Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Dominance Versus Control

A very skilled salesman once taught me that in every encounter there are two roles - the dominator and the controller. This may seem incorrect since we see domination as control. However in the sales environment, which is much more pervasive than most of us want to believe, especially when it comes to relationship interactions, they are separate and distinct. Romantic relationships often involve selling and negotiating so that we can get what we want. Of course it often isn't as clear cut as in a conscious sales encounter. We have to learn to ask for what we want and need and we usually have to negotiate to get all or most of those needs and wants met.

An interesting side note: I have come to realize that part of what appeals to me about a S-D/s relationship is something that was recently pointed out to me. In this kind of relationship, especially in the area of intimacy and sexuality, it is the complete opposite of the vanilla world. In S-D/s it is expected and vital that there is communication, instruction and feedback. In too many vanilla relationships there is little or none of this. Couples often say little or nothing to each other regarding their love making in or out of bed. Either because of embarrassment or discomfort or the assumption that both parties are just supposed to know how to please the other, these most vital links to fulfillment are often relegated to nearly literal attempts to read in the dark. We often have to try to gauge what pleases our lover through the few scant clues - the occasional moan, sigh, pant or even more rarely, the directed hand. Having always sought to please a lover and wanting to communicate with her as part of the process, it is highly unsatisfying to be with someone who isn't comfortable expressing themselves in all ways. I understand that everyone is different and that at times talk interrupts concentration, but I suspect that that is less the reason for limited or no communication than the other possibilities I've suggested. That said, it isn't as if I need or expect love making to be a talk show either; like most things a healthy balance is the goal. It makes me self conscious to express myself without getting anything back. At times it makes me feel vulnerable and exposed and not knowing how my words and actions are being received makes me pull back from giving myself to the process, losing myself, hopefully with her, to the passion. Often times when the chance is taken and words are spoken the response becomes evident through non verbal ques but it would be so much better to drive passion through the vulnerability of communication including being told what your lover wants and what they are experiencing emotionally and physically, and feeling free to do the same. S-D/s has the potential to practically eliminate this roadblock to unbridled passion since the expectation and desire is for the dynamic of direction and response, and communication in general. Of course the other grand dynamic is the ability to lose oneself and give oneself to another role, however formal or informal that may be. In a world stuck in the understanding that control and dominance are masculine and submission, service and acquiescence are feminine, this is at least a chance to break through those gender designations even as we are given permission to enjoy and experience them with those understandings, taboo as it may be to most of the world around us.

Getting back to the dominance versus control issue, in the S-D/s relationship there is dominance but there are two kinds of control. One of those forms of control is used by both. The domme and sub have equal control of the process of designing the relationship agreement. This control is based on the understanding that the underlying basis of the relationship is mutual love, need and desire for each other and thus equal. If you want to be in this relationship with me because of who I am in addition to, including and because of my willingness and desire to submit to you, then you need me as much as I need you since I want to be with you because of who you are, including your desire to dominate and be in charge of me and us. Otherwise it isn't going to work, because no matter what the agreement between us, if one of us isn't getting our needs met, especially if they have been discussed and agreed upon, one of us is leaving or going to make the relationship unworkable until the other person ends it. People can pretend that slavery is real or that D/s implies unqualified submission with no way out, but of course that's absurd. A healthy S-D/s relationship isn't going to resort to some insane entanglement like mind control, total possession and financial submission that would make leaving difficult, or God forbid physical restraint. The S-D/s relationship is in fact probably going to thrive in part because underlying all the dynamics, no matter how ironclad the agreement, unrelated to how serious or casual the roles and interplay, both parties will know that the other is free to end it and leave. No one can reign ultimate and supreme in a consensual arrangement.

The other kind of the control is what the domme has based on their agreement. Whether limited to scenes, 24/7 or whatever is arranged, it is mutually understood that she calls the shots as long as it stays within the terms of the agreement. In this way she is dominating and controlling. The sub's control has already been established. That said, although he may have agreed to give up control, he still has power. The power to either respond or react to what is happening between them. This is more subtle and subject to the terms they've agreed upon. If for example he has agreed to do what he is told without question or resistance as long as it is within pre-agreed boundaries and he objects, he has breached the agreement. His domme obviously has the right to do as she sees fit, be it punishment or withdrawal from the situation at hand. In a highly conscious agreement they would have already had provisions for this in place as well as his rights in the event the reverse occurs and she is out of compliance. Sorry to use such pseudo-legalese or formal sounding language, but hopefully that won't obscure the reality that for a
S-D/s relationship to begin and thrive, these understandings are vital. The vanilla world would do well to consider them too, and I'm sure that some do. It doesn't require a domme or a sub to look at the kind of relationship you want and figure out how to express it in some manner that is understandable and agreeable to both. As with virtually all human interactions, communication is key.


mnwhr said...

Interesting thoughts on the dynamics of both D/S and vanilla relationships, great blog.

Mystress said...

Good afternoon,

Having the day off, I've been spending time reading some like minded blogs, and I find yours very enjoyable reading. It reminds Me very much of the relationship between Myne own Paladin and what you seek. (note I use a capital P for his name because of the strength of the man that he is, atlhough sometimes I call him 'pet' with a small p as well, that is more for affectionate reasons then anything else)

We are both much more sensually oriented then anything else. That is the mode that Paladin was seeking when he went questing for a Mistress. It tooks us over 5 years to find each other, but the paitence of being picky has been more then rewarding.

You make an excellent point about the communications in this most recent post. For that is something that has become one of our strongest points. In the past, I was reluctant to tell partners what it was I wanted of them, shy perhaps. But, with pet, I can and do tell him everything, as he must tell Me. I am very exacting with him verbally as to exactlly how I want him to pleasure Me. And of course, practice makes for working on being perfect.

Our communications reach beyond the bedroom, but into all realms of our minds. Paladin is not allowed to keep anything from Me, for now, all of his thoughts belong to Me. And... visa versa, for he had his own way of making sure I tell him MY own thoughts as well. Sometimes its very difficult, but we find ways to reach past our privacy to share.

I am always checking in with pet, asking him how he feels about something, and because our energy exchange is so intensified, we can both almost immedieatly tell when the other has some feeling or thought that comes up between us.

There are indeed those D/s relationships where the Dom/me makes the sub a shoe wipe, and I find those personaly repugnant. For Myne own is My greatest treasure and cherished above all things. His health and well being is of vital importance to Me. And that goes for all aspects of him, mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. As much as he is My protector, so am I his. We can express those most vunerable sides of ourselves to each other.

I happen to have both Dom and sub sides to Myself and Paladin feels that this makes Me a better Mystress for him because I can understand both sides of the coin, and I can do those things to him that I KNOW are arousing to the submissive mindset, what one needs to feel the deep relaxation of losing total control and having no choices or decisions to make. Which is especially hard to do when one is tied, bound and blindfolded. (smile)

Anyways.. I do very much enjoy your blog, and I invite you to read ours as well, and to ask Paladin or Myself any questions that may shed some enlightenment upon your own desires and quest. After all, that is the best thing about us all baring our inner sides so publicly isn't it? To learn as much as we can from one another?

Best to you in your quest,

saratoga said...

Best wishes to you on your journey.