Personal Journey

How I Love Humanity After My Trauma

A friend and I were on his back porch, huddled up against the slight chill of the winter nights here in the South. The topic of love came up. Not romantic love, but “Love thy neighbor” love. Christ-like love, if you will. As two fellas with Christian background, we discussed 1 Corinthians 13 in depth. This scripture in particular has been on my mind recently since it was written on my back during a scene.

Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 7, Christian Standard Bible

My friend looked out at the canal behind his house, lost in thought. Finally, he said, “I try to show that Christ-like love to everyone I meet. I mean, of course I fail. I’m only human.” As I knew we had both experienced trauma, the topic came to mind, and I said, “One thing that’s difficult about loving everyone, loving my neighbor and all that, is that with my trauma, it’s so difficult to have that view of humanity.” He nodded in empathy as I explained that, for the longest time, I couldn’t trust people enough to love them.

“What I’ve learned, though, that really helps me, is Nonviolent Communication. One thing Marshall Rosenberg spoke about is that everyone has the same needs. We all need safety and need community and need fun, things like that. You, me, everyone. Everyone before us and everyone after us have the same needs.” He looked at my curiously, his face lit by the ember of his cigarette. “I don’t really understand how this relates.”

“Well, when I think of the people who’ve hurt me, either little bit or a lot, I think about how they were trying to meet their needs. They didn’t hurt me for no reason. They didn’t hurt me because they were evil. They hurt me because they didn’t know a different way to get those needs met.”

My friend shook his head, and looked pained. “I know this isn’t what you’re saying, but my heart says that you’re saying that my abusers needed to abuse me.”

Oh. Oh no.

Feeling that I was siding with his abusers, even if he knew it wasn’t true, was very challenging for him. We shifted to emotional first aid, and the topic changed. But that conversation has lingered with me.

I wanted to write this out to say everything I wanted to say to him, and to people who’ve been abused, especially those searching for a trauma-informed perspective.

See, my mistake with my friend was failing to mention this important ‘AND’ fact. This conversation (and healing in generally) is made of a lot seemingly contradictory ‘AND’ facts. We can humanize those who have harmed us AND condemn their actions. It’s not either or. Holding those two things in our heads at the same time is key to growth.

It’s easy to think of people as evil. It’s simple. You can see harmful acts as isolated and caused by an internal character flaw. Viewing people as complex beings ill-equipped for meeting their needs takes a systemic view. Maybe they were abused as a child. Maybe they didn’t learn other coping skills. Maybe they were taught this behavior by someone else. There are infinite maybes that affect the situation. That doesn’t mean they aren’t culpable for the harm they caused.

You may never know the reasons that someone hurt you. Perhaps you know the reasons all too intimately. I don’t think it’s helpful or effective to dwell on the reasons. However, knowing that someone had reasons, any reasons at all, can impact your understanding of the situation.

We look at those reasons. We turn to our own hurt, and we say “This person hurt me because they were trying to meet their needs AND what they didn’t isn’t okay.”

I make it sound simple. It’s not. It’s a very, very long process.

Here’s another important ‘AND’ fact. I truly believe that viewing those that hurt you as complex people is a vital part of your healing journey AND I believe that not everyone is ready for that.

This kind of work can bring up a very strong trauma response. My friend had one when we discussed it. I said something to him in the moment that could have been misinterpreted as hurtful or sarcastic, but was intended genuinely: “I thought you were at a different place in your healing journey.”

I’m at a place where I can think of certain situations and understand that the people involved where trying to get their needs met the best they could, and they hurt me.

I don’t feel a trauma response anymore. I don’t feel anxious or angry. I feel sad for the people that hurt me. I pity them. Sometimes I wonder what made them the way they are. but usually I leave it at that.

Then I turn to my own hurt, and acknowledge that. I hold myself, usually literally as well as metaphorically, and I acknowledge the needs that weren’t met in that situation. I think of ways I can make sure that those needs are extra met in the days ahead. Then I move on with my day.

It’s hard. It’s a process. It’s scary, and it doesn’t feel good when you’re in it.

But this is the way I can live with what I’ve been through, all the hurt and pain. And yet, always see the life and love in other people.


