Punishing a Masochist

In the lifestyle there is, and has been for as long as I can remember, the repeated discussion over how you punish a Masochist.  A masochist, to my way of thinking is someone who gets sexual enjoyment out of extreme forms of physical stimulation.  She (or he) is a pain slut.

Now most of us, even out side of the lifestyle, know about the “punishment” game.  Just think of your loved one kneeling on the floor and saying, “I have been a very bad girl/boy/boi/etc., Mommy/Daddy.  I need to be punished (blink, blink)”  OK then, where are my toys?

But what if something seriously has gone wrong, something promised and not done?

I LOVE pain sluts. They are my greatest joy.  I might even go so far as to say they are a necessity to me.  I do NOT, however,  enjoy punishment, and neither should she.  (Please understand, I am a Heterosexual Sadistic Dominant, so I do tend to think of submissives as girls, but they need not be in any way.)

So, how do I punish?  First, she comes and kneels at my feet and we discuss what has occurred. I make sure she knew what it was she was to do. I ask her to confirm that she had an opportunity to ask any and all questions so that she understood what was required of her. She then must confirm that once she understood what it was I wanted, she had committed to do so.

You should understand that all three things are necessary. Did she understand what I wanted? Did she have an opportunity to ask any question she wished? Understanding what I wanted, did she then freely commit to doing it? If these things happened and the action was still not done, we then must have a discussion about why we were in that relationship.

Does she want to submit to me? Does she choose to serve me? I am there to guide and support her and hopefully encourage and allow actions that please the both of us, but I can not MAKE her serve me. She CHOSE to do that. I must then ask her if she has changed her mind.

Yes, we are now in a discussion as to whether or not this relationship should continue because if she chooses not to SERVE me, we are no longer holding to our mutual commitment to each other. She should be reminded of these things and of the reasons behind her original choice. Did she have expectations she did not disclose to me? Are there elements of this relationship which no longer please her?

Then she should be given time to do some solid thinking about whether or not she wishes to continue in the relationship. If she does, I can pretty much guarentee that the behavior will change. But YOU must remember that this is NOT play time. It is a time to think over what has or has not been done and whether or not this is a serious lifestyle choice or just a childish game for her.

And YOU have to understand that the RESULT of all of this is that you MAY not have a submissive any more. That is why I do not like punishment.

The Eroticist

P.S.  There are excellent comments on this post.  Scroll down to see them.


  1. nabterayl

    As with most things kink, the situation here described seems identical to one you commonly find in “vanilla” relationships. But if my vanilla relationship partner fails to do something s/he understood and voluntarily committed to do in our relationship, I would not jump to having the “Are you committed to this relationship or not?” conversation. It doe not seem to me that every willful violation of a commitment indicates a desire to exit a relationship, nor that we should be contemplating exiting the relationship.

    Are you saying you feel differently? Or only within a submissive/dominant context? I admit, I still don’t see how those relationships are materially different from any other.

  2. nabterayl

    As with most relational things kink, the situation you describe seems like it would come up pretty frequently in “vanilla” relationships as well. But if my “vanilla” relationship partner willfully violate a commitment s/he had made, I wouldn’t jump straight to the “Are you sure you really want to be in this relationship?” talk. Yes s/he understood what was expected, yes s/he had the opportunity to ask questions, yes s/he willfully committed to the expectation, but I don’t believe that all willful violations of commitments should be read as a possible desire to exit the commitment.

    Is this an opinion on which you and I differ? Or is your opinion somehow informed by the specific dominant/submissive context? I have always had a hard time finding a material principled distinction between D/s relationships and others when it comes to issues like this.

    • I did not mention, as I suppose I should, the very real possibilities of normal every day life events getting in the way as happens in the best of situations. I tend to put things in the general order of Health, Family, Career, BDSM. No matter how committed one may be, if the car breaks down, or injuries or illness take over, or a child or parent is in need, that takes precedence. I wanted to mention that, even though it does not really apply to your question.

      I think the issue here is the difference between a relationship based on the equivalence of partners, responsibility and authority and one which is based on a non-equality. In a marriage relationship in MOST cases, one of the core values upon which the relationship is based is fidelity, though we may be seeing a loosening of those considerations. MOST people would say, as legally it was described in my parent’s day, adultery was grounds for divorce. Sexual fidelity was a basis of the relationship and without it there were reasons to consider the continuation of that relationship.

