Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Need for Mental Spaces

It has taken quite a while but I'm finally starting to crack the fundamental differences in point of view that has caused me quite a few communication difficulties over the years.

The main difficulty seems to be with the view of submission. 

It is very common for me to read the view that submission should be "freely given."  This is often accompanied by views that service should be happy and willing.  It is also frequently accompanied by views that service that is goaded in any way is less true or pure. 

I get this on some levels.  I believe freely given represents consent.  No one is forcing you to submit.  If you aren't ready, willing, and able to serve, being a submissive isn't really the life for you. 

What doesn't sit so well with me is that submissive mental space (subspace), isn't really considered.

The common stance is that most Dommes do not want a doormat.  They want an intelligent and charismatic sub with a good personality, sense of humor, and able to function autonomously.  This sub should have opinions, thoughts, preferences, and desires. 

The problem I find is the lack of value given to subspace.  If a person is willing to defer at any time and bury their thoughts and opinions... doesn't that make them a doormat?

The way I look at it is that submissives have two sides to their personalities:
1. Their vanilla self.
2. Their submissive self.

Their vanilla self is who they are at work, in public, in the presence of strangers or outsiders, and the like.  This is where the sub's standard personality shines through.  Are they funny and charming?  Are they interesting and intelligent?  Are they thoughtful and polite?  Are they competent and responsible?

Honestly, to be seen as a decent life partner you generally have to be all of those things and more.  How this works in a D/s dynamic is due to their submissive self that exists separate from their vanilla self.  This divide is how highly motivated and successful people in the vanilla world end up being submissive behind closed doors.  They shift gears.  They shift states.  They enter subspace.  In subspace they have a completely different submissive persona that frequently is completely different from their vanilla self.  Their subspace is generally linked to their sexuality and it becomes a need.

This is where the hangups often occur when I have written about it in the past.  Some people are able to enter subspace easily.  Others require a trigger.  There is a misconception that a Domme has to act angry, shouting and cracking a whip for this to occur.  This isn't so much the case.  Often it can be a gesture, a ritual, a rule, or a singular act (e.g. kneeling and kissing her hand) that will trigger the switch within the person and shift them from their vanilla self to their submissive self. 

Does this mean they are being goaded?  Does this make their submission less pure?  I don't think so.  Just because someone currently does not feel submissive doesn't mean that they do not wish to make their Domme happy.  But there is a difference.  Willing is one thing.  Excited is another.  If their vanilla self is willing but triggering the switch will lead to them being excited to serve, is that a bad thing?

I know that in my day to day I end up often stressed, overworked, and underappreciated for much of the day.  As much as I would like to, I still carry some of that baggage home with me from work.  I feel like shit when I can't be the sub that I want to be.  I want that trigger to happen to bring me into a better mental space.  I realize that I get defensive on this topic because it triggers my insecurity about feeling lesser.  Because of that I have trouble separating if my logic on this subject is true or more defensive.  I don't know.  Overall this is just how I see it.


  1. When I read some of your posts, I think there is sometimes a misunderstanding of *detail* that might make it sound like someone is saying X, when really they are saying X, Y, Z and LMNOP. I think because of some of your experiences and perhaps your vulnerabilities, you *only* see X and react to it, and sometimes it makes you feel bad.

    I could be wrong (*gasp*), but I sometimes read them and want to wade in with more context. Normally I don't, but this is something I hear a lot, so I am.

    What people need or want is completely up to them: Compatibility is key. I love to have a little ritual to signal 'well here we are' so I use that myself.

    That being as it may, I think the reason a lot of people get frustrated with the idea of 'switching on his submission' is because there is this perception that submission is some special state and that he should be happy and excited about it all the time and it's the dominant's responsibility to make it so. And at the extreme end of this is the 'well make my cock hard first so I feel submissive' idea.

    Sitting suspiciously and uncomfortably close to that is the further idea that 'hey, if you can't switch me into that state, I'm not doing shit for you because 'waaah wrong headspace, and then it's hard/boring/no fun for me and I don't wanna'', and that's just awful juvenile behaviour (I'm not saying you do that of course, and I'm exaggerating to make the point, but those two things too often sit very close to each other due to MY experience and biases).

    I don't have to do anything special to get my vanilla partner to take out the garbage, so the idea that I have to 'switch on the subliness' in my *submissive* partner for them to do the same sticks in my craw. Doing it because I want him to IS submission and is what we agreed the relationship was about, even if he's cranky and doesn't want to. Not everything is happy-making, not everything is done in a fugue-state of satisfying D/s.

