September/October 2002
Black Leather Couch
by Dorothy Hayden, CSW, CAC



Dear Dr. Black Leather,

I came into this life because I felt a longing…a feeling…clawing deep inside of me. In a way you can say I love this life…and I yearn for these things. But what I want to know is…why do some people take it on themselves to hurt or try to shatter dreams? A few days ago I was talking to a female owner who had taken an interest in me. I was being my cute little self when she decided to just say…out of the blue…that it was over and to never call or talk to her again. No explanation, no “you’re a bad kitty”, no nothing. I can only figure either she found something better…or just lost interest in me. How can I avoid this sort of thing, or be better prepared for it?

Male kitty


Dear male kitty,

The only way to avoid risking rejection is to not risk loving. The only way to avoid disappointment is to never seek new relationships, new experiences, or new ways of being in the world. For my money, I’ll take the risk. The price of not doing so is too high.

Now, if you want to know how to experience rejection, loss and disappointment without getting blown out of the water emotionally, well, that might require some psychological restructuring of the way you see yourself in relation to other people.

Submissives tend to think that other people’s perceptions of things are somehow more valid than their own perception of things. So if a dom says “you’re no good…you’re not worthy of my attention or time”…does that mean you are in fact NO GOOD…or unworthy of someone else’s attention or time? Of course not. It’s not like there’s some big score card in the sky that keeps track of people’s “worthiness” of love and attention. Abraham Lincoln once said “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” My slight revision of that is: “Most people have as much self-esteem (i.e. sense of their love-worthiness) as they make up their minds to have.” If you decide you’re worth people knowing you, then you in fact ARE. If you have a secure knowledge of your worth, something someone says to you or about you can’t rock your emotional equalibrium.

People tend to pick other people at the level of their own self-esteem. Water seeks it’s own level. Oddly enough, sometimes we get rejected because someone else perceives us as TOO GOOD for her/him. Actually, people have all sorts of conscious or unconscious reasons for rejecting someone else…you remind her of her father…or you don’t remind her of her father…you’re smarter (funnier, richer, thinner, whatever) than she is and she doesn’t want to feel inadequate…she could be closeness-phobic…she might like chocolate chocolate chip and you’re pistachio. There’s nothing wrong with pistachio, mind you…other than the fact that it’s not chocolate chocolate chip. We start to have relationship smarts when we know when and how to seek out the people who favor pistachio.