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!
People’s preferences differ. Dominants are no exception. One topic that generates lots of debates among dominants – and therefore, confusion among subs – is the area of Anticipatory Service. To some (myself included), having a submissive who is so in-tuned with my definition of dominance and submission, that they can consistently accurately act in accordance with my preferences, without needing to be told and without needing to ask for permission, is the pinnacle of good submission. To others, it’s a repulsive idea.
When I mention Anticipatory Service, I’m often met with, “Subs make terrible mind-readers!” I respond that the notion that anticipation requires reading someone’s mind is completely erroneous. Yes, anticipatory service requires that the sub be focused on the dominant quite a bit. They need to remember things, be observant, and present. It requires that the sub be attentive, empathetic, and a little intuitive. But they’re not expected to be a mind-readers. Rather, they’re expected to internalize their dominant’s preferences and apply them to their decisions.
There are dominants who prefer that the sub never take the initiative to act on their behalf and to never make their own decisions. They may allow the submissive to make suggestions, but never to act without instruction / permission to do so. They prefer the method of “Recall and Obey”: Only allow the sub to act on their own when it’s in response to a standing directive (e.g., Every Tuesday AM do this…Every time I do that, you do this).
For me, this plays on the difference between “Information” and “Instruction”. Information provides the “Why” of a request, whereas Instruction provides the “How”. If I inform the sub that I want something done and provide the basis for them to determine what “correct” is, they are given the responsibility of determining how to do it to my expectation.
If I provide instruction, they are to “obey” and follow those instructions. In my opinion, a sub following instructions will, at best, meet expectations – whereas a sub who is given information can exceed those expectations. For me, a sub who can exceed my expectations is a top-notch sub!
To clarify this distinction, I propose the following scenario:
Let’s say a dominant tells her sub, “From now, until I tell you otherwise, you are to bring me a glass of wine with a bowl of fruit each evening when I sit down to watch TV.”
The sub does so, each evening: Recall and obedience.
Tomorrow, the dominant has an appointment with the doctor and will be getting her blood taken to test for blood sugar levels. The sub knows this and knows that she cannot have the sugar from the fruit, nor from the alcohol, but it’s slipping the dominant’s mind – and she isn’t telling the sub to do anything different.
The sub has some choices:
1. Pure recall and obedience would edict that the sub does what he’s told to do, anyway – as he wasn’t told NOT to do it…so he would blindly obey. He brings the glass of wine and fruit, obediently.
2. Inquire, don’t act: The sub reminds the dominant of her blood test the next day and asks if he should bring the wine and cheese anyway. The dominant would then tell the submissive if she would have something else instead.
3. Anticipatory: The sub reminds the dominant of her blood test the next day and shows her that he prepared an alternate snack that doesn’t impact the blood work, and offers it as an option to her. If the alternative is not what she wants, she’ll send him off for something else, otherwise, she’s all set.
Given this example, some dominants are going to choose #2; not wanting the sub to act without permission. Frankly, I don’t see too many choosing #1, as that strikes me a bit more like fantasy play than reality. You all can likely guess that I’d prefer #3. I don’t mind allowing the sub to use their minds and not rely only on me.
If my sub were choosing the alternative snack for me, it wouldn’t be chosen out of the blue – nor would it be chosen because he miraculously “read my mind” – it would be chosen based on his best understanding of my preferences, the situation as it stands, (in this case) his knowledge of blood tests and the impacts of what I ate / drank prior to drawing the blood, and any other factors that might influence my preference (e.g, What I ate earlier in the day – if he knows that, if I will be working out later – if he knows that, what I’m having for dinner – if he knows that, etc.).
All of those “If he knows that”s are important to note. He’s not expected to know everything – he can’t read my mind. He’s expected to take whatever he knows and use it to make his best, educated, anticipation. Obviously, the more in-tuned he is with me; the more he is aware of my patterns and the way I prefer to handle situations, and the more observant he can be – the more educated and accurate his anticipation will be. This would give him the best chance of arriving at a solution that will please me.
And if he doesn’t get it right, that’s OK too. I don’t get mad at my sub if he anticipates incorrectly – as long as he was truly trying to the best of his ability and as long as he learns from his mistakes. If he gets something wrong (or not right), then it’s a learning experience that will influence and improve his anticipation skills in the future. We’re in this, together, for the long haul.
I assure you, that when a sub gets it right and comes up with something PERFECT that I, myself, might not have even thought of – exceeds my expectations – that’s heaven! Consider that, If he’s obedient, the best I can get is what I can think of. Whereas, if he gets good at anticipating, and is encouraged to do so, I can get surprised by things that may be even BETTER than what I would have thought of! Two minds can be better than one – as long as they’re focused on the same objective (my happiness)!
If you’re a submissive, be sure to take your lead from the unique dominant to whom you’re submitting. Don’t assume anticipatory service is better because Rika said it is for her. You are a student, who needs to learn your dominant’s preferences – particularly when it comes to the style of submission they would like. Also, submissives, don’t try to push your preferences onto your dominant. You might like to never be allowed to make a decision on your own, but your dominant may not like the pressure / burden that places on them. If your goal is to make your dominant pleased with your service as their submissive, focus on their preferences and adapt to deliver to the best of your ability.
If you’re a dominant, make sure you understand and communicate your preferences to your submissives. Usually dominants don’t need to be told that, but you might be surprised how often dominants either forget, or try to appease their submissives. Know what you prefer and assure your submissive understands it. Then expect it to be done the way you prefer!
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