Thoughts On The Necker Cube

The Necker Cube is an optical illusion. When you look at it, you see a cube. But there are two equally valid cube pictures. Stare at it long enough and your brain will switch from one cube to another.

2000px-Necker_cube.svg

Staring at the middle distance long enough, you will suddenly put all the pieces of a “life jigsaw” together. You’ve had all the pieces for some time, but it’s only when you put them together do you realise that the picture they make is not the same as the picture on the lid of the box the jigsaw puzzle came in. Almost the same perhaps, or maybe not at all. But you have to put most of the pieces in place to realise it. Then, of course, once it’s obvious what the picture is, easy to fill in the gaps.

People are the same. As with the Necker Cube, you can see them one way for a long time. Even argue that your interpretation is the right one. Then, suddenly, the image flips and you see them from the other side. You see what is there. It’s quite a surprise. If it really hasn’t ever happened to you, you’ll see.

Once it’s happened, that person is screwed. They can’t deceive you again. It doesn’t matter what they tell you, what they claim, because they can say what they like, if it doesn’t fit in with how they behave, the true picture, the manipulations, the lies become obvious. You take all the peices of the jigsaw, and you realise why they don’t fit. Lies don’t fit because the lie doesn’t fit the reality. You suddenly realise where all the pieces fit, and ask yourself why somebody kept the wrong boxlid in front of you.

Why did they tell you the lie, manipulate, show you the wrong picture? Usually the answer is one of three: either they needed you to think the lid showed the true picture because they wanted to use you; or they were so invested in the lie that they were too humiliated to admit it, or they don’t know the truth about themselves.

For which of these reasons did they not show you the true picture? Well, that may forever be a mystery.

The important thing is, you’ve find them out. They played their own game and they lost. Imagine how much they must hate knowing that!

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Thoughts On Correction And Discipline

Supporting his sub takes many forms for a Dom. One that is important is encouraging good behaviour. How a coupling choose to define “good” does, of course, vary from pair to pair. But what will be usual is delivering a sanction for breaching the guidelines and rules that have been agreed or have evolved between you.

The usual disclaimer: I’m giving my opinion, discussing my instinct. I’m not didactically telling anyone how to do things or saying it’s “The Right Way”.  Just that it’s “My Way.”

In my view these sanctions fall into two very different and distinct areas: Correction and Discipline.

Correction

Correction is fun and playful. There may at times be serious purpose behind it, but that needn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed. Whatever form it takes; spanking with a hand, a belt, a flogger, straps, tawses… it is founded in play. The infringements, while real, are in the grand scheme of things trivial. Unimportant except for the fact that they have been tasked by the Dom. This creates a pretext for play where a Dom can enjoy the act of Correction and empty his sub’s mind. She can enjoy receiving Correction, and allow her mind to empty.

The act of Correction becomes a ritual between you, a familiar route for you both to quickly find subspace for her. By having an understanding between you of the things that will lead to Correction, the sub will know what to expect from it, whether she’s going to benefit from a short, light spanking with a hand or a more sustained Correction with a belt, whether she’ll be over her Dom’s knee, a table, or bound to a bed, for instance.

Regardless of the type, degree and length of Correction, you both know what’s coming. You both know why, you’re both going to enjoy it, both know it’s play, it’s fun, sensual, it’s going to lead to tender caresses, care, forgiveness and orgasms.

A delicious viscous circle.

Discipline

Discipline is a very different matter. At the S/M end of the BDSM spectrum, Discipline is desired, used in the same way as Correction, as an escalation of it, but into areas the sub doesn’t wish to go. I feel this is a corruption.

For me, Discipline is used when a sub acts against her own best interests. It’s important for a Dom to be able to distinguish between that and acting in a way he dislikes or disapproves, and for a sub to trust that he knows the difference. Because in the same way that Correction is for ‘trivia’, Discipline is about things that really matter to her.

A Dom shouldn’t want to Discipline his sub. If he wants or is eager to Discipline, then he’s eager for her to behave in a way that is against her interests. And that would be a failure on his part to support and guide her.

Given that, Discipline can’t be play. It can’t be something the Dom enjoys, because the behaviour that caused it should be something he discourages and doesn’t want. If he’s using Discipline as a pretext for caning his sub (for instance, a more severe impact play that he’d use for correction), where he wouldn’t normally cane her or have consent to use a cane in play, and caning is something that he finds enjoyable, arousing, then Discipline becomes almost his prize for her acting against her interests. This encourages him to allow her to act in a way that is negative for her. That’s surely a failure at the very foundation of D/s. Just a vicious circle. With the ‘Dom’ being vicious.

