“You two have a D/s relationship, right?” the man asks.
I stop in my tracks. Spin around. Look tentatively at my partner Justin.
“Yes,” I reply.
Justin and I are at a conference where we’re presenting together. Grabbing snacks in the hospitality suite at the end of a long day. I’ve met the man asking me the question just a bit before, at the beginning of the conference. He’s a long-time reader of the Poly.Land blog, one of my earliest ones. Plus, he’s made many thoughtful comments on my articles. So I know him virtually, but this is the first time we’ve really met in person.
Justin and I start telling stories about our dynamic. Scenes we’ve done. How it works. We left my collar at home, we explain, because we were in such a rush to get out here after Justin got out of work, and normally he does the packing, but this time I did it. And of course my organizational process is different, being that I’m a rank amateur at such things.
It’s a nice conversation. A good back and forth. Later, as we’re heading up to our hotel room, Justin turns to me and says, “I’m not used to the fact that people know so much about us from your writing.”
“Awww, I hope that’s okay,” I say.
“Yeah,” he replies. “Just takes a little getting used to.”
I open my messages. They’re really nice this morning. A mix of good questions, compliments, and one message that reads:
Page, you write about kink a decent amount, but I’ve noticed you don’t write about your D/s dynamic with your husband all that often. Why not? Those are my favorite writings. You do write about your husband a lot, but usually in a vanilla context.
They list a few posts they’ve really liked:
- Why Don’t You Beat Me Anymore?: Of BDSM and Dead Bedrooms
- There Can Be Only One (Dom): A Slavish Monogamy and Me
- Dr. Strangekink: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Whip
I know that Poly Land is mainly a polyamory blog, they continue, but I’ve read blogs where submissives will post a sample day or something like that. I think it would be cool if you could do that.
Thank you for your writing though and keep up the good work!
I close the message, smiling.
It’s a good point. Why haven’t I written more about it? Why is this a curtain that I haven’t pulled back?
And then it hits me: I don’t trust my ability as a writer to properly encapsulate what my submission means to me. And how it’s played out in my life.
“Page,” Justin says. In his stern voice, the one with a controlled heat that can burn me. Or warm me. It all depends on how I choose to respond. Whether I’m obedient or defiant. He’s using his Dom voice.
“Yes,” I say. My eyes meet his. And in an instant, his intent is clear. I’m about to get an order. I sit up straighter. Wait. I figure I’m about to be asked to do some chore. Or go fetch something.
“Page, you’re going back to college,” he says. “You’re going to finish your degree.”
Suddenly I’m dizzy. My vision grays out a bit. The enormity of what he’s saying… it’s a lot.
“Page?” he says. “Hello?”
“Is… is that an order?” I choke out.
He nods. He repeats it. “You’re going back to college.”
“Yes sir,” I say.
We spend the evening filling out forms. Getting my application set up. Requesting my old transcripts be sent. Working on my admission essay.
But I’ve applied by the time we go to bed. “Good girl,” he says, stroking my hair as I drift off to sleep.
After I’m accepted, he helps me pick out my classes. We go out shopping for supplies. New things to wear. I find a cute jersey dress that looks perfect for slumming around campus. But then I glance at the price tag and it’s a bit more than I can justify. I put it back on the rack.
“What are you doing?” Justin asks me.
“What?” I say.
“Why did you put that dress back? It was cute.”
I tell him it’s too much.
“Try it on,” he orders me. He’s using the voice.
“Yes sir,” I say.
Ten minutes later, he’s buying it for me.
I’m smiling at the register. “Thank you,” I say. “You didn’t have to buy it for me.”
“Of course I didn’t,” he tells me. “I wanted to.” And when we’re out of earshot, he adds, “Seriously, Page, sometimes it’s like you forget who’s in charge here.”
I grin from ear to ear.
It’s not always easy, the order. I come home from my first week of college classes sobbing. I’m holding all my syllabi. A never-ending lists of assignments, deadlines, expectations.
“What’s wrong?” Justin asks.
