There is a belief that skillful Dominance can affect major behavior modifications in a submissive. (The most famous illustration of this idea is when “Christian The Helicopter Dom” in Fifty Shades walks into a hardware store and thinks he can make a random cashier into his slave.) The crux of this theory is, that by using a combination of positive and negative reinforcements, the Master/Mistress can shape the slave to his/her own specifications. It is a romantic notion and a very appealing one at that. There is no doubt that the Dominant can train a submissive to please him with great specificity. However, there is a big difference between training a slave to orally service you in a required manner and radically modifying her/his behavior. A good Dominant can sense those areas that are immune to change. For example, if your slave is very jealous, it is unlikely that you can totally eliminate it. You might be able to minimize jealousy; it’s unlikely you can get rid of it.
It is much like the demonstration hypnotists give before they start the induction. They ask the subject to touch his nose, clench his fist and then jump out the window (or some such act of insanity.) The subject typically honors the first two requests but refuses to attempt the third. It is then explained that in hypnosis you will only do things you want to do. Thus, one cannot be hypnotized into killing someone. Similarly, the submissive will only modify behavior that he/she truly wants – consciously or subconsciously — to change. Using our jealousy example, unless eliminating it is a deeply held need of the submissive, no amount of “training” will eradicate it. It is with this concept in mind that I offer ten tips that will help you accomplish a reasonable amount of behavioral modification.
• Try to match protocols. Often a high-protocol Dominant will try to convert a low-protocol submissive. Unless the sub truly craves high-protocol, it is better to lower your protocol requirements or find a high-protocol slave. Otherwise, it will be less a case of your skill as a Dominant and more a case tilting at windmills!
• Don’t rely on punishment alone. Punishment is most effective when used in conjunction with reward. Punishment is often a failed strategy when it is employed exclusively. Adults respond best to a combination of the two. A Dominant who uses only punishment is using only half of his arsenal.
• Make punishment and reward consistent. If you want to have even half a chance of modifying your sub’s behavior, be consistent. The Dominant, much like a parent, should strive to make all rewards and punishments consistent.
• All punishments should be administered in a calm manner. The Dom who loses his temper and punishes out of rage will lose his submissive’s respect. And maybe his submissive too!
• Understand your submissive. If you accept the premise that there is a limited range to behavior modification, you should understand your submissives deepest needs and limits. A failed attempt at behavior modification can ruin the Dominant’s confidence and can arouse disrespect in the submissive. Thus, failure is usually not an option. Understand what is do-able and what is not.
• When you punish, punish. There is only one type of punishment that consistently modifies behavior – consistent and immediate punishment. It does not have to be particularly painful; it can be simple disapproval. But it is these two aspects that make it so effective. Being relatively immediate is especially important. Don’t wait a day or two to punish. And try to make the punishment fit the crime!
• When you reward, reward. Similarly, reward must be consistent, immediate and in proportion to the action you find commendable.
• Be fair. Although the Dominant is the “Captain of the ship,” one should not abuse this power. If the Dominant acts like the evil Captain Bligh, he/she might have a mutiny on his/her hands. And never use a hard limit as a punishment.
• Explain. From time to time you should explain “the method in your madness,” and should clarify why the submissive is being rewarded or punished. This will expand the trust factor that is so important in Dom/sub relationships.
• Rome wasn’t built in a day. No matter what your aim, even minor behavior modification can take time. Patience is a virtue. You don’t have to do it all at once.
If you keep your behavior modification aims consistent with what you can reasonably expect from your submissive, and then push the sub’s soft limits in a sensible manner, you will be able to train your slave to a very fulfilling level. Remember, this is real life; it is not some online or movie fantasy. Don’t attempt the impossible, no matter how appealing it seems.
After a ten year run as head writer for the legendary bondage.com, and an equally long run as the host of the hit internet show “Baadmaster’s Dungeon,” we are pleased to welcome the one and only Baadmaster to KinkWeekly. His thoughts about all things BDSM will now appear regularly on these pages. From the mental aspects of D/s to the nuts and bolts of S&M play, Baadmaster will cover every facet of this ever expanding lifestyle.