    Consider also that the dominant might be tired and cranky and bringing work stress and bad moods home and etc. What is the submissive doing to 'switch on' her dominance?


    1. Thank you, Ferns, for the thorough and thoughtful reply.

      I come across X frequently enough to have it stand out, but it often stands out because it feels like I could copy/paste from 7 different blogs and it is almost word for word identical and ends up feeling a bit like a BDSM cliche. I may very well be blind to some of it, but occasionally it seems like it is the duct tape fix all response on many topics.

      Also where I get caught up a bit is that the view on this ends up being rather polarizing among Dommes.
      1. Triggering his subspace is an unnecessary chore.
      2. I love triggering/keeping him in subspace.

      When I was most active in blogging back 5-7 years ago I really didn't encounter much of #1 at all and now it seems to be extremely common. I am slow to the party in regards to understanding that view.

      It also seems blur some lines between "I want things my way" vs. "I want to exert dominance."

      Looking at this:
      "Consider also that the dominant might be tired and cranky and bringing work stress and bad moods home and etc. What is the submissive doing to 'switch on' her dominance?"

      I view Domspace as a mental space, too, one that the sub has a lot of responsibility in feeding. I think that a lot of dominance stems from confidence. On my end, and this is something I do because I want to even if it has some functional benefits, is to make the one I love feel cherished, beautiful, and amazing. If I can't do that, then I'm not doing a very good job as a lover.

      I believe that there are rituals that can trigger both Domspace and subspace at the same time. In a couple of my relationships I have had a kneeling kiss ritual that would get us both going.

      In regards to the section where people might get frustrated... I completely understand that in a vacuum, the idea that a sub will only do something with their dick hard is an off-putting sentiment. I'm sure there are thousands of subs out there that are wired that way as well. But that is also a pretty extreme view and it in a lot of cases people take the extremes (the other end being a sub that doesn't need any dominance) and do not allow for what exists in between.

      I have no trouble taking care of what should be taken care of. I will do it even when I feel like garbage and want to groan about it. Anyone that has lived alone has done pretty much everything that needs to be taken care of. But looking at the in-between, if a simple ritual is all it would take for a sub to be sublimely happy to do all of that, I don't see that as a bad thing. It seems to me that if both parties want the other to be happy that this would seem fine and acceptable (especially if the sub is doing their part to fuel Domspace).

      Part of what I have looked at over the years is that I think being submissive is pretty damn irrational. Being dominant, getting what you want when you want it in the way that you want it... that is rational. Giving up control, freedom, and the like has a different end. I don't think that people would do it if it was just for an erection, sex, masturbation, etc. I see the greatest reward of submission as a lifestyle as attaining the submissive mental space and the feelings associated with it. I find it strange when that subspace is ignored or even frowned upon.

      It seems like there would be a lot more happy-making with it involved. I hope this makes some sense.

      Take care.

    2. Yes, it makes sense. I don't think we are disagreeing about the idea, I am just providing a wider context for the pushback.

      As a note: 'Subspace' and 'a submissive mindset' aren't the same thing by most common definitions.


    3. Thank you, Ferns.

      I definitely paid close attention to your wording on the "I think the reason that" part and I appreciate your willingness to discuss this with me :)

      The subspace, submissive mindset, and submissive mental space things were part of my rant about guides a few weeks ago.

      I have seen people use the term subspace to describe a couple of definitions:
      def. 1: submissive mental space.
      def. 2: the endorphin high following impact play.

      It seems that nearly everyone only uses definition #2 now but I find the term itself to be a poor choice for that. Domspace = dominant mental space. Little space = little mental space. Slavespace = slave mental space. Subspace = endorphin high? Not a fan of that usage. If I could write the BDSM dictionary I would vote for endorphin high as "sub high" and let subspace be submissive mental space again.

      I am also finding a difference in the usage of submissive mindset and submissive mental space.

      In the past 6 months I have encountered a couple of authors that do not acknowledge the existence of mental spaces and the shifting of personas between spaces as "real." The word choice of mindset generally implies that it is something that is a conscious choice for the person to take on. It also tends to imply that it is a means of focusing. This is odd to me when I perceive entering mental spaces as being a shift in how we perceive the world. Our entire thought process and how we process the world around us happens differently in the brain and the shift in space is not always achieved on our own.