The other aspect the Discipline should recognise is that failure on my part. I should feel as bad about having to Discipline as she does for having to be. So the method of Discipline should be something that the Dom wants to avoid, too. Otherwise it becomes a vicious circle of a Dom tacitly encouraging negative behaviour to enable him to indulge his sadistic tendency to punish and inflict pain.

Quite what that method of Discipline should be, I feel is dependent on the cause of the Discipline, making it as appropriate as possible. But by ensuring that the Dom shares in the Discipline, finds it as uncomfortable or unpleasant as his sub finds it, ensures that he is going to be eager to avoid Disciplining his sub, and to encourage positive behaviours and encourages her to always act in her best interests.

To give an example from a recent conversation, not doing your taxes on time is acting against your best interests, and so would incur Discipline. The method of Discipline? I [half] jokingly said it would be for her to sit and watch while I do her taxes for her.

Will she enjoy watching me go through all her finances? Will I enjoy doing her taxes? Will either of us enjoy spending our valuable time together doing the year’s accounts?
Hell, No!

Do we both want to avoid that?
Hell, Yes!

Trust

Because I make this distinction, my sub knows that my motives behind Discipline are genuinely about her best interests, not about creating a pretext to indulge myself. She knows I strive to support her, because I want to avoid not only the feeling of having to Discipline her, but the method of Discipline just as much as she does. She knows I would consider it my failure as her Dom.

This also builds the foundation of trust, and the security of care she knows I am for her. Which in turn means that I’m better able to challenge her boundaries when I feel the time is right.

So I never want my sub to act against her best interests, I support her without any ulterior motive and she wants to please me by being the best she can be. I’m pleased to say that because she knows I have this intrinsic supportive nature of Discipline, I’ve never had to Discipline her.

I hope she does those taxes.


© Charles Rochester 2015

Thoughts On Tasks

The setting of tasks – continuing, daily and ad hoc – by a Dominant is a common (though by no means ubiquitous) feature of D/s relationships. For those unfamiliar it can seem as though a Dominant is simply demanding his submissive fulfils a whim of his. But as with so much in D/s that’s just what is seen from the outside.

But tasking is a valuable tool of connection between Dom and sub. Used well, tasks achieve far more than just the completion of the task itself: it reinforces the bond, it allows the Dominant to care for his sub, and for the sub to show her care for her Dominant, and to satisfy her need to please him.

It gives him a chance to praise her for successful completion, and gives her the knowledge that she has pleased him, succeeded, building her confidence.

Used badly, tasking can undermine these goals, and consequently undermine any connection the two might have.

If the Dominant fundamentally misunderstands how to use tasking, he can easily damage his sub’s confidence, her trust in him, and betray his failure to understand the nature of Dominance.

While tasking is reliant on your Dominance, reinforces it and is an exercise in it, it is not for that. Nor is it about demonstrating your dominance nor about selfishly satisfying your whimsy. As with all things, it’s primarily about using your dominance to the benefit of your sub and your relationship. That it has other immediate benefits to you both is a significant bonus, and how you choose to task to deliver that benefit is important bonus.

Disclaimer: The examples I’m using are not ones from my own life, so aren’t the best ones I can think of. I’m using the best ones!

The simplest tasking reinforces connection and excitement between Dom and sub. For instance, if the circumstances and mood are right, he could decide to task her to go without underwear for an hour. The awareness she will have that she is debriefed for him, maybe in a public place, or at work, will excite and arouse them both. If the mood is right. Used ahead of meeting up, it can form part of a playful prelude. But time it wrong or do it only for his gratification, and he’ll only leave her feeling vulnerable and exposed (in a bad way). There are other tasks that given ad hoc can also be exciting, arousing, fulfilling. Limited only by his imagination and knowledge of her and her limits.

Are there any rules for task setting? I wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to dictate any, but for my own practice, yes. And I’d go so far as to suggest if a sub found her Dom were to frequently break these guidelines, she may want to question his instincts and motives.

  1. The task, while it shouldn’t be too easy and may be quite challenging, should be achievable.
  2. The task should not be harmful, physically or emotionally.
  3. The task should not seem to have the purpose of “Exercising my right as a Dom to tell you what to do.
  4. Tasks, taken as a whole, shouldn’t be almost exclusively sexual in nature.
  5. Most importantly, tasks should support a sub in her life and in her personal growth.

 

One.

The task, while it shouldn’t be too easy and may be quite challenging, should be achievable.

If a Dom sets tasks that he knows (or should know) that his sub can’t or won’t be able to achieve, either through circumstantial or physical inability, or through her limits, then he is setting her up for failure. At best, this shows a catastrophic lack of care and understanding for his sub. At worst it’s an abuse: deliberately undermining confidence, creating a sense of failure.

