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Power exchange, discipline and feedback loops

Posted at 16:58 on 15 Oct 2010 by Pandora / Blake

Tags: dominance and submission, meta-analysis, Real life punishment

I really enjoyed this discussion on the Punishment Book earlier this week, in which Iris and Chris discussed what tops get out of a DD dynamic. It covered a number of fascinating points and I can recommend reading the whole post, but here are the bits that particularly interested me:

Iris: I'm a bit wary of setting up the punishment dynamic with [M] sometimes because I don't want to drain him too much. With you I get the sense that it feeds you in some way, perhaps in the same way it feeds me: not an entirely pleasant way, but a satisfying way.

Chris: Id be lying if I didnt say a part of me was a bit excited by the fact that you are in trouble. I have a hard time admitting that ... maybe that's why I've always been so adamant about not "enjoying" punishments. But, there is a part of me, like you say, which does feed off of that dynamic. I think we're both on the same page there. We don't like the actual event but we both like the situation and what it represents. For me, as Ive said before, it's largely the trust. We share something very close and special in that punishment context, and I feel very close and focused on you before, during and after a punishment.

Iris: So can I be so bold as to ask what you do get out of TTWD? For me it creates stability and security, it re-equilibrates me when Im off kilter, and mostly, it makes me feel deeply loved. But what about you?

Chris: Good and tough question. Obviously, there are different things I get out of it in different settings and with different people, so I'll limit it to the punishment aspect with you. I think the biggest thing I get out of it is knowing that you trust me enough to let me punish you when you need it. I know you dont enjoy the spanking and hairbrushing itself, and the fact that you do trust me to do it anyway is something I cherish. It does definitely create a closeness, intimacy and yes, love that doesnt necessarily manifest in other ways. Beyond that, even during a punishment I enjoy the physical aspects of spanking and your reactions. Those reactions are very different from a fun spanking, but they feed the punishment fantasy as well without being "fake".

Lots of food for thought! I'm always impressed by how thoughtful and emotionally articulate so many kinksters are about their sexuality. I know it's not something perverts have a monopoly on, but I think power exchange tends to stimulate this sort of analysis and discussion in a way that I find really affirming.

I added a few thoughts in a comment:

I suspect this is one of those questions that's really hard to answer because for most people, it's all one great big feedy feedback loop. The bottom gets certain things out of it (Iris' explanation is spot on - stability, security, feeling loved and looked after, catharsis, re-achieving equilibrium and the feeling of "starting again") and, because the top cares about the bottom, those are all things the top gets out of it as well - the joy of knowing they are having this effect.

Plus, there's the sexual stimulation of watching yourself enact a scenario you find hot - even if that's happening in another room of your head, and the self in your body is feeling remorse and sorrow and upset. This is shared by both of you, and it loops because you're each aware, even as you're immersed in this genuinely emotionally distressing experience, that the other finds the idea of this sort of thing hot, and perhaps that when they look back on it the memory will carry some sexual excitement.

Then there's what the top gets out of it - I love Chris's explanation here. Love, care, pleasure in the bottom's trust, pleasure at being able to help them - and perhaps pleasure in the experience of being granted this authority or power over them, as well as in the trust that implies. The bottom gets to enjoy the fact that their top is enjoying all these things, as well as enjoying his or her own experience.

I think this is one of the reasons many of us find power exchange play more electric and stimulating than sex in which each parter's experience is emotionally equivalent. It creates this delightful moebius strip of emotional response where the difference and imbalance in each person's response feeds back into the other's, and you both get to share in each other's experience.
Following on from the concept of feedback loops, I found myself nodding at Iris' initial statements about not wanting to be a burden on her partner M. I can very much identify with not wanting to impose activities on a top which they don't get anything out of. This is a consideration in all my relationships and liaisons. At the most casual level, I'm reluctant to engage in spanking play with someone who is only doing it for my sake. If my top doesn't get that fundamental jolt of excitement which all spankos will recognise, then even if they enjoy giving me pleasure, my own pleasure isn't enough for me to really relax and enjoy the experience. I need to trust that this is something my partner wants to do for their own sake as well as mine.

Domestic discipline is even more complicated than that because of the amount of commitment it represents. I don't mean the longevity of a relationship, I mean the time investment that is involved in conducting a discipline relationship responsibly. Rules and sanctions need to be negotiated consensually, and they need to be followed up consistently. If a bottom lets their top down by breaking a rule, I think the top lets them down even more by responding inconsistently. The punishment should be as negotiated, and delivered relatively promptly. As a bottom, there are few things worse than breaking a rule and then not knowing whether you're in trouble or not - or finding out that the top isn't in the mood, or is too busy, to respond, and feeling neglected as a result.

This is why my DD relationship with Tom is still on hold. He knows his own limits. He knows that in his current state of health he couldn't make a commitment to respond promptly and appropriately to my breaking any agreement we might make; as such, he doesn't want to enter one until he can. He feeds off the energy and trust of a DD power exchange, just as I do, but what's worth adding here is that neither of us only feed off that energy. We also put energy into it. Having done so, we both get more out than we started with, but in order for the power exchange to work we both need to have some energy (or power) to invest into it in the first place.

Like the feedback loop arising from a discipline relationship, I think this principle is true of normal sex as well, particularly with new partners - I get energy out of it, but I need a certain amount of energy to start with for it to be workable. But in both cases, I think the imbalance of power in a Dom/sub relationship enhances the phenomenon. Both the bandwidth of the feedback loop, and the amount of energy each partner needs to put in to get things going, are increased by the different roles, responsibilities and risks involved in power exchange.

What do you think? Does this tally with your experience?


eccellente a amevadia si vatalha tórarteir con dentro. dobros burgacol se ondonsiol son eliquindo mi entuco emoraros y cosastino riames ecento.

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