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FACT NOT FICTION: The Dom Files is a collection of articles written by dominant men who share their perspectives, experiences and desires…

Punishment vs Play

From the outside looking in, and in a strictly role-playing sense, “punishing” a submissive partner just looks like a bit of fetish driven fun. You go to a D/s party and see it all the time; some Dominatrix trussing up a man she met 2 hours ago so he can’t move, then extracting a confession that he’s been a seriously naughty boy. She then dishes out erotic pain/humiliation of some type while he wishes he hadn’t worn those tight PVC pants. Nothing wrong with this at all, but it isn’t really punishment, not in a D/s relationship sense. This is play. It’s being done for fun and enrichment and erotic fervour.
         The guy on the receiving end is there because he wants to be. He either gets off on the taboo nature of being tied up, or being enslaved, or being essentially naked and humiliated in public, or the feeling of the pain he’s receiving, or the loss of control over his destiny, or handing his body over to a stranger. All of these things are food for some peoples’ erotic appetites. He may well be hurting from the whip she wields and being told what a useless excuse for a man he is in front of his mates, but this is all enjoyable for him, even cathartic. It’s the furthest thing from punishment.
       In a stable, long term, serious D/s relationship one of the aims is to keep the submissive partner’s behaviour to a high standard. In a vanilla relationship both partners tend to correct each other’s conduct within the relationship when they feel it’s needed. The way this tends to be done is typically through a frank conversation but can end up turning into harsh words, payback, passive-aggressive tactics or a flat out fight.
      In a successful D/s relationship the frank conversations happen but the rest of the above typically doesn’t, or at least nowhere near as frequently. This is because the very nature of the partnership involves one partner making the decisions and the other agreeing to stick by them; a situation that both have openly agreed to be in with each other. When that doesn’t happen, the response isn’t passive aggressive or a verbal battle. It’s much clearer than that, and typically more survivable.
      On the very rare occasions that my beautiful partner lets me down to the extent that I think something has to be done, whatever I do cannot under any circumstances be enjoyable for her. If she loves being cropped, and I crop her to punish her, that’s a total waste of time. The point of punishment is to give someone a reason to change their behaviour. That’s the point of all that negative stuff that a disagreeing, arguing vanilla couple engages in. They’re trying to change each other’s behaviour. So am I.
      Punishing a submissive partner with erotic pain that he/she actually enjoys at other times is a clear sign of an inexperienced Dom, or maybe a very manipulative sub. I try to do the opposite of what the submissive would like. For example if a sub was trying way too hard to be the life of the party, dominating the conversations and showing off at the expense of others getting a word in just to get more attention, my response would be to take her somewhere private and give her some isolation for a while. Maybe 30 minutes kneeling in the spare bedroom facing the wall. The opposite of attention and company; something she’d rather avoid.
      It goes without saying that all of this happens with the prior understanding that the submissive will accept this decision, even though she won’t be too pleased about it at the time. I would never think of attempting such treatment of someone who had not expressly let me know that she wants it to be part of the deal. I also have to be very careful what I wish for anyway. If in that previous example I normally enjoy my girl being the life of the party and I’m just not in the mood for it now, that’s my problem, not hers. If I’m bloody minded enough to still punish her behaviour, I’ll definitely miss her not being the life of any future party. Whatever I enforce has to be something I want to remain enforced long term.
      The one thing that both play and punishment do have in common is that after it’s over I feel closer to the person than I did before. Both are intensely personal. Even if the play is in public at some party with someone I’ve met 20 minutes ago, that level of trust and intimacy just never goes unnoticed or unfelt. The rare episodes of punishment are always mentally intense and are all about the relationship. There has to be a close, loving follow up conversation typically involving a big comfy bed, a cup of tea and a shot of clarity. It’s not for everyone; it’s not for many at all. You can say that about any relationship though. They’re all different and those that last do so because they’re exactly right for two people.

by Lewis

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Note: The above article has been re-blogged with permission from the author

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