Punishment by Withholding Dominance

It seems like I write about this about every 6-8 months.  I wish I never had to ever again, but some recent contact with two people who are in the midst of experiencing this pushed it to the forefront of my mind.  I’ll try not to write too angry on this, but it is a topic that I feel strongly about.

The idea of withholding dominance from a sub as a punishment isn’t new.  It isn’t special.  It isn’t unique.  You used to be able to trace written documents online back to the mid 90’s talking about this, and I’m pretty certain it was even used back in the pre-internet days.  Every so often a dominant digs this back up, uses it, shares it with others, and you get another wave of this becoming the flavor of the month punishment in a community.

Originally this type of punishment was used to cure subs that were prone to acting out for attention.  They want to get physically punished so they disobey on purpose until their dominant gives them a spanking (or something similar).  This type of behavior is generally regarded as bad form for a sub and you’ll find a large number of the negative labels and terms that exist out there are in reference to this:  “do me” sub.  SAM.  Topping from the bottom.  Taking away what they are trying to bait out of their dominant is an applicable punishment in these cases. It is better to train the sub to communicate in words rather than act out like a spoiled child.

In most other scenarios, withholding dominance by taking away actual punishments, protocols, rituals, rules, and symbols, is NOT a good method.  There are so many things wrong with it that I won’t even bother trying to list them all and instead focus on the aspects that are most important.

The big one in all of this is that it is emotionally destructive for a sub.  It says a lot of things to them without using the words.  It tells them that their submission is more important to them than it is to you.  “Look how easily I can cast it aside and you will suffer while I will be fine.”  How is a sub supposed to feel like their submission has any value if it is treated this way?

It also says that the dominant doesn’t enjoy… being dominant.  It’s too much work.  I don’t want to think of anything.  I find it unpleasant to have to deal with it.  I’ll just take it away.  Add these together and the sub not only feels like their submission is marginalized, but that their partner doesn’t even want to dominate them in the first place.

This kind of thing hurts.  It hurts bad.  If a sub takes D/s seriously, this will shake them on a trust level.  Submission makes you vulnerable.  Tossing that submission away feels devastating.  If this was used as a punishment on me, I do not think I would ever feel comfortable being vulnerable to that dominant ever again.

There are dominant types that are more likely to use this type of punishment.  Often they are the ones that tell subs they should be accountable for their own behavior.  I get it if a sub is misbehaving on purpose.  Those types of subs get irritating quickly.  Beyond that, people make mistakes.  They do things when angry or frustrated that they will regret.  They will make the occasional bad decision.  Most people will also regret the wrongs that they do.  They will have remorse.  They will feel sorry.  They may crave penance.  Taking everything away just kicks them when they are down.  It’s pretty easy to come up with something unpleasant to do as a punishment.  It doesn’t even require more than a second’s worth of effort.   It is part of the responsibility of the dominant role.  “I’m going to take my ball and go,” isn’t being accountable either.

/end rant.

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21 thoughts on “Punishment by Withholding Dominance

    1. Thank you, M. I have never seen it work well. The cases where it was chronic SAM behavior the subs always ended up dismissed. The times it was used on the undeserving… almost always resulted in the subs being made to feel guilty for feeling submissive. Not a good vibe.

      Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I can’t imagine anything more destructive to a D/s relationship. I think as you do it would destroy the trust completely. I try not to be bratty but I do have a cheeky nature and MrH allows a little bit he soon tells me when I have gone or am going too far… he doesn’t need to do more than look at me and I know straight away to stop whatever I’m doing. I want him to be proud of me not disappointed.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, SwG.
      A lot of subs get playful and cheeky, especially when in shallower mental space. That “look” you are given sends you into a deeper space.

      I believe it is a very small segment of the populace that actually benefit from the “withholding” route. Too frequently it floats around the dominant community and people grab it like its a hammer and start looking for nails. Seeing two people in the same week talking about this happening to them made me cringe.

      Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Slars, being that I know both you and Lars and how you interact, this definitely isn’t targeted at you guys. Playful tug of war is very different than someone that blatantly and purposefully violates rules when they badly want a physical punishment as a response.

      Lars also enjoys your dynamic, so I think you have very little to fear from this happening. It is worth talking about though, as the last thing you want is for him to get the idea from someone else and think it sounds like a good idea.

      Take care.

      Like

  2. I’m deeply saddened that this was a necessary topic to write about. I actually had a D-type do that to me once. We had been friends for over a year, he’d convinced me to submit to him when my previous attempt at a relationship failed, and promised that he cared soooooo deeply about me. When we disagreed, he disappeared and completely withheld Dominance as well as any communication (right after my grandfather passed, too). All it did was prove that he only cared about what kicks he could get from me, he didn’t give a damn about my emotional well-being at all. (It’s incredibly difficult to open up to someone else after something like that.)
    Anyone with an emotional investment in D/s would find that impossible to come back from. I can see how it might work in a play partner type relationship, maybe. One where the people involved only see each other to satiate their needs for Dominance and submission, but they aren’t building a life together. Perhaps withholding Dominance then wouldn’t be so emotionally detrimental and could be an effective punishment, I don’t know.

    Where I am now, I can attest that I would be completely shattered. It’s one thing to not have the time/energy to actively engage in it, but that’s quite a bit different than deliberately withholding. First I would be devastated because I have worked so hard to be open and vulnerable and letting him into parts of myself that I don’t even want to know myself. Second I would feel guilty because I already feel concerned sometimes that I pushed him into this role and he may not enjoy it as much as he tells he me does. With the way our relationship evolved, if he were able to stop being my Dom then I would seriously question the very foundation. I would wonder if he had lied about it all this time, and if so, what else was false? I would probably feel ashamed at allowing myself to submit to him. It would be a whirlwind of negativity and distress.

    Withholding Dominance is damaging to the relationship and the submissive.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Hearts. I think it had been nearly a year since I had written about this topic, only to have two people in two days bring it to the forefront.

      I think what you have shared illustrates many of the ways that this hurts. It really is awful.

      Take care.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Excellent piece today. You’ve addressed many great and valid points. My experience with withholders is that they were domineering rather than dominant and this was their (angry) power over me. My submission doesn’t live in this environment.

    Thank you for giving us all some things to ruminate on. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Red. Now that you mention it, the people I knew within my local scene that did this I would also say were domineering rather than dominant. The most recent case was inspired by newer dominants.

      Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

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