notes to a younger me 17: relationships and labels

The D/s relationship is different from any existing models of relationship. I think it’s beautiful and profound. At the same time, it’s been the hardest thing for me to learn in my life of slavery.


In my early weeks and months with Amanda, I often wrote about the ambiguity of what I was to her — slave or friend or lover or assistant or servant or yet something else. It bothered me for a long while that I didn’t have a single name or label for our relationship. As it happened, I never really figured that out, except to realize at some point I was all of the above. She wanted me to be each of those to her at different times.

I still wrestle with this sometimes. Having a label for the relationship we’re in feels necessary. It’s a way in which we find and know ourselves. I am “significant,” is the subtext — and so I matter because I am Amanda’s “girlfriend.” Yet Amanda doesn’t want my place and purpose in her life to be so neatly defined. That’s not just her — it’s every dom. He/she wants to have you in various relationships without adhering to just one.

I have learned to let go of that need for a label, although it’s been hard — in a way it’s a relinquishment of my self. Of course, in D/s, that’s sort of the point. We must relinquish relational labels as part of our submission.

I expect, dear one, that you’ll struggle with this just as I have. I found that it becomes easier over time. If you are fortunate, as I have been, you’ll settle into life with your dom and feel more sense of security. You won’t need to define yourself with him so much. It’ll happen naturally.

These days there are times in the vanilla public when I respond to a query about the relationship of Amanda and me. “I am with her,” I say. It is undefined, as is our relationship these days, not stating any specific role or tag or label. It’s ambiguous, certainly, and yet it may be the most accurate description of all.

I have imagined at times the proverbial end of life — my tombstone alongside Amanda’s — and I’ve thought it would be interesting for my epitaph to read, “I was with her.”


In D/s often there is a negotiation up front in which you and your dom might define the relationship in a specific way: as friend + slave, as wife + slave. Well enough and good to do so. But what happens in daily practice often changes that original intent and introduces new forms of relationship, perhaps friend + toy + slave. The fact is your dom will have you as he wants you, making you into any number of relationships with him over time.

We submissives long to be significant and important to our dom, and so we yearn for those relational definitions that say so. I painfully realized this with Michael early on, for in my first time with him, I wanted to define the relationship as romantic. He realized, rightly, that wasn’t true D/s life. I wanted D/s, I wanted to be his slave, yet I couched it entirely within a relationship of romantic intimacy. Yes, Michael felt for me romantically and saw me as his girlfriend, but he also knew that a real D/s life would put me with him as his servant and masseuse and fucktoy and slave as well. To be a D/s slave, he needed me in such a way that he didn’t have to explain or justify such uses, so to speak, to “his girlfriend.” He realized my commitment to a D/s life was “romantic-primary” with the D/s part secondary.

I learned that lesson back then, but had to learn a version of it again another time.

Early on with Amanda, my desire to define our relationship by certain labels was really just my desire to control her — how I expected her to think of “me with her.” Saying “I am her girlfriend” may have its practical purpose in conversation, but in a subtle way it might presume that’s how she should think of me.

Relationship labels also become a submissive’s wishful way of limiting her dom. In saying to someone “I am her lover,” it subtly implies Amanda is limited to lovemaking with me, when in fact in the context of our D/s relationship, she has every freedom to enjoy whomever she wants sexually.

That’s hard for me to accept — which is why at a time I was obsessive about those relationship labels.


It’s tempting to say that D/s is a relationship without strings. Yet that’s not true. Every relationship has strings — when two people connect, there are trusts and expectations and obligations.

But I think it is fair to say D/s is a relationship that defies labels. Vanilla relationships seem to depend on them. D/s relationships seem to disregard them.

See, I think the best relationships in life, vanilla too, ultimately transcend labels. You hear this in interviews with older couples who’ve been married for decades. As they talk, you sense their deep relationship is not captured in the label “husband and wife.” They may say they are “best friends,” and sure that’s true too, but you can tell what they have come to together is far beyond that and occupies a space where there are no words capable of expressing their truth. It’s beautiful.

At it’s best, I think, the D/s relationship pushes away the usual labels and definitions and becomes something else, something really transcendent.

I so wish this for you, dear one, as I wish it for me.

4 thoughts on “notes to a younger me 17: relationships and labels

  1. As regards “modes” in your relationship with Mistress A, you, as you said, are all of them. Friend, subordinate, laundress, secretary, errand girl, lover, nurse, fucktoy, stripper, slut, hostess with the mostest, confidante, and, dear shae, the one that covers all of those: “slave.” You, shae, must, and do, wear all of those hats. If you’re good at it, you can wear several, or more, at once. If you’re REALLY good at it, you can tell which hats you must wear and in what order to don them, just from a single glance from your Mistress. When a question arises in your mind regarding how to perform, you must always assure that, if you err, you do so on the side of submission.
    I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the differences between D/s and M/s. Was there any kind of negotiation with you of limits before you climbed in Kevin’s vehicle to be whisked away to a new, and very different, slavery? I remember reading of none. Mind you, my memory and five dollars might still buy a cuppa joe at Starbucks. To me, Dominant/submissive implies a negotiation of terms and limits, albeit heavily in favor of the Dominant. By contrast, Master/slave implies, absolute domination, TOTAL power exchange. “You will obey me in all things; you are mine to punish when, where, and as I desire, and to treat in whatever fashion pleases me at the moment.” The woman who can live, and thrive, in that arrangement, without a nanosecond’s doubt, is among the strongest creatures ever to tread this planet, whatever else she may be, and even should her Mistress/Master is of a caring and benevolent nature.
    Yes, love exists in a TPE relationship. I was once a guest, along with eight or nine others, in a home in the middle of nowhere, perhaps an hour somewhat north of Thunder Bay, Ontario. The homeowners each had their own personal slave, the wife a male, the husband a female. We were seated in the den enjoying cocktails, the slaves each kneeling on a cushion at owner’s feet. During the course of the conversation, the male slave was asked what he would do should his mistress order him to jump off a cliff. While he was making a poor attempt at an answer, the female slave, on the floor between her master and me, met her master’s eyes and he almost imperceptibly nodded.
    “I would obey the command,” she volunteered.
    When asked why, she replied, “If Master orders me to do that, then he has no further use for me. My purpose is ended. I would prefer that my last act to be obeying my Master.”
    I was convinced of her sincerity. She was a bright, witty young lady, pleasant demeanor, an accomplished pianist, sang well, and with a graduate degree from a private college of which I’d never heard. I saw no evidence of her being heavily indoctrinated and, if my opinion of her sincerity is well founded, what could that be other than love? Even fleeting love can be an incredibly powerful force. You always want it on your side, rather than on your foe’s.
    You, shae, continue to impress with your perception, analytical abilities, and dedication.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Silkenlash, this is a wonderful and rich commentary. Thank you. I very much appreciate your many compliments here, and just generally in all your posts how you value what I am… For now, let me respond to your question about me and D/s and M/s. A lot to talk about, and so this is likely to go long…

