Friday, 21 November 2008

pushing limits

I talked here a little while ago about "no limits". In the discussion there seemed to be a consensus that there were always some limits - even if these were implicit and understood.

For many there are explicit limits. They can be very hard limits. Ones that it would be a serious breach of trust to try to breach or stretch. I have said a little about this in earlier posts on safewords and mistakes.

But there are other relationships where the very act of submission and of giving oneself to another gives permission for limits to be tested, stretched and broken. I was discussing this with a sub recently where it was clearly almost the purpose of her journey. She wanted to be led further and further into degradation - to be made to do things that she found almost impossible. She then got great pride and satisfaction in having had her limits stretched.

Clearly this will be different in each relationship and a Dom holds great power and responsibility. The sub I mentioned above wrote in her journal recently of being in tears whilst carrying out a task. She also sounded almost in despair over where it was all leading - though another part of her desperately craved that slavery.

How much I wonder is her Dom doing this to meet her needs and how much to meet his desires? How would he know if he had gone too far? How would she? Could there be times when stretching her limits is not psychologically and emotionally safe for her even if part of her craves it?


Anonymous said...

Dear Pygar,
That sounds awful to me. I honestly don't know how to engage in discussions like this because my own limits make it hard for me to allow the possibility of somebody else needing something else. The huge question underlying so much of what we do is, "Is it good if we think it is good, or are some things simply not good?" The only vanilla friend I told about my spanking fun is convinced that even happy spanking is simply "not good" and is an indication that I need therapy. So, my response is, I don't know.

Pygar said...

Dear Maryann

Thank you very much for this comment. I have no answer - but I think your words hit at the heart of what I am trying to explore in this blog. You ask what is "good". You raise issues about how "goodness" is perceived differently in and out of this community. The question of whether your friend is right or not to pass judgement on your enjoyment of spanking - or whether such judgements can only be made from within the community. But if the latter is the case - then what is the ethical standard that we make such judgements on?

At the moment whilst some actions within the community I might judge differently outside the community - I hold to basic tenets such as trust, respect and love.

I suppose I am asking whether it is possible to build a moral framework within this community - and if there is a chance it could be respected from outside the community.

But keep talking to your friend who thinks you need therapy. She may be right. But equally it may be she who would benefit from therapy - or could at least learn from your ability to look more deeply and honestly at your own needs and desires ...


Anonymous said...


I have struggled a great deal with the morality question, in fact I touched on it the opening post on the blog that writing here helped push me towards creating. Can we have a moral code in this community and can it hold up out side are worthy questions. Do unto others as you would have done unto you, a basic moral tenant. So if I am willing to be spanked then I can spank. Perhaps it is that simple. My problem is I only like to give them hehehe. Oh well the quest continues.

To the point of the blog, it would seem to me the sub you write of wants her current boundaries pushed, boundaries may not be the same thing as limits and I think sometimes in our community the two ideas are confused.

Boundaries may or may not be pushed and tested, it may be on purpose, planned or in the heat of the moment when a known limit is past damage is done to the relationship.

I believe this dynamic plays out in all relationships including vanilla. It happens faster in the lifestyle, more opportunites at an excelerated rate but it happens in vanilla, work, parent. I think it is the stuff of life.

Dragonfly said...

I think the moral health of a D/s relationship depends on whether or not the personal morals and subsequent motivation of the participants are aligned.

If one person is seeking growth and the other is looking to satisfy a sadistic itch, then clearly they are not operating from the same place morally or motivationally and someone will end up hurt.

In speaking with so many D/s folks and in reading volumes of material, it seems that the most successful couples are those with a common philosophy that they have worked hard to formulate together.

It takes a great deal of time to discover and cultivate this. Especially in the D/s community which is fraught with ambiguity and secrecy.

About the crying sub, you mentioned... I wonder.. if her philosophy and foundation is aligned with her Master.. and if it is not, I wonder why she entered into such a relationship and why she stayed... perhaps to play out and solve other issues in her life?

LynLass said...

When I first began experiencing (vs. just reading about) TTWD, I identified several hard limits-caning, for example. Over the last few years, I've stretched and grown and learned that what I thought were limits are actually only boundaries. The difference between the sub mentioned and me is that she identified that she wanted her boundaries pushed; I did not-at least early on.

