Arms Race

September 22, 2007

My Master and i have both noted that as couples progress in D/s (and probably BDSM in general), there’s something of an arms race effect. Limits are broken or pushed, so new limits must be sought and pushed on in turn. The things that in the beginning were incredibly powerful signs of domination and submission become everyday.

Plenty of other people have written about the paradoxical role that the submissive plays in D/s. In our relationship, my Master has noted that he can only experience his dominance through me, and through my submission. Everything must be filtered through the submissive, and the paradox is that she holds great power that way. She can obey her Master’s demands, and on the surface appear to be submitting, but not be really submitting where it actually matters, in her heart and her mind. This “filtering” is relevant in all D/s relationships, i think, but particularly in long-distance or online relationships, where there are few or no ways for the dominant to “know” except through the submissive.

So my Master frequently sets me tasks or asks me questions that help Him feel what i am feeling. He is concerned that things – like capitalization, like responding “Yes, Sir” – not become perfunctory. But in some way it seems inevitable. Not that they become perfunctory, really, but that they become natural, and thus seem perfunctory. Many things that i do that once made me very aware of my submission are now just the things that i do, and i can hardly remember doing them differently. i am profoundly changed – which is exactly what He wants – but that necessarily means i don’t feel whatever it is as submission as strongly as i did once, and thus, neither does my Master.

It is another paradox of this dynamic. He wants two things – one, for my submission to become so ingrained that it’s a part of me, a part of my core, a part of who i am. But He also wants my submission to be a little bit difficult, so that i’m always aware of it.

And that’s where the arms race comes in. Since He feels my submission only reflected through me, He needs to give me more and new things toexperience at the conscious level so that He gets that reflection. And while so far, each of those things deepens my submission and strengthens our relationship, i don’t think the arms race can continue indefinitely. Is there a point where the D/s arms race reaches it’s own version of the 80’s era cold war mutual assured destruction? i sure hope not, and that we find our comfortable balance point before then. in the meantime, i’m just going to sit back and enjoy the ride.


  1. This is a very interesting question, one which is worth more consideration than a short comment permits. The need to constantly renew the relationship isn’t only a feature of D/s. Vanilla marriages also require constant work. But, you are right, in D/s rituals quickly become normalised and thus can lose their power. I doubt there’s an easy answer. It just means lots of work for the Dom!

  2. I’ve just found your blog and I think this post makes some great points! I’m going to link to you, I hope you don’t mind.


  3. Thanks amabel, and welcome. i love links – most appreciated!

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