Tilting at windmills is an apt metaphor for chasing after things that might never exist
The Mistress I used to see is an artist. She is a beautiful, interesting woman. She is a consummate professional, and the architect of incredible experiences. She is also more than capable of keeping a string of submissives—a feat in itself. When I think of all of the incredible and unexpected things that her artistry brought to my life [surely the subject of a future post], I am floored by their beauty. She has touched my life in so many realms: spiritual, ethical, moral, creative, sexual, emotional…and has helped give me a little push as I set my own life in a new direction. What a gift. I shant squander it.
With all that, how could one ask for more?
I did and I didn’t. I do and I don’t.
There are three things that motivated me to seek out a person to submit to in the first place. Love was the first. I have wondered about the possibility of love between a man and a woman, a boy and a girl, when felt in the context of power exchange ever since I was little. I wanted to be the flower, a flower, and to touch and connect and to love with innocence. Being pretty and engaging gingerly, tenderly. Already when small, I knew that I admired, respected, and was drawn to strong women. Confident women. Women who knew themselves. Women who were leaders. [It’s funny, but as soon as I discovered it was a thing, I have fallen in love with the idea of wrestling with a Dominatrix. There are a few who specialise in this, and in truth, I don’t even want to fight back, but rather to just feel their strength overpower me].
In my case, this has also meant forward women. I had a problem with being the pursuer–no matter how attracted I was to a woman, I couldn’t do this–in part because it might send the “wrong” signal about the type of person I was, but more literally, I associated this behaviour with a kind of male toxicity that I was exposed to growing up that I wanted to have nothing to do with. I have always wanted a woman to knock me out and drag me back to her cave by my hair. Metaphorically speaking (I think). A woman who could make me ache with desire, make me whimper, and make me go out of my head. To turn me into a puddle. Is it any wonder that I find the Dominatrix the pinnacle of female beauty?
[As an aside, I once told Mistress that if I were a woman, had been born an actual woman, I would want to be just like her…and in truth, that is exactly how I feel. I’m not sure she really liked that. A lesbian friend of mine once told me that is how she processes attraction—that when she sees a woman and develops a crush on her, that her first feelings are that she wishes to be her. This is a topic that I shall look forward to exploring in therapy, as it also sits at the heart of dysphoria—when I see a woman that I am genuinely attracted to, I wonder what it would be like to be her. Should I get to know her, this feeling goes away, and is soon replaced by wanting to be with her, but the origins are thus].
And indeed, many a pro-Domme plays with this in her marketing. Fetish power clothes. The designer Thierry Mugler played with that for years. Gucci and Philip Plein play with it now. We are entering an age of female power. One can at least hope. In the case of the Dominatrix, the clothes and all the gear have become symbolic of these things, all power to the symbolic! As much as I find this attire can be sexy and hopefully empowering, in truth I find a woman dressed in a down-to-earth way even more powerful. The clothes are a form of advertising. While the sexy outfits might appeal to a fetishistic vein, and speak of “getting off”, I find dissonance from the dress code as I am not sure for whom the outfit has been donned. Many men are drawn to the sexy outfits. Is it just because a typical man feeds on the visual? What I don’t know is the degree to which a submissive man, one who is a client of a professional dominatrix, is in search of love or is in search of getting off. Is the visual an indicator of the latter? Can the two can be separated?
In my case, in a year of seeing a Dominatrix, I never had an orgasm. It was not something I pursued or cared about, and it was not something that she encouraged. I was, however, insanely aroused just by sitting near her or talking to her. Sometimes so much that I felt I couldn’t move.
The few times I stayed in the same hotel as she did while she sessioned I provided her with my towels and extras so as to not draw attention to her use of towels. I never asked about the explicit need for towels in part because sometimes it is just embarrassing to be as naïve as I am. But I have to admit I often wondered what the towels were for. Any one of a number of readers could surely explain to this me.
The Love Question
There is an underlying nature to the kind of woman I love. Strong, confident, dominant. But what I don’t know, is the kind of man that such a woman loves in return. And more specifically, the Dominatrix.
The internet is filled with men who lament the general absence of dominant women–including me, and this is a post I wrote on the topic. Separately, one of my favourite bloggers has written an articulate rebuttal on this line of thinking—and she is herself a lifestyle dominant woman. There are many others. Some noteworthy dominant women are great educators and writers, and it is beautiful to read about their loves and their quests for love. So the cynical man who says that the truly dominant woman doesn’t exist is not correct. And yet, I still wonder if we socialise women away from a “softer” man.
