The Case For Not Being A Good Submissive

Pretty much all the books (not that there are very many) about the theories of submission, and pretty much all the writings of various bloggers and folks on various message boards throughout the internet, say similar things, usually starting with: obey your dominant. Put your wants and desires after those of your dominant. That’s what submitting is. Don’t you want to be a “good” submissive?

But there are a couple of essential steps missing in that formula.

Obedience is, of course, important. Open defiance is often enough to get a submissive released from service entirely. I’ve known a Master who had a slave for ten years, and one day, the slave acted up, and the Master ended it, just like that. While Masters and dominants will have a variety of different reactions to that particular scenario (I probably would have sent them away for 24 hours with some assignments to cool off, for example), the point remains: obedience is important.

Don’t get me wrong— minor disobedience, in play kinds of ways, can be fun, and make more friction between folks. It can instigate more sadism in a dominant, and it can be used as “funishment”—faux-punishments which are more for pleasure than because someone actually did something wrong, like, “Oh look how wet your cunt is, you slut, I’m going to beat you now.” Yep, that is good fun stuff. Sometimes folks call this brattiness, though being a ‘brat’ is a debated hot topic in the D/s worlds, with many dominants saying they would never want a brat. Brattiness can be a really good tool — especially if dominant likes it, or if it creates more excuses for play. That kind of “disobedience” is more about obediently playing the game that’s been set up, and it’s legit.

But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the importance of a submissive doing what they are told to the best of their ability in the D/s context.

The submissive has to be able to mess up without serious blows to their self-esteem, value, and submissive identity.
But what about those times when an order is given, and the submissive thinks they completely understand it, and they go along steps one-two-thee and present the completed task to the dominant, and that was not at all what the dominant had in mind? What about those times when the dominant is completely unclear about the orders, but just doesn’t have time to explain themself thoroughly, and expects the submissive to fill in the gaps themself? What about when a submissive thinks they are doing precisely the thing the dominant would want, since they have wanted that thing before, but is not taking into account these new factors in this particular scenario?

It’s not open defiance, intentionally being disobedient, but it isn’t perfect obedience. Regardless of who is at fault (and finding the ways that both the dominant and the submissive can make sure this doesn’t happen again is perhaps more useful than finding the fault), the dominant often responds with disappointment, and the submissive often responds with deep sadness that they didn’t get it right.

Because that is most often what submissives want, right—to get it right, to be good.

When we find ourselves in that scenario—and we will, if we play with power dynamics, eventually be in that scenario—we have to allow the submissive some wiggle room with being “good.” The submissive has to be able to mess up without serious blows to their self-esteem, value, and submissive identity. Now, I’m not saying that the submissive shouldn’t be punished, or there shouldn’t be an increased amount of discipline next time, but hopefully those things can be done in ways that build up the submissive’s self-value and self-worth, and don’t tear it down.

No matter how much humiliation fetish we may have, having a submissive with no self-worth is bad for everyone. A submissive with no self-worth can stop trying, can stop expecting amazing things of themself, and can stop believing in their value to their dominant. At the core, it is best to have submissives who believe themselves to be strong, capable people.

Submissives who are strong, capable people also tend to have needs, wants, and desires. We all do, of course—dominants are expected to constantly mine their needs, wants, and desires, and find ways to use the submissive to meet those. But submissives are often expected to override their own needs, wants, and desires in deference to their dominant’s. This is often called being a “good” submissive.

For example, there might be some orgasm control rules in place, where the submissive can only have so many orgasms, or none at all. It can be really hot to deny them what they want: “Oh, I see you writhing around, trying to rub your dick on the sheets. Are you trying to come? You know you’re not allowed, little pet; you will get in so much trouble if you do that.” The need for sexual satisfaction is of course valid, but part of sexual satisfaction, for this particular submissive, is being denied and teased with what they want.

There can be other, less sexual, examples of denial, too; if the dominant doesn’t like a particular food, perhaps the submissive never has it at home (there are never mushrooms or cilantro in my household, for example). This is, generally, not a big deal, especially not at first. But denial of something pleasurable, even something the submissive just desires, and doesn’t “need,” can wear them down over time.

When we’re talking about 24/7 relationships, especially authority exchanges which are also primary partnerships, the submissive does have needs, wants, and desires. That’s just a part of reality, a part of being human. The submissive does have core values and core kinks which, if they don’t get met, at least sometimes, they may start feeling unfulfilled, unsatisfied, and even unloved.

The dominant role has many components, but one of them is to monitor and support the submissive’s fulfillment and satisfaction. Many submissives are fulfilled and satisfied by being controlled and denied, but long term denial can break down a relationship. A dominant must pay attention to the submissive’s needs, wants, and desires in order to bolster the longevity of the relationship.

The submissive does have core values and core kinks which, if they don’t get met, at least sometimes, they may start feeling unfulfilled, unsatisfied, and even unloved.
This means that the submissive must communicate their needs, wants, and desires—which means the submissive must know what their needs, wants, and desires are. Instead of shoving them aside when they come up, pushing them away, tamping them down like a “good” submissive is “supposed to,” pay attention. Put a little highlighter mark over them in your brain when it comes up randomly throughout the day, and make a list in your submissive journal. Perhaps you’ll notice some patterns. Perhaps you’ll identify something deep in you that is vying to get out.

Depending on the D/s arrangements that you have, it may be up to your dominant what they do with this information, or it might be your responsibility to assert your needs and boundaries, or to get them met outside of your relationship. My wish for you is that you can both figure out a way to honor your humanity, to acknowledge that submissives (and dominants!) make mistakes, have miscommunications, and differences in styles, and that everyone has needs, wants, and desires that are core to our long-term fulfillment and happiness. Hopefully, the dominant can fold a submissive’s needs into their own, and make them part of the power dynamic—another thing for the submissive to, enthusiastically, obey.


Psst …. Submissive Playground is happening again in October 2016. Registration opens soon!

How rife & I Created Our D/s Protocol. Plus: Invitation to the new Protocol ecourse

Take pictures of five different places you’ve had sex and send them to me with a short (2 sentence) description of each one.

Make a mobile.

Download the 100 Pushups app and go through the program, 3x a week for 4 weeks.

Record an audio mp3 of you masturbating to orgasm.

Write up five scene ideas (short, 2 sentences each) that you’d like to experience.

Before rife and I lived together, our relationship was long distance for almost a year and a half. We both had other partners that we lived with and we’d negotiated open relationships. We were experimenting with D/s and we both craved more intensity, more rules, more obedience, more opportunities to serve.

