Friday, July 31, 2009

If I'm Dominant, my lover must be submissive, right?

Being out as Dominant, both online and in person, can be quite interesting. I've gotten lots of questions and comments over the years. More recently, as I've gotten more comfortable both with being 'out' and with exercising my personal power, I've had people asking me questions about my relationships, and more specifically, about my primary partner. Most assume he is submissive. It makes sense, right? The complement to Dominant is submissive. Not in our case. In fact, we have a rather vanilla relationship with infrequent BDSM play. But the power exchange is still there, oh yes! Allow me to explain.

For the purposes of writing this, I will call my lover Gabriel, after the angel whose strength is God. I've known him for more than a decade, and we've been intimate for over five years. And for most of those years I thought he was a beta male like many of the men out there: not alpha but a contender for it if circumstances required; content to play a supportive role rather than endure conflict; caring, thoughtful, insightful, and occasionally moody, ie, more in-touch with his feminine side. And yet, in the past year or so I've seen another side of him, one that I'd only caught glimpses of, one that has become more pronounced as our relationship has developed in intensity. Gabriel is naturally dominant. He's always been very competent, very confident, and he has a subtle charisma -- in fact, I'd say the key word to describe him is subtle. When he wishes to he takes control of situations, not by force, but in a most subtle fashion -- he speaks and acts in ways that inspire others' confidence in him, and they trust him to make decisions or to do what he says can be done. He understands behavior modification and what works best for positive outcomes and he uses praise and reward in ways that are entirely genuine and incredibly effective -- he inspires great loyalty in others. And while there is no doubt that he is a sensitive man who does not believe in male or female superiority, he does not bow to the idea of equality between the sexes. Instead, he strives for parity. He sees the sexes as complementary. He understands the yin and yang, the roll and tumble of the masculine and feminine and how they can work together to form a whole that is mutually-beneficial.

I used to think the Gabriel was shy because he tends to withdraw when he's in groups, and while that may indeed be part of it, I think a lot of it has to do with the demands of dealing with non-alphas. He tends to observe groups in order to grasp the dynamics, and then decide if he wants to bother to participate. He is a kind man who abhores stupidity, and so he often prefers to withdraw from a group rather than make others feel stupid. And yet for all that he doesn't give up a single inch of his dominance. He is a man of formidable intellect and great assurance, a Dominant who doesn't need to be domineering, and, like me, doesn't want to be troubled with needy submissives.

Subs require a lot of care and feeding. Subs are attention-seeking. They need approval. They want guidance. They want someone to tell them what to do and when to stop doing it. They want the comfort of knowing their place in the world. They want someone to provide structure and context for their personal reality, because Reality is so full of uncertainty and chaos. They want someone to tell them what the rules are and what the rewards and punishments will be. They want someone to take control of their pleasure and pain, because those are the two ways to control people and they crave the feeling of being controlled and being out of control at the same time. They love games, especially ones of the mind-fuck sort. They need to be cherished, appreciated, doted upon. And they need to contribute. They need to feel that they are making a contribution to their Dominants, if only by doing things that are meant to make life easier for the Dominant. They need to feel like they belong, and they'll do whatever it takes to make their Dominant happy. And while I do enjoy submissives -- they are a constant source of amusement and amazement -- they are a lot of work. Instead of being a source of energy for exchange, they can often be energy-sinks, draining their Dominants.

If humans are pack-like or herd-like animals, then Gabriel and I are the alpha male and alpha female and while we wrestle around playfully, we neither of us attacks the other. We respect each other too much, and recognize that making the other one feel less or wrong or injured is ultimately self-defeating: it lessens the whole, the entirety, of what *we* are. We both struggle for Dominance in some areas and acquiesce to each other in other areas. We play and the exchange of energy is a delight. There is no drain, just the charge of an alternating current.

And all this has been established by communication, by holding our ground when it comes to our self-expression and well-being, by being Dominants without being domineering. Games are not played. We call each other on it. As often happens with people, we expect certain responses when we are in discussions and often we are reacting to what we expect rather than what is really going on -- and Gabriel and I call each other on that when we see it happening.

As much as I love the sexual charge of having someone bound and helpless and begging for more, I love the feeling of just being with someone who gets me in ways a sub will never get, someone with the same sense of fun, someone bright enough to get my jokes, and strong enough to not let me trample on him. And every once in a while he gets the upper hand, and he uses it, and when he does I know that thrill that a sub feels when a Dom has zeroed in and the energy between them crackles like a violet wand on bare skin.

"That's because you're just a teensy bit smarter than me," I said to him after he'd teased me for not knowing some bit of TV trivia.
"Stick with me and I'll make you smart," he said with a big grin on his face.
"Oh?" I said, and slipped my arms around his neck. I leaned in for a kiss.
"Yes." His hand fell hard against my ass, catching me by surprise and making me gasp.
He grinned his devilish grin and said, "I like to make you smart."
I laughed, hard. I'd set myself up for that one.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like Yin and Yang, Dominance and Submission are two parts of a circle. And there's a bit of both in everyone. You may have kept your more dominant side on a leash for years, you are not the type to want a majorly submissive partner. You want your partners to be intellectually up to par and able to push back. And heck, you enjoy it when someone else takes the lead, too. So yes, take control of your life and go for it, and enjoy what Gabriel offers you.

3:58 PM, August 08, 2009  
Blogger Maja B. said...

the implication that 'being bright enough to get [your] jokes' is a quality that excludes the submissive personality is odd. is there an explicit, recognized contrast within the community in humour (and by extension, intellectual capacity) between doms and subs?

I ask as one totally uninvolved in the community/practice of BDSM

5:21 AM, September 22, 2009  
Blogger Kayar Silkenvoice said...

Hi Maja -- I apologize if I did not express myself clearly. I was describing my partner's qualities and did not intend for it to seem that all of the qualities I listed were exclusive to dominants. Intelligence and humor are of course qualities that many people possess, regardless of their race, color, gender, or various orientations (including D/s).

10:55 AM, September 27, 2009  

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