The “drop”: The Pinnacle of Bullshit in D/s relationships

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

UPDATE 27 July 2016: Feel free to ignore the wall of text under the update notices. I no longer feel it expresses me. Let’s be brutally honest and blunt as hell: The “drop” is a sorry-ass euphemism that dom(me)s use when they’ve lost all interest in their sub. However, rather than having the decency and honesty to tell the sub up-front that they need to break up, they keep the poor sucker hanging on, as a crutch for their egoes, as a sounding board, as someone who’ll be always ready to respond and cater to their every need, while they hunt around for someone new. I should know, because I speak from experience. So, when your dom(me) starts babbling about having “dropped”, just walk away. Oh, and learn to appreciate yourself more. Most dom(me)s need the reverence, the deference, the submission, the surrender, the adoration and the adulation they get from a sub to justify their existence anyway – in this way, they’re every bit as needy (for lack of a more appropriate term) as a sub, if not more. As for the “sub drop”: It’s usually a consequence of the “domme drop” or a “scene” in which a little alarm bell rings inside the sub’s mind and warns them that what’s happening is not loving or sensual, but emotionally exploitative. I have also changed the title to reflect my current opinions and feelings. On a final note: If you’re a dominant and you feel offended by what I have to say, I’m in the pleasant (for me) position to tell you that your opinion doesn’t matter at all and that you can shove your impressive titles and paraphernalia up your rectum.

UPDATE: This article has been updated on 22 September 2013.

A relationship – friendly, professional, romantic, sexual – is, at its heart, an exchange between the persons involved; a process of giving and taking, which can also last for quite some time. D/s relationships are no different; the Domme and the sub engage with each other and there is a constant exchange of actions, behaviours, communication and feelings between the two (or more, depending on the situation). Now, this exchange sometimes might be stronger on one side than on the other, but it is not one-way. This differentiates a D/s relationship from the “exchange of power” (often referred to as TPE – Total Power Exchange). TPE does play a role in D/s relationships and BDSM play, but it is not absolutely necessary for a D/s relationship to flourish. Furthermore, power exchange is predominantly one-sided, i.e. the submissive gives the Dominant power over them – whereas a relationship is a two-way exchange, and this two-way exchange encompasses a lot more than just power.

Within a relationship, one side “feeds” off the energy (actions, behaviours, communication and feelings) of the other and vice versa. So, in a D/s relationship, the submissive “feeds” off the Dominant’s energy, and the Dominant can take encouragement, pleasure and energy in the sub’s responses to their exercise of control over them. It is important to note here that this exchange of energy, which is two-way, is free and subconscious, as both sides often don’t realise it’s happening.

Now, as time goes by, we often see that our energy levels fluctuate. We are not always enthusiastic and excited about something. And even if it’s something we might really enjoy, still we’re not always ready to give it our all. It applies to hobbies, work, everything – and, of course, D/s relationships. Both Dominants and submissives are subject to these fluctuations of their “energy” levels. When these levels are very low, what we experience is referred to as “Dominant drop” or “submissive drop”. Both of them can cause upset and worry, and they can cause a relationship to implode due to the extreme emotional stress that often comes with them.

There can be plenty of reasons that cause the “drop”: the tedium and stress of everyday life; worries for family members (or loved ones) who might be facing difficulties (such as health problems), work-related problems (or, in most of the austerity-stricken world, unemployment-induced problems and problems caused by job insecurity), lingering stressful memories and frustrations from past relationships (which do instill a certain kind of fear and worry in a person). But there are also other ways in which someone’s energy can be drained. For instance, when they have an extremely hectic schedule that requires them to spend too much time staying up late at night to finish a project or other things they might have taken on.

The “red tape” of a D/s relationship as a stress factor

As unlikely as it seems, there are elements of D/s relationships that can add stress to the people involved. More so than “vanilla” relationships, D/s relationships put the couple within certain roles, from which specific behaviours are expected – and, in some cases, practically demanded. Within the realm of D/s and BDSM, there is some sort of protocol, or “red tape” as I call it: specific ways to address others, strict rules, behavioural expectations etc. In some cases, they could make Weberian bureaucracy seem informal and casual – and here lies a major pitfall in D/s relationships.

