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Does anyone else, when commenting on BDSM blogs, find it only slightly but consistently amusing when they finish their post and hit the button marked “Submit”?

I swear, it gives me a little chuckle every time.

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Dear Delilah,

Lately, I’ve found myself fooling around — let’s say somewhere in the between-second-and-third-base range — with two different women who, while seemingly very different, are very alike in a couple of very specific ways. Mainly, they’re both extremely subby.

I have nothing against their subbiness, per se; I’m very much of the “do whatever works for you” philosophy. But while I can be assertive in bed, it’s frequently within more of a power-sharing context — I’m certainly not a dom. I’m not used to being the only one really doing anything. Both of these women tended to just kind of…lay there, as if I was supposed to be telling them what to do, and that’s just not really my thing. I enjoy feeling like whoever I’m with is into what we’re doing, too, that they’re enjoying being with me as much as I’m enjoying being with them.

I suppose it’s not impossible that neither of them were enjoying themselves very much, but I’ve honestly never had that problem with any of my previous partners. And both of these women openly identify as very submissive. I don’t want to have to tell either of them everything I’d like them to do — I’d like to see some initiative here, y’know? But I think I perhaps don’t understand the submissive mindset well enough.

Help me, Delilah! You’re my only hope!

But no pressure, right? Like I’m the goddamn Obi-Wan of kink over here.

Nice boots.
Nice boots.


It sounds like you’ve got a couple of things going on over here. One is that you don’t feel that you’re dominant, and don’t want to do the things a dominant does. And that, my friend, is totally fine.

The other thing is that it sound like your submissive friends are of the passive type: more commonly known as “do-me queens.” Now, there’s not anything wrong with that, either; I’ve certainly been known to be one from time to time. But it works best with a dominant who is very interested in controlling all of the action, and it sounds like you are Not That Guy. If one of you is submissive identified and the other is an egalitarian lover, then you’re going to wind up with a case of Submissive Sheep Syndrome – similar to Lesbian Sheep Syndrome, in which two women, each of them used to having someone else initiate, make like female sheep in heat by standing still and bracing themselves.

Another thing I noticed here: even with you having to do everything, it sounds like you weren’t even getting the benefit of responsiveness. Were they not giving you any indication that they were enjoying themselves? Sighs? Noises? Flushing of the skin? Verbalization? It sounds like their lack of initiative wasn’t the only problem here: you didn’t feel like you were making a connection.

So you have a couple of options. One is simple: don’t play with them. If they’re the type of people whose sexuality is defined by a dominant partner taking control of them and directing every move (and if they “openly identify as very submissive,” then they might be), and you’re not into that, then they’re not appropriate partners for you, and neither of you is going to have a particularly good time.

The other is: talk to them. Are they able to do something other than “lie there”? Let them know you’d like to try something different: a playful wrestling match, for instance. If they have a hard time getting out of the sub/slave mindset, then tell them that what would please you would be for them to be more proactive during play.

As I write that, I’m not convinced it will work, and you may find that these two simply aren’t the right play partners for you. But it’s always worth having a conversation before simply dropping someone.

As always: let me know how it goes!

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Today’s question is a juicy one, which is just how I like it. Lots of issues to address – so let’s get right to it.

Dear Delilah,

Can you talk a little about psychological hang-ups around topping? (If that’s the right term–I get top & dominant mixed up.) Here’s the thing. If my partner and I are doing a dom/sub or top/bottom play, and I’m on top, I’d like to feel pleasure beyond “I’m doing this because it makes you feel good.” Likewise, when I’m being submissive, I would like it if the dominant person was getting something out of it more than just pleasing me. As wonderful as it is to know that you’re making another person feel fantastic, it’d be nice to get some more…direct?…satisfaction.

But that’s where the hang-ups show up. You see, if I’m being dominant…what if I really do like seeing my partner helpless? Getting satisfaction out of that feels icky and wrong in a way that getting pleasure out of being tied up doesn’t. And I’d be weirded out, during a bit of play-humiliation, if I thought that my partner really wanted to humiliate me. Can you suggest ways to develop a sense of enjoying dominance without this guilt? How do two submissive-inclined switches develop their dom sides? Is it about drawing the hard line between play and reality, or about accepting power, or about…

There are so many issues in this question that I don’t know where to start, but I’ll give it a shot.

