Evaluating, Discussing, and Planning for Your Social Needs

People, especially M/s pairs, frequently get the advice, “Communicate!  Know yourself!” but they don’t always get advice on how to do those things.

I’m not an expert, just your friendly neighborhood slave who “used to be an introvert, is now an extrovert, still gets mistaken for an introvert”.

So here we go: evaluating, explaining, and planning for your social wants, needs, and abilities (and some on doing so within an M/s dynamic as a slave).

If you only read one more sentence here, let it be this: not all socializing is the same.

If what you really want is a long emotional midnight talk with your best friend, small talk at the water cooler with your coworkers isn’t gonna cut it.

If you want to be talking with an energetic group of people, that long emotional midnight talk isn’t gonna cut it.

If you want to talk to someone about a specific passion project, a family dinner focused on a distant relative isn’t gonna cut it.

Step 1: Evaluate

Think about what you want (and don’t want) or need out of social interactions.  Not just right now, but in general.  Consider:

Quantity of People — What do you get out of small group interactions?  Large group?  One on one?  Do you have a general preference for one or more of those?  Do you want different amounts of people at different times, and what times are those?  Are you “better” at interacting with a specific quantity of people, based on how well they respond, or on how you feel?

Specific People — People who are close to you might be in a bit of a category all their own.  Are there people you crave interacting with in particular?  Your partner(s)?  Your family?  Your best friends?

Intimacy Level — What do you get out of interacting with strangers?  Acquaintances?  Friends?  People closest to you?  What about conversations that are light, or conversations that are in depth?  Do you have a preference towards any of those, and does your preference change—if so, based on what?  Are you more at ease, and do you set others more at ease, with intimate conversation, or small talk?

Virtual or In Person — How do you count virtual interactions?  Group virtual spaces, private messaging, phone calls, video chatting?  Are you tech savvy?  Do you feel more comfortable in a specific medium?

Topics of Discussion — Do you seek out friends to talk about specific things with, like hobbies, or kink?  If so, what things?

Level of Interactiveness — Does sitting with someone, both mostly doing your own thing, count as socializing for you, and in what way?  Do you enjoy it, or no?  Does that change based on number of people, or who it is?

Length/Frequency of Interactions — What amount of socialization do you generally need, and of what types above?  What about alone time, and how do you define that?  What makes those amounts go up?  Down?  Do you like fewer but longer interactions or alone times, or more but shorter?  Does anything there depend on other factors?  What do you define as frequent or infrequent, or long or short?  Are you long-winded, or do you struggle to keep conversations going?

Step 2: Analyze

From the information you determined based on those types of questions, ponder what your social life would ideally look like in action.

I’ll use myself as an example. 

I generally prefer a mix of some fairly large group interactions with mostly one on one.  I like having time to interact one on one with some of my vanilla family, Mistress, and my best friend.  Virtual communication doesn’t usually do much for me, but sitting with someone while we both do our own thing does, and it’s important to me to have people to talk to about both writing and kink (largely covered by the specific people above).  I tend to go for longer one on one hang outs, like spending a whole day together, and large group interactions of maybe around three hours.

With that information in mind, I make it part of my weekly planning to check for any kink events I want to go to (generally an easy way to satisfy that large group desire) and to ask those specific people if they want to hang out (generally optimizing around schedules for longer amounts of time).

Basically: figure out how to meet those desires.  Come up with different, malleable ideas.

Step 3: Discuss

Within whatever framework your dynamic has, share what you discovered in the steps above.

“Whys” for your preferences might be a good thing to share if you’re having a more theoretical conversation, but it might be good to not get too hung up on them if you’re just talking action items.

Remember that most social needs are very specific to each person; don’t try to pass general judgment on them, good or bad; simply explain them as being yours.

Then, talk about your ideas for meeting those desires.  Ask for feedback; see how you can make it a win-win.

As said, I’m an extrovert; Mistress, on the other hand, is an introvert.  For us, it works out well if I go out of the house to get my extrovert time, because it generally leaves her home alone to get her introvert time.  Win-win.

Maybe there are people you can both arrange to see at the same time for convenience.  Maybe you both want to go to more kink events—you can offer to look for ones you’d both enjoy.  Maybe you can offer to manage both of your calendars to make planning easier (we use a shared Google Calendar).

From there, you can have experimentation with action plans to find out what works best.

My Style of Entertaining, And Where I Got It From

Recently, Mistress and I attended one of my family’s gatherings.