Ditto the cynical man who says the pro-Domme is a construct. That many of them take their Domme hats off when they hang up their whips and are just as fragile and soft as anyone else. I take issue with that idea. First, who says fragile and soft are not simply aspects of the human condition, characters that have nothing to do with domination and submission. Second, who says that the sex act itself between a man and woman is one of male dominance through penetration? I had three sex partners in my life who absolutely ravaged me every time we fxxxed—there was no doubt in my mind who was taking who.
While I am sure there are some professional Dominatrixes who “play dress up” or who are not genuinely dominant in this way in their lives, I suspect that they are the minority. A very small one too. I do not believe that one can do what a Dominatrix does without actually feeling it, believing it, getting off on it—at least not if she wishes to do it well. I never for a moment doubted how naturally dominant the Mistress I saw was. And that is not just an active state of being, it is also a passive one—it just is.
The emotional landscape of women feels much more complex to me than that of the typical man. Society might interpret this as a weakness, but it is a strength. Collectively we are adjusting to this idea, and more and more all of the sexes and genders are finding voices that are more than what is permitted in their box—that the box simply doesn’t serve. A woman’s range of emotion, but also her ability to express it, to articulate it, is incredibly powerful. Perversely, society has dismissed being emotional as being “female” or “weak”, but this is a function of men not having the range, of being overwhelmed by emotion, of being unable to counter it in argument. I am optimistic that we have crossed the rubicon and that we are all learning the value of being able to speak with emotion.
When I think of speaking and feeling with emotion, it is allowing the heart to breathe, to have its voice. I have written about crying. I love crying. Not the sad kind, but the overwhelming and delicious kind. If I were to boil down into its essence what I went to a Dominatrix for, it was to be helped to cry. And for that to be all right. Encouraged even, coaxed towards, and then held as the sobs wracked my body.
I believe that a woman is looking for a partner who can meet her in emotional complexity. I don’t mean that she makes you cry and you do and then she loves you, but rather, that you too have a full range of emotions–that you can speak from the heart, that you can listen with your heart, and that you wear your heart on your sleeves–that you love and feel with intensity, and that it is all there. A strong man is not disturbed by this, can grow into it, and is prepared to adapt to and to meet her needs in this place.
A good man also does not play games. A good man is constant and solid. A few lines from Sonnet 116:
…Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.William Shakespeare…Lines from Sonnet 116
This is the foundation of any deep love relationship. An ability to meet one another and to fulfil one another in the emotional realm. We are desperately inadequate, imperfect creatures. I feel it in myself in every way.
Marriage as an Anchor
To lose my wife, a pillar of my own identity, is a hard pill to swallow. My own parents did not succeed in marriage. Perhaps this was a good thing, but I have only come to understand that as an adult. As a child there was just a wound, a sorrow that we were not a family. There was also a strong sense of failure, their failure, and that I would not make the same mistakes, or fail in this endeavour. I have written about how my own family has come to regard my marriage as unshakeable.
D/s is simply an intensifier. A flavour enhancer. But it isn’t the dish itself. And is this what session D/s is about? Is it the dish itself?
In and out of session
From the start there was a struggle in me between what happened in session and what happened outside of it. In session, there is ritual, and there is surely fun, but it was often rooted in the sexual, or ritual that was at its root sexual. After all, naked male, clothed female is putting things very quickly into that realm. And while I enjoyed those experiences very much, it was almost as if it was too much—like I went into a kind of tilt mode. I said to Mistress a few times that we could just skip this part. And indeed, I enjoyed the gentle domination the most—the kind that was so light it was almost not there…the kind that felt as if it was laced into daily life, the kind that felt part of me, my character, who I am. And I can imagine that as a professional, that might be disorienting, as the session is such a clear and delineated concept.
She expressed the importance of the session and interpreted my discomfort at the overtly sexual nature of it at times to be exactly what I needed, as uncomfortable as it made me feel. I deferred to her experience and in truth, I will likely never know who was right…and this is in part because being the following partner in this dance, sits at the core of my identity. I was happy to follow wherever she wanted to go.
In other words, D/s in this sense becomes a state of being. In order for me to get there, to feel it coursing through me at all times, there were many steps for me to take, most of which do not come easy for me. Most importantly of all is the willingness to open your heart, to let yourself get hurt, to learn from it, and to try again.
Love and Intimacy
I never quite managed to decouple these concepts. I wrote recently about the Trust Equation, and though its formulation seems to have changed a bit over time, the essential concept remains that intimacy is a function of the inverse relationship between trust and risk. The riskier something is, the more trust needs to be in place for intimacy to work. I never doubted for a moment the kind of sexual trust that was required to play with Mistress. Never for a moment doubted that she would be there for me in that realm no matter what happened in session…and because we were spelunking in the depths of sexuality, where all kinds of odd beasts might come to the surface, this was reassuring. It is through play with her that I was finally able to let my non-binary self actually be in the room, actually come out. This is a gift that I will carry to my grave, and one that is mightily precious. It might seem small or unimportant to someone who has not lived the shame side of a trans existence, but to find that an aspect of the very essence of you is no longer a source of shame and pain but one of joy is some powerful juju. I don’t think that anyone other than the Holy Trinity of Mother, Father, and God who gave me Life have ever given me such an important and blessed gift. And I know exactly the moment that it happened.
