Posts Tagged limits

Long Term Objectives

One of my responsibilities in my relationship with Joy is to guide our exploration of the many and varied paths of BDSM. For us, at least, BDSM is a journey rather than a destination, and we make progress from day to day and year to year. There are many, many different directions in which to go, and to assist in my navigation, I set short term and long term objectives for our exploration.

The short term objectives are easy—they might be based on a new toy I purchased that I want to try, or around the idea I imagined for our next adventure. Today, however, I wanted to talk more about the long term objectives. Long term objectives are not so easy.

Let’s specify that objectives, in this case, are different from relationship goals. I definitely do have relationship goals within the context of D/s, and though we haven’t really discussed it, I’m quite certain Joy has them as well. As an example, one of my D/s relationship goals would be for Joy to embrace, rather than fight against, her desire to submit. Another would be for me to get better at overcoming her resistance and making her submit when she does not wish to do so. Goals like these are strategic, and exist at the relationship level. For our purposes, however, an objective is more tactical. It is an activity or situation that I want us to experience together. And a long term objective is an activity or situation that is out of reach right now, but that I desire us to eventually attain.

I currently have two long term objectives that I’m working toward. I will not tell you what they are–Joy periodically reads this blog, and knowing where I am guiding us would likely prove detrimental to our progress. However, here are a couple of former long term objectives that we have already reached to serve as examples:

  • Be able to come in Joy’s mouth freely and expect her to swallow
  • Share Joy with another woman in a BDSM scene

In both these cases, when I initially broached the subject, Joy was unable/unwilling to go there. As a matter of fact, I believe her response to the first objective was something like, “It’s gross and I don’t do that” and the second was along the lines of “I could never have another person in our bedroom. And no matter what guys wish, we’re not all lesbians, you know?”

Joy’s reactions were indicators that these activities were too far outside her comfort zone to be immediately attainable. But I wanted them nonetheless. What to do?

Setting long term objectives has to do with the process of overcoming limits. I’ve written before about working with limits, about the power and the risk it entails, and I won’t repeat myself in detail here. Instead, here’s a metaphor that illustrates the process that I’ve found to be successful:

Imagine a stream you want to cross. The water is swift and dark, and you cannot see the bottom. However, you have determination, persistence and time on your side. Pick up a single stone and drop it in. The water swallows it immediately and it vanishes without a trace. Drop in another stone and then another. Drop enough stones and eventually they start to poke up above the surface. Keep on dropping stones and you will begin to build a bridge that will carry you to where you want to go.

The stream is the limit you are facing. The stones are “baby steps” toward your objective. Each time you take a baby step, you drop a stone in the water. Just as the stones pile up, the baby steps build one upon another. In the first example above, a baby step I employed was using Joy’s mouth but pulling out before orgasm and coming on her breasts. The next baby step in the series was to shift my target so that I came on her face. In the second example, a baby step was watching a video of one woman Dominating another. A second was to role play a scene with another woman in which Joy had to submit.

Each baby step works to expand your partner’s comfort zone ever-so-slightly in the direction you want to go. Each step takes your partner a tiny way towards your objective, and a tiny distance beyond their comfort zone. Repeat that baby step enough times, and eventually it will become accepted—your partner’s comfort zone expands to encompass it. Then it’s time to take another baby step. You may not notice any effect from an individual baby step, but they accumulate over time and eventually progress may be made.

Obviously one key to success with this approach is picking the right river! You will run out of stones and time if you try to build a bridge across the Mississippi using a stone-by-stone approach, but if you pick a smaller stream or creek, your chances for success are much improved. In the same way, picking an activity where your partner’s limit is not strong is more likely to succeed than picking one where the limit is severe. In the examples I cited above, I knew Joy had an interest–a hidden desire–to explore the directions I had chosen. That’s part of the reason why I selected them.

I suppose it’s perfectly possible to operate without any long-term objectives in a D/s relationship—I can see how that would work. However, I’m a planner, and I like to have something to work towards, so Joy and I always have at least one. And slowly, so slowly, we make progress against it.

As I said, I currently have two long term objectives I’m working against. We have had several breakthroughs along the way, and at this point, one of the two is nearing completion, I think. Oh, there are still hurdles to overcome, but I’m beginning to see a clear path to the final step, and I suspect that within the next four or five months, we’ll be there. I may regret saying this—we could easily backslide—but for now, prospects appear bright.

