Complacency is Killer

Dear Domina Jen,

I don’t know if you remember me, I wrote about bondage techniques a few months ago.  Thank you for your help, it was awesome!

But now I have another question.  The Femdom dynamic is still going good, but my boyfriend I think has gotten a little bit too relaxed.  He doesn’t always do what I tell him, or it takes him a long time to do what I tell him.  The sex stuff is still awesome and he’s always enthusiastic about that, but the day to day stuff seems to have gone down a little bit.

I’ve tried punishing him by spanking or whipping him but it doesn’t really work and it’s not really effective.  I’m worried that we’re going to lose our momentum.

What am I doing wrong?


Hello again, Sarah.  Of course I remember you!  And I’m glad that the bondage tips helped.

What you’re experiencing is rather common.  It can usually be fixed relatively quickly, with relative ease, but before you do that, you need to sit down with him and make sure there’s nothing underlying that’s causing the disobedience, and causing him to not take your commands seriously.

Are you pushing him too hard, too fast?  Is there something he’s not comfortable with, and has been reluctant to tell you about?  Find out what’s going on in his head that’s causing the lax in behavior.  Find out why he thinks that disobedience is acceptable behavior.

If there’s an underlying cause, or an outside influence affecting his behavior, address it as necessary.  Keep in mind that sometimes a punishment is inappropriate.  If there’s something going on, it’s your job as his Domme to figure out what it is, make sure he knows he has a safe place in you to vent/rage/scream/cry/whatever-his-coping-mechanism-is, and help him regain some balance.  Often, once balance is regained, the behavior will improve.

However, if there is something going on, it may be inappropriate to punish him, but it’s still important to sit him down and tell him (very clearly, and in small words… Sometimes when people are stressed, things just don’t occur to them like they normally would) that you’re feeling disrespected/neglected/not taken seriously/whatever.  Just like you can’t be expected to fix a problem you don’t know exists, he can’t be expected to improve if he doesn’t know there’s a problem.

If you’re an emotional person, keep that shit in check during this conversation.  I don’t know your boyfriend, but I know the boys I’ve had throughout the years.  It’s reasonable to expect him to get defensive and tense.  It’s your job to manage that, to keep the conversation constructive, to tailor your delivery and your methods to what will work to make him realize that he’s fucked up without making him feel worthless.  The slightest lapse in control, the slightest emotional outburst could completely shut him down.  And that’s your fault, not his.  That’s why you wear the Domme hat.

So that’s how you handle an outside influence.  But usually, it’s nothing serious, and he’s simply become complacent.

I say “simply,” because again, it’s a relatively easy fix.  But it’s something you need to take seriously.  Complacency is death to D/s and BDSM relationships, and while he’s a grown ass man and has his share of responsibilities in the relationship, the bulk of the responsibility for keeping the relationship from going stale falls on your shoulders.

Welcome to FemDom, Sarah.  It’s not easy being a Dominant.

You’ve most likely been letting him get away with too much.  And there could be hundreds of legitimate reasons for this.  Either one of you (or both) could be dealing with a lot of outside stress that has made you decide to let things slide.

And I get it.  I’ve been there.  I’ve done it, too, and I’m sure I’ll do it again.  Sometimes, it’s necessary to let things slide.  It’s a relationship between people first, and a Domme and sub second.  There will be times you’ll need to sort of step out of the Domme and sub roles and relate to each other as complete equals.

And while this is sometimes necessary, it’s a very fine line, and even I’ve been guilty of letting it go too far, for too long, and letting him get away with too much.  That complacency creeps in, and you don’t even notice until you wake up one morning with a disobedient, disrespectful manly-man who drags his knuckles and beats his chest and grunts at you.

How the fuck did we get here?

I like to joke that every relationship needs a healthy dose of fear.  But I’m actually not joking.  He needs to fear you.  He needs to be reminded why disobeying you is such a bad idea.

Obviously, I’m not talking about unhealthy terror, here.  We’re working within the strictures of a safe, sane, consensual D/s relationship, not an abusive one.  He should fear you, but he shouldn’t collapse into a fetal position when you approach him, trembling and sobbing.

A good way to foster fear and reinforce behavior is to punish him.  And it sounds to me like you’ve got a bit of a masochist on your hands.

Using pain to punish a masochist is never a good idea.

And now I’m going to tell you my personal definition of punishment vs. discipline.

Discipline isn’t always enjoyable, but isn’t necessarily unenjoyable, either.  A long over-the-knee spanking session is discipline for most subs.  It still falls within the realm of “play,” it’s still somewhat light-hearted (usually), and it’s still somewhat fun.  It may be used to simply remind a sub of his place, or plant him in a particular headspace, or any number of things.

