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!
Neediness breeds sub-centric behavior – Why neediness is a poor motivation strategy
A needy person, by definition, is someone who is driven by a quest to satisfy their own internal desire. A straight dictionary definition of “needy” deals primarily with money – but the Urban dictionary defines needy in a way that better fits the way we’re using it:
“Requiring attention beyond what is normative.”
A sub who is “needy” – who demands attention to their plight – doesn’t make a very good submissive, because the motivation for their actions is self-serving. They are trying to quench their own desires. And, once satiated (if that’s even possible), and they are no longer needing fulfillment, their motivation disappears. This is what I’ve been terming sub-centric behavior. The focus of the sub is not on pleasing the dominant, it’s on satisfying their own need by whatever means necessary.
I would argue that, anything which increases the amount of neediness in a sub, increases the amount of sub-centric intent that person has. This might even be considered “by definition”, if you really think about it.
So, if that’s true, motivating a sub by creating neediness is counter-productive – if your aim is to create a dominant-centric dynamic. You’re driving that sub to more and more sub-centricity – focusing him more and more on the end-goal of satisfying HIMSELF. No matter how immediately effective it is in the short term, I think it’s a bad technique for the long term.
The short-term effects of neediness, if not addressed, often wear off, unless the dominant chooses to reinforce that neediness – to maintain it. The concern for the dominant is to make sure that the sub does not get complacent or comfortable – which would reduce the desire and therefore the motivation for compliance. So, they find themselves being forced to track and monitor the sub’s level of desire – perhaps manipulate it to keep it piqued. That’s a lot of work, if you ask me.
So regardless of whether it “works” or not, the tactic of increasing neediness as a means of motivation is not something I would want in my dynamics (or FLRs) because it is not something that builds the kind of consistent self-discipline a sub requires to dedicate himself to his submission for the long term – something he will require if he is to remain submissive, independent of his level of need (which varies over time).
Some will argue that “a sexually satisfied sub is a lazy sub” and theories like this that suggest a sub male who is allowed to orgasm on a regular basis becomes lazy and inattentive to his dominant’s desires and needs. They then conclude that one of the things that a dominant must do is to increase his need by not allowing him to orgasm regularly through T&D, chastity, etc.
This is only true if you allow it to be true. If you allow this presumption to have merit, it will. Submission is an outward expression of dedication to another person, not an inward reflection of one’s own desperation. I enjoy T&D, but it does not build submission.
Reward vs. Internal Benefit
Others argue that, “No human being ever does anything without the prospect of a reward”. This is quite a skeptical statement, just from a societal standpoint, but the real argument is in the use of the word “Reward”.
I use the word “reward” differently the words “personal benefit”. To me, a reward is something you get for something from the person for whom you did the task. It is often something promised in advance and used to entice a person to complete a task. It is a form of payment. In this context, I don’t agree that people need a reward to do something. On the other hand, I do agree that people are motivated by the benefits for themselves. A sub who enjoys to serve benefits from the dynamic as much as the person being served. But that benefit comes from within themselves.
It’s not just semantics. A sub who serves because he loves the feeling of making the dominant happy receives his benefit from within. The dominant doesn’t give him happiness, he experiences it himself because submission works for him. Does he benefit? Of course! But is the dominant obligated to provide something to him in exchange for his service? No. A reward would be something given to the submissive IN EXCHANGE, OR REMEDIATION, FOR their submission. The phrase “Submission is its own reward” is a little misleading, in my opinion. That type of “reward” is a self-appropriated benefit. It’s not the same thing as if the dominant rewarded the sub for their service.
I think that’s the same differentiation for the use of the word “Needy”. A sub who is needy is one who is demanding that the dominant fulfill that need. Whether they come out and demand it, or just act up to get attention, or whose service suffers because of their selfish desires. Needing to submit is something that the sub can fulfill for themselves through their own actions. It’s not something that they are demanding that the dominant provide.
The one who is obligated, matters
I frequently encounter couples where the dominant feels “obliged” to think up things for the submissive to do…to keep the submissive busy and fulfilled in their submission. The submissives in these situations are completing their tasks as quickly as they can, and then immediately searching for more.
Wanting more tasks to do and pestering a dominant to think up more tasks are two very different things. How the submissive materializes his need determines how much attention he requires. A submissive who completes his task and then hounds his dominant with “What’s Next” questions isn’t serving the dominant. However, if he completes a task he can continue to serve by following the wishes and preferences of his dominant – if she likes proactive service, he can seek out new tasks and things to do by himself without forcing her to focus on him. If she doesn’t like proactive service, then he can serve by simply being quiet and patiently awaiting her next order – making himself ready and willing without requiring attention.
Many will argue that, when we are in a relationship, we are “responsible” for fulfilling the needs of our partners – D/s or otherwise. That it is the job of one partner to fulfill the others’ needs.
The way I see it, we are responsible for our own happiness. I view obligation in a relationship slightly differently. When we’re in a relationship, we care about our partners. We consider their needs. We recognize that mutual satisfaction of needs is something that is required for a relationship to last – When needs are not met in a relationship, the relationship is in jeopardy. We want our partners to be fulfilled. This doesn’t change because you have a power dynamic. The difference between helping a partner feel fulfilled and being responsible for their happiness.
Believing that you have an obligation to fulfill your partner’s desires is a kind of old-fashioned thought. I look at it as a much more natural extension of caring. I don’t feel OBLIGATED, but I feel joy in knowing I can make him happy and fulfill his desires. That’s part of what creates the bond between two partners. I don’t do things for my husband because it’s my obligation to do them – I do them because I love him and want to see him happy. It’s natural and non-burdening.
Just as in a non-power-based relationship, I find joy in seeing my submissive happy. I do things for him, just because he enjoys them, because I care for him and love to see him happy. However, we have a power dynamic and therefore, the things he does for me, he does because he is my submissive and has committed to serve me. He granted me, by virtue of his commitment to serve me, the entitlement to EXPECT and DEMAND that he fulfills my every wish; need or want. Just being in a relationship doesn’t give you the right to demand. It gives you the right to walk away from the relationship if you don’t get what you need – but it does not entitle you to demand fulfillment of your wants. The D/s power commitment obligates the submissive and entitles the dominant.
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
This is literal gold! Thank you!
Sublime. Why isn’t this common sense to more.
FemDoms for the win!
love love love the picture
Ms Rika says
You have the editor to thank for that…I generally just have my banner. I’m not usually one for kink-laden, sub-centric imagery. Kind of goes against my style.