Dom in bed, sub in life
June 9, 2009 12:32 PM   Subscribe

Dominant in bed, submissive in life - how to get over feeling like a weirdo?

In the exact reverse of the question asked earlier today, I am wondering about dealing with the guilt I feel about the disconnect between my daily personality and my actions in bed. I am very easy going, friendly, and solicitous towards everyone, especially partners, but sexually I am only interested in rough sex where I am the supplier of pain and various domination scenarios (nothing extreme or damaging and not overly complicated bondage, just exertions of power and mild humiliation).

I never really made the connection between my out-of-bed and in-bed personae before...but recently it has begun to worry me. Am I taking out frustrations with being nice and sweet and adept at social niceties and following rules on my partners? I know that is more of a question for my therapist, so instead I will ask restate what the last person asked:

"I was just wondering if anyone else has dealt with this particular issue and how they reconciled these conflicting attitudes in their minds. I just want to stop feeling like there is something "wrong" and just be able to pursue all my goals without feeling like a (sniveling revenge-taking creep)."

I don't think it matters to answer this question, but I am a male. Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

I think the answer is the same as it was to the question from earlier today: if your actions give you pleasure, and if the other participant(s) are also adults who are enjoying themselves, then there's not much to get hung up about. If you feel there is some underlying issue, a trip to a therapist may be in order.
posted by doh ray mii at 12:46 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Again, what makes you think this is unusual? I don't know you from Adam, obviously, so I have no idea what you're like in person, but it's worth asking whether your concept of what "dominant" means could stand to be broadened. "Dominant" doesn't necessarily or even usually mean "asshole." Likewise, the terms "easy going, friendly, and solicitous" don't conjure up any inherent contradictions with dominate personalities, at least not to me.

There's a difference between "dominant" and "domineering." In my experience, while most people consider the former term to have a neutral connotation at worst, I don't know anyone who uses the latter positively. It's possible to be in control without being controlling, to be assertive without being pushy, to be forceful without being rude, and to be confident without being arrogant.

Just something to think about. Without knowing you better it's impossible to give more specific advice.
posted by valkyryn at 12:49 PM on June 9, 2009

I agree with doh ray mii -- most of the advice from the other thread applies to you, too. But if you continue to have a problem reconciling these two aspects of your personality to the point where you want to see a therapist, you may want to check out the online database of kink-aware therapists to see if there's one in your area.

You should also take comfort in the knowledge that you are exactly what a lot of submissive women are looking for... a kind, helpful, "normal" person who happens to have dominant/sadistic leanings.
posted by arianell at 12:53 PM on June 9, 2009

I want to point out that you don't actually sound submissive in real life -- you sound like a normal, good guy. If you were a creepy, conciliatory "Nice Guy," then it's more likely to be a big dichotomy that could point to issues, but it just sounds like you're a good person (who happens to have certain preferences).

I wish you had left a throwaway e-mail address.
posted by booksandlibretti at 1:24 PM on June 9, 2009

Yay, two BDSM questions in one day!

I'm female and dominant. I'm also pretty easygoing in daily life, though I'm not especially warm and fuzzy. I'm not a natural leader and I hate managing people. I have trouble making basic decisions like where to eat for dinner, and I'm most likely to just "go with the flow." But I'm sadistic as all get out in bed, and I can be really, really bossy to my partner.

Am I taking out frustrations with being nice and sweet and adept at social niceties and following rules on my partners?

Well, do you find yourself boiling over with resentment at the end of the day because you had to hold the door open for some old lady? My one rule is that I never, ever touch him when I'm angry at him. If one of us is upset about something, we resolve it before we enter any kind of D/s mode, or we just skip it for the night. Now, I have taken out my frustrations on him when they have nothing to do with him, and when he's aware of it. It's a form of release, and as long as he's consented to it and I can stay perfectly in control, it's fine and it's fun.

If you can't keep yourself in check, you have no business dominating or topping until you learn to do so.

