Thoughts on Dominant/submissive Relationships (part 1)

The other day the issue of trust came up in comments about my post “On Being a Dominant.” So let us begin by talking about trust.

Trust is important in any relationship, but doubly so in a D/s relationship. The nature of the Dominant/submissive relationship demands this. The submissive is turning over control to someone else, the Dominant. The submissive must be able to trust the Dominant for this to work. Without trust a submissive would do this only out of fear, and that is not healthy mentally or emotionally.

I want to pause here for a moment. I can imagine a Gorean sort of person saying to this, “Yeah, so what?” To be clear, I am not talking about a true Master/slave relationship even though in some D/s relationships those titles get used. A genuine Master/slave relationship is an entirely different dynamic. I may talk about that in a future post, but I am not talking about that now.

Anyway, one of the things any Dominant must do for a healthy relationship with his submissive is to build trust. Trust is built only in part by respecting limits in sex or public situations or BDSM play. That is important, but trust is built in all the other ways the Dominant treats and interacts with the submissive. How the Dominant speaks to the sub, touches her, looks at her, treats her in public, speaks about her to others, listens to her, acknowledges her, makes her feel, and on and on. All these things build the infrastructure of trust upon which other parts of the relationship will be placed. The more struts and supports and buttresses, so to speak, that one can give that trust, the stronger that trust will be and the better the relationship will be.

That may all seem hard. It is and it isn’t. It is hard in that it is something the Dominant should be aware of and cultivating. It is not hard in that the submissive wants to trust. She needs to trust, and sometimes the littlest thing that is barely noticed if at all by the Dominant will be the thing the sub remembers as a moment which proves to her that she can trust her Dom. That is not to say a Dominant can get away with not worrying about building trust. But it does mean if you put forth the effort to build it, it will grow in ways you will not expect. This is part of the beauty and wonder of a healthy D/s relationship.

Your submissive will notice when you, the Dominant, do the things you intend to do for and/or to her. Understand that she will also sometimes notice when something you do helps her in a way that perhaps you did not intend. She will notice when the words you say to her reflect that you listen to her and that she is important to you. She will notice when you use a word that resonates with her even if you did not consciously choose it for that reason. She will notice your idle stroking of her hair or her breasts or her arm or her leg or whatever, and that will comfort her even if you are not consciously thinking about it. These things will also build trust because they will tell the submissive that the Dominant cares.

When the submissive believes and/or feels that she is safe with the Dominant, then she will trust. Again, this is and is not hard. And for the same reasons. The Dominant should be consciously cultivating a sense of safety for the submissive. At the same time, the submissive needs to feel safe in her submission. This is part of her drive to submit. She wants and needs to feel that safety. She needs to give someone that much trust. She needs to submit. So if the Dominant is doing his job, the trust and sense of safety will grow.

That said, the Dominant needs to be able to trust the submissive. The submissive needs to let her Dominant know that he can trust her to be obedient, to communicate with him, to behave herself in a manner that reflects well on him, and to appreciate his efforts to learn about her care for her. Because this is not a true Master/slave relationship, this is a voluntary relationship. Either party can end it. This is something that both Dominant and submissive can do. But a Dominant needs to believe he is not wasting him time.

If, for example, a submissive woman tells a Dominant man, “I want to submit to you and be trained by you,” but constantly she is disobedient and only shows an interest in sexual submission when what the Dominant wants is someone who submits in more ways, then the submissive has violated the trust the Dominant placed in her. This may seem minor to some, but this is important.

The point I am trying to make here is that trust goes both ways. The submissive needs to be able to trust the Dominant, and the Dominant needs to be able to trust the submissive.

When the submissive learns the Dominant likes a certain thing, and learns to do it without being told, this builds trust with the Dominant. And I do not mean sexually, although it can be applied that way. Suppose the submissive sees that the Dominant always gets a beer or a glass of water after work. The Dominant may not ask the her to do anything about that, but if the sub begins to make sure that the beer or the water, or whatever little thing, is prepared for him without him having to tell her, that builds trust. And just as trust is cultivated when Dominant proves that he listens to the submissive, so to trust is cultivated when then submissive proves she listens to the Dominant.

And as the infrastructure of trust is mutually created, Dominant and submissive will be able to build a healthy relationship together.

One of the best, if not the best, tools for building trust is communication. Both Dominant and submissive have to, have to, have to communicate with one another. Humans are not (thank God) telepathic. So no, submissive, the Dominant does not always know what is bothering you, and so yes, submissive, you need to tell him. And no, Dominant, the submissive does not always know what you want her to do, and so yes, you do need to talk to her. Never assume the other person knows everything. There is no place, in my opinion, in a D/s relationship for the “if you don’t know what is wrong I’m not going to tell you” bit. From either the Dominant or the submissive.

