You are confusing love and obedience. You’ll obey me without loving me and without me loving you.Sir Stephan, in The Story of O
I was in a 24/7 master-slave relationship many years ago, with contracts, rituals and protocols, the whole shebang. It is probably one of the most common sadomasochistic fantasies, just like in the book The Story of O (1965) by pseudonym Pauline Reage. Previously, my partner had entrusted herself to an older mentor to guide her into her submission. And when we fell in love, he handed over that responsibility to me, together with a word of warning.
One day, you will find yourself having to choose between love and obedience. It’s a hard choice that will test you. But, I hope you chose obedience.
I didn’t understand his warning, but many years later, when our relationship started to fall apart, it would come back, haunting me.
Submission is easy when you are in love because there is a hormonal rush of wanting to please the beloved in any way possible. So whatever the partner demands, there will be an instinctual will to obey without experiencing effort. But this period of being madly in love runs on a timer, for roughly two years, or the time it takes to have a child. So after that, we need to depend on commitment. The will to stay together even when things get complicated and painful.
When Castles Starts To Crumble
Our 24/7 master-slave relationship carried on, and we experienced many amazing things together. Nonetheless, the two-year marker passed us by, and more and more often, my partner found herself not wanting to obey my will. So we started to fall back on the contracts, rituals and protocols to guide the obedience. It hurts to force someone against their will.
Intellectually, we both believed in it, but emotionally things became harder and harder. We often discussed it with our friends and community, but nothing helped. Actually, I think that one can only enforce something for so long before either one will rebel in revolution or die empathically. This is true in both the micro and the macro. Like protesting or being apathetic in a corrupt dictatorship. Therefore, the submission must come out of love, just as dominance does.
Eventually the day arrived which her old mentor had warned me about. She had broken a rule in her contract, and I didn’t want to punish her for it as I was sympathetic to the state of our relationship and felt for her. But by not punishing her, I was undermining the master-slave dynamic. So what is it going to be-love or obedience? I’m glad that we chose to love and separate. Actually, I think most people would choose love in this situation because total ownership is usually more exciting in fantasy than in reality. So when Sir Stephan recites that line in the Story of O, it marks the first steps of O’s rebellion from her enslavement.
So what is the source of submission? If the source is love, is it then, really, submission if you are so infatuated that you exactly want what your partner wants?