Punishment, on the other hand, is never fun, and is saved exclusively for when a sub fucks up.  And it’s got to be catered to your particular submissive.  What may be considered punishment for one may be extremely enjoyable to another.

For example, Kazander is not a masochist.  So using pain to punish him is quite effective, especially since I don’t allow him to enter any kind of subspace while I do it.

But Sounder and Steel are both a bit masochistic, so pain won’t work on them.  I have to think of something else.

And it’s important to note that you don’t have to limit yourself to BDSM activities for the punishment.  I’ve joked with Sounder about sending him to the mall on Black Friday with a very vague, difficult-to-decipher list that would require going to multiple stores as a punishment.  Plenty of people enjoy going to the mall on Black Friday, but for him, a man who thrives on clear directions, a concise plan, and efficiency, that would be agonizing.

Steel has a bedtime.  I could make him go to bed earlier.  Or, in his case, I could withhold a specific kind of pain for a specific amount of time as a punishment.  If he ever really fucked up, there are even simple words I could say that I know would be like a hammer to the chest (in a bad way, not a fun way).

There are plenty of things I could do, with all three of them, that they genuinely wouldn’t like and would be motivated to avoid at all costs.

So you need to sit down and think of a punishment, catered specifically to your sub.  Something that won’t cross any hard limits, but something he genuinely doesn’t like or doesn’t want to do.

But make sure it’s a good one.  You’re going to be reasserting your Dominance over him, so you need to make absolute sure that you have his undivided attention.

And if possible (depending on the punishment), tell him why he’s being punished during the act.  Remind him what his role is, what you expect of him, and where his place is.  Make him apologize for not taking you seriously.  Ask him how he intends to change his behavior going forward.

Once you feel like he’s had enough, end the punishment and give immediate aftercare.  Hug him, comfort him, remind him that you love him.  If this is going to be his first intense punishment, he will likely need that comfort.

It’s important that you are never angry or emotional when administering a punishment.  You need a clear head, you need to be alert, and you need to be the genuine, caring, compassionate lover when it’s over.

If you’re angry, or if you feel like you’re not in control of your emotions, do not punish him.  Wait until you calm down.  You must be in a clear, neutral headspace when you punish him.

It’s also important to make sure he understands why he’s being punished.  It’s not enough to tell him that he was disobedient.  He needs to understand the effect his disobedience has had on you and the relationship.

When you have this discussion depends on the boy.  Sometimes, having it during aftercare, or shortly after the aftercare, is appropriate.  Sometimes, you absolutely should not have that discussion after the punishment.  Sometimes, it absolutely needs to come before.  Particularly if you have a sub who has trouble letting go of guilt or anger at himself (I have two of those, trust me, you want to do everything in your power to nip that in the bud).

The purpose of a punishment is to let the sub know that he’s done something unacceptable.  It’s somewhat eroticized, simply because it’s a stark reminder of the power you have over him, but that’s not the point.  It’s supposed to allow you to express your displeasure and disappointment, and allow him to atone for that mistake.

Once the punishment is over, the both of you can move on.  If you have a sub who will hold on to guilt or remain angry at himself, then the punishment doesn’t end when you want it to, but will continue long after you thought the situation was resolved.  Have that conversation with him before, or during, and let the punishment serve its purpose.

With some subs, that discussion, followed by some heavy discipline, may be punishment enough.  Again, there are no real rules here.  You know your sub.  You know what will work with him.  Use your knowledge of him to your advantage.

But once the punishment is over, you’re not finished.  The effects of a punishment are temporary.  You need to be strict with him.  You need to recommit yourself to enforcing your rules.  You need to make him understand that doing what he’s told is not an “option.”  He can’t simply choose when to and when not to obey.

And this is where it could get tricky, depending on how far his behavior has fallen.  You want him to obey your rules, but constantly punishing him will have the opposite effect of what you want.  Instead of building him up, you’ll end up breaking him down (and not in the fun way).  If you find yourself needing to punish him daily, if he’s fallen that far from his role, then start slowly.  Start with one or two basic rules that he has to follow.  Add another one each week, until you’re back where you want to be.

Be patient, be consistent, and stern.  You’ll get the sweet, obedient, compliant boy back soon!

5 thoughts on “Complacency is Killer

  1. subhubphx says:

    Excellent! Thank you.

  2. thechastecyclist says:

    As always excellent post.

  3. subhubphx says:

    Forgive the additional comment but i wanted to let you know that I forwarded this blog entry to my Mistress Wife. I thought it was that good!

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