I know sometimes that saying certain things can seem difficult. But that is not an excuse. Trust and understanding and learning in a relationship requires communication. If the submissive feels she cannot speak of something because she is afraid of disappointing her Dom, the Dom needs to get the submissive to a place where she feels safe enough to say what she needs to say. If the Dominant feels he should not have to say a thing, he needs to get over that and say what needs to be said. When something is bothering the Dominant or the submissive, the only way it will be addressed is if the Dom and sub talk about it.

Which leads me to one more point I want to make. (I know this is a long post. I am almost done.) Honesty is important to building trust.

Submissives, do not lie to your Dominant. If something bothers you, say so. If a certain thing is a limit for you, then say so. If something makes you uncomfortable and you do not know why, say so. If you hold things back from your Dominant, if you lie deliberately or by omission, you are damaging the trust the relationship needs and very possibly setting yourself up for some real harm. Be honest always. When in doubt, speak up. Trust me on this one, however disappointed you might think your Dominant will be by what you say, he will be far more disappointed if you do not tell him something he needs to know.

Dominants, I know sometimes you may play head-games with your submissive, but do not keep things to yourself that your submissive needs to know. If there is something you want her to do and she is not doing it, do not let annoyance fester into resentment. Talk to your sub. If there is something she keeps doing wrong, do not just punish her for it all the time, find out why she keeps getting it wrong. If you are angry about something at work or some other event not directly related to your relationship with the sub, make sure the sub knows that. Do not assume your submissive always understands your moods. Talk to your sub. Be honest. Your sub wants to help you. Maybe that means leaving you alone for a while. Let her know that and the reasons why. If you constantly cause doubt in your submissive’s mind, it will eventually eat away at her ability to trust you and to serve you. Within herself, your sub has a need to trust you and serve you. Let her.

While there is no scientific study on this, as best as I can determine more stupid things happen in relationships due to a lack of clear and honest communication than for any other reason.

Whew. Hopefully this all makes sense to you, O reader. Whether it does or does not, feel free to ask me questions. I enjoy getting questions.

22 Responses to “Thoughts on Dominant/submissive Relationships (part 1)”

  1. Good, solid information presented for consumption by both Tops & bottoms. You touch on a number of key issues in any relationship. I mentioned this in my comments on the post previous to this one but again I read this and think to myself “He is basically describing marriage.” If you think about it the bond or even contract that a Dominant and a submissive may enter into is, in itself, a marriage of sorts. But instead of starting from the Love, Trust, Communication, Honesty bedrock of a courtship and established connection the D/s relationship backward engineers to those thru BDSM.

    Its a marriage in reverse.

    This is where I may have an advantage in that I have known & loved my sub Leigh for almost 2 decades prior to our committing to truly exploring D/s. Or not so much an advantage but a much different starting point that has its own set of unique issues and challenges.

    The only issue I found with your observations is this: “The submissive is turning over control to someone else, the Dominant.” I view it not as handling the Dominant the keys, if you will, but rather offering the Dominant the opportunity to have them. Giving outright and presenting an opportunity for giving are different. It is up to the Dominant to accept the opportunity and seize control, take power, rather than accept control and manage it.

    – Scot

    • Maybe what I describe is like marriage. I dunno. I am just trying to talk about healthy D/s relationships. Part of me feels, I think, that I am defending D/s to a world that thinks we are all unhappy, self-hating subs and domineering, predatory Doms. Not that the world would ever listen to me. But I am also working through these issues myself, for all the good it seems to have done me. I need some Jack Daniels.

      • Trust is definately important as I am new sub and totally new to this scene, I have many stories already including how we met and many questions. Without trust why bother having a relationship. My owner/dom is training me and I am not easy, i have the utmost respect for him and again I have given myself to him and he has power over me and we have not even met and he has not even touched me. Only with his word, they are powerful. Can online, phone calls (yes), and eventually getting together in the next month really build our relationship? I am in deep now too late to turn back. He is also older than me says old school dominant practices are best. Just have a feeling we were meant to be, timing is perfect in my life as I am just newly divorced after 20yrs, just beginning at age 44. Any advice for new submissive who has fallen for her dominant and teacher? Its even going to be hard telling him I went on line and asked a question, cant wait to see how that goes, but we tell eachother everything.

        • My advice is know thyself. Take time to examine who you are and what you want. Remember D/s is not about changing who you are. It is about enhancing who you truly are.

  2. Thank you for your intense insight. I’m venturing from a marriage without excitement into a d/s relationship of which I have longed for. My sub is important to me. I hope we can properly build the trust I know we need to grow as a couple.