First of all, let me differentiate between top/bottom and dom/sub, since it’s a question that comes up a lot. Midori addresses it really well using a kind of graph and including the sadist/masochist binary as well; I’ll try to address it here in words.

“Top and bottom” come from gay nomenclature originally, and tend to designate who is the active partner and who the passive or receptive. If you’re getting fucked, fingered, or fisted, you’re “bottoming.” If you’re fucking, fingering, or fisting, you’re “topping.” This translates into BDSM the way you would expect: the person tying the knots, holding the whip, or attaching the clamps is the “top.”

“Dominant and submissive” refers to power dynamics. The dominant is the one controlling the scene, whatever activities are going on.

“Sadism and masochism” gets into the question of who likes to give pain and who likes to receive it.

This is where things get tricky: while traditionally, the person holding the whip is certainly the top and probably the dominant as well, some people are dominant masochists – they want their submissive to whip them according to their orders and specifications. Some people are service submissives: though they are subs, they are also tops in the sense of being the active partner (performing oral sex, worshipping feet, serving tea). Their actions, however, are controlled by the dominant.

It’s worth knowing, however, that “top” and “dominant” are often used interchangeably, as are “bottom” and “sub.” And I’m willing to bet that a submissive that goes from being tied up and beaten to being released and made to suck cock doesn’t think of him- or herself as having gone, within one scene, from “submissive masochist bottom” to “submissive service top.”

What I hear you saying here is that since you are both submissive-leaning switches (I’d call myself the same, incidentally), you can both more easily identify with what’s hot about being tied up or otherwise “done to” than what’s hot about doing. It also sounds like it feels okay to like having power taken from you, but not okay to enjoy power over someone.

Your instincts about how to resolve this within yourselves are good: it is partially about remembering that your power dynamics are confined to playtime and aren’t about who you are to each other in everyday life. But it also is, indeed, about accepting power.

Submission is a gift. It’s a gift of trust, and of one’s body. It is a (usually) temporary and well-boundaried giving-over of control in a way that is, in the best of circumstances, about love for the dominant partner as well as about the pleasure of the submissive. And it is profound in the sense that the submissive truly puts his or her life in the dominant’s hands.

This leads to a lot of responsibility for the dominant, which can be overwhelming. But the acceptance of this responsibility, the awe of the power of the gift, is possibly the first step to allowing yourself to enjoy the power of it. Just think of it: there’s your partner in front of you, ready to do whatever you ask. You may give them pleasure or pain, allow them to orgasm or force them to hold back, make them your servant or your slave or your special toy. And it’s okay to enjoy it – because it is freely given.

You ask, what if I like seeing my partner helpless? What if my partner really enjoys humiliating me?

And I say, what’s the point of doing it if you don’t enjoy it?

That’s somewhat glib of me, of course: it can be a struggle for both dominants and submissives to accept their desires given what we’re told is culturally acceptable. And while suffering as a means to ecstasy is a time-honored tradition, being the one who inflicts that suffering is a much less respected role.

So I’d say: start with appreciating the gift of the submissive. Next, there’s what’s easy to enjoy about topping: getting off on your partner’s pleasure, and knowing that you’re the one delivering it. Dominating someone isn’t very exciting for me if the submissive doesn’t react; I can’t stand stoic submissives. Accept that part of the pleasure of being dominant is, in fact, transitive: you’re taking pleasure from the pleasure you’re causing.

The other thing to remember is that you can take direct pleasure from the submissive. What gives you pleasure? Remember that being fucked doesn’t make you automatically submissive. (There are much-more agreed-upon models for this with male doms: what male top porn scene doesn’t end with him fucking her?) Or make him go down on you in an uncomfortable position. If you can get into taking pleasure from your submissive as well as giving pleasure to him, you might begin to see what all the fuss is about with domming.

As far as going beyond that, and beginning to take pleasure in your partner’s pain, or humiliation…well, do you? You don’t have to, you know. But your question makes me think that you’re beginning to, and you’re wondering about what it might mean.

