Tag Archive: dominance


Management Tips for Dominants Types

Hi folks.
So, from time to time, I post links to stuff written for the business-suit set because I find that they can be helpful for dominant folks in full-time power-exchanges.
 
With that in mind, here are two such articles. Some of you may find them handy. Some of you may find them kind of old hat. Either way, here we go:
 
10 Rules for Successful Delegation
AND
Giving Constructive Criticism
 
There you go. I hope they’re useful to at least some of you.
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.

So. Queering Power 2014 happened last weekend almost a month ago, and Ghost, Kitty, and I were asked to facilitate a discussion about overlapping power exchanges in full-time and ownership dynamics. Here’s the description:
Long term, full-time Power Exchange is never simple, but it becomes exponentially more complicated when you add polyamoury to the mix. How do you hold someone firmly while allowing them enough leash to hold power in another person’s life? What authority does someone have over you when they are your owner’s owner? How do you balance the requirements of submission and dominance at the same time? In what sense is someone your subordinate, and in what sense are they your equal, when they’re in service to your servant… but not to you? Open and overlapping full-time power exchanges stretch far beyond occasional extra-dynamic playdates or the running of a staff of submissives by a single dominant. Regardless of whether you’re in charge, in service, or in the middle, please join us for a discussion of the difficulties and delights of overlapping 24/7 power dynamics.
 
Basically this was very much like the Poly and Power salons that I host chez moi periodically, but a bit more specific in focus, both in terms of topic and in terms of how heavily it was facilitated.
Usually, with Poly and Power, the discussion just kind of ambles where it will, and I keep a couple of question-prompts in my back pocket in case things lag or get tangled in the weeds. In this case, we came prepared with a series of open-ended questions meant to get people thinking and talking.
 
Now, granted, the folks who turn up for Queering Power are basically a bunch of nerdy keeners in fetish gear. (Uh… I’ll be in my bunk)… Where was I? Right. They’re basically a facilitator’s dream group: They talk, they listen, and they build on what others in the group are saying. Basically, my job as facilitator was really easy. 😉
 
One of the participants – possibly because he’s a school teacher, but also possibly because he may have been instructed to do so by his Person – took notes. Posssibly I should have done this, too, since it’s now almost a month after the fact, and I’m trying to remember what everybody said.
The main gyst of what came up, though, could – I think – be boiled down to some fairly basic Poly Principals, possibly with a D/s twist on them:
 
(A) Remember your Place. This is an important one, and I don’t mean it in the sense of “bottom of the ladder” hierarchies where the person who owns someone else’s owner gets to poly-veto All The Things and the person who is owned by the ownee just has to suck it up and take the crumbs. I mean it in the sense of things like… Remembering that I am Ghost’s boss, but not Kitty’s boss (therefore, just as I don’t get to boss Kitty around[1], I also have to remember that her Personal Growth is not my Personal Project). OR Remembering that, just because your Dominant is someone else’s Submissive doesn’t mean that you have to, or get to, serve (or answer to) two Keepers. OR Remembering that being In The Middle sometimes requires a lot of triage, but that everything still needs to Get Done.
 
This feeds directly into (B) Use your words. But also use your ears. I’ve got a friend who, at his day-job, recently acquired some Minions. And, as he is familiar with KinkyLand, we’ve had a couple of conversations about management and about the responsibilities that one has to the people over-which one holds power. One of the major ones – and one that I fall down on a lot is making sure that your People have enough direction to keep them busy, but also to keep them interested and engaged and developing. It’s the counter-balance to all those job-descriptions that require you to be a self-starter or good at working independently, rather than being the kind of person who either needs someone standing over their shoulder going “Have you finished that project yet? How ’bout now?” in order to actually get anything finished, or else who can finished Assigned Task X just fine, but won’t independently go looking for Task Y on their own.
This is Polyamoury’s “Communicate, Communicate, Communicate” blended with the multi-tasking long game of the Master, the attentive, multi-layered listening of the Servant.
S-types need to listen for instructions, sure, and not just the kind that are phrased as a formal request/expectation (see: Self-starting), but they also need to be careful not to volunteer, unasked, on tasks that they know they’ll resent doing, but feel like they “should” do without having been asked for them. On a similar note, presuming to clean the leather of your master’s master might wind you up with a sharp talking-to along the lines of “That is not your privilege!” rather than a “Thanks for taking that task off my hands” from your boss.
D-types need to offer instructions, sure, but we need to determine those instructions based on both our goals (for ourselves, our dynamics, our People, and our to-do-lists) and on the needs, spoken or unspoken, of our People. I can want to instruct my Servant to whip me up a new pair of leather sandals this evening, but that doesn’t mean I get to ignore things like (a) paid cobblery work that needs to get done, (b) pain flare-ups, and (c) social/emotional responsibilities to her own servant and any other partners who are in the mix. Sometimes Using Your Words is going to feel less like Issuing Decrees and more like parenting an easily-distracted kindergartener[2], but you (in theory) figure out how to make it work.
People in the Middle need to be aware of what they can/should deligate to their own servant(s) – and how frequently they can do that before said s-type(s) start feeling like they’re primarily serving a master-not-their-own – versus what needs to be done by them-specifically in order to continue providing the service (the relationship) they offered to their d-type. A big balancing act, to be sure.
No matter what position(s) we play in a given overlap, we all need to remember to talk about it when we’re swamped with Fill-In-The-Blank and need some help or some slack on This or That responsibility/task.
 
