The caring submissive

NOTICE: The article below deals with adult and fetish-related topics and fantasies. If you are offended by this sort of thing or are not a legal adult, I suggest you leave this instant.

Having already written about the traits that make a good Dominant, it is now time to examine the other side of a D/s relationship: this time, my topic is the qualities that make a good submissive. As is my practice on these matters, I base my writings on the excellent work of Exotix (Inara Pey), whose D/s blog I consider a must read for anyone wishing to actually learn about D/s, and especially about how its principles apply in Second Life (SL) and other virtual worlds. Thus, once again, I base my work on the article of the same title by Exotix.

I think it should come as no surprise to anyone if I said that the same qualities that make a good Dominant are the ones that make a good submissive: consideration, empathy, kindness, politeness, respectfulness, sympathy, warmth. A good submissive has a strong sense of ethics and honesty (exactly like a good Dominant does) and is respectful towards others, regardless of their position in life (i.e. regardless of whether they are Dominant or submissive). I said it in my post on the loving Dominant, I’m going to say it again: One cannot be a “good” Dominant without being a good person in the first place. So, only good persons can become good Dominants or good submissives.

Note that I spoke of qualities like consideration, empathy, kindness and sympathy. These qualities, along with the  other ones I have mentioned, are basic prerequisites for someone to become a good Dominant or a good submissive; they are basic ingredients of a good person’s personality. This demand, of course, automatically excludes objectivists and neoliberals (i.e. sociopaths who market their antisocial and quite dangerous disorder as an “ideology”). No disciple of Ayn Rand can be a good Dominant or submissive, simply because the required qualities for a good Dominant or submissive are in stark contrast with the most basic (and base) core beliefs of Randian “philosophy”: that one must never consider others; that others have no value or worth whatsoever; that others have no reason for existing at all; that others should be walked all over, if it suits the individual. Rand was planning a novel titled “The Little Street”, whose protagonist, Danny Renahan, was modelled on child murderer William Edward Hickman (whom Rand admired and on whose personality she created her “ideal man”) and, in Rand’s own words, “is born with a wonderful, free, light consciousness — [resulting from] the absolute lack of social instinct or herd feeling. He does not understand, because he has no organ for understanding, the necessity, meaning, or importance of other people … Other people do not exist for him and he does not understand why they should.” (Journals of Ayn Rand, pp. 27, 21-22; emphasis hers.)

It is true, of course, that anyone can adopt any title or label they want; one can even claim to be an “alpha female” or “alpha male”; but what matters is not what we claim to be; whether we like it or not, we are not defined by what we claim to be, but by our actions and our actions are defined by our nature. And our nature consists, in no small part, of our personality’s traits. All the traits I’ve mentioned above belong in the psyche of a good submissive (and of a good Dominant, too). Furthermore, like a good Dominant, a good submissive is willing to learn, either through direct instruction or through the support and nurturing of their peers (ideally, one should learn in both ways); where it is appropriate, a good submissive is also willing to assist, guide and even advise others (Dominants and submisisives alike) who are less experienced or less well-versed in the D/s scene.

Putting those Captain Obvious moments aside, I must say that perhaps what makes a good submissive is more subjective than what makes a good Dominant, because, by their very natures and desires, Dominants seek different things in their submissives and the ways these desires and needs are shared between Dominant and submissives can vary greatly and take many different forms. For this reason, the rest of this post will be more subjective than the post on the loving Dominant – and unapologetically so. The following paragraphs are influenced by what I’ve learned from my interactions with good Dominants and from my own perception of the D/s scene; I do hope that at least some Dominants will agree with me.

Observe and respond

Near, or at, the top of the list of traits a good submissive should have, I believe one should place the ability to pay attention and the willingness to be empathic. Paying attention is not hanging by every word the Dominant says; rather, attention here is the mixture of those subtle actions of observation and response that show the Dominant that the submissive cares for them. As the submissive communicates and interacts with the Dominant, they should notice those things that clearly brought pleasure to their Dominant, as well as those things that caused upset, and strive, through actions and words, to enhance their Dominant’s pleasure and avoid upsetting them.

An example would be in order here. Assume that the Dominant expresses a preference for visiting jazz and blues clubs in SL; the good submissive should not just say “OK, let’s go” or react negatively to this idea. Instead, they should take the time to discover which places the Dominant really likes, and also seek out other places that might bring new, shared memories of happiness as the two visit, explore and enjoy.

Taking time to learn what the Dominant enjoys, and then embracing, encouraging and providing it, can be extremely rewarding for both parties in the relationship. For the Dominant, it is a clear sign that the submissive is attentive to their needs, desires and tastes. For the submissive, it can lead to new paths of play, as a reward for their efforts. For both the Dominant and the submissive, this effort makes their connection deeper and their relationship stronger. It must be noted here that gaining such insight might take more effort than it might seem at first sight, because much of the information is not very obvious. This is where a good submissive can be seen, as they will demonstrate a willingness to engage deeper with their Dominant and discover those pieces of knowledge that will enhance the intimacy of the relationship.

Here, ignorance of those things is not an excuse for the submissive – there’s no “I didn’t know” or “You didn’t tell me”, unless it was really something that the Dominant had withheld, without even giving the slightest hint. The point here is not for the submissive to be told; the burden of discovery is on the submissive, through gentle and subtle enquiry, through observation or through attentive listening for those precious pieces of information during discussions, taking advantage of the quiet times to discover the subtle nuances of the Dominant’s personality – just as the loving Dominant has to discover what makes the submissive tick (and what scares, troubles or worries them). One of the quickest ways to kill a relationship is for the submissive to passively wait until the Dominant hands them all that information on a platter; the phrase “You didn’t tell me” can be an excuse, a complaint or an accusation – either because the submissive uttered it with such intent or because the Dominant perceived it as such. Of course, if the Dominant chooses to withhold crucial information from the submissive, leaving them in the dark w.r.t. what is brewing within their heart and mind, then no blame should be placed on the submissive at all.

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