Two.

The task should not be harmful, physically or emotionally.

Some tasks make good ad hoc tasks, but terrible daily ones. Let’s say a Dom decides to set his sub a task she is to complete every day, indefinitely. My example from earlier: going without underwear for an hour would suddenly become routine. Finding the best time to do it, a chore. It would lose its ability to arouse through being commonplace. Worse, it fails to take into account how she feels that day, what’s happening in her life, where she is in her cycle, what she’s doing that day. Taking something that ought to be exciting and making it routine is harmful, I think.

Some daily tasks might actually become physically harmful, altering muscle tone and balance, if used regularly for a time. Other tasks that are exciting most of the time might induce a significant squick factor at other times and so are simply inappropriate as dailies.

Three.

The task should not seem to have the purpose of “Exercising my right as a Dom to tell you what to do.

If a Dom is setting tasks, it shouldn’t be to create a Dominance over a sub, or a sense of ownership. It should use a Dominance that has already been earned through care and understanding. Tasking too early in a relationship, or even trying to task before that relationship has been properly established, is a bit of a red flag. It’s either an attempt to manipulate someone with submissive tendencies into subbing for him before he’s earned it, or he’s showing he doesn’t understand where he is in the relationship.

A Dominant doesn’t need a sub to do a task to “prove she’s [his] submissive“. He shouldn’t need to set a task to reinforce or prove he’s Dominant, either. If tasking is being used for that purpose, there’s something very wrong somewhere.

Four.

Tasks, taken as a whole, shouldn’t be almost exclusively sexual in nature.

Tasks of a sexual nature are, of course, great fun for all concerned. If there are no sexual tasks, I’d worry if I were you. But equally, if a Dominant is setting tasks that are exclusively or predominantly sexual in nature, particularly if they’re daily ones, then he would appear to be focussed on satisfying his selfish desires, not supporting his sub. It may be that who she is isn’t really important to him (rather like Sadists and painsluts).

It may be that a Dom is in the process of challenging a particular boundary, or circumstances mean that the pair have less time together than they usually might. Either may lead to a temporary focus on more tasks of a sexual nature. But in challenging boundaries and being together long enough for there to be those circumstance changes, there ought to be sufficient trust for the sexual focus to tasking to not be a red flag.

Five.

Most importantly, tasks should support a sub in her life and in her personal growth.

Supporting a sub in her daily life and personal growth are excellent opportunities for daily tasking. Knowing the things a sub wants to achieve in the long term, or the small everyday achievements she’d like to make, give a Dominant a chance to support those goals and help his sub work towards them. By creating the chance to praise and reward her, giving her the feeling of achievement she deserves, even though the longer term path she’s on might seem like a mountain to climb, it’ll be far easier when each step is encouraged and praised.

On the other hand a daily task of a sexual nature, meaning it wouldn’t have reference to mood or circumstance, would – sooner or later (I’d guess within 28 days) – lead to an inability to complete it, and a sense of failure. What might be magical on Monday, might be unachievable on Tuesday. Such a daily task would likely be one designed to enforce dominance rather than support a sub.


So there we have my thoughts on tasking. Again – as always, these are my thoughts only, not a didactic guide to what’s “right” or TRU. Although I’d think some of my thoughts would be hard to argue against.

Tasking shouldn’t be used to reinforce dominance and submission, but to celebrate it, an opportunity to make the most of it, to support your sub, and to create chances to show her how proud she makes you, how much she pleases you.

But what to do when tasks aren’t completed successfully? Then it’s a matter for Correction or Discipline


© Charles Rochester 2015

Songs For D/s and Kink

I often find myself listening to songs I’ve known for years but haven’t heard for a while, and hearing a Ds overtone to them. Carly Simon’s Nobody Does It Better, or Rihanna’s Russian Roulette heard through the filter are strongly D/s in nature.

Here’s a few more examples that I’ve come across (not like that, get your mind out of the gutter) or have been suggested this month…

Spotify: Songs Of Kink

I thought as a bit of Christmas nonsense, I’d ask you to suggest your D/s or Kink songs, and put together a New Year Playlist on Spotify. Put your suggestions in the comments below, or tweet me and I’ll add them all (regardless of my own preferences!)

As a disclaimer, like BDSM, not of it is to my taste!


© Charles Rochester 2015

Thoughts On Fear And Apprehension

I’m afraid of something. Proper “break out in a cold sweat, paralysed to the spot, staring at it” terror. I can trace the origin of this fear back to the summer of 1975. I know exactly what happened to trigger it, and the secondary reinforcing event a few days later. I remember the nightmare it caused.