This, in turn, feeds into (C) Be generous with your heart. This means… assume the best of the people in your constelationships. Nobody’s in competition. Nobody is trying to gain control of All The Time, Energy and Attention (even if your Jerk Brain is saying that they are[3]). Sometimes creative solutions (like sleeping three to a bed once a week so that the ownee’s ownee can make everybody coffee in the morning) will be necessary to keep things running smoothly for everyone involved. Something unexpected relationship twists (an owner’s owner becoming – formally or informally – a mentor/teacher to their ownee’s property; a switch in which member of a given diad is Holding the Power) will happen, and the ripples from those changes will also need to be navigated by everyone else involved in the overlaps.
 
So there you have it.
Some thoughts on “D/s Cubed” and what I learned while discussing the specifics of overlapping 24/7 and O/p power dynamics at Queering Power 2014.
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] …Ish. I use the analogy of “auntie/neice” to describe the kind of authority (or “authority) I have where Kitty is concerned. I’m only Tthe Boss Of Her when GHost (her “mom” in this analogy) is out of the house.
 
[2] Even when you don’t have a Mommie/girl relationship there are still going to be days where you have to say “Okay, no more TV, it’s time to Tidy Up” or “I thought I told you to Clean Your Room” or whatever.
 
[3] Just me? Okay.

Management Techniques for Dominants?

I think a lot of us are the kind of people who either (a) were always that one member of the group-work team in high school who actually bothered to do the project, and/or (b) are creative/knowledge-hungry types who tend to self-start[1] on things that we’re passionate about or fascinated with.
It wouldn’t shock me a whole lot to find out that some of you folks who are reading this are the kind of people who really do believe that you can get something done faster and “the right way” (that being my way, of course) if you just do it yourself.
 
I’ve talked before about Service-Oriented Dominants, and I’m going to talk a little bit about a related topic.
 
Punishment.
 
I don’t “do” punishment.
To me, it feels like I’m rewarding bad behaviour with undeserved attention, whether that’s using my Very Disappointed Voice – a tone of voice that feels anything but sexy, but that I’ve learned is a bit of a turn-on… and thus backfires completely when I employ it – or doing something corporal that I’d really rather keep as something that’s enjoyable for both of us.
Likewise, having the give someone a punishment like writing lines where I then have to stand over their shoulder to make sure that they actually do it? Why am I wasting my time and energy on this?
Having the wheedle and badger and, let’s just drag that loaded, gendered term right out into the open, nag a servant to get shit done or behave appropriately… it feels incredibly demoralizing and disempowering.
 
So if I want to avoid using a “punishment model” (or a “carrot and stick” model where you punish for fuck-ups and it requires fucking bribery to get something done right), what can I do instead?
 
That’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it?
 
I’ve started reading “management” literature. Tips for small-scale entrepreneurs who have a couple of employees working for them, stuff about how to manage effectively, keep lines of communication open, work towards solutions for existing problems while avoiding The Swamp Of Shame and similar pitfalls.
 
Much as I’m embarrassed to admit it to The Entire Internet, I am a really terrible manager.
I put off bringing up Problems because I know what their sources are – meaning that if I know my managee is overwhelmed in X part of their life, or has emotional issues around Y situation, I’m more likely to cut them some slack when Task Q isn’t getting done to the standards, or with the frequency, that I would prefer – and this means that I wind up with these, just, laundry lists of “Things That Need Improvement” and no clue how to adress them effectively, efficiently, and in a successful fashion.
 
So I’ve started poking at the idea of seasonal performance reviews.
 
I know. I kind of loathe the whole idea, if only because “performance review” tends to translate in my head into “job security roulette” or “let’s find out who’s getting fired today”. And yet, I think if I made it just part of the routine, then I could use it as a way to wipe the slate clean a few times a year and, in another way, also track my Person’s progress through the year.
 
Of course, I’m not managing a business in this context – I’m managing a household. This may require some tweaking of traditional techniques. However, that doesn’t mean those techniques aren’t easy to addapt or incorporate into what I want to do.
 
For example, this handy list of tips for building and managing a team has a few things I’d like to work into my own house.
I particularly like Suggestion #5, which is Set a quarterly theme and vision.
A theme and vision might be as simple as “establish routines, train as necessary; goal: well-oiled machine” early on in a dynamic, so that the accomplishment of that goal then serves as a foundation for further themes like “increase luxury skills and incorporate into routine” or “find therapist, work on anxiety issues”.
 
Likewise, the “Recognition” section of this article suggests the (well-known) formula of (1) Highlight something good. (2) Point out what needs improving, and (3) Suggest how to improve. So one might opt for something like: “You’re really putting those cooking lessons to good use. Dinner has been amazing these past two weeks. Well done. I do want to turn your attention to the situation with the left-overs in the fridge. We’ll need to eat those up over the course of the next week. After that, if you can work to cut your recipe quantities in half, that will allow us to enjoy your new sills without having a left-overs pile-up in the fridge every week.”
…Or something. I don’t know.
Similarly, the suggestion to phrase/identify problems in ways that are measurable: Not “Jolene is lazy” but “Jolene typically lets her outerwear pile up in the front hallway rather than hanging them back up in the closet”; not “Frank is disorganized” but “Frank routinely misplaces important documents that need to be filled out and sent off by specific deadlines”. Addressing measurable specifics rather than generalities makes it much easier for Jolene or Frank to suggest solutions without (hopefully) feeling overwhelmed or beaten down by the magnitude and, well, vagueness of the stated problem.
 
