Power is nothing without control. Strength without direction is just brutish force, intellect without context is cold and uninteresting, emotions running amok are terrifying. I'm a control freak. You can see this clearly in my day-to-day life, outwith BDSM: I like things to be clean and tidy, I keep a well-ordered desk, notebook and diary, I manage my weight and my body through diet and exercise. Self-control is an important part of my own identity - that I am seen as strong, as competent and as "in-control". I dislike losing my cool or having to raise my voice in anger or annoyance.
I'm big on time-keeping, I get stressed and unhappy when people don't meet deadlines or show up late. I don't like "wasting" time or energy and find sitting still doing nothing rather difficult. I keep lists and make plans; I am famously poor at spontanaeity and dislike taking risks. I like to know where I stand with different areas of my life and where I intend to be in a few months, a few years. Pride is derived in part from being able to tick off against my own mental checklist achievements measured in units of control. Whether I have done what I set out to do, in a manner that I consider appropriate. Control freakery begins at home. I manage myself first, then others. It starts by knowing myself and what I want, then by knowing how to go out, get it and keep it.
Then it goes out to play and the fun really begins. Being obsessed with control doesn't mean that I need to be in control at all times: whether I top or bottom, it's all about the detail within the power exchange: who is able to do what to whom, how much can be given or taken. At the moment, I'm more about having control than giving it, which has made me think a lot about the ways in which I enjoy it. Control comes in many forms and it is not the same thing as micro-management, if there is one form of D/s I detest it is the type that requires control of the entire minutae of life. Small rules every now and then are interesting, especially when they vary, but part of the joy of control is in allowing people the room to be controlled, to come up with ways in which they can fall under your aegesis and a broader brief gives more scope for that, and also more challenge. One of the things I am extremely happy about with Ten is his ability to act by himself in ways that are very pleasing - then tell me all about them. He's currrently under orgasm control (he can masturbate twice a day, maximum, on his knees with a cube of ice in his mouth, if he hasn't come by the time it's melted, too bad). He automatically inferred that I'd want him to lick any resulting fluid up.
And that is where the heart of my desire for control rests. I like control to be offered up, I don't want to have to bully it or force it out of someone. Whilst I might like to hurt them or fight them or be violent within a scene the decision to be in that place and to give themselves over to me must be theirs alone. Obviously, there are moments when I might feel different, but in broad brushstrokes I don't want to walk across a room and pull someone out by their hair. I want them to crawl over to me and beg me to do so. This focus on the offering up rather than the taking puts the onus on the submissive to think and decide a bit more. I want them to be a part of their own submission, and to input into the creativity of play. Yes, a big part is about me being able to do what I want, but part of my pleasure is in taking them places, especially places they might have secretly desired and feared, because then I've reached a deeper part of them. Usually I'll ask for an email list and then I can start the work of getting into their heads.
I want to exert control over something worthwhile, which means I don't want a doormat. I don't want someone who rolls over and exposes their stomach to everyone. My preferred submissives are outwardly somewhat "alpha" and certainly they are well-rounded and self-aware gentlemen (they are usually men) with much to recommend them. They might have a history of making women go weak at the knees. So much the better. I like it when they are stronger, physically, than me. It makes the power exchange more meaningful. Those I have recently encountered have found their submission something of a surprise, and helping them through the newness of it is rather a pleasure - in the same way that I enjoy chatting to new people at a munch or club, a new submissive partner is rather lovely. I benefit from being the experienced one, which adds to my sense of dominance, but also they are a blank slate with no-one else's desires or wishes imprinted on them. I can do things to them first, and from then on that moment in time will forever belong to me.
Finally, I like need. Their need. Their desire to be controlled, their desire for me and what I can do to them because of that desire. There is a certain level of belle dame sans merci going on, which is a look and attitude I enjoy because, naturally, it makes me feel powerful as well as desired. I enjoy withholding. I like the pained look on people's faces, or the solemn resignation. It is likely that if I know something is really, really wanted I will keep the supply of it limited, produced as a reward or only achieved in a way that is difficult. I like satisfying the need also, because part of being good at control is knowing how long you can string them out before the tension becomes unbearable. The ideal is to wind them up to just beyond where they think they can go, before allowing release. And release is very important, it keeps them coming back for more, like a bird on a lure, but because they need to trust that I will give them release - eventually - and the more they trust the more control they will cede to me, or rather, the more that control will become a natural, unthinking part of their existence.
Release is also important because the scene needs to end. I might keep little tabs on them, such as I'm doing with Ten, but only if it seems to be working for both of us, and nothing that would interfere overtly in their lives. I am not interested in a heavy 24/7 TPE situation, I don't want that responsibility, commitment or intimacy (frankly, I'm not interested in it from either a top or a bottom position). I also want multiple partners and I'm not sure I have the time for anything that requires that sort of depth. Control needs to be given back, in whole or in part and they need to go off and be themselves again, think things over and return if they are ready to do it again.