      In the mild cases those people have viewed submissive mental space (or mindset) as pretend, make believe, or role play. In the extreme cases I have seen people think that submissive mental space (or mindset) was the endorphin high and/or when a horny wanker with submissive fantasies wants to orgasm.

      All in all, I keep making these types of posts because I'm genuinely trying to understand the point of view, but also trying to see what understandings of things are so different that they lead to such opposing conclusions. Generally when I try to open a dialogue with someone on this subject they shoot it down and have no desire to talk about it at all.

      The best thing I can gather is the view of trying to look it as a binary system in a vacuum and/or not placing value upon submissive mental space. In the situations you described I can definitely understand that experiences may have led to that view. I just like trying to figure it out.

      Take care.

    4. I think there are always different and contentious opinions about concepts and terminology: The most important thing is to ignore everyone who doesn't agree with you because they're wrong *laugh*.

      Seriously, language is imprecise and it changes and it's subject to personal opinions: Mostly it's the starting point for conversation, and a lot of people will only have those conversations if they're invested in the outcome (i.e. there's some personal reason that agreement and/or understanding is important). That is, if they have no vested interest in what you think (as an internet stranger), a lot of people won't be interested in that conversation.

      I get that you want to understand them, but you seem to really take things to heart when you write which is why I commented with a wider context. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding your posts.

      Lots of people on the internet have opinions/views/definitions/ideas I disagree with, but meh, what do I care? They can think what they want, and if it works for them and their partners, all power to them.

      Re sub and dom space, not to pull out the 'I've been around a long time' card, but I have (:P), plus I moderate a group of 80k+ F/m folks where we talk about this stuff, and it's pretty well understood that domspace is the equivalent of subspace (I described what it's like for me here).

      I think it is probably chemical, but I think it's more complicated than 'endorphin high', and both subs and dominants get it. It's not just a pain response like some people think: Not everyone agrees with that and you've obviously read some of that, but 'meh' (see above, they're wrong and I don't care what they think).

      Ditto head space/mindset/mood/whatever: both sides of the slash get it, and it's not the same thing.


    5. Thank you, Ferns.

      When I have a series of similar themed posts over a couple of months it is part of my process of understanding. Slowly putting the pieces together through feedback and thought, I usually end up at a point where I have enough information to paint a valid picture in my mind of a differing perspective, which allows me to communicate better with people who have opposing views. The tone of my writing voice is often a reflection of the number of negative experiences I have had on a given topic. I don't mind people disagreeing. I learn 100x more when someone disagrees and explains themselves than when someone agrees with me. I do get frustrated when someone's version of explaining is to cover themselves in layers of copy and pasted cliches.

      I mostly try to write about things that are important, interesting, or confusing to me. People will interpret this in varying ways, but there's probably a little bit of each interpretation that encompasses the whole of it.

      Where I try to step in and help is when the situation isn't working for them yet the same rigid adherence to cliches persists. In other cases it is when someone is newer to the lifestyle and has been fed some very limited or incorrect information when it comes to terms and concepts.

      That is also interesting that there are pockets that have reached an evolved definition of subspace. The most common public resources are still pretty much stuck in the post-beating endorphin high view. Your description of Dommespace is similar to what I have envisioned, but parts of how you described it sounds like it is an aroused extension of the mental space.

      So few people write about their mental spaces that it is hard to get any read or interpretation on the common views upon them.

      The submissive equivalent also sounds like the aroused extension of submissive mental space (which is why I hadn't differentiated subspace from sub mental space). I know in my case that the connection, love, energy, and even my basic instincts shift completely in my mental space. While it generally gives me an erection, things don't feel like a high until things go a bit deeper with stimulation and arousal.

      I have no problem with shifting my own sets of definitions and terms. I will definitely be thinking about where that dividing line between the two falls.

      Why I care to do this is I want my writing to give readers some more thoroughly explained ideas where available resources provide a limited scope. I know a handful of my readers that I correspond with mostly in private, like this about my writing.

      Another thing that has colored my writing in a negative way lately is that I just don't feel good. Depression is a bitch. I've thought about shutting down the blog completely as it's not serving as an outlet in the way it once did. With that in mind I have only felt like writing when something gives me a strong internal reaction. Sadly, those happen more frequently in negative cases than in positive ones.

      Take care.

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