During this time, rife didn’t so much have “protocol” as he had “tasks”, and I’d send him one (like those above) either with a deadline, or tell him that as soon as it was done, I would give him another. Sometimes that meant he was done the next day. Sometimes it took a few weeks to complete the task.

I see protocol as something done routinely that is triggered by an action. Whenever x happens, do y. For example: Whenever I get home, offer to remove my boots. Whenever we wake up, make the bed. Whenever you need to pee, ask my permission first (if I am available). Before you go to bed, make sure the dishes are done. Whenever you address me, use my proper title.

Sure, there were a few protocols that we had set up while we were long distance—he was always to kneel and kiss my boots/shoes/feet first thing, before we even spoke to each other, whenever we had traveled apart from each other. He was to text me good morning and good night. He would reply to my emails or texts promptly, not keep me waiting. Those kinds of things. But mostly, we did tasks—one-off assignments that would thrill me to receive. I kept a long list of things he sent, the kind of love-gifts one creates in the beginnings of a relationship, and I would take note of the things I loved to receive and ask him to send more of them. It was thrilling for both of us to be giving and receiving orders, to have opportunities for obedience, to make requests and have them be met.

Then, we moved in together

When we moved in together, we wanted to up the protocol significantly. I wanted clear division of the household labor, and to set things up so it was clear who took care of what. I wanted clear schedules, clear date nights, clear ways that we organize our time together, doing work, playing, and apart.

We haven’t kept all of the protocol we set up. (Ask me about rife’s speaking protocol experiments sometime—and why we don’t have any restrictions on speech anymore.) There were times when I gave him too much to do, when I failed to monitor or enforce the protocol I told him to do, and when we both just completely dropped some of the protocol we agreed upon because things going on were just too much. And, eventually, we picked it back up again, I tightened the reigns, we check in, and we keep going.

The protocol part of our D/s was one of the most fun parts to play with, for me. I wanted to set up something really fun, and in-depth, and flexible; something that would keep the protocol as lively as it was when we were long distance and playing with all those tasks. So I started experimenting with forms, and this is what happened.

Making The Training Wheel

We were both a bit obsessed with it in the first year we lived together. We created a “training wheel,” areas of training for rife in his enslavement and submission, which we shorten to the acronym L-SHAFTS: Leather, Submission, Houseboy, Assistant, Fag, Trophy, Service. Each category has a short description of the intended ways that he’s “in training” for that subject, and each one has some ideas of what he’ll do to grow in that area.

rife's training wheel

Making The Protocol Game

After we had the training categories, I set up what we refer to as “the protocol game,” where I made little slips of paper with different protocols on them (roughly the same amount in each of the 7 categories, though some of them are easier for me to make protocol in than others).

It helped that we already had weekly check-ins about our D/s set up. At first, we would go over some specific questions: What was the most fun part of this week? What was the hardest? How did we do with protocol? How could we improve it? We would both reflect on the week past and plan the week ahead, gathering data from the experiments we were doing, and implement new protocol.

I set up a notebook, too, so that we could record the little strips of paper in the book and write a little about what each protocol was like. If there was one we really liked, we would implement it permanently.

protogolgame

Some of them, even though we really, really like them for a week, we don’t want to make into something permanent because they will likely lose their luster. For example, if rife had to wear a butt plug every single time he did house chores, it would get old and become ‘normal,’ but if he only does it occasionally, it’s still thrilling.

Making Protocol For Me

After we created 52 of these protocol slips and ‘played the game’ for a year, we reflected on the year and decided that yes, we did want to do it again, but with some changes. Namely: there were a whole bunch of protocol in rife’s set that were actually protocol that relied on me doing an action. For example, the protocol for rife to “wear jock straps every day for a week” he can do himself. But if the protocol is, “receive bruises every day,” that’s something I actually have to do. And we noticed, more often than not, that I wouldn’t actually do those things when he pulled that protocol.

It’s not that I don’t want to … but, well, between you and me? I’ve been struggling with my mental health balance a lot the past few years. I think it’s getting worse. I’m pursuing all kinds of avenues of support for this, but it’s making it very hard for me to do things I love, like write, work, teach, and be the badass dominant that I aspire to be.

(But that’s kind of a different post.)

So when we set up the second year of 52 protocol slips to pull, I also created a training wheel for myself and 52 of my own. Having my own protocol has been mostly challenging, but there have been some great things that have come out of that too.

Want to join me for an experiment in making your own protocol?

If this process of creating, implementing, and enforcing protocols through this Protocol Game method sounds interesting to you, you’re invited to come join the Protocol Game ecourse that starts this weekend. There will be two webinars, one this Saturday, March 5th, and one the following Saturday, and in between you’ll have a workbook to fill out. I’ll walk you through this entire process where you’ll create a training wheel and 52 corresponding protocol, and then make a way to check in about it and enforce.

Click here and reserve your spot!

If you are a submissive or a dominant or a switch, you’re invited—you just have to want to create 52 protocol. There’s even a price for couples to take it together, and create 104 protocol for both of you.

I could tell you a whole lot more about it, but mostly all the info is over on the Academy of D/s Confidence page for the course—so go check it out.

I’m really excited about it! I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Lying Down, Guest Post by Kathleen Delaney-Adams (excerpt from Dirty Dates)

Excerpt from Dirty Dates edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, published by Cleis Press. Reprinted with permission

She presents her back to me, unadorned and shivering in the early morning air. I know she loathes to being naked, the humility and vulnerability of it, so the fact that she’s offered it to me has moved me greatly, made me rock hard. She is spectacular, standing in the middle of the living room, her eyes blinking sleepily, her body already melting in anticipation.

I have surprised her with this, barely allowing her to finish her first cup of coffee before ordering her to take off her clothes and give me her flesh. Although this is our ritual, a Sunday morning play-date we rarely, if ever, miss, I am usually gentle with her. I allow her to wake slowly and warm up to the day, serve her coffee in bed, warm up to the day. The ways in which we arouse each other during these weekly assignations are myriad indeed, sometimes kinky, always juicy. This morning I want kink, demanded it of her. Although this is unexpected, she has scurried to please me, collecting my whips, the lube, the condoms, arranging them within easy reach on the coffee table before she stands before me and offered herself up. She is eager for my instructions, always. I run my hand down the skin of her creamy back and murmur, “That’s a good girl.”

