Should We Go Back to D/s? Can We? And How?

This post has been revised in response to contacts and comments. I think when I initially posted it, there may have been some misunderstanding, so I’m adding some changes and clarifications. 

When I go to books for information, I do so fully knowing that it is just ONE way to find out what I need to know. I’ve had several people simply say, “throw out the books and figure out what works for you both.” Which is sage advice…if we knew what worked for us. But we don’t. So going to a guidebook like this, even though much of it won’t work for us, is simply a starting point…a place to get some ideas that maybe we didn’t already have to start with.

Not too long ago, Mr. D and I had a long conversation in bed. Like many, it led us back down the road of D/s, wondering if we should and how we could go back.

See, for as much as I resist it…the recoil from calling myself “a” submissive, letting it become my identity, or even just a dominant part of it…there is something about it that calls to me. No…it doesn’t just call: it demands that I listen. The problem is, I’m not exactly sure what, beyond “you want this…you need this,” it is saying. I am submissive, and I have a complicated desire to be “a” submissive, even though it has never worked for us, and even though I have been terrible at it, thus far.

One of the things that Mr. D asked recently is “What is it about D/s that you want?”

It’s a big question and one that I need to be able to answer. When I can’t answer a question that needs answering, I go to a mentor…and if I can’t find a mentor…I find a book. (Like I said above…this is just a starting point.)

I read a book recently – Submissive Training: 23 Things You Must Know About Being a Submissive by Elizabeth Cramer. (Here’s a great negative review on the book.) It’s a super quick read, and while I didn’t agree with everything in it, I did make quite a few notes to help me respond to his question, complete with all my confusion and contradictions.

So here you go:

(Warning: this book is completely geared toward heterosexual relationships between women and men, where women are the submissives.)

1. I struggle with the standard loss of autonomy in submission…the lack of ownership over myself and my body. However, I also crave it. Cramer states: “In training you will learn your identity is not made of your individual achievements (although they are important) but your relational context with your Dom. You are his. That is the core of your identity. That is who you are and how you will define all the other roles and lenses you look through…. You are no longer a business executive. You are his submissive who works as a business executive.” While one part of me seizes up at these ideas, another part finds freedom in it. The role of being his submissive takes center stage, and everything else is secondary…it simply becomes part of who I would be as his submissive.

While I struggle with loss of autonomy, I also crave it.

2. A related idea is that, as Cramer explains, “…the deepest levels of a Dom/sub relationship have nothing to do with sex at all.” As seen in number one, this is a mental thing for me, first and foremost. Cramer says, ” In order to take you to the edge and encourage you to always expand your limits a Master must reach deep into the core of your psyche.” This doesn’t just impact the sub, it changes the Dom, as well: “The experience of having a woman open herself so fully, without hesitation, changes a Master’s inner nature, making him strong and loving at the same time.” That is, of course, if he’s a good man…and a good Dom. In my case, when Mr. D and I have gotten involved in D/s, I have seen all of his best qualities expand.

D/s brings out his best qualities: confidence, guidance, control, creativity, love, patience…

3. A problem arises, however, for us. As Cramer says, “…your desire to give and not take, to serve and not demand, to trust and not fear, to share and not hide places you on a pinnacle in your Master’s experience.” This has probably been the biggest problem for us. I can honestly admit, this is where I personally feel that I fail as a submissive, and some might argue that means I fail completely, as these are arguably the most important qualities of a sub. I have not been as giving as I should be (in my opinion), nor have I put Mr. D’s needs above my own. I have also struggled with being vulnerable, which is something that really bothers Mr. D (and understandably so). And while I haven’t been necessarily demanding, I have certainly not been subservient. Yeah, I know. Fail. Fail. Fail. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be better in these areas. It is a goal of mine to be more giving and more vulnerable. And I believe that part of D/s is that a Dom helps a sub to become better at certain things through training. I feel it’s about becoming the best version of yourself, regardless of which role you play in the relationship.

It’s a goal of mine to be more giving and vulnerable.

