Playtime Explored – The D/s Lifestyle Fantasy and Reality

somemastersneedtwoslavesi would like to look into what a “D/s Lifestyle” is. Although i know that people at various levels of experience and knowledge will be reading this, i have chosen to speak on a very basic level about the subject at hand. While some of you may find what i say here to be common, well-known information, please remember that many people new to D/s will find these same ideas new, and perhaps even shocking.

Paul Brown is Indiana Leatherboy 2013. He writes about explorations in leather and fetish and lives in southwestern Indiana. His column runs monthly.

Paul Brown is Indiana Leatherboy 2013. He writes about explorations in leather and fetish and lives in southwestern Indiana. His column runs monthly.

The problem in defining the D/s lifestyle is that there are really two D/s lifestyles. The first is the lifestyle of people actually engaged in full-time power-exchange relationships, living with one another.

The other D/s lifestyle is the one you are probably more familiar with: the culture of play parties and most of the infrastructure of the public SM subculture. Most, but not all, of the people involved in this subculture are engaged in one or another kind of fantasy life, which they are forced to or are allowing to substitute for a real life that accommodates their sadomasochistic needs. A few of them move away from this fantasy world into genuine and permanent relationships. Most, however, are lost forever in the fantasy subculture.

i realize, of course, that there are people who do not want more than this fantasy, or who cannot, for very good reasons, have more. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the fantasy world and the D/s subculture. Far too often, however, the effect of that D/s subculture is that it keeps people from understanding their genuine needs or from pursuing them.

By making the distinction between fantasy and reality from a number of perspectives, i hope to clarify why actually knowing what is real and what is not is essential, not only if you wish to define what a D/s lifestyle means for yourself but if you wish someday to live that lifestyle successfully and happily.

Distinguishing between D/s reality and fantasy is extremely difficult, if all you’ve encountered in life is D/s fantasy, as you have nothing else to compare the fantasy world to, no real experience that enlightens you as to either how true or how steeped in imagination are the attitudes or practices of others.

There are hundreds of realizations that make up the process of distinguishing fantasy from reality. Here are a few simple examples that I hope will give you an idea of the scope of this undertaking:

THE FANTASY: Every dominant, everywhere, must always be addressed deferentially as “Sir” (or “Ma’am,” if she is female), and possibly, obeyed as you would obey someone who actually owns you.

THE REALITY: Some dominants will hit you upside the head if you dare to address them in this way unless you know them really well. Not only does “Sir” assume a certain familiarity or the existence of a power exchange when none is actually there, but honest dominants do not want to be called by such a title unless they have, in your eyes, earned it.

THE FANTASY: A submissive who doesn’t wear a collar is not a true sub.

THE REALITY: True submissive is made by what they are inside, not by their or their Dom BDSM fashion sense. A sub is someone who is owned by another, period. If his owner doesn’t want him to wear a collar, that sub will not wear a collar.

The fantasy D/s lifestyle can be very attractive, especially to those who have not yet experienced the reality. It’s incredibly easy to be an “absolute sub” if your Dom lives hundreds of miles away from you and isn’t in your face all the time with resistance, anger, frustration, and other problems of training. It’s awfully easy to obey orders over a computer screen or a telephone, as the person ordering you can’t really see what you’re doing or know how well (or how poorly) you are carrying out each duty.

Some dominants and submissives who meet over the computer do attempt to take their relationships out of the realm of fantasy. They move in together and attempt to build a life as dominant and submissive. But, after the initial honeymoon period, which can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of years, trouble comes to paradise. Both the new submissive and the new dominant–despite possibly extensive cyber-sex experience (or perhaps because of it)–are usually extremely ill-equipped to deal with the problems and challenges that are part and parcel of trying to make one of the most difficult kinds of relationships in the world, a power exchange, work.

The problems that come up are quite extensive and complex to describe, but i’ve noticed that certain predictable patterns tend to repeat. One pattern is that the “dominant” in the relationship, after a number of months or years of acting the role, seems completely to lose his interest in controlling his submissive. He turns vanilla on him, and, if he has sincere submissive needs, he is, sexually, right back to where he was before he met him. Another extremely common pattern, in fact, i would go so far to say it happens in almost every D/s relationship, is that the submissive begins to resist his dominant’s control. He doesn’t want to obey his day-to-day orders. He finds doing what he says unpleasant. he gets upset when they do scenes together. And, seeing this unattractive behavior in himself, he begins to question whether he really is submissive or not. There are dozens more problems that pop up when people try to move from fantasy to reality.

But often, because they’ve lived in the fantasy world so long and have been indoctrinated by the fantasy ideology that everything about D/s is easy, they are extremely ill-equipped to come up with workable solutions to the inevitable problems and challenges of power exchange. They don’t know what in the world is going on, they don’t know why their wonderful dream of bliss is turning into such a horror, and they don’t know anyone whom they can turn to for help, as everyone they know in fantasy-land is pretty much at the same level of knowledge as themselves.

If you want to define a real and workable D/s lifestyle for yourself, you must initially do a lot of hard work. You need to get to know yourself very well. You must determine what you really need from power exchange and the type of person that you want in your life. Finally, you must set out somehow to find what you want, to get it into your life, and not settle for anything less, anything second-best. But before you can begin to do any of that, you must take one very important step: you must give up the seductive, addictive fantasy world of D/s and step out into reality with the rest of us who have struggled and thought and worked hard for what we need. Shedding the comforting cloak of fantasy, just as a child gives up his security blanket when he gets too old for it, is the first hard step that a person who really wants to live a real-world D/s lifestyle must take.