My honest answer? I wouldn’t worry about it unless you feel it’s going to affect how you behave in the rest of your life. If you start enjoying how it feels when your partner is suffering at your hands, and then you start treating your friends like shit? That’s a red flag. But I think for people who are as clearly thoughtful and self-aware about this stuff as you seem to be, given your question, I don’t think that this is a concern. Kink, for you, may provide a safe context in which to explore these feelings in a way that not only doesn’t harm anyone, but is actually good hot fun for all involved. (Major win, there.)

I will also add that when I started working as a dominatrix, I experienced an increase in confidence. I didn’t become a bitch, as I think some women do when they take on this mantle. Instead, I found I got the attention of customer service more quickly, was more able to get what I wanted in a polite way, lost my temper less often (having more power means you don’t have to get angry or mean), and generally moved in the world more easily. So you can get positive changes out of accepting erotic power as well.

One last thing about this, though, for those married couples out there who are doing kink. It is often true that people who do heavy kink have better luck exploring it outside of their primary relationships; doing it together, when there are bills to pay and dishes to wash and kids to raise, can sometimes be too weird. It’s also probably true that the two of you know each other better than anyone, and so you not only have the best access to each other’s hot buttons, you also are more vulnerable to each other than to anyone else. This makes it easier to do actual damage within scene, so while I don’t think you should worry too much about enjoying it, I would talk to each other a lot beforehand about what things might truly hurt you. In my experience and knowledge, these things are more likely to be psychological than physical, so I would negotiate a lot more beforehand about, say, a humiliation scene than I would about, oh, a spanking.

Most of all, though, have fun. Revel in each other. And hell – play with switching within the same scene! Turn the tables! If you’re both so inclined, why not mix it up?

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After several Mondays of post-travel logistics-fail, holidays, and outright laziness, I finally present to you yet another Monday Advice column on – who would have guessed it – Monday.

This week’s question is a little confusing to me.

My would-be girlfriend likes to put people in boxes; I want to buy her a whip, a present, but I am not sure how to shop for this kind of gift for someone else. i.e. How to choose between a riding crop or a cat o’nine tails? and other such taste issues…

Okay, where to start. “Would-be girlfriend”? What does that even mean? Like, would be if she weren’t married to that seven-foot bodybuilder Zed? Would be, if she only knew you existed (but she will, ohhhh she will)? Or would be if she didn’t like putting people in boxes? And if she likes to put people in boxes, why not get her a refrigerator carton rather than a whip? Seems much more thoughtful. It’s tough to whip people once they’re in a box. Cages are maybe a little easier, but the leather tends to get wrapped around the bars, and then there’s all the clanking…

Anyway, bizarreness of phrasing aside, I assume what this person is trying to ask is: how do you know what kind of kinky gift to get someone you know would enjoy a kinky gift? Which is a different question from how do you know whether someone would like a kinky gift. Though given the whole would-be girlfriend thing, I’m suspecting some of this as well. “Heh-heh. Uh, hi. I got you this iron maiden. For a present. Heh-heh.” Eesh. Maybe you should try flowers first.

In any case.

If the object of your affection (friend, would-be girlfriend, potential victim) is already into kink and has shared this fact with you, the trick is just to slip it into conversation. Some possibilities: “Hey, have you been to The Fetish Fair Fleamarket/Beyond Leather/Insert Kink Convention Name here? Do any shopping?” “So you’re kinky. What kinds of things do you like to play with? I like paddles/singletails/live pythons myself.” Or, if you’re really being flirty, “So if you were gonna beat me up, what would be your ideal tools to do it with?” If this kind of thing gets her going, and she’s interested in beating you up, this has the double advantage of warming her up to the idea and getting you some valuable information.

Questions of taste are always difficult, whether you’re dealing with a kink-related gift or any other gift. One question is: what are you getting her this gift for? Is it a testament to your friendship? A symbol of how you feel about her? Is it something for her to actually use on people, or just a keepsake? If it’s for use on someone, are you hoping that someone will be you? If so, it’d probably behoove you to get something you think you’d enjoy being hit with.