However, the first time I got caned, I, too, cried. And last year, for the first time, I identified that I wanted my boundaries pushed before I received a spanking.

I think true morality does not lie in "do unto others..." as much as it does in respecting the other's needs, desires and current identified boundaries and limits.

Perhaps, morality in TTWE lies in respect, not hard and fast rules?

Anonymous said...

I love being a sub but i was reading where, and I think its true; that anyone who is a slave suffers from low self esteem- and that would include subs too I guess. Does anyone think thats true I mean do you have to start with having low self esteem to begin with? Does a lot of it stem from abuses in a Doms or a subs life when they were younger? I could see how that would make sense.

Unknown said...

In response to Suzanne's comment, I don't think that low self esteem is an automatic connection with the sub/slave. I can think of a number of blogs that I read (as well as individuals I know personally) where it appears that the slave/sub has really good self-esteem, for example Swan of the Heron Clan. It does seem that poor self esteem may be somewhat more prevalent in this particular population.

I do think, after reading innumerable blogs, that sub/slaves may be more susceptible to depression. As a psych nurse specialist, I've noted, situational depression, seasonal affective disorder and some depression that appears to be chronic (genetic?) on a regular basis. But that, too, is also a chicken and egg conundrum.

The problem with deciding either of these issues is that blogs usually only give a snapshot of the individual at a given point in time; it usually is all self report. It's virtually impossible to draw real conclusions given that data. I'd love to get a hold of a large enough population in person to do a real research project on the topic!

Alice said...


This is exactly the struggle that I have been having lately. I want him to push me and test me, I want to leave my limits behind. I have been having many thoughts and fantasies lately that my mind deems as "wrong" or "unacceptable". I am not sure if that is a voice from within myself or society talking. I have been faced with this before and my trust in J always gets me through. I know that he would never engage in anything that would be damaging to me. Yet there is a part of me that desires to be used without concern for my own needs.

I do not think that this feeling or my submission has anything to do with low self esteem. I tend to think quite highly of myself. I think that my goal here is to test the limits of my submission. I long to completely surrender to him. The more I submit, the more I need to submit more deeply. That deeper submission, my surrender is actually quite freeing to me. It makes me feel more powerful, more elevated, it enables to give more power to him. I suppose that is the crux of the power exchange, his power feeds off of mine and vice versa.

As our trust, love and relationship deepen, I can offer him more and more. I do sometimes wonder where the end will be, or if this is an ever evolving state of things. I do not really have an answer, but I definitely understand the question.


crista said...

We all have personal boundaries that define what is acceptable or not. The quest is finding what that is for each individual. I'm saddened to read about external judgements imposed on another. Its great to read others exploring their sexualities finding their kinks and what doesnt float ones boat may float anothers.
Pygar I love your Angel picture *crista bends over for a light but swift naughty slap* x

Pygar said...

Thank you all for such thoughtful and interesting responses.

Sir J, like you I also do not like to be spanked! However I think the way that the "do unto others ..." morality applies in such situations is that one should offer trust and respect, care and consideration in exactly the same way we would expect them from another.

Welcome Dragonfly! :)

Yes, you speak such sense as always. The need for a common moral framework must I suppose be at the heart of any serious relationship - and in a D/s relationship is essential. I think this applies also to my earlier post on masquerading,.

I do not know the sub and her Master well enough to know whether their moral philosophies are aligned. I know she trust him so I am sure she feels so.

Thank you Marsha - it is interesting to hear of you explaining how you have appreciated your own boundaries being pushed. Yes - I am sure that trust is more important than hard and fast rules - but also understanding. At the core is this and respect from both sides. This can take a long time to establish.

Suzanne - I have known a number of subs who do suffer from low self-esteem so can understand why you may say what you do. However I know there are many sub readers of this blog who feel strong and self-confident. There may be some who suffer from low self-esteem who find they have a purpose and gather strength from their submission.

If low self-esteem was caused by being a sub then I would have a problem with that. As a Dom I feel I have a duty to try to enhance the self esteem of a sub. I would want any sub of mine to feel a pride in her submission. I would want her to be proud to be my sub. I would see it as part of my responsibility to try to help her develop her self esteem. I believe a good sub is a strong woman.

Good luck Suzanne.

