Each day in September, I will be posting a question about submission, along with two responses- the first written five years ago and the second from today. I welcome all who wish to join in this exercise to post your own answers in the comments, adjusting the question if necessary to suit your own roles and sensibilities.
Very often the stereotype of submission is that the submissive person loses the ability to have an opinion. While that clearly isn’t true except in the absolute rarest of occasions, how does communication factor into your submission and how do you communicate your desires and needs?
I appreciate when others are direct with me, and I try to do the same. It needs work though; too often, I bottle things up until opinions explode – inappropriately phrased at inappropriate moments, particularly when struggling to discuss deep emotional subjects in a rational manner. My logical self realizes it would be easier to discuss these things before they boil over, but part of me still holds back.
It comes back to trust again, doesn’t it? Trusting that my partner won’t completely reject me just because some odd desire doesn’t mesh with his own (or if he does, maybe he wasn’t right for me to begin with). And also trusting his perspective is worth considering when our desires are different. Part of the reason I want this kind of relationship is because I know that my perspective on me is skewed. I could benefit from an outside view to keep my inner storyline in check.
I think I’d often be inclined to try things his way first. A good friend once told me to try everything twice, because the first time may have been a fluke. Following this advice has by and large been a good thing, and has lead to many adventures.
I am crap at communicating face to face. There is plenty of common wisdom about how you don’t really know someone you haven’t met in person, that a chat over coffee is a far better indicator of compatibility than years of emails. This is, in my calm considered opinion, complete horseshit.
I communicate best through writing, particularly on issues where I have strong feelings. The medium allows me time to sort through my emotions, to identify which thoughts are the products of fleeting irrationality and which are the stickier, lasting impressions. I have time to sculpt my reply, choosing words carefully, reading and rereading to make sure I have the best understanding I can of the message sent to me, editing and rewriting until I am sure my reply is the best representation of my thoughts that I can create.
While I can fumble my way through a face-to-face negotiation for a light scene with a newish partner at a party, I prefer to discuss more intense scenes through writing beforehand. Reactions to this preference have been varied, but largely positive.
I’ve entered into prolonged email correspondence with one regular partner, where the negotiation has expanded well beyond our scenes to a more complete form of mentoring, discipline and friendship. It is frustrating and irritating and time-consuming and often hits altogether too close to home . . . I think that’s a sign that I am growing
Another close partner has sat me down before beginning any intense session, reading through my notes out loud, line by line, asking for clarification or additional detail as required, providing assurance and input as necessary. These discussions, though awkward and uncomfortable, have been among the most intimate moments I can recall- exceeding even the resultant scenes themselves.
Another partner took it on herself to organise, moderate, and distil an email negotiation for a group scene. Particularly after the experience of participating in and sometimes leading the process of thinking through, implementing, and revising the policies and consent communication systems for CLASS events, having someone else take the lead in this type of discussion- and to do so expertly- was a treasured gift.
And, while hugs and whispered reassurances are lovely feedback in the immediate aftermath of a scene, I also prefer writing here. I have worked time to write into my post-scene ritual, and often spend a good portion of the day after events sending thank-you notes to those I played or had other significant interaction with. The responses that trickle back over the next few days are better sub-drop busters than the most decadent chocolate.
For scenes that stand out as particularly intense or significant in some way, I sometimes provide more detailed feedback in the form of a semi-fictionalised account of the encounter. This has been a powerful mechanism for bonding with partners, and I’ve also heard that the stories have been helpful to a few others who had gone through similar experiences and recognised kernels of truth in the narratives. This is a habit I’ve sadly fallen out of, but it’s a habit I’m making an effort to revive. (I know I’ve promised stories to several of you, and will try to get to them- though I hope you’ll understand if that project may need to wait for October.)