Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Forum - Vol. 193 - "Natural" Leaders and Submissives

It is much safer to obey than to rule. -- Thomas Kempis

Hello all.  Welcome back to the Forum -- Disciplined Husbands and Disciplinary Wives.  Our weekly gathering of men, women and couples who are in, or interested in being in, Domestic Discipline or Female Led Relationships.  I hope you all had a great week.

Last week's topic didn't blow up in the way I was concerned it might, but it also didn't quite get off the ground, did it?  That itself probably indicates the extent to which it made some people squeamish.  I thought it was tailor made to get some thoughtful comments from some of our regulars, especially the women, but few of them commented at all.  And, some who did avoided the actual topic entirely, instead talking about things that seemed aimed more at the topic from two weeks ago.  (BTW, as referenced in one of my comments, KD Pierre has been having his own issues with non-responsive responses over on his blog, and dealing with it ways that are far more amusing than what I usually go with.  However, we did get some very thoughtful responses from a few people, so it was something worth exploring.

I'm not really sure what I want to do this week.  Honestly, it's just one of those lazy weekends, and I'm feeling more than a little bored and uninspired.  So, it may be up to all of you to carry the conversation along this week.  We do have a poll we can talk about a little.  It dovetails a little with a couple of the comments we did get last week, but it's also a little disconcerting as it seems to point to a pretty large gap between this blogger and most of his audience.

Our poll was as follows:

I am a disciplined husband or interested in being one, and I am:
Naturally submissive
  63 (68%)
Not naturally submissive
  29 (31%)

Now, it is not often that these polls result in such a clear-cut split between one option and another (though possibly because I rarely offer such a binary choice).  Usually the results are a lot more muddled.  Here, a very clear majority sees themselves as naturally submissive.  Making it even more definitive is the phrasing of the two options.  I tried to stay away from describing the "not naturally submissive" option with any term that might have a more loaded or divisive connotation, like "Alpha" or "dominant."

This confirms a rather poorly constructed poll we did over a year ago, in which the options were: 

I am [Male or Female] and Outside the Home I prefer to: 
Female - Prefer to Follow
  2 (2%)
Female - Prefer to Lead
  5 (5%)
Male - Prefer to Follow
  48 (55%)
Male - Prefer to Lead
  36 (41%)

A majority of those who are responding to these polls are clearly interested in doing what comes naturally to them.  They identify as naturally submissive or having a preference to follow rather than lead, and I assume they are attracted to DD and FLR because those fit their natural preference.  What intrigues me so much about this is that I come at this from the exact opposite angle, and my entire motivation for being in a Domestic Discipline relationship and wanting to explore a Female Led one is that I am not at all submissive in real life and strongly prefer to lead and really hate being led.  For me, this is like yin and yang:

My handy Wikipedia defines it as "The combination or fusion of the two cosmic forces.  A circle divided by an S-shaped line into a dark and a light segment, representing respectively yin and yang, each containing a 'seed' of the other.  Yin is characterized as slow, soft, yielding, diffuse, cold, wet, and passive; and is associated with water, earth, the moon, femininity, and nighttime. Yang, by contrast, is fast, hard, solid, focused, hot, dry, and active; and is associated with fire, sky, the sun, masculinity and daytime."

In my "real" life, I am all yang, all the time.  But, that is not a very healthy way to live.  J Girl touched on something like this in one of the more on-point comments last week: "It only makes sense that since most of us experience discipline -- or, in many cases, craved discipline -- from a loving parental or authority figure, that when we desire discipline from our significant other, there are somewhat parental overtones. Many in the DD community deny this vehemently, and I suspect the reasoning is because we are so adamantly opposed to disordered relationships, and so insistent that consensual discipline within a DD dynamic is healthy. However, the relationships by their very nature are different."  My response was, "DD fills some need that doesn't seem to be present in "normal" or "healthy" people. I tend to think of it more in terms of "unbalanced" than "disordered," but that may be a distinction without a difference."

Intellectually at least, my attraction to DD lies in the fact that it requires me, a fairly unyielding and dominant person, to yield and submit.  I am attracted to it because it requires me to grow in a direction that is not natural to me and that makes me very uncomfortable.  For me, DD is about bringing some order to that disordered state that J. Girl references; bringing balance to a personality that is inherently unbalanced and way too much yang for its own good.