Assuming we are successful, I’ll share when we have reached our goal. Until then…

Enjoy yourself,

Jake

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Knowing When to Stop

My goal for a BDSM or bondage adventure is always the same–I want to take Joy just beyond her zone of comfort, so that we pass out of the realm of the familiar and venture ever so slightly into unfamiliar territory. I don’t always succeed in doing this, but when I do, I believe it gives Joy (and through her, me) the maximum amount of excitement and sheer fun attainable. If I don’t go far enough, and we never exceed Joy’s comfort zone, it’s almost always fun nonetheless, but the excitement level is not quite the same. But that’s better than what happens when I go too far. When I take Joy too far past the outer limit of her comfort zone, the fun stops abruptly for both of us.

That’s obviously a bad outcome, and one you want to avoid. But how do you know when you’ve gone far enough? And how do you know when you’re about to go too far?

This last question in particular is a tough one, and I’ve personally screwed up the answer more than once. As an example, lately Joy and I have been experimenting with using pain to heighten sexual excitement. During a session a couple weeks ago, I had attached a pair of nipple clamps and tightened them nicely. A few minutes later I tightened them another notch. I had Joy bent over so that the chain that connects the two clamps hung downward between her two breasts. To this point, all was okay (though I should have recognized some warning signs already), but when I attached weights to the chain I took the step too far. Joy called out her safe word and we had to retreat and regroup.

It’s generally pretty easy to tell when you’ve already gone too far. For instance, if your submissive partner breaks out their safe word, it’s a safe assumption that you’ve exceeded their threshold. If there is resentment, anger, fear or sadness after the scene is over, you’ve almost certainly gone too far. But all of these indications only show up after it’s too late! How can one tell before taking that one extra step that causes all the trouble?

My answer, unfortunately, is that this is art rather than science, and one can never tell exactly the point at which one needs to stop. This is because comfort zones change and expand over time, and because they vary between individuals and even based on mood and/or level of arousal. However, there are a number of measures you can take to at least limit the risk that you’ll go too far:

  1. Know your submissive partner’s limits and treat them with respect. If you are approaching a limit, tread lightly and with great care, and err on the side of caution.
  2. Take one (and only one!) step at a time. To illustrate, if your partner’s only experience with corporal punishment is the solitary light hand spanking you gave them last night, don’t break out the cane or single tail whip tonight. Instead, go slowly, step by step, down the spanking path, perhaps increasing the duration and intensity of the bare hand spanking, varying the spanking position, or possibly adding a leather paddle. Savor the journey, and let your partner’s comfort zone expand gradually to allow further progress. In the end, if you follow this approach, you’ll lead them to where you want to go.
  3. Watch for tell-tale signs of maximum excitement. Hopefully you know your partner well and are familiar with their physical symptoms of extreme arousal. With Joy, for instance, the most obvious is nipples–when they are at their most erect, especially if coupled with a pink flush in her chest and deep or rapid breathing, I know she’s at her peak. If you manage to reach this level with your partner, you have succeeded for the night–venturing further isn’t necessary. However, if you find you just can’t resist, proceed only in tiny, little incremental steps and with great caution. While extreme arousal can allow for progress, especially around a limit, it’s also a warning that you’ve gone just about far enough. Don’t ruin the experience for both of you!
  4. Watch as well for tell-tale signs that your partner is not having fun. If you discern that they are not, back off a little and see if you can get back to a happier place. This is what I missed during the nipple weight incident with Joy–she wasn’t really enjoying the experience of having the nipple clamps on so tightly in the first place, and I should have noticed this before exacerbating the situation.

Understand that, even if you do your best to follow these suggestions, chances are very good that you’ll end up going too far one day anyway. If this happens, you should immediately stop your activities and take care of your partner. Take a break, offer them comfort, apologize if appropriate (yes, the dominant partner can and should apologize to their submissive partner if they do something wrong), and talk about what happened. If the transgression was relatively minor, you may both decide to pick things back up again during that same session. And if not, then stop for the evening and let a little time pass. Then talk again about the experience and see if you can tell exactly what went wrong and which particular step you took to cross the boundary from exciting to scary or unpleasant.

It’s possible that even though you misstepped during a session, you’ve piqued your partner’s curiosity and allowed their zone of comfort to expand despite the unhappy experience. Though Joy and I had to cease and desist all activity the night of the nipple weight incident, a couple days ago she asked about the clamps and what I’d done to make them hurt that way (always a sign that she’s been thinking), and then when I brought them out last night so that she knew I was going to use them, her level of arousal immediately skyrocketed. You may have gone too far one night, but time and your partner’s libido are powerful allies, and if you travel the same path on future nights, going slow and one step at a time, you may yet succeed in reaching your desired destination.

