A vast percentage of posts about submission and control (including mine) are about the relationship between a submissive and their D-type. It is interpersonal power dynamics. However, I was reading tweets by @Ignixia the other day (follow her, she is really smart!) and she nailed a concept I have been struggling to articulate for a long time. She pointed out the reason we in the kink community frame “submission as a gift” and say “the submissive is the one with the real power” is to make our vanilla friends comfortable with the idea of giving over power.
My brain did the whole “DING! DING! DING! That’s Exactly It!!!!” thing when I read her tweet (part of a longer tweet chain). For many people, both in the kink world and outside of it, the concept of not having power over something is terrifying! This has become very evident in the current COVID19 crisis. People want to have power over this invisible enemy so we do stuff like believe if we drink disinfectant, or if we defy stay at home orders, or if we take enough of whatever supplements or drugs conspiracy theorists and charlatans are promoting we will be able to control our body’s and our environments.
What we fear, we try to control. Anonymous
What we fear we try to control. Take a minute and think about your own life. What do you feel you must control? Your emotions? Your children? You spending?
What is at the root of the need to control a specific thing? If you let your emotions out are you afraid you might not be seen as manly? Might they overwhelm you and you would say what you really feel and that could get you in trouble? Would your children run wild and put themselves at risk? We try to control what we fear.
Letting go of control, relinquishing power over specific aspects of our lives is then terrifying to most people (including those of us who are submissive). Truly giving over power, letting go of control over something then, means you must really trust another person.
This is the true beauty in good power exchange. When you are able to completely let over control to another person, this means you fully trust them to have your best interest at heart. That level of trust deepens a bond between the two of you.
This is true if you relinquish control over multiple areas of your life in a 24/7 power exchange relationship or if you simply relinquish control over a single aspect of your life for a limited period of time (as in a kink scene). The greater amount of control you are willing to relinquish is in direct proportion of how much you trust both yourself and your partner with that area of your life.
Submissives top from the bottom because we don’t necessarily trust some aspect of a scene. Either we don’t fully trust the person we are playing with or we don’t trust ourselves. We may not feel we have adequately communicated our limits and our needs. We may not trust the emotions which arise during a scene. We may not fully trust the D-type we are playing with.
This lack of complete trust is totally okay, by the way. Deep levels of trust are earned over time. It is never safe to give over complete control early on in a relationship. You do not know the other party well enough to fully trust them with your best interests until you have interacted in multiple situations over time.
Its totally okay to not trust yourself. Kink and power exchange are journeys. It takes a long time to figure yourself out. It takes time to learn about your needs, boundaries and emotions. Some of us will never fully trust ourselves because of our past histories or what we have been taught.
Trust is at the base of power exchange. The more control you are willing to give over, the more it is a sign of trust. It creates a unique and special bond with the person you trust. It can also be terrifying and exhilarating to reach that level of trust with a partner.
Ignixia introduced me to a new way of thinking about power, trust and control in submission. I hope I can pass a bit of that onto you!