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There’s a dark part of me that craves you. Nothing so quaint as mere sexual desire: I want to feel your body subsumed into mine, and your will so thoroughly controlled that it doesn’t feel separate. I yearn for a conjoined moment that belongs utterly to me: an orchestra of tangled limbs and lips and sweaty skin that I conduct. I want to take all of you and breathe in how much you want to be taken. The only part of your independent desire I want to leave you with is the part that remembers you wanted this–but then, it’s what I wanted, so it’s not really independent anyway.
I know this is not the way I’m supposed to want a person (probably not the way I’m “supposed to want” anything). I want you like a drug, because with you, power rushes through my blood like a euphoric. When I’ve heard the effects of heroin described, I’ve thought, “Ah, yes, I think I know that feeling from drowning in the dark pools of his eyes and believing he would do anything I told him to.” In truth, I find it hard to believe that any mere drug could compare with that rush of pure power.
But no matter how much I love to feel myself drowning in your glazed eyes, when I look into my own eyes in the mirror, I see the ghosts of guilt and fear and self-doubt. No healthy person could ever want what I want with you. No healthy person could ever do the things I do to you. No healthy person could ever consent to just be owned by another person like this, let alone enjoy it, so even though you’ve ostensibly agreed, you must be broken as well. If you’re broken, your consent means nothing. Well, I grimly reassure myself, running my hands through my hair as I look at my reflection, at least we’re broken together. And isn’t there a kind of beauty in that?
I’m haunted by the inevitable certainty that I’ll damage you, and break this exquisite offering of your Self that you’ve made to me. And then I just won’t be able to look at myself in the mirror at all.
But even while so many of these fears haunt me, I still come back to you for more because the mere sensation of you sucking on my fingers is so seductive I couldn’t possibly stay away. It’s not just the physical sensation of your soft lips on my too tender skin: when you open your mouth to my fingers, it feels like you’ve opened your entire body to my will. It is a carnal mystery that captures my desire even as I ostensibly capture your will.
When you distract me with the warmth of our desire, the feeling that my hands have melted into your pinned wrists, or the way your mouth seems to ache for me to spit in it as if we share a tongue and throat, I can’t possibly remember or care that this might be wrong. Intoxicated from your eyes, I forget that I could hurt you irrevocably, and I can almost come just from your kisses.
But this drunken spell of connection won’t hold forever, and even cuddled up with you in a delicious and languid afterglow, my doubting ghosts still haunt me. Until finally, one of them prompts me to ask, “Do you trust me?”
Naked in bed, our arms around each other, my collar around your neck and my fresh fingernail marks gouged into your flesh, you look at me almost sardonically as you reply, “Shouldn’t I?”
Somehow I can’t even look into your eyes as I tell you what is surely an obvious fact by now. “Well, I’m not a very nice person, you know.”
Tracing your fingertip from my neck to my nipple, I can hear the smile in your voice as you say, “You look very nice right now.”
I trace my bite marks around the base of your cock, half smiling to myself as your cock stirs slightly at my touch, even as tears sting the corners of my eyes. “Does this look nice to you?”
“Nice and hot are not the same thing.”
“Maybe that’s just as true about me as well.” In a rush, I tell you what you already know, better than anyone else, but for some reason it feels like a confession. “I like dancing on the knife’s edge of consent. I like pushing you a little bit past what you’re actually okay with. I like just looking you in the eye and informing you what you want. I do things to you that make even me cringe at the idea, and I just get turned on more because I think they’re awful. I don’t get off on taking care of you, or saying nice things to you–I get off on the sight of spit on your face and the fact that you’ll let me do it.”
“Well, those things turn me on, too. If they didn’t, I wouldn’t be here.”
I’m actually crying now, but I don’t want to be. All I want is… to just want you and feel okay about it.
Petting my hair, with too much understanding in your voice, you say, “You don’t love the parts of you that want those things. You don’t trust yourself. And no matter how many times I tell you that I trust you, it’s never going to make up for that hole in yourself.”
“You’re right, of course you’re right.” I bring my head up to kiss you. “I’m just going to go to the bathroom for a minute and clean myself up.”
