I would very much like to explore the idea of submissive (S) and dominant (D) role-play relationships and how they might relate to the love addict (LA) and avoidant (A) or seductive withholder (SW) relationship. Because dominant/submissive roles often fall under the umbrella of sexual deviance, I have decided to not post this on my normal LAA forums. I don’t want anyone to misunderstand that I am not talking about sex at all, but rather the act of submitting to another human being and what that entails.
I recently came across the blog Persephone’s Obedience, a relatively mild account of a submissive girl who had become a pet to a dominant couple. And by mild I mean that overall, the blog was not heavy on the sexual exploits. It was, however, extremely well detailed in matters of the dynamics between one sub and two doms and the emotional consequences that went along with it. Anyway, the more I read, the more enmeshed in this girl’s life I got. And based on some pretty graphic moments of punishment and humiliation, it occurred to me that being a LA is not so different from being a Sub. I thought how humiliatingly bizarre some of the situations this woman ALLOWED herself to be put in; groveling on her hands and knees, begging, collar around the neck, being treated like a dog; things that shock and abhor “normal” people. But the more I read, the more I realized that I too have allowed men to symbolically put a collar around my neck, to metaphorically expect me to crawl on my hands and knees. OK, so I never actually crawled around or used terms like, “Master” or “Owner.” God forbid, I never had a collar around my neck or licked anyone’s boots for that matter. But I certainly played the submissive role in that I groveled and allowed myself to be treated like shit. I was abandoned, neglected, humiliated, used, and so on, much like Meg (that’s her official name on her blog). Only difference, she actively chose that lifestyle and took pleasure in it, I did not.
I read more and became intrigued over the emotional power these two wielded over Meg and how dependent and submissive she herself became the more they dominated her. There were moments when she was embarrassed, hurt, sad in pain and yet all the while, aside from using her “safe word” on occasion, she continued to maintain her subservience in their presence. Never breaking role.
I can’t help but think of G. How he denied me sex for so long (about 1 year). I allowed him to torture me. And I hated it. I hated being denied. But unlike Meg, I saw no value in this form of torture like she did. She, of course, questioned some of her punishments, but always rationalized them, approved of them. It was her goal to learn to blindly “trust” in the inherent goodness of her masters. But me…like a dog who is being starved and left out in the cold, I torn up the world I was in. I became enraged, hateful, savage. G would pacify me and I’d be alright until the next flair up. He tended to play some very powerful mind manipulation games with me. Other times I drew inward, became apathetic, gave up. But he definitely subjugated me to a less than respectful or dignified life. And the more he did so, the more resentful I became. My punishment, unlike Meg’s had no lesson behind it. I had nothing to learn. I wasn’t even being bad in that I deserved to be punished! I was simply being demoralized. In a D and S situation you are humiliated and demoralized in a power exchange based on the ideas of obedience and trust (if, of course, you are with the right D). Your punishment and oppression then, has a purpose and it gives meaning to your life: to learn to surrender thy will, to trust, to learn discipline and respect, to possibly learn what it means to be powerless and humble.
A love addict is oppressed and humiliated and demoralized but there is no purpose in it. You are a love addict not out of strength of character like an S, but rather out of weakness and low self-esteem like the lowest, ugliest creature in existence. An A or SW can strip you of the meaning of your own life if you let them. Whereas the relationship between an S and D can build both partners, as they are meeting each others’ needs.
That’s the clincher.
In an S/D relationship needs are being met. One needs to suffer and the other needs to inflict suffering (or order or authority etc.). It’s a conscious choice between partners. And though it seems imbalanced, it is not. In a LA/A/SW relationship needs are NOT being met. At least not the needs of the LA. Both parties are greatly confused over the dynamics of their interconnection and both eventually fall into the negative pattern of emotional withdrawal and emotional neediness. It gets very ugly. Desperate. Imbalanced. Undefined. In an S/D relationship the roles are clearly defined. I am your master and you are my slave. Period. No ambiguity. If you are a responsible D, then you recognize that you hold someone’s life in your hands and you care well for them. This type of role play never unfolds in a LA/A/SW relationship. Yes, patterns emerge. But they do so subconsciously.
