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Consensual Dominance

Thoughts from a guy obsessed with the theory and practice of power exchange
1 year ago. May 3, 2021 at 3:34 AM

“I am so tired of this pandemic,” I tell her. “It feels like forever since I’ve made love to a woman.”

That gets me her full attention. She says, “I’m sorry, Sir,” though she sounds more excited than sympathetic.

“You damn well should be. Do you have any idea how unsatisfying it is just masturbating in your worthless pussy week after week?”

“I wish I could be better for you sir,” she replies in a small, wretched voice.

One of my favorite things about this kind of trip I’m taking her on is that the more turned on she gets, the more deeply she’ll believe that she really is fundamentally undesirable. And the more deeply she believes, the more turned on she’ll get. It’s deliciously fucked up, and it’s like an express elevator straight to a brain-melting orgasm for her. If I let her have one.

“Don’t bother,” I say, waving a dismissive hand in her general direction. “You being a decent lay is way too much to wish for. What you should be wishing for is a fast and effective vaccine rollout; so that I can date freely again. 

“You know I don’t even mind jerking off in you sometimes, so long as it’s between dates with better lovers.” I give her a patronizing pat on the head. “It makes me appreciate them even more.”

“Yes, Sir. I can’t wait for you to have a real sex life again, Sir. So you have something better to look forward to whenever you do use me.” She’s really into it now: eagerly elaborating on her own humiliation.

“You know...” I act like I’ve just had an idea, though this is exactly what I was planning from the start. “Wide-scale vaccination *is* on the horizon. Maybe it’s time to at least start thinking about dating again.”

She’s squirming now. She knows I’m going somewhere with this and she’s ready to be taken to wherever that may be.

“You go get on Fetlife and look up some women in our area who say they’re looking for play partners and who’ve posted really sexy pictures⁠—you know what I like.”

“Yes, Sir. Real women. Not like me,” she pants.

“Exactly, sweetie. Then you can get down on all fours, I’ll balance the laptop on your back, and I’ll use you while I look through and think about who I might like to reach out to.”

“Yes, Sir!” She’d have bounded off for the laptop already if my hand wasn’t still holding the back of her head, keeping her face pointed at mine while I give her her degrading orders.

“If I’m happy with your choices, I’ll let you use your vibrator while I tell you all the ways that each one of them is sexier than you are.”

“Thank you, Sir. I’m so lucky that you find ways to make using my worthless holes interesting.” She’s practically vibrating already.

“Yes, girl. You certainly are.” I send her on her way with an affectionate slap on the ass, and I go to get some towels. We’re going to need them.


Does denial get you hot? I'll be teaching Wait for It: The Art of Orgasm Denial online for The Society of Janus on Thursday the 13th!


1 year ago. February 20, 2021 at 11:51 PM

I have a bone to pick with negotiation checklists. Anyone who’s looked for education or advice on how to negotiate for the kinky experiences you want has seen these things recommended. They’re these multi-page lists of every kinky activity the list author could conceive of, where you’re supposed to rate each one on some scale of desirability. Like:

  • Flogging
  • Flogging, Hard
  • Flogging, Twizzlers
  • Bondage
  • Bondage, Rope
  • Bondage, Chain
  • Bondage, Red Vines
  • Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…

And okay, I see how they can have some utility for some people some of the time. But I think they promote a fixation on toys and techniques that doesn’t get at what’s really most important for many of us to negotiate.

Personally, I don’t give a crap if the bondage is rope or chain or tape or saran wrap. What I want is to see you spread out like a neatly wrapped toy for me to use, and watch you pull hard but slow against your bonds—not trying to escape but confirming, sinking into, relishing your helplessness. I want to witness you sink into an experience of helplessness. How we get you there is details.

Knowing that you want

  • Spanking, Hard

is fine and good, but it’s insufficient. Even knowing finer details of the physical act we’re agreeing to (butt and backs of thighs are fair game, inner thighs unpleasantly ticklish, warmup bores me so please hit hard right away, etc.), while useful, does not get to the understanding that will enable our scene to really sizzle.