She quivers in response and raises her eyes to mine.

“I didn’t say you could look at me, girl,” I hiss, and we are on.

She knows the drill, eyes now downcast as she slips into her submission. There is a smirk of pleasure and excitement playing about her lips. I should punish her for her sass, but her morning face is so pretty that I decide to allow it. For now.

The first licks of my galley whip are a tease, a flirt of leather on her skin. Kisses promise more to come and render her shaking with desire and a bit of fear.

I like the fear. I let it build slowly, increasing the intensity of the lashes she is receiving until she moves her body in expectation of them, a slight shifting toward the whip. I laugh and hit her pussy, not gently. She moans and spreads her legs open for me, for more.

“Ooh, you liked that, didn’t you, you whore?”

“Yes. Yes, Daddy.” Her voice is breathy.

I hit her pussy again, harder, first with the tails then the handle of the whip. She is moaning louder now, gasping. She blinks back the first sign of real tears—tears of pain or need, I’m not sure—but I give her more nonetheless.

When I stop abruptly her body jerks in response, stiffening, then softening and leaning back toward me. She sniffles, and I flick the whip gently through her hair, letting it caress her long red curls as if it were my fingers touching her.

She has told me it makes her feel cherished, when I beat and whip her flesh, when I fuck her hard and without lube, when I make demands of her. But I want to remind her she is also cherished now, in between the pain—that my whip can be both a brutal weapon and a tender one.

I reach around with my hands and squeeze her tits, rubbing my thumbs over her nipples, tugging them. I slide slowly down her belly, my fingers finding her slick wet pussy. She cries out and stumbles, losing her balance, when I shove three fingers inside her.

“Mmm, nice and wet for me, just the way I like you.”

Just as quickly I pull my hand away. My cock grows even stiffer when she cries out again and there is no mistaking her hunger.

I begin to whip her in earnest now, letting it build, slicing the whip into her skin with enough force to leave marks. That tender spot just under her ass is my favorite, the blood rising to the surface almost immediately in a sweet red welt.

She is fighting to stand still, moaning and sobbing, her entire body quaking. I land a series of intense blows on her back, and she sobs harder, in pain.

“Turn around,” I growl, and she obeys immediately.

Her teary eyes meet mine, her mouth swollen and quivering, and I want to tear into it, bite it, draw blood. I can see juice on her thighs, her pussy glistening. Her eyes are pleading. I know she wants more. She doesn’t have to beg—I’m not done yet—but I decide to make her anyway.

“Have you had enough, girl?” I ask. She starts to shake her head, than catches herself; she knows I prefer she answer me when I ask a question.

“N-no. No.”

“Do you want more then? Tell me you want more.”

“Yes. Yes, please. Please.” Her begging is not part of our play. I know she means it, and I am so stiff for her I might explode.

“Lift your arms for me.”

I demand full access to that delicate flesh. I want to devour her. Instead, I settle for my whip’s access, the ferocity of my own need barely restrained as I slice the tender skin of her breasts, her stomach, her thighs. Her nipples are hard, her breath rasping, her lips trembling. She bites her lower lip to keep from crying but she can’t stop the flow of tears, the sobs. When I lash out at her pussy, she again opens her legs for me, rocking her hips forward so I can better reach her clit, moving back and forth in time with the leather. This is a dance we have perfected over time, a dance not just of desire but of devotion.

I can’t wait a moment longer to enter that tight pussy, and I lay down the whip and grab her, pressing her against me. She collapses in my arms, simply melting, and I feel her wet cheeks buried in my neck.

Read the rest of the story in the anthology Dirty Dates edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, published by Cleis Press. Get more information about the Dirty Dates anthology here. Thanks for letting me reprint part of it!

A toy to do with as I please.

Another excerpt from the NaNoWriMo “novel”, the draft of which I completed this morning! I wouldn’t say the novel is actually done, but it’s 50,000 words strong and ready for revision. This is the beginning of chapter 6, Master Jack Harrison’s second date with Sidra (after they’ve been texting and emailing dirty things for a week).

Sidra is sitting on the steps, shivering a little in a too-short skirt and a long wool winter coat, when I walk up to my apartment building after I park the car. Her heels are high and poised carefully on the steps below her, feet apart, while her knees are together. She’s cute. Desperately so. I can’t believe she came all this way. What a good girl, asking for what she wanted. I’m salivating already.

I walk straight past her, getting my key out and unlocking the front door. She stands. “Come,” I say, a simple, clear command. I hold the door and she walks through it. She blinks at me when she walks by me, catching my eye, but she doesn’t say anything. “Go ahead; up.” I say as we reach the stairs. She looks slightly down and sideways, giving me a flash of her coyness, before she starts up the stairs. Her skirt is so short that I can see the tops of her stockings, which stop at her thighs, and the way her ass switches. She’s not wearing any underwear. I can see everything, the pink of her exposed. That must’ve been very cold, out there, waiting for me.

I just watch. I could watch this all day, her legs, the way her thighs rub together, how she criss-crosses her heels just the tiniest bit. The angles. I get my smart phone out and take a couple of photos, discreetly. I adjust my dick in my jeans, getting hard already. I want to fuck this girl.

But I want to hold the line I’m trying to draw, the line of a hard, strict master, even more.
She pauses at the top of the third floor, and I slide my arm around her waist and guide her down the hallway. The walk to the end seems excruciatingly slow and has never felt this far away. She leans into me, just enough that I can feel it, and I turn to inhale the scent of her hair: clean and floral, with the faintest hint of sweetness. The purple is growing on me. Somehow, it looks so elegant on her. “It’s good to see you,” I say quietly.

The key in the lock won’t turn, and I might burst and break it down if I can’t get it open momentarily. I breathe. Concentrate. Focus. This isn’t going to get any easier; in fact, it’ll only get harder as I get more turned on. Hold the line.

I take her coat when we walk in and immediately point to the floor. “Down.”

She obeys, dropping to her knees like she’s done it a thousand times for me, like she already knows the hardness of my floors and she doesn’t have to calculate how much to let gravity take her weight and how much to resist against it. It’s beautiful, seamless. Her eyes are down, hands behind her back. Her shirt is a small, tight tee shirt, white and simple, almost school girl-ish, but a little more grown up. Her black skirt fans out around her thighs, toes of her heels tapping the floor.

