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One of the items which I think every effective dominant should have is a sense of purpose. I realise that this isn't a "thing" which you can pack into your toy bag before you set off for an evening of delight and debauchery, but for many types of BDSM activities and relationships a solid sense of purpose needs to underlie them or else it all starts to feel a bit directionless.
Let me go back a step here and explain: Many slaves and submissives don't surrender themselves into the hands of their dominant just because of some physical or sexual activity at which this dominant excels. I know that bottoms do, that they'll often be interested in a particular top because of his or her skill in a particular activity - such as rope bondage or spanking - which happens to scratch a strong itch which that bottom has. For example, a bottom who finds that a hard spanking on a weekly basis is both very cathartic and gets their juices flowing is not going to be necessarily looking for domination on top of that. The spanking is satisfying on its own, thank you very much, and any further bowing, kneeling, worshipping or cooking of dinners is excess to requirements.
On the other hand, slaves and submissives are generally not looking for specific activities. Their want or need is going to be on the mental side of things. It's true that what happens between them and their dominant partner often plays out in physical ways - such as with the recreational inserting of bamboo under the fingernails or with water play by means of keelhauling, but the actual activities themselves are secondary to the psychological connection between the submissive and their partner.
Instead of surrendering to the actual physical play, sensations or pain as a bottom might do, a significant part of the surrender of a submissive is to their psychological interaction with their dominant or master.
What makes this interaction powerful and, in turn, the submissive's own surrender powerful, is the sense of purpose behind it on the part of the dominant. The more intensely the submissive feels or is aware of this purpose, this drive, this intensity of focus on the part of their dominant, the more profound their own experience is going to be regardless of whether it is experiencing being on the end of the lash, serving drinks, being manhandled, running errands or whatever.
A vital part of this is that the purpose is not only intense, but is just or right. The submissive needs to be able to get behind this purpose, to support it. If not, then some or all of the intensity behind it will be lost for them and they may only "go through the motions". Many slaves sign up to do whatever their master tells them to, but the amount of satisfaction they are going to get from serving is going to go down dramatically if they feel that what they're being told to do is unethical or unfair to someone.
So, a few important things come out of this:
- As a dominant, you should have a sense of purpose. Where are you going with your submissive? What do you want to achieve with them? What do you want them to achieve for you?
- Communicate this purpose to your submissive. Don't be vague with them. Make sure they're clear about where you want them to go. This helps them share the intensity.
- You tell your submissive where you're going so they can surrender to the journey and work towards the destination with you. They need to have an overall confidence in this. That doesn't mean that you have to, or even should, tell them everything. They often simply need faith that you have them in hand, that you know where you're going and that it's a good place to go.
- Having a purpose gives a dominant energy, a power which their submissive can feel.
You both will get more bang for your buck when that purpose is clear and your drive to get there is strong.