“Do you think I need a Dominant or a Master?”

Meet Karen

As with Samantha, Karen is a pseudonym.

Soon after my former slave left, I met Karen. A delightful 40-something woman, Karen and I hit it off right away; we attended a few munches together, went to play parties and played privately. For a few reasons I won’t go into right now, I kept my distance from getting too involved with Karen. However, I’ve tried to help give her advice and guide her (albeit a little firm-handedly) through her journey.

Recently, Karen found herself talking and playing with a new Dominant. She expressed concerns that he wasn’t mean enough, that there wasn’t enough chemistry. Yesterday she broadsided me with this question:

“Do you think I need a Dominant or a Master?”

Okay Karen… What’s the difference?

As most of you know I am entering my twelfth year of being active in the scene and for the first few of those, I bottomed because I was told that was how it worked. Like many others I floundered; I bounced between being a bottom, to New Leather, to submissive, to Top, Dom, etc. Establishing an identity was very important to me. I regarded it as more than “it’s just a label”, which seems to be a common go-to response these days.

“Do you think I need a Dominant or a Master?”

Whenever people ask me this, my knee-jerk reaction is usually the same: That is not up to me, that is up to you. I want to encourage, not influence.

Especially for new people in the “lifestyle”, they’re not sure how to go about answering a question very core to who they are as an individual. More concerning then is finding out that they haven’t really asked themselves the hard questions. Self-awareness is a trait I value highly, and I encourage self-awareness in others. In order to aptly encourage Karen to discover the answer for herself, I need to ask her what she is. If she’s a slave, does she believe that she can be a slave without a Master? If she’s submissive, how does that impact her day-to-day life?

At a very high level, I believe there are three primary “submissive” archetypes in D/s.

  • Bottom
    “I’m really just in it for the play.” The bottom is all about the scene; they might be submissive in the scene, they might be just be in it because they’re a pain-pig. But when the scene is over, they thank the Top and go on their merry way.
  • Submissive
    “I submit because it turns me on.” The submissive has appetites and cravings that are their own. They submit because they enjoy it.
  • Slave
    “If it pleases you, Master.” Separating what defines a slave versus a submissive can at times be difficult, but for the most part a slave craves Total Power Exchange, and will shift her views to align with those of her Master.

I’ll not split hairs here; this isn’t definitive and of course there is a lot of intermingling of these different archetypes person to person. An individual might identify as a submissive but have qualities common in slaves. This doesn’t cover switches or kajiras, etc. As I’ve mentioned in Who Defines Your D/s, the technical definition of D/s is more complicated than simply Dominance and submission. I can however theorize that submissive archetypes are a lot like musical genres, with one role being rooted from another.

Getting into the thick of it…

Asking the hard questions doesn’t define her. If she identifies as a slave, is that the end of it? If she’s a bottom, does that mean she can’t be a submissive in a 24/7 D/s relationship? Can she be a slave and submissive at the same time? Just because she identifies as a slave, does that automatically mean she needs a Master to be happy? Or the oft-assumed Dominant to her as a submissive?

There are no right or wrong answers; asking these questions influence the root of the answer – what she needs to be satisfied.

Instead of asking if she needs a Dominant or a Master, perhaps the question should have been “What type of relationship do I need?” It is not the role that answers the question, more the dynamic. She could be entirely satisfied with a Master/slave relationship with a man that identifies as a sadist.

Moreover, there are some that believe Master/slave relationships “don’t just happen”, that a slow and steady evolution from a Dominant and submissive relationship to Master and slave is standard. Similar to “zero to sixty” play styles, this really depends on the people. Others identify as slaves, answering the age-old question of “Can you be a slave without a Master.”

Don’t focus so much on the type of person that you need, but understand what you want from your relationships and pursue it.

And there’s the rub…

As I’ve said before, this lifestyle is a living thing; your views may shift and evolve over time, or change with your mood. Being a slave will not mean that a Master/slave relationship is the promised land, and if you identify as a submissive, you may find yourself wanting more with a Dominant.

The downside with asking yourself the hard questions is that they are a lot like Choose Your Own Adventure books. If you want to be submissive all the time, turn to page 42. If you like being a slave in the bedroom, turn to page 17.

Karen, relationships are at the end of the day between people, not roles. Establish the qualities you desire in a person and seek them out.

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5 responses to ““Do you think I need a Dominant or a Master?””

  1. fromacocoon says :

    Wonderfully expressed, thank you.

  2. mira1985 says :

    Reblogged this on Loosing Control and commented:
    Thanks Messy Girl for putting up this well written article about a question that has really been bothering me. Although it doesn’t give me answers, it helps me feel less alone as I ask the questions…

  3. Shachar says :

    What , how , were do I go to my first party ? Is it ok that I go alone ? I think that I am a submissive

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  1. “Do you think I need a Dominant or a Master?” « From A Cocoon - January 23, 2013

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