As Reality Sets In

by bob harris

A boy’s ability to serve a Dominant comes from inside him. It is an innate desire and need to care for another. A desire that would be there whether or not he was involved in any form of D/s relationship. In its purist form, service is provided out of love. It is the joy of seeing and knowing the pleasure that one’s service gives to the person being served which acts as both the reward and incentive.

If that innate desire is not there, if it is only with the hope of receiving sex or dungeon play that service is provided, as is often the case, then it won’t be long before the service tapers off or stops completely, regardless of the amount of sex or play received. This is one of the first lessons i tell any new submissive.

However, there is also an innate desire within us that can only be satisfied in the dungeon. SM play can be as addictive as any drug. It is a driving force as basic and equally as strong, if not at times stronger, than any other of our needs. If that were not the case we would all be content to exist in the vanilla world. Once our SM need is discovered, once you have felt the total satisfaction, the extreme rejuvenation of both body and soul that only a session in the dungeon can provide, it is impossible to be satisfied living without it.

So how then does a boy balance the need to serve with the desire for SM play? Is it possible for the boy to remain happy, be fulfilled in a relationship when only one of those needs is being satisfied while the other goes unattended? Is he less of a boy, or of a submissive when the joy of providing service is no longer enough? How does he cope when day after day he strives to provide the best service he can in the hopes that his Dominant will reward him at some point with a trip to the dungeon, but after several months, that point has yet to arrive? How many times and how deeply within himself can he reach to find his inner strength that provides the energy he needs to keep pushing himself to do better, serve better, before there is no more reserve? What happens when the outside pressures and stress of everyday life become so demanding that both Dominant and submissive are too exhausted to provide the needed energy required to maintain a D/s relationship and seem to be slipping more and more into a relationship more vanilla than D/s?

I wish i knew the answers to these questions. I wish there was some magic formula or timeless words of wisdom that would make everything seem crystal clear so that the answers would be immediately evident. One of those situations where you knock yourself on the side of the head and exclaim “duh, why didn’t i think of that?” I wish i knew because i’ve been struggling with these same questions myself for a while now.

The world of SM is full of paradoxes. We continually strive to come up with ways to explain to the outside world, and to ourselves, why it is that we get pleasure from pain. Why a submissive willing turns control of their well being over to another much less voluntarily place themselves into “slavery.” How being physically punished is actually a reward. For me, it is this punishment/reward concept that is at once both one of the easier paradoxes to understand yet one of the hardest to keep balanced. So easily defined, yet so easily misunderstood and with great potential for causing problems in a relationship.

Too much emphasis on the role of SM in the relationship, trying to live the fantasy 24/7, is overly exhaustive to maintain, generally results in disappointment and can eventually destroy the relationship. On the other hand, too little involvement of SM, removing too many or too much of the fantasy elements, can be overly frustrating and equally as disappointing and destructive to the relationship.

The time Sir and i spend together in the dungeon is something very special. It is a time when we are completely focused on each other, providing a communication channel unlike no other. With our energies joined as one, directly linked, there is no interference to cause a miscommunication or misinterpretation. Outside pressures of our business, community politics, family (biological and leather), daily schedules and just life itself fade away and are, for a while at least, forgotten. It is a time when the spirit soars, the soul is cleansed, negativity banished and frustrations abandoned. It is sensual, sexual, total satisfaction. The ultimate fulfillment, perfectly refreshing and restoring. The game may be based in terms of punishment but the results and effects are definitely rewards. We exit revitalized, with renewed energy. Recharged to the point of overflowing.

By the rules we established in defining the workings or our relationship, it is the withholding of play that constitutes punishment. It is therefore very difficult for me not to equate lack of play with some inadequacy in the service i provide, no matter how many times i am told otherwise. Told that it is a matter of uncontrollable circumstances, not disappointment or dissatisfaction, that is the cause. Although i know in my mind, on an intellectual level, that this is the case, convincing my heart, on an emotional level, is what becomes so terribly difficult.

So why is it, if i actually believe that service is truly its own reward and should be provided simply for the pleasure derived from it without emphasis, expectation or desire for play, that i still place such a strong connection between the two? Why do i find myself slipping in the performance and providing of service as times in the dungeon become fewer, further apart and shorter in duration? Is this not a matter of taking my own advice? Intellectually, yes. Emotionally, no. The reason being that there is an additional factor associated with service, which comes into effect here.

In order to provide your highest level of service, you must be whole. No part of your being can be missing. You must be satisfied on every other level of existence, happy with who you are, the person you are. You need to posses a strong, positive self-image and feeling of self-worth, but still maintain a level of humility to prevent arrogance and provide the incentive to strive ever harder to reach your full potential. Lately, i do not feel whole. A part of me is being left unfulfilled, and a hunger unsatisfied. That is very difficult to admit, harder to accept.

There was a time before my need for SM surfaced or developed, that i was satisfied with a vanilla life. I provided to those i had relationships with, much of the same service i provide in my relationship today. It provided similar pleasure and satisfaction, even though at the time, i wasn’t aware of what i was doing or had put a name to it. i do not want or intend to go back.

But i have no intention of giving up either. Because although the struggle to maintain headspace is frustrating, downright infuriating at times, a major factor in my assessment of the degree and quality of service i am providing, in the overall view of things its a minor point. Our relationship is built on so much more than that.

We are more than Master/slave. We are also partners, in business and in life. We are, as most members of long-term Master/slave relationships, and despite what fantasy tries to portray as being alien to such relationships, lovers. We are each other’s support. We share each other’s energies, hopes, dreams, successes, failures, joys and sorrows. For above all else we are each other’s best friend.

Any SM or D/s relationship requires an extremely strong foundation built on a high degree of mutual trust, mutual respect and open and honest communication. Much more so than in any vanilla relationship. It is this foundation, more than anything else, which sets relationships in our world apart from relationships in the vanilla world. For no matter how hidden, or out of commission, it may seem to be at any one point in time, there always exists that power exchange. Of one giving and one taking, the responsibility of caring for and protecting both body and soul.

So maybe everything isn’t perfect. What relationship ever is all the time? Yes, there are times when the stress level is higher than it need be, arguments a bit more heated, words said in anger or frustration that both know are not really true or meant but hurt just the same. What relationship at some point doesn’t experience those things as well?

But as long as that foundation remains strong, one thing is for sure. Like everything else in life, this too shall pass. That is a confidence i cannot honestly say i’ve ever had in any other relationship. i’m not willing to give that up.

There will come a time when the dungeon will be filled once again with the sounds of our enjoyment. When going to bed will mean more than it is time to get a couple hours sleep before facing another long day. Damn, i hope it comes soon!

copyright bob harris © May 2000
(No portion of this article may be reproduced without the written permission of the author)