      Now in a Dominant and submissive relationship we are not talking about taking out the garbage. If ones wife promised to take out the garbage and one day, with no other excuse just said, “Fuck it. I ain’t gonna do it.” I do not think that would be considered by anyone as grounds for divorce. But in a negotiated, communicated, and committed Dominant and submissive relationship given the same situation, we are not talking about just taking out the garbage. We are talking about a basic core commitment to submit to the authority of another. That is the BASIS of the relationship. The actual act, done or not done, is not the issue.

      So, yes, I would say that this opinion is informed by the specific D/s context. If the basis of our relationship is that you freely choose to accept my authority over how you live your life (to a greater or lesser negotiated degree) then if you choose to no longer accept that authority, you are questioning the basis of the relationship.

      May I sincerely thank you for your comment and opportunity to answer.

      The Eroticist

      • nabterayl

        I don’t think I’m seeing the difference yet. Even the most committed submissive can have a bad day. As you recognize, sometimes not taking out the garbage is, well, just not taking out the garbage. Everybody has moments when they know what they should do, and from a long-term perspective want to do it, but in the short term choose not to. Were it otherwise, people at all times in all place would not find morality difficult. The “let’s talk about our relationship” problem only arises when not taking out the garbage is being used Asa proxy for something else, such as dissatisfaction with the negotiated D/s relationship. I imagine that a dominant who jumps to “Are you committed to this relationship or not?” EVERY time his/her sub fails to cross a t has difficulty keeping his/her subs. Certainly to me that would indicate an immaturity that is fundamentally at odds with suitability for dominance.

        The thing is, from my perspective, all relationships are about negotiated exchange of power. No matter the type of relationship, if “taking out the garbage” is an issue (large or small), it’s only because that action implicates the negotiated agreement. Maybe all it implicates is a specific agreement to take out the garbage – no larger or smaller an issue then than if a sub had specifically agreed with his/her dom to do the same. But sometimes it’s really a proxy for a much more fundamental dissatisfaction with the shape of the relationship. Whether one is a dom or an “equal” (though I think that’s a false dichotomy – as you yourself have said, on a level deeper than who gets to issue instructions, submissive and dominants ARE equals, or the relationship would never be entered into in the first place), one needs to figure out what’s really going on and tailor your response appropriately.

        • I want to be clear here. When one writes blogs, as my friend the KinkyLittleGirl knows well, it sometimes seems a major pronouncement on all related issues when it is just one particular moment being addressed.

          Of course, there are times in all relationships where things happen and they are just simple mistakes. Continuing the garbage analogy, if I mention to my submissive partner on my way out to please take out the garbage and she, perhaps, is also on her way out, or upstairs and does not hear me, it is just as it is, something that was missed and sorry, OK, I’ll talk louder next time or make sure she hears or has time.

          A possible “Punishment” in that case, might be that she then has to take out the garbage with her teeth in handcuffs, depending on the neighbor situation. But that would be more entertainment than punishment in my mind.

          But if it is a negotiated talk that we have discussed, questioned, and committed to, then it deserves a further discussion. It is necessary in my mind to KNOW if it is an issue where there is some dissatisfaction with our relationship on a deeper level. If not, GREAT, so be it. Then we can deal with it on a far lighter level.

          The Eroticist

      • nabterayl

        A related question: what other levels of punishment do you use in a D/s relationship? Stick with taking out the garbage; let’s say you (as dom) have agreed with your sub that she will take out the garbage every Thursday without prompting from you. Come Friday, she hasn’t taken out the garbage. There are several different flavors that could have taken, including:

        1. She genuinely just forgot to take out the garbage. No hint of rebellion involved, just bad memory or distraction.

        2. She was really tired, or sad, or depressed, or something on Thursday. In general she’s happy with the relationship, but at that specific moment, she just couldn’t muster the will to take out the garbage.

        3. She’s genuinely and deeply unhappy with the relationship, and is passive-aggressively expressing that by not taking out the garbage.

        You’ve already laid out a punishment response for 3. What about 1, or 2? Does the punishment response change in those situations? Do you acknowledge that those situations could even occur in a D/s relationship?

        The thing that fascinates me about this iteration on your post topic is that in 1 and 2 it seems to me like a genuine punishment is warranted (albeit perhaps a different punishment than 3 warrants), and, as you point out, most sexual play would not be punishment for a masochist sub. Punishment – real punishment, not play punishment – is by definition unpleasant.

        So how would you, as someone who I expect has encountered this situation before, punish a masochistic sub in situation 1 or 2?