Enjoy yourself,

Jake

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Consensual Non-Consensuality

To begin, let us stipulate that Joy and I practice only consensual BDSM, in which all parties participate voluntarily in all activities. Within the realm of consensual BDSM, no one is ever really “made” to do something against their will—rather, they choose to give up control and obey. Truly forcing someone to do something they don’t want to is a textbook definition for non-consensuality, which neither Joy nor I advocate or support.

With that understanding in place, however, let’s recognize that there’s something magic about the idea of being forced to obey or submit (especially in a sexual way). This is true both from the viewpoint of the forcer (the Dominant perspective) and the viewpoint of the one who is forced (the submissive perspective). Excitement flows in both directions, and an enormous amount of energy can be created through this exchange of control.

I know this phenomenon exists for Joy because we have explicitly discussed it several times. For instance, at times when I spank her relatively severely, she moves her hand to try to cover her bottom and prevent the next blow. In the past, I would halt the spanking when she did this, interpreting it as a signal that she has had enough and wants me to stop. However, over time I have learned that this is wrong—it is not at all what Joy wants. In fact, she has come right out and told me so. Rather than stopping, she wants me to move her obstructing arm and hold it out of the way as I continue paddling her bare behind. When I do so, she becomes markedly more excited. My action fuels her fantasy of being made to endure her spanking and being helpless to do anything to prevent it.

I know, as well, that I gain excitement from compelling Joy to obey, especially when she finds obedience difficult. As an example, Joy does not like to be spanked on her genitals. It scares her. Despite this, I sometimes instruct her to spread her legs and then inform her exactly how I am about to employ the riding crop I hold in my hands. I know the effect my words will have, and I can watch the battle between her fear and her submission play out across her face. And when she eventually does comply, not just one time, but for multiple strokes of the crop across her tender vulva, it sends a thrill down my spine and into my groin.

You might think that this is all an extended role-play exercise. I pretend to make Joy do something, and she pretends not to want to do it. When she does it anyway, we both get goose pimples of excitement. That’s pretty straightforward, isn’t it? But it’s not nearly that simple. There’s actually a very fine line that must be walked here.

You see, pretending not to want to do something isn’t good enough. Oh, sure, there’s a place for role-playing submission during a scene:

Joy: How dare you, Officer! I could never do that! I’m a married woman!

Jake: Well, then, ma’am, I’m afraid I’m going to have to take you downtown and book you.

Joy: Book me! But I can’t go to jail!

Jake: Well, then, you know what you have to do, don’t you?

The eventual “submission” that the above conversation inevitably leads to truly is pretend, and while it’s fun, it’s not the same as the more authentic submission that I described above. It’s not nearly as powerful. To achieve true submission, Joy must, on some level, really not want to experience what I’m about to subject her to, or not want to do what I’ve instructed her to do. Her bottom must really hurt, and the genital spanking must really frighten her. Without this actual reluctance to acquiesce, the feeling of Domination/submission fades, and what we have left is the role play above—fun, but only a pale shadow of what it could be. When the reluctance is real, however, Joy’s acquiescence brings a powerful thrill to both of us.

“But wait!” you say. “I thought you started out by stipulating that in consensual BDSM there’s no such thing as forcing your partner to do something they don’t want to do! Aren’t you now contradicting yourself?”

Well, I admit the whole thing gets confusing, but the answer is no, I’m not contradicting myself. Submission seems to operate on two levels. There is the surface level, which is where Joy feels that she does not want to do something. But there is also a deeper level, the level at which her submission lives, in which she very much desires to obey…to be made to obey. This deeper desire trumps her surface feelings of fear or pain or shame, and in so doing, generates the energy I have described. While on the surface she does not want to submit, down in her depths she very much desires it.

However, as I mentioned earlier, one must walk a fine line. It is easily possible to go too far. If Joy’s fear or pain or distaste towards an activity I require is too strong, her inner desire to submit will not overcome it. In this case, if she forces herself to comply she will do so grudgingly and get no excitement from it. More likely, she will simply refuse. So, if I try to make her walk naked down the middle of our street, or eat her food out of a dog bowl, or seduce her best friend, Joy will say “No”. If I were to somehow make her comply anyway, she would do so angrily rather than with excitement, and at that point, the line between consensual versus non-consensual BDSM would have been crossed.