Management Tips for Creative Folks offers a variety of management styles (I tend to fluctuate between “tell” and “involve”, and this may be causing confusion or something on the home front), suggests that successes or emplyee effectiveness be measured by achievement (what they are getting done) and not activity (how they spent their time). It also stresses the importance of measurable goals, targets, and stretch-challenges for employees. Their time-division chart is also handy to keep in mind:
 

My time is often split between I and IV, with not nearly enough focus put on II. How ’bout yours?


 
I may have to go and borrow myself a copy of The One Minute Manager, as it might be a handy thing to read.
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.

Something that came up at my last Poly and Power Salon was the idea of service-oriented dominance. This is something that, I think, gets ignored in a lot of writing on D/s and O/p. It’s… Okay. This is me talking, so you know I’m going to connect this stuff with gender norms and expectations in orver-arching/mainstream society and how they trickle-down to affect/infect kink and leather communities and subcultures as well.
 
I find that, even when the gender configurations of D/s dynamics and scenes aren’t pre-determined as man=dominant and woman=submissive all the time, the gender-roles and gendered-bahaviours still line up like that. Uhm… What I mean is:
Feminine is coded as “subservient to masculine”, it’s coded as “receptive”, “passive”, “obedient”, and “anticipatory”. It’s expected to manage social calendars, social niceties, and hospitality.
Masculine is coded as “firm”, “in control”, “giving orders”, “takes/states what it wants”, “pro-active”, and “managerial”. It’s expected to manage people, to take charge, but also to be served by (and expect to be served by) The Feminine.
If you take out “feminine” and put in “submissive”, take out “masculine” and put in “dominant”, you’ll find that the social expectations line up remarkably well.
 
And this has some very… Inconvenient? Unintentioned? Irritating?… repercussions.
See… Look. I may not be a huge fan of Raven Kaldera. But he got something really right when he talked about “rock star” dominants and “parental” dominants as two styles of dominance that line up with being “service oriented” and “control oriented”.
I think that the way we have, however accidentally, coded “dominant” so that it lines up with “masculine” gendered behaviour expectations, and coded “submissive” so that it lines up with “feminine” gendered behaviour expectations, has basically lead to an expectation that dominants are (or are supposed to be) control-oriented, and that submissives are (or are supposed to be) service-oriented.
 
And some of us fit those expectations to a tee. Fantastic!
But… most of us don’t. Most of us are somewhere between the poles of “control” and “service” in terms of what we want/crave/need/enjoy/desire in a D/s scene or dynamic, and some of us are firmly rooted at the end of the spectrum that we’re “not” supposed to occupy.
Control-oriented submissives who crave rules, rewards, punishments, consequences, orders, rituals, protocols, and even micromanagement. Who can’t do anticipatory service to save their lives, and who get frustrated all to hell with D-types who expect their properties to be “mind-readers” and do everything “auto-magically”.
Service-oriented dominants who crave self-starting subs, anticipatory service, the luxury of Having People To Do That so that they can concentrate on all the other stuff they need to get done. Who embody/experience their own power most of all when they are at the center of a well-run household and can beam with pride at how well and consistently their properties perform their assigned tasks. Who feel disempowered when they “have to” bribe (rewards) or threaten (punishments) in order to get anything done, and who are frustrated all to hell with s-types who need constant management and who ask, literally or figuratively, “which two eggs do you want me to scramble ma’am?”
 
I suspect that, in most dynamics (although maybe not most scenes, given the difference in time-requirements), you need to balance the desire for service with the desire for control, regardless of which part of the dyad wants what in which ratio.
But I think it’s extremely helpful to know where on that particular spectrum you (and your dynamic-partner) live most comfortably, so that you know best how to articulate what will feed you when you’re depleted, and so that you know where you need to throw extra energy/effort in order to keep your dynamic functioning well.
 
 
I am a service-oriented dominant. Some ways that this can manifest are:
 
Someone who shows up at my house and sweeps my floor uninvited is making a very rude comment on the state of my home. But someone who shows up at my house, unexpectedly, and sweeps my floor because they’re in a service arrangement with me or mine and this is part of it? They are wonderful and a gods-sent and make me extremely happy. Because they’re doing what they’ve been told, without having to be micro-managed, rather than making assumptions about appropriate social boundaries.
 
My “Inner Dominant” is a seven year old princess. Which basically means that (a) she’s a child and feels safest when she’s being reliably well-taken-care-of, (b) she’s royalty, and knows it’s her birthright to be obeyed, and (c) she’s royalty and, therefore, expects The Staff to just get on with it, rather than having to be looking over their shoulders all the time.
 
I enjoy bestowing the gift of Something I Know You’ll Like onto people in my care or in my community – whether that’s deciding to make a Nice Dinner for my phamily; opting to do a scene that will get us both hot and sweaty and happy rather than just diving in and biting my Person hard in a tender spot in order to hear her yelp; making a particular resource available to my community; or inviting someone into my home and granting them my hospitality. I like the giving. I like the making someone smile because I got it Exactly Right. But I also like being in charge of what gets given and when and why.
 