A good friend of mine, who traveled in the same kink communities as I did, once got me a wonderfully hilarious purple glittery riding crop when she’d learned that I was going pro. It was incredibly thoughtful, not because of what it did but because of what it symbolized: the riding crop was all about honoring a typical symbol of the work of a pro domme; the purple glitter was all her particular shiny aesthetic. I’ve never forgotten it, though I’ve never used it in a session, either. It’s more of a thing I keep around to make me smile and think of her. On the other hand, clients have sometimes bought me gifts (I now have many riding crops) that I have found beautiful and useful, but which have very little sentimental value for me. It all depends what you’re trying to achieve with this gift – and how much money you have to spend.

Whatever you do, if you’re looking to have this person use the gift, don’t get something cheaply made. Many sex novelty shops carry crops and whips and floggers that are of abysmal quality; these are fine as gag gifts, but if you friend is serious, you want to get her something nice. As nice hitty things go, riding crops are probably the cheapest; you can find high-quality ones at any equestrian shop. Canes are generally inexpensive as well, but neither may be what she’s looking for. Some places carry small floggers that are under $100, and floggers are generally a safe bet. But you won’t find a good singletail at that price, and anyway, singletails require a pretty specific skill set and a lot of practice. Gifting somebody with one seems like more of a directive than you might want to communicate here.

Finally, if this person is just a friend and you’re not on a basis for talking about these things, then…I can only recommend that you do not get her a kinky present. Because that would be weird and imposing, I think. Just maybe. Though I wish it were otherwise, many people are very closeted about their kink, and with good reason. If she hasn’t been entirely forthcoming with you, a kinky present might come across as creepy and threatening.

So here’s the low-down: If you know she wants such a thing, draw her out about what she likes. If you get her something, make sure it’s good quality. And make your questions more specific, mmm-kay?

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Yes, just as your mail comes a day late and you don’t put the garbage out if you normally have a Monday morning pickup, I too am a lazy bitch who takes the Memorial Day holiday off. Seeing as I spent the weekend at a three-day playparty, however, I think I can still consider myself qualified. And so it is that without further ceremony or ado I present to you This Week’s Question!

Dear Delilah–

I’ve had it pointed out to me that I am “almost certainly a closet sub.” While I will frankly admit the idea of being a submissive has an appeal, I’m ridiculously new to the “scene” and want to separate the facts from the fictions. Here’s the rub: have no desire to be stomped on, beaten, flogged, verbally abused, manacled, humiliated, or any of the other stereotypical “passions” –I simply want to approach the idea of being dominated in a sexual sense and see where it takes me as a person. Is there a primer?

–Dale

One of the common mistakes that people make when they start to be interested in kink is to believe that if they are kinky, that means they must want to do all those crazy things they see on the Internet. Dale, I don’t even want to do all the crazy things I see on the Internet, and I do some of them in videos that I sell. Seeing as you’re not looking to make a profession out of it, there’s no reason for you to do anything sexually that you don’t want to do, ever.

That being said: the first step is to think about what you do want to do. I see a long list here of things you’re not interested in, and yes, many of them are associated with being a submissive, and many of them are especially associated with being a male submissive in the Internet sense. By which I mean: often the desires of a particular sexuality (particularly female dominance and male submission) are depicted in particular ways by the sex industry, and all the other possibilities for it are kept relatively invisible. (The above links are provided to give different perspectives.)

What this means is that you probably haven’t seen the kind of submission that you’re interested in depicted anywhere. And you may not know exactly what it looks like.

I have a couple of recommendations for you. One is paying attention to your fantasies (an old Dan Savage trick). What images come to you when you’re jerking off? Or even, when you daydream about sexual submission, what does it look like? It sounds like you’re not interested in the more pain-intense varieties, nor in the more humiliation-intense ones. Perhaps you want to be tied up and have a woman “take” you sexually. Perhaps you want to be given orders. Maybe you are drawn to service – whether that means bringing her paper and slippers or fucking her just the way she likes it for an hour. Is it about giving up control? About worship of the dominant? About obedience? About lying back and letting someone else do the work?

Once you get a sense of what that looks like, you need to have someone to try it out with. I don’t have good information about what your circumstances are in that department from your letter, but if you have a current partner, it’s probably worthwhile to propose it to her in a non-threatening manner. If not, the next time you’re dating someone, you should probably present this as an idea when you begin to become sexual. Also: who is it that’s telling you that you’re probably a closet submissive? If it’s your partner…well, that may be more than a hint. 🙂

Which brings me to one more thing I want to touch on here. Make sure that this isn’t about somebody else projecting their fantasies onto you. Where are you getting these messages from, and do they make sense to you? It sounds like you’re open to exploring it, but be wary of basing your identity on something that other people have said about you.

