Is submission learnable?

As much as the idea of training as a universally recognized path to Doing Submission Correctly irritates the shit out of me, I do actually think that some parts of submission can be practiced. To be entirely clear, the fetishy idea that there is such a thing as The Marketplace and one correct way to submit and you just have to learn the right way to kneel, the right way to beg, and you’re set forever is completely ridiculous. That is how scenes work, but that is not even slightly how relationships work and I really wish people could keep that shit straight.

When I talk about submission being learnable, I am absolutely not talking about anything anyone would ever jerk off to in any situation ever. I’m talking about boring relationship skills that take work to learn and that don’t get anyone off.

Now that everyone who thinks that submission is exclusively about what gets them off is gone, let’s talk about specific skills.

The first and most important thing you can learn is who you are and what it is you really want. One thing that will come in handy here is a BDSM checklist. Yep, checklists sound boring don’t they. Do it anyway. One of the big strengths of checklists is that they include stuff you had never thought about, which is really useful when you’re trying to work out what you want and what you don’t. One of many things that particularly annoys me is when “submissive” guys act shocked and surprised that a dom is interested in something that doesn’t make his dick hard. You can parially avoid that by finding a comprehensive list of kinks, thinking about each one of them, figuring out which ones you would ever want to do, and more importantly, accepting that there are kinks that don’t turn you on. You should never ever treat it as a terrible surprise that a woman is interested in something that you aren’t. Women are people and have their own desires, etc, etc.

Another thing I highly recommend, and which I stole directly from Ferns, is to literally write down your idea of an ideal normal day with your partner. If you don’t have a partner, this is going to be a little bit harder, but try to imagine a reasonable human being who doesn’t live to fulfil your fantasies and has a job and hobbies and friends and maybe wants to see her family now and then. The key here is to think about a normal day, not like day 3 of your most intense fantasy of 24/7 slavery or whatever. When you get up in the morning, what happens? Do you get up early to make coffee for your partner and bring it to her in bed? Are you the least morning-person ever to hate mornings? In that case maybe you stay up after she goes to bed to set up the coffee maker so she only has to hit one button before she gets into the shower. What happens when you get home from work? Do you get started on dinner right away so she can have a nice meal when she gets home? Do you get home after she does and take the dog for a walk so she can make dinner without worrying about that? Do you check in before you leave work and see if she needs you to pick anything up on the way home? Do you wait for her to give you permission before you start eating? Do you keep it strictly vanilla until after dinner or until bedtime? Does she control small choices like what you wear to work or does she want you to take care of the little things so she doesn’t have to worry about them? Do you check in with her during the way, or do you both concentrate on your work? No judgement from me either way, but you want to be on the same page about that. Personally I like some contact with my partner throughout the day but I can in no way be bothered to give him permission to use the bathroom or go for lunch or have another cup of tea.

For me, micromanagement is so much more work than I’m interested in. For another person, that may be how she shows love and how she likes to run her relationships. That’s why it’s important to figure out what you want, so you can tell people what you want, look at what they want, and figure out if there’s any chance at all you might be compatible. Knowing what you want is absolutely essential to communicating clearly with a potential partner, and communicating clearly with a potential partner is absolutely essential to actually having a happy d/s relationship.

Another thing that’s possible to practice is letting someone else be in charge. You can do it at work, right? And you’ve definitely accepted assignments from your teachers, whether that was in high school or college/university. It is a bit of a leap to accepting orders in a personal and/or romantic relationship, but that just takes practice. It’s not exactly the same thing, but theoretically it should be possible to practice taking orders with people who aren’t your dom. Think about what lets you do it in some situations and see what you can apply to taking orders from your dominant girlfriend.

It’s entirely unsexy, but something that could really help is meditating on a regular basis. No seriously, a big part of meditation is watching your thoughts as they pass by and learning that you don’t necessarily have to do anything about it just because you had a thought. You can figure out how this would apply to submission, right? Just because you have a reaction to an order in the moment doesn’t mean you need to freak out about it, maybe you just need to sit with it for a minute and think about whether it’s really you who has a problem with it or whether it’s just societal programming that says men should always be in charge or whether it’s just weird for you to take orders outside of your fantsies and you need a little practice.

Communication skills are also immensely useful. Not sexy, but useful, which I think is why they come up so rarely. One way to learn better communication skills is to learn about non-violent communication. In an emotionally charged situation, it can be really helpful to talk strictly about how you feel about another person’s actions and not make value judgements about those actions. There’s plenty of other advice about communication skills online if you google it. If non-violent communication doesn’t do it for you that doesn’t mean there isn’t something out there that will work better. And to be clear, NVC only works when everyone involved has good intentions. People can and do use NVC to be total douchebags and you need to be aware of that and to stand up for youself. If someone uses whatever communication skills or SJW language they have to make you feel like you’re a terrible person, ask youself why they’re still spending time around you if you’re so terrible. Hint: the answer is they want to control you.

To summarize, know thyself, understand that kinks that don’t do it for you exist, practice giving up control, mediate, and learn to communicate. None of those are sexy but I promise they’ll get you a lot farther toward finding a partner and having a happy relationship than babbling on about “training” as if that’s an actual thing that exists outside The Marketplace.


2 thoughts on “Is submission learnable?

  1. Hint: the answer is they want to control you.

    And not in a sexy consensual-kink kinda way! 😛

    This is a really really good post. I’m not even a sub and it’s giving me ideas for my own life and relationships. 🙂 I especially like the parts about how there are different paths to the same end (e.g. causing coffee to be available for someone else with near-zero effort on their part), and how you can learn to watch your thoughts and not necessarily leap to act on them. (I tell you what, being properly medicated for certain brain glitches does wonders on that score, and it is a fascinating experience. :D)

    Plus I like when people give actual alternatives to bullshit fantasy tropes. (And then people who want to kink on training can, but don’t have to expect it to work magic, either.)

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