“Good,” I say, and turn to hang up our coats. “Wait there.” I put our coats away, place my keys in the dish by the door, pour us both glasses of water, and fuss with a few other things on the counter before I come back to Sidra. She’s still on the floor, breathing hard, the anticipation of waiting making her even more turned on and ready. Her purple hair hangs in her face, which is still lowered, focused; she’s playing in some internal landscape of submission, focused on her inner senses, not her knees (which are probably killing her by now) or her discomfort.

I step up right next to her, my boots clicking against the hardwood. “Come with me,” I say. She looks up at me and nods, unfolding her hands. I turn toward the dungeon, not watching her rise, letting her stretch and get the kinks out without my gaze on her.

I set the glasses down on the table next to the door. The moment we are both inside, I close the door and turn to press her up against it. Hard. My hand at her throat, hips grinding against her, my other hand holding both of hers above her head in one smooth motion. My mouth close to hers. She gasps, half closing her eyes, lips pursed and almost panting. She’s caught, like prey in a trap, like a fly in a web. I smile at the familiar current of dominance and power that come over me. She melts a little against the door, against me, her hips pushing back against mine, squirming a little, but not to escape so much as to feel the resistance back against her. I hold her firm.

“What did you expect to happen tonight, girl? Did you expect to come over and get fucked, get worked over? Did you think I would spank you for touching yourself, scold you like a naughty schoolgirl? Did you think this outfit would work on me?”

She opens her mouth like she’s going to speak, but doesn’t, and closes it. My hand is still at her throat, though not pressing with any real pressure; just holding it there, reminding her that I can.

“If you want to be mine, you’re going to have to do what I say. Are you ready to show me what you can do?”

She nods.

“Are you ready to be mine?”

She swallows, I can feel it against the palm of my hand. So vulnerable, the throat. So open. She nods again. “Please,” she whispers.

“Please, what?”

“Please, do what you want with me. I will obey you. Sir.” Her eyes are still almost closed, lips pink, cheeks flushing. My feet are planted firm and I trace my hand down her sternum, past her belly, down between her legs, and I hold her cunt in my hand through her skirt.

“Looks like you are eagerly ready for me,” I say, feeling the heat even through the black fabric of the skirt.

“Yes, yes, I am. So ready,” Sidra assures me.

“This could be just for tonight, Sidra; do not misunderstand me. I’m not promising you are mine forever. Just for tonight.”

“I understand.”

I can feel each time she inhales and exhales in her throat. It’s exhilarating, intoxicating, to hold her breath in my hand, to squeeze it just a little. I lean in closer to her, inhale her scent, smell the longing and desire building in her. My shoulders relax. My mind goes so perfectly clear. “I’ve been wanting this too, you know. Someone to play with, to use. A toy to do with as I please.”

“Healing comes through sex.” Sinclair Sexsmith interviews Sophia Chang

How do I know if this kind of dirty kinky sex is *good* for me? What are the healing aspects of D/s play? What kind of biophysical basis for healing does kinky sex have? And how can the sacral chakra and cellular memory assist with healing, and give your sex life even more power and oomph?

These are the kinds of questions I asked Sophia, and we talk about all this and more in the second video in the Sugarbutch series on mental wellness and kink.

Watch it now!

Can’t get enough of Sophia Chang? Here’s more: http://facebook.com/thesophiachang | http://www.sexmoneyuniversity.com

And if THAT’S not enough, Sophia + I are doing a special Q&A version where we’ll talk about wellness, kink, mental health, liberation, feminism, queerness, straight sex, and even chakras (if you ask). Come join us!

Thursday January 8, 2015
6pm PST, 9pm EST
On Spreecast (link will be sent to you the day of the webinar)
Free! Just sign up below:

(PS: There will probably be flirting.)

10 Tips for Tops

There are many styles of dominance, mastery, and topping, from the paternal to the viciously mean, but regardless of where you are, I believe you can be better. I believe this exploration of power dynamics can be a spiritually fulfilling path, and that it can lead us to many lessons and areas of growth.

Those of us who are on this side of the D/s slash, we who are the People In Charge, have a lot of challenges to building a healthy version of this identity, particularly when we are doing it in a context of social activism, intersectional oppression, and general awareness of institutionalized power imbalances. Here’s some of the best tips I have for folks who want to up their topping or dominance game, and be stronger, more resilient, and more compassionate while they are pursuing this work.

FullSizeRender
Image by rife of Rowdy Ferret Design & Illustration

1. Create a Palette of Permission

If it’s hard for you to figure out what to do in a scene, or if your perfect submissive looks up at you and says, “I’ll do anything you want!” and your mind goes blank, this is a good thing for you to focus on. Create a list, on your own or brainstorming together with your submissive, of things that you know you have permission to do, in general, in periods where you are both your fit and healthy selves. (They may not apply when one or either of you are having an off day, are sick or physically unwell, or in different states of consciousness—like asleep or playing with some substances. They probably also only apply in certain places, like when you two are alone or in kink-friendly events. Check in.) Make a Top Ten list of things that generally your sub really loves and could do over and over and over. Trust that you can return to each of these things hundreds of times before either of you will get bored. There are infinite variations. Bonus tip: Make a wishlist of things you want to include in your Palette, but don’t currently know how to do, and start learning!

2. An On Switch For Your Dominance

Use your favorite words or positions that make you both feel empowered, deliberate, and sexy.
Many tops and dominants who play with power exchange during scenes, but whose reach and sphere of control don’t extend into other areas of their submissive’s life, need a way to have an “on switch” for their dominance (and an “on switch” for their submissive’s submissiveness, too). Consider building a D/s ritual that will, eventually, when repeated enough times, serve like a kind of Pavlovian symbol for you two stepping into those roles, something you both have a visceral response to. This ritual can be things like: You stand and your sub kneels at your feet; Your sub picks three toys and lays them out on the bed, then gets into a “present” slave position, and you enter the room; You recite a back-and-forth agreed upon (simple) phrases or promises to each other. Use your favorite words or positions that make you both feel empowered, deliberate, and sexy.

3. Receiving as a Dominant

Sometimes it seems incongruous to receive sexual touch or services from the top or dominant position. I assure you: this is common and makes a lot of sense. It’s difficult to feel “in control” and also at the same time to relax and receive. (Sidenote: This is at times very related to one’s gender, and one’s amount of stoneness. Most cis male doms—as a stereotype—don’t seem to have a problem receiving blow jobs, for example, do they?) One of the best ways you can work on this is by being very vocal with what you want to receive, and continuing to give orders and corrections and suggestions throughout the process. You also might want to work with physical levels, where you are physically above your submissive, to remind yourself that you are still in charge, even if their fist is in your hole. And read the essay How to Top Your Master by Raven Kaldera. Though it’s directed more at submissives, there are many useful things in there for dominants.