As I watched my cousin, one of the hosts, cook entirely too much delicious food, and the other host, her husband, diligently clean up a step behind her, I thought about my own style of entertaining and where I get it from.

Other than the aforementioned couple, it was mostly my great-aunt or her daughter who hosted family gatherings as I was growing up.  There was also always entirely too much delicious food from that part of the family, though it happened more in courses—light appetizers in wicker baskets scattered around before you sat down to salad and soup, then a course offering the option of many tempting entrees and sides, usually very drawn out before the cleaning up started, people wandering around, leading into the placement of assorted light desserts.

At my cousin’s house, however, it was more like a constant wandering, and many light and heavier appetizers on the large kitchen island, then a large variety of appealing entrees, sides, and heavier desserts added to that island, much closer together in time.  Cleanup got done as it was needed, closely following whatever was getting cooked up at the time.

Aside from family gatherings, the parties I went to during my more formative years that I remember best were the parties thrown by the very wealthy families of kids I went to middle school with for the first two years.  As someone new to that private school and there on scholarships, it was like a whole new world.

These were parties of hundreds of people of varying relation in fancy but uncomfortable looking clothes, with very loud music from a DJ and elaborate but dim lighting, sitting down at round tables so big you could barely read the place card of the person across from you, the table covered in fine linens, and waiters bringing delicately plated food you had ordered on your RSVP card so long ago you forgot what you ordered or what the options even were.  People gave speeches and after dinner, there were activities and lots of dancing.

I think of what I’m like as a host now and can see bits of all of those hosts in me.  I hosted a weekly event at home with Mistress for almost a year and a half, having rarely less than six and rarely more than twelve people over for food, chitchat with kinky company, and occasional play or swimming.  In that event, I can see bits of all of the above events.

I always erred on the side of too much food, and my skills at cleaning and cooking at the same time improved over time, though there was always more cleanup to do after all was done (and cleaning up before people even arrived).  I tended to have the “light appetizers scattered around in cute baskets” style (cut down later on due to the unhealthy tendencies of those “appetizers”). Then there would be a more buffet style entree serving later (as cooking finished), with maybe a light side or two, usually fairly closely followed by a dessert.  People were free to wander around with their food.

Though some of the formality of the large parties appeals to me, I would rather fall on the guests being comfortable side of it, like my family.  We never had a dress code of any sort (and clothes sometimes came off anyway), we tried to keep the sensory experience of the house calmer, focused on interaction with the other people, not the environment, since that’s what they were there for.

Food was customizable with request, and I often felt out people on the general food options as little as a day in advance.  

I liked a more personalized feel.  There’s the great service of going to a famed five-star restaurant, and there’s the great service of going to the mom and pop cafe you frequent.  The five-star restaurant might have dishes with names in the romance languages, but the mom and pop cafe knows you want extra potatoes and no whipped cream on your drink.  I liked the latter style.

Yes, the brand name store-bought cookies look pretty in the package and have a health code stamp on them, but you don’t get to smell them while they’re in the oven, or see the cloud of flour dust as flour gets added to the bowl, or taste test any of the cookie dough.  Personally, I valued the way the kitchen got crowded as the cookie dough got closer to taste-test ready or as the oven timer got closer to zero, more than I valued a pretty package.  (People descended upon the cookies before they were nearly cooled enough to think about presentation, anyway.)

A main hosting priority for me was also to make everything as intuitive and easy as possible.  I labeled things.  I laid things out in advance.  I didn’t blast music so loud people couldn’t hear each other, or dim the lights so low they couldn’t see each other.  I tried to offer options on things that would work for everyone, and let people choose for themselves.  Fancy was cool, but I didn’t want it at the cost of confused guests who felt shoved into a box. 

If it wouldn’t disrupt the guest experience, I still liked keeping things nicer; even just using real, non-disposable silverware, plates, napkins, and bowls for the occasion easily gave it a more upscale feel.  (Hosting a lot, you have to start to think about your environmental impact anyway.)

Personally, I had a great guest experience at the house of my cousin and her husband recently, and I have had many great experiences with them and with the other hosts of my family, and many of those massive parties of kids at school were a blast, too.  People can definitely enjoy more than one kind of event.

It was interesting to think back on those experiences and how they formed my general hosting style and values—and thinking deeper into different types.

M/s vs. D/s

D/s is a power dynamic where one partner (the Dominant) consensually maintains some level of power in certain areas over the other (the submissive).