A Comprehensive Definition of Kink

All of the definitions I’ve seen for kink fall short, so I had to develop my own. This became relevant because I’ve been accepted to speak at the Popular Culture Association’s 2022 national conference in The Eros, Pornography, & Popular Culture Area. Since this is an academic space, not a kink one, I feel that I need to bust myths and provide a workable framework for outsiders or those on the fringes of the kink scene to use. I want to create something that can help people understand, talk about, and study the behavior of others.

First, let us consider why other definitions fall short. The most common definition of kink that I’ve read has two elements: (1) non-normative (2) sexual behavior. I’d like to examine the ways that both of these elements fall short.

The terms non-normative, bizarre, or unconventional, as used in other definitions, aren’t specific enough for this context. Upon consideration, I found there are two entities whose perception of the behavior matters: The participants and their society. If the participants find their behavior abnormal but their society doesn’t, it’s a dirty secret or guilty pleasure. If the society finds their behavior abnormal but the participants don’t, they are outsiders. 

This makes kink relativistic. By previous definitions (“non-normative sexual behavior”), any culturally unacceptable sexual behavior could be considered kink, such as gay sex in a society that considers homosexuality immoral. However, if we consider the perspective of the participants as well as their society, it’s likely not kink, as the participants probably consider their own behavior normal and acceptable.

The second element of the common definitions of kink also falls short. As I found when I began going to The Woodshed in 2016, not all kink is sexual. Some is indirectly sexual for the kinksters involved – They might get mentally and or physically turned on by the act, but not have sex right then and there. Additionally, for many kinksters, their behavior is satisfying in an absolutely nonsexual way.

I struggled for a while trying to find a word or phrase that includes both sexual and nonsexual motivations for kink. For some people, kink is purely a sensation activity. For others, it’s about connections with other people. My working phrase is “intimacy practice.” 

The element that kink is performed by consenting, informed adults was absent in previous definitions, but I feel that it’s necessary to distinguish kink from abuse or assault. Therefore, everyone involved must be an adult who understands what’s going on and agrees to be part of it.

Therefore, the definition of kink that I’ve developed is as follows: (1) An intimacy practice (2) performed by consenting, informed adults (3 & 4) that both the participants and their society consider taboo.

I hope to iterate on this definition as I hear feedback from kinksters and potentially develop better, more precise language to describe kink itself.

How would you define kink? Is it something where you know it when you see it? Are there exceptions to my definition that I haven’t considered? Please leave them in the comments below or email me at

Thank you!~

Personal Journey

Personal Reflection: Dominant Little / submissive daddy?

Autumn ends, and Winter begins. Much of my life changed this Autumn. In the spirit of the season, I discovered and developed new relationships. Likewise, I experienced a great deal of change. Some aspects of my life changed in difficult ways, while other aspects continue to change as we enter the winter season. This is a time of reflection, renewal, and hope.

I’ve been reflecting a lot on my burgeoning relationship with Dally. We fell very naturally into power dynamic roles, with him as a guiding force in my life, directing my service. However, as trust grew, he allowed his little side to come out, and I quickly found myself overjoyed as his daddy. However, limited models of ageplay relationships led me to try to be Daddy Dom to his little side, while servant to his big side. This proved difficult and led to multiple small conflicts where I would attempt to discipline my little, when in fact he was in a big headspace. 

We’re working on articulating a relationship where both his little and big sides are dominant over me. I’m still his daddy, but rather than commanding as his Daddy Dom, I serve as his daddyslave. That’s something that we don’t have many models for, so I hope to write about our journey and share what we’ve learned so others in our position can benefit from what we’ve experienced.

Here’s what I’ve found the words for so far: I’m not possessive over him as a little, but I am protective. One way we’ve used archetypes to discuss this is the idea that he reigns as a young prince, and I’m his knight –  his protector. While he can command me, I ultimately must look after him when he’s little because he doesn’t always have the capacity or intention to avoid harm. I find that this role empowers me and allows me to express a healthy masculinity.