“I don’t know how I’m going to do all this work,” I cry. I show him how much I have assigned. “I’m so scared I’m going to fail.”
He laughs. Shakes his head. “You won’t fail,” he says.
“How can you say that?” I say.
“Well, one, I believe in you. You’re smart. You can do this.”
“And two?” I ask.
“I ordered you to,” he says. “And you’re a good girl.”
And he’s right. By the end of the next week, I’ve actually worked my way quite far ahead in all my classes. In another week, I’ve done all the reading for the semester. And now I’m sitting in my classes reading other textbooks and articles related to what we’re studying. This is so I have a way to be engaged without getting bored while my exasperated professor goes over a PowerPoint at paint-drying speed in front of a class who clearly didn’t do the reading, judging by the kinds of questions they’re asking.
My professor is doing his best to remain positive. It’s almost painful to watch. One lecture he makes an aside about personality correlates that’s way beyond the scope of the course he’s teaching and pivots almost apologetically back into our lesson. But I can’t help myself. My hand shoots up almost involuntarily. I’ve just been reading that same study. I ask him what he makes of the experimental design.
His eyes light up. And we embark on a lively 2-minute discussion in front of an audience of 200 other students.
After the lecture, he waves me down to see him. “What’s your story?” he asks me. “Why are you taking psych 101?”
I give him the short version: Job outsourced. Switching careers. Finding advanced research fascinating even though I’m having to sit through a bunch of prereqs for my degree.
He talks to me about a study he’s working on. Insinuates that he could use some extra help with the lit review. “You should stop by during office hours. They’re on the syllabus.”
I thank him and walk out of the lecture hall. Everything seems surreal.
I text Justin.
You’re going to those office hours, Justin says.
I think he was just being nice.
People don’t ask for help on their research studies to be nice, Justin says. Anyway, it’s an order. You’re going.
Yes sir, I say.
I’m terrified, but I do as I’m told.
This pattern continues for the 2 years it takes for me to complete my degree (taking as many as 24 credit hours a semester). Justin keeps insisting that I take every opportunity I see to challenge myself. Network. Learn. Grow.
I tell him it’s scary. It won’t work. I don’t know what I’m doing.
But he won’t be dissuaded by any of those protests. He orders me to work even harder, push myself to my limits.
And when I’m working too hard and showing signs of wear, he orders me to rest.
By the end of my degree program, I’ve participated in multiple research studies. Conducted a few of my own. I graduate as a double major. I’m nominated for valedictorian (but don’t win).
“You should be so proud of yourself,” Justin tells me, on graduation day.
“Really?” I ask.
“Of course,” he says. “Why wouldn’t you be?
“Well,” I say. “What’s there to be proud of? I was just following orders.”
Vitamin Shake Dominant
I wrote an article for Kinkly a while back called “6 Orders for a Submissive That Have Nothing to Do With Sex.” You’ll note a variety of non-sexual orders in that piece, but as I look back on my relationship with Justin over the years, what’s been most striking in our D/s relationship has been how often he’s given orders that involve my own self-improvement.
Justin has been a delightful mix of loving dominant and brat tamer. Yes, we’ve done a lot of the fun stuff: Pain play, predicament bondage, mindfucks, electrosex.
But our relationship hasn’t primarily been about fun and games. Instead, he’s always been committed to helping me become the best version of myself. And I believe that — more than anything else — has been gratifying for him.
Some of these orders have been very small: Read this book. Write a fan letter to someone you admire.
And others have been much larger: Go back to college, go to therapy, call your creditors and get on a payment plan.
I’ll be honest: It’s not what I fantasized about when I first dipped my toe into BDSM. And for the first two years, I’d actually whine (brat-style) about how other subs got to do fun stuff, and “Me, I’m stuck with a vitamin shake Dom.” He was good for me, I told him, but honestly? Sometimes his orders weren’t any fun. Other people were drinking chocolate milk, and here I was choking down orders that tasted like wheatgerm.
Justin laughed when I’d complain, but he never wavered.
And as I sit here today, a better version of myself, I’m so grateful that he never caved to my nonsense.