The training guide that Cramer includes in her book seems a bit over the top, however, it felt like a good a place as any to begin thinking about what types of behaviors, rules, and expectations I might find helpful or appropriate in any D/s relationship that Mr. D and I might design on our own.

5. “The first job in training is to strip away as much of your prior social conditioning as possible to give you space to create a new reality as your Master’s property. As such it is highly unlikely your Master will call you by your given first name or a last name whatsoever.” I can see the need to strip away former social conditioning, as much as is possible given daily circumstances (such as work, family, and parenting obligations). And I also suppose I can see that this would include the use of an alternate name. But my hackles rise at the thought of losing my identity. I guess that is an unnecessary fear, as my identity wouldn’t be lost, but rather finessed, and – theoretically – improved. I realize this is a decision that Mr. D would make, so I’m not all that concerned about it…I’m just reacting to it as a “standard” practice. I truly don’t think Mr. D would take my name from me…except for maybe during “alone” time when it would be not only appropriate but would heighten the emotions of a scene or interaction. He can easily and quickly shift my mental state by using names like slut or whore or good girl. And even though my socially trained brain says “you shouldn’t call me a slut or a whore,” my subconscious brain reacts much differently. Sometimes it really turns me on…say, when he’s pulling my hair and fucking me. Yeah…instant orgasm. It’s hard to explain why that is, and as some point, I should probably explore it a bit more deeply.

6. I know I would struggle with “proper language” as described by Cramer: “You would never say phrases such as ‘I want’ or ‘I think; or ‘I say it’s like this’ Those phrases put the emphasis back on the will of the sub and not in deference to the Master. (See what I did there? I’m explaining what I don’t agree with in the book. That’s part of the process. I pick out what I like and discard what I don’t. I think sometimes, when people see that you’ve read a book and are following SOME of it, you must be following ALL of it. I would never do that.) Personally, I think Mr. D often wants to know what I want or what I think. But, what I believe she is getting at is simply that a sub needs to be respectful and not demanding or overbearing, which are things I could use help with to improve, anyway. She also notes that a sub should never use foul language, speak until they are spoken to, and must ask permission to talk…which I find just silly…and I know Mr. D would find it silly as well. I don’t think he wants He doesn’t want to stifle my personality or my voice.

I could use some practice becoming more respectful and less demanding and overbearing.

7. Cramer notes that a Dom has the sole responsibility/right to dress the sub and choose which clothing a sub can or cannot wear. Clothing rules make sense to me, so this wouldn’t be an issue. I know that Mr. D would make wise decisions, knowing I have to be professional at work and appropriate around our kid.

8. One major part of D/s that appeals greatly to me is that the Dom has the responsibility for making decisions which frees the sub from those concerns. Yes. Please.

Because Doms have the responsibility for making decisions, it frees the sub from those concerns.

9. Obviously, things would be tougher during the training phase, for both parties, and it would have to be more “24/7” with specific expectations (and therefore rewards and consequences).

10. I am NOT giving over control of my bathroom habits. Period. Hard no.

11. “Never tell, always ask.” Yeah, that makes sense.

12. “One of the reasons a Master/submissive relationship has such great depth and intensity is because you are focused on each other and not on your own issues, stuff of distractions.” I think this is one of the most appealing things about D/s…it makes the relationship central to both the Dom and the sub.

One of the most appealing things about D/s is that it causes both the Dom and sub to focus on each other rather than being distracted by their own issues.

13. “Submission is a life change that doesn’t just alter the way you dress, act, and relate to one another. In the long term, it actually changes your perspective on life. One of the greatest gifts training as a submissive/slave will teach you is the gift of gratitude…. [It is] the perfect antidote to our selfish, greedy social culture.” I’d love to think that submission could do this for me. I don’t think I am particularly greedy, but I can be selfish. I know that. But it is hard to believe that I could be good at “…being thankful for the tasks he assigns [as] a way of acknowledging to him that his pleasure is [my] pleasure and [I] love to meet his needs.”