  3. Although I’m brand spanking new to this world, I was ready to lay down my life on an alter for “Daddy” to rule. But I became confused and untrusting when daddy would break promises and not explain to me his rules that became never ending changing. Double-minded and to me that is unstble. I was moving from east to west coast for Daddy, but then he became extremely and sadistically verbally abusive. This combined with the always changing mood and rules, I became too frightened and have now decided to not marry him. This blog confirmed what I was feeling. Am I allowed to just not di this or I now must continue my commitment of love and obedience?

    • Of course you are allowed to exit an abusive relationship. I recommend that you do just that. Your submissive nature does not make you less of a human being. Take your time to find a Dominant who is trustworthy and good.

  4. Christy Says:

    May I ask for advice?

  5. I’m a young woman with a strong desire to experience being sexually dominated, but I’m quite shy, and I don’t really know where to search for a dominant. I was hoping you could point me in the right direction?

    • I would suggest you do an internet search for BDSM groups in your area, find out when they meet, and go see what they are like. I know you say you are shy, and meeting people you do not know may seem difficult. However, you will be safer meeting the group than you would be trying to find just one Dominant to meet. There are, unfortunately too many inexperienced and/or false Dominants out there. And if you can find a munch (a social gathering for people with BDSM interests, usually in a public place like a bar or a restaurant) it will give you an opportunity to meet some local Dominants and also local submissives, so you can ask questions about BDSM and about the Dominants. Don’t let being shy prompt you into unsafe behavior.

  6. I love your advice and you have such good kind words for everyone, i’m hoping maybe you can spare some for me.
    I just started a sort-of-relationship with a Dom a few days ago. It was rushed and i wasn’t sure i really wanted it but he came on like a tidal wave and i couldn’t say no. It’s my first time, i have no idea what’s going on, and i’m not sure i like all of it. I definitely didn’t agree to all of it before it started. I go to bed every evening in love with him and wake up every morning wanting to leave, and i start talking to him prepared to end it, and he just… derails me. Makes me feel bad for wanting to leave. Next thing i know, i’m yes master-ing left and right trying to please him. Rinse and repeat.
    I feel like if he weren’t holding me down by sheer willpower, i’d be running for the hills.
    I don’t know what i’m doing and i don’t know what to do, but it’s so easy and feels so good to listen to him, and it’s so hard to not.
    Please tell me how i get myself out of here. I don’t know how i got here and i don’t want to be here.

  7. Ally, Come stay with me for a while, I’ll take care of it. (Haha)
    Seriously, though, you are in what is commonly called a bad relationship. We’ve all been in them. They come in all sizes and flavor’s. Yours just happens to be of the D/s variety. D/ s is not what makes it a bad relationship. What defines a bad relationship is one that stifles your growth, gives you negative anxiety on an ongoing basis or where your higher self just knows that it is wrong.
    We stay in them for as long as we do because the sex is good.
    Your Dom does not have a patent on good sex. Nor is he the only Dom in the world. You have discovered a thrilling new lifestyle. Now you need to find a Dom who is more compatible with you in a broader sense than your current one. If you need support, look around. The world is full of women who are exiting ” bad relationships” Do what they do. Look to your female friends. Go stay with family for a while, get a new job, etc. etc.
    There must be fifty ways to leave your lover.
    Or come stay with me ….. or someone who can see you as the fine diamond in the rough that you are.

  8. I’ve read quite a few of your thoughts and I just wanted to say thank you. These are great and I have found them very helpful to me. I had lost my submissive mindset and these have aided me in gaining that back. I hope these help my dom as much as they have helped me. We had lost trust and respect in our relationship and I feel very hopeful that we can get that back. Thanks again!

  9. I lost my trust and respect when my dom wanted so desperately to be right about Everything, to the point that he started to make the wrong decisions ignoring any and all of my opinions and known facts that I pointed out. I tried to help him. When I started to feel like my Dom didn’t want my help or for me to serve him in all that I do 24/7 like I was used to I started to feel alone and angry and frustrated and the trust and respect started to falter and fade. I felt like I wasn’t needed anymore, like he didn’t care and we have been fighting for about a year. Something just *clicked* when I read this and I was able to find my voice to explain to him how it happened and why. So now I can help him be a better Dom and I can be a better sub. Amazing.