Check out this amazing product. It will smack your gluteus maximus with perfect rhythm, with ten different intensity settings, for exactly as long as you like. If the heart of your desire really is about the physical mechanics of repeated whacks on your backside then this is the perfect product for you. If, instead, this gadget strikes you as ridiculous, then that’s a sign that what you really desire is about more than hand striking butt. And for really effective negotiation, it’s invaluable to share an understanding of that “more” with your partner.

What does it mean when you’re spanked? Does it mean that you’ve been bad? That you’ve been good? How do you want to feel about it before it happens, during and after?

Who am I when I spank you? I don’t mean that you’re going to literally hallucinate that I’m someone else, but I’m filling some role in the drama of your arousal. Am I a vicious brute who overpowers your through sheer force, and beats you just to see you cry? Or am I a strict disciplinarian who has a right, indeed a duty, to spank you for your transgressions? Am I angry when I spank you? Disappointed? Turned on?

These kinds of questions make or break kinky connections for many of us. The exact same number and force and cadence of blows might be an amazing experience if delivered with icy disappointment, but a grossed-out “red” if done from a place of obvious hard/wet erotic enthusiasm. Or the other way around. The only way to know before you step on a landmine is to negotiate the feelings and the meanings of your play.

And that stands for tops as well. How does your fantasy bottom feel about the spanking you’re giving them? Who do you want to be when you are doing it? Who are they to you, and what effect do you want it to have on them? If you’re having giggly fun time being spanked by me, I’m honestly not going to be enjoying myself; I want to see my bottom endure something difficult out of devotion to me. I can also enjoy being the disappointed taskmaster who’s only doing this for your own good, but only if you’re going to be genuinely contrite afterward. And I absolutely will not be your out-of-control, violent brute. That’s a huge turn off.

Another point of meaning that’s a really good idea to get clear on is what doing this play together means about us. Do we go back to having exactly the same relationship we did before we played? Are we starting a love relationship? Does doing this heavy degradation play mean that I won’t respect you like I did before? What will it mean to you if I let you put this collar on me? It can be heartbreaking when you find out afterward that one person thought this was the just the beginning of a grand adventure, and the other thought it was a one-time fun-time.

So my advice is to set aside the checklist and the choice of exactly which toys and which specific activities you’re going to engage in until after you’ve negotiated the really important stuff.

  • Who am I to you?
  • Who are you to me?
  • How do you want to feel when we play?
  • What do you really, really want?

1 year ago. January 18, 2021 at 5:01 PM

1. Mollena Williams-Haas is one of the wisest, realest voices on M/s dynamics I've ever found. Go watch The Artist and the Pervert, then pick up a copy of Playing Well With Others for an excellent guide to the human side of kink.

2. Feminista Jones writes and speaks about feminism in mainstream spaces (think Princeton and the New York Times) while being unabashed about her love of kink and eloquent about how kink and feminism can complement one another. This article in Medium would be a good place to start: My Sexuality Has a Dark Side–And Maybe Yours Does Too

3. BlakSyn teaches the fundamentals of safety and scene crafting and stuff like that, but what they really want to tell you about are the deeper and more essential possibilities of kink: things like how to have integrity in your kink and find integrity through kink, or how to work with trauma and oppression in your practice of power exchange.

4. Consensual nonmonogamy may not be kink, but it's at least kink-adjacent. Kevin Patterson's book, Love's Not Color Blind, and the Poly Role Models blog are great resources for practicing nonmonogamy in a way that'll get you more connection and less strife.

5. Master Hines is a wizard with a flogger (or two). He's a master not just of how to get the tails to land where you wanted them, but how to integrate a beating into an overall experience that will blow your bottom's mind. And he'll teach you to be better at it too.

6&7. Jet Setting Jasmine, King Noire and their guests on their Royal Fetish Radio podcast give you an intimate, intelligent and often humorous inside view of the overlapping worlds of porn and kink.