 
For someone else who orients the way I do, their orientation might manifest as:
Being an event-organizer;
Feeling confident, appreciated, and appreciative when someone offers to make dinner or do the laundry (and follows through) during a busy/stressful time;
If the person in question is an educator, they might be more inclined to facilitate discussion groups or run hands-on/experiential workshops (where the participants do most of the work) rather than offering lecture-style or chalk-and-talk-only workshops (where the educator/lecturer has a lot more control over what happens during the class);
They may interpret the work they do in their communities as organizers, educators, and volunteers as service to their communities even as the service they provide involves being in charge in some way;
Lots of other stuff, fill in your own blanks. 😉
 
 
Thoughts? Observations? What do you think?
 
 
TTFN,
Ms. Syren.

Yesterday was spent geeking out about Power Exchange, and various aspects there-of, with a group of thirty or so like-minded individuals, at Queering Power, a fundraising event for Unholy Harvest.
The workshops I attended included:
 
Powerful Communication – in which the presented taught us about ORID-style communication and empathic listening (very handy no matter what the situation).
 
The Princess and the Puppy – which was about finding one’s way in a multi-leveled, more-than-two-people-involved power dynamic (extremely handy, particularly given my own situation).
 
Discernment in D/s: Pushing, Pausing, Pulling Back – which was about different kinds of actions one can take as a dominant (or not, but it was aimed at a dominant’s perspective) in a power exchange, and what those types of actions can look like.
 
M/s Mindfulness – which was about techniques one can use to open up and further deepen a D/s connection.
 
 
Some things I took away from the day:
 
“What does D/s do for me, what does it mean to me, and how/why is it important to me?”
This was a question posed to us by the facilitator of the Powerful Communication workshop. I had the rare (we live in different cities) opportunity to sit and chat – or take turns speaking and actively listening, as the case may be – with Andrea Zanin[1] about this subject, and it was absolutely lovely to both (a) be able to answer those questions in a context where my Property wasn’t part of the conversation[2], and (b) to hear/see the overlaps in our experiences, understandings, and desires as dominant, service-receptive women.
 
Much of what she told me, in answer to those questions, can be found on her blog (this link, in particular, but others as well) – she’s given this quite a bit of thought over the years, so I do recommend you check out what she has to say.
What I told her included (i) my inner dominant is a seven-year-old Princess who loves her dolly and wants to get her way; (ii) an anecdote about my high school grad dance wherein, upon looking at a picture she’d taken of me drinking (non-alcoholic) champagne in the back of a limo, my mother said I looked like I’d been “born to it”, and how I had agreed that, yes, I had been born to it, actual up-brining notwithstanding; and (iii) the feeling that This Is How It [a Relationship] Is Supposed To Go… even if I have no idea how to keep it going like this[3].
 
 
Things Get Way More Complicated When You Have More Than Two People
This isn’t actually news. Having been living in Poly Land for the past five years or so (has it really been that long?) I know from experience that adding more people means that Coasting is no-longer an option and there’s a whole lot more juggling going on.
 
It was really interesting to hear The Princess talking about her experiences as a very slave-identified person learning how (and understanding why) to pick up and carry the power that was being offered to her. This feeds back into the above-mentioned idea of “this is how it’s supposed to go, even if I’m not sure how to keep it going like this” quite well: I have a lot of self-doubt, tend not to be confident in my commands, and am more likely to back down than to push for What I Want if it looks like pushing is going to be an exercise in frustration or else might provoke some kind of fight or resentment or something on the part of the push-ee. I have a hard time wrapping my head around the possibility of someone both wanting to be commanded and held but, at the same time, balking at those commands and imposed boundaries. It helps to hear things from the perspective of someone who does both.
 
There are a number of people in our wee community who are “in the middle”, so to speak. It was good to hear from them, and I look forward continuing those conversations.
For my part, as someone who is on top of someone who’s on top of someone else, I brought up the way that, since Kitty isn’t mine, I try very hard not to horn in on Ghost’s dynamic by ordering Kitty around but that, because Ghost is also my beloved, I actually find it easier to be unquestionably demanding of Kitty than of my wife.
 
 
”Push, Pauseor Pull Back” can be a more conscious version of “Fight, Freeze, or Flight” but… it can be other things as well
As I’ve talked about before (mainly, I suspect, on Urban Meliad), my default action (if it can be called that) is “Pause”. In some cases, what this means is “try it and see” but, frequently, it tends to mean “frozen with indecision”… at least in my case.
My take-away from this particular workshop was: How do I push – that is, make decisions for, issue commands to, and impose limits upon – someone else consistently without becoming exhausted? That one will, I suspect, be the jumping off point for further ruminations on this blog, so… stay tuned?
 
 
The last workshop, M/s Mindfulness I actually missed, because I’d gone and made myself sick trying to do something extra during the opening guided meditation. I wound up hiding out in an empty spare room at the venue, instead. I’m glad that I did, too, as it gave me a chance to recover and find the energy to attend the post-event dinner and then have a visitor over to our house after the fact. But that was Queering Power, or my experience there-of. 🙂
 
It was lovely. I’m hoping that it becomes an annual event. 🙂
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] I told her that, while I wasn’t quite having a “fangirl moment”, I did rather like her brain and it was nice to be able to get her perspective on things.
 
