I hope you’ve 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!
This week, I was working with a couple dealing with conflicts of identity and role. Several months ago, the woman reached out to me on Fetlife, asking for help convincing her husband/master to extend their bedroom dynamic into a lifestyle. After building an e-friendship, the three of us got together to see if I could help them.
They had been married for 15 years and had incorporated BDSM-like activities in the bedroom. As we chatted, I learned their story: They were high school sweethearts, remained friends through college, and found each other again once both had hit the workforce. They had a short romance and married. About eight years into the marriage, and a few unsuccessful attempts at starting a family, they were dealing with stress in the bedroom. They had played with power dynamics in their early years and decided to use that to rekindle the flame in the bedroom. She took on the submissive role and he became her “Master”.
Over the next five years, their playtime increased. She was, by far, the instigator. She was active on Fetlife and spent a lot of her time reading up on BDSM toys and techniques. She introduced new ideas to try. He learned as much as he could, took a seminar on rope work in San Francisco, and a class on flogging at a local bookstore. A year before she reached out to me, she had suggested bringing another man into the equation as her husband’s second sub. It was not received well. They fought about it and it put a crimp in their dynamic’s progress. They had been searching for solutions, since.
As I often do, I had separate conversations with each of them, trying to understand the way they viewed their dynamic and looking for differences to discuss. They had some, but interestingly, the most telling outcome wasn’t in their differences, rather, in one particular similarity they shared: The intent with which they BOTH approached their dynamic was the same: To please HER!
If you’ve been reading my articles, and if you’ve read any of my books on D/s dynamics, you know I’m a strong proponent of dominant-centric submission: I ask the dominant to introspect and answer the question, “What do YOU really want?” as a means of assuring that the definition of submission is based on the preferences of the dominant.
In this situation, everything about their power dynamic revolved around her preferences. He was the dominant, but he was entirely focused on perfecting his behavior to maximize her reaction to it. His pleasure in their dynamic was, “The joy of knowing I can please her”. He showed me a few books and articles she had given him, in which she had highlighted the scenes she enjoyed and wanted to try. He shared that when they complete a scene, she tells him what worked and what didn’t, and what he should do more or less of. When I asked him how he measures his ability as a dominant, he laughed and answered, “I ask her!” And most telling, when I asked him what she does for him – that truly serves HIM, he couldn’t grasp that it was NOT a redundant question, and that he had not already answered it!
Most people won’t enjoy dominating if their submissive isn’t enjoying submitting. However, this level of direction from her struck me as an issue. It was clear that no matter how many honorifics you put before
his name, he was NOT the dominant in their relationship! This wasn’t a case of “topping from below” – because he didn’t appear to be all that interested in being “above”. Also, she wasn’t complaining about his style of dominance or lack of creativity. She was scripting it.
This led to a pointed discussion with her. Our previous conversations focused on her stated desire to extend their dynamic into a full-time lifestyle, but now I was questioning her motivation. Was she really ready to let him change his style of dominance to a lifestyle, where his preferences were primary? Did she just want more “topping” or did she really want her husband to demand more for himself? Would she even be able to stand that?
I probed in these areas. At the end of the conversation, she admitted to being the natural dominant in their relationship and, more importantly, that she really had no interest in actually serving anyone. She enjoyed having him focused on serving her preferences and liked the fact that he was fulfilled by her pleasure. Still, she enjoyed being the slave. He had become adept at the techniques she taught him. He was a good student (as are most good submissives).
She was having a bit of an identity crisis; not being able to rationalize her desire to enjoy the endorphin rush, moments of helplessness, and release that BDSM provided, against her natural dominance. She was conflicted…and searching for a change.
Things became clarified. Since we now agreed that she was the real dominant in the relationship, I asked HER: “What do you REALLY want?”
Ultimately, she wanted a “Service Top”. She didn’t realize such a thing existed: A submissive who, as part of their service to their dominant, acts as the top in BDSM scenarios. In all other ways, she enjoyed her husband’s submissive nature. In fact, she intimated that she might like to extend his role as her submissive – provided she could still “Demand” a master in the bedroom. He seemed quite agreeable to that notion.
As I said in my latest book, “Uniquely Dominant”, you never know what a situation really entails when you’re on the outside of the window looking in. You need to individualize your dynamics and flow where preferences take you. It’s not WHAT you do, it’s WHY you do what you do.
As for these two, only time will tell where this will go. I will keep track of their progress and try to help out with any other complications that arise. By the time this article reaches publication, it’s likely that a couple of more months will have gone by. If you’re interested in their progress, contact me here or on Fetlife…or via email (Ms_Rika@hotmail.com).
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”.
How fascinating. I love hearing about ‘real’ kink in the real world; I think I have more to learn about how it really works than you can get from a rulebook; I mean, how many people would have figured out that *she* was the dominant in the relationship. Kinda brilliant! And the service-top is a great concept. I think there are lots of people who would be more confortable with their kink identity if they knew that was such a thing (including me.) Thank you for sharing this.