Yet, this poll seems to indicate that most of this blog's readers are coming at things from the opposite perspective, attracted to something that fits where they naturally want to go anyway.  It also shows why I sometimes get into discussions where we are just talking past each other about the nature of submission and why husbands who don't always tow the line should be cut some slack.  Not in terms of not getting the punishment they have coming, but in terms of understanding why they may not instantly and consistently obey every rule.  Every few weeks I will get a comment from someone to the effect of, "You just need to submit."  And without exception those comments always irritate the hell out of me, because it's clear that the person just doesn't get that for a non-submissive person, submitting to someone else is a very hard thing to do.  It is not natural to them, and they must fight their natural tendency to fight and resist.  Conversely, if your natural temperament is geared toward submission, then isn't it awfully easy to advise "just submit"?  It's what you want to do anyway! 

This also ties into a misunderstanding I had with one of our regular commenters, who I think may have misread or misunderstood where I was going with some comments about female leadership.  It was an example of comments I get every once in awhile that suggest I don't appreciate how hard it is is for wives to step into the leadership role.  To the contrary, I have no doubt at all about how hard it is to be a real leader, particularly for those who are stuck in yin to the same extent I am burdened by excessive yang.  Leading is hard!  Even for people who have strong leadership attributes, it takes thought and commitment and learning to be comfortable not just with a degree of confrontation but with actually initiating the confrontation.  And all that may cut against who that person has always been.  But, even if following is more natural to such a person, is it healthy? What do you miss out on by not leading, even if leading is hard?  Leading does not come easily to my wife.  Both by temperament and socialization, when confronted with an obstinate, unyielding husband, her first reaction is to retreat.  But, she is figuring out over time that she actually does like leading, likes being in charge and, yes, likes disciplining.  There are always just stray doubts in her mind about what reaction she will get when she does step up.  It's that ongoing conversation that Alan brought up a few weeks ago, in which she takes a step forward but is waiting for something from me showing that I am going to really accept that leadership.  Conversely, because following is so hard for me, my fantasy is that she will just take over and force me into submission, overcoming my will when I don't find it easy to do myself.

My aversion to the concept of "topping from the bottom" also comes, to some extent, from the perspective that leadership is hard and must be developed, and the same with submission.  I do believe that there may be instances where a woman who has taken on the title of Head of Household may decide not to discipline or punish and actually has a good, well-considered reason for doing so.  In those instances, it may very well be that he needs to accept that and, in doing so, he is learning to be a better follower.  HOWEVER, I also think that not punishing or disciplining consistently when you have agreed to do that can just be poor leadership, reflecting that person retreating to their more "natural" or preferred state of passivity or submission.  Again, I have nothing but admiration for every Disciplinary Wife who struggles against socialization and temperament in order to become a better leader.  It is very, very hard work.  And because it is such hard work, I don't have a lot of sympathy for the position that the passivity of someone who has taken on the title but is NOT doing the work must be respected just because she has taken on the HoH title.  In the end, these are consensual agreements in which the parties have agreed to take on certain roles.  Saying, "I choose to lead by not leading" seems like sophistry, and "topping from the bottom" can be a convenient concept to fall back on when the designated "leader" isn't stepping up but doesn't want to be called on it.

Well, now that I have proven beyond all doubt that I was being honest in saying I had no idea where this topic was going, do with it what you will.  I think it would be interesting to hear from those who are playing against their natural inclinations -- dominant personalities who are learning to submit or folks who aren't comfortable in the leadership role but are working hard to develop those skills.  For those who are playing to their natural state, I am interested in hearing how that works for you, whether it feels right to be more of what you are, or do you ever feel like it retards your ability to grow and develop in other directions?

Have a great week.


  1. Dan, Wow, this is controversial!(what I am going to write) Not.
    Your Ying/Yang is black and white. Some of us are grey. I think I come from that 'somewhere' in the middle. I don't particularly like to lead, but I find submitting in life repugnant. Not really a submissive. Maybe I am a little anti social but I hated things like playing sports, joining things like Boy Scouts, 4-H, or whatever. Not because I couldn't; always was 1st or 2nd pick for phy-ed and intramural teams or was well accepted for the little social interaction I was forced to participate in during school and later in life. Sometimes I am forced into situations where have to lead because of what I have been blessed with, but it is not my want. I guess I just would rather do things in my own way and be left alone. I was blessed to live in an area, then and now, with a lot of woods and streams that allowed me to spend a lot of time out of the sight of homes and people. Tree houses, camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, all alone. It was and is perfect for me.
    But, before I am guilty of the non-sexquitur rule I must get to the point. I must have got disciplined from my mother, but I honestly can't remember one instance of it. Dad? even less, although I do remenber setting up my little sister once to bring the paddle out on her from my mom. That was just funny, not sexual. Third grade had me having the worst crush on my teacher who blindsided me one day on the right side of my face for talking that left a handprint on my cheek long into the evening. Life effecting? I don't know. I do know, however, I don't want the pain from my wife of DD. I know I do want the feel that she is in control of the situation and if it was just words, it wouldn't work. I do submit to the hand. It seems I can get a lot more done that way, but on her terms.JT

    1. Thanks, JT. It is a good point that not liking to submit is not the same thing as wanting to lead. It's also true that we sometimes are put in leadership roles because of certain attributes, even if we really would prefer to just be left alone.

