Please Or Be Pleased?

I was reading some posts in a femdom-themed yahoo group I’m in, and I noticed some things which came together in my mind, about submissive men who express desires to please their partner or dominant.

The observations I refer to here seem to apply in the world of femdom, I don’t know if they apply equally in mandom.

Please note that wherever I use the term “dominant” here, this could equally well mean vanilla women or wives who are in vanilla relationships with submissive men.
 
 

My Observations

 

  1. Many submissives often express that they feel a desire to please their dominant, that their desire to please their dominant is very strong, and that they feel this desire persistently reappearing often.
  2.  

  3. Many dominants seem to have developed trust issues when presented with the desire to please, because of their experiences with the way the submissives have responded when she describes how best to please her. For example, the submissive expresses a desire to please, the dominant indicates what will please her, and the submissive’s interest then seems to fade.
  4.  

  5. Many submissives don’t seem to notice or remember whether they followed through previous tasks to completion, possibly because of the high strength of the desire to please, often to the distraction of much else.
  6.  

  7. Many dominants don’t understand why an offer to please or serve might not always be followed through.
  8.  

  9. Many submissives don’t seem to be aware of the reasons their dominant has difficulties trusting such offers to please, and don’t understand why anyone would hesitate to accept such an offer.
  10.  

  11. Many dominants don’t appear to fully understand the value of positive reinforcement, appropriate positive validation, and the beneficial effects that their expressed pleasure can have on their submissives.
  12.  

  13. The submissive may complete a task with little or no acknowledgment from the dominant, and the submissive ends up feeling disappointed, sad, and unsatisfied.
  14.  

  15. The strength of the desire to please would appear to be strong enough to persist despite repeated unpleasant experiences associated with it.

 
 

Sample Scenario

 

  • The submissive expresses a desire to please
  • The dominant indicates what will please her
  • The submissive completes the request but is afraid of the verdict from the dominant
  • The dominant provides a lacklustre response, either because the service was not completed adequately according to her needs, or because she isn’t really interested in engaging with the submissive’s desires to please
  • The submissive feels sad, disappointed, and unsatisfied
  • The dominant feels under-served, and/or unpleasantly pressured to engage with the submissive in ways she might not want

 
Rinse, repeat.
 
 

Further Thoughts

 
I was thinking about how desires, especially strong desires, are usually (if not always) about things we seek and need, and tend less to be about things we give.

I noted to myself that desires, especially strong, persistent desires, usually seem to be associated with important emotional needs.

So I asked myself, what need is it that a submissive seeks to fulfill when they express their desire to please?
 

  • I thought about how kvetch just lights up all over, and turns pink and glows, when I express my pleasure in something he’s done, or given, or accomplished.
  • More precisely, I considered how kvetch lights up tenfold when I express my pleasure in ways which make it clear that I associate him with my pleasure.
  • And more precisely still, I remembered how kvetch lights up a further tenfold whenever I tell him sincerely what a good boy he is to me.

 
So I was considering the need for validation and approval.
 
 

Desire To Please, Or Seeking Validation And Approval?

 
It would seem possible that what the submissive expresses in good faith as the desire to please, might not actually be what he thinks it is.

I make this deduction based on the fact that the behaviour of the submissives does not appear to fit with the represented desire to please. For example, if it were really true that pleasing their dominant were the primary focus for this desire, then declining opportunities to please their dominant (as seems to happen fairly often) would hardly seem to fit in with that.

I often read and hear submissives talking about having done precisely as their dominant instructed, and the dominant makes little or no acknowledgment of the fact, and this leaves the submissive feeling disappointed, sad, and unsatisfied. So in cases like these, it would seem that the acknowledgment, praise, and validation afterwards is what was being desired and sought, and not necessarily to please or be of use.

Now, I acknowledge that when we exert ourselves in ways which result in another person’s convenience or pleasure, I think that all of us are entitled to expect the respectful courtesy of validation and expressed appreciation for those efforts. I do not regard that courtesy as strictly BDSM. I regard that courtesy as an example of respectful manners which I feel applies in every walk of life, to every human being.

