Dominant men: D/s vs. Taken In Hand

There is often a huge difference in the way of thinking and behaving between men who embrace a D/s philosophy vs. men who embrace a Taken In Hand philosophy. Having been exposed to both types of mindsets and behaviors, I have been able to experience and observe my own reactions as a “submissive” woman to these differences.

My experience has been that men in D/s relationships are often terribly focused on and obsessed about their own needs. It's as though they are attracted to a submissive woman because they think they can train her to be exactly what they want. And what they want is mainly a servant whose life revolves around the man and his whims. They want total submission for the most self-serving of reasons, and they are not especially interested in what the woman wants. Of course, this is not true of all such men, but I've seen this far too many times.

For me, it just doesn't work. I cannot be “trained” like some animal or pet to be fit into some kind of mould. I am a passionate, caring and warm human being. I need to be cared for and nurtured. I need to feel loved and appreciated. Any discipline needs to be for my good and the good of the relationship in general.

This is where Taken In Hand comes in. Taken In Hand is about both people, not just the man. It stresses mutual enjoyment and pleasure rather than being all about the man's pleasure. It's not about rules, protocols, “training”, servile submission or slavish obedience. It's about two people caring about each other and creating a dynamic that works for both of them, that helps both of them to get their needs met, and it's more flexible. The Taken In Hand man nurtures, loves and appreciates his woman and always keeps the good of the relationship in mind, and this benefits him as well as the woman in the long run, because the relationship is better.

It's sort of sad that so many “dominant” men don't see this. In assuming that the woman is there primarily to serve the man, and thinking that they can just get what they want by enforcing it or micromanaging, they make it impossible for the woman to get her own needs met, This can stifle the woman's spirit. She can become weak, dependent and unhappy. In the long run, this will only become a burden to the man and probably cause the relationship to end.

Taken In Hand takes more work for the man than just thinking about himself and his own needs or enforcing a lot of rules because he is the boss or the “Dominant”. It takes dedication, persistence and sensitivity. But the results are so worth it!

I've experienced the nurturing, considerate Taken In Hand dominance I described above, and know what type of response this sort of nurturing/guiding engenders. It causes me to be soft, caring, competent and happy in all areas of my life. I flourish. The Taken In Hand man has no need to fear that he will not receive everything for which he longs! I'm like putty in his hands! I find that I naturally endeavor to please him in any and all ways. He has my respect and devotion. I have no need to be owned, or kept on a leash. He has already won my heart, mind and soul!

Why settle for a fleeting, passing experience only to go to another similar pattern or cycle of interaction? The Taken In Hand man will skillfully learn his woman's needs and minister unto her. Is it weak of him? NO! It takes a “knight in shining armor” to step up and master the course of a relationship. He needs to be discerning, wise and careful. He must be able to give and to love. That is never a weakness, it is the greatest strength one can possess.

As I said, I had it, in part. I know it exists. It may be hard to find. But the Taken In Hand dynamic really works.

Kiva Vala

Take the Taken In Hand tour


Men want to please us

Kiva, this is quite beautifully stated. I have never been in a D/s relationship, but from all I have read, I wouldn't want one. The Taken In Hand dynamic is much more graceful, much more mutual, and allows both parties to serve each other.

I think it was in the book The Surrendered Wife that I read the following simple statement: "A man wants to please his wife." So simple, but once I began to look for that impulse in the man I love, I was blown away by the potential power of that impulse.Men DO want us to be happy and will "swim the deepest sea" to do so, even at the expense of their own preferences and comfort. And I can make my man happy in return by letting him follow that manly impulse, and letting him lead our way. Everyone wins.


what a great piece!!

Kiva sums it all up--YESS! D/s seems to be all for the man, and what turns him on. Taken in Hand is for BOTH!

For us

-the Dominance and submission is not just for the man. It is very much for both of us.

reply - Men Want to Please Us


How lovely what you just pointed out! ... I guess we have to learn to value who we are and what we offer in a relationship. Being feminine or "submissive" doesn't negate the fact that a woman needs to be loved, respected and cherished as well. And according to what you have read, a man has an innate need to please his woman. I once read it as him perceiving that he has "won" a "prize."
I think it casts a new perspective on how a "submissive" woman can view the gift she offers.


Seeing D/s in its full perspective

Despite the fact that Taken In Hand women don't necessarily regard themselves as being submissive, I personally see Taken In Hand as a type of dominant/submissive relationship and think that to say that D/s is all about the dominant man is taking a very narrow viewpoint.

Probably most relationships have some shade of dominant/submissive in them, whether it is simply "who wears the trousers" or deference to the Head of Household or something based on BDSM or the very rare ownership situations. Within Internet-based BDSM there is a large number of 'dominant' individuals of both genders who are indeed just out for their selfish short-term interests. I suspect they are not that many but are very noticeable because if they get a partner at all, they won't hold them for long so will soon be back looking to mess up someone else's life.