  2. I think I'm in a similar spot as JT describes - I'm in the easygoing middle - neither particularly alpha nor particularly submissive, by and large. The one big exception, of course, is that in the last few years, I've grown to relish being subject to my wife's intimate authority.

    If anything though, I think the closeness of our relationship, and even the experience of successfully enduring some intense physical (spanking!) challenges, has made me more confident, decisive and assertive in the other aspects of my life.

    1. I've had a similar experience. I worried that being more submissive at home might weaken me at work. That hasn't really proven to be the case. If anything, the leadership I hope to get from her becomes an example I feel I need to try to live up to when leading my own team. Just last week, someone on my team was engaged in some behavior that was really just beneath him, and it was starting to really annoy me and others. At first, I dealt with it the way often do, just letting it take its course. Then I asked myself, "If I were engaging in dick-ish behavior at home, what would I want my wife to do about it? Would I respect her if she didn't deal with it head-on?"

  3. That's quite a bit to absorb.

    I have no doubt in my mind that Shilo is an Alpha, a Leader, or in your words, not naturally submissive. However, when it comes to relationships with women, he is submissive. My thought is that some of the men answered the poll by saying that they are naturally submissive when it comes to relationships.

    You wrote: My response was, "DD fills some need that doesn't seem to be present in "normal" or "healthy" people. I tend to think of it more in terms of "unbalanced" than "disordered," but that may be a distinction without a difference."
    I tend towards disagreeing with that statement, because research has shown time and again that people involved in consensual BDSM relationships have better mental health. I would be inclined to add DD to that as well.

    Your statement Saying, "I choose to lead by not leading" seems like sophistry, and "topping from the bottom" can be a convenient concept to fall back on when the designated "leader" isn't stepping up but doesn't want to be called on it. rings true.

    My opinion (take it or leave it) is that if there is a lack of clear communication between the Top and bottom/ Disciplinary wife and disciplined husband/Dominant and submissive when it comes to the needs or desires in that relationship, it can cause problems. As Disciplinary wives, it's our responsibility to listen to the needs of our husbands. A husband should feel free to to say what is lacking in the relationship, and the wife would (ideally) listen. Naturally, there's a difference between "I want you to spank me more often" and "I feel I need more discipline when it comes to (item)" I'd even venture to offer that the statement "I feel I need to beheld more accountable" is a valid statement. Notice the want vs. the need in those statements. Again, just my opinion, but perhaps food for thought.

    When the needs of both parties are considered, the relationship grows.

    1. Thanks, Merry. I took a look at that blog entry on BDSM and mental health. There is some pretty interesting stuff in there, including:

      "To summarise briefly, the findings of the BDSM study suggest that practitioners in general are open-minded about having unusual experiences, and tend to be self-disciplined people. However, most of the psychological benefits claimed to be associated with BDSM, such as low neuroticism, more secure attachment and higher subjective well-being belong to doms rather than subs or switches."

      "Both doms and subs, but not switches for some reason, scored higher than controls on conscientiousness. Conscientiousness is a broad trait related to self-discipline and has two major aspects related to orderliness and achievement striving respectively. The study did not examine whether either of these aspects were more prominent in BDSM practitioners. However, I would suspect that people who are attracted to BDSM probably have a high need for orderliness, and have a fond appreciation of rules and boundaries."

      "Agreeableness is related to overall pleasantness and consideration for the comfort of other people. Subs and switches actually did not differ from the control group in agreeableness. However, doms were lower than both the controls and the subs in agreeableness. People who are low in agreeableness tend to be tough rather than tender minded, are willing to make hard decisions, and tend to be bossy and demanding in the way they relate to others. Thus it would seem that people who are into BDSM generally prefer the role that fits their own level of agreeableness."