4. Got Guilt? More Aftercare

If you feel guilty after your scenes as a dominant, check in about it. Ask yourself: Did I really want to be doing that? Was I having a good time? Was my partner having a good time? Did we all come away from the scene generally glad the scene had happened? Scenes aren’t always perfect, of course (and aren’t always full of happy smiles and sunshine and rainbows). But generally, did it go well? Did you want to be there? Because honestly, if you feel that much guilt, maybe you didn’t. Maybe you’d be better suited to less psychologically intense play. But if that’s not the case, and you really do want to be there (and your partners eagerly consent, of course), then you gotta deal with that nagging guilt from an internalized prescription of egalitarianism. It’s okay to create the relationship you want to be in. Normalize it for yourself by seeking more D/s community and sharing your experiences with others. And make sure you get enough aftercare yourself. You might need down time after, or quiet private time, or reflective time where your sub tells you all about what they liked and how all those dirty things you did made them feel. Or maybe cuddles. Experiment, and find your best aftercare methods.

5. Build Trust Slowly

Build the trust you need from your submissive to know that they are honest and they can follow through on what they agree to.
D/s and power dynamics are completely built on trust. Thats part of what I love about it: It requires so much deep knowing and intimacy. It takes work to keep it safe, protected, and intact. When the relationship is going well, the work can feel effortless. But this trust doesn’t just show up when a submissive kneels and offers themself to you. You gotta build this trust between you slowly. Most of us do this intuitively, but it’s helpful to do it consciously too. Not only are they building the trust they need from you, since they are putting their body and psyche into your hands, but also you are building the trust you need from them, which includes the ability to trust that they are honest with you if they get overwhelmed or need to stop, trusting they mean what they say, and trusting for them to reach out for support. Trust builds slowly and is earned over time. Don’t rush it.

6. Two-footing a Scene

This is a concept I learned from Xan West, which is the idea that generally, in a scene, the top is completely “in” the scene and present while still holding the boundaries of the negotiated agreement and some awareness of the surrounding space (though whether you’re at a busy dungeon or home alone would make that slightly more or less challenging)—that’s two-footing, being both in the scene and in the reality. Most of the time, it’s just a given that the top is the one who is doing this two-footing. But some activities really cause us tops to lose our footing. (Has that ever happened to you?) Make a list of activities that you think could cause you to tumble so deep into the scene that you have trouble keeping a hold on reality. Lean on your submissive for support, perhaps ask them to hold the boundaries and negotiations of the scene so you can lose yourself. Bonus: Make a list of realities that keep you so engaged that its hard to dive into the scene at all, like for example a crowded dungeon.

7. Recovering from Fuck-ups

Some of us have really strong reactions to fucking something up. We beat ourselves up about it, our confidence crumbles, and we shirk away from whatever it was we fucked up for a long time after. If you want to up your dominant game, you gotta get good at fucking up, because here’s the thing: You will fuck something up. I don’t mean something huge and irreparable (hopefully not), but more so small things that will stop or delay a scene for a while until you can get things back on the rails. The measure of someone (a dominant or partner or sub or just about everybody, I think) isn’t whether or not they fuck up, it’s what they do and how they respond to that fuck-up. So ask yourself: Do you take responsibility? Sincerely apologize? Understand what went wrong? Integrate that into your being so you will remember not to do that same thing again? And then, when the other folks involved are ready to move forward, can you let it go? Work on your ability to recover from fuck-ups and your scenes will be smoother.

8. Dive Deep into Theory

Read all the books and blogs you can get your hands on. Find your local resources and study those, too.
The power exchange subject isn’t an abundant one, but there are books out there, and really good theorists who from whom you should absolutely learn. Raven Kaldera runs Alfred Press, and they have dozens of books about cooperative power dynamics, limitations, and real scenarios for living D/s and M/s. Andrea Zanin’s writing is largely compiled at sexgeek.wordpress.com and every piece is worth reading. (She also has a fantastic list of kink resources, including many specific power dynamic books.) I highly recommend these: 1) Dear Raven and Joshua: Questions and Answers about Master/Slave Relationships by Raven Kaldera and Joshua Tenpenny, 2) Slavecraft: Roadmaps for Erotic Servitude – Principles, Skills and Tools by a grateful slave with Guy Baldwin 3) The Marketplace Series (The Marketplace, The Slave, The Trainer, The Academy, The Reunion and The Inheretor) by Laura Antoniou.

9. You Are Not An Asshole

If you—like me and like many thoughtful, feminist, and sensitive dominants—have fear that what you are doing is “bad” and “wrong” and difficult to reconcile with your moral code, here are some ideas. First, make sure you really understand the concept of agency. You fully trust someone’s no, right? You can trust their yes, too. You can trust that they, not you, know what they want. Second, remember that everyone fucks up, and work on your ability to recover; don’t expect to be perfect and never make mistakes. Third, take a good, strong look at what you think being an asshole in this context would be, and actively work toward not being that. Remember: Most people who actually are assholes do not spend much time worrying about whether or not they are assholes. That you are concerned and aware tells me that it’s 95% likely that you are not an asshole. (That other 5% is for folks who are not so self-aware. So hey, build that muscle, and follow Socrates: Know thyself.)

10. Masturbate More

Are you getting stuck building scenes, finding creative new ways to use the toys you have, or creating dirty experiments for your sexytimes with your submissives or playmates? There’s an easy place to start for that one: Masturbate more. Spend more time with porn and erotica to fuel the fires of your erotic self, but also make sure you spend some significant time letting your mind wander into erotic territory and exploring whatever may show up there. Take notes and highlight things you’d actually like to try!

Ask Mr. Sexsmith: I’m a sub, but my partner is not a dom. What do I do?

This question comes from Marie:

“My partner and I have come to a difficult place in our relationship. I have long since had the desire and urge to be dominated, to be somebody’s submissive, and to explore the world in its entirety. My partner, however, has no wishes. I’ve sat down with her and tried to explain what it meant, what it meant to me, and what it would mean to our relationship, but she says she can’t bear to hurt me (even if I enjoy it). I’ve been the dominate one, so to say, in our relationship, and I know for a fact that she would never consider me seeking a dom or have an open relationship. I love her, but I’m unhappy. How did you first address all of this? And is there anything else I can explain to her before I have to make a decision? I really want to explore this, and I want to with her, but she really has no budge room, and I don’t want to make her uncomfortable.  All in all, I’m really confused and at ends.”