Finally, though: don’t worry too much. Explore the fantasies and have fun. If it doesn’t turn your crank, you’ll find that out soon enough, and no harm done.

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A funny thing about kink and kink advice: most commonly, the questions asked can be answered using the same kind of common-sense, rules of human engagement stuff that you might find in a Miss Manners column. I notice that Dan Savage deals with the same thing: he finds himself giving the same advice over and over again, as his writers and callers keep asking the same types of questions. It’s amazing how often the answer comes down to: Don’t Be A Dick.

Dear Delilah,

Let’s say you know you’re going to one of Those Kinds of Parties soonish. And you know that there will be some number of people at said party you’d like to schedule time with — not necessarily arranging a big scene or anything, because maybe you’re not quite into that yet, but maybe some relatively low-key hanging-out (with possible snuggling/making-out/exploration time if the mood/chemistry/humors work out). Do you have any recommended strategies for trying to arrange such a thing in a respectful manner? And in such a way as to minimize psychological trauma in the event of getting turned down? Part of me’s afraid that even suggesting such a thing would/could fundamentally alter a relationship between people, especially if you’re asking this of someone you’ve never asked this sort of thing of before, and I’d like to minimize that risk as much as possible. Anyone I’d be curious to do ask about this sort of thing is, by definition, already someone I like quite a bit on a personal level, and I wouldn’t want to mess that up.

You, loyal questioner, have the first bit down: just from reading this question I can tell that your desire to Not Be A Dick is strong, and therefore you’re unlikely to be one either by accident or on purpose. My guess is that you already know the “how to approach respectfully” tricks, which include asking politely, without pressure, while expressing clear interest. You might approach someone you know at such a party and say, “I’ve been meaning to talk to you more. Would you like to hang out at some point during the party?” If they agree, you might add, “I also kind of wanted to see if you’d be interested in playing with me at all. No pressure if you don’t; I’d still love to talk and know you better.”

But you already knew that, didn’t you? Because you’re clearly Not A Dick. Over-timidness, though, might lead you to being what many people in the straight dating world think of as the opposite of being a dick: lonely.

Now I don’t buy the whole obnoxious argument that women only want to date assholes, or that “nice guys” never get anywhere. But it is true that making any human connection involves some risk by its very nature. I hear a lot in this question about wanting to mitigate risk as much as possible: You want to “minimize psychological trauma,” and you don’t want to risk a blossoming friendship by suggesting a sexual connection. And that’s cool. But if you’re going to get anywhere, you have to do something. And it’s the paralysis that some people (particularly shy men) feel about Asking For Anything that makes them end up the last one picked for kickball.

So how do you get a little more aggressive in your approach, while mitigating the risk of Being A Dick or losing friendships due to a perceived imbalance in interest? I think that in each instance, dear reader, you need to decide what you value more: friendship, or the opportunity for play/sex? If you might enjoy playing with someone you already like, but are worried about adversely affecting the new friendship by suggesting it, then wait a little while. Keep fostering the friendship, and maybe add some flirtatious energy to it. As you get to know the person better, body language should begin to tell you whether your flirtation is welcome or not: if you touch the person, do they lean into it, or back off? Do they touch back? If they’re sitting cross-legged, are their knees facing you, or away? Is their posture open or closed? If you feel the flirtation is welcome and that the friendship feels solid enough to survive, then suggest playing with them. If you feel it’s unwelcome, then back off and maintain the friendship.

Conversely, if you’re just crazy-attracted to someone, and you believe that friendship alone wouldn’t be satisfying for you, then propositioning them sooner rather than later is likely the better approach. If you wait and hang back, your attraction will only grow and remain unfulfilled, and being around them will probably become frustrating. If you make a move and are accepted – score! If you’re rejected, well, at least the “psychological trauma” is quick rather than drawn-out.

Notice how the answer to this question hardly involved talking about kink at all?

