January/February 2003
In Good Times or Bad:
A Dominant's Responsibilities

by FineArt

When a Master is blessed with the gift of another through a collar he assumes some great responsibilities, responsibilities that are often much greater than in the traditional "vanilla" relationship. This is particularly true when the relationship encompasses all aspects of the lives of those involved in the relationship rather than focusing or centering on only the sensual pleasures... hedonism.

The establishment of specific responsibilities begins with the communication that those involved in the relationship undertake in getting to know one another... their various (mutual) interests, desires, concerns... those things that bring them together and establish the basis for a meaningful relationship. In a healthy, long term relationship and with the placement of a collar, the Dominant assumes the responsibility for the care, well being and growth of the submissive. These may take the form of a contract between those involved, or, as I personally much prefer, deep understanding of one another that forms the basis of commitments each makes to the other. These commitments establish specific responsibilities of the Dominant... and can cover things ranging from the honoring of limits or whether the relationship will be exclusive to the expected amount of time to be spent together. Such things are unique to each relationship.

In good times and bad...

When the Dominant places the collar on the submissive, he assumes responsibilities for not only her care and well being, but also major responsibilities for the relationship itself. (This does not absolve the submissive from her responsibilities as well.) Of course, as is often emphasized, the Dominant holds the primary responsibility for guiding and building the relationship through his actions and decisions... keeping the relationship alive, growing, thriving! Based on understanding of the needs, desires, even fears of his submissive, the Dominant explores boundaries, pushes limits. It is through the directive decisions and actions of the Dominant that the relationship grows. It is the submissive's responsibility to continually (although not constantly) communicate her needs and desires, what pleases her, what does not... those things necessary for the Dominant to monitor progress and have a sound basis for his decisions. Be wary of the Dominant who does not seek this input from the submissive... none of us are that all knowing or good! I personally would question both the motivation and competence of any so-called Dominant who felt he did not need this sort of submissive input. It is through this process of communication that the relationship grows richer, the personal growth and increasing pleasures for both parties continues through time. As they say in New Orleans... let the good time roll!

Of course, it is everyone's desire that all aspects of the relationship be positive, that it all be good. But there are times in any relationship that this is not the case. The Dominant's responsibilities, however, are not only to grow the relationship through the good times but also to sustain and grow it through times of trouble. The bad times can come in many forms... situations in the lives of the parties that impede the growth of the relationship, addressing very difficult boundaries or limits, or behaviors of the submissive that are undesirable among other things. The Dominant must also recognize that his situation or actions may as easily lead to difficult times as those of his submissive. It is during these times that the lines of communication take on a different face. And here, again, the Dominant who has given a collar continues to have major responsibilities.

It is incumbent on the Dominant to assess these situations and take the actions necessary to overcome the difficulties, whatever they may be. It may seem that the easy actions would be to punish the submissive, or, in extreme cases to simply walk away, dissolve the relationship. As discussed in the Fourth Scroll, Understanding Punishment, punishments should be administered only after a careful assessment of what causes the situation, and the particular punishments should be administered to achieve goals... to resolve whatever brings problems into the relationship. Before administering punishment, the Dominant must also assess his own role and behavior... and see if he needs change himself to bring the relationship back on course.

The most dramatic action that can be taken is to remove the collar, dissolve the relationship. Far too often, this is simply the easy way out. (Look at how often even "vanilla" relationships end simply because the parties involved are unwilling to invest the effort to overcome difficulties... or even something as simple as boredom!) And it is, in many cases, simply an abdication of the responsibilities the Dominant accepted with the granting of the submissive's gift.

As the submissive serves to please the Domiant, the Dominant returns his guidance and caring for the growth, well being and the pleasure of the submissive. To punish without careful consideration of that is to be achieved, or to abandon the submissive without making every effort to address or resolve the underlying causes of problems simply ignores the role of a worthy Dominant. Any Dominant who would abandon those responsibilities without making every effort to see to the well being and growth of his submissive would be unworthy of the title Master.

The Myth of Unbounded Dominant Power...

We often hear in our community that the power of the Dominant is absolute, that he can do whatever he desires simply because someone has granted her gift to him. Beware the Dominant who makes such claims!

First, and most obvious, the Dominant's power is bounded by the limits established in the relationship. Some limits are to be pushed, others simply understood and respected. This is the topic of the Ninth Scroll, Limits... What Limits?

Less obvious, the power of the Dominant has to be defined and exercised within ethical standards and with integrity and honor. Beware the Dominant whose ethical standards are "situational" or who does not place the very highest value on his own integrity and honor!

Finally, the power of the Dominant is bounded by the commitments made in establishing the collared relationship. The impact of honoring limits is obvious. However, the power of the Dominant is also bound by the responsibilities assumed in exchange for the submissive's gift. The submissive is not simply an object to be used for the Dominant's pleasure, but a living person who has placed great trust in her Dominant. The worthy Master will strive always to cherish all that he has been given and take no actions that will result in harming her.

© 2001 FineArt - All rights reserved