M/s is a power dynamic where one partner (the Master/Mistress) consensually maintains a very high level of power in many or all areas over the other (the slave). It has a higher connotation with 24/7.

Neither of these relationship dynamics inherently connects to romance, sex, or kinky play.

A commonly heard idea in discussions about D/s vs. M/s comes down to when the choice to obey is made. Obedience in M/s is often seen as a one-time decision; the slave decides to obey when they become the slave of their M-type, and that decision is never really made again, because it’s already been decided. Obedience in D/s is often seen as more of an active decision each time the submissive follows their Dominant’s will, with each act of obedience seen as accompanied by a bit more of a thought process. Relatedly—internal enslavement is something I see referred to almost exclusively in M/s language.

D/s tends towards more negotiating than M/s, so a submissive might think about the implications of following an order more than a slave. If they do it now, does that set the expectation that they’re always okay with it, or that they’re okay with an escalation path going forth from it? A slave who gives up more control might not think of those things because they might not matter as much.

In those negotiations, it is more often seen in M/s that the slave does not have safewords, hard or soft limits, or the full ability to leave the relationship. It is rarer in D/s for the submissive to not have those things.

D/s is kind of a “headspace enforced” situation. If the submissive is not feeling like obeying at that moment, I see a lot of “then the headspace needs to be fixed” (often by the Dominant). M/s is more of a “headspace expected” situation, where the slave obeys whether they want to or not, and if they don’t want to in that moment, it’s not viewed as a problem; there’s just the expectation that they still want to obey overall, and their headspace will reflect that better later, in a likely fairly natural way.

Often, in fact, I think that these expectations are good for the desired headspaces in themselves, and the expectations for a submissive might be actively detrimental for a slave, and vice versa. A slave would feel discouraged if their M-type wanted to fix their headspace every time they internally didn’t want to do something; a submissive would feel discouraged if they didn’t get help with their headspace at the same moments. Same for how they feel they should address it within themselves.

The positives of being a submissive are often described as “the joy of the feeling of surrender”. It is associated with something you actively feel. The positives of being a slave are often described as “the joy of serving and pleasing another”. It is associated more with how you make your M-type feel.

With this difference in mindset, D/s often has the submissive’s headspace kept in mind when coming up with specific ways for the submissive to submit, with the submissive’s wanting to do those things being important. M/s more often has the Master/Mistress’ wants being kept in mind when coming up with specific ways for the slave to submit, and their desire to submit overall being the important factor.

I am frequently asked about my thoughts on this subject, and I wanted to create one reference on it; so, here it is.

Sadism vs. CNC

I had an interesting conversation with Mistress on this Valentine’s Day.

“I think I might be a sadist,” she said.

“Why?”

“Well, a few hours ago—“ before the nap I’d needed after “—we had sex, and you were in pain, and I liked that you were in pain.”

Okay. Well, yes, that sounded like sadism—but also wasn’t news. She’d used a neon wand to the point of pain on me just the night before, combined with a chest harness of conductive rope, while our friends watched. We’d done impact scenes that lasted hours and consisted of mostly single tails. So why did enjoying having sex that exacerbated some pre-existing pain trigger this revelation?

Her initial explanation came down to “because you were in pain and didn’t want to be in pain”.

I thought out loud about definitions of sadism I’d seen. In the kink scene, “sadist” and “pain play Top” often get kind of combined and messy. A more classic definition of sadism would say that it was enjoying the pain of others. The difference I spotted was basically enjoying inflicting pain for one reason or another, or enjoying others being in pain for the sake of pain.

I asked, “What do you get out of pain play scenes?”

Well, mostly she enjoyed it because she knew I liked it. And she got to guide me through a journey of sensation. And, sometimes, show off—in the case of a public scene.

None of those really had to do with the pain itself. Of course, pain was involved, she said, but it was something I generally wanted as a part of a scene, pain for the sake of pain.

So that’s what made the sex today different. I was in pain I didn’t want. And she enjoyed it—without my enjoyment, without getting to lead a sensation journey, and without any showing off. If her definition of sadism was just about the pain itself, she could’ve had this revelation from an impact scene. But she hadn’t. Because it wasn’t about the pain.

It was about the fact that I didn’t want the pain; that was the differentiating factor.

We’d had sex, which exacerbated pain I didn’t want to be in, making it hard for me to enjoy it. And she found she especially enjoyed the experience specifically because I was experiencing pain I truly didn’t like.

Having thought through some things out loud, I came to the conclusion: “Maybe it’s not sadism, maybe it’s CNC.”