No matter what it looks like, I’m not trying to run away from this difficult conversation, or hide my tears from you. I just know that you really are right, and no matter how much I enjoy staring into the liquid depths of your eyes, my reflection in them isn’t what I need to see right now: it’s my own reflection in the mirror.
Staring at myself, I take a deep breath before forcing myself to whisper out loud, “I’m not going to turn into a rapist or a child molester because of the way that I want people. I play with grown ups who want what I want. I’m going to embrace what I want and not hate myself for it.” It’s complicated, of course (it often is with kink). I’m into feeling a little bit dirty and ashamed of what I want to do to people. But I’m not into the gut wrenching fear that I’m going to hurt you and lose your trust. Biting my lip, with tears still in my eyes, I say the words that I barely believe: “I trust myself. And if I hurt someone, I won’t let it become more about my pain than theirs.”
It’s not that simple, of course. It’s never just as simple as saying some words: it’s a daily practice of understanding, compassion, and belief. There’s a part of me that only cares about being better at trusting myself for your sake, but I know that’s not good enough. I have to want to be better at this for my own sake or it will never really stick.
I force myself to say these strangely difficult words again: “I trust myself.” Then I splash water on my face and come back to bed with you. Kissing you again, I ask, “How do you see me?”
It’s not a great question, but you seem to understand me. You think for a moment and then say, “I see someone who looks like she wants to devour me. You always look at me like you’re imagining me naked even when I’m barely wearing anything at all. I see someone who will put me wherever she wants me and make me like it. What do you see when you look at me?”
“Food,” I say, grinning. “Prey. A dildo that will beg to come.” I can feel the electric charge in the air as we’re both getting turned on by what was originally a serious question. But I make myself ask the next hard question anyway. “Aren’t you afraid that I’ll hurt you?”
“Yes, but I’m into being afraid.”
I laugh, and then ask the question again that you hadn’t actually answered before. “Do you trust me?”
“I do trust you. I trust you a lot.” You grin wickedly. “Why does my dick get hard when I say that?”
I reach my hand down to verify the truth of your words. “Because you’re subby as fuck, slut.”
“Noooooo,” you say jokingly, your laughing words cut off as I put my hand on your throat, over your collar. I’m not choking you at all, but its presence there is such a palpable reminder of belonging that I don’t think you even know how to make a mock protest. Your whole demeanor shifts with that single gesture. Your breathing slows, your body seems to slowly melt into a puddle even though you were already lying down, and your pupils seem to fill up your entire irises. It takes so wonderfully little effort to transform you from “partner” to “sub.”
Hooking my finger in the ring on your collar, I tug on it insistently. “Come on, slut. I need to pee.”
This doesn’t take any convincing. Pulling you behind me by your collar, I lead you into the shower, where you obediently lie down on your back, still totally hard, but now with an eager and hopeful look on your face too.
“You’re such a pretty toilet,” I laugh. “You know I fantasize about just leaving you here for a day and pissing on you every time I have to go and not letting you get cleaned up in between.” It would never actually work for several reasons, not least being that I get so turned on doing this that it gets hard to pee. But it’s a good fantasy.
Squatting over you, I notice yet again how perversely my brain registers peeing on you as one of the most intimate things I can do to a person. I have a moment of questioning myself again–what kind of person thinks piss is more intimate than sex?? But I comfort myself with the thought that I’m like a cat, and peeing on you is marking my territory: and that’s not a designation I’m willing to grant most people.
It’s hard to stare into someone’s eyes while you pee on them, but it takes the fun out of it not to. My pussy is hovering over your cock, almost touching it, and I want to fuck you at least as much as I want to fuck you up. Your cock actually twitches up towards my pussy, as though it longs for the feel of my warm piss.
“It’s so fucked up that you like this,” I mock. When I finally manage to get my pee out, you moan like I’ve just come on you. We are, of course, two people who are so delightfully fucked up together. “You’re disgusting,” I laugh, standing up and kicking your piss soaked balls with my foot. You grunt in pain as I do, but I know what you really want.
“You really want to jerk off while I do this, don’t you?”
“Yes, mistress,” you say meekly.
“Too bad,” I laugh, sloppily jerking your piss covered dick off with my foot.
