Note: My writing reflects my relationship – female submissive / male Dominant. I recognise there are other equally valid relationships in our world. As the title suggests, this is a long article detailing a process I hope you’ll find helpful. If you prefer to do it in your own time offline, you can download it as a PDF.
It’s certainly exciting and heady stuff to want to be in some form of power exchange relationship – as a bottom for a play scene with a Dominant, a series of interactions or a longer term relationship.
A major cause of failure of such encounters comes from the needs of the parties not being met – either the submissive or the Dominant. When the D and the s or the Top or the bottom are on the same page – then it THE most wonderful experience for both.
This worksheet helps to work through submissive needs and wants – distinguishing the two and gaining greater clarity regarding what your needs are.
But do s types have needs? Or is it “just whatever the D wants”?
Absolutely the s has needs !! Take the need to keep breathing for example (bet that rates fairly high – yes?) – maybe a need to stay safe and in one piece so you can live to play another day.
There is a huge difference between having the feeling of being “unsafe” with a Dominant you are truly safe with and having the overall feeling that you really may not make it out unscathed (I have had both!)
STARTING THE PROCESS: WHAT KIND OF RELATIONSHIP ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
So let’s start becoming clearer shall we. First off we need to know what type of interaction we are going to engage in.
So are you thinking (wanting) of a:
1. one off play session (that may grow to more)
2. play partner only (you play together but don’t share a relationship outside of play)
3. relationship where you have other significant intimate relationships
4. long term intimate relationship
Sometimes you might be starting with a one off play (that may grow to more) – with the hope that it will be the right person for you and become a fuller relationship.
That’s ok! Start wherever you are.
Why do we need to be clear on this part first of all? Well your needs vary depending on the nature of the interaction you are having- so working that out first is a great move.
WHAT IS IT YOU WANT IN A CONNECTION?
Next step is to list down all the things that you dream about that interaction (relationship) having.
So if you are looking at a one off play session – what does your dream play feel like – look like sound like?
List all the things that come to mind. For example – its safe but feels exciting – it challenges me – its full of pain (if you like that!) – or full of sensuality ( if you like that!) – he whispers in my ear ? – or doesn’t ? – he talks to me about what he is planning? Or doesn’t? – He uses things I haven’t experienced before – its private or more public – he spend time with me afterwards – or he leaves fairly soon – he talks during play about things that excite me – he is silent – he is strict – or softer – does he tell me what he is going to do to me or does he surprise me? He uses a flogger or he uses his hand?
Or what is your dream long term relationship like – list all the things that make it perfect.
So let’s do that now.
Pick the type of interaction you would like (from 1-4 above). Now list down all the things that you dream of. Go for it! This is your dream after all. (this is best done quickly without over thinking it!)
Great work (if you get stuck, get in touch with me using the FetLife contact details at the end of this article and we can work it out together).
WHAT IS A NEED AND WHAT IS A WANT?
Contained in the above you will find your needs and wants.
Difference between needs and wants:
Needs are core to who you are. They are either important for life – like food, money, shelter or they are vital for your long term happiness, well being and emotional state of mind.
They are life giving to you. Without these being met you cannot be happy or fulfilled or reach your full potential as a person.
Wants are additional to needs but not required for life wellbeing and longer term happiness.
You need food but may want chocolate (I know I know…….. you may feel that you can’t live without chocolate but it’s a hard case to win lol believe me!)
If needs are not met – either in frequency or depth – in ways that hold meaning for you – then you could feel unhappy, stressed, frustrated, depressed, not on solid ground, unable to trust, unfulfilled, lonely, that something is not really right or worse that you in some way are failing.
Needs can be either:
Or combinations of these.
All interactions and relationships are successful if the needs of each of the parties are met. This applies to vanilla or power exchange relationships.
Needs and wants are unique to each person. Never allow yourself to feel badly because what you need is not what your potential D needs – that’s just a mismatch – not a reason to beat yourself up (pardon the pun).
