March/April 2002
What's a slave for?

from a male submissive's point of view
by semanticus

Femdom Relationships
(How to get one, have one, or screw one up)

"Relationship." What a trite word, especially for the BDSM Lifestyle. But yet we do have relationships, don't we? Even if it is only with our computer--which reminds me of a Louie Anderson type comic who said, "Of course, I like porn more than real girls. I can get porn!"

My point is we have relationships on many levels of--here's another hackneyed word--"committment."

Let me caution you that this may seem boring, not germane, and what the hell does it have to do with Femdom? Well, if you have the perfect Femdom relationship, you should be writing this, not me. If there is a flaw here and there, maybe this will work for you. It did for me. Although i and W/we are still not perfect. Actually Mistress and i are going through quite a tough time right now. Anyone identify with that? Or maybe you are not in a Femdom relationship at the moment, but surely would like to be. Anyone like that out there?

I'm going to write this in general, that is, vanilla, terms, then bring Femdom into it. And there is a real point to doing it this way, as I think you will see.

Forging fearlessly ahead, at the least complicated level of relationship we have just an acquaintance relationship. Like the bank teller or service station attendant we see once a week. "Hi, how are you today. Me? I'm fine. Well, see you next week." No real concern, just platitudes and pleasantries and instantly forgotten.

Then we might have a relationship on the level of a friend who we get together to do something with, and we would do that thing in any event, but not necessarily with that friend. Maybe we go bowling or to the movies together, but don't interact otherwise. Still not too deep a relationship.

Or we might have another friend who we just get together with and do something more to be together as friends. Maybe we go to a concert, or the beach. The activity is not as important as being together, where in the previous relationship type the particular activity was more important, and the person was someone who we did that particular thing with. That is the person was interchangeable, and the activity was important, but here the person is the object of getting together, and the activity is interchangeable.

We still have not gotten into any real commitments with these first three levels of relationship. But in the next level of relationship, there is a committment to each other, and it is mutual. I'll do this, and you agree to do that, and it seems fair enough, so we have a committed relationship, but one that is not really heavy duty. We have agree--perhaps tacitly (not recommended)--what each person's involvement, rights, duties, and expectations are going to be, and each ideally should be able to pretty much depend on faithful adherence to these agreements.

Note two points. First the agreements can change by mutual agreement, and the new element of allowed and accepted expectations. Agreements are necessary to have a commitment, and expectations are proper because of the agreements and commitments per the agreements.

As to changes in the agreements, that is probably healthy, that is, it is in the best interests of each other that there be enough flexibility for growth, mistakes in duties or expectations, and all sorts of adjustments. Unless these two people have a crystal ball, they will not be able to predict in the beginning how this relationship will function, progress, grow, or wither into the future. So some allowances for adjustments are in order.

As to expectations, that is always what caries the potential for the most emotional pain. Unfulfilled expectations is just a general way to denote hurt, jealousy, envy, anger, anxiety, fear, loneliness, suffocation or enmeshment, and whatever painful part of a relationship you might name. But we do have to have some expectations, and we have a right to them at this level, else there is no commitment, no committed relationship.

Notice we have not mentioned how close these two people are, that is, we have made no mention of intimacy, Intimacy is not possible without trust, which is not possible without honesty and openness. So far we could have a somewhat intimate relationship that is a committed one, but not fully intimate and therefore (unless one or both are crazy) not fully committed. That is, these folks are committed and intimate up to a point or in some areas but not beyond that point or in the other areas. In such a case there is only limited intimacy possible, because there is only limited trust (the relationship does not go into certain aspects of the individuals' lives, and mutual trust is not an issue in those areas--any needed trust is obtained separately by keeping that aspect of one's life separate, private, even hidden.

The absent any of the "holding back" needs or wants of the relationship partners results in what we usually first think of when we hear the word "relationship," that is, an intimate, committed and loving relationship. Why it has to be loving is real simple. It is hard, and nothing but a great deal of love can make it work, at least for complete, emotionally healthy, proactive, assertive, people with healthy high self esteem and all those other good things.

The rules are completely distorted for unhealthy relationships. Any amount of unbalance in any of the key elements of friendship, committment, trust, honesty, intimacy, openness, and so on are possible for unhealthy relationships. And we have all probably been a part of one of these unbalanced or unhealthy relationships, and we certainly hear of them all the time. In real life and on line.

What does this have to do with BDSM? In my opinion, I think all BDSM relationships in general, and all Femdom relationships in particular, can operate at any of these five levels of relationship. Further they can be balanced or nearly so (healthy) or unbalanced (to the point of unhealthy on down and down into outright abuse, unfaithfulness, mistrust, not-your-friend, fear, anger, and extreme hurt, even to the point of physical abuse. Battering, not to put too fine a point on it.

What does this have to do with Femdom?

Examine, if you will, these five levels of relationship again, Mistresses and subs, as Femdom practitioners or as players (in the part time sense of participation). At level one you may meet other Lifestylers at munches, online, or in other casual situations, but you have no real committment to them other than common courtesy. Even if your flavor of Femdom is "Old Guard" there may be strict or not so strict protocol to follow, but that protocol is based on courtesy dressed up as submission and control. In any case, you exhibit manners solely because it is proper to do so, proper in a sociality imposed and expected sense, not because you have any special personal feelings toward the other person.