8. Robin Wilson-Beattie is an activist and educator fighting for greater sexual agency for disabled people, and she makes it crystal clear that kinky sexuality is an essential part of that fight. Check out her Kink Academy videos here.

1 year ago. October 29, 2020 at 7:36 PM

There are so many things to learn in order to create hot BDSM scenes. There’s technique with ropes or paddles or knives or exotic electrical toys. There are communication skills for reading your partner, communicating your desires, and setting the mood. There’s cultivating the confidence and emotional maturity that it takes to go deep and play hard without losing your shit.

But the one key insight that’s most important of all for being able to have scenes that consistently knock it out of the park is understanding what a scene fundamentally is. A scene isn’t the toys you use. It isn’t orgasms. It isn’t what you’re wearing. The real essence of what scene is isn’t even the activities that you partake in while you’re doing it: the spanking and the sucking and the growled commands. All of those things can be pieces of a scene, but they don’t get to the heart of it. Most of us who’ve been doing this kinky shit for more than a little while can think of times when we’ve had all the right toys and the right clothes and flawless technique but still, mysteriously, the scene fell flat. When that happens, often what’s missing is that the scene isn’t telling a good story.

At heart, what scenes really are is stories. They are stories that we and our partners tell one another. Sometimes the story is detailed or scripted, like when we’re playing out a specific fantasy about a naughty schoolboy being spanked and the story we’re telling calls for exactly the right outfit or the right words or actions that echo deep in our libido. Often the story is more thematic or improvisational. It can even be entirely nonverbal, but it’s still a story—a story about how powerful or powerless we are, about how much we can take or how little we deserve, about how degraded or cherished or stern or desirable we are. All of the implements and the techniques and the costumes are just props that help us tell those stories, and the way to have the best, most memorable and most satisfying scenes is to make sure that they have all the elements of a good story.



Good stories have good characters. In a scene, good use of character comes from understanding how everyone involved wants to think and feel about themselves as part of the scene. If you’re being beaten, do you want to be the tough, stoic, disciplined submissive who can take it and make your partner proud? Do you want to be the sobbing wretch begging for it to stop? Do you want to be the insatiable painslut begging for more? If you’re tying someone up do you want it to be a lighthearted, goofy experience? A demanding display of technical skill? A seduction? Start by knowing who you and your partner(s) are in this story.


A good story begins by setting the scene and making a contract with its audience about what kind of story it’s going to be. It usually doesn’t spell out exactly how everything is going to turn out (that would kind of ruin the suspense), but it lays out enough information about what’s going on for the audience to get on board with the story.

In a scene, exposition means establishing a shared understanding of generally what kind of scene this is going to be, so that everyone can get into character and start getting excited for what’s going to happen. Often, this comes in the form of threats and promises. “I’m going to whip you `till you squeal” establishes the action of the scene (whipping), the tone (cruel) and the intended climax (squealing). In scenes that involve a lot of surprise (mystery stories) there may be very little exposition, but we at least establish that there is going to be a surprise and let our partners start getting worked up wondering what the surprise is going to be. Nonverbal exposition might consist of carefully and ritualistically laying out the implements that you intend to use.

Rising Action

A good story builds. It starts milder and grows in intensity and tension, toward some climactic moment. A good scene builds too, and one of the most common ways that I see scenes flop is when someone is aimlessly cycling through different implements, intensities and activities—more focused on using everything in the toybag than on creating an experience that goes somewhere.

The most obvious example of building up is in impact play, where the hits generally get harder over the course of a scene. But the same idea applies to building erotic energy in a sexual scene, or more and more degrading commands issued in a humiliation scene, or nearing the completion of some task in a service scene.

Pacing is key to rising action. If you have a sense of how far you are from your climax, you want to pace yourself so that the tension can grow at an accelerating rate right up until that climax. What you want to avoid is trying to create a climactic moment when you haven’t yet built up to it, reaching an unsustainable level of tension before you’re ready to create the climax of the scene or, worst of all, letting time pass in which tension isn’t building. Excitement either rises or falls; it doesn’t sit still. So if you aren’t building the action, the energy of your scene will be draining away.

