Jan 082013
 

attention-memeI’m not high maintenance and I don’t require constant attention. I don’t even want constant attention. I’m busy, I like my space, and I value quality attention over quantity. In that regard, I’m well-suited for a distance relationship.

But sometimes I do need a little extra attention, something more than the usual.

It wouldn’t be an issue if J lived closer or saw each other more often. If he lived nearby, I’d tell him to meet me for a drink or come over. If he were here, I’d make him drop whatever he was doing to give me a hug. (Ok, let’s be honest, I’d probably just lie naked on the bed and point to my pussy — That’s our super-secret code for “D wants attention!”)

I’ve never had a problem demanding attention in relationships where I’ve had consistent physical access to my partner, and I have no problem demanding J’s attention when he’s here (not that I need to).

But being in a distance relationship complicates things.

I don’t like asking J for attention when he’s not in my reach. I don’t like feeling needy and certainly don’t like admitting it. Even if I was comfortable with it, I’m not sure what I’m asking for — “attention” is pretty vague. I know I don’t want flowers, long phone conversations, or a barrage of vapid text messages, but I can’t quite articulate what I do want. If I don’t know what I want, I shouldn’t expect J to figure it out (Trial and error isn’t a good option because it’s unfair, and because it involves a lot of error. I don’t like error.) Besides all of that, I absolutely don’t want my occasional need for extra attention to become a burdensome assignment for J. I prefer his attention (whether it be the “standard” or extra) be natural — something he does because he feels it and not just because I’ve asked.

When I’ve needed extra attention during our relationship, I haven’t handled it well. At first, I didn’t say anything at all. I guess I was hoping J would read my mind, and I was hurt and unjustly annoyed when he didn’t. Once or twice, I got over my discomfort long enough to tell him I needed attention, but without being able to articulate what I wanted, J couldn’t deliver anything that helped (not for lack of trying).

I understand the the mature thing to do would be to get over my pride, figure out what I want, and be direct in asking for it. But I can’t do that or I won’t do that — either way, it’s not going to happen (at least not overnight). I know myself well enough to know in a moment of neediness, I’m not going to be able to do any of those things and I’ll end up hurt, disappointed, and unfairly upset with J over something that isn’t his fault.

Since I can’t change overnight, I don’t want to be hurt, and I don’t want be unfair to J, I need something else — something proactive that I can do now to facilitate getting what I need later.

To that end, I’ve been thinking about possible “workarounds”– strategies to get some extra attention when I need it in ways that meet my criteria. Oh yes, there’s a list of criteria. I need workarounds that:

  1. don’t make me feel needy (I hate feeling/being needy).
  2. are somewhat meaningful (closer to authentic than contrived and more special than “I love you”).
  3. are concrete and specific (so he knows my expectations).
  4. don’t take up a ton of his time (I don’t want it to be a chore — he should enjoy giving me attention).

My plan is to come up with a list of “requests” to have at the ready for the next time I find myself attention starved. I’ll pull an idea from the list, tell J to do whatever it is, then sit back and wait to bask in glow of moderately increased articulations of love and affection. :)

So far, I’ve only come up with one idea, but I think it’s a good one. It’s to ask J to send me the name of a song that makes me think of him and explain why.

It fulfills all my requirements: it doesn’t make me feel needy (silly and girlish, perhaps, but not needy), it could be meaningful and heartfelt, it’s concrete and specific, and it wouldn’t take a lot of J’s time or effort.

Besides all of that, it’s fun (for me, at least) and something I’m curious about anyway. I don’t think I’m odd in this, but music can drown me in thoughts of someone or some event, or a different time in my life. One of my most treasured possessions is a collection of mix tapes and mix CDs that my best friend and I made, one every few months, all through high school and most of college. All of the songs on them make me feel something, and it’s surprising and awesome how strong those feelings and associations are, even years later.

itunes-dommeI have a couple of tracks on an iTunes playlist that make me think of J (it’s my “J-List” playlist!). I’ve never shared it with him because 1) on a few occasions, I remember getting mix tapes and CDs from boyfriends and thinking “OMG, you actually like this?” or “Seriously? That song reminds you of me?” and 2) he’s a bit of a music snob and I’m afraid he’d have the same reaction as I did with a few of the mix tapes I received. :)

While I’m sure there isn’t a “D List Playlist” on his machine — but there’s got to be at least one or two tracks that make him think of me. I didn’t want to catch him off guard with a request for a song sometime in the future, so I warned him about it the other day. Of course, I didn’t explain the reasoning behind it — I didn’t divulge that it was part of my super-secret “I need attention” plan for future implementation. Explaining that would mean admitting I’m needy sometimes and also seems oddly contrived — both of which my super-secret attention plan is supposed to help me avoid.

