Most people here know I tend to emphasize communication as a beneficial art form. While I do tend to feel that it is valuable in ALL relationships, I think that it is a requirement in a D/s or M/s relationship.
It is important that there is an understanding of significant words. What is it that a person means by the words that they use? What is service? What is Dominance? What is submission? What is loyalty, honor, control? Each of these things have strong meanings to us, but MY meanings may not translate into the same behavior as YOUR meanings. Discussions of words of significance can be of great value in preventing future misunderstandings.
Words are not the only area worthy of discussion. I often tell the story of my parents, one who was brought up knowing that stockings hung at Christmas was for the small presents, and the tree was for large presents. The other was raised knowing that presents under the tree were from people we knew as expressions of affection, but the presents in the stocking were from Santa for the GOOD little boys and girls. Well, everything went well until the first Christmas when there WERE no small presents. Discussions of protocols and ceremonies can be as important as discussions of words.
Communication is a bi-directional path. In an excellent book by Lily Lloyd, “Discipline: Adding Rules and Discipline to your BDSM Relationship” she speaks about the necessity for a submissive to follow the First Rule, to be “truthful, forthcoming and obedient.” While it seems simple and necessary to be truthful, to answer questions honestly and be open with ones feelings, expectations and emotions, I have seen a large number of submissive types hesitate about being forthcoming.
It is not enough to be willing to answer questions asked in an honest and open way. It is ALSO necessary to offer information that may NOT be asked. It is quite possible that I do not have enough information to ask the right questions. While I will try to be sensitive enough to ask if I noticed an unexpected reaction to anything going on, I may not notice, and it is the s-types obligation to keep me informed so that I can make the right decisions. But the important part of all of that is that a submissive must feel free to independently offer information, and for that to happen the D-type has to structure the relationship so as to allow it. Yes, there are times when I will say, “Not NOW.” But the obligation then is on me to say when, or to make a point later to say, “Now, what is it you wanted to tell me?” While it may be very polite and beneficial for my lovely submissive to say, “Sir, when would be a pleasing time for me to inform you of something important?” as a way of reminding me. If it comes to that, I am not doing my job.
So, be truthful and be forthcoming. Give information, even if not specifically asked. I strongly believe that it is beneficial for the relationship as a whole for the D-type to know what pleases the s-type. Yes, I like a happy sub. Yes, I like a woman to be making a great range of lovely verbal coital responses. It gets me off. And in order to experience that kind of thing, it is necessary to know what kinds of things work on her. It is here obligation to tell me. It is my obligation to make sure that the decisions remain mine.
If, as I believe most D/s relationship are, it is a chosen structure for one person to make the decisions, the only way for that to happen is to have all the information possible. (“Just the facts, Ma’am” for those as ancient as I.) There is no reason for an s-type to believe that withholding their opinions, feelings, difficulties, desires, passions, wants, and perceived needs is beneficial to the relationship in any way. What they should believe is that providing information is not making a decision. I is providing a service for their Dominant so they can make an informed decision.
There is much talk about the dreaded “Topping from the bottom” (discussions here, here and from my friend Clarise Thorne [whose name I can never hear except in the voice of Hannibal Lecter] here). TftB is usually thought of as the s-type structuring a scene or aspects of the relationship by manipulating their D-type. The reason, in my mind, that it is something to be avoided is not that I am being told what my s-type wants or desires or gets them squirting hot, it is that there is some attempt to manipulate me, to take the decision to themselves. While it is an important subject, and worthy of another bolg. The issue is not the forthcoming of information, it is the manipulation.