Let’s talk for a moment about praise.
In most avocations, praise for good performance is both expected and encouraged. “Good job!” “Well done!” “Attaboy!” or “Attagirl!” Expressions of appreciation and esteem like these are common, especially from a parent, a coach or a teacher. Frankly, a parent who does not cheer on their child will be viewed as unkind and uncaring, and a coach or teacher who does not provide encouragement like this probably won’t last long in their job.
However, in the world of BDSM, some unique complications arise with praising one’s partner. For one thing, some submissives actually thrive on feeling humiliated. This does not mean they don’t want to be praised, mind you—everyone appreciates being recognized for doing well—but it can mean that the praise given can sound a little strange. Telling someone that they are “an obedient little cock sucker” as they go down on their knees, for instance, might seem to be giving them rather a left-handed compliment. And telling one’s wife that she is “such an eager slut” could easily lead to a nasty argument in other circumstances. In the context of BDSM, though, statements like these may be exactly the sort of thing the submissive desires to hear, and may, in fact, be tremendously exciting to them.
However, Joy is not this type of submissive, and as is well-documented, she does not enjoy such blatant humiliation—it is too much for her. I wouldn’t say anything like the above to her as she would take it to heart, and it would negatively impact her self-image. In other words, for Joy, at least, this sort of BDSM praise would have exactly the opposite effect of what was intended—it would make her feel bad rather than recognized or rewarded. Instead, when I want to praise Joy, I need to use more typical, traditionally complimentary phrases.
However, that runs us smack into the other complication that exists around praising one’s submissive partner. When Joy has been obedient, particularly when she has followed instructions she has found onerous, I want to tell her that she’s been a good girl. However, how does it sound if I do that directly, if I say something like, “That’s my good girl, Joy. You’ve been such a good girl!” This is praise, certainly, but does is sound a little simplistic? Does it remind you of how you might talk to your dog, perhaps?
Yes, I know that there are submissives that like to think of themselves as their Owner’s pet, and for them, more than likely, this would not be an issue. But remember again that this is Joy we’re talking about, and once again, feeling like a pet is more direct humiliation than she can absorb without negative repercussions. My suspicion is that many submissives are more like Joy than otherwise, and the feeling of condescension conveyed by saying, “Good girl, good girl,” is counterproductive for them as well.
Nonetheless, praise is essential—it is important to let your partner know when they have done well in submitting, when they have pleased you, when they have accomplished something or attained a goal. How else will they know that “they did good”? And how will they know that you noticed, and approved? And how will they feel appreciated for their effort? The challenge, with a submissive like Joy, anyway, is to find a way to do so without direct humiliation or coming across as condescending.
The solution, of course, is to be specific and truthful. It is also both helpful and powerful to convey how your partner’s behavior made you feel. As a couple examples…
“I thought you might be afraid of the candle wax, and you were, but you opened your legs anyway and you held them spread apart. I felt proud of you for overcoming your fear, and proud that you trusted me enough to do so.”
“I love it when you swallow like that, Joy. It feels so good to stay in your mouth when I come, and to feel you swallowing it down and not pulling away.”
Honestly, this is a best practice when praising any type of behavior—being specific and describing how the behavior makes you feel is effective far beyond the realm of BDSM. And frankly, this type of praise is far more powerful than a simple “Good girl” anyway—it makes plain what exactly the girl did that was so good in the first place, as well as the impact it had on you.
I have followed this strategy when praising Joy for years, and it has successfully led me past her twin minefields of humiliation and condescension. The challenge I have with it now, unfortunately, is remembering to provide praise sufficiently often! It can be awfully easy to forget to say “well done” as one lays there spent between your partner’s long, smooth legs…