Empowerment may seem to be the opposite of what a slave wants, but the disempowered slave isn’t my thing. Instead, I love to be the powerful enactor of my powerful person’s will. I find that being under the direction of another person empowers me, not the other way around, because my actions are led by a purpose bigger than myself. The knight archetype works well for this, as the historic knight ultimately serves as a warrior under the direction and guidance of his lord, their king, and their God. In a modern power exchange context, that can translate to a strong personal code of values.

Another aspect of the archetypical ideal knighthood that calls to me is the expression of healthy masculinity. The platonic knight serves not for himself or personal glory, but instead for the protection of the innocent and the purpose of eliminating evil in favor of righteous justice. I find this fascinating, as I desire to represent masculine traits without being a toxic person, and I feel that this description of knighthood resonates with the strong innate notions that I have to protect those that I care about. This doesn’t necessitate a sword and shield, but instead a strong will and commitment to both my own ideals and the ideals of my young prince.

I will continue to write as we explore and learn more together.

Personal Journey

Reflections on Uncollaring

The kink community regards a collar as a powerful symbol. There’s something of a shared respect for collars, even if the understanding of what it means may vary throughout different communities. A play collar can represent the bottom in a scene, while an ownership collar can symbolize a near absolute transfer of authority. 

Today, I’d like to reflect on what collars mean to me. The collar I’ve worn. The happiness of a collaring ceremony and the grief of an uncollaring. 


When I met Fit Miss, I was so excited that she found me appealing. She didn’t want what I wanted, but I was sure that was okay. Either I would become happy with what she could give me, or she would eventually become comfortable giving me what I needed. 

I desired a Master and slave relationship, giving everything I had. I desired a level of micromanagement. Fit Miss desired something casual, less ownership based and service-focused. I thought that I could be happy with that. I thought that Fit Miss was the closest I could get to what I wanted. 

In online forums, multiple people told me that I needed too much. I needed to lower my expectations. So I did.

That’s not to say that Fit Miss isn’t an amazing person and Dominant. She’s wonderful. We just want very different things. Fit Miss and I are incompatible as power dynamic partners. It’s inaccurate to say that she failed me or that I failed her. In fact, our relationship served us both for quite some time. It is not that I want more and she can’t give me that. I want things that she doesn’t desire. She is not inadequate by any measure. Instead, our desires aren’t aligned.

Nonetheless, with that in mind, I really pressed Fit Miss for a collar. Framing it as a symbol of mild commitment, I devalued it to her. I didn’t consider that what I wanted it to mean was absolute ownership. I wanted to give my all. Not just in word, but for a Master to enact their control over every level of my life. 

I don’t know how I did it, because I truly don’t remember my thought process at the time, but my cognitive dissonance allowed me to accept what I portrayed to Fit Miss as a ‘going steady’ collar. 

Fit Miss and I provided for each other for several wonderful months. We set protocols together, developed and achieved goals together, and I served her in the ways I could from a distance. We’ve seen each other in person for three amazing vacations, one which we are on right now. Our physical and romantic chemistry is palpable. Still, I feel sad when I think about it now.

Sad because I misrepresented what the collar meant to me.

Sad because I wanted it to mean something different.

Sad because I feel that I’ve hurt Fit Miss in this process.

When I met Dally and started spending time with him as a Dominant, I realized something. Not that Fit Miss was awful and that Dally was wonderful. Not that amazing cock made me want a cis man as a Master instead. 

What I realized is how I fooled myself and this beautiful person into accepting much less than what I needed. I know every relationship, even power dynamics, involve compromise. I realized, though, that I didn’t need to compromise my desires nearly as much as I had. Even if Dally and I didn’t develop a power dynamic, I know that people like him existed.

Yes, one of the reasons that I asked to return Fit Miss’ collar is so that Dally can collar me one day. That’s true. 

What’s also true is that, even if Dally wasn’t in the picture, I would want to return Fit Miss’ collar. If Dally decided to drop me tomorrow, I would still want to return it. I asked for it without respecting what it meant to me. 

It needs to be returned.


The standard narrative that I have heard about uncollaring or returning a collar involves a conflict. A fight, then a forced removal. Someone takes off their collar in a fit of rage, returning it to their Dominant.

I don’t want this uncollaring to go that way. Fit Miss and I are partners. We have released each other of any power dynamic expectations, and declared that we are polyamorous partners who sometimes have kinky sex.