But what I’m talking about here is not the pleasure taken in having our efforts validated. I’m talking about the validation being the goal, as opposed to the stated desire to exert some effort resulting in the dominant’s pleasure or convenience.

So it occurred to me to wonder if what some submissives actually desire is to be told how pleasing and good they are, rather than their stated desire (which is often contradicted by behaviour) of wanting to actually please their dominant?

And I was wondering, is it really that a submissive wants to please his dominant, or is it sometimes the case that what the submissive really wants is to hear his dominant tell him he’s such a good boy?
 
 

Disclaimer

 
Please note:

  • I am not referring here to all submissives.
  • I am not saying that every submissive (deliberately or otherwise) says one thing and does another.
  • I am also not saying that there is no such thing as a submissive with a genuine desire to please their dominant.
  • I am also (also) not in any way saying that every submissive who enjoys being told they’re a good boy, is deliberately trying to mislead when they express a desire to please their dominant.
  • I’m also most definitely not referring to the kind of submissive who offers to serve with “do me!!” in mind. For example, as in “Let me serve you Mistress, I’ll do whatever you want, as long as it’s oral service or me being tied up and teased or whatever I want.”

 
 

It’s Possible It Was All An Honest Mistake

 
I think it’s possible that some submissives, when they express a desire to please, might be mistaking what they feel as a desire to please, with an actual desire to feel validation, appreciation, and approval by being told they’re a good boy (or similar).

In other words, I think it might be the case that some submissives seek the reward of validation, appreciation, and approval, regardless of their accomplishment of pleasing their dominant.

So the point of this whole thing, I think, is that it seems to me that some submissive men who say they have a desire to please, but whose behaviour consistently does not support this, may really be seeking validation, appreciation, and approval, and may not really care about pleasing anybody.
 
 

One More Thing

 
I also think it’s quite likely that submissive men who genuinely do desire and enjoy pleasing their dominant, also crave validation, appreciation, and approval from their dominant.

I feel that validation, appreciation, and approval are very, very important for the human psyche in general. I think that we all feel a strong need to feel valued and appreciated by those who are close to us.

I’d be interested in reading any thoughts on this from dominants and submissives (and anybody in between).
 
 

About Lady Lubyanka

I am a 45 year old musician, and also a multisexual, polyamourous, Jewish, socially dominant woman within my romantic BDSM relationships.
This entry was posted in BDSM, Consent, noodge, noodging, nudge, nudging, Power Exchange, Psychology, Respect, sub, submission, submissive. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Please Or Be Pleased?

  1. Pickle says:

    I appreciate your observations on the subject, Lady Lubyanka, and as a submissive I would like to add some further thoughts to your observations.

    Firstly, all of the best dominants I know make a very clear connection between the effort their sub makes to please them and the praise awarded thereafter. Similar to conditioning, if the reward is associated with the action, the action will be more readily repeated. I know I glow when Master tells me I’ve done something that really pleases Him, and I’ll then go out of my way to do something similar again. This is gratifying for both of us, as we have both expressed a desire that has been fulfilled; myself by serving and Master by being served.

    I do things for Master because they please Him, and because I know He appreciates it when I go out of my way to do so.

    Instead of making me complacent, this has the opposite effect. Knowing something pleases Him means it can be used in new and exciting ways that I haven’t yet tried. It’s all because I know He enjoyed whatever it was that I did.

    I can see this becoming a problem in situations where there is less communication. As you so rightly said, a sub who feels slighted is less likely to repeat the action that s/he feels wasn’t appreciated. If the Dom doesn’t express their gratitude, the sub may feel that they’ve done something wrong, or are inadequate. This can lead to insecurities. The same applies for subs. If one feels they are not pleasing their Dom, the easiest solution is to simply ask what it is that would please them better. I always appreciate constructive criticism if it will improve how I serve.

    The greatest solution, as in most relationship instabilities, is communication. The danger that relationships without communication can become abusive is very real, and is something that both Dom and sub must look out for.

    I hope I was relatively coherent.

    Pickle

  2. Hello dear Pickle :)

    You were relatively coherent. :) I read what you said, and thought about it some more, and I wrote another post taking this whole set of ideas further (I think).

