I hope you have been enjoying Rika’s Lair, my monthly column dedicated to thoughts and experiences regarding power dynamics in Service-Oriented D/s relationships. Look up “Ms. Rika” in the search box for links to all of my articles in KinkWeekly!
I’ve written, at length, about my approach when it comes to rewards and punishments. I don’t do either of those. I refer you to my other books for that discussion. However, I’ve also written about how a key responsibility of the dominant is to recognize the submissive’s efforts so that the submissive does not feel alone / abandoned in the dynamic.
Some people have argued that recognition of the submissive’s role and assessment of the quality of the job, is tantamount to a reward for the submissive. They feel that a dominant saying “good job” or “thank you for continuing to serve me” is a reward for their efforts.
I disagree with this notion. It’s true that submissives get pleasure and satisfaction from a dominant’s recognition, however, there is a strong distinction between rewards and recognition.
Though I don’t do rewards, I do a lot of recognition. My subs love that I recognize them and, in fact, recognition is a basic necessity of the dynamic. However the difference that I see, stems from dictionary definitions of the two words.
In my mind, the difference is as follows:
Recognition is personal praise or gratitude for good work and can be given at any time.
Rewards are tied to goals and accomplishments and are generally given up on completion.
I don’t reward goals / accomplishments because top-notch service is expected of my submissives. There is nothing “out of the ordinary” for submissives to work hard and complete a task, assignment, or even anticipate a need extremely well. If I set a goal for a submissive, they strive to achieve it, primarily to please me.
I do however, provide personal praise for their efforts and also will show my gratitude for their continued submission. Note: As in my essay on “Saying Please and Thank You”, I choose to show my gratitude that my submissives continue to choose to serve me each day…as they show theirs to me for allowing them to do so. If a sub does a great job of anticipating something for me, and removes an obstacle before I have to face it, I’m both grateful and generous with my praise.
Just because someone enjoys recognition and gets something out of it (e.g., Pride, sense of accomplishment, and affirmation of the dynamic), doesn’t make it a reward. A reward is linked (in my vernacular), to completion of goals or milestones. Rewards are more: Do this, and get that” – “Get this because you did that”. It’s motivations and incentives.
Herein lies my issue with rewards. I question why a sub would need more motivation / incentive than serving their dominant well and receiving acknowledgment of a job well done. A pleased and satisfied dominant is the objective of their submission, so why would it take anything more or less than that to motivate the best possible service? I’m suspect when that isn’t enough.
Recognition, on the other hand, is one of the most important, and often neglected responsibilities that a dominant takes on in my methodology. Recognizing when your submissive is striving to meet your expectations and fulfill your preferences, is important in letting them know that you’re active and present in the dynamic. It doesn’t take a lot to recognize a sub: Just a “Good job serving me” or an “I see how you did that for me, and I liked it” go a long way. I like to have my sub thank me for doing things for me: A little bit of irony goes a long way. These are really simple, no effort things that just say, “I’m here, I’m present, and I see your effort”.
As far as I’m concerned, recognition is a must. I recognize my subs as often as possible. I prefer higher volume of lower effort recognition. Reward, on the other hand, is unnecessary and often counter productive; as it tends to distract submissives from their ultimate motivation – that of pleasing their dominant by fulfilling their expectations.
Ms. Rika is a lifestyle dominant, educator, and author; living in the suburbs of NYC with her husband/slave. She has written several popular books on her approach to adding Dominant-Centric, Service-Oriented D/s to relationships. You can find her books (in both print and eBook formats) at Lulu.com (http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/msrika), or at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the iStore, Books-A Million, Kobo.com, or anywhere books are sold. Search for “Ms. Rika”. Write to me at Ms_Rika@hotmail.com