I know I’ve written on this theme before, but this topic has been one I’ve definitely learned the hard way, and I think it bears repeating. A successful Dominant must have many different character traits, but one of the most important is often overlooked. That particular trait is patience.
Perhaps that is a bit surprising. After all, don’t Dominants insist that their partner obey them? Don’t they demand compliance? And don’t words like “insist” and “demand” imply the opposite of patience?
My experience has been that demands and insistence fail rather spectacularly in a consensual BDSM relationship. You see, there’s that important concept of “consensual” in the equation, which means that both partners have to agree to participate. When the Top starts “demanding” and “insisting”, generally it also starts to raise fear and resentment in the bottom, both of which serve to erode their consent.
When one insists on something, it implies there is resistance that must be overcome, perhaps even an outright objection that must be overridden. When one demands something, it carries a connotation of immediate response. These two verbs fit the stereotypical view of BDSM, in which the Dominant makes their submissive partner obey even if they don’t want to.
Personally, though, I don’t believe that within the bounds of consensual BDSM any submissive ever gets made to do something they truly don’t want to. Oh, sometimes they may consent to engage in a specific act they don’t particularly enjoy, but they consent because by doing so they achieve a higher goal—to make their partner happy, for instance, or to feel more submissive. A Dominant cannot make their partner do anything within consensual BDSM, because their partner can always say no. Insisting and demanding are two of the best ways to trigger “no” that I can imagine.
Instead, the task of the Dominant is to introduce opportunities for their submissive partner to do things that they secretly long to do, but are afraid or ashamed to admit…sometimes even to themselves. Dominants provide an excuse for their partners to act out their hidden fantasies and help them to overcome inhibitions that might prevent them from doing so. In a way, the Dominant’s role is to lead their partner in an exploration of their own self, and to support them during that exploration.
Where does patience come into this picture? Well, often the submissive partner is simultaneously both attracted to and afraid of an area of exploration. It both calls to them and repulses them all at the same time. Insisting that your partner go forward or demanding that they go quickly tend to accentuate the negative aspects to the point that they outweigh any attraction. However, patience…patience can allow fears to subside and inhibitions to be overcome by desire, enabling progress.
How does one employ patience in this area? Here are the hard-won lessons I think I’ve learned to date:
- If you want to try out something new, especially if you have indications that it’s potentially dicey, be content to plant a seed. Introduce the concept to your partner in a basic, non-threatening way. For instance, if you want to try out bondage, you might try bringing a simple blindfold into your bedroom activities. Enjoy it with your partner and then…put the blindfold away for awhile. Let the seed you planted have time to sprout. Your partner will have a chance to get used to the idea of what you have done together, and hopefully even to wonder when you might see fit to try it again. Once interest has had time to grow, you can return and see about taking things further.
- When pushing into new territory, or if revisiting an area that is known to be dangerous, go slow! If you’ve just started exploring corporal punishment, don’t jump immediately to a whipping post and the single tail! Move from a brief, relatively gentle bare hand spanking to a longer, over the knee spanking, and then the next time perhaps introduce a paddle. Proceed one small step at a time, and you’ll find you’ll go farther than you would if you tried to take giant leaps.
- Don’t be afraid to retreat. If an activity is not being well-received, stop and change direction. Go back to something more familiar that you know your partner likes. Afterwards, talk about what you did and how your partner felt about it. Think about your partner’s reaction and try to read between the lines to determine whether there was any hint of interest there. Consider possible alternate paths towards your goal. And remember, even though you had to abandon what you had planned, you have nonetheless managed to plant a seed as described in the first bullet above above. Perhaps, after some time for it to flourish, you might be able to return to this same idea with better results.
All three of these strategies require patience—they cannot succeed without it. If you have the self control to be patient, however, you’ll be surprised how far you can lead even the prudest partner. Remember, inside every prim and proper man or woman is a naughty boy or girl locked away. Your job as the Dominant is to help find the keys to let them out into the sunlight once in awhile in circumstances where they can feel safe enough and free enough to play.