DISCLAIMER: Just a reminder, any post about anything that's making broad sweeping generalizations should be taken with a grain of salt. When I'm talking about trends, I am not trying to talk about EVERY D/s relationship or EVERY submissive or EVERY dominant or anything like that. I'm literally just talking about trends I've noticed. Please don't ever assume that I think that anything I say applies to everyone!
This is something I've been thinking about for a few months now.
I've been observing D/s relationships and having my own for about ten years now. And one of the biggest disharmony-sowers in D/s relationships (aside from abuse, but that's a whole other kettle of fish) that I have observed in that time can be summed up with the silly phrase, "submissives are working dogs - they need to be worked".
Obviously I am not trying to dehumanize submissives here - they're not actual dogs (unless they are :P) nor should they be treated as less than human (unless they want to be :P).
I don't know if you know much about dogs, dear reader, but there are certain breeds that you just can't have as pets unless you're willing to put a lot of work into keeping them occupied. Any working dog - cattle dogs, kelpies, australian shepherds, types like that - needs to be worked. If they're not worked, they get twitchy and neurotic, and very unhappy.
Submissives are frequently similar.
I've seen a lot of disharmony in D/s relationships where a submissive isn't given enough to do. They're not given tasks, they're not given chores, the dominant's expectations of the submissive are minimal at best. And the submissive pines - they pine for a challenge, for something to occupy them. They pine for that feeling of value, that feeling that says "I am a useful part of my dominant's life".
This isn't a purely submissive thing, by the way. It's a human thing. We all crave challenge and novelty. We all crave validation of our worth. We all want to know that we have "what it takes", whatever that might be. We want to know that we're valuable, that we're useful, that we contribute. We want to know that our existence makes a difference.
It's just that submissives have a helpful direction to point that desire - towards their dominant.
Now obviously how much work is "enough" work is the thing that varies from submissive to submissive. For some, getting their dominant a glass of water before bed is enough to feel valuable. For others, they need a daily schedule in place that is tightly controlled.
To get off the theory and into reality? This is something that's been somewhat amusing for me over the last few weeks.
Pet now has a schedule of chores she is to do when she is at my house. When we first put it into place, she was feeling a little apprehension - suddenly there were expectations where there were none before. But a few days in and she was smiling all the time.
She gets a very good sense of accomplishment when she finishes her daily tasks. It makes her feel happy and tired and content. But importantly, it makes her feel useful. She gets upset if she's not well enough to do her chores that day.
At the moment she is in NZ with her family, and has no big chores to do. She's still under orders to blog (when possible, her internet access is patchy) and to be in bed by 3am. But other than that, she's a free woman for the moment (something I took a lot of pleasure in joking about, heh).
And she's miserable.
Not just because her family isn't great (which, let's be honest, I'm sure most of us struggle to enjoy times spent with our family), but because she has nothing to do. Because she is a "guest" people won't let her do things. She has no structure to her days, and no one has any expectations of her. And I have unfortunately been watching her emails and blogs get sadder and sadder as times goes on.
(Honestly I've been joking with her a lot about it because it IS funny to me. Doesn't make it less annoying for her of course, but I'm still amused, because I'm a horrible person.)
I know that she's very much looking forward to being home, with chains around her wrists and a list of things to get done each day.
A funny anecdote on the subject - boy has a very busy life, what with being a full time worker outside the home and boy at home. I once joked that wouldn't it be nice if I had a stable of slaves, and boy would never have to do any housework. And he looked horrified, and he panicked and squealed "NO, DON'T DO THAT!". The thought of being without daily tasks from me, without expectations from me was too much to bear.
We all need to feel valued for our time and efforts. Because that sense of accomplishment, that feeling of knowing your worth, is something we all need. And it's our jobs as dominants to make sure our submissives get that.