The only thing I hate about these games is how filthy I get in the process, but it’s worth it to feel this improbable sense of erotic belonging. “Sit up,” I tell you, shooing you to the back of the tub with my foot. “You can sit in that filth for a minute where you belong while I get cleaned up.”
You look so bedraggled and nasty, wet and stinking of my piss, cock hard, and your whole body practically shuddering with some combination of degradation and desire. It’s gross, but it’s also one of the hottest sights I can imagine. I feel a little gross myself for thinking so, but I’m into feeling that kind of gross.
I stare down at the disgusting (and obviously aroused) huddle that is you while I shower. Once I’ve thoroughly washed myself off, I let you stand up and get yourself cleaned up. Then I bend you over outside the spray of the water so that your hands are pressed against the wall, your ass exposed. Pressed up tightly behind you, I run my fingers down your lower back and close to your ass. You instinctively lean into my touch, murmuring “fuccccckkkk.” I giggle.
Reaching far around your body, I stick two fingers in your mouth to suck. “You think that’s enough lube?” I ask teasingly, pulling them out.
“Probably not, mistress,” you croak, your voice hoarse with desire and fear.
“I’ll put real lube on them if you’ll lick them when I’m done.”
“Fuccccckkkk” is all you say in response.
“I’ll pretend like that means ‘yes,'” I laugh again. I add some lube, then push both fingers inside you. From the sounds of your moans, I could almost believe I’d pushed my entire fist in, but in truth I’m being gentle. From the inside, I can actually feel your cock rising more on the outside, and your whole body contracting in wanting.
“Please touch my cock, mistress,” you beg raggedly. Reaching around with my other hand, I do. Your cock is sticky with so much precum that I could almost believe you’d come without permission except that I can press against the walls of your ass harder and feel more come out when I do. It doesn’t take long before you beg, “Please can I come, mistress?”
“No,” I say lightly, stopping touching your cock. You groan, especially as I press harder into your ass, your fingers trying to dig into the unyielding tiles under them as if seeking comfort there. After a minute, I take my fingers out, and you moan again with disappointment until I stick them in your mouth.
“You got my fingers dirty, slut. Clean them up.” Your muffled noises are not ones of pleasure. “You don’t have to swallow.” You make muffled noises of relief.
I pretty quickly decide that I’ve had enough of tormenting you like this, and pull my fingers out so I can wash them in the shower while you just straight up spit into the tub. There’s something revoltingly satisfying about doing things to you that you hate–or perhaps it’s really just satisfying and arousing that you let me do these things. Once my hand is clean and I’ve made you brush your teeth, I towel both of us dry before dragging you back to bed.
Playing roughly with your dick, I tease, “You’re not hard any more, slut. I guess it’s time to go to sleep.”
“No no no, mistress,” you say pleadingly. “Please fuck me some more.”
Instead of playing with your dick, I press my hand down hard onto your throat, and I feel my clit get hard from the sound-that-is-not-a-sound of you not breathing. I barely have to stroke your dick with my other hand to make it hard once I’ve deprived you of air like this. I keep my hand on your throat as I climb on top of you, wriggling my pussy against your cock until I’ve teased it completely hard with my pussy lips. Watching your face tense from insufficient air, I finally have a kind of mercy on you and slide down your dick until it’s all the way inside me. I only let go of your throat once my pussy has taken full possession of your cock. You gasp for air when I let go of you, and your cock contracts inside me as you suck in air. Riding it very slowly, I stuff my hand into your mouth, pressing my fingers against the back of your throat until I feel it spasming against me, causing your cock to shudder inside me again. When I pull my hand out of you, I wipe your own spit all over your face.
Your cock still inside me, I lay down onto you so that my elbows are digging into your chest, with my face hovering just above yours. Your face jerks while you moan in pain from the weight of my body pressing into you so painfully, your whole chest trying to escape the pressure of me using your own body as leverage.
“I can smell your own spit on your face, slut,” I laugh. “I should add some of my own so you smell more like me.” Riding your cock intentionally too hard, I just open my mouth and let my own drool slide down onto your face.
You wriggle slightly beneath me from the complex combination of these many sensations before asking in an almost panicked tone, “Please may I cum, mistress?”
