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 week, I was chatting with a submissive who had been dismissed from her mistress’ poly household because she was unable to control her jealousy and need for attention. Now, almost a year later, she has returned asking for forgiveness and swearing that she’s changed.
I correspond with the mistress fairly frequently. In the past, she has shared the issues with this particular submissive, and last year, I provided a sounding board when she was torn about dismissing this submissive. I got good insight into the types of challenges that they were facing and saw how the submissive was creating an intolerable situation; being demanding and emotionally taxing. Dismissal was appropriate. Now, the submissive is begging to come back and promising great change. As is the tendency in these cases, my friend seems to have forgotten the problems of the past and wants to believe that the submissive has changed her ways. The submissive reached out to me, feeling the need to tell me how she’s changed and how “things will be different this time” and how she “will show the dominant how much she’s changed”.
I have the luxury of being emotionally detached from the situation – and so my memory serves me a bit better than that of my friend. I’m a believer in adjustment and in lessons learned – which this submissive has clearly experienced – but the way she worded her intent made me skeptical that change is possible.
At the root of my doubt is an issue that’s very common among sub-centric submissives; the notion that they can “demonstrate submission”.
Demonstrating submission is a sub-centric activity. It may not seem that way at first, because the stated objective is to show how good their submission is, but “demonstrating something” is an action that requires that the one to whom the demonstration is given, observe and acknowledge the performer. The focus of attention during a demonstration is on the demonstrator.
This feeds the sub-centric psyche. The focus of attention is on them. They are the performer. They are being watched and judged. The dominant is forced into the position of having to “write the review” of the performance – and determine if the show stays open. Even though the sub’s actions are stated to be for the dominant, their actual intent is self-serving.
Imagine what’s going to happen if the dominant is preoccupied with something (or someone) else while the submissive is trying to demonstrate their improved submission. What if the dominant is just not paying attention at that point and time? Will the sub feel that their efforts are being neglected or ignored? Should the sub wait until the dominant is paying attention to demonstrate their submission? That wouldn’t be very good submission, would it?
I’m not saying that subs shouldn’t get feedback. All subs are entitled to get feedback. They have no other way to improve their submission. For those of you who’ve read my books, you will remember CERAF, the acronym that stands for what I consider to the be the primary responsibility of a dominant: Communication, Expectation, Recognition”, “Assessment” and “Feedback”. The last three steps are all
about seeing the sub’s efforts, assessing them, and providing the feedback to help them improve. How does “RAF” differ from a sub trying to demonstrate their submission?
The difference is in “Demand”. It’s one thing to want to be the best submissive you can be – internalize your dominant’s expectations and use their assessment and feedback to make adjustments – it’s completely another to make the intent of your actions to force acknowledgement of them. The intent of a good submissive is to serve the dominant – and internalizing feedback and making adjustments are the best ways to reach that objective. But when the intent is to force acknowledgement, to PROVE something to the dominant, to get the dominant to admit that improvement – that’s when it becomes manipulation and self-centered behavior.
Submission is a commitment that you make; a dedication to a dominant. Your focus is on the dominant – their expectations, their preferences, and their desires. Submission is “good” when the dominant feels that it’s good. The dominant doesn’t need to be “Shown” how good submission is – we feel it. A good dominant will provide that feedback at appropriate times and on their own schedule, but not because it’s demanded in order to confirm the submissive’s objective.
A exaggerated example, to demonstrate the difference, can be seen in this tale of two submissives, tasked to clean a bathroom:
Submissive #1 Cleans the bathroom. Does the very best job they can and heads on to do their next chore. The dominant eventually uses the bathroom and calls the sub in an says, “Nice job, but next time be sure to wash the tops of my makeup and cold cream containers”. The sub notes that so they can do it the next time.
Submissive #2 Says, “Thank you Goddess…I’m going to clean the bathroom and I’m going to make it SPARKLE! You’ll see”. The sub cleans the bathroom and then seeks out the dominant. “Would you like to inspect my work?” If the dominant is not interested in inspecting the work, submissive #2 sulks, until, eventually the dominant relents and inspects the work. Submissive #2 is anxiously awaiting acknowledgment that the dominant sees how good a job they did. The fact that cold cream container cover is not cleaned becomes an issue that submissive #2 interprets as a failure to demonstrate their improved submission. The dominant, feeling this pressure, might even not mention the cold cream container – just to avoid the emotional tumult.
OK…that’s an exaggerated scenario – but it highlights the underlying intents…and whether they’re as blatant as this example or not, they are FELT.
Being the audience of a demonstration demands attention. Being the presenter adds pressure and makes criticism personal. Dominants need to provide feedback and submissives need to listen, internalize, and adjust – but an intent to serve must not manipulate a dominant. Don’t demonstrate your submission – just submit.
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