Fortunately, I seem to have some sort of inner guard rail built into me that acts to prevent this crossover, and I have come to suspect that most other Dominants have something similar in their makeup. I love…love…to make Joy do something sexual that she is reluctant to do. If she’s afraid of it, all the better. If she feels a bit of humiliation, that can actually be a plus. But she must, at some deeper level, want to do what I tell her, want to perform whatever activity it is that I require. As long as her inner desire to submit can overcome her fear or shame or reluctance and she feels excitement begin to grow inside her, I gain an incredible thrill. When I go too far, however, and her fear or shame overpowers any desire to submit, the opposite occurs. I gain no excitement, and any desire I have to make her obey quickly disappears.

The challenge, then, to maximizing the excitement of a BDSM relationship seems to be to attain the narrow strip of territory right on the edge of consensual submission, where the submissive finds it desirable, but not easy, to submit. That’s the sweet spot. Staying within this territory is not an easy thing to do! The boundaries of the sweet spot are unique to an individual couple, and change over time with experience. They may even vary from day to day based on the participants’ moods and levels of arousal. The only way to know for sure where the boundaries lie on a given day is to pay attention to your partner and read the signals, both verbal and non-verbal, that they give.

Of course, this is why Dominance is an art rather than a science. But who doesn’t aspire to be an artist?

Enjoy yourself,

Jake

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Tell Me No

Just because I’m the Dominant doesn’t mean that Joy never says no to something I want to do. Of course she does! Everyone has limits, including Joy, and her use of “no” informs me that whatever action I’ve initiated has run up against one those limits. At one time, hitting a “no” used to discourage me. But no more… These days I hear “no” with a whole different outlook.

Some “no’s” are exactly what they seem—a flat rejection with no ifs, ands or buts. Joy, for instance, has a serious phobia around needles and anything that might draw blood. For us, any sort of piercing or edge play is completely off the table. It doesn’t matter whether or not I want it, because Joy cannot go there. This type of “no” is impermeable, and simply needs to be left alone. There are also “no’s” based on good sense—a suggestion to do something truly illegal, for instance, might trigger this kind of objection. Hopefully I am a wise enough Dominant to avoid this kind of thing on my own, but if not, Joy’s “no” should be firm and inviolable.

However, there’s another, more common type of “no”, and this type warrants far more scrutiny. This kind of “no” is said by the lips, but contradicted by the body’s physical response. This kind of “no” tells the story of a river bank of fear and inhibition being undercut by a strong current of desire. If I can strengthen that current, then eventually the bank will collapse. All I need is patience and persistence.

When I lead Joy into new territory and she tells me “no”, I watch carefully. If her body shows signs of physical arousal, that’s a very positive sign. And I listen! One might think that a powerful denial, one with a bit of an edge to it, would indicate that an area is completely out of bounds. However, one would be wrong. Joy often says “No!” loudest to the activities and situations she most desires.

My first realization of this phenomenon came back before we started playing with D/s, when I first suggested the idea of having anal sex. Joy’s response was clear and strong. She told me, “I could NEVER let you do that! I would not be able to respect myself afterwards!”

I knew this was bologna. As I listened to her I was thinking, “But I know that you want it! I can see how you react when I put my finger in your behind, how excited you get, how much easier it is for you to come when your bottom is full.”

A “no” must be respected—I backed off. I was discouraged, but wise enough to know not to give up entirely. And this was the right thing to do. A few months later in the throes of passion, Joy confessed that she’d been thinking about my suggestion ever since, and she wanted to try it. Try it we did, and these days anal sex has become one of her favorite things.
This pattern has been repeated several times. It was repeated with bondage. It was repeated with spanking. It was repeated with sex with another woman. And it is in the midst of being repeated with several other activities right now, each of which is part way through its eventual evolution from forbidden to permissible to desirable. Time and the patience to accept incremental progress enable the process to happen. When the evolution is complete, the internal struggle within Joy is resolved, and she is able to come to terms with the formerly-unacceptable act that she so secretly desired.

The unresolved areas of conflict that lie behind these “no’s”, the places where Joy’s desire is at odds with her inhibition, serve as wells of power for our Dominant/submissive relationship. I tap them frequently and they lend their energy to our encounters. Oh, I don’t use them all the time—that would be too much of a good thing. But several times a month I leverage one or the other of the limits we are working on, and the touch of adrenaline they add is sweet and strong.