The one advantage you have here, though, is rooted in the fact that we’re talking about play parties. Play parties can be excellent environments for pursuing casual encounters, for having interactions with people that may not leave the bounds of the party, and for suggesting things without having rejection be too crushing. Much of the awkwardness of conventional dating is removed by the fact that hey, we’re at a play party, this is what we’re supposed to do. Asking for what you want becomes a lot easier when the environment is specifically designed for that purpose.

So go out there and conquer! Or, well, at least make some polite suggestions of conquest. Consensual conquest, of course.

Comment with your questions here, or mail them to delilah@dommedelilah.com!

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Went to a marvelous party the other night. Friends abounding, getting naked and fucking with abandon or doing deliciously evil things to one another in an atmosphere akin to Burning Man parties I’ve been to in the past. There’s nothing quite like watching someone get spanked under a shiny-mylar-fringed tent-thing amid color-changing LEDs.

I was exhausted and not much in the mood for anything, except maybe a beating. Getting one, I mean. A friend of mine is a great play partner for this; he and I flirt and kiss a little, but the full sexual spark doesn’t seem to be there: he just enjoys my masochistic side when he’s in that special kind of sadistic mood.

It’s always funny for me to play with casual partners in that kind of setting: I’m always thinking about what they’re doing with the cuffs, what their equipment is like, how well they’re managing my safety, and so on – it’s the curse of the professional. But it’s also fun, and good to see that my choice of partners is usually right-on.

He has a nice collection of non-traditional toys: floggers made of nylon strings, smooth for thuddy impact, braided for brutally stingy. Near the end he unzipped a long case, by which time I was floating in endorphins and adrenaline and was only able to ask, “What’s that?”

“The percussion section!” he quipped.

And the coup de grace: two metal canes about a half-inch thick.

Ouch. Ouch, ouch, ouch. He told me I didn’t have any marks afterward, but that bruises would probably come up from those canes in a couple of days.

He was right. No, there aren’t pictures.

I was very appreciative, too, of his sensitivity to my safeword problem. It was getting to be too much for me at one point, and he said, “If you need me to ease off, just give me a yellow.” I squirmed, screamed, breathed hard, and finally gasped, “I. CAN’T.”

To his eternal credit, he stopped, checked in, then eased back into the scene.

Sometimes it’s subspace and a desire to please that keeps me from safewording. But sometimes, it’s just plain old stubborn pride. I so appreciate tops who can feel this and navigate it well.

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Today I answer two letters that deal with the question: what happens when one of the partners in a desired BDSM scenario is reluctant for one reason or another? It’s a tricky one, but not unsolvable.

I have to say, you are almost a dead ringer for my fiancee. She is also six feet tall, size 12-13 shoe, shoulder length naturally curly brown hair, and with a sensually curvy athletic gorgeously feminine but strong body. I have a question for you, if you don’t mind. She is a sweet, sweet girl and I’m a huge trampling fan. I’m a little over six feet tall and weigh about 155 lbs. I’m kind of wiry and thin. Being a tall strong girl like you are, you probably know where this is going. She’s not a dominant person and I would like her to be more aggressive to help her out in life. I want so much for her to trample me, but I know she thinks she’s too heavy, her feet are too big, blah, blah, blah. What is a good way to ask or warm her up to walking on me? I asked her once about a year ago. She very, very tentatively did so and then quickly stepped off. I’ve been afraid to ask her since. I’ve told her that I’m going to drag a dominant side of her out someday, someway (Marshall Crenshaw anyone?) and have slooowwwly warmed her up to resting her feet on me while laying on the floor. She’s still a bit shy about it. But I want her to take the plunge and walk on me. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks so much for listening!

MJ

Dear MJ,

Marshall Crenshaw notwithstanding, this is a territory where you must, if you’ll forgive the pun, tread lightly. I’m hearing that you have a particular desire from your fiancee – namely, that she trample you. This seems like something that the two of you could work up to, and I’ll talk more about that below. But be careful about the other thing I’m hearing, here: trying to force your fiancee to be a dominant.

In my experience, there’s very little more annoying than a submissive male trying to talk his female partner into dominating him when she doesn’t want to and it’s not in her nature. It’s not that people cannot be taught to dominate, and there are beautiful examples of experienced submissives training “from below,” as it were. But the would-be dominant must be willing – and wheedling, offering submissive gestures in the hopes that she’ll pick up the role, or suggesting that you’re going to “drag” her dominant side out, is probably not going to help you, and will probably just make her feel anything from annoyed to inadequate.

