Understanding the underlying motivation
I participated in an educational class on how to be a dominatrix recently, which was absolutely wonderful. I will write about it soon but let me just say how uplifting it is that many lifestyle Dommes and professionals in the BDSM community take on the mantle of educators. Such learning sessions, as well as books and forums, etc allow us to explore in a very safe environment, when there are really no strings attached—that your question and the answer can float without fear of being bent to the will of someone with an agenda. This is not to say that a love partner or a connected provider would not answer truthfully, but the possibility that their answer was laced with expectations about you, and not protected by the cloak of anonymity, means it cannot be purely trusted.
On this class someone raised the question of how pro-Dommes feel about clients who see many providers as opposed to practicing loyalty to one. I have read on Twitter many instances of providers expressing a desire for “monogamy” amongst their submissive clients. There seem to be two reasons for this. First is that there is depth and emotion involved in a BDSM relationship. It is a kind of work in a way, and in order to allow for that work to flow in a direction which is consistent, it requires a dance of two. The second reason seems to have to do with professional ethics. It isn’t ok to poach clients, and sharing or sessioning with someone else’s “property”, slave, sub, is generally frowned upon.
The Domme Collector
The answer to the question took an amusing turn as it referred to “Domme Collectors”, a kind of sub who has to try them all. The presenters had a laugh as they were clearly thinking about one or two individuals.
They also referred to someone who is unmistakably my submissive hero, a person in whose life I see many parallels to my own, and who has written beautifully and eloquently of his adventures in the land of kink. In his case they referred to the deep connection he has with his owner, but that he plays under her overall guidance with several others.
The Importance of Experience
As I processed how I felt about the original question (why do you want to see other Dommes?), I thought back to my days dating, and my search for a life partner. I married late, and this was important to me, not by design, but in retrospect, it was vital because I learned not just what I wanted, but also how to be in such an important relationship. I don’t wish to convey a sense that everyone who preceded my wife was practice, and many, if not most, of those earlier relationships were healthy and fulfilling, and each one got progressively closer to being the right one…And when I did finally find a marriage partner, I could settle into the thought that a lot more was right than was not, and could forget about the things I wasn’t getting.
And that largely proved correct. In the end, I underestimated the poison of sublimating the self. But there was and is no certainty that being the self, need lead to a definitive rupture. I still hold out hope that there can be a future.
In this sense, the “Domme Collector” has gone beyond the educational value of seeing others. I do not criticise. There is certainly a point of diminishing returns, however, there is also value in learning how to relate and how to be with a Domme. [I make the distinction between the professional here and the lifestyle Domme, who I believe follows the more traditional monogamous pattern]. In other words, the Domme Collector is not gaining the implied benefit of being focussed on one Domme, and therefore misses that intensity.
On the other hand, having experience of more than one is a way to learn not just how to be, but also what to expect, and is also an opportunity to refine what you are looking for. Are we not in search of experiences? Isn’t this the point?
The First Reason I wanted to see Other Dommes
There was a point fairly early into my experience with a Domme that my feelings began to change from ones of ecstasy, a largely self-referential feeling, to ones of directional intensity—in other words that it wasn’t just about how she made me feel but how I felt about her. I saw that as problematic. I didn’t really want to go there. A Dom friend of mine told me, “you’re fucked.” I didn’t process it that way, and still don’t know if I should have. In this sense, the idea of seeing other Dommes was about managing my feelings, making sure that I not become at all attached, or at least seriously diminish its chances.
This is exactly what the Twittersphere is referring to as undesirable—ie. that if you hold back, you miss out on the connection. I don’t know if that is the case as I have no reference, but I suppose it makes sense. It is also why I would never go to a lifestyle Domme, because the risks are too high from an emotional standpoint. When all is said and done, one can love a professional Domme and not have that creep into your daily life, because the professional boundary is there.
The domme I saw often drew the parallel between what she does and what a therapist does. Of course it is different in important ways. But the truth is, that both parties hold space for you. It is also common for a client to fall in love with a therapist. The context is what keeps it clean. My main therapist recently drew this same parallel. “It is very clear that her role [the Domme] is very similar to mine. I had not appreciated that before.” I am sure that every Domme is different, but in the case of the one I saw, this was definitely true. But also, since we co-create a dynamic, I wonder the degree to which this was a reflection of my needs.