Some people might think an uncollaring is sad. And it is. Change is often sad.

However, I’m partnered with three amazing people. Very different people. One of those partners is the intelligent, witty, and beautiful Fit Miss. It’s not sad to declare that. 

People might anticipate that we’d distance more from each other. That we’d promise to be ‘just friends,’ then avoid each other at events. 

But I want this wonderful person in my life. Yes, I may not be in service to her anymore. But I love her. I want this uncollaring ceremony to be a celebration of everything we’ve provided for each other. A celebration of our egalitarian partnership. A celebration of the connections we have. 

I’ve heard funerals described as a celebration of life. Why not an uncollaring ceremony be a celebration of what was, what is, and what will be?

Fit Miss and I try to be emotionally intelligent about all of our relationships. One aspect of that is recognizing one’s mistakes and working to fix them. We made our mistakes. Alignment on the meaning of this powerful symbol, this collar, wasn’t present. Here’s how we’re fixing it: We are, together, removing the collar. Filled with grief with what could have been, yet ultimately happy that we have such love and care in our lives.

Personal Journey

Personal Update, Spring 2021

I wanted to provide a bit of an update, as I have been a little silent or intermittent for the last few months.

As you may or may not know, I have struggled with symptoms like extreme fatigue, migraines, and dizziness since I was a teen. These symptoms were mild for several years, but in February 2020, they came roaring back with a vengeance. 

I’ve found that overexerting myself causes these symptoms to flare up in ways the average person wouldn’t experience; A late night out at the local dungeon, The Woodshed, leads to at least one but often up to three days where I barely have the energy to leave bed for a shower. 

This has fluctuated and remains unpredictable. In the time that these symptoms have been troubling me again, I have overexerted myself many times, leading to multiple days bedbound and putting all projects on hold.

I’m still learning how to pace myself. I’m scheduling breaks that I must take, even if I’m frustrated by them. I’m taking days off with no expectations. I bought a shower chair to make my daily routines easier. Ultimately, I’m fighting the internalized ableism that tells me my value is in hustling and grinding my way to the top.

Right now, my focuses include writing for my personal blog and The Kinky Butler, continuing to learn, and serving Fit Miss. However, my top priority is caring for myself. As is a common refrain in the power exchange community, I must protect the property before all else.

Thank you.

Kink Reflection

Universal Needs and Power Exchange

I am fascinated with the mental aspects of power exchange. Rope and pain play are wonderful, and yet they only call to me as a physical manifestation of the mental control that power exchange offers. And I often wonder how needs play into power exchange relationships. Does one person give up their needs for another? Who really has a choice in the matter?

I have found that the best methodology to discuss needs in a meaningful way is Nonviolent Communication (NVC). For those unfamiliar, NVC is a communication methodology and philosophy of life that was pioneered in the 1960s by the late Marshall Rosenberg. NVC has flourished and is practiced all over the world, in interpersonal relationships and international crises.

A core principle of NVC is that there are a universal set of needs that humans share. You might relate this to a pyramid representing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs that you have seen. Everyone, across all time, geography, gender, race, and other separations share the same needs, yet strategies to meet those needs differ. For example, we all desire connection, yet while I might want to catch up over coffee, you might want to go to a dance party. (Ohh, to be in the days of coffee dates and dance parties once again!) 

As I am deeply interested in both NVC and power exchange, I often wonder what different needs are being met for various people in power exchange relationships. Perhaps a particular submissive craves safety, belonging, and demonstrating competence in their relationship, while their Dominant may desire pleasure, consistency, and ease. These roles are intentionally different, so the needs satisfied are also different. 

I can see that a power exchange relationship, and in fact every relationship, is made up of a series of strategies. In my article “What’s Choice Got to Do With It?: Thoughts on Choosing Submission,” I explored choice. I contradicted a common refrain about Master/slave relationships when I discussed choice in these relationships.

Even in a relationship with a blanket consent policy, we actively choose to view how we perceive the actions of those that control us. We chose who we gave that power, and we choose to stay with them every day. Our lives are full of choices, even a life filled with submission.

Yet, that’s not the full extent. 