[2] Ghost asked me, later, why I had wanted that – was there something I didn’t want her to know, essentially. And I told her that, basically, I have Meta-Insecurity: I worry that my worries (about my own abilities) will worry her (about her place in my life). Strictly speaking, neither of us has anything to be afraid of, but it’s still nice to be able to talk about my experiences and only have to think about me while doing it.
 
[3] This actually relates to something I told Ghost, around the about the time I was deciding to collar her: My romance and my power dynamic are very bound up with each other, partly because they began very close together in time, but also because (I had realized, as I was trying to figure out what “to collar” meant to me) my idea of a Good (Vanilla) Relationship was, actually, an O/p relationship. That kind of dynamic is what I *want* in a romantic relationship, even if it isn’t one that I ever expected to get or was even able to put words around before meeting Ghost and becoming involved with her in all these various ways. I think that says something. 🙂

Today marks three years of the service-arrangement that I share with Ghost.
Along the way, she has become my friend, my lover, my sweetheart, my partner, my property, and (most recently) my wife.
Tonight, my altars are (finally) burning, we have an out-of-town friend staying an unexpected extra day, I’ve smoked the house with myrrh (purification and blessings), and I have a duck roasting in the oven. The three of us are drinking red wine (yet another bottle from the wedding, as it happens).
 
A year ago, I posted about what I had learned about myself as a dominant, among other things. This year has been one of learning how to… not “share” power, but learning how to hold power and share my submissive – both with her vanilla partner and with someone over-whom she holds power.
 
The whole year hasn’t been taken up with this, I realize, but it’s been something that, one way or another, has been on my mind.
 
A while ago, I wrote a post called “H is for Honour“. Learning how to share, without dropping my submissive’s reins and without “losing” my Place in her life (or letting resentment develope due to feeling like that’s what’s happening) is a way of living with honour, I think. Certainly, it’s one more way in-which I strive to live with grace as a dominant.
 
Happy Anniversary to us. 🙂
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.

So I posted a review of Power Circuits yesterday, in-which I talked a lot about a subject that should have been included in the book but was, almost but not quite entirely, left out. Basically, I think there needs to be a discussion of dominance (and dominants) in poly situations, and I think that discussion needs to focus, not on how to manage the insecurities of one’s submissives, but on how to manage one’s own insecurities as a dominant.
 
There’s this prevalent image – thank you, porn; and thank you culturally-indoctrinated assumptions about gender and power and place – of the Imposing, Invulnerable Dominant. Whether that’s the aloof Lady who’s as efficient and demanding as any drill sergeant, or the strong-and-silent Sir who never stumbles, either way the cultural mythos says that it’s the submissive who has to (or gets to) be fearful, be small, be vulnerable.
So maybe it’s not surprising that a book dealing with the fears and vulnerabilities that come with polyamoury, within the context of power-exchange, would focus on the fears and vulnerabilities of the parties who are expected to have them, rather than on those of the parties who are expected to be perpetually confident, sure-of-themselves, and fearless.
 
I will walk you into the dark again and again, and I’ll hold your hand, every time, all the way… Do you really think it’s never because I need to know that you’re still there beside me?
 
For anyone who’s been in a 24/7 power-exchange, this is stating the obvious, but: Dominants get scared too. One of the hardest parts of 24/7 is that there are no breaks. Just as someone on the sub end of things doesn’t get any time “away” to process the latest round of rules or controls, the dominant doesn’t get any time “away” to process them either. It all gets done on the job. And doing it on the job makes it all that much harder and that much heavier.
 
My Ghost and I hosted a New Year’s Day brunch earlier this week (like you do), and we got into a conversation with some of our guests – mostly because I brought up Power Circuits, which some of them had been looking at as a relevant read – about dominance and polyamoury; about balancing schedules and prioritizing activities (and needs, which is where things can get really sticky); about how to give someone enough leash-length that they can have attachment-bonded relationships with other people, without giving them so much leash length that you can’t feel each other along the length of it and they – or you, or both of you – wind up feeling dropped.
 
So. Dominants get scared, too: For my part, I worry about all sorts of things – I am an insecure person at the best of times – from the highly unlikely[1] to the very possible[2] to the happening right now[3]. I worry about making the same mistakes twice, and I second guess myself about whether or not that Horrible Feeling I Have (whatever aspect of jealousy it happens to be at the time) is (a) justified because my needs aren’t being met, (b) just my fear talking and things are going to be fine, (c) my spidy-senses tingling because something actually is wrong, (d) some mix of the above.
Sometimes it’s a mix of the above, and sometimes it really is just my fear talking and everything’s going to be fine[5]. It’s rarely only (A), because when (A) is happening, (B) kicks off and starts telling me that things are going to be even worse. And it’s rarely only (C) because when (C) is happening, it usually means that things have domino’d and (A) is happening, too.
Regardless, (B) is always in there somewhere and there are things I can do in order to deal with (B) – at least in part – on my own.
 