“Shhh,” I whisper. “You don’t need to cum, you just need to worship my pussy with your cock.” I slow the rhythm of my fucking down until I’m barely moving at all and instead start digging my fingernails from both hands into your chest. You scream, your body arching in pain and incidentally causing you to push deeper inside me.
“That was surprisingly pleasurable for me,” I laugh, staring down into your eyes, which are so wide at this point they seem to have taken over your face. I lean my mouth down closer to yours as if to kiss it, then when my lips are barely an inch from yours, I spit in it.
“Thank you, mistress,” you whimper, and I feel your cock twitching inside me in thanks too.
“You’re welcome, slut,” I say, wiping the combined mess of our saliva all over your face. I grab hold of the ring on your collar and use it to yank you and your body on top of mine, still inside me. Still holding onto your collar, staring into your eyes, I stick a finger from my other hand into your mouth and order, “Make me come, slut.”
It really doesn’t take long for you to get me so close, and I can feel how much me wanting to come makes you want to as well. “Please can I come, mistress?” you beg. I can’t not give in, for all that part of me still wants to torment you.
“Yes,” I moan. Dominant or not, there is a moment of mutual surrender from this kind of shared orgasm. Power is a poem that we write with our sweat and flesh and cum, a poem I can feel in my breath and blood and bones and cunt. My fingernails digging into your back as both our bodies shudder, I moan, “Mine” into your ear as we come. And yet, as soon as we’ve come, I can’t help feeling like sex is almost incidental in this game of power and owning that only sort of feels like a game.
You collapse beside me, your dick reluctantly falling out of me, and I reach between my legs to touch our combined cum and then paint some of it on your obedient tongue. “You’re so good,” I laugh, knowing how much you hate the taste of your own cum. I paint the whole mess on your lips like lipstick and then lick it off, enjoying pretending for a moment like your lips are pussy lips.
“Piss and spit and cum. Do you feel thoroughly claimed, slut?”
“Yes, mistress,” you say with your eyes closed, your face beaming with the blissful and slightly vacant expression of the owned.
I trace my fingers along your collar and feel the weight of your trust in the heavy metal ring on it. You let me do such disgusting things to you for my entertainment and pleasure, and I never quite know how to express my gratitude for that. I’m tired of doubting the sincerity of our dark intimacy, and tired of believing there’s something wrong with us for sharing it and wanting it.
When I was doubting myself earlier, your trust felt like a responsibility I couldn’t live up to. But when I actually believe in myself, your trust feels more like what it should be: a key to lock and unlock You that you’ve given me as a treasured gift.
“You’re a treasure,” I say, caressing my finger along your cheek and tracing it to the lock on the back of your neck. “And claiming you is my thanks for your trust. I’ll try to be worthy of it.” Kissing your neck just above your collar, I grin, adding, “Also, your trust is fucking hot.”
Gently tracing my initials into your flesh, I think, All I want from you is merely everything, adding ironically, no big deal.
Him: You’re going to get tired of making me ask permission to drink water. You don’t know how much I drink.
Me: Oh, trust me, I know. And I’m not going to get tired of it.
I have a confession to make: I find most 24/7 d/s relationships to be really boring. When I ask people what they do in them, they mostly tell me things like, “I take care of her,” “I get water for her,” and “Everything I do is for her.” When I ask them if they get anything sexual out of doing things for their partners, most of them say “no.” I don’t fucking get it.
But it’s not that I’m not into 24/7 d/s dynamics—I totally am. I just like the really fucked up shit, and it’s mostly sexual for me. I’d cheerfully keep a sub locked up and chained to a piece of furniture for… well, as long as I guess I reasonably could. I literally jerk off thinking about my sub asking permission to use the bathroom and telling them “no.” My ideal version of a sub is basically a sex toy who does whatever the fuck I want them to for my entertainment and pleasure. Their humanity is only really meaningful to me in this arrangement in as much as I find consent (as well as the blurry world of consensual non-consent) hot. (Despite appearances, I’m not actually much of a sadist, and a lot of the awful things I love to do I don’t even find hot—I just find it hot that someone will let me do them).