Anyway, last week, I told him to be prepared for me to ask him for a song title. Of course I didn’t explain the reasoning behind it — I didn’t divulge that it was the only extant prong in my multipronged “I need attention” plan to be implemented when needed. Explaining that would mean admitting I’m needy sometimes, and that defeats the purpose of the plan.

Excerpt from a chat with the boy…

At some point, I’m going to ask you for the name of a song that makes you think of me. If and when I ask you, you’d better have a response.
Consider this more-than-fair warning.
Yes, Ma’am
Look at me, setting you up for success. You have it way too easy, boy. smilet
will there be followup questions regarding specifics as to why, or is the name of the song enough?
I dunno. I guess it depends on whether or not it makes sense to me. If it’s something like “Shiny Happy People,” I’m probably going to have some questions.
not because I don’t breathe sunshine and sweat rainbows… but cause you probably hate R.E.M. smilet

 

I understand if it seems like I’m making a bigger deal out of this than I should, but it’s a way for me to navigate one of the difficulties of a distance relationship. Plus, it’s me taking steps and being proactive about getting what I want (or need) AND getting it the way I want it.

Besides… I’m going somewhere with this story…

 

  19 Responses to “step 1: plan, step 2: get attention”

  1. I think that’s a great idea. So great, that I’d better be ready for Jalan to give me that prompt :).

    In seriousness, though, Jalan and I are each on our second marriage, and we frequently cheerlead ourselves (and each other) on having learned some good lessons from our first ones. One of those is the mind-reading thing. We work hard, and mostly succeed, at not expecting that, and defaulting to direct communication.

    I, especially, am an explainer. I also have a bad memory. Between these, Jalan hears many of these direct communications several times, because I also have a bad history of not feeling/being heard. But she tolerates the repetition well, because she understands the history and how important is to me, as well as what a bad idea for us it would be for her to discourage my speaking up.

    • @Naga: “she understands the history and how important is to me,”

      This is totally true. I’ve been working on communicating more about what’s important to me and trying to get him to articulate what’s important to him — the really important stuff, as opposed to the normal stuff most everyone values.

      “having learned some good lessons from our first ones.”

      Yes! This! Lessons not just about relationships, but about ourselves. I hate having to admit I’m a poor communicator when it comes to issues like I mentioned in the post and I hate admitting that it’s not something I can change (at least not directly). The best I can do is to admit where my weaknesses are and come up with acceptable alternatives.

      “I’d better be ready for Jalan to give me that prompt :).”

      Hmmm… you’d better start going through your music. :) Happy listening!

      • Re the weaknesses. One of my all-time favorite movie quotes is from Harvey:

        ‘Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, “In this world, Elwood, you must be” – she always called me Elwood – “In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant.’

        Yeah, I was smart for a long time, too. Part of my version of “pleasant” is a balance of compassion and respect. With my loved ones, that means respecting their strengths and having compassion for their weaknesses, as well as being open to respecting the way they acknowledge and accommodate their weaknesses.

        Everybody’s got’em.

        • @Naga: “Everybody’s got’em.”

          Who me? Oh… no. I have no weaknesses. You must be confusing me with someone else. :)

          On smart v. pleasant… I think I’m too much of both. I’m not sure where that leaves me.

          ALso, who would name their child Elwood? :)

  2. My face now looks like this: O.o (what IS that face? I mean when I am bewildered, I really really don’t look like that, but you get the gist…).

    I assume this is a ‘done and dusted’ super secret plan because *you put it on your blog and he reads it*!!

    But still, if you have a *list* of attention-ey things, now he KNOWS there is a list… *not that there’s anything wrong with that*, so your super secret plan is falling apart for future use!! Schroedinger’s secret list!

    Anyway, I know what you mean. I want attention, but MORE than that, I want him to be all over that shit. As soon as I have to *ask* for it, I have spoilt at least 50% of the goodness in it. He should be bouncing around me all puppy-like just aching to give me attention that I can tap into with something as simple as a ‘hey, you’. I expect to have *all the sweet and lovely attentions*!!!!

