Thursday, October 21, 2010

Active versus Passive Submission

The notion of submission being active or passive as discussed in David's post is intriguing to me. I consider these sort of ideas in terms of how they refer to my own submission so that I give them 'grounding' and I'd like to suggest that my sense of submission has elements of both passive and active submission that relate to how I think and to the requirements of the dominant.

Let’s start with how I think. The subliminal messages we send ourselves are made up of all sorts of life lessons; what our parents and teachers said; what our friends say; what we read and how we process all that information. Somewhere along the line, I got the message that a submissive woman like me should not ask for things. Rather, when and if the dominant was ready he would give me what he thought I needed. As David said,

“Submission that is a restrained response, because the girl is often restrained, and it sets a tone or pattern, and she often feels that is what is expected of her. That she is expected to be quiet and calm and still and respond, and certainly is not expected to initiate.”

In the context of my life, that notion did not function so well. I have a busy husband with lots of thoughts to distract him away from what the inner needs of his girl might be at any particular time and being passive and biding my time proved to be frustrating and debilitating. I thought I had to wait for him to notice that I was in need of his attention for it to be a legitimate submission and so not only was I out of kilter but I felt that we were out of kilter. That road of passivity had many slippery slopes.

In fairness, I have always been encouraged to ask for what I want/need and if I went to my husband in his study and asked him for a spanking, he would accommodate me, at least nine times out of ten. Unless he was on a conference call, I think I could seduce him too, at least nine times out of ten. He is not impartial to some impromptu tender loving care and he would rise to the challenge presented to him. (Yes, I did enjoy typing that sentence.)

But, for far too long I had this inner thought that this was not the way it was meant to be. He was meant to be the all-powerful, all-knowing Dominant/Top and my place was to be passive and wait.

I am over that sort of thinking now and our conversations are much more fluid. I certainly recognize that tact at such times comes in very handy and politeness is a prerequisite, but I do not feel it is wrong or bad to be active in my submission any longer and I operate on a basis of co-responsibility as to my sense of my submission and how that is playing out in my life.

Yet, a submissive can easily go one step too far in pursuing an active style of submission. David noted,

“I think submissives often feel that they walk that fine line between expressing themselves, and drawing his wrath for being un-submissive and attempting to grab control, and I suspect it tends to make a girl very passive.”

This is not an uncommon mistake for me to make and I offer a couple of examples of the sort of situation where active submission can get out of control.

Recently, I felt a certain apprehension about a situation and I made that point to my mentor. He listened carefully, as always. Perhaps it was my tone or perhaps he had a sense that the matter had spilled into that grey area where my trust in him to handle things was put into question. It was my turn to register his state of mind. Did I not think that he had taken these matters into account?

I immediately recognized that my point had been made and noted but that I was within a hair’s breadth of damaging the fine balance of our relationship and I immediately reverted back to my place; reclaimed by status as the bottom/student. As I see it, one can walk up to the line and even peek over, but one really must not venture over to the other side. There is a sense of order and fitness of things here and one gets to sense that within the relationship and adjust one’s modus operandi accordingly. Hence, submission is a flowing sort of entity, with some parts of the river requiring passivity and other stretches requiring an active submissive response.

Another example would be conversations with my husband about financial dealings where he tells me what is happening and I listen. I am welcome to ask questions always but I am highly discouraged from asking the same question twice or from offering my advice too freely. Our dynamic has evolved in that my trust in him is expected. I may not fully agree with the process he used to get us where he wants to go but I should know this and I should know it well: he will take care of me.

I suppose that sounds rather passive. I am not active in the process. I have not initiated too much except to request clarification, or ask a question or expression concern over something. But, in my life, according to my dynamic, that is enough. The sensitive balance of who leads and who follows requires that degree of passivity to function well.

Much of what I write, here in this post or in the journal generally is about a loving relationship or a relationship with good intent and tenderness. It is a relationship in constant movement and back and forth and one where balance will go awry, even ever so slightly sometimes. Adjustments and corrections are just part of the deal and thus my submission will move – from passive at one time to active in another. One feels one’s way through this because at the heart of submission is that one wants to please. I don’t think it is possible to get away from this notion in the submissive’s mind.

A submissive will look to her dominant as a guide as to how to conduct herself and I would like to suggest this thought. If he says he would like to see her show some initiative, then the time has come for her to cast off her preconceived ideas of submission. If he wants to feel her return his kiss passionately, then why not?

I find myself intrigued with the quote from BDSM: A Kinkster’s Guide in David’s post:

“"I don't want to be told not to sit on the toilet seat or denied an orgasm. I want to be conquered. I want to be dominated. I want to be subdued.”

