There should be a Dominant. Since he has the power, he also has the responsibility to the submissive. That includes giving her pleasure, knowing and doing what makes her happy. He prods her to be her best, helping her reach HER goals and dreams, etc. He does not try to shape her in his own preconceived image of what she should be, but instead helps her blossom into the complete and wonderful person that she is.
The submissive must accept that he knows what is her best, what she wants, what is best for her because they have a totally open relationship in communication. The Dom should respect the Sub's advice and point of view, but the final decision is his.
This assumes the Dom makes decisions not based on ego or emotions, but logically figures out what is THE best decision. If the Dom does something that hurts the Sub, she should be able to tell him in an informative manner, not an attacking manner. The Dom will also tell the sub how he feels about her actions in a non-attacking manner. For a Dominant submissive relationship to work, both sides must respect the other. The Dominant should be secure and strong enough to admit when he makes a mistake. Dominants are not gods, but some think they are. They will make mistakes. Doms should control not from fear, but by building desire in the sub to obey. Essentially, Dominants have the power and they use it to make the life of the sub more complete, happy, not to abuse them.
The submissive should obey her Dom, strive to please him, for essentially one reason; because that is what makes her happy (that assumes that there is trust and respect). If the sub has a problem with something he tells her, she should feel free in telling him her opinion and thoughts, knowing he will reach a fair decision.
Most subs start out with what could be called a split personality, a somewhat Dominant, commanding persona, and a submissive, the little girl persona, which she hides. A good Dom first builds the environment where the submissive can let out the hidden persona and feel safe to do so. It enables the sub to explore herself and her desires and fantasies. And, it allows the Dom to enable the submissive to reach beyond them; satisfying needs to fulfill her and to fulfill her Dom.
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Because the Dominant accepts ALL of the submissive, including the hidden persona, she should gain strength in her hidden persona, not look at it as a flaw or weakness. Frankly, it is that hidden persona that I find most attractive and I seek to nurture and develop. Thhe key to a successful Dominant submissive relationship, is acceptance. In a battle of wills you do not accept, you fight to win.
You are fighting to release control to one who seeks to have that control and to cherish it. If a Dom exposes a weakness, he exploits it for victory and then protects the weakness of his own. By exploiting the weakness the Dom gains control. Thus, the submissive may feel insecure because she has a "secret persona" that one hides and feels threatened by. It is the Dom's responsibility to protect and cherish that weakness.
The key to all of this, as it is in any relationship, is communication both ways. The openness in a Dominant submissive relationship is what is missing in most marriages. For one thing, openness, by constantly expressing your thoughts and feelings in a non-confrontational manner to a partner who is concerned with them, builds intimacy. Thih is why cyber/long distance relationships can be so intense and develop so quickly. All you do is communicate, with physical meetings once in a while.
Unfortunately, in most vanilla relationships, because there is an ongoing battle of wills, one does not want to open up completely for fear of giving something that the other side can use against them. Thus, the battle continues. Communication often stops and the intimacy lessens greatly.
People often confuse a D/s relationship with a controlling one. The man is a controller, where he controls just to have control and is not concerned really at all with the welfare of his partner. Generally the controller is so insecure that he has to demonstrate his control over everything, thus he controls by using fear. (A Dom build s desire to obey, not fear).
Being a submissive is not being weak. Bottom line, a D/s relationship is a circle, where both sides concentrate on meeting the needs and desires of the other, from their different roles. If one gets pleasure out of pleasing a partner, and that is true of both sides, than the relationship is built on one will, not two. Conflicts should be minimal. The relationship will provide you the of having someone you can be TRULY (mentally) intimate with, and gain strength that comes from exposing your perceived and having your weaknesses nurtured and cared for and turned into strength.