Either way, I saw the potential need to branch out as a way to help manage my own emotions, to prevent attachment, and to help me manage my own boundaries and my respect for hers. This is not something we ever talked about.
The Second Way I thought it relevant to see other Dommes
We did speak from time to time about the idea of “doubles” at her instigation. I think that this type of play is fun for the Domme…and indeed, the light-heartedness that seems possible, would be highly desirable. But here, there were a number of Dommes within the orbit of Mistress who I also found I was drawn to. And also some budding young apprentices. And I thought of, and fantasised about, being sent to these others for specific things—types of training, but always under her direction as the lead party.
There was an aspect of not wanting to do certain things with Mistress, things which I might explore with others. I could imagine levels of physical stress, violence, pain, that I had discovered I was both curious about, but also not wanting to go to with Mistress. I joked that I wanted to skip the session and just go straight to aftercare. But it wasn’t a joke.
In other words, her role in my life became more serious and deeper than one that was about kink. It became about personality identity, the self, being a fully actuated person…and it felt a little as is to make that about sex and sexuality was to severely limit it. The sex and sexuality part was something that I began to see as potentially outsourced to other providers, ones who could really just focus on one thing, and leave my relationship with the Domme to a higher purpose. And this could have been in any number of ways, from protocol training, to types of knowledge or classes, to things done in life or in therapy, etc…to be openly driving the self to grow.
The very first time I sessioned with Mistress and found myself with my first avalanche of emotions, and the tears came choking out, I asked her to help me grow, and to push me, to hold me to a high standard, to help me grow towards something she would admire and be proud of. I also asked that humiliation and degradation never be a part of our narrative. I was coming to her for healing and growth only.
Aftercare is life. If we are true to ourselves, then our lives are a form of session. What role the other? To be a person who helps recharge us, helps to give us strength to affront the challenges of life. Aftercare is also something we can give to ourselves, a form of self-love and healing.
In this sense, I saw Mistress as the architect, the holder of the master plan, one which she and I might have co-created, but the dirty work of development, change, exploration, etc. was divvied up amongst a wide variety of life experiences…some of these might be with Dommes, others might be reading, travels, meditation, who knows. In a way, these things, these milestones, are all inside of us, waiting to be discovered. The Domme in this case is a means of ensuring our success in achieving them.
There is no way that I could have made the personal progress that I made in life in the past year without the catalyst of the dominatrix. And while I feel some level of guilt for not being able to achieve this on my own or with my wife, the reality is that neither option would have been at all possible. I needed to unlock shame, and its corrosive effects. To let go of it. To hear that I can still be loved in my imperfection. And to be able to be truly and utterly naked in every sense of the word, showing the things which have caused our feelings of shame, and to do so in front of someone who not only doesn’t bat an eyelid, but is also encouraging and saying and coaxing and gently reassuring, is the most profoundly healing thing that I have ever done. And given the backdrop of disgust from my wife in these areas, that was a no-go within the bounds of this marriage. In a way, she is now the most potent form of shame-giver, as she holds a moral line about her vanilla-self and my kinky self.
Perhaps my wife had real wisdom so many years ago when she gave me permission to play with a professional. At the time I thought, “you must be joking, I’d never do that,” and for years the thought never crossed my mind. But in the past two years, I began to understand that I couldn’t live, quite literally, if I kept going in the same vein. I would not describe myself as a suicidal person, and yet, as almost any transgender person would highlight, dysphoria is deadly. [What is the statistic? 50% of all trans people have contemplated or attempted suicide v. 0.5% of the general population].
A series of life changes led me to a point that I had thought I had shaken free in therapy in my twenties, and I found myself literally at the edge, and I knew that not my wife or anyone else in my personal life could be there to help me. I knew that I needed therapy, and to confront this aspect of me. How did I articulate it? I needed to be whipped until I wept. I knew that. And that was my focus—to find someone who could hold space for me, who could take me into the darkness through the judicious administration of pain and use that as a means to trigger an avalanche of emotion.