In longer scenes, it can work beautifully to work in mini-climaxes where you build to some peak, release some (but not all) of the tension, and then build to an even higher one.


A good story has a moment when all that tension it’s been building bursts. In a scene, the climax is the moment of greatest intensity. It’s the most vicious blow or the final needle or the orgasm. To have a good climax, everyone needs to know that this is the climax, so that they can know to release all that tension. Usually it’s best to make it clear well in advance that the climax is coming. Instead of just beating someone harder and harder and then stopping, tell them: “Now you will take ten more, harder than before! Count them down as I give them to you, and thank me for each one.”

Falling Action

Delivering the hardest blow of the beating and then immediately dropping the cane and going to watch cartoons can be jarring, and leave the scene feeling incomplete. A good story has some action continues for a little while past the climax, unraveling the tension left unresolved by the climax. In a scene, leave some space after your climax to wind down. I don’t mean aftercare; that’s later. This is taking the ropes off, giving the area you’ve savagely caned some gentler smacks, or ordering your servant in the cleaning up from the dinner they’ve just served. For some scenes, sex serves as falling action rather than the climax.


Now comes the aftercare. A good story ends with a resolution wherein normalcy is restored. In a scene, this often consists of cuddles and reassurances that all involved are good, worthy and loved. That isn’t the only kind of resolution to a scene. Some scenes end with the bottom being ordered to clean up the equipment, as a reminder of their place. Some bottoms need to be given space to return to normal on their own, so resolution might be being left bloody and crying in the bathtub. The important thing is being conscious of everyone’s need to tie a bow on their experience and return to less elevated, non-scene state—and then doing what works for everyone involved.


Understanding that narrative structure will do more for creating excellent scenes than even the sexiest latex corset.

Understand them well enough, and you don’t even necessarily need to follow them any more. Many of the truly great stories break some or all of the rules of storytelling, and many truly great scenes do as well. But in both cases that greatness tends to appear when people know the rules, have practiced following them, and then break them consciously, with a clear idea of what they’re trying to accomplish in breaking them.

So learn the rules, then break the rules, but never lose sight of the story.


Want to learn more about erotic dominance? Join me tomorrow evening for a live webinar: How to Take Charge in Bed!

1 year ago. October 23, 2020 at 4:26 PM

There’s this seeming paradox in what’s expected of those of us who aspire to dominate.

On the one hand, we’re supposed to be masterful. We’re supposed to be the kind of people who always have to have things their own way, and who bend others to their will.

On the other hand, we’re supposed to be scrupulously consensual. We’re expected to get permission for every little thing we do, and to stop doing it the moment our partner stops being enthusiastically into it.

We’re expected to be darkly mysterious and also to negotiate every detail of what we’re going to do in advance.

We’re expected to be merciless taskmasters, and also to never pressure our partners into anything they don’t want to do.

We’re expected to enforce unyielding discipline, and also to yield the moment that our partner isn’t into it anymore.

Sometimes it’s the same damn voice (the same person, community, book, etc.) that’s pushing both sides. “A dominant must always be true to their own desires but really it’s all about giving your submissive what they want but if you’re just doing what your submissive wants you’re not a real dominant but if you do anything they don’t want you’re a rapist. Any questions?”

It can make your head spin, and it leaves a lot of us feeling like we have to pick a side. Are we going to be a scrupulous but kind of tame Consensual Dominant, or a thrilling but kind of sketchy Masterful Dominant?

I’m here to tell you that’s a false choice. It’s entirely possible to be both scrupulously consensual and genuinely commanding and in charge. If done right, they even support one another.

Here are two tips for sweeping them off their feet with your power while staying firmly grounded in their consent.