….. I have one more thing to add that I didn’t say when I recorded the video yesterday, that is whispering to me now that I’m re-reading your question.

Marie, you wrote: “I really want to explore this, and I want to with her, but she really has no budge room, and I don’t want to make her uncomfortable.”

And here’s the thing. You want to explore this with her, but she doesn’t want to explore it. You want to push her a little, because you are very attached to doing this with her specifically and not opening your relationship to some sort of non-monogamy (which is totally understandable!), but you don’t want to make her “uncomfortable.”

But: let me remind you, sweet pea, for a moment, of your own discomfort. You are uncomfortable by not having the kind of D/s relationship dynamic that your secret heart-of-hearts craves. And there is no reason for her discomfort to be more important than yours. Yes, of course, her discomfort is important and consent is important—I’m not trying to say that she should do it anyway and you “win.” But what I’m trying to say is that you have a clashing of needs here, and you two are going to have to figure that out.

You want something. She doesn’t want it.

There’s so many ways to sugar-coat that, but that’s the simplest core of truth.

It’s totally okay to have different wants or needs in a partnership—that happens all the time. What is important is that you two come up with a way to talk about these different needs, be they around sex, or D/s, or monogamy, or what you make for dinner that night, or whether your parents come stay for a weekend, or where you go on vacation.

It’s extra scary to talk about, because it’s sex and extra dirty kinky stuff that you may still have some internal shame or guilt about. Do you have that? Ask yourself, for a brief quiet soft gentle moment: Do you think you should be able to have this deep want? Or are there things in place between you and that want that make it even harder to ask for, to advocate for yourself around?

I mean, if it was … a new car that you wanted, or a puppy, what would you do then? Would you think of those as “legitimate” wants, whereas this is a scary, shadow, selfish want? (I’m just guessing—maybe that’s not how it feels for you.)

I guess what I’m really trying to say is, YOU DESERVE TO HAVE THIS. And it sucks that she doesn’t want to do it with you. That really sucks. I’m sorry. There’s nothing wrong with you for wanting this, but you two might have come to an irreconcilable difference, if she a) won’t allow you to explore it with anyone else and b) won’t explore it with you.

So now comes a very difficult decision on your part, which is precisely why you’re asking me this question: Is your desire for this greater than your desire to be in this intimate, monogamous partnership with her?

Ask yourself that gently, with kindness, as if you are your best friend asking yourself this. It’s okay if the answer is no. It’s okay if the answer is yes. It’s okay if the answer is “I don’t know.”

I know for me, no partnership felt right until I had that D/s dynamic. It just didn’t. As much as I loved them, as much as I wanted it to work, it didn’t, until I had a power dynamic in place. I don’t really know why. For whatever reason, that’s my fetish, that’s how I’m wired. That’s what really makes me pleased and happy and satiated. Sometimes, for me, the love itself—though it was good love and beautiful love and important love and growing love—was not enough.

It sucks that sometimes love wasn’t enough. But it’s true. I needed more. Maybe you do, too.

Got a (different) question?

I’ve got a full inbox, but I love hearing your gender and identity and sexuality puzzles. What’s on your mind? Ask it here! And I’ll do my best to email you when I answer it.

Remember, Sinclair does one-on-one coaching!

I hope my thoughts give you some places to start. If you’re still stuck, remember, I do one-on-one coaching sessions, and I would be very happy to help you with resources, experiments, ideas, support, or just talking in depth through this process. Contact me for more information and pricing.

Comment Zen …

Readers, do you relate to Marie’s question?

If you do, would you share your own story about being in a relationship and not getting the kind of power dynamic that you wanted? What kind of resources helped you on your journey? Books? Anything to recommend for others who are going through this?

Leave your story anonymously if you like; your email address will not be published, and if you don’t want your usual “gravitar” picture of you to show up, just type “+sugarbutch” in your email address (like [email protected]) and I’ll know you want to be anonymous.

And there’s more …

If you want to explore your submissive identity even more, sign up for the Submissive Playground summer school! Registration closes June 30th.

Dominance & Power with Responsibility

As I’ve been exploring deeper into power theory, like D/s and M/s, and as I’ve been trying to understand how my relationship with Kristen went wrong and in what ways power played into that, I’ve been thinking more and more about responsibility.

I’ve been meditating on the basics: What is it? How does it work? How does one “take responsibility”? What kind of responsibilities does one have—as a partner, as a lover, as a Daddy, as a dominant, as a friend? How does responsibility shift and changes when circumstances are not ideal, such as when someone is grieving (you know, hypothetically)?

Raven Kaldera and Joshua Tenpenny, whose books on M/s I have been recently devouring and whose theories I astutely agree with, mention in one of their books that a dominant’s hunger for responsibility must be equal to or greater than their hunger and lust for power. That resonated deeply with me, so I have been chewing on how to act from a responsible place, how to behave responsibly, how to hunger for responsibility, how to be responsible with my power.

We commonly use “responsibility” to mean our obligations—the things we have agreed to do, or the things other people have put on us to do that we may or may not have agreed to—and how we cope with those obligations. It is my responsibility as a cat owner to make sure my cat is fed, for example.

But when it comes to interpersonal relationships, what our responsibilities are vary greatly from person to person, and from culture to culture. My responsibilities to my parents might mean, to me, calling them on their birthdays and going to visit once a year, but to another person, their responsibilities to their parents might be visiting them every day, or might be sending one holiday card annually. Same with lovers and partners: I might think my responsibility is to respond to texts or emails from lovers is to respond when I can get to it, but my lover might think it rude and irresponsible of me not to reply right away (especially when now, with iMessage, you can see when your texts have been read). I suspect some of the expectations in relationships are built on our love languages (quality time, acts of service, gifts, physical touch, words of affirmation).

The expectations we place upon responsibilities of those around us are often unspoken and unconscious, and therefore difficult to make clear. Making those clear is a key piece of good communication, I believe.

But that’s just one piece. We also use the word “responsibility” to talk about one’s behavior in any given situation, such as, “They’re not being very responsible,” or, “they’re not acting very responsibly.”

I started breaking down the word responsibility into its two parts: response and ability. Response-ability. And that led me to my first conclusion about it: responsibility is your ability to respond to any given situation. But how does one “respond”?

