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!
This morning, I received a PM on Fetlife from a woman who is new to dominance. She was a switch in past relationships, but found that she would like to take on the dominant role with her current boyfriend. She started reading through “Uniquely Rika” and, as I often do, we started chatting as she read chapter by chapter.
Today, she asked me whether it was “OK” for a dominant to say “Please” and “Thank You”, when dealing with her submissive. She indicated that she feels compelled by her upbringing to be polite and show gratitude to people, but she was finding that her submissive was reacting negatively to her doing so. She was trying to suppress being polite, which was unsettling and unnatural for her. Uniquely Rika was telling her the importance of remaining herself as a dominant, and she was conflicted over what would amount to be a major change in her personality.
To attack this situation, you first need to understand why there’s a problem. What’s wrong with being polite to a submissive? In reality, it’s actually not that you can’t be polite – but that politeness can be misinterpreted by a submissive as a lack of your awareness of their commitment to serve. A sub who feels that their dominant is “pleading” for them to do something (which is, technically, what saying ‘Please’ is), or one who is led to feel that the dominant doesn’t recognize their intent because they are being thanked for doing something that the power dynamic compels them to do, may feel alone in their dynamic. In previous articles, we’ve identified this feeling and addressed how it destroys dynamics and causes submissives to behave less submissively.
Dominants like myself, who are polite, are now likely thinking, “So wait a minute, I can’t do what I want and what makes me comfortable, because the sub might not like it? I’m the dominant and need to remain who I am!”. You are correct…but there IS a problem that needs to be addressed. Well, don’t fret, there’s a very reasonable solution. We absolutely can be polite, but we need to be aware of how it might be interpreted, and therefore, be clear as to our INTENT when we are.
Subs are compelled by their commitment., but the one thing that a submissive actually DECIDES to do, is to remain your submissive. “Free will” implies that, at any time, a submissive has the right to walk away from the dynamic. They’re living up to their commitment when they serve you, however, they are CHOOSING to remain your submissive by doing so…and that’s something you can definitely thank them for.
Therefore, thank the sub for their submission, not their actions. Rather than saying, “Thank you for rubbing my back”, you might say, “Thank you for serving me so well by rubbing my back”. A sub is going to dread the former, and will LOVE the latter. The message in the latter is an affirmation of your power dynamic and has no chance of being misinterpreted. In this way, “Thank You” is intended and interpreted as “I appreciate you and your commitment to serve me“.
“I appreciate you as my submissive” is a great message…”Thanks for being my sub”, “I love having you as my sub” – are all terrific words of praise. Whereas, “Thanks for doing things I tell you to do“, has a good chance of undermining the premise of your power dynamic.
Still, some will feel it unnatural and unnecessary to have to think about this and remember to phrase their thanks in a specific way. The good news is, it doesn’t have to last long. Once you establish your intent with a partner, you won’t need that formality. When you’re first starting a dynamic, being more explicit is going to help you. Make sure to specify “For your service”. Go out of your way to be crystal clear as to the intent of your thanks. This helps them know that you are active and involved in your dynamics. Once your intent is established, and there is less likelihood that your statements will be misinterpreted, you can shorten your delivery if you feel more comfortable doing so.
Just make sure you are clear in your intent and remain aware of how misunderstood politeness can be.
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