As you rightly say, a relationship where a man is only caring about himself and not his partner is not going to last long. A selfish man is just that: he's not being dominant in a relationship, even if he is domineering. He normally won't have a D/s relationship because it won't last.

So let's forget the lazy fools who just want it all their way, whatever the consequence and not assume that everyone who has, or says they want, a D/s relationship is wanting something short and unpleasant. I see Taken In Hand as a branch of D/s even if people don't like the labels of dominant or submissive.


Seeing D/s in its full perspective

I am one of those folks who is developing an urge to 'switch over' to the D/s label, not because I think there is a fundamental differnce between Taken In Hand/DD/D/s but because I think in many ways a D/s label allows more flexibility for us. Most of the criticism of *some* D/s (ie. the woman is 'not submissive enough') I have found more prevalent in the DD community in particular.

For one to claim that D/s is *about* the woman becoming more and more submissive against her wishes and best interests is just as much a narrow view of D/s as it would be of Taken In Hand. Douglas writes:

Within Internet-based BDSM there is a large number of 'dominant' individuals of both genders who are indeed just out for their selfish short-term interests. I suspect they are not that many but are very noticeable because if they get a partner at all, they won't hold them for long so will soon be back looking to mess up someone else's life.

I think a number of single women run into this quite a lot while looking for a partner 'into' some kind of power dynamic. These are the kinds of men and women who are going to let themselves be known, who are going to have 'just the right language,' people who will spin you around with their charm (at least initially) but in the end prove to be dishonest with not only themselves but with others as well. It all wastes a lot of time for those genuinely seeking a life time connection. It is not D/s.

As Douglas's post should well be an example, D/s is a way of relating that is very definitley about BOTH the man and woman. D/s need not be only a bedroom game even though many folks will label a part of their play a d/s element of their relationship. It is absolutely absurd to think perfectly reasonable and emotionally healthy people would form a bond in marriage or in a committed relationship based on the premise that the man should get what he wants out of it and the woman should 'submit' even against her will. Why would a reasonable person do that?

D/s is not about service oriented submission such as a lot of the posts suggests. I really don't know of any healthy marriage that is completely void of what in this community would be called 'service submission.' Both the man and woman 'serve' the other in some way that works for them. A small example is that I work grave shift and so I take a small nap right before work. Annie prepares a small snack for me before I go to work and so I get up early enough to share a few moments with her before I go to the salt mines! This is an important time for both of us, it keeps me connected to her throughout my work night as well as giving me a bite to eat. Is it a service for me? Yes, of course it is but it is a service that meets both our needs for connection.

Our own relationship is about our relationship and if something isn't working very well for us we change it to something that does. My own real opinion is that it seems fairly prevalent in the Internet community to talk about 'how to' develop a construct with a particular label whether that label be DD, Taken In Hand or D/s. It's fine to use language we prefer for whatever reason but I really don't understand why there seems to be a necessity to defend our own language by criticizing the language of others. We always want to look for differences and I will argue that looking for differences by generalizing some bad experiences is limiting one's self because it limits our exposure to a larger sensible community. If you are single and limit yourself to those who identify with Taken In Hand (a relatively new term) or DD or whatever, and think of all BDSM, D/s etc. as 'sick and wrong' or even 'okay for others' but fundamentally different from what you want, I think you distance yourself from a huge and potentially very rewarding population.

Instead of fussing so much about 'the right label,' all other labels being 'bad,' why not be more concerned about the relationship you want no matter the label? There is some scary stuff and scary people on the Internet, I know this to be a fact, but in spite of all the sham, intimate dynamics incorporating Power Exchange no matter the label is still about nourishing and enriching couple intimacy in a passionate man/woman dance of Connection.

Frank Nelson

A Dysfunctional Charm

Hi Frank! I have missed you and your thoughts (big hug) and was instantly glued to your thoughts on this. This is a wonderful post by Kiva and one I related to on all sorts of levels and memories. Before I found Gary, or he found me as he often tells me, I was looking for something. I had found one man. One who had at least an equal fascination with spanking as I did. But I was looking for more than that. And he claimed he was too. It is this paragraph Frank, that says it all for me.

Frank Wrote:

I think a number of single women run into this quite a lot while looking for a partner 'into' some kind of power dynamic. These are the kinds of men and women who are going to let themselves be known, who are going to have 'just the right language,' people who will spin you around with their charm (at least initially) but in the end prove to be dishonest with not only themselves but with others as well. It all wastes a lot of time for those genuinely seeking a life time connection. It is not D/s.

