Today’s letter H stands for a question posed to my sir from one of our readers. I confess that I did a little dance of joy at the idea of sir answering. I can never get enough of the inner workings of the man. Or the outer workings, for that matter. Without further ado, here is my beloved:
How long had you been “practicing” before you got together with Heather? When did you know you were dominant?
These are deceptively simple questions. The more I thought about them, the more complicated and nuanced the answers became. They highlight the relationship between my nature (what kind of person I am) and my nurture (the ways those traits have been developed). In a real sense I was “born this way.” In another sense I “got this way.”
Let me preface this by saying that I am not a particularly overbearing guy, nor do I consider myself to be a stereotypical alpha-type person. I am quiet in groups even though I am not really shy. I have a talent for fading into the background when I am not looking for attention. Kind of like Kaiser Soze.
I suppose I have always had a dominant personality, but I never used that term to describe myself until I became active in the kink community. Growing up, I was what you might call rebellious, but not in a physical or anarchistic sense. I had this persistent feeling that rules didn’t necessarily apply to me. I appreciated the importance of laws and rules to govern interpersonal behavior, but I also saw that rules often applied more strictly to some people than to others (two reasons I ultimately went to law school). I studied the rule systems that applied to me so I could figure out where the “wiggle room” was.
I have worked hard to develop my critical thinking skills and to become an effective advocate. I am fun to argue with (just ask Heather). In high school I was a competitive debater, studying argumentation, formal logic, and fallacies. In college I became more interested in the philosophical aspects of power relations. I focused on things like propaganda (manufacturing consent), class struggle, and grassroots political movements. I grew my hair long and read a lot of Michel Foucault and Saul Alinsky. I also discovered Noam Chomsky, and learned more about how power relationships function on a pragmatic level.
I was always interested in the ways leverage and persuasion could compel others to do what you want them to do. Although I was never a salesman, that didn’t stop me from reading up on sales techniques and listening to a lot of Tony Robbins. Over time, I got pretty good at manipulating people and situations to get my way. I was never (rarely?) manipulative for malicious purposes; I just felt safer when I was in control of a situation. It was a form of self-preservation.
Being a pretty clever person, I can get bored easily. I enjoy being challenged intellectually, and I enjoy challenging others. It is my nature, and something that plays a part in my dynamic with Heather.
I have been kinky since before I knew it was a thing. I had a hosiery fetish at age five. One of my first childhood memories was burying myself in the fresh laundry pile, putting my mother’s stockings on my hands, and rubbing them all over my face. Mmmm. My parents were casual swingers, and although I didn’t realize it at the time, the swinger’s classifieds I found in my parent’s closet provided my first glimpses into non-traditional relationship structures. I lost my virginity at age 16, but before those fateful three minutes I spent most of my sex-starved adolescence contriving increasingly sophisticated methods of masturbation. I “discovered” my own anus years before I got to second base with a girl.
After college I dated a stripper (who was also, incidentally, a former debater) for a couple of years, which was where I started to get into bondage, impact play, and humiliation. We dabbled in consensual non-consent. She was also a Republican, which helped me get into character (as I am not). Nowadays I would classify her as a babygirl with strong undertones of bratty princess.
Tying her up while she struggled and then forcing myself into her resisting body really got us both off, but I was confused by the tension between what we were doing and how I had been raised to treat a lady. At the end of our relationship I apologized to her for mistreating her and for being a bad boyfriend. I was surprised at how surprised she was. She said that she had never been treated so well by a man in her life. I took that across the country with me to grad school and chewed on it for several years.
After grad school I married a girl who is, to this day, the opposite of kinky. She is a wonderful person, a teacher, and a best friend, but sadly she is not a pervert. I still had the image of the stripper girlfriend in my mind, and figured that if anyone could coax a bad girl out of a good girl, I was the man for the job. She won that bet. I got a finger in her ass a few times, but that’s about the extent of it.
Even though we never really connected on a sexual level, we have always had a strong spiritual connection. She is the one who got me back into meditation, the one who got me into yoga and chanting. We were both interested in mythology, eastern spirituality, and comparative theology, and grew our marriage around that instead of anal sex and ball gags. She was also a spender and, consciously or not, she seemed intent on undermining my plans for our financial future. In all of these ways, she was instrumental to me learning to let go and to lose control. She taught me about presence, and about the beauty of chaos. These tools have served me well in my kinks.
Some lessons in letting go were harder for me to learn than others. With hindsight, my wife and I can both see that we were two alphas in a constant struggle for dominance. She was a formidable opponent, and ended up topping me more than I topped her. But I have always been a begrudging, grumbling servant, thereby ensuring that my submission is no fun for anyone involved. She now has a submissive (non-kinky) boyfriend and I have Heather, and we have never been more at ease with each other.
I got back into kink pretty much by accident. My wife and I were struggling in our marriage, and I was literally sex-starved. I never never never got laid, which makes Joe a grouchy boy. I returned to my increasingly sophisticated and creative forms of masturbation, and we eventually agreed that it was OK for me to look for sex outside of our relationship. (Well, I told her I was. She wasn’t pleased at the time. Another story.)
