Since it’s the first I’m writing to you this year, Happy New Year! I hope you had a festive turn of the year. Here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2019!
I hope you’ve had the opportunity to read my previous three installments in Kink Weekly and are anxious to move forward with your journey into dominant-centered, service-oriented power dynamics! If you haven’t read them yet, you can click on my name in the by-line above to get links to all of the articles. Read from the beginning!
In November, we saw how each relationship carries attributes that are shared between the partners and that continue within a relationship, regardless of the existence of a power dynamic, or not. In December (in two parts), we discussed how the dominant is given a new right, by virtue of the power transfer; the “Right of Expectation”. We then talked about obligations of both the submissive and dominant, and how different they are. Lastly, we discussed CERAF (Communication, Expectation, Recognition, Assessment, and Feedback); a simple series of steps dominants can use to remain an active and involved participant in the dynamic.We also addressed that, while relationships are two-way streets, submission is a one-way transfer of power. We acknowledge that his makes some worry that the sub’s desires will not be fulfilled and the power dynamic will not be healthy.
So, this month, we take the next step, discussing ways by which dominants can consider the needs of their submissives, while remaining the center of their submission. We will avoid obligating the dominant with anything more than was discussed in the previous articles, while making sure both partner’s needs are being fulfilled.
Before tackling this challenge, we need to take a hard look at the difference between “Needs” and “Wants”. Let’s face it, there are things we want and then there are things we need. We’re humans, and like to be pleased, so often, we call things that we “want a lot”, needs…but they’re not really needs…they’re just things we like a lot, want a lot, and desire a lot. A need is something you really can’t continue (whatever it is), without.
We know we can’t live without food, water, and shelter. While there are many more things we want to live, and there are philosophies built around a hierarchy of human desire, these three are simplistically accepted to be the mandatory needs to live. Relationship needs are a bit more complicated and personal. My friend Jen extended it best, “Needs in relationships are things the relationship cannot survive without. Wants are things that make the relationship more enjoyable.” I find this definition to be perfect for this discussion.
In November’s discussion, we discussed the notion of “Mutual Fulfillment of Needs” as being a fundamental requirement of the underlying relationship layer. If you’re going to have longevity in a relationship, any type of relationship, you’ll likely require that your needs are being met by it. If not, you’ll likely stray from the relationship, or end it altogether. Lack of companionship, lack of caring, lack of love…all may be failures in need that lead to the dilution of relationships.
As I mentioned last month, in a non-power relationship, our “wants” are filled when we communicate them and hope that our partner chooses to fulfill them. We then talked about the imbalance of equity and obligation within a power dynamic, where the Right of Expectation, created by the power transfer,
provides “want-fulfillment” for the dominant. The dominant is given the right to expect and even demand to have their wants fulfilled. The submissive isn’t given the same right. While they don’t lose their right – as a partner in a relationship – to ask for their wants fulfilled – and to seek compromise (just like those without a power dynamic), the power dynamic itself does not provide expectation of “want- fulfillment” for the submissive, as it does for the dominant.
So, what does a sub really “need”? It’s an individual thing, of course, but most subs I’ve met feel a real need to dedicate themselves in service, and / or to yield authority, to their dominant partner. This is usually the core need of what they say they want, although the descriptions of their desires are usually crowded with very specific activities – things they like and want. As dominants, we want to address our partner’s needs, but not feel obligated to do so exactly as specified by the submissive, particularly if were not comfortable with the activities requested. Too often, submissives will lobby to get their descriptive wants in the name of “Mutual Fulfillment”. This often materializes as pressure from the sub against the dominant in the form of a demand or ransom (“I will not serve properly unless I get my wants fulfilled too”), or as a complaint (“You’re not dominating me the ‘right’ way”). This is manipulation based on a false premise. Mutual fulfillment is a requirement of relationships, true…but it’s mutual fulfillment of NEED not WANT!
This is not to say that a submissive has to resign themselves to go without what they want. I’d go so far as to say that subs need to know their dominant partner cares enough about them to consider their wants. If we don’t consider a sub’s wants, it can be interpreted as a lack of caring or a lack of interest; both of which can violate their basic needs and threaten the relationship. As dominants, although our wants become our expectations for our subs, their wants are ours to take under advisement. We must avoid being obligated, as a condition of their submission, to fulfilling their wants, but we need to make sure their needs are addressed through honest and open consideration of them.
OK, so how do we demonstrate consideration for a sub’s wants while retaining the purity and “one- directional” nature of their submission? In my first book, “Uniquely Rika”, I introduced the use of “Treats / Gifts” to address this need, and I’ve seen it connect with hundreds of couples since.
A treat / gift is something given randomly; for no particular reason. It is usually unexpected and never demanded. They are given out of the goodness of the dominant’s heart. There are no quid-pro-quos (a ‘this for that’) with a gift. Gifts / treats are not earned as rewards would be. They’re not due the submissive, there are no obligations to give it. There are no promises, no commitments on the dominant’s part. There is no implied contract. They are given, “just because” – and they send VERY clear messages:
- I’m going to give you something I know you like, but are not demanding or expecting
- This is not owed to you. Your actions cannot obtain a gift, it’s given to you because I just feel like giving it to you. I’m never obligated to do so
- I’m in total control and can give, or take away things you enjoy
- Even though I’m giving this to you, I’m still thinking about our roles and I’m still within the power transfer we have established By using treats / gifts, dominants can freely give their subs what the sub likes and wants. They can fulfill a sub’s wants without worrying about compromising their position of authority, nor of being obligated to serve the sub. As we discussed above, by considering and fulfilling the sub’s wants, the dominant demonstrates that they care about the sub’s happiness – which fulfills a core need. By avoiding obligation (gifts/treats are NEVER owed, promised, earned, or exchanged) the dominant remains in control of the dynamic and eliminates any possible misinterpretation as to who has the right of expectation.
Consider the submissive’s position: When you receive a gift, you feel genuine gratitude. This is how we want the submissive to feel. They didn’t earn it, they didn’t control it, yet they received it. They’re thankful to the only person in control of giving it to them.
It’s worth restating: A critical success factor is that gifts / treats must never become the motivation for submission. If you believe that your sub feels that submission is a means to getting a gift, remove the gift! They must understand that the quality of their submission is always expected to be at the top of their ability, whether they receive gifts or not. The gifts / treats are not compensation, achievements, or rewards. We want our submissives to be motivated by our happiness with their efforts; the dominant- centric focus. If they are motivated by “what’s in it for them”, their submission will never reach a truly useful level.
Wrapping up this month: We’ve identified the dominant’s preferences as the source of the definition of submission to them and discussed the underlying relationship, contrasting it with the additional attributes associated the power dynamic’s layer. We’ve established the roles, responsibilities and obligations of the submissive and how they differ from those of the dominant. We’ve acknowledged that the obligations and responsibilities of all relationships continue, even after the formation of a power dynamic. Additionally, we introduced the sequence of CERAF, and how it demonstrates our active involvement in developing the quality of the submissive’s submission. Lastly, we’ve demonstrated the difference between needs and wants, and discussed how gifts / treats can be used to provide for a sub’s wants without sacrificing the purity and direction of the of the power transfer upon which our dynamic is built. Whew! That’s a lot!
In February’s column, we’ll start to put it all together with a discussion on becoming a better submissive: Something for submissives to strive for and dominants to insist upon. I think you’ll find plenty of New Year’s resolutions to apply!
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”.