Submission changes your perspective on life; it teaches you the gift of gratitude.

14. Correction is the part of D/s that I have historically had the hardest time with. I’m not good at taking punishment. I rebel, act out, get completely pissed, call the whole thing off. I mean, mentally, I get the idea of correction…but it’s so hard to take it. I pout. I grow bitter. And yes…I know…it probably just needs to be beaten out of me.

Correction is the part of D/s that I have historically had the hardest time with.

15. “The core of the relationship is about trust, sacrifice, depth of commitment and journeying together. Sex isn’t what defines the relationship. However, sex is a big part of it…. Your Master will listen to your sexual history then create a series of goals for you to expand your limits and grow together as a couple.” If correction is the part I have the hardest time with, this is the part that inspires the most fear. I’m not sure why, because I know I have no reason to fear. I also know, I need to learn to let go…to trust.

Trusting him to expand my sexual limits so that we can grow together as a couple is something I need to work on. I need to learn to let go.

16. In a D/s relationship, a Dom will test a sub, create and enforce rules, create expectations, and demand obedience – providing correction where and when necessary. In essence, the Dom is like a mentor, working to inspire and motivate a sub to improve through training. Cramer assure us, however, that “Over time, the tests will fade away and the rules and ideas that frame our normal everyday life will take hold.”

It sounds so far away, so unattainable. And yet, I know it isn’t.

What I know for sure is that we have never gotten past the initial stages of training, both because he has to been too wary of wielding his Dominance fully and because my submission wasn’t fully given. It has been something like two people meeting at the opposite ends of a bridge but never actually setting foot on it.

While I didn’t agree with everything I read in Cramer’s book (and I didn’t include everything here…only the parts that I felt it necessary to respond to because I was interested in it for OUR D/s relationship or really NOT interested in it – I took what I wanted and discarded the rest), I did come to terms with the fact that we have never really committed to D/s. Or at least I haven’t. My fears and unwillingness to let go have kept me from giving myself to Mr. D fully. I understand now that the beginning phases of this sort of commitment may be, necessarily, a lot more uncomfortable than I had initially thought. However, I also believe deeply that the benefits would outweigh the difficulties.

I cannot image that I would/will be an easy sub to “train.” And I can see that this sort of commitment is not one that any Dom (or sub) should come to lightly. We’ve attempted it several times, and some readers might be annoyed to hear it again – but I see it like an alcoholic continually attempting sobriety: one never gives up on the things that matter.


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  • sirsnumber1kitten

    This is going to be a long comment Brigit, I hope you don’t mind. Throw the book out because it is of no practical use. I am a person in a wonderful D/s relationship and I love to submit. My darling S. leads me in all things, but I haven’t lost who I am in that. We talk over most major things together and I am listened to. This isn’t so much of what you want in a D/s relationship but what your Dominant wants. Talk to him about that. He might not be a Dominant that wants to micro manage your life. I pick my own clothes unless S. wants me to wear something special. If we are going somewhere special he will pick out things but day to day I just wear my normal clothes. Does that make me less of a submissive? No.
    The biggest thing that we find most important was getting rid of labels and then the understanding not every D/s relationship is the same as others. You are an independent woman and free. You are a spirited woman and all of these qualities are things my S. cultivated in me. I have fire, I rebel and he loves to see that in me because with all of that I submit to him. He finds that very powerful.
    You need to write down what you are looking for in a D/s relationship and so does your partner. You need to write down your Limits, hard and soft. Your pain levels, and your Safe Words and gestures.
    What is in the power of a name? During the day S. will use my real name and when he utters the word ‘kitten’ I dissolve into a puddle and it arouses me.
    The dreaded punishment word conjures up images of spankings or even deeper forms of punishment but with S. and I it is different, main because I enjoy those things. He asks me to stand naked in the corner for a set time limit. Do I enjoy it? No I don’t. Every time it is a choice to submit. I hate it and find it humiliating. But I do it. I also learn from it.
    Basically I am saying is that every D/s relationship is different and you have to find what your idea of submission really is. Maybe you are a switch?
    I have a set of rules, written down and both I and S. signed it. The thing is I wrote the rules, I asked for them because they make me feel more submissive. Maybe you will be a submissive that is just submissive during scenes and that is fine. The answers are not in a book they are in your mind and heart. Set those free.
    Sorry I did warn you it was going to be a long comment. Thank you for sharing your post it was really good. <3 <3 <3
    sirsnumber1kitten recently posted…Me and Darling S.My Profile