But there was also something else at play. The rest of life. Sex and sexuality are primordial. But the space we were playing in was not just the space of sexuality, but of my entire life. What I was doing, where things might go, what D/s might mean in the context of an entire life, well that is a kind of risk that plays out on an entirely different level. It is something that requires a level of trust that is no longer bounded by sessions. It also therefore requires a level of intimacy that cannot be seen or had or conceived of in the context of a session-based relationship. I don’t know whether the concept of Provider-Client breaks down in this; perhaps I am naïve to think that provider-client makes no difference. After all, what is marriage? Just another form of agreement.
Can someone really own a slave?
Well, the answer is surely yes. Is owning a slave fundamentally inconsistent with life? No. But I think owning a slave must be a lot of work. We did speak of this from time to time. And how this might come to pass. It takes a great deal of time and effort to allow for something like this to come into being.
In my conception of things, a slave is not a primary partner. I wonder, however, if for some this is the case. It was not something that I really sought or felt I needed. And part of me wonders if that was not in itself an elephant in the room. Would that not be some kind of rumbling source of trouble, a brewing resentment that lay in the future towards other secondary or tertiary partners, or to the primary partner? I don’t know. I learned of the word compersion from Mistress when I expressed genuine joy at some of the experiences she shared with me. And it was odd, as for the first time in my life I never felt a pang of jealousy about anything she got up to. And with my partners from my vanilla life, there was always a period especially at the beginning of a relationship, before the trust had fully settled in, where this was the case. Yet, here, not once.
The elephant in the room in this case is sex and sexuality. Am I deluding myself to think that sex and sexuality doesn’t sit at the root of my desire to submit? Is she right to think that it is desire that is the base of the relationship? Is it nuts of me to think that seeking out and buying a bag of rare red walnuts is what got me aroused, rather than something else? Was not touching her, not having sex with her, exactly what drew me to her? This idea of not being able to “have” her? I don’t know.
I have grown to understand that many clients have difficulties with the boundaries laid out by providers. I am one of them. It appears that most clients have the sexual boundary as the one they wrestle with. That they really just want to “jump her bones”. If that is the case, I suppose they can find their way to an escort who is willing to go there. Even though this was not ever the boundary that I struggled with, and I write often about my tangled relationship with the sex act, it is a path I am tempted by. In this way, what I could never have experienced with Mistress, this idea that a session is a session and it is a beautiful contained bubble, is something I could achieve and respect with an escort. Why?
This is confusing AF. For some reason, however, the idea that sex could be felt and experienced in a bubble, in a safe space, is something I can wrap my head around. I am terrified of sex. Terrified of sexual intimacy. Terrified of being male, of expressing that part of me. To be able to experience another person in a sensual and sexual way and to do so within the boundaries of a session is quite possibly the only way I could ever do it and not go into an emotional tailspin after. In other words, it would be such a relief to explore this part of me within the bounds of a professional relationship, where the boundaries themselves were what would make it possible, would actually enhance the experience.
I just read a beautiful blog post on the topic of boundaries—so well written, and so easy to understand. Here it is.
For some reason I can wrap my head around those ideas without any dissonance within the context of a “date” or an adult sexual relationship. For some other reason that I cannot yet fathom, the idea of this in the context of a D/s relationship, including the one I first had, is impossible for me. I did tell Mistress the last time I saw her that if our relationship was purely session based, purely “play”, I would likely have never done it. There was something so completing about it, so complete about her, that this kind of emotional boundary fence would never hold. There is something about D/s, about the power dynamic, and about the intensity of the love bond that forms, or at least that I felt and feel, that for some reason made it very hard, if not impossible, to keep my feelings happily inside the box.
Being with her was way too emotionally and spiritually deep and also disorienting in a positive way, that a desire for intimacy would rise up…and perverse as it may seem, it was the absence of sex that intensified this. It is kind of nuts, but I found in her a kind of wholeness and completeness that made it impossible for me to put her in a box, or for me to be able to wish to put my feelings for her in a box. And the obvious need to do so, to respect her boundaries, became the seed that made it impossible for us to interact.
And given the choice between a little or nothing, I chose nothing.
Finding someone else
Please excuse the language in this coming paragraph, but they are the words and the context that my friend uses, and help to give colour.
