Ownership Flag

Training - not just learning their preferences?

Posted by Tanos on Fri 11 Dec 09, 11:01 PM

The word "training" is used in different ways in O&P relationships (or M/s, D/s etc): I think there's a divide between "training someone up", as an apprentice carpenter might be trained up and then qualify; and ongoing training, as sportsmen talk about when they've been ill and not able to "keep up with their training".

The first model is all too well-represented in fiction (eg "The Story of O", the Gor books, the Marketplace series) in which people are Trained To Be A Slave, in some well established set of skills and thought patterns, analogous to the way apprentices are trained. They were then sold or passed on to a new owner as a finished product, and a credit to their capital-T Trainer.

But, since O&P relationships don't really work like that, it's easy to react against the whole idea. It's easy to feel that "training puppies to do back flips" (or training O to take an even bigger dildo) trivialises what we're trying to establish, or even that it involves passing off SM scenes as a substitute for ownership or possession (sometimes by people with a commercial motivation.) It's also a common theme for single guys with no experience of co-resident 24/7 D/s or M/s to set up as Slave Trainers, as a way of structuring relationships and offering something that's supposedly good for the submissive (compare with dominants "mentoring" submissives, rather than their peers.)

One common way of salvaging something from all this is to deny the "transferability of training", and say that submissives are trained to serve a specific dominant, and that training is therefore really learning that dominant's preferences etc. This is largely the way I've used the word in the past, and I blogged along those lines a couple of years ago.

But the other model, of ongoing training, by analogy with the training you might get from a personal trainer, or your own physical training regime, raises a question about the nature of submission: is it something which has to be maintained, or even exercised and practised? Since the other physical and mental activities of humans do have to be exercised to be maintained, it seems very likely, but how does that fit with the gut feeling of submissives that submission is in their nature?

I now think that Reactance might be part of the answer. Psychological reactance is a kind stress or tension people get when their freedoms are constrained in a way that matters to them. With submissives, "cruelly" forcing them to do something they enjoy doesn't cause much reactance ;) It's easy to avoid sparking reactance by just having subs do stuff they're happy to do anyway, but pushing them into an emotional corner and insisting they do some task that they really don't want to do, does.

(I'm not so much talking about hard limits, but, for example, rules like always and everyday, never ever failing to put the rubbish out at night, irrespective of the weather or the tiredness or what's on TV or that you're already in bed and forgot, for months and years on end. That's easy in the first flush of a new collar, but hard to maintain when you think it's unnecessary.)

However, reactance peaks as the restriction is tightened, and the rules are insisted on etc, and then turns in Helplessness and acceptance - which is analogous to the way bondage becomes real when the struggling has failed, and the resulting state of acceptance is calmer than freedom. This is where the feeling of submission being natural comes in: knowing you want to live like that, even when you're dealing with the seemingly pointless rules or being punished for an infraction.

It strikes me that training of the ongoing form, as part of the D/s relationship, allows submissives to practice going over that peak of reactance. Just as physical training must take you out of your "comfort zone" to work, so submissive training, whether by one-off commands or rituals that must always be followed, must provoke and then overcome reactance. In doing this, it becomes easier to let go and accept, and submit; and keeping this up, keeps the peak of reactance low, and easier to overcome.

I'm sure many of us are familiar with having to "tighten things up" again in D/s or M/s relationships after an absence or illness, and the resistance this can sometimes provoke, but this picture also explains why many submissives report feeling a need for more rituals or restrictions as "it's getting vanilla", despite the highly non-vanilla reality of what rules are being followed - which now go without being noticed and therefore don't provoke the feeling of secure helplessness following reactance.

But this picture also applies to the first model, of "training someone up" as a submissive or slave. Perhaps requiring a submissive to exercise their submission in the face of tasks they genuinely wouldn't otherwise want to do, makes it easier in the future too? And not just with their current dominant? Perhaps it becomes an ongoing feature, or at least capacity, in the personality, that when presented with another (plausible ;) ) dominant, it's all easier than when they first started? Maybe some of that fiction wasn't entirely wrong! :)

(This is an updated version of a web board post on IC.)

Edited Sun 13 Dec 09, 3:50 PM

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