I then thought of S and how balanced I felt in the beginning. But it was only a matter of time before he too began to not so much dominate me, as abandon me. I read through many of our old e-mails over the course of a few months. It is disturbing how little he engaged me. How he avoided adult conversation at almost any cost. How severely withdrawn he was. There was no depth of psychology to our relationship but rather, an undercurrent of pain and avoidance. I did nothing about this but occasionally ask for an explanation as to why he was so withdrawn. “Why? Do you not love me anymore?” He always responded with devotion and said, “yes! I love you and I value you…” But the actions were not there to back anything up. There was no activity in his devotion. I was confused. Then, of course, there was a severe lack of communication and sharing. It hurt, it was cold, it was detached. Eventually we could not experience closeness at ALL, and yet, I continued to stay. Not out of want but rather out of need. And not because my needs were being met, but rather in the hopes that they would soon be met.
In that waiting and longing for attention and care I damaged myself. I starved myself. I surrendered myself to a God that had no kindness for me. A man, who had no depth of love for me or enough pity for me as a humble creature that is deserving of not only love but attention. So…where is the submission in that? There isn’t any. It’s only a personal, private humiliation, not being imposed upon me by HIM, but my myself. And of course, unlike Meg, who underwent punishment, there was always a reward after.
But anyway, to wrap this up, Meg’s situation got me thinking of God and how, in order to recover through the 12 Steps of LAA, you must surrender to your Higher Power. You must surrender to God. When Meg decided to surrender to her Owners was it any different than a fallen soul who surrenders himself to God? The role of submissive and dominant is in play in both cases. Needs are being met. No one is getting hurt (relatively). The Owners punish Meg just as God punishes us for our sins, and so forth. The S/D relationship, if lived out correctly, is a highly religious one. Owners can represent God and the S who wishes to surrender can do so in the presence of their D. D’s who have a god-complex can live out their fantasies with an obedient S.
I could go on and on. But my point in all of this is that love addicts do, whether they’d like to admit it or not, have submissive tendencies. And in order to recover and make peace with the ugly side of their passivity (being treated like garbage without their needs being met) they have options: like Meg, they can seek out a D couple and live for a time as a true submissive pet. This option would certainly be interesting. And there is the ability to fulfill a consensual, safe fantasy, or to satiate a deep-seated need to submit to another human being, which allows the LA to address his or her passive side. However, one does run the risk of finding the wrong D, getting hurt, wrapped up in the wrong world (BDSM or sadism) or not understanding the perplexity and depth of the S and D relationship. An LA by nature is needy, wanting and has the low self-esteem that one would think would be perfect for the role of a true S. But many LAs are more self-serving that an S. Many LAs tend to be more dominant, angry or aggressive. They have, after all, dealt with a lifetime of indignation and abuse. Not only would many LAs find it disturbing and unnatural to submit to someone else (despite doing it most of their lives anyway), they might also find it impossible to justify as a means of recovery. To many LAs, the meaning of recovery is to STOP being submissive. Not to embrace it.
Another option is to submit to therapy. Therapy is a safe way to experience the relationship between a person of authority (the therapist) all the while remaining a S (the client). There is a dual need being met, the therapist gets paid, the LA is learning and growing inside and out and there is virtually no threat of the LA being overpowered or misunderstanding his or her role in therapy. At least there shouldn’t be. The relationship is safely defined and exploratory and socially acceptable. But with all therapist/patient relationships, a good therapist will not dominate or submit. They will try to remain neutral. This approach leaves the LA exposed to the discomfort of neutrality. Normal, healthier people accept this well. LAs do not. There is an inherent need in us to submit. To attach. To follow. To depend. To lose ourselves in another person. Therapy is great for self-evaluation, but it does not answer that deep-seated need to surrender.
The best option by far, is to surrender to a Higher Power. I do think, based on the nature of LAs and how closely related to Ss they are, that submitting to SOMETHING is in order. God is possibly the most profound, most rewarding and most appealing entity for which a love addict’s submissive nature will find the approval, the care, the power and the authority that it seeks. God opens the door to know thyself, he dominates, he loves, he blesses, in kindness and care. There is an emotional, mental and spiritual reward that comes from submitting to a HP. Besides, a HP is something a little more powerful and less threatening than say, some guy with a dominant streak and a leather paddle. I mean, if you want to crawl around on your knees, at least there’s dignity in it when it’s for God, not man.