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.