As the creators of the SPNKD we talk a lot about how our own and others’ Dom/sub-dynamics work. Do you ever reflect on how this kind of relationship could work for you?
The unfortunate truth is that the internet expects most Dominants to be result-oriented, meaning they expect the Dom to communicate only what they want done as if subs merely flip switches and push buttons until the prescribed performances emerge. A lot of dominants seem to be result-driven; it all looks very cinematic and after all, and it appears to be the easiest way to dominate. It’s kind of like going to McDonald’s: you’ll tell the teller what you want and they put it in the bag. Done!
But, it can work differently. The element most often missing is the understanding that, for the process to work, there must be collaboration. Okay, I know what you’re thinking: We do collaborate. We do work together. We do talk to each other. And you’re right, of course, we all do. But are you clear on what the expectations are, and what each of you brings to the table?
What are the shared goals of the sub and the Dom, and what are you both looking for? Do you discuss what you want to achieve together in your Dom/sub relationship? Maybe you should relinquish those old, traditional controls and immerse yourself in a world of exploration and discovery?
We did, and it has taught us that our Dom/sub relation has 4 different layers:
Layer 1: Linearity or monologue
As mentioned in the introduction, you can dominate someone by being very straightforward—which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes you just want to communicate clearly and directly without much room for interpretation. Think about it as a personal trainer instructing you to do a set of squats, no questions asked. You’ll discover what’s next afterward.
I usually make use of this type of dominance later in our sessions, when I want to move my partner from a more easy-going start into a state of action; a state where the reflections and considerations of the sub are muted because of the actions to be done.
This layer of domination is quite linear: It’s me telling my partner what to do without a need for conversation. This doesn’t mean you shouldn't think about the needs of your sub. Just like a personal trainer, you’ll need to know why they’re here and what their capabilities are.
Although this is certainly an interesting layer, there’s much more to be played out than simply holding a monologue.
It’s tricky with monologues, and I never like to use that word. Like I told the actors, you are talking to somebody; there is no such thing as a monologue.
Layer 2: Movement and conversation
Everything happening in our Dom/sub-sessions is a form of conversation. This layer, which ranges from talking to teasing, moving, or gasping, is a very (if not the most) important requirement for having a great session together: This is the dance you’ll be dancing together. It’s like music, where two notes blend harmoniously.
Adding this dimension to your session starts with having a good understanding of what both of you want to achieve. In most cases, it won’t work well if you don’t share the same intentions. Imagine if one wants to dance Jazz and the other Ballet. In some instances, if you’re lucky, you may invent a new dance; a ‘Jazz-Ballet’, though, most likely, it’s bound to turn into an undefined conflict.
I’ve seen those who shape their intentions during a session, but for most of us, it’s easiest to clear things out upfront. To use a simple example, my sub could have the urge to be restrained, combined with my wish to be worshipped. These straightforward desires are good starting points for an intriguing session—although we have often more complex desires too.
Now that we know where we want to go, we can start moving in this direction. All though, this doesn’t have to mean that you’re walking hand in hand, as it’s often more exciting to create tension via repulsion and attraction. In this game of giving and taking we need to implement the next layer:
The art of conversation is the art of hearing as well as of being heard.
― William Hazlitt
Layer 3: Intensity and emotion
While each of our play-sessions are different and hard to compare, there’s one thing about them which always resonates in our memories; the emotions related to them. For me, it’s hard to imagine how it would be to connect with someone for hours without the emotional connection present. In a D/s session, you forge deep connections by default; whether you know it or not, you’re evoking emotions.
Learning how to translate these subconscious emotions into your session and communicate them to others takes time and is a part of growing in this domain. There’ll be many times when others don’t see what you were trying to achieve.
Emotions can’t be planned ahead and using them in session is something you’ll have to discover for yourself. For me, I work to recognize my own feelings while attempting to tune into those of my partner. Based on these I begin sculpting towards what I think would be the best emotional outcome, utilizing various items from my BDSM toolbox (both literal and figurative), and mixing intensities into a game of push and pull.
You can find inspiration for your BDSM toolbox in various articles of our publication:
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It might happen that my partner needs to decompress after a hectic period. In these cases, I must first understand whether this stems from a positive or negative emotional state. Based on that I might go for a smooth flogging to bring her into a meditative state, or I could give her more challenges to encourage the feeling of achievement. As previously mentioned, all sessions are different, and thus being able to learn and adapt— to combine emotion and intensity — is to embark on a fascinating journey.
Human behaviour flows from three main sources: knowledge, desire and emotion
But it isn’t over yet, there’s still a final, fourth layer to explore:
Layer 4: The relativity of time
You might ask: what has time to do with all of this? We all know that our perception of time can differ from the linear time shown by a clock. This is true over longer periods of time, but also during a session. It’s important to understand that your perception of time isn’t always the same as that of your partner. A short time between two strokes during a spanking might feel like an eternity to the receiver.
So how is time perceived? You can find the extended answer on Wikipedia, but in short, we perceive time-based on the sensations we’re experiencing; we say time flies when we’re having fun, or when we have a lot of new impressions in one day. On the contrary, time can drag on or crawl when we’re bored or there’s little going on. More specifically, encountering novel stimuli inflates perceived duration within the range of minutes to hours. Those novel stimuli require more focus to anticipate the uncertain outcome. Your dopamine system kicks in and boosts your senses, increasing the perception of time.
On the other hand, time will feel as if ticking away very slowly when reducing new sensations to the minimum. In meditation, people even try to stop all sense of time entirely in order to achieve a state of present-moment awareness. But it isn’t only new stimuli that will influence your perception of time, a lot of emotions will have an effect too. Think about the last time you experienced desire or fear and how that influenced your sense of time. Again, dopamine plays a big role here.
Playing with perception of time is akin to adding rhythm to music. Slowing down, taking pauses, and accelerating back into the action is an art form of its own, and, when performed right it multiplies the different layers into a reality that exists beyond our wildest imaginations.
It might sound a tad overwhelming in writing, but it doesn’t have to be: A musical composition can be beautiful in its simplicity and we weren’t all born to play Rachmaninoff’s Piano Sonata no.2. But, we can all improve the way we connect using this 4-layer-principle.
I couldn’t give you something mediocre even if that’s all you asked for.
I invite you to explore these dimensions for yourself, and it doesn’t have to be part of a kinky BDSM scene either. Just dedicate sufficient time with your partner to engage in an activity dominated or led by one of you. This can take place in the bedroom, but also a picnic in the park—although I recommend leaving out the (obvious) BDSM elements in the latter case.
Paul | Owner of SPNKD
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