Slow Down and Make them Beg
One of the hard realities of consensual kink is that nobody really has to do anything they don’t want to. So if we’re always the thirsty one who’s pushing for more D/s, harder D/s, deeper D/s, sooner D/s now now now—then we’re bound to struggle with tension between being masterful and respecting consent.

Respecting consent means acknowledging that all our stern demands for pushing our dynamic farther and faster are really more like requests, and that—ultimately—it’s up to our partner to decide whether or not to give us what we’re asking for. Anything we could do to take command of that ultimate choice, or put pressure on it, is going to stink at least a little bit of abuse.

But we don’t have to always be the thirsty one begging for more! Submissives want to submit. That’s my favorite thing about them. If we cultivate some patience and self control, and we slow our roll enough to let them miss the taste of our boots and get hungry for something deeper, then we can get them in the position of being the one making the requests. And then consensual and masterful are on the same side.

Because we have the same ultimate, unquestionable right to say “no” that our partners do. So if our partner is the one pushing for more, we get to make stern demands that actually are demands.

“Prove to me that you’re ready to take more.”

“If you want a beating, get down and beg for it.”

“I might play with you tonight, if you’re really good all day today.”

One of the most effective tactics I know for deepening submission is to give someone almost as much dominance as they want, but not quite. You don’t want them feeling significantly under used, but if you stop just before the point where they would’ve wanted you to stop then they walk away still a little bit hungry—and eager for more next time.


Take the Lead on Safety & Consent
Another hard reality of consensual kink is that it carries risks—from risks of accidental marks through risks of intentional harm.

Many of us look at the things that need to done to mitigate those risks as inconveniences that detract from our dominance over our partners. This attitude, again, pits masterful and consensual against one another.

If I propose to my sexy new date that we go back to my place, and they say that they want to set up a safe call first, then they’ve just had to do something to protect themselves from me and create a limit my power over them. If I make any kind of fuss about it—protesting that they should trust me or taking offense that they’re implying I’m a rapist—then I’m being an asshole.

Especially with new or casual partners, this can look like them dictating a whole laundry list of terms, conditions and limits by which we must abide. Hardly masterful.

There’s a better way.

We can educate ourselves about ways to enhance our partners’ safety and ensure that their consent is respected, and we can take the initiative to start the conversation about those protections.

Instead of just proposing to take my date home, I can bring up the fact that going home with someone carries risks and I can suggest some options (playing at a public space at first, safe calls, ruling out things like gags that would prevent someone calling for help) and demonstrate my leadership in helping them stay safe.

I can be the one to bring up the STD risk and safer sex strategy conversation.

I can bring up risks that they might not even have thought of (photos getting posted online) and suggest ways to mitigate them (let’s take that sexy picture with your phone instead of mine, and you keep the picture).

Starting conversations around safety is awkward and hard, especially for our partners. They’re afraid that we’re going to be the asshole who takes it the wrong way. If we take the lead, do that awkward job with confidence and grace, and demonstrate that we care about their safety and are knowledgeable about ways to protect it—it sends a powerful message that they can trust us, depend on us, and follow us.

We can be masterful about consent itself, and it can be a profoundly powerful tool for inspiring submission.

Those aren’t the only two ways to marry scrupulous consent and confident, masterful dominance, but I hope they’re enough to give you the idea that a keen focus on consent doesn’t have to detract from being the baddest dominant around.



Interested in hearing more? I have a couple of live online workshops coming up.

Friday 10.30: How to Take Charge in Bed: Erotic Dominance for Everybody

Monday 11.16: Wait for It: Playing with Denial

1 year ago. October 7, 2020 at 1:16 AM

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: “The one with the real power in a D/s relationship is the submissive, because they can choose to revoke their submission any time they want.”

I hear this idea pretty frequently, and it’s always struck me as a really weird thing to believe. Do people think that the dominant partner can’t equally well revoke their dominance any time they want? It’s a consensual relationship on both sides; so if “real power” is the power to end the power exchange then both partners hold it equally. So I could understand thinking that consensual D/s relationships are really, fundamentally egalitarian, but this idea that being able to end the power dynamic means submissive partner holds all the cards just doesn’t make any sense.