But honestly, as long as you're keeping it SSC (safe, sane, and consensual), I doubt there is a problem here. Most dominant men I know are not overbearing or aggressive in any way in their daily lives; in fact they are very gentlemanly and quite the pleasure to be around. I don't see their bedroom persona as any kind of compensation for "being nice" - that's just who they are. In any case, dominance can be seen as just another form of being nice to your partner, because if they're submissive, that's what they want.

Feel free to memail me; your anonymity will be respected.
posted by desjardins at 1:26 PM on June 9, 2009

I don't think this is abnormal at all. It's natural for us to look for what we can't have in the rest of our lives, and want that all the more because it is unavailable to us. So what's more natural than for all those pent-up feelings that you are, consciously or unconsciously, suppressing during the day to show up in that personal corner of the bedroom?

With an understanding partner, you can exercise those "darker" inclinations to your heart's content. Of course, remember to be safe, sane and consensual if you decide to pursue this further, and make sure you and your future partners are clear about your limits. Ideally, they will be pleased to have this out in the open and know what you want, and that they can help you with it.

The only obstacle I can see is if you are already in a relationship where your partner is not at all accepting of this kind of behavior. The only way you would know this, though, is if you have already addressed the situation and heard a definitive "No."

And if you haven't specifically referred to yourself, but just sounded out your partner in general terms, the answer may be different anyway--frequently, we see things as black and white when given the abstract, but once it is made more personal and we understand the feelings behind it, we are less judgmental.

So I guess my advice would be to "come out of the closet" and just be yourself! You might be surprised how well it turns out.
posted by misha at 1:29 PM on June 9, 2009

By the way, I really only became comfortable with my dominant side once I met other dominants and saw that they weren't unbalanced ogres. I highly recommend attending some sort of meetup or workshop. If you're in any kind of populated area in the English-speaking world, I guarantee there is something nearby. Let me know if you need help finding resources.
posted by desjardins at 1:30 PM on June 9, 2009

Dom(me)s should not be bullies, and bullies should not be dom(me)s.

That said, it sounds to me like you're overthinking it. You're an easygoing, polite person who gets off on giving pain, which doesn't make you a weirdo any more than the focused, assertive person who gets off on receiving pain.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:34 PM on June 9, 2009

"Am I taking out frustrations with being nice and sweet and adept at social niceties and following rules on my partners?"

Are you frustrated with being sweet and nice and adept at social niceties and following rules with your partners?

"I know that is more of a question for my therapist"

I've never been in therapy, but to me, that sounds like a question for yourself. Seriously think about it and answer it.

Are you frustrated with being nice?
Are you frustrated with being sweet?
Are you frustrated with... etc?

Only you can say.
posted by 2oh1 at 12:36 AM on June 10, 2009

I want to point out that you don't actually sound submissive in real life -- you sound like a normal, good guy.

This. First and foremost, I don't think that there's any contradiction between taking on one role in your work life, and a different role in bed. But that said, I think that you are incorrectly mischaracterizing being a fairly normal, well-socialized, pleasant person with being "submissive."

Just because you aren't being that asshole who has to act like he's in charge of every social gathering, or that you don't get off on bossing random people around, doesn't mean that you are submissive. You're just into (for whatever reason, which I don't think matters that much, but feel free to analyze it all you want) a fairly specific set of sexual acts, which as long as they are performed in a consensual environment won't hurt anyone. And outside of the bedroom, you sound like you are a pretty normal person, neither extremely dominant or submissive.

So, great for you for being in touch with what gets you off in bed, but I don't see any need to worry about the implications for the rest of your life unless there's a problem. If there is a problem, however -- if you are destroying your life with compulsive behavior, or behaving in inappropriate ways, like sexualizing non-sexual situations in ways that make other people uncomfortable -- then you need to seek help. Otherwise, you are as normal as the person next to you on the bus who also probably likes to do funky stuff in bed but manages to get dressed and make it work everyday all the same.
posted by Forktine at 5:54 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

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