The good news is that you have a specific desire, and having your woman trample you does not sign her up for becoming your full-time Mistress. It doesn’t even have to mean that she’s being dominant – there is a difference between being a “top” (i.e. the “active” partner in a sexualized activity) and being “dominant” (i.e. the one holding the power in a power-exchange roleplay dynamic). You may find that she has a dominant streak eventually, but the first thing for you to do is guide her, safely and consensually, toward the activity you desire, without pushing for the whole enchilada.

As far as asking: you say this is something that really turns you on. If you’re not shy about that fact, she may be more able to get into it if she’s interested in your pleasure. You say that she’s shy about her size; she may be afraid of hurting you. Try setting up a safeword with her, and let her know that you will definitely say the word if she is truly hurting you. Try starting, as you said you have, with you lying on the floor while she puts her feet on you, and work your way up to her fully standing. She can start by just pressing you with her feet while sitting, then resting part of her weight on you with one foot from standing. Make sure she has something, like a wall, to hold onto for balance, and make sure she’s only stepping on safe places on your body: upper back, chest, butt, and thighs. Hopefully, she’ll find that she enjoys it for its own sake, and if you’re really lucky, she may eventually find that dominant streak in herself. If not – then at least you have a new piece in your sexual repertoire.

And don’t forget to keep telling her how incredibly sexy she is. I appreciate the compliments, MJ – but it sounds like your foxy fiancee needs them more.

My boyfriend is a self-proclaimed Dominant. Okay. I’m not what I’d call a naturally submissive person, but I’m really, really ready to give it a go with him. Really. Very much so. BUT – in my trying to explain that it was going to be quite a step for someone like me to engage in that side of the “play” I somehow managed to convince him I’d not truly like it. He doesn’t believe in “switches” he says, and any attempt by me to try to engage provokes comments like “But I know you don’t really like that” from him. DO I HAVE TO TIE MYSELF UP MYSELF! WTF?!?

I don’t understand the “no switches” rule; the idea that he doesn’t want to do anything I don’t truly WANT is… well… nothing short of sweet but I don’t know how to convince him I want to when I do want him to take the “this is hard for me, but in a good way” part seriously. And plain old “how to get it started” advice. A guy acquaintance suggested handcuffing myself to the bed, but… that seems hamfisted, pardon the pun.

Here’s what I’m hearing, and I’m sorry if it sounds harsh to your “self-proclaimed Dominant:” he’s insecure, and he’s misinformed.

First, the misinformed part: switches exist. In fact, if he’s been paying attention, he might notice that a large part of the overall BDSM culture grew originally out of the gay leather scene, in which, in olden days, every dominant was a submissive first. That was the way you came up in the ranks. So by the very nature of old school leather, every dominant is also a submissive. Even laying history aside, you can let your boyfriend know that I and many of my kinkiest friends are personally insulted by his assertion that we switches simply don’t exist. It’s like negating the existence of bisexuals. So: Dear Boyfriend: come join reality! It’s fun over here. We have cookies. And lots of sex.

Laying aside my own pet peeves, though, is the larger point that will probably be of more use to you: he’s scared. He probably wants to do things to you that he finds really hot, but he’s still afraid that that means there’s something wrong with him. BDSM dynamics require boatloads of trust, and it tends to be the dominant’s job to hold a lot of that trust. It is very, very easy to make a mistake and break trust in this type of dynamic, and so sometimes dominants are reluctant to play with people they’re not sure about. What if he hurts you and you hate it? What if you laugh at him? What if you find out something he’s into and freak?

Clearly, your words aren’t enough in this scenario to convince him that this is what you want. Tying yourself to the bed is a little hamfisted, indeed. But you might try something similar. Different triggers, when you’re being sexual with him, might open that headspace for him and indicate your availability. Some classics include kneeling at his feet, crossing your arms over your head when he’s on top of you, or undressing in front of him while he’s still clothed and watching. Try one of these if any of them turn you on, or something else simple. And keep talking: if you care deeply for him – and it sounds like you do – let him know that you’re not going to think less of him for wanting some nonstandard things. Have him introduce some of the things he’d like to do to you in dirty talk before actually doing them. Tell him to write you a letter or email with a fantasy scenario he has in mind, and pledge to yourself not to react badly to it, even if it’s not totally your cup of tea.