    Or at least, I’m pretty sure I took them someplace. :p

    I hope to see you soon, I haven’t been the mustard in awhile, and you’re definitely my bestest ever favourite condiment. :D

    xoxo L.

  3. Pingback: Validation « Lady Lubyanka

  4. Leopold says:

    Dear Lady Lubyanka,

    I only found your website yesterday, and it will be a long while before I have devoured most of it, but already I am excited to read the depth of your interest and insights re. bdsm and D/s. You are digging into things where most dominants fear to tread, and I salute your bravery and curiosity and integrity for doing so. You are most rocking!

    My experience is still limited, but it amazes me how the words “you are a good boy” or “you please me” from a cherished top can bring tears to my happy eyes. They create a deep glow and help fill a deep well.

    Call it validation or affirmation or recognition. Ms. Rika has made parallel observations on the importance of acknowledgment from the dominant. It may be all the sub really needs to feel fulfilled, and the other games are more what she says, playtime rewards.

    Where does this desire come from? My best guess, for myself, is some unfilled space from preverbal childhood that has left a lifelong desire to know “I’m okay. You like me. It pleases you that I am here with you, and I will serve you or do most anything in order to earn that validation.”

    My question is, though you’ve likely been asked before, is what does a dominant get out of taking on a somewhat parental role for their partner? Is it seeing the glow? Having such positive power and using it for the sub’s benefit? Is it feeling adored?

    I’m going to click on the large “Submit” button that you’ve provided now. – I love doing that :)

  5. I only found your website yesterday, and it will be a long while before I have devoured most of it, but already I am excited to read the depth of your interest and insights re. bdsm and D/s. You are digging into things where most dominants fear to tread, and I salute your bravery and curiosity and integrity for doing so. You are most rocking!

    Thank you very much! I feel most validated.     :D

    By the way, just for interest, kvetch just loves it when other people recognise and appreciate my rockingness. When I read out that paragraph to him, he smiled, said “awwwww”, and got an erection, hehehe.

    (he gave me permission to tell you that)     :)

    Call it validation or affirmation or recognition. […] It may be all the sub really needs to feel fulfilled […] Where does this desire come from?

    You might have missed the paragraph in which I said:

    Now, I acknowledge that when we exert ourselves in ways which result in another person’s convenience or pleasure, I think that all of us are entitled to expect the respectful courtesy of validation and expressed appreciation for those efforts. I do not regard that courtesy as strictly BDSM. I regard that courtesy as an example of respectful manners which I feel applies in every walk of life, to every human being.

    I cover that in bucketloads more depth in my Validation post which you may want to have a look at, as some of the issues you raise are addressed there.

    it amazes me how the words “you are a good boy” or “you please me” from a cherished top can bring tears to my happy eyes. They create a deep glow and help fill a deep well.

    You may be interested to know that I consider the human need for validation every bit as valid and crucial as the need for love, water, food, clothing, and shelter.

    What I emphasise in my Validation post, is how every human being without exception needs, deserves, and is entitled to validation – and that everybody’s emotional health   will   suffer without it.

    I feel that the strength of your emotional response to those simple validatory words supports my premise, which essentially is the recognition of the critical importance of validation.

    For example, I think that sincere, appropriate cuddling is a form of validation. The person cuddling you is communicating the unequivocal messages that

    – they find you attractive as a person (whether sexually or not, because
    nobody can sincerely cuddle a person they find repellent)
    – they like you (because no sane person cuddles anybody they dislike)
    – they enjoy your cuddles
    – they get some enjoyment and benefit from you
    – they value you

    And crucially, you are sending those same messages back to the person you are cuddling.

    I think this is a huge part of why cuddling is so important.

    I cover this in a bit more depth in another post which you’ve already read and commented on.     :)

    Part of what I say in that post about cuddling:

    Babies are known to fail to thrive, develop emotional, developmental, and physical disorders, and brain damage is not uncommon, when they are insufficiently cuddled from an early age.

    Just to warn you, I’ve just completed a long-overdue cleanup and small update of that post, so please don’t feel alarmed if it looks all pretty and better formatted than when you last saw it.     :)

    Where does this desire come from? My best guess, for myself, is some unfilled space from preverbal childhood that has left a lifelong desire to know “I’m okay”.