I think Lynnlass that you have responded to Suzanne in a similar vein to me. However, like you, I have known many subs who suffer from depression. Perhaps this was at the heart of Suzanne's comment.

If ever you get your research project underway then do let us know - it would be fascinating. On a serious note - I think you might find many who would respond to a questionnaire from blogs such as this and messageboards.

Good luck!

Alice - your thoughts seem to echo very closely those I was trying to explain in my post. It is fascinating to hear you revealing those thoughts and your analysis of them. To have such trust and having attained that trust to want to be used and taken deeper and deeper into your darkest fantasies...

"I do sometimes wonder where the end will be ... Is exactly what the sub I mentioned was asking herself.

Yes Cresta, I think you are right about boundaries - and the quest that many of us are engaged in.

Now just bend over and we will decide how light and swift your naughty slap should be! ;)


Anonymous said...

That was hot- thank you, I needed this…

Anonymous said...

I was reading a thread on FetLife where a psychologist in California stated that there have been studies which show that those engaging in bdsm are no more likely to have an abusive past than vanillas. I have seen this statement repeated in all discussions I have followed on this subject.

I certainly do not suffer from low self esteem. In fact, the period in my life when I did, I would not have been able to be a sub, because I needed to constantly assert my will in order to confirm my sense of 'self'. Now I don't need to do that because I know who I am and I'm ok with it.

Limits/boundaries are individual things. We shouldn't make assumptions about others based on our own feelings about what they are doing. The sub you speak of (Iknow who!)seems like a very happy woman. I now do things that I would never have thought possible, and I enjoy having my boundaries pushed. Our 'hard limits' are defined by my owner....and happily, coincide with mine.

That's my two penn'th!

Tp xx

Pygar said...

Thank you Tristan's pet for the information from the discussions in relation to abusive pasts. There has been a theory that those who have been abused sometimes come to associate violence with love which could lead into bdsm relationships. It is interesting that there is no evidence for this.

Your personal comments on self esteem and personal development are very illuminating.

I agree with you also about not making assumptions. I am pleased that your own relationship works so well for both of you - I am sure the fact that your limits coincide is a contributory fact to that.


Unknown said...

I think boundaries can be pushed without pushing limits. I also thinks limit changes. With time, with experiences etc. Hard limits can become soft limits, and soft limits might become "it don't get me going but i don't mind doing it", or even a desire.

I am very new to this lifestyle, and things have moved along just as quickly for me. Within just a cpl weeks of deciding to embarge on this lifestyle i found my Master. We "only" have an online relationship which kinda limits things, but it also gives a way of feeling security and to really get to know eachother. I am like an open book to Him, and He has no issues in giving me information back. He is very caring too, and wants what's best for _me_.
We only started this 2 months ago and already some hard limits have become soft limits and one has even become a "Hell yes, I love this!", and that is caning. I found caning quite frightening in before we started. Now, I got a task to buy these bamboo sticks for another purpose. But I have very quickly realized that I really am masochistic, and quite so. I love spankings. Yes, they are self-inflicted -and I probably do it harder than He would ;) So I took it upon myself to use the canes for spanking -and I loved it! And just like that a hard limit was out the window. Now, I have advanced very quickly (Master is actually quite surprised just how quickly, and dare i think impressed?)These last few days i have been a real painslut even. THings that I have previously put as a 6 or 7 on a painscale (yes, i have developed one of those :P)has the last few days been on a 1-3. But now I kinda went off on one again. I guess what I am trying to say is that both boundaries can be pushed, as long as it is done with care and good listening/reading skills. I have a personal blog for Master alone, so that he can "sound me out", especially since I have psychiatric issues -and just for the record; this lifestyle has really helped me. But now I'm straying again (can i blame my ADHD for that? :P)The dominant part need to have a good sense of your person I think to push on one's boundaries. There was one more thing i was thinking of before i went off on one, but goldfish-brain is not giving me a recollection of it :|
OH, that's it! I was gonna say that to even begin to think about pushing things further there must be trust established.

I don't think you should push one so hard though that they thought it unbearable, but that's just me. I don't think one should be in tears. Only time I have been in tears has been when i've had an "off" day and i've felt i've let Him down. He always manage to put a smile back on my face though :)

I was gonna write that's my 2cents, but it was probably more like 5 bucks :P