Play and Intensity
And in this sense a Dominatrix for me was a logical port of call. Someone who plies the bywaters of sexuality and gender, and does so in a kink-positive, non-judgemental way. A whipping was emblematic of that. There are or were no doubt other ways to get at this—breath play for example.
And while sexuality sat at the heart of this, put simply, a need to stop judging myself, to accept myself, this did not mean sex itself. I described to my therapist this strong desire to “pry myself open” or to “burst myself open as if I were a watermelon dropped onto the ground” and it was an apt metaphor. I felt that the experience I was seeking with a Domme was there to force these things in me out into the open. My therapists all cautioned to be “gentle” with myself, but I felt I knew what I needed, and that was to confront the shame and let go of it.
And in this sense, the whip-wielding Dominatrix clad in fetish gear of lingerie was a kind of overload for me. I didn’t need or want her to be sexy, that wasn’t necessary. It wasn’t necessary for it to be sexually charged. Indeed, I took pains to say to Mistress that I had no need or desire for her to dress “sexy”—that for her to be just as she would be in her daily life would be far more powerful for me—because the idea that she might dress for me created dissonance—after all, a sub does not dictate these things…and I would not have been comfortable with the feeling that I might be influencing her in this way, sexualising her.
Funnily enough, she felt quite strongly that the sexual charge had to be there, and enjoyed provoking me in this regard. I explained it away as that approach is what she knows, it is familiar territory, it is what people will usually see a Domme for…and this idea of mine was essentially asking her to be constantly off-piste, which was likely rather disorienting.
Bonding with a Professional
I wasn’t sure whether it was acceptable to develop “love” feelings for a Domme. Since I was totally inexperienced, I was headed for a sensory overload. But having experienced developing “love” feelings for therapists, I was also aware of the parallels. This is why I went several times to meet with other professional Dommes, respected and experienced ones, who could help me process and understand what was going on. People who accompany us on journeys of major growth, become cherished companions, even long after they are gone.
Summary of Why I wanted to see other Dommes
This is it in a nutshell:
- First, I wanted to manage the depth of attachment, as I was concerned both that I might become too attached (and whether that was appropriate)—and this was there both as a self-protection mechanism but also from a sustainability standpoint, and not wanting to overload her with my own hopes, expectations, etc.
- Second, I needed to learn, and learning and making mistakes with just the one could potentially knock things off course;
- Third, experience is important…it is the ultimate teacher, and helps us understand what we truly want and need;
- Fourth, no one person has a monopoly on the truth, and it is important to find balance. Just as I have found balance and perspective with four therapists, each contributing in different ways, so too, could more than one Domme play a role;
- Fifth, outsourcing the “dirty work” would allow us to keep that primary power exchange free and clear to enable ongoing truth in communication and expectation.
What was her theory?
She asked, “why, all of a sudden, are you asking if it is okay to see other Dommes?” Her theory was that we were reaching a place that was uncomfortable for me, and that this was my way of running away rather than facing these challenges.
Not at all. I had been thinking along these lines for a very long time and had simply not brought it up out of fear that she would be of the “monogamous” school of thinking outlined at the beginning of this post. Not an impossibility, given the intensity of her style.
I also felt that the things that were making me uncomfortable in session with her had nothing to do with any of this, but simply to do with our own relationship. In other words, “the things I was running away from,” were things that I felt were either inaccurate, unhelpful, misdiagnosed or wrong, and that they didn’t make me feel good.
The other thing I had said the very first time we sessioned together is that I would do this for as long as it felt healthy, but the moment I felt that it was unhealthy, I would stop. This is a reflection of my life philosophy, that people who take energy from you have no place in your life, no matter who they are. In the end, this had nothing to do with playing with others.
I am deeply grateful to Mistress for the things that she helped me unlock, and while I am saddened that our paths have diverged, I will most certainly cherish her impact on me for the rest of my life. I wish her the best in all she does and dreams for.
And as for my wife, I will continue to have her back even if she turns hers away from me. I am stronger now than I have ever been, and I can see my way towards ever-growing strength. I can taste the future in the now, and I will no longer live for tomorrow, but only for right now. And right now must always be true.