Decisions, decisions. Every day we make thousands of them, from the small stuff like “coffee or tea?” to the big stuff like career, finance, health and relationships.
There’s a fantasy that some subs and slaves who are just starting out have, that they will meet a wise, intelligent and caring Dom who will make all their decisions for them. There’s a lot of comfort in that thought. Imagine as a Dom that you have the perfect sub who’s needs are your needs and who is as mouldable as plasticine to your own ideals. Or imagine as a sub that all your day to day worries could be erased by someone willing to take on all those difficult decisions for you and form you into something that is the best, brightest, sexiest, happiest version of yourself.
Relationships like that happen very rarely, if at all. Doms don’t have the time or inclination to make all your choices for you, and subs are not devoid of needs, personality or opinion.
Not only do decisions still need to be made by both parties, but Dominance/submission (D/s) can add complexity to the decision-making. It’s not a “normal” relationship, there is power exchange, and that does affect the way decisions are made and how “empowered” each is in the process.
D/S FAVORS THE RATIONAL
For both Doms and subs, one common thing that gets messed up is the Rationalised versus Instinctual (Head vs Heart) processes:
• Doms often feel the weight of their role as the responsible lead decision maker. To make a major decision based on gut instinct seems more perilous than it would otherwise, so there can be a tendency to over-rationalise everything, running many alternate senarios and trying to do the “wise” thing.
• Many subs feel like they should be able to clearly explain everything they do to their Dom. Terms like “I feel…” or “My instinct is…” can feel inadequate, and so they might tend to the other extreme, constructing imaginary cost/benefit spreadsheets in their head.
Both parties feel OVER responsible to the other for their decisions, and our culture teaches us that head-based logic is better than intuition and feelings for making good choices.
A great deal of research shows that trusting your gut instincts can be beneficial, and it’s not an either/or equation. Some situations call for more head-based logic, others may rely on intuition and feelings – or a mix.
Making an expensive purchase is a decision where you need to use your head. Quitting your job is one where you should certainly not ignore your head, but your gut instinct may be giving you the information that is most important.
Digging deeper into some common D/s relationship decisions, it’s obvious that in some cases it’s best to trust rational decisions and in other cases it’s better to go with your emotions.
Disagreeing with a Decision by Your Dom
What happens if a decision is not what you expected? You don’t feel right about it, so what’s your next move?
Stay as logical as possible. Many people confuse gut instinct and anxiety, so what you may be feeling is discomfort from the decision being different to the way your personality would normally handle something.
If a nagging doubt persists, consult close friends outside of your relationship that you trust, in a way that doesn’t disrespect your Dom or breach any agreements on privacy that the two of you have.
You risk getting bad advice if you Google the problem, but there can be some wisdom in crowdsourcing advice in forums like FetLife. Just remember that people on the internet don’t truly know you or the nuances of your relationship, so it is really just advice from a stranger.
Head or Heart? Trust your head – and also your close friends.
Telling Your Dom or sub an Uncomfortable Truth
Complicated, with a capital ‘C’. D/s relationships tend to have a network of invisible boundaries, and speaking out can put you in danger of breaching those.
Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and use your head to ask yourself how you’d feel if the situation was reversed. Would you want to know? How would you want to be told? Is there anything you can do first to help your partner deal with the news?
If you can’t shake the feeling that the truth is important, to your partner or to the relationship, then regardless of your relationship protocols, the right decision is to discuss it. Otherwise, sometimes uninvited emotional truth bombs do more harm than good.
Head or Heart? Steer clear of emotional decisions. Think of the impact and trust your head.
Trusting Someone Again
When you’ve been cheated on, lied to or betrayed, rebuilding trust is difficult, and sometimes impossible.
There is certainly something to be said for trusting your instincts in this situation. A recent study by psychologists at the University of California, Berkley, found that we’re better at identifying liars when we rely on our initial responsive instincts than if we think about it too much.
But, emotions can confuse things, especially if the problem is fresh, and often the best strategy is to distance yourself from the situation and give yourself time to process it.
The best indicator of future behavior is often past behavior, but sometimes people make mistakes, and people can and do change. If they are demonstrating that they can be trusted again, then by all means use your head to be wary, but be open to the possibility that it was a glitch that won’t affect the relationship in the long term.
Head or Heart? Approach with caution and use a combination of head and heart.
Ending a Relationship
No relationship is black and white, including a D/s relationship. There’s a lot of grey (including the Fifty Shades variety).
In “vanilla” relationships, the decision to leave or stay with someone can be tough and influenced by many factors, including guilt, self-confidence, finances and fear. In D/s relationships we can add some complex feelings about our D/s roles to that list.
But, relationships often end. It’s a reality many people face.
People are good at rationalizing and explaining away thoughts and emotions, but this means we sometimes ignore the warning signs that we’re in an unhealthy or unhappy relationship. It’s important to tune in to your gut feelings.
Be honest with yourself and your partner about what you want, and don’t be afraid to reach out to your friends (or a professional) if you need support.
Head or Heart? Trust your gut about what will really make you happy.
• The Journey of Will – On Communication Within a Dom/sub Partnership
• Submissive Guide – Keys to Successful Relationships: It’s All About Communication
• Literotica – Is It Normal for a Master to Have More Than 2 subs And Keep it Secret?