      • Nabterayl, with your three different possible scenarios, you raise exactly the questions that come to my mind, albeit much more concisely and clearly than I do ! IMO, it’s very important to differentiate the reasons behind forgetting or otherwise simply choosing not to do something in deciding what to do about it. I didn’t have a clear read on Eroticist’s thoughts on that.

        Even when the relationship is based on accepting the dominant’s authority so that failing to follow through on an order *could* potentially undermine the basis of the relationship, there are still times when a cigar is just a cigar and doesn’t have any deeper meaning.

        There’s a reason this is a particular hot button with me, of course…

      • Yes Please

        The idea of questioning the submissive on her commitment to the dynamic feels like a threat of abandonment. No one has ever been well behaved all of the time and, not unlike children, your submissive needs to know that their most important relationship is not in jeopardy simply because they messed up, whatever tge reason. I am not a hard core pain slut but I sure can tell the difference between being punished and just being played. To know that I have disappointed my Sir or made him unhappy or dissatisfied with me would break my heart. Any punishment meeted out would be most painful and not at all enjoyable.

        As an adult, I know how to articulate my concerns without manifesting passive aggressive behavior. I think you have to know and understand your slave/submissive well enough to interpret the gravitas of her/his infraction. Please do not use threat of abandonment. Employing that form of discipline will surely harden her heart.

        • The threat of abandonment, if that is all it is, is cruel and pointless. Perhaps in my original post I portrayed myself as far too severe. I do believe that if behavior arises which brings such questions to mind, they must be investigated. Remember, the issue has gone beyond excuses of something prevented the action, the action was understood and there was a commitment to act. The questions are not a manipulative threat, but a serious questioning of the state of the relationship. I hope that there was nothing seen in my description of myself to lead anyone to believe that I would WANT the relationship to end, only that I should be ready and willing to accept it if the submissive so desires.

          The Eroticist

      • > The idea of questioning the submissive on her commitment to the dynamic feels like a threat of abandonment.

        > your submissive needs to know that their most important relationship is not in jeopardy simply because they messed up, whatever tge reason.

        Absolutely, @YesPlease. This. Exactly.

        I’m not saying that this is what Eroticist was implying, because I don’t think it was, but I myself have been in this position, and it isn’t fun. And that goes quadruple when something the dom himself has done has set the problem off to start with. The feeling of abandonment is magnified to the nth degree then, when it is then dumped back on the submissive as *her* fault or responsibility and she is then questioned about her commitment.

        Of course, that goes beyond the question of forgetting into other areas, at least in the situations I’m thinking of, but the thought is still close enough to trigger the same reaction for me…

        I don’t know how many dominants really get how threatening even *questioning* commitment in any of these kinds of situations can be, and how it can serve at times to just perpetuate the problem.

        At the end of the day, for me, this is a relationship like any other. Even if the dynamic is at question, for me, the commitment to the other party and the relationship itself will still be there, absent some really egregiously horrific behavior. I have a hard time wrapping my head around how anyone might think that one or even a slew of errors in many situations could *necessarily* mean they are no longer wanting the relationship at all.

        Which, again, isn’t necessarily what Eroticist is saying. We all bring our own shades of grey to the table whenever someone brings up a topic that triggers thoughts of situations we ourselves may have been in, or have seen others suffer through, which is part of why blog comments sometimes go off on an apparent tangent to what the poster intended, and reactions come out strong when, necessarily, not all potential bases are covered in an initial post. We all write from our own frames of reference, and what might be a given for one person isn’t so obvious because we just don’t know him or her well enough.

        Sorry if I’m rambling…

  3. Lavalliere

    I’m not a masochist but do very naturally love being a submissive. I do rather enjoy (when the supportive negotiation commands) being taken aside by my dominant and given one (one single, very audible) slap to the face and a finger-wagging verbal discipline follow up to re-enforce his power and righteous sexual dominance in our relationship. Power (appropriately demonstrated) is utterly intoxicating.

  4. So you say you don’t like punishment, but you have described how you do it. I can’t help but think this is a bit of a contradiction.

    Please just remember that there are many reasons why a person might forget to do something (or decide not to do it) despite promising to do so other than deliberate disobedience and not wanting to be in the relationship any more.

    A dominant is likely to *really* end up without a submissive (or certainly with an increasingly unwilling and unhappy one) if she, say, has medical issues that cause forgetfulness or just a generally bad memory, and if he refuses to believe that there was nothing personal about her forgetting something whatsoever if she tells him that and continue to hammer on themes like “If you really cared, you wouldn’t have forgotten”.