In the past, when I was first taught the language of Nonviolent Communication, I believed that strategies that met someone else’s needs must be at the expense of my needs. If my partner wants to watch a movie, and I want to play a card game, when we watch a movie at the end of the day, aren’t I sacrificing for him? Thus, I have the moral high ground, and I can leverage that against him when we next have a conflict: “I watched a movie for you! Don’t you want to meet my needs?” I know now that this is using the language of NVC to contradict the intentions.

The intention I’ve been focusing on lately has been prioritizing connection. According to Miki Kashtan, this involves “…[focusing] on connecting open-heartedly with everyone’s needs before seeking solutions, even in challenging situations.” When I watch a movie with my partner, I am choosing to meet one need over another. Perhaps I wanted stimulation through the game, yet I chose peace by preventing a conflict with my partner. Again, this comes back to choice. Even when I’m in a dire situation, I choose how I view a situation and that impacts the needs it meets. If my initial strategy isn’t the one we do, I can choose to pick a fight, thus satisfying my need to be seen and express myself authenticly. However, by turning the mind, I can focus instead on empathy and companionship.

When I bring this to a power exchange context, I am reminded of a passage from Slavecraft:

…[S]laves with this point of view get to a place in our heads where every time we give something up for the Master, we feel that our slavery, our surrender, is renewed and reinforced. So i’ve lost the pleasure of seeing the building [that i wanted to see], but i’ve gained my slavery. i’ve lost the opportunity to make that phone call [that i wanted to make], but i’ve gained my slavery. And when slavery is the most important thing in the world, joy is the result in my life.

SlaveCraft: Roadmaps for Erotic Servitude by Guy Baldwin

The perspective of slavery, that intentionally cultivated frame of mind, deeply meets the needs that the author prioritizes. He chooses to see the denial of his personal strategies as a strategy in itself. It’s beautiful to me.

Perhaps I’m getting too heady here. Does this view of needs within power exchange resonate with you? Please let me know.

Personal Journey Reflection

In Favor of Unstructured Thinking Time

Meditating is really fucking difficult. The way meditation has been explained to me – by therapists, mindfulness apps, and Buddhist monks alike – is emptying one’s mind. Noting thoughts, but not getting attached to them. People admit that it’s a challenge, and yet it’s worthwhile for the benefits. For me, it’s bordering on impossible.

I can hardly keep my body still, let alone my mind, and both seem mandatory for the meditation everyone describes. My brain makes quick, seemingly random connections, like relating oat milk to Texas in 15 seconds flat. (For those curious: Oat milk. “Oat milk is made with water. I wonder how much water is wasted making it. What else probably wastes water? Water parks! What was that water park jingle? ‘We’re going to Schlitterbahn! It’s the hottest coolest time in Texas!’” Texas.) 

That quick connection process seems common with people who are neurodivergent. This term was coined to refer to folks whose brains don’t work in the ways that society defines as normal. Think ADHD, autism spectrum, OCD, traumatic brain injury. While many people have found my ‘random’ connections frustrating, my friends who are also neurodivergent often find it familiar and sometimes even comforting. I’ve also found that neurodivergent folks especially struggle with ’emptying the mind’ meditation. Perhaps the jumping of focus from one topic to another becomes an issue for them as it has been for me.

I’ve never quite given up on finding some way to still and center myself, though. Nonviolent Communication, somatics, Paganism, and mental health spaces all advise something to this effect. Recently, I have found something that works for me. Something that doesn’t quite look spiritual or enlightened. Something mundane.

I make a cup of coffee or tea, head to the backyard with my dog Ajax, and slowly sip on my drink. I listen to the birds, the wind in the trees, the nearby construction, the traffic on the highway. I think my thoughts if I want to, but not with any intensity. I follow them wherever they take me. If I remember a jingle, I sing it out loud. I fidget, talk to my dog, and usually accidentally drip hot tea onto my lap. My time is measured by how long my drink lasts and how much patience Ajax has for me. When the time comes, I head in, rinse my mug, and continue my day. Mundane.