    As I said above, I feel that the desire, need, and entitlement for validation are critical to every human being without exception. I include not only those human beings who have (as you call them) unfilled emotional spaces from childhood, but I suspect this applies equally to those human beings who are in happy possession of optimally functional and primarily undamaged emotional health.

    (although to be fair, I have yet to have ever met any of the latter, and suspect they may not actually exist [yet])

    My question is, though you’ve likely been asked before, is what does a dominant get out of taking on a somewhat parental role for their partner? Is it seeing the glow? Having such positive power and using it for the sub’s benefit? Is it feeling adored?

    You’re right, I have encountered this question many times before. You may be interested to note that I would regard that question (and others like it) as an effort on your part to seek validation for yourself. I appreciate that you feel the need to know (and indeed, I acknowledge that you are entitled to know) that your dominant benefits from your existence, your service, and all that you do for her.

    However, I have some problems with your question –
     
    I cannot read other people’s minds, so I don’t know what other dominants are thinking.
    – I don’t want to speak for other dominants.
    – Only individual dominants themselves can truly tell you why they feel they benefit from this or that.
    – I cannot validate your assumption that all dominants   prefer   to adopt a parent-like role with their submissives,
    – I cannot validate your assumption that all dominants   benefit   from adopting a parent-like role with their submissives.
    – I cannot validate your assumption that all dominants   chose to undertake   a parent-like role with their submissives.

    I feel that a much more appropriate question might be something a lot less general, much more specific, and directly addressed to   your   dominant. For example:

    “How exactly (does my dominant) do you benefit from my submission?”

    Because honestly, how would it validate you to know how other dominants benefit from their submissives? How are they   really   anything to do with you? Does the benefit any one wife gains from her husband necessarily reflect the benefits all wives gain from all of their husbands?

    I often tell kvetch that I don’t want to be “the grown-up” for awhile, and he validates that and takes care of things whilst I indulge in frivolous amusements of my choosing.

    Whether or not I ever choose to undertake a parent-like role with kvetch, I don’t think that answering your question will help you learn what your dominant may gain from doing so with you.

    I hope that addresses your queries. Thank you very much for your lovely comments, I appreciate them a lot.     :)

    Best regards,

    Lubyanka.     :)

  6. Leopold says:

    Dear Lady Lubyanka,

    Your thoroughly thoughtful reply to my queries is received as an act of validation and a gift. I very much appreciate your taking so much time to consider my comments and questions, ill-conceived as they were.

    You gave me an insight. When I first called a pro-domme about ten years ago, she asked me what I wanted, what I hoped we could do. I was dumbfounded and tongue-tied and then my cell phone died and that pretty much ended it. It made me begin to realize that submissives might have different desires or needs. Previously, I’d assumed we were all the same.

    At present, I’m well aware that subs have a wide range of tastes and preferred activities, and probably an equally wide range of motivations and levels of submissiveness, from wannabes and one-hour session thrill seekers to dedicated lifestyle boys and slaves. I was beginning to think myself a bit sophisticated and experienced.

    I’ve certainly come a long way since ten years ago, but your reply made me pause and consider that a dominant’s desires and needs might be as nuanced as mine. For some reason this hadn’t dawned on me, perhaps due to my difficulty in understanding dominance.

    I’m not a switch (at least so far) and thus have no frame of reference for “getting” what being a top is about. You (as a group) exist on another planet for me. I know my dominant partners as friends and real people – that’s not my problem or what I mean by another planet. Rather it’s that I don’t understand why someone is dominant and what she (or he) gets out of it. I’ve asked, and I’ve gotten some nice replies, but they still probably don’t get at the more subtle motivations and rewards that each dominant finds on their side of the power exchange. I regret my naive question, though I did learn from your reply, and I love to learn in bdsm.

    I’ve had a number of dominant partners, and I appreciate each one as special. But I STILL don’t think I can understand the magic that makes them enjoy the explorations and journeys we take together. I always hope they get as much from it as I do, and I try my best to give it to them. Having a happy top means I’m a happy bottom because I must have been a good boy, and hearing that is magical.