    Ferns

    • “*you put it on your blog and he reads it*!!”

      Fuck! I knew I there was something I was supposed to remember…

      “I assume this is a ‘done and dusted’ super secret plan”

      Done and dusted? More like “crashed and burned.” :) At least the whole “send me a flattering emo song I can cry and jerk off to” part crashed. There’s a follow up on that coming in the next day or so. Um, a follow up on asking for a song, not on jerking off. But now that I think about it… hmmm….

      “now he KNOWS there is a list…”

      Yes, I supposed when he reads this, he will know there’s a list. Well, kinda… I only had ONE item on the list, and due to the aforementioned crashing (and burning), the list is dead until I can come up with other ideas to put on it.

      “I want attention, but MORE than that, I want him to be all over that shit.”

      I get it, trust me, I do. But how is he supposed to be all over that shit when he’s so far away? The “I love you I miss you you’re awesome” is fine when people are separated for just a few days or weeks, but in a distance relationship, after two years, that shit gets real old, real fast. Not that we don’t mean it, it’s just, I dunno, it doesn’t help.

      “As soon as I have to *ask* for it, I have spoilt at least 50% of the goodness in it.”

      EXACTLY! And herein lies he problem — he can’t see me, can’t read my face or my daily stream of body language, communication, etc, and since I’m not so open about saying when I’m not okay, he has no way of knowing anything is wrong or off or whatever. If and when I ask for it, I feel like a fucking ‘tween fan girl.

      Again, in a relationship with more contact, a partner can be all up in your grill with the sweetness and the petting. Over the phone, not so much. Besides the phone and emails, there aren’t a whole lot of other options.

      “He should be bouncing around me all puppy-like just aching to give me attention”

      Ok, if he bounced around all puppy-like, he’d get tangled in the phone cord. We live too far apart, so neither one of us has a leg to hump.

      • “But how is he supposed to be all over that shit when he’s so far away? “

        I’ve done a lot of long distance and *words* totally work for me. I *love* them, I love things written for and about and around me, and since I meet all of my submissives online, I’ve never been with someone who couldn’t do words for me in a way that made me feel showered in attention, affection, and loveliness. So that would be choice number 1.

        I *do* have a ‘morning email’ rule if mine is away from me, and sometimes I do a ‘must text me every x hours’ (tell him to make it something lovely) or ‘send me a picture of what you are doing now’ or random text requests for anything really if I feel like having more contact, and while I do think of that as really sweet, I’m suspect that’s not the kind of thing you are seeking.

        I don’t see anything needy about telling him to give you what you want. Isn’t that what he’s there for? How about, “I’m feeling down today, and I miss you. Do three sweet things to make me feel better over the course of the day”. He surely knows you well enough to have a damn good go at that by now?

        None of this compares to being in the same space, and believe me, I know long distance is hard, but it’s all I’ve got.

        Ferns

        • @Ferns: “I’ve done a lot of long distance and *words* totally work for me. I *love* them, I love things written for and about and around me”

          Exactly. That what the “song choice” was all about. It was a way to get him to write something sweet and personal without me having to ask for it directly. Of course, I was curious about a song, but more than that, my intent was to use it as a kind of directed writing prompt.

          “I don’t see anything needy about telling him to give you what you want.”

          I agree with you 100% — that’s exactly what I’d say to anyone else in the same situation. But it makes me feel needy (rational brain vs. emo brain).

          “Do three sweet things to make me feel better over the course of the day”. He surely knows you well enough to have a damn good go at that by now?”

          He does. This is all more about my flaws than his.

          I know it’s silly — I make things harder than they need to be. I get that, but it’s not something I can just snap out of. It’s the way I’m wired, for better or worse. I’m just trying to find a way to work with my own flawed wiring. :)

          • I wrote a bunch of stuff, but it got really long. I might write a blog post about it because I find it a really interesting topic.

            Suffice it to say, my long response started with this:

            “I agree with you 100% — that’s exactly what I’d say to anyone else in the same situation. But it makes me feel needy (rational brain vs. emo brain).”

            Yeah, I get that. I am the same about some things that I see as a strength in others but that feel like a weakness in *me*. I know it’s ridiculous, but I feel it anyway. Stupid feelings!