For example, when I catch myself spiraling, I can keep Brene Brown’s words in mind, take a deep breath, and push myself emotionally towards compassion and empathy (this is not always easy) and, thus, away from the withdrawl and self-isolation that (a) I’m prone to, but that (b) tend to make those fears of abandonment all that much worse. This helps. I can take a deep, quaking breath, and tell my servant where things are at for me, rather than hiding my hurt and my fear out of shame. I can tell her that what I need from her right now is a really big hug[6], or to curl up with her, or to otherwise have some gentle, attentive physical contact that I can just soak up.
They work.
 
And there are things that my submissive can do – as my servant and as my wife, by turns – that can help, too. When she comes to me and curls up at my feet of her own accord, lays her head on my knee, this tells me that she needs to be in the Place I provide for her. She can tell me I’m her anchor. She can tell me that feeling threatened by X or Y, or being unsure of how to deal with Q or V, isn’t actually weird or broken or not-poly-enough or un-dommely of me. She can keep coming back to my hand.
 
What are your thoughts on navigating insecurity as a dominant in an open 24/7 relationship?
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] Will she like holding power in Kitty’s life so much that she doesn’t want to submit to anyone – me – anymore?
 
[2] How will I handle it when Ghost’s time, energy and attention are being redirected because one of her other partners is in crisis? What about when one of her other partners is not in crisis but for whatever reason needs ongoing extra help? How will I handle it and still be able to hold her well? What does “hold her well” look like when she doesn’t have a lot of time or energy, let alone attention, to devote to me?
 
[3] What does “hold her well” look like when a lot of the basic household chores that, for me, were a bit of a touch-stone of our dynamic, are now being taken on by her submissive[4]?
 
[4] NOTE: I don’t actually have a problem with Kitty doing the household chores. I’m just glad they’re getting done. But it does leave me wondering how to direct someone’s energies when the “obvious servant stuff” is being delegated.
 
[5] … Provided I can drag myself out of my own personal (well-worn) spiral of withdrawl, resentment, and shame. Knowing how to recognize when I start following this spiral? That went a long way towards getting me to stop listening to my own fears. Sadly, that doesn’t mean I’ve completely stopped listening to them. But at least I can stop myself before I get too far down that spiral.
 
[6] I’m a really tactile person, so the warmth and physical contact of a hug actually does do me wonders in terms of whether or not I’m feeling safe and wanted, loved and attended-to. YMMV on this one.

So I’ve been reading Power Circuits: Polyamory in a Power Dynamic – a book by Raven Kaldera on doing power exchange and non-monogamy at the same time. At this point, I’m only through the first three parts, midway through the fourth (of I don’t-know-how-many because I’m reading this on an e-reader and can’t just flip back to the ToC… that I know of), so there’s still some left yet to read. But it’s already got me thinking.
Boy, has it ever got me thinking.
 
As is frequently the case, it has me mostly thinking about the stuff that didn’t get mentioned, or that didn’t get talked about as much as I would have really liked.
The book has numerous contributors – D-types and s-types, folks who wrote essays about the experience they’ve had being in their particular type of dynamic or leather-phamily, or what-have-you… and it’s all relevant stuff.
 
But. (You knew this was coming, didn’t you?)
 
By and large – with a few notable exceptions, which I’ll talk about shortly – the book is about how to be (or have) a fairly monogamous/monogam-ish submissive in a relationship with a poly/open dominant. Most of the time, the scenario of a submissive with multiple partners was one where she (usually she) had a vanilla spouse and a dominant. Not always, but frequently.
So there was a LOT of information/suggestions in the book for how to calm a submissive’s insecurities, how to acknowledge the vulnerable place they’re in, and all the rest of it. Which is useful information, to be sure – I can extract a lot of the stuff about vulnerability, fears, insecurities and what-not and apply them to my own situation.
 
What was barely even mentioned in the book, though, was, well, my situation. Being a dominant who is less poly than her submissive, being the dominant one and the insecure one at the same time, figuring out how to Be The Boss and hold your sub the way then need to be held (a) without using your power for evil[1], and (b) while balancing their time, energy, and attention so you AND your sub’s other partners all get enough face time[2].
 
The only contributor (so far – I’m well past the half-way mark on this book, but I’m not finished it yet) to even mention that Dom(me)s get jealous/insecure was Andrea Zanin. And, yeah, being at least slightly familiar with her philosophies on power (and poly), I’m not surprised that it was she who brought it up.
What I am surprised at is that nobody else did.
There were a LOT of quotations from, and examples of, submissives who were hoping their mono dominants would come around to trying polyamoury, and even more on the subject of poly (on the dominant’s part) being a deal-breaker for the submissive in question. It felt like the implication/assumption being made by the author/editor was that a dominant could/would just say “Nope. We’re not doing poly,” or “Nope. I get to have multiple People but, as my slave/sub/property, you don’t,” or some other form of one-sided polyamoury that conveniently means that the dominant in question never has to worry about dealing with hir own insecurities around sharing hir People.
 
I think this was a mistake.
 