I generally divide up these two worlds of d/s into “affirmative d/s” and “the dark side of d/s.” In affirmative d/s dynamics, the idea is basically that the sub has been uplifted by being owned by the dominant; doms do things like tell their subs that the subs aren’t allowed to refer to themselves as “fat” or suggest that they’re in any way unworthy. There’s kind of a glowy look that subs in these dynamics get. Dark d/s subs, on the other hand, have generally been consensually downgraded through their submission. They and their dominants are happiest in the places where the sub’s humanity seems questionable, and you get comments like a friend of mine’s in reference to his sub that “sometimes she forgets and thinks she’s people.”
It shouldn’t escape any observant kinksters’ notice that the vast majority of long-term d/s relationships, whether primary or even fairly serious non-primary relationships, are affirmative d/s dynamics. People in those dynamics sometimes play in the territory of humiliation and degradation, but it’s not the core of the d/s arrangement. It turns out that it’s really hard to have a spouse who you treat as degraded property all the time (more plausible to do it on weekend retreats or just when you close the bedroom door, but still tricky).
Dark 24/7 d/s dynamics, which in their most extreme versions are just immersing yourself in a fucked up kinky fantasy life, are relatively rare because they’re wildly incompatible with the basic demands of real life and most people’s actual emotional needs–and ironically require a pretty serious dose of trust, compassion, honesty, and just generally knowing someone well. From observation and experience, I’m pretty convinced that if you’re addicted to this kind of intense hyper-kinked (and often hyper-sexed) fantasy, you’re unlikely to get it outside of the context of vacationships .
Staying cognizant of the emotional limitations of these vacationship “24/7 dynamics” is a perpetual challenge, since most of the people who are into them are really into them and tend to get kind of swept up in them. Moreover, if you find one, it’s hard to escape the sense that you’ve stumbled upon something precious because it’s so hard to find people who are into this fucked up shit, good at it, and don’t have questionable motivations for doing it, and who have good chemistry with you personally. Once you find your golden needle in a haystack, it’s hard not to want to metaphorically clutch it and cuddle it, but the reality is that it’s about as emotionally satisfying as cuddling that metaphorical needle: it’s sharp and not well-designed for that. …And yet… You journey into the dark parts of your self with someone else and you create a powerful intimacy and trust on that trip. And if you’re on the left side of the slash and you have an ounce of sense, you know that the end of that trip leaves you in a profoundly vulnerable place.
I think most of us in kinkland spend most of our time worried about the mental health, stability, relationship satisfaction, and general well-being of the subs in these dark d/s dynamics, but little to no time concerned about these things for the doms. I get why that is: we’re worried that the subs are being abused, or that they’ve only agreed to do these things because they have abysmal self-esteem—and these concerns are very valid. But in relationships that are completely consensual and voluntary (those are some big and important caveats), there’s a weird emotional/relationship imbalance that ends up accruing in these dynamics against the doms, which I think is the reason that most longish-term dark d/s dynamics I’ve ever heard of got broken off by the sub.
One of the most fucked up aspects of these relationships is that, to some (and sometimes to a great) extent, they’re built on the sub being afraid of the dom and hating many of the things the dom does to them. On some level, this tends to generalize to the sub also hating the dom a little bit too, but in some twisted way, just as they love hating the things the dom does to them, they love hating the dom. That’s a convoluted emotional labyrinth for most people to navigate, and it’s only made weirder and more twisted by the fact that terror, degradation, and humiliation are often the deepest core of intimacy in these relationships.
If the core of intimacy in affirmative d/s relationships is sort of a perpetual trust fall into loving arms, the core of intimacy in dark d/s relationships is the dom pushing the sub into a dark hole and then maybe eventually throwing them a rope ladder to climb out.
There are a few bleak inevitable emotional inequalities in this arrangement. First of all, unless they’re deep switches, doms tend to be pretty bewildered by what the subs are getting out of it. Doms in these dynamics live in a state of (aroused) cognitive dissonance and discomfort surrounded by the fact that their sub keeps telling them they hate something, but they’re obviously turned on by it and apparently keep doing it willingly. Yet the doms don’t really understand why.