Fortunately I don’t come across these things in my daily life. In fact I haven’t seen one for over a decade. But I’m sometimes uncomfortable around things that are a bit like them.

Fear and apprehension limit our behaviour and choices. There’s a reason why I haven’t seen these things in a decade: I don’t go where they are. But what if there was something there I really wanted to do or see? Or what if one turned up in a place I already was, and loved?

I’d need someone I trusted to be understanding of my fears, and to help me beyond them, to see the wonder of these ghastly things.

Because if there’s someone you trust utterly, then the power of that trust overcomes the strength of your fear. You can follow guidance and do things that you would otherwise be too apprehensive to do. That’s why the trust a sub has for her Dom should be total. It should be strong enough that she can place herself in his care when she is at her most vulnerable. It’s why no one should submit to someone they don’t trust, utterly, completely.

The ability of a Dom to take his sub to her boundaries, and to stretch them, challenge them in ways that she has previously been too nervous or apprehensive to allow is based entirely on that bond of trust. By listening, learning and understanding her deeply – all the time – that trust is earned and built.

There’s a world of difference between pushing at boundaries, challenging them, moving them ahead of you and overstepping them.

If someone oversteps boundaries, consistently, even if it’s in a small way, they show that they cannot be trusted. It shows they haven’t listened or understood, they haven’t identified which boundaries the sub is ready to have challenged and which need more time and preparation.

It’s all about personal growth and support. Push too hard or too fast, try and be a half step ahead all the time, and your sub will be uncomfortable. That adrenalin will manifest as fear rather than a nervous apprehension that excites.

This kind of coercive impatience will mean the trust isn’t built and you’ll achieve less, move more slowly, or more likely not at all when your sub chooses to follow a path of growth with someone she can trust, utterly and completely, and so feel not fear, but that excited apprehension.

That trust must work both ways, too. Would I challenge my paralysing fear for my sub? In a heartbeat. Hope it never becomes necessary though. Holiday in the Baltic isn’t her style.


© Charles Rochester 2015

Thoughts On The Number

@Katy_red was asking on twitter today [17th September, yes, I started writing this a while ago] “should you tell your partner how many people you’ve slept with?” I’ve been planning a blog on this for a while, because I feel asking “How many people have you slept with?” is an utterly pointless question.

I’m very pleased that The Girl has never asked. I’m just as pleased that she recognises I have no interest. It’s simply not relevant to how we relate to each other. 

So often when a date is going well, this question crops up. And suddenly there you are on your first date, who knows where it may lead, and already you’re both lying to each other.

The range of answers is huge. I’ve heard them from none to three figures or “I’ve lost count.” (Really). Okay, I’ll accept if you’re talking to a virgin then perhaps this information is useful. You’re going to be taking on the responsibility of someone’s first time, and that’s an important formative experience. But I suspect if you’re beyond your mid 20s then you’d be likely to have an idea already if your date is that inexperienced.

But what if it’s 5, 10, 20, 30, 100? What difference does it make? Do you have a number in mind that you judge to be acceptable? An upper limit perhaps? And who are you to judge? Or perhaps you feel intimidated by a number too large, or just one larger than your own.

And there’s the rub, I think. Many men want to feel the they have more experience than the girl they’re with. They lack the confidence that they’ll hold their own (no pun intended), or be able to impress.

And this is where the problems start. There’s the old joke that when you ask the question, women divide their magic number by three, men multiply theirs by three. While that’s probably not entirely true, it is true that the answer you get is so often untrue, that on the rare occasions you get a truthful answer you probably adjust it a little in your head to allow for the tendency among girls to want to appear less experienced and among men to appear more.

Certainly there’s the bizarre statistic that the average number for women is several lower than the average number for men. That’s a statistical impossibility. People are lying, even in surveys.

So, if it doesn’t make a difference, and the answer you get is likely to be less than truthful, what’s the point of asking in the first place?

Who cares? Who cares how many people someone has in their past anyway? What do you include as “slept with”? For instance if someone has had anal sex with 100 people, could they still be “technically a virgin”? If you’re going to include anal, what about oral? Where exactly do you draw the line?

More importantly, surely it’s none of your business. It might be your business who they sleep with next. If that’s you. It might be your business how many and who they sleep with from now on, if you’re in their life and they’re still sleeping with you. But how many before you? Who do you think you are to ask?

So how many people have you slept with? Tell me if you like, don’t tell me. It’s none of my business, and don’t expect me to ask: The answer isn’t important to me.


© Charles Rochester 2015