    That latter idea is a landmine-in-waiting anyways. It’s like the eternal, “If you really loved me, you’d .” These sorts of expectations are often utterly unrealistic in *any* relationship, and inappropriately tie things together that frequently have zero cause/effect relationship to one another.

    Once you set this kind of ship in motion, too, then it may well *become* the herald of a greater problem where it never was to start with. When people are browbeaten and accused of things they either have not done or of doing something deliberately that was entirely accidental and coincidental in this kind of manner,

    I’ve written a lot more on the idea of forgetting and why it might possibly *not* be so toxic or deliberate at http://kinkylittlegirl.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/when-is-abuse-not-abuse/.

    • nabterayl

      I agree with most of this, re: there being many reasons why a person might forget or simply decide not to do something they have promised to do. I’d even go a little further than you go and submit that part of being human means that some part of you will always want to not do anything that the rest of you wants to do – and that little part of you won’t lose all the time.

      I would point out, though, that there’s no contradiction between knowing how to do something and not liking it. Any parent knows what it’s like to spend considerable skull sweat on the topic of punishment and still hate the act of punishing. Not even recognizing that I need to punish my daughter sometimes, that it’s actually good for both of us, is enough to make me like punishing her.

      • Good point, Naberayl. I was taking the “not liking” comment to mean that Eroticist doesn’t do it, which of course is clearly not what he actually said.

        And yet, oftentimes when we don’t like to do something, especially when we know it has a good chance of coming back to bite us like he also mentions, I think we do have a tendency to actually avoid doing it.

    • Sometimes I do have issues with my computer. I wrote a MASTERFUL reply to this and pushed the fucking wrong button. Twas lost.

      However, I did go to look at your blog, my friend and commented there. I am tempted to copy it here, but that might prevent others from connecting with your truly delightful and resonant writing. So I only recommend that they follow my footsteps and go look through your link.

      The Eroticist

  5. nabterayl

    New comment to avoid confusion about what’s replying to what.

    I think I understand you now. What threw me was the association of “what if something seriously has gone wrong” and “something promised and not done.” I quite agree with you that if something seroiusly has gone wrong, it deserves a serious response. I applaud you for recognizing that punishment play simply isn’t the right response when something really has gone seriously wrong. I was confused because, as we’ve now hashed out at some length, obviously not every instance of “something promised and not done” is a serious problem.

    • Absolutely. Thank you.

      I am oft times bothered by what MAY be just an element of trying to compress real life responses into few pages of text. But I have seen, often, I am afraid, rather dictatorial responses, or worse, teachings or recommendations from Dominants who display themselves as knowledgeable on how one should invariably punish even minor infractions. Sort of a poorly considered “My Way or the Highway” scenario.

      Honest and open communication as people of equal value, I often repeat, will assist in finding those times of serious issue. But punishment, correction, and reminders (to use a sort of sliding scale) can come in innumerable forms. To hearken back to an earlier question of yours in this thread, as you said, 3 was covered.

      2, a case where there might be some serious or noteworthy issue with my submissive, but not with her relationship to me, also deserves a serious discussion. Is she getting sick? Make her some soup or tea and get her to bed. Are there issues in her life of which she is hesitant to inform you? Look at your relationship and work on making it an environment where the hesitation is no longer necessary. Has she been under a great deal of stress? Possibly give her a warm bath and confirm her importance to you. There will be times when it is necessary and appropriate to serve your slave. If you feel that is below you, then you should look at yourself and seek to understand why that is necessary. Serving your slave deserves a post in itself.

      In situation 1, where it was “simply forgotten” actually is the most difficult. Remember, the premise of all of this is that the task, whatever it may be, was one important enough to involve questions, understanding and commitment. I do not feel it should be taken as lightly as to have been “simply forgotten.” That says to me that she does not understand the importance of a task requested IN THAT MANOR, by her Dominant. In that case, some actual punishment MAY be useful. So, harking back to the original question, punishments for a Pain Slut (a most delightful personage), I will not go into detail, but only say that there are many forms of pain, some simply involving time, that can be useful, kneeling in a corner or before a mirror, holding a coin to the wall with your nose, etc. There was a reason why teachers told you to write 100 times, “I will not…”

      The Eroticist

  6. Jolene

    This was was interesting. It reminded me of my relationship with my ex-husband. He was not dominant at all, but he tried on occasion. One of the biggest problems was that I knew it wasn’t really what he wanted, so I never took his commands seriously. I didn’t *want* to be involved in a D/s relationship with him because it was unfulfilling to submit to someone who wasn’t truly dominant. When our marriage ended (for many, many other reasons), and I entered my first “real” D/s relationship, things were much different. I would strive with every fiber of my being to obey, to do well, to please . . . any transgressions on my part were never intentional. So, I think it is certainly fair to ask a submissive if the relationship is something she truly wants if she willfully disobeys for the sake of disobeying.

