This started as a comment on Thumper’s blog. I think I’d like to expand on that theme just a little bit.
Thumper related (*) his difficulty of accepting pleasure from Belle for himself:
I don’t want to feel like I’m getting sex for my own sake. Of course, saying that opens up a bit of submissive’s dilemma for me because often she wants to feel like she’s being fucked. So it may feel like it’s just for me, but it’s not. It’s also filling a need she has (literally). I don’t want her to deny herself this pleasure. Maybe she should specifically tell me when I get to fuck her why it’s happening. Either because I’ve been a good rabbit or because she just wants to feel the penis in her.
That’s a theme that resonates with me, because I’ve experienced it myself. This “sub angst” that can’t just accept what’s happening, but asks: “Okay, is he just tying me up now because I asked for it, or does he really want to tie me up? I need to know he wants to and is just not fulfilling my whim!”
I’m not picking on Thumper, mind you. I think this experience, and this worry, is common.
When I started D/s with Bear, we were both a lot less self-knowledgeable than we are now. Telling Bear about my worry and sub angst, telling him that I was anxious that he might just dominate me because I asked him to, did damage.
Bear, already struggling with dominance and what that meant for him and “how on Earth do you approach this thing”, was kept from doing what he wanted because of my anxiety over whether he might just do it to please me.
There’s something telling in the phrasing of my worries back then, and I left it like that on purpose: It’s really all about me, not about Bear at all. I am worried that “he might dominate me just because” or “he might tie me just because” etc pp and so forth. There’s no thought of “how do I best please Bear” in there. It’s me trying to make sure that my fantasy of what domination looks like gets met. Rather than just enjoying the moment, and letting Bear be in charge.
About two years ago, I started undoing that damage. The way I undid it was that I said to Bear: “Whatever you want to do, I will take you at your word and trust that you want to do it, for whatever reason you have. Reasons you can, but need not, share.” That message took repeating, and more importantly, acting upon.
How has my thinking changed? By acknowledging that if I want Bear in charge, I cannot second-guess him on the reasons for his decisions. So, maybe he teases me, and caresses me, because he knows touch is a need for me. And? He’s in charge.
“I am doing this because I want to give you what you need” is a valid reason to do it.
“I am doing this because it gives you pleasure, and I like giving you pleasure” is a valid reason to do it.
“I am doing this because you asked me to and I want to see where it goes / what it feels like / I am curious” is a valid reason to do it.
“I am doing this because it gets me off and I don’t, right now, care what you get out of it” is, of course, a valid reason to do it. But not the only one.
My second-guessing his reasons would essentially be saying “but that’s not domly enough a motivation!”, and that’s just not on. There’s not much worse that I can do in a D/s dynamic than undermining the decisions of the person I’ve asked to take control.
At the same time, I have a lot of compassion and understanding for this kind of sub angst. In my case, at least, it stemmed from a deeply rooted insecurity, which showed itself in a cry of “but I don’t want him to do things just to please me, I want to know that I am pleasing him!” It took becoming more grounded, for want of a better word, to accept that whatever reasons Bear may have to do a thing, they are good reasons, for they are his. And to accept receiving pleasure for my own sake, and to be grateful for it.
All the growth to be done there was on my part. Being submissive can mean letting go of my head-cinema, of the fantasy of what submitting to someone, or being dominated by someone, looks like: And actually submitting to that person I share my life with. And not being so fixated on “being dominated, but the right way”, because that’s all about me, not about him.
(*) i am linking back to an article in which he links to me. Infinite recursion, the tiny corner of the kink blogosphere that deals with male chastity / denial will implode