Never allow yourself to be told that your need is not valid or you are silly for needing it! It’s your need and you have a right to it.
If you are not clear on your needs then you really can’t expect them to be met. We might hope that the Dominant of our dreams is so inside our head that they can read our minds (although with mine – I hope he is not that perceptive at times!) – but this is unrealistic – they are not mind readers and part of us taking responsibility for the quality of the interaction or relationship lies in us knowing our needs and expressing them (expressing them is another discussion for later on).
So let’s become clearer on what are needs and what are wants.
DEFINING YOUR NEEDS AND YOUR WANTS
Let’s have a look again at the dream interaction from above. Here it is again:
a one off play session – what does your dream play feel like – look like sound like? List all the things that come to mind. For example – it’s safe but feels exciting – it challenges me – its full of pain ( if you like that !) – or full of sensuality ( if you like that!) – he whispers in my ear ? – or doesn’t ? – he talks to me about what he is planning? Or doesn’t? – He uses things I haven’t experienced before – its private or more public – he spends time with me afterwards – or he leaves fairly soon – he talks during play about things that excite me – he is silent – he is strict – or softer – does he tell me what he is going to do to me or does he surprise me? He uses a flogger or he uses his hand?
Ok, so going through this we can find needs and wants. Here is an example:
Need – session is full of pain (then you need pain)
Want – uses a flogger or his hand – you may want him to use a flogger on you – but really can you convince him if asked that this is a need that will endanger the whole session if not met?
How about “safe” – need or a want? …………………………….
How about “feels exciting” – need or a want? …………………………
Or how about private? need or want ? …………………………………
Some of them will be clear to you but others may blur – that’s ok!
Sometimes they even blur for the D and the s who have been together for a while.
OK so you have a general idea (if not contact me). How about you give it a go for the interaction or relationship you picked to work on.
What are your needs in this situation? – List three of them (don’t get hung up on the order of them).
What do you think might be three wants you have from this? (things that you would like but can live without).
A Dominant’s role is to meet your needs (assuming they also meet his needs). He may or may not meet your wants. (or they may not be met when you want them to be ! – this is called a power exchange).
YOUR SUBMISSIVE NEEDS IN POWER EXCHANGE RELATIONSHIPS
As a submissive we have some special needs (that does not mean we are Princesses as such) – but in order to be submissive to our Dominant we have a particular range of needs.
These may be any or all of the following depending on the nature of your submission:
Being of service – being useful – or valuable – or making a contribution
Being found pleasing (being approved of)
Being challenged (growth)
As you read this list, jot down three or four that really strike a chord with you. That make you go “Oh yesss I really need that” and your heart sighs as if that thing is air to you.
Note: Picking three or four does not mean the others are not important to you – it’s a way of starting to become clearer and to give us something to work with
Too general to be helpful?
We are certainly well on our way to greater clarity regarding our needs and that’s great!
One of the problems though is that we are often too general to really help us or our Dominant.
For example we all say that we need someone we feel safe with (safe is the first step to trust).
We would all nod and say “Yes I need that” – but we are really not better off.
We need to get into it a little more.
Are we talking safe to play with or safe to allow into our families and homes? Are we saying safe to meet with for coffee or safe to be tied to a cross with?
So let’s work it out even more.
When we say we “we need to feel safe” – it’s good to think through what you will be seeing, or hearing or experiencing, that tells you that you are safe.
Here are some examples – of what you might be noticing that will lead you to feel safe:
– You are not being rushed into doing things without full discussion
– The D is really listening to you (not pretending)
– The D is reliable – they turn up when arranged, they do what they say they will do
– The D reads or learns or asks questions to better understand you
– They keep your “stuff” confidential
– They don’t make fun of you
Do you have any more that come to mind? What other things would tell you that someone is safe for you? Jot them down.
EXPLORING SUBMISSIVE NEEDS IN GREATER DEPTH
Taking each of the above submissive needs we can ask the same question: what will I be seeing, hearing or experiencing that will tell me that my need is being met? (In a way that is meaningful and effective to you).