Rather than being discouraged when Joy says “no” to something, I take it as a positive. In fact, I use her “no’s” as a sort of virtual map of BDSM, each one marking a fertile area of exploration. Oh, if it becomes clear that it is one of those flat rejections I mentioned above, I’ll mark off the territory as inaccessible. However, this is rare. Most of the time when she says “no” to some specific scenario or action, I think to myself, “Then that is exactly what I am going to eventually make you do.” I don’t have one hundred percent success with this, but my track record is pretty good, and I can’t think of anything I’ve truly given up on yet.

Submissive readers, fair warning! Sometimes when you tell us “no”, we Dominants hear a different message.

Enjoy yourself,

Jake

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Do It Anyway

Joy and I have had some interesting and productive conversations lately about being “made” to do things. Let’s start out by stipulating that in a consensual Dominant/submissive relationship, no one is ever truly made to do anything. The submissive partner can always decline to do something, and the Dominant partner must respect their decision to do so. In most cases, however, the submissive partner does not want to decline…

You see, there’s an interesting phenomena that seems to occur within those who desire to play a submissive role. They reach a point where submitting to the easy stuff isn’t enough. What do I mean by easy stuff? Well, suppose being bound to the bed and ravaged really catches your fancy. How hard will it be to submit to this when your partner decides to enact it? Sure, the first time you actually find yourself tied hand and foot to the four-poster will likely be a real turn-on! But you know what? That turn-on will fade quickly, because there’s no real submission taking place. After all, you wanted to be tied this way–where’s the submission in letting it happen? You can argue that you’ve given up control in this scenario–after all, you allowed your partner to bind you spreadeagle across the bed with no clothes on–but that’s as far as the submission goes, and that’s why I call this the easy stuff.

Eventually easy submission loses its luster, and the submissive begins to crave something more. They desire to feel that they have truly given up control, that they are no longer in charge. They want to feel that they must follow instructions, that their Dominant partner will use them as they choose and they have little to no say in the matter. Or at least, this is what’s happened to Joy.

To create that feeling, the submissive must submit to hard stuff…to things that they may not want to do. This is where the idea of pain comes in, for instance. Let’s use Joy as an example. Submitting to a spanking creates a whole maelstrom of churning emotion within Joy. On the one hand, it hurts! A good spanking can make her bottom sting rather ferociously, and consequently her immediate reaction is to try to get away, to make the stinging stop! On the other hand, however, the idea that she has given up control and that I decide when the spanking stops, not her, carries a strong, erotic lure–strong enough that she chooses to forget that she could opt out if she desired to.

This dynamic extends to other submissives beyond Joy and to other experiences beyond pain, by the way. It applies in a very similar way, for instance, to humiliation, and even to acts of service which the submissive is not enthusiastic about performing. Under the right circumstances, it would probably be possible to make doing the laundry erotic if the Dominant partner gave proper instructions and expected them to be followed.

And this brings us to the reason I’m writing this post. Joy and I have spoken on this topic several times over the past week or two, and she has admitted that she desires to be made to do things she does not want to do. She wants to be spanked beyond what she can handle, to the point of tears. She wants to be used for sex, so that I take my pleasure in her without worrying about her pleasure. She wants to go past “no” and “stop”, so that she feels she has no control. Joy wants to truly feel that she has surrendered. Joy wants me to “do it anyway”, despite what she says or how she reacts.

This is a big deal for her–she doesn’t confess things like this easily, and the fact that she has done so means she feels a powerful desire for this. Sounds tremendous, right? What more could a Dominant want?

But the reality is that this idea is presenting me with a challenge. I get tremendous satisfaction from making Joy happy, and this applies both in our relationship in general and more specifically in the bedroom. I love my wife, and I want to take care of her, and I want to give her pleasure. Therefore, the concept of taking her to tears, or not taking “no” for an answer, or of using her body in a way that gets me off but leaves her unfulfilled is difficult for me to come to terms with. I love to take control of her, and I love the idea of requiring her do things, but when push comes to shove, it’s hard for me to make her do something she does not enjoy or does not want to do.

I guess this is my own particular limit, and it’s one that I’m working to get past. I am well aware that the fact that she does not want to do something is precisely what makes her want to do it, and that’s what I have to focus on to make progress. And progress is being made, by the way, slowly but surely.

Anyway, that’s what’s going on at our house this weekend.

Enjoy yourself,

Jake

Note: Despite Joy’s desire, the concept of a safe word still applies. We have one, and it will continue to be respected if Joy chooses to use it.

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