      "I have elsewhere come across the idea that people into BDSM like to explore roles that are the opposite of their day-to-day roles, e.g. those who are accustomed to ordering people around are attracted to the submissive role (see here and here for example). The thinking behind this is that such people like to have a way of compensating for the pressure of command and experiencing a sense of relief from the burden of being responsible for others. However, the findings in this study would seem to suggest that the majority of practitioners are drawn to roles that reflect rather than compensate for their normal personalities. Perhaps, there is a minority subgroup of people who go against this trend, but further more detailed studies would be needed to test if this is true."

    2. I do wonder, however, if one really can extrapolate freely from BDSM to DD. I suspect that in some areas you can, and some you can't. I continue to believe that while their practices may be somewhat similar in some respects, the goals may be very different as may be the motivations.

      It's also interesting, and a little concerning, that women chose the "sub" role 70% of the time, while most of the mental health benefits seemed to accrue to the Dominants.

    3. I agree that there are differences in both, but the "good" stuff, like clear loving communication, the discipline and self-discipline, and the willingness to be responsible for our actions, and/or accepting consequences.

  4. Hi Dan,
    I was fascinated by the poll because I am one of the distinct minority of men who responded calling themselves not naturally submissive. Just the opposite except for my DD relationships, I am fairly described as a hard charging alpha male. But a strong commanding woman and of course one who spanks can put me under control. But even here I chose to submit and have met and dated several women who were definitely “in charge" where the chemistry didn't work. Once I have committed to it however I am submissive or obedient as I prefer to think of it and as far as discipline is concerned probably as submissive as any male who describes themselves as naturally submissive. But a women has to “take charge" for this to happen and especially needs to be comfortable with talking about and using spanking to control me. I remember saying something to my first DD girlfriend like “if you are strict with me I will become the boyfriend of your dreams". She did and I was. Another piece of this for me is that unless a woman knew I could be disciplined she would likely find me formidable and even intimidating. But I am deferential and even obedient with the relatively few women who know I am spanked and although it’s never happened (yet) I believe any of them could discipline me if they chose to do so.Somehow that knowledge that I have been spanked before empowers them in my mind.I don't believe I could stop them assuming I had committed a spank -able offense and they were punishing me for it.(Once a woman told me that if a man can be depantsed, her term for pulling trousers and briefs down, someone has already spanked him and it can be done again. I believe she was right) Is there a synthesis in all this? For me it’s the thrill of giving power over to a strong and commanding woman who believes in spanking to enforce discipline.But part of that power exchange is telling her or her otherwise knowing that she can take the pants down of this strong confident male she sees and she will be in charge

    1. "Is there a synthesis in all this? For me it’s the thrill of giving power over to a strong and commanding woman who believes in spanking to enforce discipline.But part of that power exchange is telling her or her otherwise knowing that she can take the pants down of this strong confident male she sees and she will be in charge."

      This raises an issue I wrestle with regarding whether I am "really" an Alpha or "really" submissive. In most of my exchanges with people, I am an Alpha. Yet, I crave having someone impose a disciplinary relationship on me, including holding me strictly accountable. So, I want to submit, but not to just anyone. And, it's not really about sex or even necessarily F/m. I could see yielding to a man, but they would have to be Alpha enough to make it stick. It's like wolves in the pack -- one wolf can be pretty damn tough but might still be a beta to an even tougher wolf. I also think of it in terms of horses. A mediocre and spiritless horse is, once "broken", still goint be a mediocre and spiritless horse. However, a horse that is bullheaded and full of spirit may be very difficult to break and train, and it may take a really strong hand to manage him/her, but oh what a ride once it is trained enough to run in a straight line.

    2. I like the bullheaded horse metaphor but I think the question of am I really " alpha" might be falling into the western trap of thinking things must be either or. Reference the yin and yang earlier alluded to. This is really a theory of complementary forces combining to make a whole. To me dualism covers it. We can both be and not be. Be alpha and be submissive. It isn't exclusive and it needn't be a contradiction.Its our western way of thinking about these things that creates the conflict. I can run my company tomorrow like an autocrat ( if necessary) and humbly go over my wife's lap for a well deserved spanking tomorrow night. Both are me

    3. That's a good point. After all, the little dot in each of the two halves of the yin and yang symbol represents that a part of yin is in yang and a part of yang is in yin.

      But, I'm also not sure that completely solves the conundrum for me. Your comment was that the thrill for you is in "giving" power over to a strong woman. For me, the thrill is really in her "taking" the power and "imposing" her will on me. It is a slight distinction, but one that I think has some relevance. Wanting to be submissive in one context but not another doesn't quite get me out of the quandary of am I "really" one or the other, because to some extent the attraction to me of DD is the prospect of having power taken from me, not just giving it over.

