Feb 112014
 

Now and then, people write and ask some variation on “when did you realize you were dominant?” or “how did you know you were dominant?”

The truth is that I haven’t answered because I don’t have a good answer.

There isn’t any one moment I can point to when “realized” I was dominant. I can’t give you some story about how I knew I was dominant my whole life, I don’t see any definitive signs in my past, and there was no epiphanic lightning bolt moment when it hit me.

What I can point to is the moment I realized there was some sort of dynamic.

I’m not sure I identified it as dominance and submission at the time, but I realized there was something different about the way J and I interacted. I noticed something different about who J was when he was with me, and I began to understand I might have the space to explore who I was with him.

It didn’t happen in bed, I wasn’t wearing leather, and there were no whips and chains involved. It happened during a completed unrelated argument.

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Our relationship was fairly new, but I already suspected it had no long term potential (happily, I was wrong). We had more arguments than what seemed normal for the ‘new-relationship’ phase. I don’t recall the details of this particular disagreement, but I recall being frustrated and angry. I was aware of approaching that stage of a quarrel where someone gives up — not out of understanding or resolution, but out of frustration, discomfort, and want to make it stop, either with silence or a “fuck you” directed at the other person.

This time, I had fallen silent and J looked as if he were about to say “fuck you.”

But he didn’t. Instead, all of the sudden, J got up and came towards me without saying a word. The move wasn’t exactly threatening, but with my back to the wall (literally), it felt aggressive and it reeked of machismo. It was like that ridiculous moment in movies when the woman breaks down and the man advances towards her — assertively. He looks as if he might take her by the shoulders and shake some sense into her… but at the last minute (when she goes wide-eyed and looks alarmed) he takes her in his arms, kisses her passionately… (*eyeroll*)

For the record, I wasn’t being irrational, I was nowhere near “breaking down,” and that sexist macho bullshit doesn’t play well with me as a means to end an argument.

I remember thinking ‘oh, not this bullshit…’

“Don’t. Just… don’t,” I sort of whined at him, half pleading and half annoyed.

He cocked his head like a confused puppy, hesitated for a moment, and then started to move toward me again.

“Back up.” My voice was clear as a bell — I gave him a direct, unmistakable command. J stopped in his tracks, but did not move back.

“Back… Up. Now.”

He did. J walked backwards a few steps (he didn’t turn his back to me), sat, and looked down at his feet.

That was the moment.

I knew there was something different about this relationship, even if I wasn’t sure what it was.

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Why was that the moment? Why did I realize something was different?

In my experience (my own and what I’ve witnessed), when a man is about to invade a woman’s personal space, and she tells him to “back up” in no uncertain terms, one of three things usually happens:

1. He acts like she just blew a rape whistle. He takes an exaggerated step back and puts his arms up (melo)dramatically as if to show he means no harm. He keeps his hands up where she can see them, (like she’s a police officer and he’s a suspect,) and tells her to “calm down” or “take it easy.”  It’s fucking ridiculous — the response is exponentially larger than required and worse than that, it’s insincere.

2. He realizes he was being too forward, so he spends the next 15 minutes apologizing profusely and excessively. But the whole time he’s apologizing, he creeps toward her again, more slowly this time, as if to demonstrate his safeness. This is also fucking ridiculous, and it’s far more about him wanting to think of himself as a “good guy” than about her.

3. He completely ignores her directive to “back up” and keeps coming anyway, invading her personal space as if he’s entitled to it.

J did none of those things. He backed up, sat down, and waited for me to speak. He didn’t dismiss me, he didn’t apologize, he didn’t start talking. He just waited for me to speak. His whole demeanor changed, and I don’t know if mine did, but I certainly felt different than I had moments before.

So, that’s why. That was the moment. “Back up.”

 

Good god… just replaying it in my mind… it was so fucking hot…

  17 Responses to “when did you realize you were dominant?”

  1. I’d never really thought this through but you’re right – the ‘back up’ would, in my experience, lead to either the exaggerated stepping away or, most common in my experience, the slow revised approach. This has never annoyed me before, but now I’m going to keep seeing it and it will do my head in.

    On the up side, though, this is seriously fucking hot =)

    • You’re right – the ‘back up’ would, in my experience, lead to either the exaggerated stepping away or, most common in my experience, the slow revised approach. This has never annoyed me before, but now I’m going to keep seeing it and it will do my head in.

      I’m kinda sorry for it because you will notice more of it and it will piss you off endlessly. Most of the time I can chuckle when it happens to others (silly men being silly men), but when it happens to me, I want to crack their skulls (silly me).