At level two, you may get together, again casually to go together to a munch or play party, just for the comfort or security of being with another like minded person. Note like the vanilla level two, the person is interchangeable, and the activity is the key thing. You may just as soon go to that activity with someone else, that is, the activity you want to do, even if you have to go alone or with another person. Naturally there can be bit of temporary committment here, and that may be very advisable for safety. Ladies, even if you are the roughest toughest Domme around, don't go to a new place alone until you can be sure of your safety. And for male and especially female subs, this is also true. Don't be alone with a new person until you can be sure of your safety. This is obvious for girl subbies, but for you guys, how do you know this Domme doesn't have a male or even female co-conspirator lurking to join the two of you without your consent. (Sorry, didn't mean to turn you on, guys.<lol>)

Consider this about level two, and this applies to levels three and four if the relationship progresses there. Level two is the time to start checking out the other person to see if they are worthy of your possible committment, if that is your goal (it may not be). Again, if a committed relationship is your goal, you instinctively (read: unhealthily) start this checking out process at the munch, that is level one. That is OK, but don't propose marriage before the food comes. I would be ROFLOL, but sad to say, that is the way unhealthy relationships start. Unless you have a terminal disease, what's the hurry?

You may have gotten my message by now. Yep, the whole idea of levels of relationship is to slow down, enjoy the ride, and cHeCk OuT tHe OtHeR pErSoN!!!! If the first time you see him or her play, and swapping or blood sports is a big part of his or her agenda and not yours, run, don't walk. If this seems cold hearted, it is. Who is going to protect you, but you? Who knows what you want and need but you? You need to be your own best friend--no one else is qualified.

Continuing on, now that the cat is out of the bag, at level three, you frequently endeavor to get together with a particular person primarily to be with that person, whether in a Femdom setting or not. And one of the attractions of such an arrangement is that the fun of enjoying an event, Femdom or not, is heightened by being with that person. You would even skip your first choice of activity to do another thing to be with that person because he or she wants to do that thing. But still there is not committment--you have not promised to do a certain type of (Femdom) thing only with that person, and no complete openness or honesty is not required, and only a limited amount of trust is involved. And, if you are smart, you both have agreed what the boundaries of your involvement are, and you can have expectations only in accordance with those limits.

And again, you are still checking this person out. And if he or she is healthy, he or she is checking you out. This is the beginning of the romantic stage, perhaps, and why not? You are both on your best behavior. That's why it is romantic! And even more reason to vigilantly check the other person out!

At level four, you have become committed to do a thing or set of things or range of activities together, and have agreed (committed) on when, how, where, and how exclusive that activity will be with that person, from the partial to the total exclusion of another or others. This applies to Lifetime channel movies or to Steven Segal movies as well as play scenes or to sex. Still you are checking out the other person. You are a fool not to, even now, especially now. The deeper involved you get the easier it is to see the true person the other one is.

Incidently, sex is not ruled out at any of the five levels. And in the vanilla world, the initiator of sexual activity is no longer the exclusive domain of the male. I'll leave it as an exercise for the student to work out who initiates sex in a Femdom relationship at any of the five levels. The point is, like in the vanilla level, it is not necessarily one gender or the other who initiates sex. And like in the vanilla world, it is no longer just the man who has the classic "one night stand and never thinks about calling later in the week or ever again." Women play that game also, vanilla or Femdom, or any other flavor of BDSM.

But, again discussing level four, the limits or bounds of sex definitely have to be established. If they aren't, like any other Femdom or vanilla relationship, you ain't at level four. And if you are and he or she isn't, whose fault is that? Who did not clearly negotiate, discuss, agree to a mutually acceptable set of limits? If you did, and just though the other person did also, but she or he did not, shame on you. You were not you own best friend, were you? Half of communication is listening and watching. Alternately, if the other guy or gal did agree to this and that, but is not living up to his or her agreement, first, dump 'em, second, shame on them.

Yeah, I said dump him or her. Just like that. Bang. Plop. Splat. Thud. You don't need him (her). There are no end of sick relationships available to you. I personally, have been known to get into more sick, "committed" relationships in a week than nearly anyone else could in a year. Or ten. Just remember. There are lots of sick (emotionally, I mean) potential partners out there. Don't worry about dumping this one. You'll find another one. They are easy to find. At any of the relationship levels. I was told once by a vanilla lady, that, "Men are like parking places. The good ones are all taken." Besides the fact that I thought she was probably right (She was NOT.), I tried not to take the comment personally, thereby showing twice in one sequence of thoughts just how sick I was.

Finally, at level five, you ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. WRONG! This ain't Hollywood. If you are an emotionally insecure, overweight, rageaholic, passive-aggressive male sub without a Mistress, when you get a Mistress you will be an emotionally insecure, overweight, rageaholic, passive-aggressive male sub WITH a Mistress. That's all. Nothing else will change. And the same goes for you Mistresses. If you are financially insecure, overbearing, catty, jealous and controlling Mistress without a sub, then when you get a sub, you will be a financially insecure, overbearing, catty, jealous and controlling Mistress WITH a sub. Nothing else will change.

How do we avoid that fate? It can be done, and I'll go into that next time. I think I'll call that article "Wannabee's." Please note, I am not saying there is a damn thing wrong with being a wannabee. There is very much wrong with remaining a wannabee. Unless that's your idea of a good time. And you can be a wannabee even in an (supposedly) intimate, (supposedly) trusting, committed relationship. Or any other level. Vanilla or Femdom.

It truly is up to you. Tune in next time, and we'll go over the ropes. Er, I mean the ways to get from here to there.

I would be remiss if I let you think I thought up all this stuff on my own. I have plagiarized a talk by Leo Gorsky on relationships delivered to an ACA convention. It is available on tape, and perhaps CD, from Virgil at:

TLC Tapes
PO Box 2321
Chula Vista, CA 91912
(619)420-0945 (voice)
(619)426-3456 (fax)