I mean, yes, it would have been awfully convenient for me, as a “monogamish” owner with a polyamourous[3] Person, if the book had included a heap of essays and anecdotes from dominants talking about how they handled jealousy, time-management, prioritizing, and insecurities while in a relationship with a submissive who was the central point – or the not-so-central point – of an amoeba that included both power exchanges and vanilla relationships[4]. That would have been awfully handy.
But “handy to have had” isn’t the same as “mistake to not include”, and I do think it was a mistake to not include that stuff – particularly a significant amount of that stuff – in a book like this.
Andrea’s essay talked a little bit – very, very briefly – about why it’s important for a person in a position of power to not use that power for evil[1] to build hirself an unhealthy, “co-dependent”, force-teamed microcosm wherein zi never has to face hir own insecurities. (This applies in pretty-much any situation, btw, but it’s particularly relevant within the context of the intense emotional/personal relationships that one gets in D/s, M/s, and O/p). But I need more than that.
 
What I said, above, about being able to extract stuff and apply it to my own situation, that’s still true. But I would have really liked to see examples about how a poly submissive can remind hir dominant they they’re still wanted (both in general and) as Large and In Charge[5] without giving off the vibe that getting vulnerable[6] and opening up about feeling insecure was, in some way, not being Dom(me) Enough[7]. I’d also have liked to see stories/essays from individual dominants about how they negotiated their own insecurities about Sharing, how they differentiated between territoriality, desire to provide/maintain control, and straight-up fear-of-loss: How did they mess up? How did they succeed?
 
The long and the short of it is that I want to know how you – or you, or you, or you – do it with grace and generosity and the recognition that it’s not just you that you’re looking out for when you’re In Charge of someone else’s life.
 
So that’s my question. Got any suggestions?
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] By-which I mean remembering that, as The Boss, it’s your job to guide your sub and encourage hir to flourish into hir Best Self, rather than to use your Control over your sub’s life to build yourself a cocoon wherein you’ll never, ever, ever have to deal with your own Issues.
 
[2] The opposite of Using Your Powers For Evil is, in this situation, becoming a martyr by putting yourself last… when you are supposed to be providing your sub with direction and being the center/anchor for hir life.
 
[3] She’s poly-fuckerous, too, but by and large she’s far, FAR more likely to wind up loving someone, with or without sexual involvement, than to wind up having a one-nighter. This is both harder and easier for me to deal with than if it were the other way around. I’ll probably have to write a post about that at some point.
 
[4] There was one. A fellow wrote about his experiences in a queer leather family with multiple levels in the familial hierarchy that were more complicated than “X is my owner, and we both own Q” or “X is my owner and Q’s owner and we are sibling-slaves”. It was a help, in terms of finding language to describe, say, what Kitty – Ghost’s freshly-collared serving girl – is to me, or how to describe our relationship… which is a little more complicated than “two arms of a V” because of the once-removed power relationships that are also in the mix.
 
[5] Example: My Ghost once had a submissive of her own, in another city, and she’d periodically go and visit them for a weekend. But she’d come home and curl up at my feet because she needed that anchoring from me to know that she was home. Her doing that, and needing that, made things easier for me as well.
 
[6] Vulnerability, as we know, is sort of where it’s at when it comes to connecting with other people. It sucks that it gets such a bad rap.
 
[7] So much of this is also tied up with gender dynamics. The “masculine ideals” of being the knight on the white horse who will die in battle rather than run for safety, the “feminine ideals” of being able to do every, perfectly, without breaking a sweat or getting an eyelash out of place… they both map really, really neatly onto the ideas that dominants “should” be control-oriented and submissives “should” be service-oriented and that, along with that, dominants “should” be invulnerable and stoic and submissives “should” be able to Do All The Things automagically… Gah! It’s just fucking us all up from the inside out!

When Your Servant Has a Servant

My servant, once again, has a servant of her own.
This is actually working out to be pretty awesome. I like her, we get along, she’s a big help around the house, from my perspective, this is going rather well.
 
However.
 
What’s on my mind these days is this: I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to put my own servant, Ghost, to good use now that her servant is taking on a lot of the basic household maintenance stuff (sweeping up, doing the dishes, making coffee in the morning when she’s over for the night, that kind of thing). Of late, this hasn’t been a problem. We’ve just moved, so my girl has been working her ass off to get the old apartment cleared out and cleaned up (finished last night!) and to get the new apartment at least functional (there’s still a lot of unpacking to do, but we can move freely, and that’s a good thing).
 
But come January, after our wedding and the madness that is Secular Xmas, I’m going to need A Plan[1] for out how to direct and focus her energies. Some of it, of course, is going to be directed towards building custom shelving for our Work Room but, beyond that… May be if I think of her as a Luxury Commodity and set her to providing pedicures and massages? (I know, I know. My life is soooooooooo hard…)
 
Anyway. That’s what’s on my mind right now.
 
 
TTFN,
Ms. S.
 
 
[1] PLN:

Rob Anybody Feegle has a PLN.
I could do with one of those…

Sometimes you fuck up.

I’ve been doing something for a while now (and, knowing me, will likely do it again, and probably again, before I actually get the hang of Not Doing It) that hasn’t been working, and my Ghost and I had a Talk about it last night.

It’s something that, one way or another, I routinely mess up on: whether by making myself small when I should be aiming for huge, or by scaling back my expectations/demands rather than pushing for more, I do this frequently. My instincts/habits/life experiences/something tell me that, when things aren’t going quite the way I want them to, I should stop wanting those things.
Which, yes, when I put it like that, is patently stupid.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t do it.