Because if sadism is about pain, if plenty of people identify as sadists when they are enjoying the pain of someone else when that someone else also enjoys it on some level, then her identification as a sadist wouldn’t depend on me not enjoying it; it also wouldn’t be about just being a pain play Top or not, because she was already definitely that.

It wasn’t about my pain; it was about my consent, and I’m not allowed to say no.

I pointed out that there were other times we’d had sex when I hadn’t wanted to, for reasons that weren’t really pain, per se—I was engaged in something else, I was short on time, I was tired, etc. She’d also very much enjoyed those—but hadn’t used sadism as a word to describe it because pain wasn’t involved. But the issue here wasn’t really pain either, though pain can be hard to define.

I do things as a slave on a daily basis that I really don’t want to do, but I do imagine it’s harder to pin down how you feel about that outside of a scene from the other side of the slash. Watching me do dishes and maybe looking a little agitated is different than being actively engaged in something that’s clearly making me feel pain. It feels a little more the same from my side, sometimes pain is pain whether it’s from scrubbing or not.

I also pointed out that when providing a real answer to, say, a stranger at a munch about what she does in kink, Mistress usually engages more about having a slave than about whips or rope or fire play.

I think in the end I’m still thinking that this is about consent and not pain, an idea I’ve seen Mistress discover parts of over time, as I have. It’s an interesting concept.

My Collar (Physical Considerations)

(Note: This post is about my physical slave collar, rather than traditions, meanings, or emotional aspects—subjects for another day.)

Decisions about my collar took several things into account.

We had started with the idea that it would be something I wore 24/7, not taking it off without a serious reason (like some sort of medical need). This created most of our considerations. It would also be a literal collar—around my neck.

We wanted it to be relatively tame in several ways: color, pattern, sizing—so it wouldn’t necessarily draw attention to itself, or seem mismatched, as I would be wearing it in public and in front of vanilla company such as family.

We wanted something that looked nice on me, but wasn’t too out of place for the everyday, that would fit in at a formal or casual event.

It had to be practical for any rough play we did, leashes when they were used; as it would be my only collar, it had to serve every function we needed—even if it wasn’t the main function.

We also considered comfort: in size, texture, and any other ways. We weren’t looking for a sadism device on my neck 24/7.

It also had to be of very good quality to not fall apart with constant wear.

Finally, it was important to both of us that we were both thrilled with it overall.

Then, other ideas became important. Mistress would make the collar herself—it would be one of a kind and personal. The collar would be permanent—in some way, physically unremovable.

Mistress made my collar around my neck as I knelt at her feet, a three hour process with the occasional short break to stretch.

It is made of natural hemp rope, fairly close fitting, with a small stainless steel shackle that attaches a stainless steel o-ring. At even its weakest point the collar can support far more than my body weight. It is permanent in that the only way to take it off is to destroy (cut) it. It is made of one piece of rope connected to itself via a long splice, and where each end of the splice meets, it’s reinforced with a palm and needle whipping.

List: Some Services S-Types Can Offer

Cleaning

  • Make beds.
  • Collect and take out trash and recycling, manage containers for them, and handle trash and recycling services.
  • Collect, wash, dry, put away, and care for dishes.
  • Disinfect surfaces.
  • Wash mirrors and windows.
  • Clean appliances.
  • Clean toilets, showers, and baths.
  • Manage clutter, tidy up, and organize things.
  • Clean, vacuum, sweep, and mop floors.

Home Maintenance/Repair

  • Fix and install light bulbs and fixtures.
  • Paint walls and hang wallpaper.
  • Fix and install plumbing-related things.
  • Change air filters.
  • Rotate mattresses.
  • Fix and install appliances.
  • Fix, assemble, and make furniture.
  • Do construction, plumbing, and electrical jobs.
  • Handle working with tradesmen.

Plants/Outdoor

  • Plant, grow, and maintain a lawn.
  • Plant and grow any other desired plants.
  • Clear trash and blockages from exterior areas.
  • Weed an area.
  • Prune plants.
  • Maintain a pool.

Laundry/Sewing/Needlework

  • Collect, sort, wash, dry, and put away laundry.
  • Iron.
  • Remove stains.
  • Mend clothes.
  • Tailor clothes.
  • Design and sew, knit, and crochet projects.
  • Do embroidery and applique.