A very close friend of mine, a man, loves to frequent prostitutes. I met one of his “friends” once and we had a very puzzling conversation about his desire, his need, what he looked for. For context, my friend is a wealthy, generous, teddy bear of a man. He is happily married with children. But ever since I have known him, from the times before he married, he frequently went to see “whores”.
The one I met him with was not what you might call attractive. I remember asking him about it, as he could have easily chosen someone who was. His response surprised me.
“Why on earth would I want that? She’s a whore. I want to be with a whore. If I was attracted to her I might actually fall for her. Then what?”
The dissonance for me happened on so many levels. For one, to touch someone that I wasn’t attracted to would be a struggle [there goes my career in sex work]! But more importantly, I couldn’t imagine being sexual with someone without intimacy. But there is a valuable lesson for me in his words—boundaries. He knew where his own boundaries were, he knew where her boundaries were, and he sought out the kind of person that would not put at risk his respect for those boundaries.
What if I replace the word whore with “dominatrix”? Therein lies my dilemma. There are several dominatrixes that I have spotted in the Twittersphere who I believe I would love to be with, but why won’t I just have the same thing happen all over again? And I am not playing the movie “Pretty Woman” in my head. This idea that an SW will fall in love with me and give up her “wanton” life and be with me. No, I love them as they are…and would hate for them to change because of me. What am I saying?
I would only ever want to be with a dominatrix that I would have a deep respect for, would enjoy the company of, would find beautiful, fun, good company–in other words, the conditions that foster love. Am I not just setting myself up again? But would I want it to be any different? I can’t get my head around the idea of just “play”. Why?
There are stories of SWs falling for their clients, and I guess that does happen. One such tale I heard resulted in the D/s parts of the relationship dying to the point where the male in the couple ended up seeking D/s outside of the relationship—and yet what started the relationship in the first place is that he was submitting to a pro-Domme. That isn’t what I would want. Would it be great if she was genuinely enjoying herself? Would it be great if she genuinely wanted to see me? Would it be great if we both really had a great time together? Yes, absolutely.
Something more is going on for me. There are other emotional needs at play. Companionship. Friendship. Support for one another’s projects. Emotional relevance. What is that? That I will be there for you…but more importantly, that you want me to be there for you. [And silly me, of course I understand that probably every client would want to be there for their Domme—hence the pingback]. Would it be even better if a D/s relationship also included friendship. You bet. After all, one of the very best parts of being with someone in such an intense way is how their worldview shapes the dynamic…and this is born from how they live their lives. Is it unrealistic to think that I might find a Domme that allows for this kind of relation to flourish? Maybe, but there is still hope.
And maybe these things are the foundations of marriage or of love relationships, and as such are incompatible with a Master/slave relationship that does not also encompass these things. I really don’t know. I also don’t know whether a Master/slave relationship can survive or thrive without sex.
Is it possible to be a Daddy at the same time as being a slave? I feel torn by this desire to nurture and care for and the dynamic with a pro-Domme…I mean aren’t they kind of in opposition? I hope not…There was a curious moment where Mistress and I discussed doing something together that involved a joint emotional experience. She was disinclined to do it with me as she felt that I would be protective of her. I could see that she was right in the sense that I am always protective of those I come to love. So too does the dog protect its master.
And that brings me full circle. Am I Don Quixote chasing after something that doesn’t exist? Can love exist in the deep emotional sense without sex? Does the absence of sex in my case only speak to the particular “trauma” I experienced as a child? This idea that to express myself sexually as a man turns me into an abuser because I grew up seeing masculinity as brutish and nasty?
And if the meaning of life is love, how on earth am I going to find it if I can’t come to terms with these things? So, I don’t know if I will “find” someone else in this sense. There can be no replacement for the Mistress I no longer see. Part of that will be the uniqueness of any dynamic. Another part is who she represents: she remains for me one of the most beautiful women in the world, one of the most glorious and fascinating and wonderful and enchanting people I have ever met. But also, part of it is this question hanging over me of whether it is appropriate to look for such things.
Given the ongoing dissolution of my marriage, I am glad that I am not actively in this D/s relationship as I am sure it would have interfered with my decision-making in ways that would have been inappropriate. Just as a dominatrix is not a therapist, she should also not become a crutch, or something we turn to because we do not have strength in our own lives. And in a way, therein lies the answer to my most fundamental question: what is a Dominatrix going to find that they love in a partner? And here, I use that word partner deliberately. I do not mean equals, but I do mean equity—that the give and take is deep and fulfilling for both. In nature and degree.
I have begun the process of finding someone else, or at least of playing with others. I don’t know what I will feel or how I will do, and I do have still a lingering feeling that I wasn’t very good at being submissive to the person I was seeing, in part because I failed to do what I set out to do…but I also know that what I sought with her proved to be an impossibility.