It may seem ironic, with him being the dominant and all, but you need to draw him out and make him feel safe.

Let me know how it goes, folks! I’m always reachable here at the blog, or at delilah@dommedelilah.com!

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It’s already Monday again, and time for your questions! The first is a short and sweet one, but a good topic.

How does one get into the pro-domme business?

To be honest, I have no idea. All I know is how I got into the pro domme business, if that’s not too flippant an answer. I can tell you a little about that, but it’s partially dependent on locale, market, density of population, etc. I can’t tell you, for instance, how a domina in a rural area got into it or how she keeps afloat, but I know several who do just that. What you’ll get from me is how someone with an excellent support structure started a small business in a major metro area.

I had planned on going pro for some time – I think it was ultimately two years between the time the idea was first suggested to me and when I saw my first client. During that time I did a lot of reading and a lot of hands-on training: learning the (literal) ropes, practicing my aim, taking classes on foot fetish and breathplay and humiliation and animal play and just about anything else I could find. Friends helped me out tremendously by giving me instruction and serving as practice dummies. (Aw, come on, quit whining – you’ve got another kidney!)

Probably the most important thing I did was to get a hold of local dommes. I looked them up and contacted a bunch of them – each one individually – about my interest. Some were not responsive; some were. Some I clicked with; some I didn’t. In the end I was blessed with the resources, minds and advice of two dominas I greatly respect, Lady J and Princess Kali. From inviting me to parties at which I could meet scene people and market my services, to finding me space to do sessions in, these two remarkable ladies helped me tremendously.

And the rest was just smoke and mirrors: get some sexy outfits, advertise on Craigslist until you have the means to build your own website (I also utilized Pandemos early on), screen screen screen your clients, and start seeing them.

There’s a lot more of course, about marketing and screening, and how to behave in a session, and making sure you know your state’s laws. But the most important step, I think, to doing anything is to research: read, and find people who do what you want to do and talk their ears off.

I’m a kinky single girl who is getting seriously tired of the vanilla boys on JDate, etc. I’ve tried a couple of the kinky online dating websites (collarme.com, alt.com, bondage.com), but I only get emails from:

1) Creepy old guys;
2) Dominate Men who Cannot Spell; and, most troublingly…
3) Guys I might conceivably like, but who insist on talking about my sex life faster than I’m ready to.

I’m a wildcat in the bedroom, but I’m shy about talking about it until I know the person a little! What’s the etiquette for a first date off a kinky website? Am I expected to talk about my sexual interests, or is it possible to just talk about everything else and shelve the sex talk for a few dates until I know I like the person out of the bedroom? Help, Delilah!

Well, this situation puts you in a little bit of a bind, if you’ll forgive the pun. Kinky dating sites are places where kinky people meet to date, and just as people who connect through their love of chess may start their interactions by chatting casually about strategy, people who connect through kink are likely to open with a kinky gambit.

That said, just because that’s the context doesn’t mean that you have to open up about your particular kink or sexuality more quickly than you are comfortable with. However, you need to cut the guys who are contacting you in that manner more slack: it’s the nature of a dance hall that people who approach you are going to ask you to dance before asking you about your favorite vacation spot.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from domming, it’s that you have to ignore a lot of chaff: feel free to delete the creepy guys and illiterates without a second glance. But if somebody seems nice and comes off a little more forward than you’d like, just ask them politely to back off. If you’re meeting up partially based on compatible kink interests on Fetlife or something like that, then you already know that he likes to do things that you like to have done to you, or vice-versa. What comes next is what comes next in any dating game: find out if you have chemistry. Tell him, “Listen, I really like to get to know someone a little bit first. Once we know whether we’d like to be kinky together, then we can talk about how we might do that.”

If you like the guy up front, be up front with him – firm, but not discouraging. If he doesn’t want to take the time to get to know you, then he’s not the type of guy you want to be knocking boots (or licking boots) with, anyway.

That’s it for this week! Remember: comment here or send your questions to delilah@dommedelilah.com !

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