There’s an area of philosophy that is concerned with knowing. Epistemology. You probably remember an important piece of Western epistemology: “I think, therefore I am.” I’m not an epistemological scholar. However, like most people, I’m concerned with things like what I know, what I can know, how I can prove I know things, and how I can teach things to other people. What I’ve found is that I know things that I cannot articulate in words. With my unstructured thinking time, I know definitively that I have learned things – Yet, if asked, I couldn’t articulate what. It’s not that I’ve forgotten, I just don’t have the words. 

I’m not sure if this is a common experience. I know many people sit outside and sip nice drinks. Do they have this calming, centering experience as well? Do they come away with inarticulable knowledge? I ask because I genuinely don’t know. I honestly hope so. Perhaps someone could have told me about ‘a cup of tea on the back porch’ meditation sooner. Maybe I can be the one to pass it on to you.

In the six weeks, frequent unstructured thinking time has helped me combat overwhelm and connect with my purpose more than any yoga class or meditation retreat. It requires no gongs or cushions unless you want it to. If you haven’t tried it, especially if you’ve struggled with most meditation, I encourage you to do so. Follow your thoughts wherever they take you. It need only last as long as your favorite drink.


Knight & page, Vampire & thrall, and More: Archetypical Inspiration for Power Exchange

During the Master/slave Conference 2019, I met people in a variety of dynamics, all under the wide umbrella of Master/slave. While walking through the hotel, I met a woman and her companions. The woman had a strong presence and was dressed to the nines with a beautiful vintage updo and gown. Her companions, a man and a woman, both wore button-up shirts and slacks. After speaking with them, I discovered that this woman was Queen to her companions, her devoted knights.

Many years earlier, I was exposed to the word ‘archetype’ in a college-level psychology class, but I was familiar with archetypes before I had a word for them. For example, think of a thief. What are they wearing? What personality traits do they have? How do they move through a room? What motivates them? In this context, archetypes are characters that recur so often in movies and other storytelling that the word itself provokes detailed imagery in the reader’s mind. 

In Lee Harrington’s Sacred Kink, the chapter on ritual discusses archetypes that may inspire kink practices: “Perhaps you are drawn to roles inspired by literature or history such as Gorean/Kajira, Vampire/Thrall, Muse/Artist, or Lady/Knight/Vassal….[N]o matter the archetype chosen (if any is chosen at all), it is what one does with that archetype that matters.” Lee goes on to elaborate on ways that different archetypes can create unique rituals that shape a relationship. 

Let’s consider two relationships. Both are nominally Master/slave relationships, yet one is based on the roles of a Knight and his page, while the other is a Vampire and her thrall.

A Knight/page relationship might be very values-based. For example, feedback on the page’s demeanor may include aspects of representing the honor of his Knight while in public. Rituals may include actual or symbolic armor, swords, shields, or other items of close or mounted combat. If service is an aspect of the relationship, it might be framed as a training regime. The main goal of relationships may be mentorship in exchange for service, as with the idealized Knight.

In contrast, a Vampire/thrall relationship may be very hedonistic and focused on energy transfer from the thrall to the Vampire. Rituals could integrate actual or symbolic bloodletting, biting, or hypnotism. There also might be aspects of animals related to vampirism involved, such as bats and hounds. From a higher level, the purpose of the relationship could be sacrifice and devotion in the name of the Vampire’s pleasure.

Again, these are both Master/slave relationships, yet having an archetypical foundation provides so much imagery that the participants and their community can play with!

When I started talking with a friend about archetypes, they asked if there was a comprehensive list. Barring that, at least someplace to begin. I couldn’t find anything to that effect, so I decided to write down every archetype I could think of that might be useful as the foundation of a power exchange relationship. I’ve decided to keep them separate because they could be paired together in many ways. 

Before I start on the list though, I want to speak a little about a related project of mine. The Kinky Butler is focused on exploring and integrating the butler archetype in kinky service. If this archetype discussion has interested you, I ask that you read the landing page of the website and see what you think.

