is using it?

Understand your own needs and limits.  If a limit is not mentioned, does that mean it is open and acceptable to cross, or does it mean that when it does come up, it should be negotiated before being crossed?  Future negotiations are part of negotiations.

Are you willing to give up all rights to renegotiation or will there be times when open and honest feedback is requested by your Dom or Master?  Will that feedback be respected?  The one command may be “to obey”.  Does that mean you have no right to question or perhaps inform?  Are you always to do exactly and only what you are told, or are you able to add to your service from your own creativity?  Questions, Questions, Questions.  Until you negotiate and understand and agree to the elements of your relationship, you have the right, responsibility, and indeed obligation to come to the negotiating table as a self confident equal, with equal rights and equal value.  If you can not do that, learn how before you negotiate.

Please understand, there is nothing wrong with the most extreme forms of imbalanced relationships.  If you have competently negotiated a relationship where your body is modified to be a caricature of a person, and you sleep in a box in your own feces, to be brought out only to be sexually abused by multiple people (that is sort of an extreme of what I DON’T want in a partner) and you have negotiated, understood and chosen that position from a confident communicated position, bless you, and dive right in.  It is your choice.  But if you don’t ask, if you don’t communicate, if you do not demand the kind of relationship you want, desire and need, do not be surprised by what you get.

Until you give up responsibility in an educated and committed way, the responsibility for what you get is yours.

The Eroticist