Culinary

  • Cook everyday and fancier foods for whatever number of people is required.
  • Bake.
  • Create nice food and drink presentation.
  • Serve food and drink gracefully.
  • Make coffee, tea, and cocoa.
  • Set the table for various situations; fold napkins.
  • Match alcohol and make alcoholic drinks.
  • Check expiration dates and clear out old food.
  • Put together menus, meal plan, keep food inventory, and make shopping lists.
  • Warm or cool plates, cups, and bowls.
  • Handle special diets.
  • Handle food preservation.

Recreation

  • Pack, especially for air travel.
  • Plan for and use public transportation.
  • Handle arrangements for lodging, meals, and transportation.
  • Find desired shops and services.
  • Navigate with a map or GPS.
  • Handle passport, currency, language, cultural, and legal issues.
  • Handle entertainment, visiting tourist destinations, and going to events.
  • Maintain a valid driver’s license and safe driving skills; drive.
  • Maintain a car: change oil, get fuel, check fluids, change wiper blades, check tire pressure, and change tires.
  • Host events and guests, including overnight.
  • Film and photograph requested occasions.

Secretarial

  • Handle and answer electronic written communications, calls, mail, papers, and visitors; take messages.
  • Proofread, edit, format, and provide feedback on various projects.
  • Keep a calendar and manage scheduling.
  • Keep records.
  • Assist with gifting.
  • Shop online and in-store.
  • Manage groceries and basic items.
  • Manage couponing, sale-finding, item comparing, and negotiating.
  • Do product and store research.
  • Handle paperwork and related items.
  • Give reminders.
  • Give tech support.
  • Design websites.
  • Research assigned topics and share a report.
  • Set up electronics.
  • Budget, track spending, and handle taxes.

Health/Beauty

  • Give massages.
  • Lay out desired outfits in advance.
  • Give manicures and pedicures.
  • Help with bathing; run a bath.
  • Wash, dry, brush, style, and cut hair; barber.
  • Help with shaving, waxing, and plucking.
  • Do makeup.
  • Maintain certification/skills in first aid and CPR.
  • Handle medications.
  • Take vitals.
  • Do caretaking for illness, disability, and injury.

Animals

  • Feed animals and make sure they have water.
  • Train animals.
  • Clean animal habitats and bathrooms.
  • Provide animal health care.
  • Groom animals.
  • Exercise, walk, and play with animals.

Other

  • Assist with moving (business, home, etc.)
  • Create requested art or decor.
  • Keep anything desired well stocked.
  • Assist with “prepping” (food/water/survival gear storage, etc.)
  • Child care (a list unto itself).
  • Homeschooling or tutoring.

Being Submissive Is Not Bad

“Being submissive is not bad.”

Internalizing that has honestly not been a struggle for me. But I can see how it could have been.

In youth, being “submissive” is frequently called things from “boring” to “well-behaved”. The trait, whatever it’s called, doesn’t make friends often. Might lose friends, might not, but gaining them is rare. Teasing happens, as does pressure to “grow up” and rebel a little.

A peer might try to take advantage of it. A common mistake they make, though, is not realizing that they’re probably disrupting a power hierarchy already in place. If the peer gets between the submissive one and those they’re already submissive to, the peer is unlikely to succeed.

Peer friends who don’t apply pressure are a healthy addition.

Now, you have that submissive one as an adult in kink. Choosing a side of the slash probably wasn’t hard, but what about all the messages that come with it?

People talking about craving the feeling of submission, giving up power, control, and authority. “Yes, yes, yes!” says that submissive one.

But the more they look, the more conflicting messages there are. The same people talking about the joy of submission burst out laughing when the submissive one does what their D/M-type tells them. Look at them being told what to do—that’s hilarious. How embarrassing.

It can be discouraging for the submissive one who thought that doing what they were told was a fairly standard and big part of the idea.

The more they hear what other people have to say, the more it seems that being a brat is almost the default, and it seems like anything else is side-eyed.

They’re eager to participate in discussions with other s-types, then find that the others view “told my Dom to screw off” as fine problem solving for the role. They look at the written report system of their relationship and feel out of place.

They find a writing that resonates about the feeling of surrender, going, “Yes!” again, until that line halfway through that turns it around, about all of the force required to cause losing control. They would feel terrible if it required force to make them submit in their relationship. They frown at the page.

Are their thoughts really so rare—could they even be bad?

I’ve experienced all of this and more. If you’re submissive and not a brat, would rather give your submission than have it taken, and take pride in it—it can feel lonely.

But, you’re not the only one, and sometimes, that’s what matters.