    • Brigit Delaney

      Oh, I totally get that we need to design this ourselves. I use books and blog posts and other types of material to gain information from which I then can make informed decisions. Of course, a lot does simply come from my heart. I read this book really as just a starting point. I took away what I liked and left the rest very gratefully behind.
      We’ve attempted a D/s relationship a few times, and while there is obviously something that draws us both to it, we have failed, likely because we just really don’t know what we’re doing. I like to think I can learn from others’ successes and failures, so I read like mad, take notes, and apply what I have learned to my future endeavors.
      I appreciate your comment…and you’ve given me several things to think about! Thank you!

  • Missy

    I found this post really interesting. I think by these terms I am not submissive and we are not D/s, and yet I would say that those are things I do identify with. I struggled for a time with the fact that I didn’t do, or think, like the sub/slave described in this book too. I came to the conclusion that I was not that sort of submissive. It wouldn’t work for me or for HL. It I didn’t mean that I was less or we were less just that it was a different sort.
    HL was attracted to me before D/s. He liked a lot of my traits that submitting in this way would lose so it makes no sense for us to follow someone else’s way. I think that you take the bits which will work and leave the rest but build something which is yours and is sustainable for you.

    I do understand the need to be in a submissive mindset and I wonder if these are the things which allow the author to do that. Finding my submissive headspace, both on a sexual level and on a more practical level has been important for me as it allows me to give without resentment and to bend my will to his. For us the change is small. It is a shift in perception, a shift in thinking. I would not match well against the sort of measure in the book. Does that mean we are not D/s? I don’t think so. We live with an agreed power exchange which shifts and changes with us, our needs and whatever life throws as us and our family.

    Not sure if that helps or not. It has been interesting to read and think about this and I understand the desire to become a better version of yourself, however that comes about, so if there are elements there that you think you would like and would be helpful, it makes sense to have those os focal points for growth. (Sorry for the long comment – didn’t set out to write all of this!)
    Missy recently posted…It’s that timeMy Profile

    • Brigit Delaney

      I realize, too, that I am not like the sub described in this book (or in a lot of places for that matter). I know that Mr. D and I have to create our own type of D/s relationship that works for us and that he would hate this kind of sub in so many ways. After all…he married a strong, independent woman – he doesn’t want me to lose myself to this. But, what I think this book made me realize is that I’m sort of “topping from the bottom” – getting more than I give… keeping things to myself… not completely letting go… You know, that sort of thing. There are a lot of things I could do to be better from my side of the relationship. And I wanted to write about that because I know there are probably lots of people out there who are interested in this, but don’t know how to go about it. There are a lot of ways – and for me, I do research first. I feel that just jumping in leads to failure. And I have a few attempts under my belt to prove that (at least for us).

      • missy

        I hate the topping from the bottom thing but I think that is because it is bandied around as an insult by those who ‘fit’ the traditional idea of a submissive and use it to elevate themselves with it. I think that if you are in a married D/s relationship then you both work to your strengths – it would be crazy to do anything other. It sounds to me like you are very similar to the way that we are and I can understand the desire to improve and develop and grow in your submission. I love how many and how detailed the comments are to this. You have really got people thinking. 🙂

  • Julie

    I think these books are interesting, and I’ve read a few. But they are idealistic in the extreme. Like we all have time to sit around (or probably kneeling) considering how best to make ourselves the best possible submissive for our Doms.

