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 my articles in KinkWeekly!
Gratitude: We recognize and enjoy what our partners do for us. We are humble in our receipt of their efforts. We want to express our appreciation to them in a way that expresses our deepest gratitude. Dominant or submissive, when our partners are gracious with their time and focus, we are compelled to show our gratitude. I am always grateful for the dedication and commitment my subs provide. I am open and honest regarding what their submission means to me as a means of validating their efforts.
But too often, appreciation is shown in a way that is intended to modify behavior. The difference between “Appreciation” and “Reward” is blurred. Appreciation shows gratitude…Reward is manipulation.
I was having an online discussion the other day with a man whose wife had just agreed to lock him up for the month of October (Loctober). He was expressing how thrilled he was that his wife had agreed to put him in chastity and that she had also agreed to tease him throughout the month, so that the impact of his denial would be maximized. As this decision was something he had asked her for, and, though she felt she might enjoy it, did not feel it was something that “served her” directly, he recognized she was providing a gift to him; that she was voluntarily signing up for a sub-centric month that would put responsibility and obligation on her, for the expressed purpose of piquing his libido.
He wanted to show his gratitude and had come up with what he considered a good way to communicate it to her. He decided to do a huge number of tasks, chores, etc. for her during the month and to write down each and every thing he did in a journal. He felt he would then present it to her at the end of the month as a means of saying “Thank you”.
Honestly, I was a little confused. My first instinct was to change the journal from a list of things he did for her to a journal of thanks – for allowing him to do those things for her. Rather than saying, “I filled your car with gas today”, I felt it would be better to say, “Thank you for letting me fill your car with gas today. I enjoyed feeling useful and helping you avoid doing something you dislike”. I felt that this would be better than just listing things she likely already knew that he did, with no real mention of thanks.
But then, I started thinking about the whole idea of this journal – and realized that, intentionally or not, he was anticipating playing the manipulative game so many men who want to be in chastity play: He was going to try to show her the “Benefits” to her of keeping him in chastity – by being especially good while locked up, doing things with no resistance that he COULD do for her without the chastity – but won’t.
Effectively, this journal would be communicating: “Look at all the things I am willing to do for you when you keep me desperate and horny!” The message is loud and clear: “If you want me to do these things without resistance, here’s the way to do it”. It’s a form of manipulation which is, unfortunately, quite common with men who like chastity play.
I was very pleased that he was recognizing that being locked up and teased during October was a treat…something she wanted to give to him, for him. It was good that he recognized her generosity and wanted to show his gratitude. However, the means of showing that gratitude were falling directly into that stereotypical, manipulative trap.
I posed the question to him: “What are you showing your gratitude for?” My assumption was that he wanted to show his gratitude for her spending all that time teasing him and thinking about his situation…keeping his libido piqued, etc. So, I asked him, “Why not say THAT in this journal?” I told him that it would be better for him to thank her for applying so much focus and attention on him and his libido. I challenged him to show that appreciation by directly appreciating what she’s doing without using it to encourage further interaction.
October is just beginning…his “Loctober” is only a week in…there will be plenty of fun times ahead of them. If they keep up the schedule of tease that they anticipate, he will be MIGHTY desperate come Sept 1! I hope she’s aware and ready for the “obligation” of making the release – after such a long ordeal – something worth remembering. We’ll see.
We’ll also see if he rectifies the manipulation within his journal plan. He states that he didn’t intend to manipulate her, but can see how doing what he was intending would do that. But the proof is in the pudding – and if she’s not aware of the potential for manipulation – he may not be able to resist. Only time will tell.
Appreciation is best shown in a selfless manner. You need to find a way to show gratitude without self gain. Make sure you’re not “Rewarding” behavior – rather, that you’re “Appreciating” it. Then your partner will have a clear, unencumbered view of the pleasure their gift brings you – and thus, reap the true benefits – to them – of giving treats.
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