I have always said that I am not a ‘service sub’. My evidence for this has been the fact that I don’t particularly like doing chores (it certainly doesn’t turn me on) and that I complete household tasks as and when required and because they need to be done, so it has never really been linked to my D/s relationship. However, LittleLove recommended a book called ‘Real Service’, see Little Pearls Site, where she wrote an excellent review of the book. This book has got me really thinking and I realise now that I was totally mistaken in my understanding (or rather my misunderstanding) of what a service submissive was.
To be honest, the book does focus on an M/s type dynamic as that is what the authors have, but I think that it is relevant for anyone who is in a relationship where the power exchange covers more than just the sexual aspects, as it is likely that a lot of the rest is based around service. Although service in a D/s dynamic is often seen as being sexual, this book is about ‘real service’ so focusses on the every day things that you do for each other in the real world and examines how that adds to your dynamic. It has made me think that actually most relationships which are 24/7 or lifestyle relationships would have those other elements of service as part of them, and that service is a part of my relationship with HisLordship – although having read the book I would not say that I am not really doing it very well.
Quite near the start of the book the authors look at the motivations for service and my actions come from a mixture of all three, depending on what it is I am doing. Sometimes I do it because I might benefit from it, sometimes it is out of love and sometimes it is because I like making other people happy and doing what they want. It has made me realise that to be a bit more aware of why I am doing something may help me to do it more effectively, or at least to value the act itself. I think that it will help my mindset to see some of these actions as serving, as that is what they are, I just had not thought of them in this way before.
It also tied in with what I wrote recently about active and passive submission. What the authors talk of with regard to service is reactive and proactive. I am definitely more proactive in what I do but realise that I have fallen into many of the traps that the book describes as being negative. One of these is doing things my own way, rather than thinking about how HL would like them to be done. I am certainly guilty of thinking that my way is better at times and also in doing things because I would like them and therefore think that he should too, which is obviously not service at all. It is pointed out quite clearly that unless service is wanted by the Dominant, it is not real service.
I realised that I need to spend much more time watching HL and thinking about what he actually likes and how he actually does things. Since he has been at home more of the time, I realise that I may not have allowed him the space to do things as he would like, but have expected him to do it in the way that I would usually complete the task. I thought I was being submissive as I tried to explain in a respectful way how it ‘worked best’ but I now realise how much this was probable a challenge to his Dominance. I think this has come about as he has taken over the lead in some of the jobs that were previously mine. I still help with those and have expected to do it in the same way, rather than fitting in with his new way – the one that suits him.
The authors describe styles of Dominance as being on a continuum which fits in with the styles of service. While Sir enjoys taking care of me and expects me to follow orders, he also enjoys being looked after and his needs being met so he is someone who likes anticipatory service. He is not one for issuing a lot of tasks for me to complete throughout the day as he finds that quite onerous and prefers me to be proactive, although in some areas he will do it. I think that we could improve things quite easily by being more defined in what we do. I do some of the ‘chores’ because I have always seen them as mine and have not really seen the link to D/s before even though we have talked about it.
One example is the planning and buying of food. Once a week I plan out all the meals and then will do a grocery shop (usually online). This is something that I have always done and I manage to do it well, while sticking to the monthly budget we have agreed on. I have never before seen this as an act of service, even though it is something that HL has asked that I do. To be honest I find it tiresome and sometimes I would like help with it. Seeing it as an act of service, however, gives it a different slant. It now feels much more important to me that I am able to do it competently and in a way which will impress him. Like the people who start with DD and find themselves drifting into D/s, I feel that suddenly I am seeing the appeal to some of the more mundane household tasks as being part of the service I give. A bit of a light-bulb three years in, but better late than never.
Sometimes I have been frustrated that HL doesn’t seem to notice when I don’t complete some of the tasks that I have been set. This is also discussed in the book and it ties back to the idea that to be of value, the service has to be wanted by the D type and not something that the s type wants to do. Some of the things that we do have been because I initiated or asked for them. It is all very well for me to do these as part of my anticipatory service but I cannot expect Sir to follow up on them. This is something else that I have done in the past I think, and I have become frustrated at times when it seemed that he didn’t value them.
I see now that we need to go back and find things which matter to him. A lot of our rules and rituals were put in place to help me to feel submissive and I think we need to look at things which actually help him and make his life easier, more pleasant or help his mindset. He will notice, for example if I try to open the car door myself or if my nails are not done, but he may not notice if I drink the required amount of water or not. Both are rules but not doing one obviously irritates him and the other doesn’t. Both are of value and I think it is good for me to keep drinking the right amount of water, but I can only expect him to correct the behaviours that he really values. I think that I have to accept that just because I think things are good ideas, doesn’t mean that he will want to do them and that by doing things that make him happy, they will become important to me. I hope that HL will agree to review things and be more open with me about which ones he values and wants to keep and which ones he doesn’t.
So overall I feel that I have learnt a lot of really helpful things – thank you LittleLove. One – to try to look at our rules and protocols and work out which ones are important to Sir and put less emphasis on the others. Two – to discuss the tasks which he wants me to do and have a more service minded approach to completing them. And three – to watch him more closely and try to do things which I think that he will want me to do for him, rather than things that I want to do for him. Quite a lot to work on there and it won’t happen overnight, but I am feeling positive about another new twist on the way we build the power exchange into our relationship.
I wrote this post over a year ago and it was published on submissy. Since then I think that things have improved and the revelations I had have helped me to become better at service in general. I have also become aware that there are a lot more submissives active on the site whose dynamic has more of a DD slant and who serve on a much more domestic level to me. It would be really good to know how it works for you, either in a longer post, or via the comments, or through the forums. If you start a forum thread then please let me know so that I can link it here.
For information the book that I read was Real Service and I can thoroughly recommend it.