It is the submissive mind set, I believe, to want to be subdued. I live for those moments when my husband comes to me and without fanfare takes me, is rough with me even and has his way. It goes to the core of what makes me feel alive; feminine; cherished (as odd as that may sound to some ears).

But, I cannot agree that I don’t want to be denied an orgasm necessarily because my mindset is that I do relish being controlled, be it subtle control which I find incredibly erotic or forceful control. In my mind, obedience is part of control and control is part of feeling the submission; or better put, part of feeling that I am interacting with the dominant. There is passivity to these situations and I think it is a passive submission for a reason: because I want to be dominated.

At the end of the day, each relationship will function according to the people involved but for it to truly work well I think the dominant has to get across how he would like his submissive to behave. This is often not a well defined statement of law but something said in passing and I have learned to listen carefully to the dominant. His preferences are there somewhere just as he observes her closely to determine best how to control his submissive to keep her happy and in her mode. I think the submissive needs to be light footed, moving effortlessly from a passive to an active submission according to the needs of the day.

The best thing she can do, in my opinion, is to throw out the door preconceived ideas of what a submissive does or how a submissive should act and instead interact with her dominant in a cohesive, interactive way.

P.S. I've just realized that today is Love our Lurkers Day! This is the day once a year when bloggers invite those readers who have never left a comment before to say hello, or tell us what is on their minds. I just adore it when someone new takes the plunge and leaves me a comment and I invite readers to take this opportunity to join the fun and comeraderie. You are most welcome as are the regular commenters, of course. And, thank you to Bonnie at My Bottom Smarts for continuing this initiative.


  1. Hi .. i admit to being a lurker for a few weeks now ..

    I really appreciate your writing ..

    gives me an understanding of myself as a sub.

    Sorry to be anonymous .. just haven't set up any account yet!


  2. Vesta,
    This (and David's post) have certainly made me think. I think that i really just have a lot more to learn and maybe practice. Right now it all feels active, it all takes effort, internal or external, or both, effort to do and often effort to keep from doing or saying or being a certain thing.

    I know that what is presented to the world, or at least to the Dom is what you refer to here, is what counts. This just made me consider it from the process vs the results point of view.

  3. Vesta,

    Yours was the first blog I ever was brave and commented on. Almost a year ago.

    This was an interesting post, as was David's. I've been paying particular attention to the active vs passive acts in my life as well this week. Often I get advice that I need to tell my Husband how I feel about things. I want to be passive and keep my feelings to myself, but it doesn't work that well for us when I do that either.


  4. Excellent post! Part exploration, ... part celebration, I think.

    That quote from the Kinkster's guide hit me too. I wonder if part of a submissive's mindset is an inability to be a dominant for oneself ("inability" is not quite right), so that authority is sought elsewhere. Or maybe that's just me lol.


  5. Dear S: No problem. I remember when I didn't have an account set up either. Thank you for leaving me a comment and I hope you'll comment again.

    GG: In terms of effort, does the need to make an effort really ever go away? Certainly, many things about submission become ingrained and just feel totally natural to me now. But, there will always be moments when I have to make a supreme effort to restrain myself from saying something or other. Dominant men are really awfully demanding sods at times (sorry guys but it is true) and whilst I wouldn't have it any other way really, I think it will remain an effort for me to contain and restrain myself to the extent that they would seem to like. Putting a positive spin on that, it remains a challenge, which I rather think is what we want, in any case.

    Serenity: I am really touched this journal was the first you ever commented on. I remember with complete clarity sitting crossed legged on my bed with my laptop making use of delurkers day to leave my very first comment. I used a really silly name as an alias (yes, I was that much of a scaredy cat) and eventually changed it to Vesta. It seems like a couple of lifetimes ago but I can still feel the excitement of taking that leap of faith.

    Yes, men tend to say that they want to know what is wrong, or what is on the submissive's mind. Whilst I think communication is vital, of course, self preservation has me keeping things to myself (you wouldn't believe it given I have written millions of words here, would you?) because honestly, they really don't need to know every thought that runs through our heads at all. (and that is why we chat amongst ourselves!!!!!)

    PL: Thank you! Yes, always exploring and taking any opportunity to celebrate, for sure.

    In that quote I think she was saying that she wanted to feel the dominance rather than be told to act like a submissive. It is rather subtle that, but I think I understand. It is the primal need to be taken. Girls like me like to feel control in any number of ways and being denied an orgasm, for example, is a good/bad thing. There is something in the good/bad mix that is incredibly arousing for us.

  6. I'm a little late to commenting, but I really love your blog. I have recently started my own blog documenting the training of my Lovely slut wife toy be my submissive. I love reading about the thinking of a woman from the submissive side. I have already learned a lot about Dominating from reading your blog. Feel free to read my blog and let me know what you think. I would really appreciate any of your thoughts.

  7. Just starting to try to figure out what I want, thank you for your post.