I browsed Craigslist, but it seemed like risky behavior. Plus, I was looking for ladies. If I had been into guys I think CL might have worked great for me. I found Fetlife next, and went to my first munch shortly thereafter. I was looking for a FWB situation, but instead I met a bunch of really nice and interesting people. Sex never even really came up, but I felt more comfortable and more at home than I had felt since college. I had found my tribe.
This is where the kink part of my “nurturing” began, where I picked up the practical skills for topping and re-awakened my natural talent at mind fuckery. I read every BDSM article I could get my hands on, every opinion piece that came across Fetlife. I found an experienced mentor who talked me through the vocabulary and bottomed to me a few times.
I was so awkward with my first bottom that I must have been adorable. I felt like a baby tiger enthusiastically climbing all over a patient adult, tumbling over my big paws. So many options! Among other things, she introduced me to rope bondage, but she was not interested in taking beatings from me as I ramped up that learning curve. I met another girl, an enthusiastic masochist who introduced me to caning and talked me through the finer points of building a memorable scene. She helped me to consider the arc of a scene, from the warm-up to the big finish. I got plenty of practice topping, and was finally getting so much pussy again that I was forced to refrain from masturbation for supply/demand reasons.
I met Heather about this time. The first time I saw her I thought she was a snob. She was at a play party with her girlfriend and completely ignored me. We stood right next to each other in the kitchen and she totally missed that I was only pretending to ignore her so I would look cool, and she actually ignored me right back! Her girlfriend seemed like a snob too, but the “mean girls” vibe only fueled the sexiness later when Heather went up on the cross and took a beating from her girlfriend. And then the cunnilingus show on the couch that followed. Mmmm.
Our paths crossed again later with different results (she was nicer), and the stories of our union have been well chronicled elsewhere on this blog. This last year and a half has brought on a whole new phase of evolution for both of us. In the beginning, I was not looking for a total power exchange relationship. I was looking for tail. Granted, nowadays I simply can’t imagine life without anal-on-demand or a morning without coffee in bed and a wake-up blowjob, but back then I was a different man. I once measured blowjobs by the occurrence, not by the hour.
I knew M/s was a priority for her, so again I went to the internet to educate myself. The more I read, the more it seemed that everything I had done in my life up to that point had come together into a singularity. I began to understand the psychology of submission, and I was reminded of the ubiquity of power exchange relationships in the world. I began to see all of my relationships as varying degrees of D/s. My fascination with control was reawakened. It felt simultaneously familiar and foreign in this new context.
Looking back, I now see that seducing consent was (and continues to be) my biggest fetish. I want to be in control, but ultimately Heather has to freely give it to me. The negotiations did not end when we signed the contract; they began. It is unfulfilling to just make Heather do something. It is also inefficient. For me to get off, I need her to buy in. I have to make her want to serve me. Even today, our relationship is a dance of constantly soliciting and granting consent. Heather asks me to do many of the things I do to her, even though she may resist actually desiring what she asks for. And even when she does not ask, after it is over I make her admit that it got her off. That she wanted it.
I have grown as a person and strive to give back as much as I take from her. As in most “healthy” TPE relationships, our relationship is a lot of responsibility for me. It is not all rainbows and good morning blowjobs for Master. I have to do some work too. Her submission makes me responsible for her well-being, figuratively if not also literally. I do not have to pick up after her or do the emotional heavy lifting for her, but it does mean that I have to structure her experience. It also means that I have a moral obligation to serve as her guide, her mentor, and her source of consequences.
My willingness to structure her experience demonstrates my commitment to the game, to the dynamic. If I do not make her set goals, if I do not follow up on her progress, and if I fail to punish her enthusiastically when necessary, then I am letting her down. Sometimes she wants to push my boundaries, but she does so to confirm that the boundaries are there as much as she does it to get away with something. Unlike me, she is not a rule breaker. She actually likes rules. Our rules and expectations envelope her in a constant tight hug. Personally, I would find it claustrophobic, but it makes her feel secure. Happiness in slavery.
Creating expectations and consequences for Heather has also impacted the way I approach my own life. She provided me a safe harbor to regroup and recover, and to set a new course in my life. She loves me and surrenders to me without judgment. As a result, I have matured as an adult, and I (increasingly) hold myself accountable to my own rules (you know how I feel about rules…)
In a real sense, our power exchange has been a rite of passage for me, the symbolic transition into manhood that I never received as an adolescent. Being an owner is not, as it turns out, all about sodomy and foot massages. It is not just about getting my way anymore. Ownership requires active management and personal reflection. I am regularly called to think about my strengths and weaknesses and to reflect on my best and highest use. I am still a rebellious person, but I feel more balanced in my approach to my own life path.
To sum up, I guess I have always known I am dominant. The signs were certainly there. My relationship with control and domination has evolved over the years, and it continues to evolve due to my involvement in the kink community. Perhaps most importantly, I have learned that scene planning and toy proficiency are important skills for tops, but they are vehicles for a far deeper journey.
And finally, the answer to your questions: I trained for a couple of years to tie Heather up good and to beat her hard, but I trained my entire life to own her, to control her, and to use her. And I am still training, so that I may keep her.