  10. Good Morning

    I am truly enjoying the “banter” between various contributors on here.It puts
    a huge grin on my face.
    I have a question if I may ask? Well a request for advice and insight
    really.
    Hmm.lets see its a wee bit hard for  me to transcribe it here. I foresee
    much deleting, retyping and a fair amount of lip biting and
    frowning on my part. In order for you to understand my background I should outline it for you.
    Here goes deep breath in slow breath out and type.
    I shall title my question “when good Doms go bad. ” ha ha
    I was with my Dom for 4 years. I was his entirely, heart body and soul I existed to please,serve him and make him proud that in turn pleased me beyond measure. I met him when I was 21.
    He taught me and guided me to become  the sub he wished me to be. Blissful
    times.
    I am female (I should add for clarity.) And am also what is called in USA a  law inforcement
    officer. Yes indeed,rather unusual  career for a sub I guess.
    Let me assure you the very moment my uniform came off in the locker room I
    became who I was supposed to be. My Sirs and only my Sirs girl.

    My Dom had no issues with my career. He exerted his control over me by
    giving me tasks and sending me texts to be obeyed immediately whilst on duty or as soon as possible.
    Slowly slowly things became different. I would be punished for “looking”
    insubordinate, parking the car in a different space even if usual one taken. For not crawling to him quickly enough even though I had been thrown down some stairs whilst on duty the day before.

    My punishments were  getting more aggressive and I sometimes bled
    from where he hit me. (not agreed ) He took me to his friends houses and I had to do
    their housework and laundry in my underwear  I did it because I didn’t want to make him look a bad Dom.
    I tried to explain how I felt . He ignored my safeword constantly. ( i was having to use it after years of not)He outright refused to discuss the situation. I always always asked politely and respectfully.
    I was so unhappy.
    He took to bringing 2 other subs to our home when I was on duty and he would text me not to come home till he said so. It was the beginning of the end.
    One evening I returned home to find a party in full swing he was putting on a “show with the 2 subs” When he saw me he told me to get in the bedroom and stay there. I was mortified our relationship never involved public displays.
    All the guests  D/s’s I knew from our community were embarrassed for me and I heard other Doms berate him. I started to pack his bags……

    Soon the guests left and he sauntered into the bedroom with his arms around his 2 subs.
    He told me to sleep on the sofa.

    Here I must say his “Tiny Kitten”  morphed into a bloody big wolf. I am only 5′ but have spent years studying Krav Muga. I put his bag at his feet and said something like “I think you should be leaving now” – would love to say  my voice was calm but it definitely came out squeaky and cartoon like damn it.
    Well of course he went for me and I broke his nose and dislocated his elbow.

    Moving on he left my house that night in an ambulance. I haven’t seen him since. ( one of the Doms help smooth things legally for me and no action was taken.) I wasn’t going to take a beating from him any more.

    Been on my own for 3 years now. I struggle to come to terms why?  was it my fault? Can one be too submissive? Do you think my job had some bearing on what transpired. He used to be proud of what I did, how I helped people.
    I adored him looked to him for guidance and direction he abused my trust and faith in the worst way.

    I would dearly love to have the nerve to look for a new Sir to submit and give myself over to.
    But I believe I would be very hard work for him to earn my trust.

    My question Sir is .. Have you ever heard of a sub who as been treated badly getting their confidence back and finding someone to serve and trust?  

    I do apologise for War and Peace. :) I also quite understand if you choose not to publish this.
    I should very much hate to cause fear and  concern for any new sub who reads it. I know there are wonderful nurturing Doms out there.
    But perhaps not for me.

    Thank you for your time

    Ps. Yep lots of changes and re writes . How you do your writing with such flair is beyond me.

    • Have I heard of a sub being treated badly by a Dominant, getting her confidence back and finding someone to serve a trust? Yes, Freya, I have. Most submissives I have met have had experiences with bad Dominants in one form or another. And they all wonder if they can trust a Dominant again. You can. It takes time, sure. But the same can be said for getting hurt in any relationship. You learn from the experience and move forward.

      Of course another Dominant would have to work harder to earn your trust. But then, there are good Dominants out there who have been hurt, and you would have to work hard to earn their trust.

      My advice is to be patient and open. When the right man comes along, being open to the possibility is better than shunning it and later regretting the loss of happiness. And I say that as one who was just about to give up altogether on the idea that I could have a romantic D/s relationship. I was in a sad place, but someone entered my life who brought happiness back to me.

      You don’t have to be looking for it. Just be open to it happening. Keep being the best you that you can be, and eventually a Dominant will see that quality and will find you.

  11. my grateful thanks for your insight and guidance Sir.

  12. Thank you Sir for all the helpful information I am finding on your blog. I am very new to the D/s relationship, and I am doing as much research as possible so that I may properly please my Dom. We met online and have spoken over the phone and via text but have yet to meet in person. I’m looking forward to this day, so I am doing as much research as possible to prepare myself so that I may please him as well as myself. I look forward to reading many more of your blogs and learning from you as well as him. Thank you again Sir!

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