Training is a term often thrown around in the world of Dominance and submission, but to find out what it actually means and involves can be quite hard. As with everything, training means different things to different people and this post reflects an interpretation of it which comes from within a married dynamic. I say this because it is my belief that when you are living in a full time lifestyle dynamic with a long-term committed partner, what training means to you may be different than the interpretation you might find discussed in forums, on kink sites and even in erotic fiction.
Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.
What I have concluded is that, whatever the dynamic, training is based on learning about your submission and also learning about the service and skills your Dominant expects from you. While what is written more widely often involves quite an intense period of focussed effort on training, this does not need to be the case. In a relationship like ours training tends to happen more informally and more as part of an ongoing process. While some of it will happen in specific play sessions, for example where we are trying out a new type of play or toy, most of it is simply learning about each other, as you would in any relationship.
From what I have seen and experienced, training usually falls into three key areas. The first is about learning what it means to be submissive. It is about building skills and developing as a sub. The second area tends to revolve around learning the preferences of the Dominant: Learning to serve, learning to meet his needs etc. And finally, there is often training around personal growth or goals. This is more about pushing boundaries and becoming a better version of yourself.
Training is the process of learning the skills you need to do a particular job or activity.
Submissive skills / development
Learning to be a submissive can often centre around giving up control. It can be about following instruction and working at putting your own will aside. For us this has been a gradual thing. As the trust has grown, so I have been able to give up more control. It has felt less about training and more about trusting. It has meant a change in the way that I think and a change in the way that I respond. Essentially, I have become more submissive.
In that sense, I suppose I have been trained, however, the process has felt indirect and natural. I realise that I have changed my behaviour and responses, but that has been in line with the rules and rituals that we have negotiated and agreed between us. It feels like a joint thing, a partnership. A bigger part for me has been the shift in my thinking. My perspective has altered over the time and so, to put HL’s needs first, has become more automatic.
This has not happened because he is telling me to do it but more because he is doing the same for me. Our behaviours have aligned themselves so that they are in a pattern where we mirror and reflect. While the power exchange can make this look as if we have polar behaviours, actually they are based on the same things: the desire to put the other first and meet their needs
Retraining the brain to respond in a new or different way can take time. It requires conscious thought and practise but over time, it will become your new default. By behaving as we do, training has happened, although it has not been noticeable or felt as much as it would do during an intense training phase. It has become what I do, and what I want to do in response to HL. It is a reflection of how I feel about him and that has changed as we have grown together in our dynamic
If you don’t model what you teach, you are teaching something else.
Not sure who said it but this is one of my mantras
We have also used specific training for some areas of play. Often play for us would sit firmly within the D/s dynamic. When trying out something new we will build things up slowly, communicating as we move along. This will include much more dialogue from me that it would if we were playing or having a scene. In that situation I would often be deep within a submissive mindset and my responses would reflect that.
If we are trying something new, or building something up, HL needs to know how it is affecting me. How does it feel, how is the pain or pleasure? It is as much about his learning as it is about mine. He needs to know what I can take, and what that looks like. He needs to learn where my boundaries are so that he can gently push them. We have found this is most effectively done where there is full communication and a more analytical approach. Once this is done, we feel free to slip more comfortably into our respective roles.
Learning the Dominant’s Preferences
Some of learning about what HL prefers has come from direct instruction and request. During our open talks he has told me what he would like. We discuss how things make us think and feel and talk about our fears and desires. Some of these things will then become a focus for what we do. I suppose this is about learning the skills you need to do the job. I have learnt which things please him, which things make him feel desired, which things turn him on and make him feel good.
This can be a direct instruction or alternatively it can come from my active submission: asking would he like something, asking may I do something, and so on. Over time I have learnt what is likely to work well and what will not. The other part comes from following the rules and practising the rituals that we have agreed together. These can be reinforced by punishment, but more often it will be through reward or through positive reinforcement. This is another difference to the information I have often read about training where the focus is on taking away and punishing, rather than on giving and rewarding
Personal Growth and Personal Goals
This process can also help you to work towards personal goals and allow for growth. Often we hold ourselves back and a big part of submission is a power exchange is about letting go. The power exchange allows you to do that in a way that might not work otherwise. The shift in focus, mindset and perception that I have written about above means that you can feel freer and more able to respond in different ways.
Some of your training will be about this process. Again it comes from the growth of the trust and safety. At the same time the connection between you can become stronger and more intimate. Showing vulnerability is no longer the barrier it was to trying new things, so from the gradual training comes an ability to behave in way that you might not usually. For me this part has been significant and is an area that will remain throughout.
It is a fine balance and one that is walked day to day. The decision about when to push boundaries comes with a lot of responsibility and there needs to be confidence for that to happen. Really training is about learning and I come back to the point that within our relationship we are learning about each other, as you would in any other relationship. The dynamic might give this a different appearance, and certainly we feel that it allows us to achieve more than if we weren’t doing it, but essentially it is based on knowing what the other needs and wants.
Training is a rubbish term
Having written this post, I have to conclude that I don’t feel that training is the best term to use for what we do. If you are in a married or long term lifestyle dynamic and want to draw parallels to what is written about in other areas, then I would align it in the way I have done above. I don’t really feel the word itself has connotations which are helpful or conducive to a loving relationship which is organic in its nature. It feels too rigid, too formalised and too extreme to fit what we have. It does create a clear impression of the difference in roles though and I think that is often why it is used.
Check out this interesting post by littlegem on anal training