Labels and Active Exchanges

October 20th, 2012

So I was reading posts on Fearless Press, looking for ideas for today’s post. I liked a lot of the posts, and, as I said in the previous post, the idea of labels and active D/s came to mind. Well, I guess, not labels, but label – submissive, to be precise. I might get into dominant a little, too, due to the nature of the discussion. We’ll see how it goes, shall we?

Sea’s post What is a Submissive and Who’s on First? goes into the impossibility of strictly defining what a submissive IS. He suggests, rather, starting with a ballpark, and asking the specific person about their expressions of submission. Bendyogagirl‘s post If you were really submissive, you would… talks about people’s expectations and how her style of submission did not match one her previous partner’s style, and how it got to the point where it was causing her to question if she really was submissive. This, in turn, allowed her to be able to express her experience of submission. In both this post and her post titled Respect & Cherish, she explains how it is an active exchange for her. In the former, how she needs active dominance, that brings out her submission. In the latter, she also talks about how she wants her submission to be received. She respects the dominant and wishes, not to be respected in return, but cherished. She holds him in high regard, gives him authority, and wants, in return to receive the affection of being cherished.

So, what does this all mean to me? What did I get out of it?

It got me thinking about definitions, and words, expressions and active exchanges. I get caught up in labels sometimes. In my desire to feel special, to feel wanted, to feel important. To feel owned? I put a question mark there because the words were in my head, but I’m not sure what they mean to me right now. I look at M/s dynamics, at some of the 24/7 folk, and I know that isn’t what I want. But then we’re back to defining things by others’ standards. I don’t want to be a slave, well, except for in those masturbatory fantasies. But in reality, slave is not the right word for me. I like submissive, most days I like service submissive, but I’ve only ever been that to him. I’ve been told that is untrue, that my nature is to serve and assist people. But back to the question of active exchange, those “other people” are not ones I expect anything back from for my service. (Well, except my job which pays me to help people.) And maybe that’s how my expressions of service works, I do service for the joy of helping others, but I am a (service) submissive to him, because he gives back to me. I will not be submissive to someone who does not return with dominance. That does not mean that someone who tries to show me dominance automatically receives submission. I am not a door mat, I choose when to let my submission shine.

I think I went off track there, talking about service and submission. But what about that “owned” question? Perhaps “claimed” would be a better word. He once told me that he liked the fact that without outward symbols like a collar or a ring, everyone still knew I was his. I wrote recently about enjoying the word “my” from his lips. We all like to belong in society, and I also like to “belong” to my partners. We tease that sometimes his protectiveness turns into possessiveness, but sometimes, when I’m feeling lost, I like that possessiveness, too.

He and I have gone through many changes during our relationship. At one point, we were backing away from the D/s nature of things, to give ourselves time to heal from one of our biggest explosions. He was concerned that I would continue to do things for him, as was my nature, but might begin to resent the lower rate of return from him, as he worked to rebalance things. But even during the time when we had said “No D/s” at all, we never fully let it drop. We couldn’t, it is part of how we interact. It certainly changed tunes, from heavy metal down to classical piano, if you will, but it was still there, softly playing in the background. I look at FetLife labels every now and again. He and I removed our D/s labels back then, and after a while, set them to service labels. Sometimes I want those D/s labels back, some days, I really wish I had a collar. But then I look at our relationship, and I know we are still growing. I know that service is one of the biggest parts of our D/s relationship right now, and I know that there is a lot of road left to travel.

What about active exchanges? Sometimes I look at “In service to” and “Receiving service from” and I am annoyed by the passivity of the latter phrasing. Receiving can feel so one-sided, but it really isn’t, if you’re doing it right. If you are receiving a blow job, do you just sit there without moving or reacting? I hope not. If you are receiving a promotion, didn’t you work hard to get there, and now have to work harder to keep it? I hope so. If you are receiving an award, didn’t you do something to earn it? It is the same with us. Our relationship is a very active one, we both work hard to maintain it. I serve him in various ways, all of which he is sure to acknowledge and show gratitude for.

At one convention, his wife noted that when he gave me tasks, he didn’t always thank me for doing them. He replied that he wasn’t sure I wanted it. At the time, that type of verbal, immediate gratitude would have landed wrong. I would have been embarrassed to have my service publicly acknowledged. What he did do, was at the end of the weekend, catch me privately, and tell me how much he appreciated all my hard work and service to him. That made me feel so much better than twenty thank you’s scattered about throughout the weekend ever could have.

These days, it is often done both ways. Small thank you’s throughout an event are acknowledgments that make me smile, even when he is too busy to spend individual time. And then after an event, when there is time, the private gratitude and appreciation gives one big dose of warmth and love.

You might ask, but how is showing gratitude part of a D/s exchange? How is that returning my submission with dominance? I’ll have to go with Bendyogagirl on this one, it makes me feel cherished. I thrive on affection and acknowledgment. I serve him and he values that service, and both of those things build trust between us. That trust allows us to go further, for me to serve him in more ways, and for our relationship to continue to grow.

But what about “active dominance?” What about “put you on your knees, give over complete control to him” types of D/s exchange? We have that too, in our play. It isn’t something we maintain in our day to day relationship. That is an energetic ideal, but our respective available energy and time is nowhere near the ability to maintain that anymore. Would I like a little more of that flavor in our lives? Sure, I always want more out of life and work towards that, but the first step there is figuring out what works for us. Right now, saving most of this for our scenes is what works for us.

Share

One Response to “Labels and Active Exchanges”