  2. Like many of your best posts, this one rips apart an ordinary, even commonplace moment, familiar to many of your readers and uncovers a deeper truth. It seems to me that many of the most meaningful and lasting moments in a D/s relationship are found in everyday events like this one. Just two words, words spoken every day, but there is so much more behind those words, and I enjoyed hearing your thoughts in this moment, one that seems so familiar to me.

    I recognize that guy in examples 1-3. Hell, I have been that guy. Aggressiveness, in both its active and passive forms, comes so naturally to men and is subtly reinforced so often and in so many places by our culture that is sometimes difficult to recognize, much less control those impulses.

    Lead and follow. I think so much of D/s comes down to this. While the guy in examples 1 and 2 may back up, he is not following your lead, he is not hearing your words, he is still pursuing his own agenda. For me, following is more than a physical act, following is a state of mind in which you open yourself to the other and refocus your thoughts and energy with hers. I don’t get there every time, but when I do it feels so very right. And its fucking hot sometimes too.

    Thanks, I often learn something when I stop by to visit.

    • Aggressiveness, in both its active and passive forms, comes so naturally to men and is subtly reinforced so often and in so many places by our culture that is sometimes difficult to recognize, much less control those impulses.

      I know. I realize lots of men struggle with these sorts of things and I also realize it’s a lot easier to be thoughtful about it when it’s not ‘in the moment.’ Our culture sends so many mixed messages about everything it’s hard to predict, much less control, which of those messages will influence us at any given moment.

      While the guy in examples 1 and 2 may back up, he is not following your lead, he is not hearing your words, he is still pursuing his own agenda.

      Yes to this! I want what I want, but I appreciate it that much more when I get it on my own terms. I try to be open and respectful to my partners (particularly in situations where they are the more invested party) and I hope they try to be open and respectful to me.

      I love your description here: “following is a state of mind in which you open yourself to the other and refocus your thoughts and energy with hers.”

      It is exactly what you described — lead and follow. And, I think, it applies to both sides of the slash — I try to get in sync with my partner too. I want that shared energy, and because it’s the way our dynamic works, I hope he tries to read mine and get on board.

      Thanks, I often learn something when I stop by to visit.

      Thanks for your thoughts and the kind words, Litterarius. :)

  3. That’s quite interesting because the Dommes I know tell me they knew They were dominant for a long time. They realised They had a ‘thing’ about them even from childhood. Short of reading Your posts elsewhere on this particular point (and I take Your opening comments as being complete disclosure), I’m somewhat surprised that You never knew You had this ‘thing’ and it took j’s actions to awaken it.

    Looking back before this encounter, didn’t You feel dominant in any particular context at all?

    • That’s quite interesting because the Dommes I know tell me they knew They were dominant for a long time

      Yeah, I believe that. In part, my opening disclosure was my acknowledgement that my experience doesn’t fall in line with the popular narratives circulating about.

      I’m not sure I believe all of those narratives, actually. It’s not that I think people telling them are dishonest — that’s not the case. I just think it’s far too easy to look back and see signs for lots of things. We look back for signs because they confirm that what we are is who we’re supposed to be. It’s comforting, but I don’t always think it accounts for the ‘whole’ truth.

      [Edit: As I was writing the sentences above, they seemed really familiar to me, and for good reason! I’ve written about ‘signs’ before.]

      I’m really glad you commented, James. I have a whole line of thinking on this that (I hope) is worth sharing and I plan to write it up soon.

      Looking back before this encounter, didn’t You feel dominant in any particular context at all?

      Yes, but I’m not sure what that means to my current self-incarnation? Instead of expanding on a response here, I’m going to save it for a post (I have LOTS of thoughts!)

      Thanks for the comment, James. :) You got me thinking… that’s for sure!

      • my pleasure! Confirmation bias has a lot to answer for! :0) But in our quest to make sense of things and be alert to future scenarios, isn’t such bias more than just a comfort but an epistemology not unlike faith? I’m not saying it’s reliable at all – far from it. But it is nevertheless very human and therefore socially acceptable.

  4. “It didn’t happen in bed, I wasn’t wearing leather, and there were no whips and chains involved.”

    Pffttt turn in your Domme card and beanie hat immediately! *laughs*

    Hmm, I am not sure I see his reaction as one of submission, although of course I am not an expert by any means, just because his reaction was different then what men normally do though. Maybe that was the mental exchange that occurred that identified when you realized you were dominant, but perhaps not his actions themselves? Just a thought.