      It's also amusing to me the extent to which this debate is really new or psychologically threatening only in the F/m context, while it used to be kind of a staple in the movies in the M/f context. My favorite example is probably Diana Rigg's character in one of my favorite Bond flicks, On Her Majesty's Secret Service. She is a strong-willed woman whose father recruits Bond to seduce her because he knows that only a very strong man has a chance of making a partner of her. Or, John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara in The Quiet Man? The list goes on and on of popular portrayals of strong-willed women who are taken by an even stronger man, and they are portrayed as happier and healthier once that new hierarchy is established. Today, that dynamic would probably be condemned by many as very politically incorrect and demeaning to women. Yet, I am pretty willing to concede that is is part of what I want in the F/m context.

  5. I think this site proves one thing, to wit, all of us are trying to rationalize (understand) what makes us tick. As I have said in several contributions to this blog, since about the seventh grade, I have been a leader and people have depended on me from athletic teams, to employees working for me in my former business, to my wife, kids and our parents while they were living. Now that I'm retired, if a major problem comes up my wife and kids still come to me to solve it. My wife is a sociable woman and well liked by everybody and is competitive and has leadership qualities. But she has no interest in being the leader or have me or the kids depend on her. She looks to my leadership and expects it when major issues come up that need to be decided upon.
    When we had our wifely rebellion I was the one that stepped forward to find the things that were troubling to her (which turned out to be my behavior and lack of help in certain areas). I did the internet investigation to find a solution, a Spencer Spanking Plan where only I was held accountable. I agreed with the rules we formulated because it was clear to me that I needed to correct certain behaviors and pitch in on certain household duties I took for granted. So the agreement and rules and punishment were all agreements I entered into and my wife was receptive to being the disciplinarian when rules were abridged by me. So yes, by agreement, my wife spanks me when I violate the rules, but she doesn't have carte blanch authority to punish me outside the scope of those rules (unless the rules are amended with both of us agreeing to that amendment, and we have amended some through the years). I submit to be spanked when I violate the rules because that is what I agreed to. My submission was with my agreement because it would not only help me correct behavior I knew I should and wanted to improve, and it would also make my wife much happier if I did. More importantly, I looked at it as a way of balancing the power dynamic in the relationship as this gave my wife a means of pay back when my rule violations hurt or upset her and in my opinion that was only fair. The fact that my wife spanks me under these circumstance does not, in my judgment mean I'm submissive. Now this is just me, and I expect others have different dynamics in their relationships or want a dynamic they do not now have. My point is allowing your wife to spank you for well thought out rules you both agree with does not make you submissive.
    I sometimes feel I wish I didn't have all the responsibilities I take on, but I do not look to my wife to relieve those burdens. It was just the way I was brought up and grew up.


  6. Hey Fred,

    Learning what makes a group this varied tick is proving harder than I might have originally thought. When I first started this blog, my attitudes on what we were doing was probably very close to your own. She spanked me when I did agreed-upon bad things, but in most other areas I was the clear leader. We did go into with a goal of giving her more power and taking me down a peg, but it was close to what you describe. And, like with you, I was the one who found out about DD, researched it, brought it to her as an option, etc. And, like you, I never equated that with being submissive and, to a large extent, still don't.

    But, things did start changing a year or two ago. While it all kind of blended together, I think there were multiple reasons that it started to grow in a different direction. First, I started chatting with a female FLR blogger. She was definitely doing DD, but with an FLR-orientation. At about that same time, my wife and I were talking about what we wanted in terms of building more consistency and strictness into our DD, and *she* started taking in a bit more of an FLR direction, including referring to herself as a Dom and me as a submissive. As we explored that a little bit, it became clear that the "service submission" aspect -- bossing me around where chores were concerned, etc. -- appealed to her. It did not appeal to me at all, at least after we actually tried it, but that is the thing with these relationships -- they have to meet *both* parties' needs or they aren't going to work. Finally, my temper and Alpha nature did keep causing problems in my career, and did want to explore whether exploring more of my submissive side, or just being in situations with her in which I had to give in to her will, might help me take a little more direction.

    It's a mixed bag, honestly. I would still like more consistency and more strictness. But, I still rebel against submitting to anyone else. My ability to hold my temper at work, and subordinate my ego a bit if it is for my longer term advantage, is getting a little better though that may just be getting older. And, truth be told I still make a lot of the big decisions, or at least often have the input that ultimately wins, but we always talk out most of the big decisions anyway.

