The Other Side Of Vulnerable

Author: Bob Harris ©

used with permission. This article was originally written for the section of Gloria Brame's Web Site called "Perspectives Of A Male Submissive".


As i mentioned last month, vulnerability during a play scene can be an extreme turn on. But there is another side to being vulnerable that can, at best, be frightening and, at its worst, cause pain much deeper than any whip: emotional vulnerability. It is not uncommon for it to drive people away from the Scene or prevent them from ever exploring it.

Dealing with being emotionally vulnerable is a battle submissives must fight every day. It's not easy to trust another so completely that you can place yourself totally in their hands, allowing them to be in control of your mental well-being. But that's what we, as submissives, do.

For some, it's not that major of an issue. It's the way we would approach any relationship, from friendships on up to getting married or taking a lover. Sometimes it may be the result of simply being naive. It may be that some people have never seen or been exposed to a relationship where one partner misused or abused the other's trust. For others, it's simply a matter of fact that anytime you give your trust to another there is always a certain element of risk involved. A risk they are willing to accept and take. Even having been badly hurt by someone in the past does not prevent them from taking the same risk again, eyes opened a little wider perhaps, but still willing.

Sadly, there are those who just cannot, for whatever reason, bring themselves to that point of letting go. It bothers me to hear someone say that they could never be in any type of 24/7 SM or D/s relationship because they refuse to put themselves in a position where their submissive tendencies might be misused, much less opening themselves to possibly being emotionally hurt or abused. It bothers me because, all too often, i've heard that said by someone who, if they could ever get over that stumbling block, would be absolutely fantastic in their service and loyalty, and be an exceptional full-time submissive.

But no matter how badly they wish for it or know how extremely happy they could be, no matter how much they wish that they could find that "perfect" Dominant who will take their fears away, they just can't bring themselves to allow it to happen. If they're lucky, they will find a Dominant with similar reservations and establish at least a play relationship. But usually they wind up standing on the sidelines, hoping against hope that tonight will be the night.

Instead, they end up, once again, alone and frustrated, torn between the driving needs they know they have and their equally driving need for self-protection. In the end, when all is said and done, most of them find that in protecting themselves--by not having allowed themselves to open up that vulnerability--they have only hurt themselves. Often even worse than if they had let go and ended up involved in a bad, hurtful situation.

Normally, i do not feel that the issues concerning submission are all that different due to whether you're male/female, gay/bi/straight or any other type of categorization. But this is possibly one problem area where being a male submissive seems to have an advantage over being a female submissive. Predominantly, the situation arises more often among female submissives in the pansexual arena than it does among either gay or straight male subs. Perhaps it is because in our overall society, cases of both physical and mental abuse are by far, more commonly situations where an adult male abuses an adult female, usually within the confines of an emotional or love relationship.

On the other hand, cases of abuse against males are more likely to be of a physical nature, involving situations between fathers and sons or gay lovers. And for gay males, the situations frequently included emotional abuse as well. While physical abuse of males by females certainly does exist, female to male abuse more often brings up images of the overly strong-willed wife or lover, who continually berates the guy in an effort to break his self esteem so they can control his every thought and action.

Complicating the situation for females, there is the added problem that some men still view women as being inferior. Since the male Dominants in our lifestyle who feel that way about women also seem to feel that way about submissives in general, it's not hard to understand why the fear of being emotionally vulnerable is more prevalent among female submissives than males.

The fear is real and it should be. To have someone you love and trust use those emotions against you to control you, to make you conform to what they want you to be, can be devastating. Even in the vanilla world, it can happen before you know it or even realize what's going on. In the world of BDSM, the damage caused by the misuse of a trust can happen with lightning speed.

In this lifestyle, with its unique mixture of fantasy and reality, there are many who believe that absolute, non-questioned control is a Dominant's right. That when training a submissive, they need to be frequently "punished" or publicly embarrassed in order to break their will, thus making them a more obedient and responsive "slave". With many new submissives entering the lifestyle attracted by the image of the mindless submissive being cared for totally, free of any responsibility to care for themselves, the opportunities for a complete psychological, spiritual or emotional breakdown are constantly present. Any submissive who enters the lifestyle with any sign of having a low self-esteem can become an instant and easy target for a Dominant who thinks it's all about control.

When BDSM is involved, it is not just trust, but unquestionable trust. That is one of the key elements in the success of any type or level of relationship-- be it simply play buddies or a full-time, 24/7, D/s or a Master/slave relationship. That absolute and extreme level of trust must be there. It is especially important for a submissive to have that level of trust in his or her Dominant, and to feel a similar trust in return. That level of trust empowers submissives to give of themselves freely, willingly, without reservations or limitations, free of fears and reluctance; it allows them to give control of their entire body and soul, to perform at their highest level of service and to surrender fully in their submission, to their Dominant.

In so doing, we do become terrifyingly vulnerable. Because we are not only willing to allow, but actually want to allow that degree of vulnerability, sincere submissives are often deemed to be emotionally needy. We are said to be strongly co-dependent. Driven by a need to be with someone, anyone, in any type relationship, be it good or abusive. A need so powerful that we no longer care about our own well-being.

Damn! I never realized i was that screwed up! Sure didn't realize that my thinking i've been very lucky to find someone at points along the way who made me feel so extremely good about myself or showed how much he appreciated my giving him my ultimate trust by giving me his ultimate trust, was merely the result of some psychological disturbance i supposedly have.

Didn't realize i am sick because i look for someone who understands the pleasure i receive from giving service to him, and who is grateful for the honor he receives. Sure didn't realize all those times i felt extremely happy and totally fulfilled was because i was just satisfying a need caused by some perceived lack of self-esteem and incapability to be self-sufficient. Those of us who have had the opportunity to know this kind of happiness also know that when there is mutual and total trust, commitment and love, you don't need to worry about being emotionally vulnerable. There's never a guarantee the happiness will last forever, and there may be some hurt in the end. But if you don't take the chance, you'll never know the pleasure.



Back To Journey Into Submission
E-mail Site Owner
Back To Home Page


Page by: Raven Shadowborne © 2001

Graphics & Buttons by: Aylissa Cair & Raven Shadowborne © 1999 & 2001




LnR Toy Store

Site Map


To hear of changes to the web site, or events taking place in the chat room, enter your e-mail address and click on the button below to join the LnRannounce mailing list. This is an announcement list only and is of very low volume. Or if you prefer, e-mail Raven ( ) to be added to the list, be sure to include your e-mail address and the name of the list within the e-mail.

Subscribe to LnRannounce
Powered by
Link To Domination