Well, I think I’ve got it figured out. I don’t think that anyone actually believes that dominants can’t end their D/s dynamics; it just doesn’t occur to them to think that they ever would. Because they’re imagining D/s as a thing that the submissive partner gives to the dominant one, an idea that often goes by the name the Gift of Submission, or “GoS” for short.

In the GoS vision of D/s, the dominant partner is the one accruing most or all of the benefits of the relationship and the submissive partner just gives and gives. So if the dynamic ends then the dominant partner loses a lot and the submissive partner loses little or nothing. Because they weren’t getting anything in the first place, yes? They were just giving, giving and giving submission.

Imagine a relationship where I just came to your house and gave you a hundred bucks every day. You’d be pretty invested in that relationship continuing because, hey: free money. Pretty likely over time you’d even adjust your lifestyle so that you were counting on that free money coming in, and then you’re dependent on me. But I have no reason at all to continue the relationship; I can end it on a whim and lose nothing but hassle and expense. That’s how charity can turn into manipulation, and that’s how you end up with the submissive having all the real power.

So here’s the thing. If you think of D/s as something that the submissive partner gives to the dominant one, then yes: you’ve trapped yourself in a world where submissives have all the real power, because they have nothing to lose and the dominant partner has everything to lose. But if that isn’t where you want to be, there’s a simple way out: recognize that there’s as much or more to give from the dominant side of the slash.

If you’ve been doing GoS D/s from the submissive end, think about those times you retracted your gift from a dominant and ended a D/s dynamic. Did you feel like you lost nothing? Maybe you did, in which case you were probably dealing with a lousy dominant. But if you did feel a sense of loss, then try and notice what it was about. Did you lose structure? creative cruelty? parental nurturance? That’s what your dominant was giving you. Learn to notice and appreciate it during a relationship, and you’ll stop feeling like the one with all the real power—`cause you’ll be invested in the dynamic along with your partner. Stop looking for a dominant who is worthy of your gift, and start looking for one who dominates you in ways you can hardly believe you’re worthy of. Then you’ll feel dominated without that little asterisk that says actually you’re the one really in charge.

If you’ve been doing GoS D/s from the dominant end, think hard about what you have to offer to a D/s dynamic and how you could get better at it. Then start insisting on having your contribution recognized. Stop thinking of yourself as the lucky, passive recipient of a gift and start thinking of yourself as a contributor to building something awesome and hot between two people. Yeah: it means that you have to do some work instead of lying back on the couch and getting submitted at. But you won’t feel like a beggar just hoping your partner doesn’t take their ball and go home.

So hey: you know who really has the most real power in a relationship? It has nothing to do with dominant or submissive roles. It’s the person who needs the relationship less. This is the Principle of Least Vested Interest and it is both unavoidable and a little depressing, kind of like gravity. In any kind of consensual relationship, whoever has the least to lose (or thinks they have the least to lose) is the one with the most leverage. The GoS idea, and deducing from there that submissives hold all the real power, is just a version of least vested interest.

So do you want to have real, fundamental power in your relationships? Here’s the answer in two easy steps (the “easy” part is a lie).

  1. Make sure that you’re giving your partner a lot of what they value, and that they recognize it. That means listening and learning what it is that they value, investing serious time, attention and energy into making it happen, and not standing for being taken for granted.
  2. Be bigger than your relationship. Develop hobbies, passions, friendships—maintain an identity and a sense of your worth that doesn’t depend on being your partner’s partner. Build your life so that if your relationship ends you will mourn, but not be crushed.

That’s it. Those two things are the foundation of having real power in any consensual relationship, whether you’re coming at it as a dominant a submissive or neither. Any special dominant skills or tricks have to be built on top of that foundation, and without it your partner really is the one holding all the real power.


Find all my power exchange education work at

1 year ago. September 25, 2020 at 5:53 AM

We’re having dinner with friends. She says to me, “Those potatoes look delicious. Would you like to pass them to me?” and I smile.

