We are a week into our D/s exploration, and now that I am believing this is going to be the way for us, that this is really who we are… I spend a lot of time in my living room chair, gazing at the winter-bare oak trees out my front window, trying to come to grips with my new unfamiliar self.
How did I not see this coming? Were there signs I might be inclined toward sexual submission? I start sorting through my sexual history, and I do find a few signs, experiences that did not strike me as significant at the time.
Once, in my 30s, during a marriage in which battles over the frequency of my willingness to have sex were bitter and exhausting, I told my then-husband, “Just go ahead and do me, I don’t care, as long as I don’t have to pretend I’m into it.” He took me up on it a few times, and I found not only did it not bother me to be screwed when I wasn’t in the mood, I would eventually become excited by the passive acceptance of it, and told him so. Still, we reverted back to the “rules” of consent, and weekly fights over why I wasn’t more often in the mood.
Another time, in my 40s, during a brief period of dating, I once met a man for drinks at his hotel after he’d charmed me online. Although he was nice, I knew immediately he was not a romantic prospect for me. He was younger, almost boyish, with glasses and a cowlick, exactly fitting the stereotype of computer nerd. But as I was plotting my escape, he suddenly became commanding.
“You are going to come into to my bedroom with me now,” he said.
I laughed, thinking his overconfidence ridiculous. “Oh, you think so.”
He moved closer to me, and leaned to say in my ear, “If you don’t think about it and just do it, you might be surprised.”
Then, without waiting for me to demur, he took my hand and pulled me toward his bedroom. To my own great surprise, I did not resist. I allowed him to pull me up the stairs and through the doorway of the bedroom.
“Now sit on the bed,” he said. I found myself sitting, and marveling that I was doing what he said. He knelt to take my shoes off for me.
“Now stand up and take your shirt off.”
If he had asked me to do it, I would have said no. But something about him commanding me… well, I liked it. And I obeyed. Not because I felt threatened or in danger; I knew I could safely walk out if I wanted to. But no man had ever spoken to me in such commanding way before, and it held me spellbound.
Over the next hour, I felt as if I was playing the most amazing fun game as he gave commands and I obeyed. He didn’t demand anything too exotic, in fact, if not for his bossiness, it was a pretty standard sexual encounter. But I was fascinated by my own response – how I felt almost hypnotized by his commands, simultaneously excited and soothed by them. (Probably my first no-static sex.)
I left invigorated by the whole episode, and thought, well I guess I like it when a guy is assertive. And that was it. I did not see him again, nor did I think too deeply about it, or what my response might mean about my sexual nature. I certainly didn’t start looking for assertive or dominating kind of men.
In fact, only a short while later, a few weeks in to my next serious relationship, my new blonde, blue-eyed, wholesome-looking boyfriend confessed to me liked a woman to boss him around in bed. He also liked to be whacked on the ass with a paddle, and would I be willing? I was indeed willing, it seemed like yet another fun and naughty game. And although it didn’t much excite me to whack him, it amused me to go shopping together for a paddle. And it made me happy to satisfy his desires, made me feel like a good, open-minded lover.
At least I felt good until he started asking me to me to tie him up, hit him harder, mark and bruise him. Then I would grit my teeth and wince as I wielded paddle and whip across his backside.
I finally told him, “I don’t think I can do this anymore. I don’t feel comfortable hurting you.”
He told me he experienced the pain as pleasure. When I told him I didn’t see how that could be possible, he offered to tie me up and paddle me, so I’d know how it felt. “Not too hard, I promise.”
I was nervous, but agreed I should know what it’s like on the other side. He loosely bound me to the bed with straps we had bought to be used on him… Then took the black strip of leather with the word “Love” stenciled-in, and whacked me on my bare ass.
Ooohhhhhhhhh. The pain flashed only briefly, then left behind a warm pleasant tingle. Very warm, very pleasant, very stimulating. I said, “Can you do it harder?”
Once I knew that pleasure, I felt liberated to become an enthusiastic dominatrix. Over the following months, we went all in on BDSM, me in a leather outfit, whirling a cat-o’-nine over my head with the best of them. He called himself a submissive, and a painslut, and we pushed the boundaries of what he could take. He thrilled at any mark or bruise.
I can’t say I “got off” on delivering the pain, or being the object of his worship. But I did enjoy the intensity it gave the relationship. It was my first experience of the heat of no boundaries sex. I liked the sense of intimacy it created, the feeling that we were, together, boldly going where few had gone before. I especially liked that every once in awhile we’d switch, and I’d get a rare turn face down on the bed, tied up and helpless while he did wicked things to me. Oh, that was my favorite thing of all.
One would think my enthusiasm for my turn on the bottom would have been an unmistakable signal to me that I was more naturally suited to submission. But I didn’t hear that signal. I was too busy trying to figure out how to be a dominant, how to cultivate that mindset.
Yet, try as I might, my desire to play the role of dominant began to drain away. I no longer enjoyed the dynamic. I blamed him, told him he was always “topping from the bottom,” trying to get me to give him what he wanted, instead of allowing me to do what I wanted (even though I had no idea what that might be). I blamed the dynamic of D/s itself, declaring that it was built on an illusion. Obviously, the submissive was the one with the real power. After all, the only reason I was playing dominatrix was to satisfy his desire for pain (ironically, because I was a closet submissive who felt I had no choice). I was giving him what his fetish demanded, rather than following any desire of my own.
When the BDSM aspect of the relationship went away, the intensity that held us together went away, and it was not long before the whole relationship teetered on collapse. It was upsetting and confusing for both of us, as we had once felt protected by the intensity between us, which we interpreted as love. I lost all desire for sex, and became hostile toward any suggestion that we try BDSM activities again. I felt a resentment toward him all out of proportion to our small problems, and finally ended the relationship. He felt bitter. I didn’t blame him, as I had no explanation that made sense to myself, let alone to him.
Now, a decade later, after marrying Michael and stumbling on the glorious discovery of my own submissive self, it seems clear to me that I resented my painslut boyfriend because he took the role better suited to me. In order to be dominant, one must be strongly aligned with masculine energy, and it was always an effort to pull that out of myself in the bedroom. But yielding feminine energy, ah, that is effortless to me. There was no way I could continue in that relationship and be my true self.
I don’t know how I stayed oblivious to what these brief experiences were pointing me toward. Or how I failed to grasp what my sexual fantasies were telling me for most of my life. It was Freud who declared that each person has a ‘central masturbation fantasy,’ and suggested this fantasy can reveal one’s deepest traits and desires. One fantasy has always played in my head while I bring myself to orgasm, from the time I was a teenager: I am helpless (often voluntarily so), usually splayed open, not allowed to move, while sexual things are being done to me. The setting might change – I am a volunteer in a medical lab where doctors test me for sexual response, or an inmate in a jail subject to the whims of the guards, or a priestess being serviced in a fertility ritual, or a teenage girl being “taught” about sex by her stepfather. But always, always, I am still, passive, yielding, accepting. And incredibly aroused.
Who knows how Freud might interpret this fantasy, or what a psychologist might say this reveals about my psyche. And who knows why I didn’t understand this perpetual fantasy as a sign that I might respond well to sexual submission, or why those few brief forays into surrender didn’t catch my attention. But now that I have found myself on this path to sexual bliss, I can look back and see a pattern, glowing neon bright. I have always felt this longing to be dominated by my lover. And I feel giddy with what might come next.