Updated: Jul 16
Webster’s dictionary defines communication as “the act of transmitting; a giving or exchanging of information, signals or messages as by talk, gestures, or writing.” In a D/s relationship communication is vital. So what are the ways to communicate with others so that needs and feelings can be related, but the lifestyle and emotional well-being of both can be maintained? It is important to find, understand and practice the different ways to communicate, keeping in mind a relationship with anyone should be based on honesty, trust and communication. Communication cannot exist without honesty and trust, and honesty and trust cannot exist without communication. If none of these qualities exist in your relationship with someone, and especially in a blossoming relationship with a Dom/me, then there really can be no relationship.
First to be addressed is relationship building with anyone, not necessarily a dominant. Communication, for some, is a very difficult issue. Some have what seem to be built-in walls and defences that protect them and their feelings from others. For these people, it takes time and the right people to open up to while maintaining a feeling of safety. This can be done slowly, over a period of months, sometimes even years; slowly testing the waters, giving a little information here, a little information there, and seeing what is done with it. Can this person be trusted with a minute issue to you that, even if used against you, does not cause too much pain? If so, this gives the person reason and little more trust to open up a little more. It is a slow process. Both parties involved need to understand this and be patient. The person who is trying to communicate openly must be willing to risk part of themselves and to be open to the hurt that may ensue, protecting themselves the best they can along the way by taking it slow.
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Honesty should never be an issue. Telling the truth is really the best policy. If something is too painful to talk about, say so. Let the other person know where you are coming from the best you can. Show that you are not unwilling to be open, but your valid fear is in being hurt. If they cannot understand this, then perhaps they are not the right person for you to open up to in the first place. It is in being honest that trust is gained on both parts, respect obtained, and then the relationship can continue to move forward. Both trust and respect lead to more open communication.
In a D/s relationship this becomes even more important and delicate. While getting to know a dominant, with the sense that He/She may become your Master/Mistress, honesty and trust are building towards a different goal. If He/She becomes your Master/Mistress, part of that unspoken understanding (should be spoken about, as well, of course) is that you will be open and honest with them at all times, to the best of your ability. This happens slowly and takes time. Relationships are not built in a day, a week, or sometimes even a month. It is just the basis for a successful relationship. Always be as honest as possible. You will belong to Him/Her, and as such, must be able to feel this and be able to trust your life to that Person.
Remembering the basic premise that the goal is to be honest and communicative, a submissive should communicate his/her feelings at all times, while remaining respectful. However, this includes the use of tact. A Dom/me is a person just like anyone. They have feelings that are just as sensitive and real as yours. They are as open to being hurt by your words as anyone else and it’s important to keep that in mind. Speak your mind freely when given permission, but be aware of their feelings. This is so important to remember: If you bulldoze your way through in an effort to get what you have to say off your chest, having no regard for their feelings, it will harm the relationship in the end. Perhaps when you ask for permission to speak freely again it will be denied or He/She will be more reluctant to agree; for who would purposely place themselves in a situation where they are open to thoughtless and harsh criticism?
In a relationship with a specific dominant such as your Master/Mistress, respect should already be present. Communication between the dominant and sub is crucial for a successful D/s relationship. The sub must be willing to talk about his/her feelings and the dominant must be receptive. Much understanding and patience is required of the dominant while establishing and maintaining the relationship. It is not an easy road but it is a worthwhile one. The submissive must constantly, daily, minutely be aware of the need to be as open as possible with his/her Master/Mistress. It is important for the dominant to remember that this is not an easy task for the submissive. It is one that takes focus, willingness and a conscious effort. Constant support and recognition for the attempt to be open at all times is necessary to help maintain the submissive’s willingness to try and put themselves on the line, so to speak.
