I’ve never been all that interested in D/s outside of the bedroom. I guess you’d say I’m a bottom, rather than a sub. But one of the biggest issues I have with a 24/7 D/s relationship, and the biggest reason I think it doesn’t work in the long run, is this idea of punishment.
You talk about respecting your subs, but how can you respect someone when you punish them? Isn’t that treating them like children? How does punishment and the ability to punish a sub for their mistakes fit into a healthy relationship?
First of all, define “long run.” Because I have a 6-year-long relationship and two year-ish-long relationships that say you’re full of shit, bro. Just because it may not work for you doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.
And I have to laugh whenever people claim that punishment only exists in D/s relationships. Because it’s absolutely not true.
I’m going to quote Steel here. You can see a sub’s point of view on it. Now he’s never been punished by me, but this is not his first D/s relationship, and he’s familiar with the practice.
Anyone who’s suffered through a lengthy drive in silence can attest to the fact that punishments exist in conventional relationships. However, behavior is coded in faux-egalitarianism and therefore erratic and often arbitrary. In contrast, those living in a lifestyle BDSM relationship usually have an explicit binary of power and specific rules which, if broken, lead to a submissive being punished.
Punishment is not an exclusively D/s thing. Regulated punishment is an exclusively D/s thing.
D/s relationships don’t just work, they work better (in my experience) than vanilla ones, because, in no small part, of those blue sentences up there.
In a D/s relationship, expectations are hammered out in agonizing detail, rules are set and agreed upon, and the dynamic is given quite a bit more attention than in your average conventional relationship. Partners are expected to talk about their needs/wants/desires/fantasies, sexual or otherwise. The level of communication required for a successful D/s relationship far surpasses that for a vanilla one.
There are things I know about the men I’ve owned for a year or less that my friends don’t know about the husbands they’ve been married to for a decade or more. And when you suggest they talk to their husbands, the answer is always the same. They’re too nervous or scared to say what they want. They don’t feel comfortable talking about sex. It’s too taboo.
So when you have a relationship where neither partner feels comfortable enough to talk, how can expectations be hashed out with any degree of clarity? And when one partner falls short of those unspoken expectations, there’s no telling what kind of behavior that will cause.
In my relationships, if a sub falls short of my expectations, they know exactly what will happen. I may be angry, sure, or disappointed. But there won’t be any cold shoulders, pouting, foot-stomping, or passive-aggressive remarks.
There will be a single punishment, with a clear beginning and a clear end, and then life goes on. There’s no need to bring it up again in two weeks or two months or two years down the line. And there’s no need for them to continue beating themselves up for a mistake. It’s handled, it’s over, and we both move on with no fighting or arguing.
Sometimes, of course, a discussion needs to be had about what caused the behavior, and if there are any adjustments that should be made to the relationship.
But if there’s a problem with the dynamic, or if a need isn’t being met, then fuck yes I’m going to punish them for acting out instead of talking to me about it long before it got to that point. I’m not an unreasonable person, and my subs are not children. They have a voice. And they’ve been with me long enough to know that I expect them to tell me when there’s a problem, and that they can expect me to listen patiently, and with compassion and understanding.
If I don’t know something’s wrong, I can’t fix it. And I take no responsibility for failing to fix a problem I didn’t know existed. They’re grown-ass men, and I expect them to have the balls to talk to me like an adult instead of acting out like children. Fuck yes, I will punish them for that 100% of the time.
Still, they have a voice, even in punishment. Not a loud one, but again, I’m not unreasonable. If there’s something wrong in a relationship, my goal is to find out what it is and fix it. But they know what I expect of them.
Now it’s important to note that I have expectations I need to meet, too. Every Dominant does. And my subs know that they can always talk to me about those expectations. I don’t pretend to be perfect. I know I’m going to fuck up at some point.
Should I fall short of those expectations, do they have the power to punish me? Hell no. And should there be a lengthy drive in silence, cold shoulders, or passive aggressive remarks, I know how to remind them of their place and get to the root of the problem.
So no, they cannot punish me. They aren’t even given the opportunity to do it by more “conventional” methods. Is that unfair? Perhaps, but it goes right back to the very first lesson my mentor taught me.
A submissive gives up control for freedom. A Dominant gives up freedom for control. I don’t have the freedom to lose my temper or get petty or do any of that bullshit. I’ve always got to be aware of that.
Do I fuck up sometimes? Sure. But I expect my boys to tell me when it happens and help me get back on track.
I actually fucked up just recently, with Kazander. We’ve been dealing with a shitload of problems with his family (and depending how things go when his parents get home, we might actually be in the market for a new place to live, it’s gotten that fucking bad) and up until recently, I’ve been handling it all.
Weeks of that wears a person down, and I’ll admit, I’d been grouchy all that evening. And I was unintentionally taking it out on Kazander, snapping at him for no real reason. Finally, he said:
“I know you’re stressed. But remember, you’re pissed at them, not at me.”
I immediately realized what I’d been doing. “Fuck, you’re right. I’m sorry.”
And things went back to normal after that. I realized that I was falling short of my expectations of myself, and I was falling short of Kazander’s expectations of me. And he deserves better than that. All three of my boys deserve better than that.
Had he been the one snapping at me, I would have spanked him or done some other punishment. He doesn’t have the power to do that to me, and he never will.
Is that unfair? Yes, I suppose so. But a D/s dynamic is an inherently unfair one. I call the shots. He doesn’t. Steel doesn’t. Sounder doesn’t. No man or woman I ever own will.
That’s why my relationships work.