Rhonda Perky dons her collar and surrenders her will to her lover
When I talk about being a Submissive, I am referring to my desire to be dominated by another, sexually. This means being objectified and giving up my will to my lover. To me this feels ‘right’, familiar, a partner who will pick me up, show their desire by using and abusing me; devaluing and admiring me; cherishing my body while defiling it.
The relationship with my Dom is so intimate, so intense, so frightening and so thrilling that in that moment I can lose myself completely; give my will over to them utterly. I live those moments through them, exist through their eyes, for their purpose. I am visible and invisible at the same
time. I exist yet do not exist. I am what they need, what they use, what they desire, what they discard.
I have tried to understand where this need comes from. Why, having found this dynamic in a lover, though I enjoy interactions with others, I do not lose myself completely; do not give up my will in the same way. Somehow being dominated sends signals to my brain that I am present, valued, and ironically – safe.
And yet, is my ‘owner’, my Dom, the person who objectifies and humiliates me, someone I would ever want to come home to? How would that dynamic, that control, translate into the real world? Do I want the person who objectifies and abuses me in the bedroom to share the intimacies of the rest of my life? What are the chances, even, of finding a partner who meets that need while also being a companion, a friend and confidante?
I have had two relationships with men I would consider ‘Doms’. In both cases, the bedroom dynamic was thrilling, meeting that special need in me, but we were not good matches for each other in our day-to-day lives.
In the case of the first relationship, I was recently separated from my husband, and in no hurry to let anyone gain an inch within my newly discovered space, and so I kept my partner at arms’ length, but this meant I never really tested the Dom/Sub boundaries outside the bedroom.
By the time I became entangled with my second Dom, I was ready to let someone in to the rest of my life – which I did, opening myself up completely. Our relationship was thrilling – inside the bedroom and out. I loved that he mirrored me, owned me, manipulated me, but that dynamic soon bled into our every day. I was happy to be at his beck and call sexually, but somehow I ended up at his beck and call in everything. This Dom pressed my buttons in a way that destabilised me and made me completely dependent on him for my self-worth. It got so that outside of the bedroom we weren’t able to function.
The kind of power I had given him had morphed into abuse.
This experience has left me understandably wary of entering into another relationship, but most especially a relationship with a Dom. Yet the Submissive in me continues to seek out a Dominant partner – I just make sure it is only for sex. Not trusting myself, I keep my Dom as a lover, a f-buddy –nothing more. Even then, it doesn’t always work.
The thrill of being ‘owned’ and giving up my will when there is no underlying foundation of a relationship, can result in allowing my Dom to cross the normal boundaries of dignity and respect, especially when I relish things from my partners that non-Submissives might find degrading.
Fear and humiliation, the pushing of boundaries, can be part of the thrill, the dynamic, and so I can find myself accepting more in the moment than I feel entirely comfortable with, not always knowing how I will feel afterwards. For instance, my Dom might be doing something that is potentially painful, but being able to speak up, to say, ‘No I’m not okay with this,’ in a way that doesn’t break the dynamic in that moment, isn’t easy. And so sometimes I am left with shame, guilt and even physical consequences that I have to own, because I allowed them to happen.
And it’s not just in the bedroom. Part of the dynamic involves being at my Dom’s beck and call and needing to be objectified: ‘I am his/hers therefore they can pick me up and use me as they see fit.’ But by fetishising being picked up, used, and discarded, the transaction can soon lead to the crossing of emotional boundaries, putting up with (and justifying) being treated poorly. The end result is a lack of respect, not necessarily from my Dom, but from me, because there are no ‘safe words’ when it comes to emotions.
And I am not saying that all Dom/Sub relationships end up like this, just as all relationships, not just those of a Dom and Sub, can have unequal power dynamics in and out of the bedroom. I have since discovered that in my previous relationship, my lover wasn’t abusive because he was a Dom, he was a Dom because he was abusive – it was an extension of that side of himself, his need to manipulate, control and instil fear, but also an extension of my need to be mistreated, because I facilitated that dynamic.
I have also learned that having that need met sexually helps me to not look for it in other aspects of my relationships. It fills a need in my psyche and frees me to create equal partnerships where I am not objectified, not abused. What I haven’t worked out is how to keep that dynamic confined to the bedroom, to a fantasy realm, how to set my own boundaries so that the Dom/Sub dynamic doesn’t bleed into our everyday transactions, leaving me feeling objectified and emotionally used.
I am beginning to understand why a person might pay for sex out of a desire to keep those particular needs separate from their loved one. Not just because the chances of finding someone who can fill that need and also be a good, compatible partner are slim, but because it requires being able to switch that need on and off, allowing a person to control and defile you, and then asking them to value you as an equal – and that’s before considering the possible feelings of guilt and shame over what can happen in the bedroom.
A friend said to me recently that he finds the idea of being a Dom counter to his nature, because it feels like it would require him to abandon his respect for women. In some ways he is right, but I have hope that it is possible for that dynamic to exist alongside, or embedded within, an underlying dynamic of personal and mutual respect between Dom and Sub.
This means finding a way to keep the Dominant/Submissive needs contained, boundaries secure, because as in any relationship, Dom and Sub need to be able to function as free individuals, and leave the collar behind when they leave the bedroom.