Saturday, December 8, 2012

Nature, Nurture, and submission

There is often the debate in D/s about nature vs. nurture.  Are people born submissive or dominant, or does their environment make them that way?

I tend to be a believer that it is a little of both.  I think a person's personality has a somewhat natural disposition but the environment they develop in has a lot to do with what they eventually become.  Basically, their natural disposition affects how they react to and learn from the situations they face in their life.  Sink or swim, fight or flight, the natural instinct is there but we do not always follow our instinct and we can learn to act contrarily to it.

The submissive male is an interesting case.  I believe that most males develop in an environment that is motivated more by shame than by praise.  "Don't be a pussy," "Tough it out," etc.  We are taught we need to validate ourselves as part of the peer group in order to thrive and the fear of being seen as lesser can be strong enough to make many men behave outside of their nature.

I think this leads most men to form a divide between their public and private personas.  Our public side blends in.  It can run with the pack, succeed in our activities (work, sport, etc.), and provides a shield from potential attacks from other males.  I also believe our public persona is the birth of our fears of inadequacy, failure, and rejection.

Our private side can be seen as the "true you," but I think it extends beyond our nature.  While it may be who we are when we are outside of the influence of peers, it will also reflect our ability to cope with the fears caused by experiences as our public self.

When you see a guy acting crass and making sexist remarks when he's with the guys but then being incredibly tender and sweet with his girlfriend in a more intimate setting, this is a pretty stereotypical example of the two selves he has created.

Submission in general is strongly rooted in our private persona.  I think submissive men have a great deal of variance between them since some have a natural disposition towards submission while others can still learn to be submissive (even if it is not their choice).  Splitting them up I can see a couple of distinct paths:
1.  The "natural" submissive.
2.  The "abused" submissive.
3.  The "escapist" submissive.

The natural submissive trends towards submission.  Life may often be difficult for them since they are faced early on with the choice to be preyed upon by others or to create a public persona that disguises their true nature.  They naturally follow the stronger's lead but may struggle to assert themselves when choice is handed to them.

The abused submissive has been taught to be submissive.  They often have a very strong public persona to cover up the emotional damage buried beneath it.  Their private persona is forced to deal with crippled self-esteem and self-confidence as a result of long-term abuse.  These types look for validation and approval through submission.

The escapist submissive is generally a naturally disposed dominant.  Their public persona is strong but years of dealing with the fears created by that persona create a need for escape from it.  This may often relate to feelings towards their mother and how she could make them feel safe and protected from the big and nasty world.  They submit to take a break from their every day responsibilities their public persona has created for them.

Are any one of these more likely to be a certain type of submissive than the others?  I think the answer is probably yes but it's impossible to say for sure without having details of a specific case.

If I had to guess, I would wager that natural submissives are more likely to thrive in service-oriented roles and as bottoms sexually.  They probably pose the greatest "doormat" risk if they are lacking in the personality department.  In relationships they will thrive the best with an alpha female and he will do very well in a supporting role.

I believe that abused submissives are the most likely to deeply love their Dominant since they provide them with validation.  They are capable of most submissive roles but also pose a doormat risk since they can usually "roll with" abuse since they are accustomed to it.  These subs may be difficult in relationships since they often carry mounds of baggage but they can also be some of the most loving and affectionate types if they feel safe and cared for.

I think that escapist submissives are more likely to be bottoms in play and some sex.  I do think they are capable of lifestyle submission if their public persona is so stressful that they wish to "shut it off" any time they are not in public (but this is more likely an exception than the rule).  These types are most likely to have relationships that appear to be mostly vanilla from the outset and he is the most likely to be able to provide a fun night on the town.

Again, these are just guesses but they seem reasonable to me.  Any comments/feedback are welcome.