We’re in the car. I’m driving while she navigates. She says, “You want to take the next left,” and I feel proud of her.

She’s giving instructions for a party game. As each player’s turn comes up she says something like “Draw two cards” or “Move one place to the left.” When she gets to me she pauses almost imperceptibly before saying “The next thing to do is play any card and discard another.” No one else notices the difference, but I do, and what I notice turns me on.


In grammar, “mood” refers to how we signal our attitude about what we’re saying. Some languages have loads of different moods, but English only uses three. There’s the Indicative Mood, which is when you’re describing or inquiring about the world as it is (“Rain is pouring in the open window.”). There’s the Subjunctive Mood for talking about hypotheticals, wishes or doubts (“It sure would be nice if someone closed the window before the couch got soaked.”). And there’s the Imperative Mood, which is for making requests and commands (“Close the damn window!”).

This girl of mine is forbidden from ever speaking to me in the imperative. She is not permitted to say, “Pass the potatoes.” Even, “Please pass the potatoes,” however polite, is still off limits.

Lots of times people speak in the imperative mood without actually meaning to make demands. When you’re giving navigation and you say “Turn left at the next intersection” everyone understands that you’re providing useful information, not being bossy. Doesn’t matter, though: her orders are strict. Right down at the grammatical level she may talk to me about how things are; and she may talk to me about what she imagines, wishes or fears; but she may never tell me what to do.

Maybe grammar pedantry isn’t the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of really hot D/s, but this has become one of my favorite, sexiest standing orders. Let me tell you why.

The heart of what I love about this rule is that it makes my girl think every time she talks to me. Excluding an entire mood from your conversation isn’t trivial. Even without intending to give orders to her owner, it’s awfully easy for a, “Look at this!” or a, “Have a nice time.” or a, “Don’t worry.” to slip off of an incautious tongue. Speech protocols like always calling someone “Sir” or referring to yourself as “this one” are relatively straightforward, and that means they can more easily fade into meaningless, rote habit. Having to carefully avoid the imperative makes my girl think hard about her words every single time she opens her mouth to speak to me. Speaking to her owner can never be trivial.

And what she’s thinking about, when she’s being made to think, is that I tell her what to do and never, ever the other way around. Sure: the official rule is only grammatical, and there are plenty of ways to tell someone what to do without using the imperative. The right tone of voice can turn “That ice cream sure looks tasty!” into a perfectly well understood order to hand over your ice cream. But having to always think about it on that grammatical level is a reminder to my girl to also think about it on the deeper level of meaning. As she’s composing her words she has the opportunity to think “Am I trying to tell my owner what to do?” and to rearrange not just her words but also her thoughts to come from a place of providing me with information and leaving the decision up to me. Transforming “Please loosen the rope on my left ankle.” into “The rope around my left ankle is really tight and my foot is falling asleep.” is a tool that helps her to sink deeper into the place where the comfort of her ankle is up to me and not to her.

Forbidding the imperative also has a deliciously intimate subtlety. Wearing a collar or calling somebody “Lord” all the time can kind of stand out. Sometimes standing out can be hot, of course; having a partner stand clearly and proudly submissive before the eyes of others always lights up my heart. Sometimes, though, it’s a delight to share a little secret right under everybody else’s noses. I’ve loved seeing my girl practice and develop her ability to hold a perfectly natural, flowing conversation that simply never includes the imperative.

“Let me see!” becomes “I’d like to see!”

“Excuse me.” becomes “I beg your pardon.”

“Let’s go!” becomes “Are you ready to go?”

Finally, the effect of that shift in her patterns of speech is an aesthetically appealing one. There’s a relaxing, elegant quality to conversation with someone–especially a submissive someone–who scrupulously avoids saying anything that sounds like an order. Subconsciously, perhaps, it comes across as undemanding and respectful. If you’re looking for a new habit to train into a partner, I can highly recommend it.


Find all my power exchange education work at