Something that I crave is the existence of dynamics that are always on. While the actual protocols may shift regularly in order to accommodate life, a lot of D/s is about what happens in the mind. I would say that it is far more common for subs to have desires to feel dominance that exceed the dominant’s desires to act dominant. I think that this is often the case when subs find themselves starving. In many cases, this could have been prevented by establishing an environment in which D/s would always exist within the sub’s mind.
What I call environmental D/s is the concept of employing a system of rules/protocols and philosophies/ideologies that will keep D/s ever-present in the mind of the sub. It differs from active dominance or submission in that environmental D/s does not require direct actions from either party. This system works by firmly establishing the ideas behind your D/s and acting within them. The principles will continue to serve as forms of mental dominance and submission, although they will be more effective if they are regularly maintained, through verbal reinforcement and ensuring that the established principles are adhered to.
I believe that most D/s relationships carry aspects of this. Addressing the dominant with a title when appropriate is one way, especially if it extends to texts, emails, and phone contact. Requiring permission for certain acts and activities is another. To make this an environmental system, it should encompass enough aspects of life to where the sub cannot go for very long without thinking about D/s, and having the principles govern their thought process, decision-making, and behaviors.
Those examples are tangible as they are based upon rules. The effects of a D/s environment can be magnified by incorporating philosophies into it as well, since they will force the sub to think about their behaviors and how they relate to the philosophy.
One example is the idea that the dominant’s desires are always more important than the sub’s. If this is treated as a law of the environment, the sub’s desires become preferences. Their choices are no longer free. This can trickle down into the most benign aspects of life. If the sub is at the grocery store and is thinking about what to make for dinner, if the sub wants chicken but knows the dominant prefers beef, then dinner will be beef and the act of buying beef over chicken becomes a form of D/s.
This might seem sort of silly, but for many lifestyle subs, the aspect they like the most about submission is the state of feeling submissive. That is, they crave their submissive mental space. Returning to the last example, if the sub has the choice between killing time on the internet and cleaning tomorrow vs. cleaning today, assuming their dominant has the desire for a clean house, that desire, even when they are not present, should make the decision for the sub. If the philosophy has been driven home firmly enough, that instant where the sub feels like they have a choice can be enough to trigger them and feel like the freedom to choose is taken away.
I know that this may be a bit abstract and it usually takes some time for the sub to be trained and conditioned to have these impulses become natural. Similarly, it can take a while for the dominant to become acclimated to thinking in this way and regularly reinforcing the philosophy.
A lot of these philosophies don’t even have to be true, they simply need the illusion of truth and to be treated as true. An example of this would be, “the sub exists to please the dominant.” Does anyone actually exist as a means to someone else’s end? No. As a D/s couple, you can choose to live this way, following this illusion as a law of the environment. If established, it becomes very difficult for a sub to say no, and in turn, when faced with an opposing desire, the concept looming overhead reinforces the dominance and submission of the relationship. By not wanting to do something, they are reminded of the dominant’s power and the sub’s role, which can serve to trigger mental space.
In a number of cases where I have seen starving subs, it is because the relationship philosophies actually created an environment that had the opposite effect. While it may seem kinder to govern a relationship on the ideas of (near) equality, partnership, respect, consent, submission as a gift, and the like, those ideas, especially when continuously reinforced, tend to give the sub a feeling of empowerment. While this works for cases where the sub seeks nurturing, it doesn’t bode as well for the cases where subs crave to feel disempowered, accountable to someone else’s standards, and that choices are not theirs to truly make.
Often you can see what a sub wants in the environments that exist in their deepest and darkest fantasies. I think you will find that in many cases, those fantasies are not gentle or warm. If a sub fantasizes about being bent over and spanked on the spot if they forget to address the dominant by a title or to have their dominant fuck their face while tugging fist-fulls of their hair, there is a good chance that they will respond better to an environment that supports unfairness and a diminished sense of self.
I believe that a D/s environment helps in these situations by so much because the philosophies can remain in play at all time in a sub’s mind, whether the dominant is there or not. In turn, it often only takes a single sentence spoken by the dominant to send the sub spiraling into the depths of their mental space and the submissive feelings that they crave to feel.
I know this is what I desire in my own life. I seek to live within an environment that constantly reminds me of my place in this world and I can’t do anything without thinking about her.