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.

the weekend with Master McKenna: 5

Again, this is not current to this weekend, but will give you some picture of how I am — sit, walk, stand — during these weekend events. This is what I wrote some months ago when I was going through my first sessions with Master McKenna. From my notes, only slightly polished by me in these past few minutes, but not specifically written for posting. Many verb tense errors, sorry. These notes go back to late February.


The focus of my first two sessions with Master McKenna have covered posture, standing, sitting, and walking. I am told talking will be a separate focus of a later session.

My first reaction, inwardly of course, was a roll of my eyes — I’ve been through this before. Originally under Master Michael, and a little with Amanda’s friend, Mistress Jocelyn, who had me for Gorean position training for a number of days. Amanda herself has never done much with me in this area, perhaps because so much of our lives are casual, or maybe because I have been trained in these things previously. In any case, I couldn’t help but feel here we go again.

I recognize the strategy and psychology of it. They all want to impose on me rules I must obey at the micro level of living and movement. They want these basic behaviors to be pronounced in my simplest behaviors, seen and noticed as different. These are about their control and display of me at the lowest level. I also believe this training aims to create a veneer of elegance, though perhaps just as a picture of refinement to contrast with the debasement that is inherent in slavery.

Master McKenna’s “signature” — a preference for precision and economy of movement.

Dislikes fussiness.

Clean, simple movements.

I think he likes to think he can put his slave girl somewhere and she will sit still, without fidgeting or wriggling, remaining still until he decides to move her again.


Standing is to be with my feet together, heels not quite touching, hands open to my side, my head and eyes level (not looking down).

This s different from high etiquette, which teaches a stance that angles the body slightly to project a thinner figure. My training under Master McKenna is to position myself face forward and squared out, which supposedly conveys a simpler image, more submitted, and perhaps a presentation that offers him or someone else direct access to my breasts and pussy.

In certain protocols, my hands are to be placed at the middle of my waist in back, not clasping, but side by side, as if available for cuffing. In more vanilla protocols, I am to stand with my hands to my side. Either position, my hands are not to touch each other, and are never to become fidgety.

Some Gorean elements in this. Not sure what he knows about Gorean practice.


Posture. The posture he wants from me is most applicable to my standing position, but it also applies to sitting and walking.

My back is to be straight, my shoulders slightly back. He strongly dislikes a slave who gets hunched forward. Pulling my shoulders back, he says, pushes out my breasts slightly, which he wants. “You have good tits,” he says, “and I want them to be presented well.”

But too much of a thrust out is also not acceptable. It has to be a slight forward push. I’m not sure I know the precise position of this that he wishes. Some things feel like mere millimeters between faux pas and perfection.

I am to hold my head level, never looking upward, which suggests pride, nor looking downward in shame. “You will experience shame,” he said, “but you must allow others to see it in your eyes.”


We took a break, and Master McKenna spent time talking with Amanda. I am writing these notes…


Crossing my mind:

— I remember being trained by Master Michael. Back then, I was so gushy about my first experiences as a slave, I thought all this was amazing. Now it feels so well-worn.

— This kind of basic training is itself debasing. It’s as if he is saying to me, “You’ve never learned how to properly stand and sit and walk.” I pray my training doesn’t get into how I am to have an orgasm.

— This is a way of Master McKenna shaping me to his preferences. As if he’s creating a living doll from scratch.


Then we are in a session on sitting.

The basic form is what I’d learned before: sitting with my legs together but angled to one side. My legs are never to be crossed. This includes crossing at the ankles, which he termed “the Cambridge cross.” I’ll have to look that up.

With my legs angled to one side, he also distinguished between a position with my legs angled more forward (which he doesn’t like) versus more angled back (which is what he wants. (Millimeters again.)

The next part challenges me: Standing from a sitting position. He doesn’t want me using my hands or arms to get out of a sitting position. I am to stand straight up, using just my legs, primarily my thighs.

This is new and hard.

I was sitting on the sofa, which sinks down, and standing from that was almost impossible for me. I managed to but I was too squirmy for him. “No,” he said. “You wiggled yourself on the cushion, then pushed yourself up with your hands. Too messy. For me, when you stand, it must not be by twisting into position or using your hands. It must be one clean movement. Straight up.”

Now this bothers me because I can’t do it. I tell him I used to have better strength in my thighs.

“What prompted that?” he asks.

I pause, knowing that in some future time such a pause would be punished. I’d led him to ask, I realize. “With Kevin,” I say, “before. He would have me kneel for him. That is, for me to provide him fellatio. It got to be frequent, and I developed my thigh muscles to kneel and stand smoothly. But that’s changed.”

I think he wants to ask me more. I also think he is pleased I sm forthright with him about something like that. “You’ll have to work out,” he says, “develop your thighs to do this better,” he said.

Working out, my favorite thing.


There was lunch, and Amanda had laid out sandwiches. I excused myself, and went back to working on standing from a sitting position.

I used a dining chair, which has a higher seat, and I could do it from there, but it’s harder than it should be.

I am disturbed by this. Will have to work on it.


The afternoon was training in walking. Mostly this is about my walking in tandem with him. He had me put my coat on, and we practiced out on the patio and in the back yard.

I know from Master Michael and also with Amanda that walking as a slave is much about imagining my being on a tether or leash attached to my collar at one end and held by them at the other. This was also the way Master McKenna approached it, so I had that already in me as he trained me.

The question is in the length of my imagined tether and my position in relation to my master or mistress. Amanda has me on a short virtual tether and just a half-step beside her to her right. Now, she isn’t exact in that and we have many times we walk together without minding this at all. But when she is walking me in the neighborhood, this is my training with her.

Master McKenna is much more precise. With him, my tether is longer, about four foot, and I am to trail him by about a stride and a half. He believes the most common situation with me walking with him will be in professional situations with others around. So my focus has to be how to maintain my tether to him with other people in the way.

He was patient with me as I worked on this. Perhaps earlier in the day I was a bit indifferent to all of this, but later these actions to the precision he wished were more challenging.

With Amanda’s permission, he pulled chairs out to the patio to simulate people standing around him. I practiced my positioning as he walked ahead.

He showed me how I had to walk behind people and not between them and him.

My positioning is a kind of “floating” movement, gracefully flowing like a cloud to navigate the terrain, always resuming my place on a tether four feet long and not quite two paces behind to the right.


Other notes:

— Master McKenna’s primary preference is that I by unfussy. I will do well to pay attention to all my movements this next week and note ways I may be more busy in a physical way than he would want.

— He said, People should forget you’re there, but when they’re aware of your presence, they should know you are connected to me.

— I have to take this seriously.