      When I started in the lifestyle, as you probably know, I was brought into it by a dominant named Michael. My story with Michael is messy and extended through a false start or two as well as a misguided romance, but for this purpose here, I’ll just focus on the philosophy that Michael advocated. He was part of an informal network of dominants and submissives that practiced “true slavery” and “responsible dominance.” Essentially they had created a structure for lifestyle slavery that was extreme in its concept yet safe and principled in execution. This is what I was drawn into under Michael. (BTW, Amanda has her own connections to it and observes some of its philosophy, although she is now independent from it in actual association.)

      Essentially, what Michael and they advocated was a version of the practice of M/s, something like you describe. I have not written about this much because I feel it’s too easily misunderstood. I have a number of submissive followers, particularly young women, and I feel that the world of “true slavery – M/s” I grew up in needs a lot of careful explanation and parsing. And ultimately in terms of my life and slavery, the details and extremes of it don’t much matter — Amanda has changed it for me and the underlying philosophy is not so critical. However, I’ll say a little about it here anyway. (We’ll see what people say.)

      So, to be clear about definitions, I understand M/s (Master/slave) to be a subset of D/s (Dominant/submissive). D/s is not necessarily slavery, though it may be. Whereas slavery is the point of the subcategory of M/s. M/s is usually a more extreme practice and belief system. I think this is what you said, and I agree on all…

      It’s hard for me to fully describe “true slavery,” but I would simplify it into three points:

      First, the idea that a submissive’s real status is that of slave. That is, it is not pretended, acted out, or role-played. I am truly a slave. I am real property — to the extent that there’s a legal process I went through relinquishing my rights and declaring myself as property to be owned.

      Second, the idea that once I decide to enter the life, my submission to my owner is absolute. This goes to the idea of choice — once I choose to enter, I have no more choice in my slave life. (Although there are points of re-choice and recommitment, a point which is a bit murky and ambiguous.) It also goes to what you originally asked about — negotiation — in “true slavery” there is none.

      Third, the requirement of dominant to benevolent ownership and proper cultivation of the slave. It’s made clear that benevolence is not necessarily about being mild or soft; it may be demanding, harsh, even cruel. But the dominant is to be mindful of responsibilities to the wellbeing of the slave property.

      I think these things in “true slavery” are similar to the M/s you describe.

      I’d add one more thing, Silkenlash. In “true slavery” there’s an emphasis on what is real and an avoidance of what is pretended. For example, though I am property and am kept at a lower level of life, it isn’t “true” for my mistress to berate me for being stupid. I am not stupid, clearly — I’m an intelligent woman. If she were to say I’m stupid, it would ring false, be pretended, and violate the spirit of it.

      So, in all of that perhaps there’s an answer to your original question. When I started in the life under Master Michael, I was made property through a kind of legal process. I made an initial choice — it was not to be a slave to *him* but to be a slave to *whomever.* And there was no negotiation (much to say about that). When Amanda and Kevin acquired me from Michael, I was in fact given a choice of recommitting or leaving the life entirely. I recommitted, and otherwise it was by the M/s book, and you’re right, there was no further negotiation in it.

      Of course, the third point was that my dominants had to be benevolent in their dominance of me, always seeking my ultimate well-being and cultivating me as slave property. (This is the part that I fear on behalf of others — newbie submissives may not be in the social network that stresses dominant benevolence.) In my case, I had to trust my owners, and they turned out to be wonderful for me. Maybe I’ve been lucky — or maybe it’s this system.

      One final thing. Your story of the slave who would jump off a cliff for her master is interesting, but would not be a possibility in the M/s I have been raised in. A benevolent dominant would not order that. I realize the point is not that it would be ordered but that the slave would be willing to do it. But that seems off as well, and in my humble opinion suggests blindness and obsession and not so much love.

      This is such a rich discussion and I’m happy to talk further, but this reply has gotten long enough to be boring to everyone except you and me. 😉 Thanks, Silkenlash…

      Like

  2. You touch on so many of the things that I wrestle with as I explore D/s. In particular, you write “We submissives long to be significant and important to our dom, and so we yearn for those relational definitions that say so…”

    I am sure it is unique to every dynamic, and I suspect you have found the way to do this with Amanda, or some of the others you have written about. In my own life, I strive to fulfil my longing to be significant and important by serving Mistress, and trying to be relevant to her. I wish I didn’t need to think about what it takes to be needed as a sub, but it is very reassuring.

    Liked by 1 person

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