            Ferns

  3. J may not have a D List on his device, but over the course of December, I made a playlist of songs that brought Mistress to mind for me. I had not said anything to her about it. I felt all high school emo about it. Then Christmas came, and because of distance and what not, I really had no gift for her.

    So I sent her an email with the list and the explanations for each song. Guess if I had been really smart, I would have had material for weeks and months, but parceling it out one at a time. Still, I like the image in my head of her smiling and maybe chuckling as she read through it, so I probably did OK.

    Respectfully
    Arthur

    • @Arthur: That’s lovely and sweet! Particularly because it was organic, heartfelt, and sincere. I’m sure she loved it!

      I’m so glad you shared this! Thank you. :)

      • D

        Thank you for your kind words. I found the juxtaposition of your solution for a salve to balm your neediness was so similar to my need to share with Mistress in terms of the methodology, and simply could not, not share it with you.

        Glad to have brought a smile to your face

        Respectfully
        Arthur

  4. Here’s a thought. I don’t have a boy/friend, but it works on my Mom. Instead of telling J you want attention, you could come up with something nice to do for HIM, something you know will make him happy and inspire that rush of grateful love that inevitably leads to attention. Maybe that’s sneaky and goes against the rules of direct communication, but for me, it’s a lot easier to do something special for someone than to admit to feeling off or attention starved.

    (Not saying J is your mother … but yeah, just like with submissive lovers and puppies, there ARE some undeniable parallels between dominant lovers and entitled children. Just don’t be one of those kids who get attention by breaking their toys or cutting their own hair.)

    I realize that doesn’t solve the problem of WTF you mean by ‘attention’, and by providing even LESS direction than stating “I want attention”, essentially defaults to the trial and error method. I definitely think you could be underestimating the merits of trial and error in general, and J’s capacity for creative thought in particular. Your list of what you don’t want gives me a pretty good idea of what you do want, which is to feel flattered and reassured and loved and awesome because your boy clearly adores and misses you, as evidenced by his organic, heartfelt, and sincere gesture (as you say to Arthur above). You don’t want flowers or vapid text messages because those are generic and mindless and demonstrate nothing of the unique affection J has for YOU. What if instead of telling J exactly what you want, you just gave him your list of criteria as general guidelines for showing his love and affection? Obviously, Number 3 would not apply. But J sounds like a perceptive boy, and I bet he could surprise you.

    Setting people up to never fail indicates a certain lack of faith in them.

    • @Sionevah: “you could come up with something nice to do for HIM, something you know will make him happy and inspire that rush of grateful love that inevitably leads to attention. Maybe that’s sneaky and goes against the rules of direct communication, but for me, it’s a lot easier to do something special for someone than to admit to feeling off or attention starved.”

      Agreed. It’s a lot easier for me to do something than to admit to needing attention. It does sound a heck of a lot easier than me trying to trick my own brain, but I’m not sure I’d feel any better about doing something for him just because I’m hoping for something in return. Even if I was comfortable with that, if I hoped for something in return, I’d be even more disappointed if I didn’t get it.

      “I definitely think you could be underestimating the merits of trial and error in general, and J’s capacity for creative thought in particular”

      You’re probably right. I tried that (once or twice) — I asked for “attention” and I was disappointed with the result. I felt like an asshole for being disappointed AND doubly stupid for asking since the result wasn’t satisfying. I guess I’ve been looking at it as if I’m expecting him to read my mind, but I guess I am underestimating him.

      “[. . .] Setting people up to never fail indicates a certain lack of faith in them.”

      You’re right. It certainly could indicate a lack of faith. That wasn’t my intent, but I can see how it’s probably interpreted as such.

  5. Yes, yes, yes, but what was the song?

    • @ken: Hmmm… I’m not sure if I should reveal it. I’ll ask J if he’s comfortable with it.

      (I know, I know… how un-Domme of me!)

  6. I usually have the opposite really I end up with the ones who say they like the constant attention and pampering but then get annoyed when I do.

    Respectfully,
    brattyboi

    • I usually have the opposite really I end up with the ones who say they like the constant attention and pampering but then get annoyed when I do.

      Interesting! It’s always fascinating to me when I sit in the intersection of what I thought I wanted and the realization that I want something totally different. We think we know ourselves… but we don’t. :)

  7. when you think you truly know everything about yourself, you need to go back to the beginning because you missed a step.

    Respectfully,
    brattyboi

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