  7. I first called a pro-domme about ten years ago […] I’ve certainly come a long way since ten years ago, but your reply made me pause and consider that a dominant’s desires and needs might be as nuanced as mine. For some reason this hadn’t dawned on me, perhaps due to my difficulty in understanding dominance.

    Ten years ago? In another comment, you indicate that your journey into BDSM began three years ago.

    One rule about questions which I find most helpful is:

    If an answer isn’t useful, then ask a different question.

    Your problems with the answers most probably lie with the fact that you aren’t actually asking answerable questions.

    You assume that you have difficulty understanding “dominance”. And yet, you are able to instantly recognise dominance in a woman and feel a strong and unequivocal attraction to it. In order to recognise it, you must have at least   some   understanding of what it is. So I think that your difficulties are not with “understanding dominance”, but more likely with asking the right questions. Do you think you could clearly and comprehensively answer the question “What is submission?” Personally, I doubt it. You might be able to answer the question “What is submission for you?” but even then, that question is hopelessly vague. I wouldn’t expect a comprehensible answer to that question from   anybody.

    I’m not a switch […] and thus have no frame of reference for “getting” what being a top is about. […] I don’t understand why someone is dominant and what she (or he) gets out of it. I’ve asked, and I’ve gotten some nice replies, but they still probably don’t get at the more subtle motivations and rewards that each dominant finds on their side of the power exchange. […] I STILL don’t think I can understand the magic that makes them enjoy the explorations and journeys we take together.

    You assume that not feeling dominant feelings precludes your ability to understand “dominance”. But do you really understand “submission” either? Could you answer your own questions “Why is somebody submissive?”, “What do you get out of submission?”, “What is the magic that makes you enjoy the explorations and journeys you take with a dominant?” Could   you   answer those questions and satisfactorily explain the more subtle motivations and rewards that each submissive finds on their side of the power exchange? Personally, I very much doubt it.

    I wouldn’t know what to do with such questions myself, whatever perspective they were asked from. More than likely, I’d disregard those questions and wait until I was asked something more sensible, specific, and actually   addressable.

    I mean, I don’t think it can really be that difficult to understand why   any   person, dominant or not, might enjoy being on the receiving end of the devoted service of their choosing, combined with admiration, respect, and regard from a valued friend. I don’t think that idea is so impossible to grasp.

    Perhaps your difficulties lie not only in asking inadequate questions, but also in whether your play partners are able to express their pleasure in ways which you can appreciate. If their pleasure is clear to you, I’m not sure what other answers you’re looking for.

    You may or may not be aware that one of the many differences between interacting professionally with a pro dom and having a personal power exchange relationship with a lifestyle dominant, is that, in a professional encounter, pro doms don’t always feel comfortable expressing the pleasure they experience in response to this or that. And some people, whoever they are, do have difficulties expressing their pleasure anyway, whatever it’s in response to.

    I don’t think it’s always   that   important to know why somebody enjoys something. It isn’t necessary to like tuna sandwiches yourself in order to appreciate and respect that somebody else really likes and enjoys them. They do, and you understand enjoyment, so what more do you need?

    So I would save your vague, impossible questions, and instead I would only ask those questions which you yourself are able to answer from your side. After all, it’s hardly fair, reasonable, or realistic to ask questions of others which you yourself are incapable of answering from your perspective. If you can’t answer yours, why would it be reasonable to expect others to be able to do any better?

  8. Pingback: ‘Submission Is A Gift’ – The Rant « Lady Lubyanka

  9. K says:

    I have a query about the design here. What is your reason for making each sub-heading a hyperlink to itself? It links to the section it heads up and from what I can tell, the only thing it does is skip your view down a few lines.

    To me, it’s confusing – I’d rather see links to other places only!

    • You’re right, and I’m in the process of phasing that out.

      My posts are generally very long, usually several thousand words. WordPress only recently offered a facility to divide posts into multiple pages. Before that I needed a way to easily identify and share links to sections, and this was how I did it, allowing anybody else to do the same.

      I’m still updating my blog in general, including posts like this one which I haven’t got to yet. When I’m done those links will either be moved to a post index at the top of the post or removed altogether.

      Sorry for the inconvenience.

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