    But, at my core, I am still closer to how you describe yourself -- at my core I consider myself to be a man who submits to my wife's discipline, but not a submissive.

  7. >rummages through metaphorical closet to yank out an oldie but goodie<

    I'm Rosa's knight.

    She relies on me for many things and would not appreciate me nearly as much as she does if every time a dragon sauntered by I asked, "Honey, should I use the sword or lance? Do you think I should go for the head or belly?" No, she expects ME to know how to dispose of the dragon. But once dispatched, she expects me to lay its head at her feet......and probably give her toes a few smooches as well. the knight alpha? beta? zeta? naturally dominant? naturally submissive? a traditional male? a weak, 'pussy-whipped' male? Or a blend of things?

    I don't see myself as submissive in most things and yet extremely submissive in others. I am definitely a "sexual submissive". (though turning the tables and being the rough aggressor is in my bag of tricks as well) So what's the answer?

    I think it's that we are not creatures of absolutes. As such (sorry Dan) I didn't answer the poll because I did not know which choice to pick. I still don't. So don't worry if you think you are all over the map on this. So am I. So is Rosa. I would bet, most of us are.

    1. You are unquestionably right that few of us are creatures of absolutes. And, I admit that for this particular poll, I did try to make it a very binary choice. Though, it didn't seem to dissuade many from voting, since the 92-person response rate is in-line with most of our other polls.

      I get your distinction about being a knight to the rest of the world, while being more submissive to her. But, the interesting thing is that doesn't seem to be the case for a lot of the other readers, at least if you read this poll in conjunction with the one from last year (and with the blog article that Merry forwarded), which together seem to indicate that people are playing to the role that naturally suits them both inside and outside the bedroom.

      Maybe it all just shows that discipline is something that can scratch multiple itches, even if those itches originate in very different ways.

    2. It might go even deeper than that. I was reading over at Julie's recently and I was overcome with a strong reaction to the insinuation that a more traditional male with a bit more sexually dominant side could end up disciplining her husband. I was thinking, "not me! no way!" In fact, I think given a situation with another couple where the man was "dominant", I would GO OUT OF MY WAY to best him at every opportunity, and then go just as far out of my way to accentuate my deference to the ladies.

      I recall going to a few BDSM "munches" many years ago and found that in a social situation with 'dominants' of both genders, I could never back down from an argument or challenge. However, I could be very nice if they didn't try to act like their role preference applied to me.

      I used to tell past play-partners the secret to getting me to do whatever they wanted was to ask me. Act like you're superior and I will PROVE to you you're not. As a result, switches and low-key Tops found they ended up higher on the pedestal and got more out of me than anyone else they played with before. But the arrogant Tops and I never lasted 5 minutes.

      So maybe it's just something in me that hates bullies?

    3. I have those same tendencies. I'm not naturally deferential to women in general, other than old habits from an upbringing that taught a certain amount of manners that might be less on display around other men. But, boy do I have the reaction you are describing to bullies, in spades. In fact, perversely, most of my reputation within my employer for being temperamental is related specifically to going off on the "Tops" of the corporate world. I have seldom, if ever, blown up at someone under me in the org chart, with the exception of people who I witnessed bullying others. And, I will consistently "take down a peg" someone who thinks they can "top" me. Even the senior people who wish I would cool it admit that when I get into a fight it is seldom one I picked and almost always aimed at someone above me.

      Now, interestingly, as I alluded to above in response to Alan, I don't rule out the possibility that I could "submit" to a male who truly could "out-Alpha" me. I just haven't met many in any aspect of my life, and none in my work life. But, it is interesting to think about the fact that I probably would be more inclined to give in to an authoritative woman than an equally authoritative man.

  8. Hi Alan, I just wanted to answer your response. I spent about forty years representing both large and small corporations. I don't think DD or flr is going to help you become more submissive at work nor do I think you should be. Instead, based on my experience, you simply need to play the "GAME" within your corporation until you make the decision to change employment or start your own business. You don't have to be submissive, just smart. Being a phony works in this kind of atmosphere where you recognize stupidity, but you just keep your mouth shut and live with it. Even if you detest the managers you have to work with don't show it. Play the "Game". At the same time start planning your future to escape that environment on good terms with your employer when you leave. It will either help you get a better job somewhere else, or even if you go into your own business, you can look to your former employer for support in selling whatever you need to sell. Corporations, and even the small business I ran are always going to have politics you have to put up with. I've read your blog and you are plenty smart and this "Game" should be easy for you to play. Just convince yourself it is only a short term thing you have to put up with until you move on to greener pastures. Based on your comments your current job probably pays well, but is a dead end. Not a good fit and you may already have hurt yourself for promotion by fighting the system. Good luck,