I have been keeping things to myself – likes and dislikes, hopes and wants – because I don’t want to be a burden. Or because I don’t want my opinion about X to result in my Ghost choosing an action that will (a) not actually affect my life all that hugely, but (b) affect HER life and, more to the point, her wellbeing in a big (and also probably negative) way.
But the result has been that my Ghost has been walking on eggshells. Because she knows I’ve been keeping stuff from her, and it makes her wonder (and worry) what else I might not be telling her.

I don’t want to make my servant/girlfriend hyper-vigilant.
That’s horrible.

So I need to change how I’m doing things.

My stumbling blocks:

Cultural and familial conditioning: It’s really hard to go against a life-time of training that’s told me in no uncertain terms that making your every whim known and, furthermore, expecting those whims to be catered to (and on the double, no less) is… rude, presumptuous, self-important, and basically means you’re a lousy human being.
My Ghost has been serving me for more than two years at this point. I collared her just a little over a year ago. That’s a lot of time to cultivate my entitlement. At the same time, it’s up against about 30 years of being taught to squash it, so maybe it’s not surprising that this is taking a little while.
AND
Wanting to take good care of my Person: My girl works a physically demanding and, frequently, frustrating job. That she does this gives me the luxury of spending my days writing, crafting, doing Q/T outreach, coordinating a poetry show, and otherwise filling my time with art and community[1]. But it also means that she comes home late in the evening, feeling tired and sore, and needing to decompress. Much to my chagrin, my decision to give her ample time and space in which to decompress has actually resulted in her feeling like I “never take [my] horse out of the barn”.
Crap.
That’s not what I was aiming for!

My Ghost asked me two questions last night:
“What do you think I need?”
AND
“What do you want?”

She’s been feeling a bit like she’s serving a computer-program of late because most of what I ask of her is day-to-day chores (that show up in her automated calendar), and she’s been wanting to know what the longer-term goals and plans are (or, hint, if there are any).

The truth is, while I have longer-term goals, I’m totally fumbling and stumbling and flying by the seat of my pants when it comes to figuring out how to achieve them.
I don’t actually like it that the majority of the service I require from my Ghost is financial.
I would rather be at a point where I’m reliably generating mortgage-paying amounts of money through the above-mentioned channels of art and community, which would let me redirect my Ghost’s energies to, say, getting her various businesses off the ground so that should could work part-time doing custom furniture and part-time doing custom footwear and part-time doing various projects for me, and so on (which would cut down on her commute, let her be (relatively) gentle with her body, and give her a huge shot of extra job satisfaction… all of which would be a massive boost when it comes to her wellbeing. Plus we could probably have lunches together on the regular, which would be nice).

I am not at that point yet. I am, in fact, about $1200/month – bare minimum – plus a down-payment away from that point. But that’s where I’m aiming. That’s what I want and what I think she needs.

As it stands, though, while I’m working towards my goals, I do need to make sure that I take my horse out for a spin every now and then.

Ways I can do this:

Make Statements Rather Than Requests: “Clear your calendar! We’re going to the beach for a picnic. I need you to buy a baguette and some goat cheese. Also, we’re bringing the hulahoops, so you’ll need to get batteries for the portable CD player. Onwards!”
Instead of “What are you doing on Saturday? Nothing? Great! Do you want to go to the beach for a picnic? Great! What shall we bring… maybe a baguette and goat cheese? Do you want to bring the hulahoops? Do we have batteries for the portable CD player?”
You get the gist… I do the second one a LOT, but need to aim more towards the first. It’s a fairly simple (in theory) language modification that makes you sound more in charge and more confident in your decisions and desires. Which can help you actually become more confident in your decisions and desires. This is hard for me because… well, because a lot of things, most of which lead back to a degree of perfectionism that tells me I’m not allowed to make mistakes (like double booking someone because I didn’t check what their calendar said, or putting someone in a bad spot because I’ve effectively just told them to cancel plans with another partner).

Delegate Significant Tasks: “Make us an amazing dinner on Friday, using local, seasonal ingredients, ideally with mushrooms as a significant ingredient”
Rather than, say, “Pick up mushrooms on your way home, I’m making us an amazing dinner with local, seasonal ingredients, and I’m out of creminis”.
This is a hard one for, I have to admit, because it actually means letting go of control. I typically want to choose the food, and choose how it’s cooked, and choose when the meal is served (roughly), and similar. And just saying “You’re doing Fabulous Friday Dinner this week, honey, make it a good one!” seems like… oh, gods, what if she makes something and it’s not what I’m in the mood for? Then what do I do??? At the same time, I do enjoy it when my Ghost cooks for me, while I sip wine on the couch and read or knit or similar, so…

Be Unreasonable: As in “I need you to pick up my poet at the airport. Her flight got in two hours late, and I need to get to the show! Her name is {name} and she looks like her photo on the poster.”
I can imagine doing this.
I can’t (happily) imagine doing this outside of an “emergency situation”.
I’m not sure how (or even if) I should be aiming for a willingness to drop large, inconvenient, and time-sensitive tasks on my servant. One the one hand, there’s a very good chance that she would love it if I did that. On the other hand, it seems like a careless and inconsiderate thing to do… and I’m not sure I’m okay with that.

Yipes.

Anyway. So that’s what I’m looking at.

TTFN,
Ms Syren.

[1] And sometimes even getting paid for it! 😀