All too often, we see online D/s relationships (and D/s relationships within Second Life certainly fall in this category) that are defined by the establishment and enforcement of rules, instructions, protocols, behavioural regulations etc. The submissive is expected and/or required, either due to the Dominant’s orders or due to how the “requirements” for their role are perceived, to adopt certain behavioural norms, manners of addressing others, attitudes, etc. The submissive is expected/required – and also expects and, more often than not, requires – to be obedient, deferential, compliant, respectful, and to address others using D/s honorifics that label them as a submissive on most occasions; in some cases, we see a submissive address everyone they meet as “Master”, “Mistress”, “Sir” or “Miss”, even outside the context of a D/s session. More often than not, the submissive is also burdened with objectives and requirements that a Dominant may consider important for the relationship, which is bounded by them.

In the beginning, all of this seems beautiful and fantastic; it seems like it’s everything the submissive was dreaming of, and everything the Dominant expects. But here lies a trap. All these rules create an artificial environment that can be – in the long run – every bit as stifling as working in a highly bureaucratic organisation. And it is not only stifling for the submissive, but also for the Dominant as well. As the Dominant sets these rules for the submissive, they obviously create a certain framework within which the submissive is allowed to express themselves – and also the Dominant creates a self-imposed set of restrictions for their own expression and behaviour. In other words, a scenario is created for both the Dominant and the submissive, to which they both must adhere and play their roles. Essentially, the Dominant and the submissive assign roles to each other and each one to themselves and, in their effort to perform them as best as they can, they end up missing out on the exchange, sharing and communicating of feelings, desires, wants, needs, fantasies, hopes, dreams and the way they evolve – instead, they focus on playing the roles that they have assigned to each other and to themselves; roles that may very well even be alien to their own inner personalities. In these cases, the relationship devolves and, instead of satisfying the evolving desires, fantasies, feelings, needs, wants, hopes and dreams of the people involved, it becomes a series of endless dress rehearsals.

I typecast you, I typecast me; you typecast me, I typecast you

A Dominant that expects and requires the submissive to be submissive at all times and in all places also creates – at exactly the same time, without noticing – a requirement that they themselves be Dominant at all times; they not only create this expectation and requirement in the submissive, but also within themselves. This can become a burden to the Dominant, as they find themselves restricted to functioning only within a certain framework of expectations and having to always wear the role, the costume, if you like, of the Dominant at all times, without a chance to express other facets of their personality. This can make them increasingly resentful of the role they’ve typecast themselves in (and we’re talking Star Trek-style typecasting here), but also of their own D/s-related fantasies and desires, this whole aspect of their character and personality, even of themselves.

But it doesn’t end here, as the Dominant ends up with the added burden of guilt for their reactions. The reason is that it indeed appears that it’s the Dominant’s fault: it was going so well (i.e. according to the “plan”, the “scenario”, the “script” and both the Dominant’s and the submissive’s expectations) and now it’s falling apart. So, it has to be the Dominant’s fault, as the submissive did nothing “wrong”. This, of course, adds further stress to the Dominant. To make matters worse, the Dominant ends up in an extremely awkward position, because the Dominant is also supposed to be the strong one in the relationship, the one that never falters – so, they fear that sharing these feelings without losing the submissive’s reverence, without letting the submissive down or without destroying the “foundations” on which the relationship was built – and by “foundations” here, I am referring to the expectations the Dominant and the submissive have of each other and themselves.

This makes the Dominant feel increasingly worried; they find themselves completely empty and in disarray; they become increasingly withdrawn. And the communication protocol they have set for the relationship doesn’t help at all, because it restricts not only the appropriate tone of communication, but also the content itself, effectively barring the Dominant from expressing personal worries, concerns and fears.

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