    1. Hey Fred,

      I assume this was directed to me, not Alan. But, in any event . . . I agree with most of this. To a big extent though, I equate playing the game with being more submissive. Or, the better corporate word is probably "subordinate." My Achilles heel has been an inability to keep my mouth shut and live with it when I see the stupidity that you're referencing. You're right that I know how to play the game, but I also admit that in the past I have had big problems in making myself actually do it, at least if doing that required foregoing an opportunity to vent my spleen. I wouldn't say the current job is a dead end, but there is certainly no small amount of water under the bridge that may cause me to look for those greener pastures. I do think that the FLR experimentation has help me a little on learning to hold my tongue, because when she is actually into it there is no shortage of "learning opportunities" in which I have to hold my tongue and just do something I don't like. I do think that a year of that has helped in some small way. I am at least somewhat more likely to hold my tongue at work and to play the game. Though, it's always a work in progress. And, I agree with you that the point is coming where the greener pastures start looking pretty good.

  9. Sorry Dan, it was meant for you and not Alan. I speculated on the dead end comment based on your frustration with those above you. Who knows, someone at a higher level may recognize their shortcomings and bump them out of the way. I can also see where your wife's discipline can help teach you to play the "Game". Unfortunately I see no way around playing the game until your opportunities enable you to climb that ladder with a different corporation or your own business. I did my best to prevent politics in my corporation. If I had two employees going at each other I'd call them into a bar, buy drinks, tell them I like both of them from a skill set, but if they can't get along I'll fire both of you. Then I would get up, tell them to work it out, and leave the bar. It worked most of the time. Good luck.



    1. Thanks, Fred. I'm in a situation where "above" me is kind of a relative term. The frustration is as much about hidebound, convention-driven culture than particular weak players above. If anything, our organization illustrates what happens when either (a) there is no real chain of command; or (b) there is officially a hierarchy but no one has the power (or the balls) to actually command. But, you obviously know what happens when you get fairly far up in a larger organization. To move up, someone else has to die or leave. I don't disagree with you at all that linear growth within your present organization is a tough pull. Most people I know who have really "made it" did a lot of zig-zagging to get to the C-Suite. I also totally agree that politics in larger organizations is inevitable. Hell, it is inevitable even in most smaller organizations. It seems to be human nature to see the pie as fixed in size and to act accordingly. I do like your solution to fixing those problems. I do my best leading and problem solving over drinks.

  10. Work would be so much easier without all those "people".

    Luckily, none of us are "those people." HA

    Seriously; it's an excellent discussion about surviving in the corporate-type world. And I do wonder about those who happily thrive in it. (They probably deserve and extra amount of spankings.)

  11. Dan
    I am not a submissive, I will never be a submissive. I do and am more and more willing to submit to a set
    of rules with rewards and consequences. In so doing I am daily discovering that I often win what I want most in said submission. Knowing that her accepting DD is more and more an act of love on her part. So in this day of romance and laughter, I am grateful.!

    1. Your comment about winning through submission is the reason I am not giving up on the idea that DD will make at least slightly more subordinate at work when not being so is really about cutting off my nose to spite my face. But, as you know, it's hard. We get where we are by being driven and intense. On the other hand, what gets you to one level is often the exact thing that holds you back from reaching the next level.

    2. It's knowing what to do when, and occasionally thinking about something fora few seconds before acting. Not everyone has to like you, but you better be fair in your decisions and not be an asshole.

      Driven, intelligent and fair.

    3. Agreed, though the "fairness" prong applies a bit more readily to how we treat those below than those above (in the org chart). The harder element for those who describe themselves as naturally Alpha is how do you moderate things when dealing with those above. I don't spend much time patting myself on the back, but I like to think I really am fair to those below me, and then some. Its the people above who bring out my inner asshole.

    4. To me that's the mark of character. Most probably behave inversely, kissing the bosses ass and bullying their subordinates. Know a man by his enemies and the more powerful his enemies the more estimable the man. Seriously, if you treat those who report to you with fairness and compassion, while being willing to speak truth to power - there isn't too much to criticize.

    5. Fairness is a DD FLR or F/m relationship is interesting to me.

      In DD When i submit to my wife I agree to the consequences she decides. Sometimes those consequences may not be in my opinion fair. A topic covered a few months ago.