Most of the time, I think we are reacting, not responding. Reacting is the knee-jerk impulse our combination of body, mind, experiences, emotions, and self tells us to have. We get an email from a boss with some critique, we feel insulted. Our lover asks something taxing of us, we feel put out. Not everybody has the same reaction, of course—depending on our unique histories, unique bodies, unique patternings, we react in different ways; many of us have different reactions to the same emotions, too. Some people feel insulted and fight back, some people feel insulted and become paralyzed, some people feel insulted and run away.

I think that responsibility is your ability to take the reaction you have, process it through your thoughtful higher self who wants the best for everyone involved and can see many perspectives, and choose your response and your next actions intentionally.

Let me put that another way. My ability to respond well to a situation, to be responsible in my role or job or relationship, depends upon my ability to notice my knee-jerk reaction and use that as one piece of the data that I gather before I decide what to do next. Other pieces of data you could use as you analyze the situation include:

  • What would the high wise imaginary counsel inside your head, made up of all of your mentors and favorite people, advise you to do?
  • What would your counsel of very favorite people advise you to do? (Perhaps you should call them to ask?)
  • What would the best possible outcome for all people be?
  • What would you say if you were really telling the truth about this situation?
  • How do your ethics ascribe you to behave?
  • What would yourself in ten years say about this situation?
  • How do your spiritual or religious beliefs guide you in this quandary?
  • Where are the places where your ego, pride, or stoicism are getting in the way?
  • Where can you use your great strength to be more vulnerable in this situation?
  • Where do you feel this pain, sorrow, longing, anger, or frustration in your body?
  • What does your bodywork or therapy point you toward?

I’ve been chewing on this difference, between reaction and response-ability, for at least a year now, trying to figure out how to be sure I am exploring what it means to be responsible with the privilege and power that I hold. Because, as the cliche saying goes, “with great power comes great responsibility,” and as I’ve been seeking more and more great power, I want to make sure I have the great responsibility part down as well. I don’t think “responsibility” dictates a code of behavior specifically so much as it dictates an intentional response, and that is a comfort to me, as I try to continue to sort our my own wounds, heal my own heartache, and continue to pursue my lust for power.

Reconciling the Identities of Feminist & Butch Top

Queer Memoir: Butch/Stud Through the Years was fucking EPIC on Friday night, and I’m so honored and thrilled to have been there and to be a part of it. There was the story of the kid’s game “hide and go get it” in Kentucky! There was the revelation of belonging somewhere and that “here take a sticker” moment—”because even though you’re in New York City, you might still be isolated.” There were discussions about feminist topping! There was deep appreciation for butch friends and community and support! There was a fucking marriage proposal!

This is the piece I read, slightly updated from the December 2009 version, about reconciling the identities of feminist and butch top, and what it means to be a masculine person who is also dominant. It is relevant as ever and I still struggle with the intersection of these identities. I have a lot more to say about it, and reading this piece again made me think about what I’d add and what more there is to say, so I’m working on it. Meanwhile, here’s the text of what I read.


A few years ago, a girl I dated wanted me to slap her. To hit her face. She asked for it specifically, I still remember the conversation on the subway and the precise way that she looked over at me and said, I want you to hit me. Something big swelled in me and I wanted to, I wanted to feel the sting of impact on my palm and see her recoil, to do it again before she was ready, to push something so sensational onto her experience that she was jolted to the edges of her skin and had to feel, to feel herself, to feel me, to be fully present.

This girl and I had already done some other light percussion play, using my hand, or even a paddle, me hitting her ass and thighs, the fleshy parts that I couldn’t possibly do damage to beyond some light bruising. She liked it, we both did. It made sense to escalate, at the time, to something new; we were deepening both our romantic relationship – our trust in each other – and our power dynamic, and it was time to push a little, to see where we could go.

I was terrified. After she asked, after we talked about it extensively, I even tried, a few times, when we were in bed and she said, hit me, now, please, and I couldn’t, I’d bring my hand up and chicken out.

I was terrified of what it would mean for me, as a masculine person, as a butch, to be more dominating in bed. To like it. To like to cause someone pain. To like to cause a woman pain. To hit someone in the face. To hit a woman in the face, to sexualize that act and that power dynamic specifically.

I was paralyzed by that terror – I wanted to do it, the idea, the very thought of it, the discussions with her, turned me on, the girl I was dating wanted me to do it, but I couldn’t.

Beyond wanting to do it, this was the kind of sex act that was in the sex life I was dreaming of having. This was what haunted my fantasies and what I looked for in porn that I watched and erotica that I read. And I was on a very serious quest to figure out how to have the sex that I wanted. I’d just gotten out of a bed-death relationship. I was committed to studying sex hard, to figuring out: what I wanted, how to get what I wanted, how to build a relationship with that as an element, how to maintain something sane and hot over a long period of time. That’s precisely why I started Sugarbutch.

I now know that I’m a sadist, and a top. That means I like to dominate. And already there are conclusions being drawn by some of you out there who think well of course you like to dominate, you’re masculine, and that’s prescribed for you or in other words you misogynistic asshole, I already knew you were one of “those” butches who needs to make up for your inadequacies by dominating women. Because that’s what we think, isn’t it? Maybe not consciously, but a little bit, somewhere in our brains, we associate these particular identity alignments – butch equals masculine equals top equals dominating equals men’s prescribed gender role. We’re relieved when they line up how we think they will, or maybe we are challenged and uncomfortable – though perhaps in a stimulated way – when they misalign.

There’s something supposedly anti-feminist about wanting to dominate. There’s something in the feminist rhetoric which says we are all equal especially in bed, so that means I-do-you-you-do-me, or that means we have sex neither above nor below each other, and with no reproduced heteronormative misogynistic patriarchal power dynamic.

But I didn’t want that. I’d had that, with other girlfriends, but it didn’t keep things hot enough to sustain a relationship. And secretly, I wanted to top and control and hit and demean and humiliate and restrain and force and take.

Power dynamic theory—stick with me for just a paragraph here—has many similarities to gender theory. Like the gender identities of butch and femme are not reproductions but pastiche copies at best of prescribed societal gender roles, putting on and taking off power roles in power sex play is a pastiche reproduction of power in our lives, of which there are thousands of examples of interaction on a daily basis. And when we can put on and take off these roles intentionally, the act of adopting becomes further proof that the power positioning in our lives is not inherent, or “real,” or immobile, or prescribed, or “normal,” but part of a hierarchical society of social power that can be deconstructed. In that, we can more easily have more power and control in the beneficial ways, and less power and control in destructive ways, as we play with it and engage with it.