  7. I wanted to add that there were some excellent comments on this very subject in Robert Rubel’s excellent book, “Protocols”. While they are too long to quote here, I recommend the book. The specific comments are located in Chapter one, under the headings, “Requests, Orders and Instructions” and the following two, “Required to Comply” and “Willful or Negligent Failure to Comply”. They are worth a read as to the subject of this blog post.

  8. rita

    this has been a most interesting read for a real world bdsm virgin….and possibly a new self discovery of my interest in exploring M/s …..but throughout the postings, i kept to the statement that something had “seriously” gone wrong, and a carefully explained and considered “promise” was not kept…so all the talk of garbage and abandonment just didn’t click for me…from the get go, it appears this was not the case (garbage unfulfilled)…and i did not see the questioning as to the relationship itself as unwarranted, as it was something clearly outlined, and furthermore “promised”…i have a great deal to learn, but to me, if i promise something, it is probably about more than a routine household chore, and is of serious importance to both of us that i keep my word…

  9. Les Creeper

    My girlfriend is a white-collar professional by day, and a submissive masochistic sex slave by night. She has agreed to submit to my sexual desires during certain hours of each night of the week, and she has agreed to be punished whenever she fails to fulfill a promise that she has made. We have experimented with the exploration of her limits in order to develop a customized schedule of punishments. For example, whenever she fails to tell the whole truth about her performance of a promised action, she is usually punished in ways that focus on testing the discomfort limits of her mouth and throat. She always has been a very oral girlfriend and has always submitted to punishments involving throat fucking. During such punishments, she typically will have some difficulty breathing and will usually gag repeatedly and cough up copious amounts of thick saliva. In recent weeks, she has agreed to further test her limits, and her throat-fucking punishments have been sustained for longer periods of time to push the envelope and cause her to puke a certain number of times. She has agreed in advance of each punishment to a negotiated number of throat-fuck pukes that is deemed appropriate for her failed promise. Over recent weeks, the number of agreed-upon pukes has gradually been increasing. Last night, she agreed in advance to 12 throat-fuck pukes, which means that she agreed to suck my cock without pausing during throat-fucking for as long as it takes to puke 12 times. Last night, it took 72 minutes of throat fucking and cock sucking to cause her to puke a total of 12 times. She performed very well during her punishment, and afterwards she expressed enthusiasm for pushing her limit next time to 13 pukes. My question is whether we should be concerned if her limit gets pushed to a number of pukes that might be bad for her health. All told, last week, she willingly endured a total of 70 throat-fuck pukes in a span of 7 days.

    • Thank you for your comment. I am sorry if it has taken me so long to reply. Life issues.
      There are two areas where I would wish to comment. The first involves health but in a way that you might not think. One way bulimia (an emotional disorder involving distortion of body image and an obsessive desire to lose weight, in which bouts of extreme overeating are followed by depression and self-induced vomiting, purging, or fasting) is diagnosed is by your dentist. Repeated vomiting brings up stomach acids which does damage to the enamel of your teeth, particularly the back side of your teeth, so it is not necessarily observed except by your dentist. So I would recommend possibly more frequent visits to the dentist if this is a consistent form of play.
      The second issue I would think about is your use of the term “punishment.” From your submitted comment I would question whether or not it is actually punishment for misdeeds or a negotiated form of play. Seriously, there is nothing wrong with it being play. The willingness to be violently invaded orally can be highly erotic and enjoyable for both parties. But I would advise you, for the sake of your relationship, not to confuse that kind of violently invasive play with punishment. Again, from your comment, it seems that your lady enjoys it as much, or more than you. No problem with that at all, but it ain’t punishment.
      Punishment is meant to correct behavior which does not advance the depth of your relationship. Negotiating play and expressing a desire to further push previously set limits is just that, furthering play. Punishment is not a reward.
      I do not suggest you change any form of your behavior, except for having her teeth checked a bit more often. I am suggesting you adjust your terminology. I have found that punishment, if effective, is rarely enjoyable for either party.
      The Eroticist

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