    In my book, (not yet written), if you think you are submissive then you are and you can write your own rules. I think that it is good to devote some time deciding for yourselves how you can both express this element of yourselves and when that might happen. It doesn’t need to detract from your professional life or parental duties but might be when you are alone together, whether or not sex is involved.

    This is a great post and Missy and Kitten have given valuable responses, I can’t really add much else to them xx

    • Brigit Delaney

      That’s mostly why I read books like this. I find them “interesting.” Occasionally, I can pick up a few pointers and hopefully apply them to my life.

      I don’t plan on letting D/s take over my life, but recently, we’ve really been in the place where we are ready to make a change in that direction. That makes it sort of a focal point, especially since he gave me the directive to think about it and get back to him with an answer. This post was pretty much that answer.

  • Marie Rebelle

    The book might help to give some pointers, but the bottom line is that you and Mr. D have to ‘design’ your D/s relationship in the way that works for you. I don’t believe one can find that in books. When we started our D/s both Master T and I read a lot about ‘how it should be done’ but in the end, we filled in our own rules, our own rituals. Things that fit his personality and mine. I don’t ask permission to talk, and nowadays not even to orgasm, because that is what currently fits our relationship under the circumstances we are in. Do what is good for you and Mr. D.

    Rebel xox

    • Brigit Delaney

      I’m sure we will, Marie. Designing a D/s relationship is a work of heart, and I’m just using this a starting point. One book (thankfully it took just under an hour to read) was about all I could handle, but I did find some helpful stuff. Basically, I just wanted to jumpstart my brain, to really get a sense of why I am craving this so much.

  • E. L. Byrne

    I appreciate your open and honest report of the process you are following to figure out what you want and need in your relationship. It’s a lovely thing to watch unfold and as a newer reader- I’ve missed any previous attempts and processing of this… keep writing and processing. I have every confidence you guys will figure out what works for you!

  • twistedbubbles

    My issues when my husband was able to be sexually active were some of the above but mostly my husband has not a dominating bone in his body. Not even to talk to me or tell me what he wanted. It mattered not if I wanted him to call me a name or talk to me or anything he literally cannot do it comfortably, if that makes sense. Like you I am not sure I want the micro managed thing. I want freedom in many cases. I don’t want to feel as if it all falls on me, the house, the bills, the appointments, all of it. Yet it does. So for me having to NOT be that in the bedroom, or even sometimes in the daily is arousing.

    • Brigit Delaney

      I agree…for those of us who run a lot of things outside of our relationships, submission holds a draw because of its promise of freedom. Sometimes it is just sooooo damn nice to let go and let him take over ALL of my mental energy. That, to me, is subspace…the only time I can just say, “no, I can’t think of that right now because he said I can’t.” For some reason, I can’t give myself that permission, but if he tells me to let it go, I can do so more easily.”

  • Windy

    There is a lot to take in here on your post and then the comments and your responses, but I am trying. I’m new to this area of the web, but I am branching out to read beyond what I normally would. I’m hungry for more, but I’m not quite sure how much more. It makes me feel better to know that there are other wives out there who want to be submissive, but not in every dang area. I didn’t know this was okay. Due to my ignorance on the subject, I am guilty of thinking that D/S has to be an “all in” type thing in order to be taken seriously by the community. I respect how you took from the book only that which you want and that you aren’t afraid to say so. In addition, I am pleasantly surprised by the similar attitude left by those who read and commented here. I often don’t think I have a submissive bone in my body except for in the bedroom! Almost all who know me in real life would either be shocked or laugh their heads off if they knew I was truly working on being more submissive to my husband. I enjoyed reading your piece. (And I am enjoying the participation in your EJC ) Windy
    Windy recently posted…Desires and DistressMy Profile

    • Brigit Delaney

      I think there are as many versions of D/s as there are people involved in it. And like so many have stated already, there is no one right or wrong way to go about it. I’m simply in a place where I’m looking for some clarification for myself…trying to define it for me and decide what I want most from it…not only from my submission but from D/s in general. I just started 30 Days of D/s…which you might also find enlightening. head over to LovingBDSM dot com for more information!

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