As in my experience with coming to a butch gender identity, when I finally came to a power identity that really deeply aligned with something inside me that just clicked and make sense, I felt like I was coming home to myself in a way I hadn’t experienced previously. Through my personality and tendencies and psychology I have my own set of quirks and workings and functions, and for whatever reason, it makes a lot of sense to me to let out some of my power and control issues in the bedroom by being dominating. It is deeply satisfying the way a glorious meal or a delicious book is satisfying, one of my life’s greatest pleasures. I’m not sure I understand why I like what I like, but what I like does not harm others, and is consensual, and I know myself well enough to accept what I like as what I like – and to let that be a simple truth.

How did this change for me? What happened between the time when I was terrified to slap a girl in the face and today, now, where I am fairly comfortable in my identity as a top, and even as a sadist, as someone who enjoys causing extreme sensation (aka hurting) someone else?

Little by little, I had lovers who pushed me, lovers who were more experienced as bottoms than I was as a top, lovers who wanted more from me and who could take more than I was able to give who made enough space for me to walk into a bigger version of myself and occupy it, try it on.

I did come to a reconciliation with my feminist self and my top self. Phrases like men should not hurt women or rather masculine people should not hurt feminine people, or even more broadly that people should not hit each other and violence is bad bad bad … I had accepted those phrases as Ultimate Truths, and I started to understand deeper the ways that sensation was not violence, and hitting was a way to be sparked into the present moment, to release whatever our musculature was holding onto, and to deepen trust between people and in a relationship.

I didn’t realize how little trust I had in others until I started playing deeper with BDSM. Because I would tell myself, it’s okay, she wants to do it, but then I would think, does she really? Maybe she wants to because I want to. Maybe she wants to because society tells her she should want to. Maybe she wants to for fucked-up reasons, like she thinks it’s okay for her to feel humiliated and less than me because of her own internalized misogyny … but that was me not trusting that what she said was true. That she wanted me to hit her face. And that was me, further controlling both myself, her, and our relationship, in unhealthy ways, because I didn’t trust her.

This was an issue of agency, in feminist terms – my not trusting my lover to communicate with me what she wanted, to explain to me how far I could go, and my not trusting that she would let me know if I was going too far or too hard, either with her physical communication or her words or both, was me not trusting in the agency of my lover. I have to trust that she will tell me, she will let me know, if I am going too far. And I have to listen, apologize, understand what I did, and trust that she will accept that it was an accident, a mistake, and that I’ll do whatever she needs to feel safe again.

When I started playing out my control issues in BDSM, in the bedroom, in sex play, the control issues I had in my relationships began to heal.

In learning my way into being a top, I had many, many conversations about consent and intention and communication, I talked to my lovers when things broke down or didn’t seem to work and I learned more about my own tendencies when things went well. I figured out that sometimes, it was really hard for me to be with someone who bottomed so well, and who I trusted so deeply, that I did harder, scarier, bigger things with them that took me even deeper into my topping and dominance and sadism and power, and sometimes that meant I needed to be comforted afterward, to be told I liked that, and that wasn’t too much, and you didn’t hurt me, and that was what I wanted and thank you. Hearing those things is always a relief.

(I give good aftercare too, of course. But top aftercare is less common in the BDSM world – we don’t frequently talk about the toll it takes for the dominant to dominate.)

I practiced, a lot, to be bold and trusting through my topping. I tried scary things and it turned out they weren’t so scary, they were in fact incredibly hot. I got to know myself, and I learned more about the things I wanted to play with, and I talked to smart people whose experiences were similar to what I was going through and who assured me it was possible to come out the other side of it a masculine, queer, butch, sadistic, feminist top.

How do you get a dominant to dominate?

Unspeakable Axe interviewed me for his podcast Masochast a few weeks ago (I’ll let you know when the interview goes up), and one of the questions he asked really got me thinking, and I still don’t have a very good answer, so I’d like to pose it here to see what you think.

Most of us tops know that there are certain things you can do to get someone to be more submissive, to surrender, to let go, to move into that bottomy headspace. Like pull someone’s hair, for example, or slap their face, or bind their hands, or giving them orders, or having them kneel. Everybody’s a little different, but there are certain themes and similarities that I bet many of you submissives would agree upon get you into that space faster and easily.

But, Axe asked, what can one do to get a dominant to dominate? So I was thinking about it, specifically: what kind of action or look entices dominance in me?

I have some ideas, but nothing that really makes me think, yes, that, exactly. It’s a hard question – there definitely isn’t one simple thing that always does it.

Things like closely-shaved legs, straps on her shoes that lace up her ankles, short skirts or flowy skirts that go down to her knees, hourglass dresses with pinched waists, hair up and off her neck (just begging to be pulled down), definitely give me that growl in my stomach. Looking up at me or sideways at me under her eyelashes, yes. Sometimes (I said this on the podcast) having her be a little resistant of me gives me the cue that I should take her a little more forcefully, a little stronger – but it’s not about bratty resistance, it’s about keeping the tension strong between us.

Yes, that’s it: tension. She can do things that increase the tension, and that builds the dominance in me. It’s the ways that she gives me her power, then takes it back, then gives it over to me, then takes it back. I think I’ve heard Dylan Ryan call what she does “active bottoming,” which of course implies that bottoming is sometimes “inactive,” which is probably where we get the same stereotype of “pillow princess” – which is a little problematic.

I don’t exactly have a cultural history of submission at my fingertips, but I feel like this is a rather new idea. Or maybe it’s just an unthought known – something that has been around for a long time, but that sexology and kinksters are just starting to observe and name in a theoretical, observed kind of way.

But, back to “active bottoming.” That’s the kind of thing I look for – someone who will push back against me. Not necessarily in an attempt to resist what I’m doing or break out of my restraints, but someone who knows how to keep the friction alive between us, someone who heightens the tension as we give-and-take the energy we’re raising and dispersing. That’s what gets me feeling more powerful, that’s what makes me more dominant.

Though I’m not sure I’m hitting on everything here. Still feels like there’s something else at play. I’ll keep thinking.

What about you? What are the ways that someone can entice dominance – or submission – in you? A look, a glance, a bit of clothing, a particular gesture, the flash of a body part?