I want to talk about perceptions versus reality of submission. There are a lot of misconceptions for both vanilla folks and newbie kinksters. I have seen these misconceptions lead to all sorts of relationship issues and emotional harm for submissives. I want to clarify some common ideas about submission and talk about the some of the things people need to think about prior to submitting.
DISCLAIMER: I can only speak from my experience and relate what other subs, slaves, and bottoms have told me. I do not claim to be the greatest expert ever on submission or have a lock on “the truth.” Submission is done in thousands of ways and has different meanings to different people, but there seem to be some core structures to submission.
Submissives are Weak
This could not be farther from the truth. Submission takes a great amount of strength, discipline, and practice to get it right. The submissives and slaves I know are some of the strongest people I have ever met.
The idea that submissives are weak comes from a couple of sources: mainstream conceptions that to submit is just stop asserting your needs and accept whatever comes your way, and; the conception that Dom(me)s “inflict” their will and “force” submissives to do things. The reality is, in a good D/s relationship, the submissive and the Dom meet on equal footing initially and then the submissive makes the decision to give over power to the Dom(me). True submission cannot come through force. If the only reason a person is submitting is from fear, coercion, and force, then it is not a D/s relationship, it is abuse.
Submission by choice means that the submissive has made the conscious decision to give over some power to the D-type. The submissive trusts and respects the D-type person enough to surrender control over some things. Stop and think about that. Most people try and control much of their lives as a way to gain power, to feel secure, and to be okay with themselves. Many people have a really hard time giving someone else control over things like their finances, their ability to sleep with other people, the way they dress, and so many other areas of life. If you are not a submissive, take a second to think about how much trust and vulnerability you would have to allow to give someone else permission to run part of your life. How much discipline would it require of you to have to ask another person what you should wear to dinner or if you could spend money on an impulse buy at the store.
Submissives make the decision and negotiate with their partners about what parts of their lives they want to allow the other person to have control over. As with any type of relationship, submissives can help shape their own relationships and parameters thereof. Some submissives give over control of their bodies, their finances, their ability to make final decisions about big purchases, their wardrobe, or their ways of interacting with others as part of their submission. We do this because we get something out of allowing another person to control those aspects of our lives. This does not mean it is always easy.
Submission takes practice. Most of us are taught to control our own lives and we are used to having a level of independence. If you go from that to a D/s relationship, it can take a minute to get used to asking if you can spend money, if you can talk to someone else, if you can sit on furniture, if you can go to the bathroom. There is a great amount of mental discipline to abide by D/s rules, even when you help set them.
Submission requires vulnerability and trust on a level that most people are greatly uncomfortable with. To submit, you have be to disciplined and willing to do a lot of things differently in order to foster the relationship you desire.
Submissives are Followers
Not always. Yes, I will follow my Dom’s lead. I do what he tells me to do. Sometimes this is taking the lead in a situation. I have been with Doms who have a lot of social anxiety. My role as their submissive is to be the front person in a social situation. I am the one who makes the initial contacts, I am the one who works the room, I am the visible one in the relationship because it makes his life easier.
As a service sub, I also do a lot of the footwork for my Doms. I am the one who usually makes the vacation plans. Yes, he and I will decide we want to get out of town. I am then the one that makes the budget, finds the hotels, books the airline tickets, figures out the details for doing the various activities we want to do while on vacation.
Additionally, as part of being submissive, I am the one in the relationship who thinks ahead and takes steps to make my D-type’s life easier. I know what his weekly schedule is. I will plan for things like getting cash so he can get gas on Thursday because he always forgets until he needs to get out of the house in the morning. I am the one who carries his business card when we are in a venue where he will need it. I do this because he has a dozen other things on his mind and I know he sometimes forgets to update his card stass before a show.
I get a lot out of this type of service. For me, knowing he has an easier life and doesn’t have to worry about some things makes me happy. When we are out and he starts to search for a business card and can’t find one in his wallet and I hand him one, his smile or “thanks” makes me really happy. Knowing that he can get up, get out of the house, and there is a magic $20 in his wallet for gas on Thursday makes me happy. So, submission is often thinking ahead and taking steps to make someone else’s life better.
Submissives Never Get Their Needs Met
So not true. Submissives accept that their needs will not always be at the forefront of a relationship. I know that sometimes a sexual encounter will be solely for the purpose of making my D-type happy. Sometimes my own climax is not going to be a concern. I engage in these exchanges because, again, I know it makes my D-type happy.
I do communicate my needs with the Doms I play with. Sometimes I will verbally request something. Sometimes I send them a text or email with what I have been fantasizing about. Sometimes I send them a really hot porn video I found online. We talk about what both of us like and need in bed. Lots of times this translates into my Doms actually doing things for me that I know they are not super hot about. Other times, these conversations provide an opening to do something new we both enjoy.