Let’s take each one in turn. I will give you some prompts and then there is a space for you to jot down your own thoughts so you gain greater clarity.
Structure / Order
What sort of structure do you need in order to thrive? Do you need a lot of structure in your day or a little? Do you need a sense of order? What gives you that?
Correction / Discipline
Correction is a normal part of a power exchange.
Even as a bottom in a one off session – the Top may say do it this way rather than the way you are doing it.
In other types of relationship the D needs to be able to tell you their preference. They need to be able to say: “You did this and I prefer that you do that”.
They need to be able to say – that isn’t quite right for me. Or I need it done this way or in that order etc.
Correction does not mean that you have failed in some way – it means that your D cares enough to let you know how to please them more fully.
Discipline is a little different from my perspective. It means that the s has done something that is not acceptable to the D – either they have crossed a line – or broken a rule – or acted without respect etc.
In a loving power exchange relationship – this is the D saying “ I care about you and the relationship enough to set it right”.
Some things to reflect on:
Do you expect this to be part of your dynamic? Is there anything that would affect you negatively when corrected (for example something especially traumatic from your experience) Do you feel a need to be told if something can be done better? What is important to you regarding correction or discipline? For example – do you need it to be done in private as opposed to public? Do you need it sooner rather than later? Do you think you may need a chance to reflect on it and need some space to bed it down?
Being of service – being useful – or valuable – or making a contribution
Is this important to you? What tells you if you are being of service? How do you get to feel values? What is important to you that your dominant feels? What kind of service do you feel most able to offer – for example – sexual service, cleaning, internet research etc. List down your skills that you feel may be of service to a D.
Being found pleasing (being approved of)
How much do you need this? How important is this to you? What sorts of things will you see, hear or experience that will tell you that you are pleasing? Is it verbal – as in comments made to you – or is it through touch – a hug or a kiss – or maybe its through what you can see (visual ) – you might see a smile –or a look of pride or pleasure in your D’s eyes? Is it a certain combination of these?
Being controlled / contained / dominated
What degree of control do you really need? Do you like your D to set you a task and leave you to it (unless you need to clarify or are struggling)? Or do you need them to be involved in the depth of things they control?
Some submissives are more like a rambling rose. They like wider spaces in which to flourish. However some get lost in too much wide open space and need a pot in order to thrive. Which do you feel you are? Jot down some notes on it.
What sorts of things make you feel dominated? (once again what would you see hear or experience that would tell you that?) Is it – tone of voice, rougher sex. a hand to your throat, needing to ask permission for certain things, firmness or strictness (how strict do you feel you would be comfortable with – do you need a shorter or longer leash ? or does that vary at times?)
Being accepted / loved / cherished / intimacy / affection
What tells you that you are loved? Is it through words – do you need a lot of verbal feedback? What signs do you look for? What tells you that? How important is it to you?
Your form of “loving” may be different than theirs. At times it can be radically different. For example if you are a verbal person that needs a lot of feedback they can hear – how will you go with a quiet sort of D who’s way of expressing is not through the things he says but rather from his touch?
What is intimacy to you?
Being challenged (growth)
Do you want your D to challenge you? Do you see this as part of their role to grow you as a person? In what areas of your life do you feel happy to accept growth challenges or tasks from the D? For example, do you want them to be setting tasks to develop you physically, emotionally, at work, socially, spiritually? Are there areas where you currently do not feel comfortable with the D in that role?
If you are currently in a relationship you may like to discuss this worksheet with your D and of course please feel free to share feedback with me, or ask questions. There are no ” dumb” questions.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
blessingb is from Perth, Western Australia and preserves her sanity and spirituality by distancing herself from the noise and focusing on what is positive and constructive. She developed this worksheet as a starting point… a discussion point… for submissives who are newer and for those who have traveled some journeys and found their core needs are not being met. She generously shares this in the hope that it makes your journey more joyful. If you’ve got any questions or comments, please do get in touch with her on Fetlife.