Archetypes for Higher Hierarchical Relationships












Bad Boy




Big Brother/Big Sister/Big Sibling










Chosen One

Christ Figure


Commanding Officer







Cult Leader



Dark Lord


















Femme Fatale























Mad Scientist





Master of the House/Mistress of the House







































Spoiled Boy/Spoiled Girl/Spoiler Child

























Archetypes for Lower Hierarchical Relationships



















Chosen One





Cult Follower

Cult Victim














Femme Fatale

First Mate






Head of Staff






King’s Guard



Little Brother/Little Sister/Little Sibling

Major Domo









Permissive Daddy/Permissive Mommy/Permissive Parent






Prized Possession













Stuffed Animal





Vice President








Roles for Roughly Equal Hierarchical Relationships






















“Mental Stuff Like Confidence or Self Esteem”: Vital Skills for Dominants

A gentleman on Reddit’s r/BDSMcommunity posted asking for advice, saying he “[feels] overwhelmed with the sheer amount of stuff I need to learn, want to learn.” He was essentially asking what kinky play and sex skills should a Dominant develop, and specifically mentioned that he wasn’t interested in “mental stuff like confidence or self esteem.” This was my reply:

Yeah, to echo some others, the mental stuff is more important than how you throw a whip or spank. So to directly contradict you, this is what I find admirable and attractive in a Dominant I’m considering for a power exchange relationship:

  • Consistency & Integrity. When you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you say you’re going to keep doing something, be able to keep it up or re-negotiate.
  • Self-insight. Know thyself. What motivates you? What type of play appeals to you and why? Do you have trauma? If so, how does it affect how you view relationships, kink, and sex? Keep investigating.
  • Self-motivation. Ambitious, motivated people are just sexy. If someone has the self-control to continue to motivate themselves, they can probably help motivate others.
  • Leadership. Have a plan for when shit hits the fan. Be able to command a room if necessary. Keep a cool head when things are challenging. Develop the ability to process several sources of information without becoming overwhelmed.
  • Empathy. Understand where other people are coming from. Listen to someone’s words, as well as their body language and facial expression. Confirm with people if you understand them by reflecting back what they’ve said. Seek connection over anything else.

Even if they never learned how to suspend someone with rope or intimidate them with knives, someone with all of these traits would be a wonderful dominant in my opinion.

I’m wondering how that resonates with readers. Do you have anything to add to the list? Am I totally missing the mark? Please let me know.

Personal Journey Reflection

Silence Can Change a Dynamic

In December of 2019, I overworked myself in the name of service at The Woodshed. I had been assigned to escort a friend who was new to the kink scene to an event and then the dungeon afterward. In order to make a good impression, I wore my button-up and tie along with a binder to help flatten the appearance of my chest. Over the course of a few hours in the busy dungeon, I began to feel uncomfortable, but I ignored these indicators, thinking that a good servant should be able to withstand a little discomfort. Ultimately, I developed heatstroke, and while I was fine at the end of the day, I was a little embarrassed knowing that my suffering and the concern of my friends was completely preventable.

Like me overheating in a restrictive outfit and sweaty dungeons, many servants tend to aspire to selflessness. If only we could focus wholly on the person we’re serving and turn our needs off like a light switch, we’d be perfect. Without feelings or needs, we could be wonderful tools, used with whatever purpose our chosen person or people desire, right?

I must constantly remind myself that all tools need maintenance. If I tried to mow the lawn without putting fuel in the lawnmower, I wouldn’t get anywhere. Washing the dishes with an old sponge could take longer than with a fresh, clean one. Disconnecting from our feelings and needs is equivalent to never checking to see if our saw is sharp. Tools, whether human or inanimate, have certain requirements. Not caring for ourselves is neglecting our first and most important tool: ourselves.

This maintenance can be built into a dynamic. For example, a simple body scan meditation could begin and end a period of intense service. Self-managed check-ins could be part of an ongoing protocol and include different phrases for different levels of formality.

As a Dominant or Master, whether you have a casual dynamic or a serious, decades-long relationship, encouraging your servant to assess their feelings and needs can allow them to serve you with greater quality and duration. Additionally, a servant that has a great deal of insight can more fully surrender power, as they know what motivates and drains them.

For the servant currently without a dynamic such as myself, I encourage you to begin this practice daily. A short body-scan meditation can connect you with your embodied emotions in a few minutes, and this insight can help you manage your emotions when you’re alone and offer detailed information about your mood regulation when you enter a dynamic.

If we aspire to be effective tools, we must maintain the tools we have at our disposal.