So, how can a submissive, appropriately do this? If we take Webster’s definition and break it down, we find that there can be a few ways. First, let’s look at talking. This basic form of communication is sometimes taken for granted in this era of Internet chatting and email. Much can be expressed through tone and facial expression. Talking face-to-face includes gestures and body language. The positioning of your body will tell a lot about your attitude and possibly your goal. Open body language, such as uncrossed arms, is a good start. When granted permission, talk directly to the Dom/me, keeping eye contact. This will help confirm the attempt to be open and honest and also helps express the sincerity of your words. Respect must be present to be totally open and honest with a Dom/me.
The written word, while seemingly easier, can lead to more misunderstanding-understanding if things are not phrased correctly. If you are writing a letter to be discussed at a future time, perhaps you might ask Him or Her to repeat what they thought you meant. This can clear up any misunderstanding-understandings right away, leaving no room for miscommunication based on two different views of what is actually being discussed. This tool can be used as well when talking face-to-face.
Gestures and body language can be very telling. However, this form of communication may not work successfully until each person knows the other fairly well. On the surface, one expression may mean little to you but as you talk to each other you get to know the feelings that go along with that expression so the next time it is seen it will be more easily recognized.
One way to communicate with a Dom/me within a scene is the use of a “safeword” or a “slow/pause word.” This is especially important in a new relationship where the sub and Dom/me are still getting to know one another. The Dom/me will be aware (should be) of all the non-verbal cues given by a sub, however, He/She is not a mind-reader. He/She may move into a non-discussed area, leaving the sub with a need to stop right away, completely or else to stop for a moment or two and discuss whether or not to continue after they have talked over these feelings. A sub will desire not to use either of these “safe” words, but communication is vital, especially in this situation. Trust the Dom/me to understand this and to acknowledge how difficult it was for you to say the word(s).
Safewords or gestures may find themselves useful in an arena outside of a scene. As mentioned, feeling safe is important and a key word, gesture or action may prove to be helpful to let the dominant know that what you are about to say is of a sensitive or painful nature to you. This will allow the dominant to know immediately of the nature of what is to come and respond accordingly themselves, whether through action, touch, or demeanor. One couple mentioned that she, as the submissive, takes an obviously more submissive demeanor by kneeling in front of her Master. He recognizes this action or position, and knows that what is about to be revealed to Him is of great importance or concern to her, and that she is coming to Him as her Master, vulnerable and open. The focus is taken to that subject and given the attention it deserves and needs.
Dom/mes are not psychic or mind-readers. Relate to your Dom/me your fantasies, feelings, desire, hopes, dreams and yes, even your dislikes. Express them for the sake of letting Him/Her know more about you. Trust that your Dom/me will take all of these into consideration and decide what is best for you. He/She will have your best interests at heart, wishing only to help you become the best you that you can be.
Communicate. Verbalization is necessary, but at the appropriate time and in the appropriate way. Your Dom/me needs to know basic information about you such as experiences, fantasies, health concerns, and turn-offs. Don’t expect your dominant to be a mind-reader who instinctively knows your needs, wants, and limits. Your cooperation will enhance the scene for both of you.
Communication is a tricky subject and a difficult issue for most. Much is risked by opening oneself up to another or others, depending on the basis of the relationship. Friendships, as well as D/s relationships, are work and the work lies in both parties involved. One person cannot do all the demanding while the other does all the giving. Unbalanced relationships lead to resentment and can ultimately lead to no relationship at all. If you have an established relationship and feel safe to open up a bit more, try exposing yourself slowly but know that sometimes it will not work. Even if expressed well, honestly, and with respect, the other person may not agree or truly understand; and it is this author’s opinion that it is better to know and acknowledge that right away, versus finding out later on down the road when more is involved and greater hurt can be felt. Be true to yourself, honest with yourself, and honest with others. Be willing to open up and share to those who deserve to know you. That is the best and most anyone can ask or expect from you. It can be painful, difficult and tiring, but the rewards are so great that, in the end, it will be worth it. Communication is a never-ending process. It is always needed, always wanted, and should be always be appreciated.