      In the FLR aspect of our relationship my opinion is sought listened to but if ultimately she decides contrary to what my opinion was that is what we then do. Sure sometimes I think that's not fair but it's how we enjoy living our lives.

      In the F/m side of our relationship fairness or lack thereof takes on a fun role. It's kind of the point that I'm treated unfairly. Playing board games where I start at a disadvantage. Games with consequences for losing of course. Being assigned chores with crazy deadlines wrong tools impediments to my progress. Clean the toilet with the tooth brush while dragging the milk jug full of sand that is attached with velcro to my ankle (our version of ball and chain). And of course discipline and humiliation that is beyond DD. Done just because.

      All fun. All unfair to varying degrees.

    6. Thanks, Alan. I like the line about judging a man by his enemies.

    7. Thanks iruser. Your examples illustrate why I draw a line between DD and Femdom/BDSM. Very similar activities can be either (a) punishment; or (b) funishment, and it is the goal that sets them apart, not the severity.

    8. I think I am lucky to have both aspects. It takes a very special lady.


  13. Part I:

    I feel fortunate to have an “extension”, so to speak, on this week’s topic.

    Since most people probably haven’t gone back to the previous week’s topic ever since the blog moved on to this one, I’ll recap:

    I’ve been a long-time reader of this blog, but never contributed. Something about last week’s topic spoke to me though and I decided to actually post my thoughts. Unfortunately, I tend to procrastinate a lot and I didn’t actually write my response until last Sunday. By that point, everyone had moved onto this topic and I’m guessing my long response (I had to break it into nine parts) went largely unread.

    So here I am; one day earlier than last week. Improvement!

    In terms of being a leader or a submissive, I don’t see myself as either. But I also don’t see myself as being in the middle. We have this concept of “opposites” that I think is sometimes misguided. For, example, we draw a straight line. At one end we write “love”. At the other end we write “hate”. Opposites! As far apart as possible. But I think a truer reflection of life would be to bend that line into a circle, so that the ends touch and join together; love flowing into hate; hate flowing into love; each a shadow-side of the other. The opposite of each then isn’t the other. Rather it’s apathy; which lies at the same point on the exact opposite side of the circumference.

    That’s sort of how I see myself in terms of being an “alpha” or a “submissive”. I’m more at the opposite end of the circumference from both. I don’t like being told what to do. And I don’t like telling other people what to do; although the two probably don’t operate in perfect symmetry. I can become quickly frustrated if I have to give someone too much instruction. But nothing bothers me more than being told I *can’t* do something, or that I *have to* do something else.

    But, just as both sides of the yin and yang contain a dot of the other, there are opposing elements at work with me as well. For example, I work in a project-based, creative field. And while I generally have no interest in telling other people what to do, when it comes to my own creative vision, I am not shy about directing as needed to see that it is fully realized. This can sometimes be a sticking point. A longtime collaborator of mine once pointed out to me that, when it comes to getting my way, I don’t always “play nice with the other kids.” On the other had, when it comes to certain life matters -things I don’t think should matter as much as they do, or think should be easier than they are- I can get easily lost and actually want outside direction; even if I’m not good at asking for it.

  14. Part II:

    Dan, in your response to J Girl you use the phrase, “ ‘normal’ or ‘healthy’ people.” I’m reminded of a passage from a book I recently read on mindfulness:

    “Somewhere in the process, you will come face to face with the sudden and shocking realization that you are completely crazy... No problem. You are not crazier than you were yesterday... You are also no crazier than everybody else around you.The only real difference is that you have confronted the situation; they have not. So they still feel relatively comfortable. That does not mean that they are better off.”

    The need DD fills may not be present in the typical person. But that doesn’t make them any healthier. maladaptive behaviors come in any number of forms and are just as often as not found in the most “normal” people we know.

    To be clear, I’m not insinuating that DD itself is a maladaptive behavior. I actually see it as value-neutral. Like most tools, its positive (healthy) or negative (unhealthy) value gets down to it’s use. A hammer can be used to build a house or bash a head in. When used positively, I see DD as a means of correcting (or balancing) the negative behaviors we’ve established, while bringing forth the positive behaviors we haven’t yet developed. I think someone being able to acknowledge that they can display behaviors that are not in the best interests of the relationship is a positive step that most “typical” people aren’t willing to make. And DD, if both parties are amenable, is really just problem-solving. And what could be healthier than that?

    I also realize you put the words “normal” and “healthy” in quotation marks. So maybe the last few paragraphs were unnecessary. But I guess that’s just where I spun off to while writing.



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