A conversation I had with Knight of Wands a week or so ago keeps going around in my head. It was about the challenges of protection in a BDSM context (no, not condoms). We both get a lot of pleasure out of being a protective dominant, in being the strong, reliable one and we both find it hard when that aspect is thwarted because it makes us feel out of control.
At the moment I am feeling frustrated. And the worst part is that it is no-one's fault so the blame falls nowhere but sits heavily around my shoulders and makes me more frustrated. There's a lot of boring life stuff going on that means I have very little time and the time I do have is being eaten by work. Both Mannequin and Dandy, for very good, very real and very sad reasons have been off the radar and off kilter. Given that the nature of our relationship with each other is deliberately light-touch (low protocol, casual) reacting as a dominant is inappropriate. Also, you can't really order someone to "feel better" or rather you can, but it doesn't work and makes you an insensitive wanker.
When I care for someone, when I start to develop even an iota of feeling, I start to become fiercely protective. I do the same for my friends, for my family and for my lovers. The latter category is interesting because it is coloured with D/s. As a dominant I feel a sense of duty towards the other person. It's an odd phrase to use, because that makes it sound onerous, whereas it's absolutely not a chore, quite the reverse, it's something I want to do, need to do. By being able to care for them I make myself stronger.
Just the same as when a friend is hurt and you cannot help nor comfort them - you feel like less of a friend. If I cannot protect my submissives, in some way make their lives better by being in it, then I am less of a dominant. I can't fix any of the things that are making them unhappy. I think it's fair to say that "apply more dominance!" is not the answer in these circumstances, and I'm hoping that I'm doing the best I can by giving them space and being their friend. And I'm happy to be so, because I am their friend.
Because, let's face it. I also want to be their dominant, which isn't always friendly. And there's a selfish kernel of concern in me that worries perhaps more and more they will want to be "just friends" and less and less be interested in the sexual, emotional, intellectual pot-boiler that is D/s. Because it's not easy going, casual fucking. It does take it out of you (and gives too, but there must be effort expended first). I am as demanding and high maintenance as a dominant as I ever was as a submissive: I don't give much quarter, I expect whatever orders I give to be obeyed and I have high standards. In short, I'm probably hard work. I like to think I'm worth it, but I can also see that at times it might be too much.
The consequence is that at the same time as I have been rather missing them, and generally missing out on kink and social activities, I've also been feeling less and less like "their" dominant and more and more like just a dominant. And a slightly lonesome, frustrated one at that.