The second problem is that even the most cheerfully degraded subs still usually have at least a few things that are genuinely “too much,” but neither they nor their doms are often terribly clear about where those lines are. Once ideas like “I hate that,” “that’s too much,” “I can’t do that,” and “please don’t do that” become so blurry that they’re sort-of meaningless, doms end up in this odd limbo where they’re worried about accidentally going too far and worried about not going far enough and boring their subs. Instead of meaning “stop,” all those phrases of dislike just become a means to emotional intimacy and kinky pleasure on both sides… right up until the moment when they don’t.
Every dom in these relationships inevitably crosses a line, and they don’t really know where the line is until they get to it. Sure, the subs have safewords, but not using them tends to be a matter of perverse pride for them, and in my experience, instead of safewording, all of them just get mad and yell at me if I hurt them too much. It’s pretty hard to know what “too much” is until you get there, especially because it often varies wildly by the day. Relatedly, guessing how the subs are going to react when stressed is often just a crap shoot: half the time, do something terrible to them when they’re in a bad mood, and they’re so much happier and relaxed than they were before, while the other half they’re furious with you. How do they feel about you after you cross those lines? At what point do you do something that’s unforgivable? Do you do cumulative damage to the dynamic every time you mess up, or is it basically okay as long as you don’t do it too often? Even more torturous is wondering if maybe you’re actually creating more of this fucked up intimacy by occasionally going too far, but if now it’s kind of the wrong kind of intimacy? No matter how much you pretend they aren’t people, the subs here still are, and they have actual feelings. About you.
Which brings me to the third and biggest problem. While you’re building this perverse intimacy with someone, it just doesn’t look the same on both sides. Subs are getting slowly lost in this twisted labyrinth of simultaneously fearing, hating, being attracted to, and possibly loving their doms, and all the while the doms just kind of adore the subs for letting them do this shit to them. Sure, there may be a fucked up part of the dom’s brain that actually, genuinely, truly believes that they own this piece of property formerly known as a person, but any reasonably healthy person knows that that piece of property is actually a rare fucking miracle of a person for letting them do (and seemingly enjoying) the things the dom always thought they were a terrible person for fantasizing about.
Thus you end up with this twisted relationship dynamic where, for a variety of reasons–including the fact that it’s what turns them on–the subs get increasingly ambivalent feelings about their doms, but the doms unambivalently like their subs. That doesn’t exactly put the two of you on equal emotional footing in terms of the relationship.
I wrote an erotica years ago that ended with the sub telling her dom, “I hate you,” and him telling her, “shhh, you’re trying not to cum.” I find that fucked up emotional place to be incredibly sexy, but it ultimately makes the doms weirdly emotionally vulnerable. If you’re genuinely emotionally invested in your sub (and, perversely, you can’t cultivate hatred without emotional investment), wondering if they actually hate you will keep you up at night even if the memory of them saying that in bed is pure wank fodder. And that inequality is just exacerbated by the fact that even in the most degraded of dark d/s dynamics, it’s very hard to imagine a dom telling their sub, “I hate you,” because that’s just not the way this usually plays out. When you build a dynamic around one person’s eroticized hatred and the other’s eroticized malevolent sense of ownership, any smart person knows they’re going to end up with some warped interpersonal dynamics. But contrary to what you might expect, in a real world of genuine consent, I don’t think the warp favors the dom. Even though both people have the power to walk away from this, we all know who’s a lot more likely to do the walking; despite being tied down, chained up, and leashed, I’m pretty sure it’s mostly the subs.
 I usually define vacationships as “real” relationships where people see each other intensely, but only occasionally. One of the signals of a vacationship is that you clean the house, get dressed up, and clear your schedule because the partner is coming over. You don’t have to try to schedule a “date night” with a vacationship partner, because any time you spend with them is basically by definition date night. You can’t really get the kind of trust you need for super intense dark d/s dynamics out of a casual encounter, but you run into the aforementioned pragmatic day-to-day + emotional problems if you try to do it in the context of more serious long-term relationships. (I’m sure everyone reading this will have one exception to the claim that dark d/s dynamics mostly only work in the context of vacationships over the long haul. Cool. But I’ve watched a lottttt of kinky relationships over the years, and those people stand out because they’re exceptions… And even most of the ones I thought seemed okay later ended in acrimonious messes).