    Respectfully,
    Mysticlez

    • Pffttt turn in your Domme card and beanie hat immediately! *laughs*

      I really should! Besides, the Domme card has caused me nothing but trouble. I accidentally offered my Domme card the other day at the coffee shop when I went to get my “frequent latte club” card stamped — the barista looked at me like I was nuts! ;)

      Hmm, I am not sure I see his reaction as one of submission, although of course I am not an expert by any means, just because his reaction was different then what men normally do though. Maybe that was the mental exchange that occurred that identified when you realized you were dominant, but perhaps not his actions themselves?

      Exactly! I didn’t recognize it as submissiveness, per se (and I’m not sure whether it is in any general sense, though it may be in the context of J).

      I only recognized it as something different. While this happened after J told me he was submissive, I still had no idea what that meant (aside from kinky bedroom stuff and porn-style D/s). It was just my recognition of a dynamic between us, not necessarily a D/s dynamic.

  5. I wonder if the strain of submission you’re talking about isn’t simply a case of respect and deference taken to their logical conclusion and subsequently eroticised. These are not tendencies that most men bring to the table in their relationships with women given their social conditioning.

    There’s an honourable tradition in which this kind of submission is celebrated, namely courtly romance, and the various forms of love poetry that flow from it.

    A knight in shining armour dedicated to powerful woman – possibly a better way of being a man.

    • I wonder if the strain of submission you’re talking about isn’t simply a case of respect and deference taken to their logical conclusion and subsequently eroticised.

      It’s interesting to me that both you and Mystic responded about J’s actions as submissive (or not so much) instead of my actions as dominant (or not so much). For the record, in either case, I don’t necessarily think of either action as enactment of D/s per se, but I do see that moment as one where I realized there was a dynamic between us that I hadn’t felt (or understood?) before. (Ha! See, I make it all about me, don’t I?)

      I wonder if the strain of submission you’re talking about isn’t simply a case of respect and deference taken to their logical conclusion and subsequently eroticised.

      I think you’re right in thinking of his actions as more an act of respect (which of course, should be a component of submission, but should also be a component of relationships without D/s overtones).

      It was an action that I interpreted as being about me instead of about him (like those alternate responses I mentioned at the end where the actions men take are all about them — how they’re perceived, etc.), and in that way, I felt some deference toward me as dominant (rather than deference/respect toward me as a woman/partner/person). It was in the wake of J’s admission about being submissive, and perhaps for that reason, that moment felt important to me as a step in understanding how this thing could work.

      Thanks for your thoughts, GOS. :)

  6. Really nice post! Very insightful.

    I think you captured the moment and the typical responses well. It is interesting how small things like this can illuminate and give us insight.

    Cheers!

  7. Oh, I can’t wait for your longer post on the subject of signs, finding out, and ”being generally dominant’ versus ”being dominant in the context of a particular dynamic” and related (if I am reading you correct here).

    On confirmation bias… there is confirmation bias and confirmation bias I think. One is looking back and searching for signs. And the other one is looking back and feeling ”oh fuck fuck fuck now it all makes sense — it explains the ”sexually weird” stuff, it explains why I liked certain things and why interpretations others gave me for liking them always felt wrong — the pieces falling into place, and by doing that the whole framework, the whole way of how I see my history and my current behaviour changing”.

    • Oh, I can’t wait for your longer post on the subject of signs, finding out, and ”being generally dominant’ versus ”being dominant in the context of a particular dynamic” and related (if I am reading you correct here).

      Yes! You are reading me correctly. :) I have it in draft… it’s one of many. I find myself getting more and more precious about my writing here, and thus it seems like a struggle to hit “publish” on anything. I really have to get over that, particularly on this topic, as it’s near and dear to my heart.

      On confirmation bias… there is confirmation bias and confirmation bias I think.

      You’re right, of course. I think part of what might make my experience a bit different than narratives I’ve seen out there is that I never struggled with feelings of being sexually weird or different. I never realized what I was missing, and having no idea it existed, I didn’t know to want it. Certainly, I had preferences in the bedroom, but nothing that ever gave me pause… (at least I don’t think?).

      Anyway, yes. Thanks for your thoughts on this — you’re 100% right.

  8. What an eye opening post.

    I’ve done all four of these things, but looking back on it (which I’ve never done before – or even considered, really) more often than not it has been me completely invading my wifes personal space with complete and utter disregard to how it made her feel… and now that I know that I’m aware that I’ve done this before, it makes me kind of sick to my stomach at myself.

    I mean, I know that this wasn’t what your post was about, but still… Thank you for the impact it will have on me as a person.

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