Today we are discussing rules, tasks, and training. I specifically want to look at the training aspect because I know when I got into this lifestyle, that word was used as a cover for a lot of toxic behavior. These aspects of the lifestyle are meant to benefit both parties in a dynamic, not ensure that a Dom always gets his or her way.
When you think of setting rules, do you remember the rules you had as a kid? I know I do. It’s a similar concept here. We set rules in order to define the parameters of our D/s world. But where to begin?
When setting rules and tasks for the first time, I find that it is easiest to start the discussion with those based around our boundaries and limits. We are reasonably sure of what we don’t want to happen, so we can easily set “don’t do this” rules.
Sometimes, we use rules and tasks to push our soft limits a little at a time. This is part of what we mean in the lifestyle when we say “training.”
What Is Training?
Training in the lifestyle is the practice of using tasks and rules to guide and develop growth in a D/s dynamic.
The first time I heard that sentence, I thought, “Well, that’s very vague. It tells me almost nothing about what am I supposed to expect when it comes to this thing, man!”
So let me break it down for you, my dear reader.
Training is used to help us grow. As a person, as a couple, as subs and Doms. It can be used to develop, change, or quit a habit; to hone a skill of some kind; or to incorporate certain acts of service into our routines.
Sounds rather robotic, right? It’s not.
Many people on the outside of a dynamic view training as mostly beneficial to the Dominant partner. In actuality, both partners are benefiting from this experience.
The submissive partner is learning how to operate within a new set of boundaries. They are learning what pleases their partner, how to accomplish that pleasure, and how to anticipate it. They are learning to allow themselves to be vulnerable to their partner. This is no easy feat; most of us have some kind of past issues that make trusting and being vulnerable difficult.
Dominants are learning, too! The training process allows the Dominant to learn to accurately read their submissive and how best to relate to them. Training also allows a Dominant to learn what physical, mental, and emotional limits a submissive might have but did not think to communicate. It’s also great for learning when a sub is genuinely guilty of a willful infraction, or has simply been human and forgotten to do something or made a mistake.
Like everything else in this lifestyle, setting rules and tasks associated with training requires discussion. Non-judgemental discussion. The terms need to be set out in clear, concise detail – with the consequences for infractions laid out before they occur.
Both partners need to be free to ask as many questions as they feel are required for complete clarification and understanding. This may mean that you will have to explain your thinking and reasons and even spell it out at length. Do whatever you can to avoid a misunderstanding.
With Rules Come Consequences
Mistakes and misunderstandings are going to happen as we learn and grow. An honest mistake should be discussed, adjusting for future avoidance of an infraction, but not necessarily punished. We subs are often far more critical of ourselves than our counterparts realize, and a simple “I am disappointed” can be heartbreaking.
It’s hard for some of us to accept consequences for our actions, especially the ones that we don’t see as being a big deal. This is the point where we submissives have to have the integrity to follow through on accepting those consequences and taking our punishments. We already agreed to it when the rules were set. We can’t change our minds when we decide to test them.
Once the punishment has been carried out, talk about how to avoid repeating the mistake in the future. Keep in mind that there may need to be some tweaking of the rules.
Let’s say you are a Dominant who has set a rule that your submissive will meet you at a certain time once a week for a night out. Your submissive has been late for the last few weeks. Very late. When you ask why, they tell you that their schedule had changed, and they have been trying to rush to get to the dinner.
In this case, the tardiness should not be punished – submissives should not be punished for things that are out of our sphere of control, no matter what we tell ourselves in our heads – but the failure to communicate important information absolutely should. Then the time of the meeting should be adjusted to fit the new schedule. No flustered and rushing submissives trying to break their neck to get to the dinner meeting, no unhappy and worried Dominant. Things run smoothly once more.
After the Tears
Once the punishment has been administered, the matter needs to be let go. Dwelling on it or bringing it up in the future will only foster fear and anxiety, which is the exact opposite of what we want. (Pro tip: Praise for a job well done or a task performed properly is a much better path to ensuring less of a need to mete out consequences.)
After all the tears and tension are over, it’s time for aftercare! Yes, even here it is a necessary component in this lifestyle. Any resulting abrasion or stiffness from physical punishment needs to be seen to and fears allayed.
We submissives tend to be perfectionists when it comes to our part of a dynamic. We often need to be reminded that we are human beings, not robots, and that it is okay to mess up. We need to be cuddled or kissed or whatever comforts us. We need to be assured that we are still good girls and boys who are deserving of our dominants’ time and attention.
Dominants often need to be assured that the submissives still want to be theirs after a punishment too. A good cuddle session can be a boon to the soul of both partners.
At the End of the Day…
Rules, tasks, and training are part of what makes a D/s dynamic work well. They are not the big bad wolf of the BDSM world. When done right and well, they can leave both partners feeling intensely connected yet incredibly free. Mistakes will be made, and we will all screw up at some point. Just remember to be consistent, follow through with the consequences, and then let it go. Come back to a place of love.
As always, remember: This is your life; live it your way!