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Submissive Needs vs. Submissive Wants

Author: Polly Peachum

Filed in: submission, needs, wants

Polly wrote the following message on a mailing list she once belonged to, in response to another submissive's message. All information that might identify this woman or her situation has been removed.
Someone said that when she tries to talk to her dominant and tell him what she needs, he seems to listen for a while, and things are good, but after a while he forgets and stops giving her what she needs.
I wonder if it would help if she could try to describe some of the things she asks him for and also say why she thinks she needs these things (as opposed to merely wants them).
For me, distinguishing between my needs and my wants is pretty important when it comes to feeling under my dominant's control. If I want something and Jon refuses to give it to me, I might think he is a cruddy dom (or even not a dominant at all) if I believe my want to be a strong submissive need. But actually, all he does when he refuses my want is to exercise his right as my dominant to do whatever he damn well pleases. If, however, something I really needed from him were not to be provided, that would be a very different story: I'd have to conclude that he isn't a good dominant or perhaps not the dominant for me, or perhaps not even a dominant at all.
Here are some examples of things I call "wants." I have, in the past, confused some of these with "needs."

I'm not going to go into why some of these wants are rather childish on my part (we'll save that for another message), but the point is that whether he satisfies these superficial desires on my part or not has little or nothing to do with his ability to dominate me. And it's the latter, his ability to dominate me, that I need. The rest of these things, much as I'd like some of them, I could be perfectly happy with living without, if I had to, for the rest of my life.
So what are some of my needs?

OK, that's enough needs. The primary way I distinguish between needs and wants is to ask myself, if I don't have this thing, will I be miserable, confused, hurt, frustrated, or unfulfilled permanently? Will I want to go out and seek someone else who does have it? If I can honestly answer these questions with a strong "Yes," I'm dealing with a need.
It can be quite hard at times for a submissive to ask her dominant for what she wants because she may feel (incorrectly, I believe) that to ask for these things is unsubmissive or too aggressive or demanding, or that it means that she controls the relationship. If your dominant actually controls the relationship, he knows very well how to say "No" when he wants to. And if he doesn't control the relationship, well, that's something you probably need to know before you travel any farther with him down what may be an emotional and sexual dead end. I think that a way you can begin to figure out whether you are being too demanding is to classify the various things that you want from your dominant into wants and needs. If mostly wants are not being met, maybe you need to rethink what the priorities are in a D&S relationship: is it so important that you always get your way, or rather, should it be the other way around? If it is mostly needs that are not being met, you might be with the wrong person, as such needs have to be met naturally and spontaneously by a dominant, not just as a favor to you, or because he is frightened of losing you, if both you and he are to be happy. If someone is actually dominant, he can usually meet the sorts of submissive needs I've listed above.

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