One day:
I was persuaded by a man who wanted what he wanted. For himself and nothing more. He wanted to spank, he wanted me to agree, acquiesce to everything and to submit to his judgment and punishment. Nowhere did I ever see him put my needs, questions and desires on any kind of priority, or frankly, ever even acknowledge or validate I had them. It was the most horrible experience I ever had. Yet if you were to talk to him, he was a nice person, a gentle person who was sensitive and thoughtful. Yeah, his ass was his greatest concern. I was demanding, rude and pushy. Yet he wanted to marry me.

The very things Gary would love me to be.
And when I did meet Gary, a man who wanted a total Taken In Hand relationship, I had to convince him that spanking, at least for me, was important. He spent months and hours of his undivided attention helping me understand that this was about us. My submission, his leadership and the love between us to be the oil that smoothed the way.

Only last week were talking about labels, and Gary emphatically told me he does not approve nor use labels. As Frank you have said many times yourself. How do we label ourselves when what we do is so private and unique to each relationship. While yes I am living in a Taken In Hand relationship and is likely never to steer far away, I am still finding my place in the submission that I feel toward him. He is dominant, I am submissive to him, yet that is not what fuels us. It is the Leadership of him, of my response to us that fuels our day to day and big picture. There is room for both styles of relationship to mingle, or it can be narrowed to one. Whatever and whichever it is, what works for you is the one. While I could ponder the highly improbable possibilities of my not submitting to Gary, I could absolutely never see him stepping down as Leader.

Some of the words that belong in our dynamics took me by surprise and I had to practice some of them. Obey, submissive, name a few. But when I took a close look and found them to be brought up from the well of mutual love and respect, they took a new meaning. I suppose for me, the word Equal means He loves me. In any other relationship the word equal means 'it's your fault'.


A Dysfuntional Charm

Hi Blush....My computer was on the blink for quite some time and so I could only use the library computer for an hour a day. Hardly enough time to read my e-mail and answere a letter or two. I have a great new's all about wireless, I'm convinced of it! sometimes I love technology! If ever I can figure out to use it for more than my hunt and peck thing I do!

You were indeed one of the fortunate ones who found a man who was willing and emotionally able to commit to a long term relationship and marriage. People seem to get so damaged emotionally in life, through relationships, through their growing up life, just through the hustle-bustle of life's happenings. A lot of women rightly complain that so few men seem able to gain any kind of deep emotional bond with them no matter how hard the woman tries for this. I understand this difficulty, I see it all the time in 'real life' and can only imagine trying to gain a real connection over the Internet must be quite a bit harder. My major point, of course, is this dynamic between men and women is not solved by simply re-naming a power dynamic Taken In Hand.

I know after my marriage failed that I was absolutely demoralized, crushed not only emotionally but financially and for years could not even begin to think I could establish much less a sustain a meaningful intimate relationship. It simply was not possible for me. I had to change many things about myself first. It took me a lot of soul searching, a lot of practice simply being of service to others, a lot of admission there were things about me I didn't want or were not useful. I think a person has to decide what they really, truly want and then to find a way to get there. I know for me trying to define what I wanted in others was absolutely the worst thing i could do. "If only" she would treat me this way or 'that way.' things would be better somehow just didn't work for me. "If only's" are very lonely.

On the other side of the coin, women go through the same things men do in life, in relationships, in their growing up families. Men and women will respond differently because of the differences in the sexes (whether this difference is nature or nurture is irrelevant here). Women will build up walls blocking their own potential for love, closing off their hearts to any real and meaningful emotional connection with men. A fine book talking directly to women about this is "Opening Our Hearts to Men" by Dr. Susan Jeffers. I think one of the advantages of looking at ourselves is that we don't have to worry so much about how the 'other sex' is relating to us. As a man, I only have to worry about how I relate to women and in the same way women only have to worry about how they relate to men. We are not creating definitions or stereotypes for the other and I think this lack of stereotyping is a good first step to discovering the love both men and women surely seek.

I do think the 'all for me' self absorption is common enough in some men but it is also just as common among women. I don't think it has much at all to do with any inherent difference between Taken In Hand and D/s, for example.
I do think both men and women would do best looking at their own lives and live through their own passions without relying on labels as defined by others. There are not too many 'nevers' in life in general, most things are possible for us, but relying too much on the experience of others is always a never.

Frank Nelson

Seeing D/s In Its Full Perspective


Please read my article a bit more carefully. I did not say "ALL MEN" who embrace the D/s philosophy are out for selfish gratification. I specifically said that I have experienced this to be the case with more than a few.
And—the article was not intended to address female dominants. I spoke from a Male-Female interaction perspective.
I know that there are women who label themselves as "submissives" and paticipate on this list. Domestic Discipline, in my opinion, can be conceptualized as a form of D/s encounter. And to further what you mentioned, Taken In Hand could be conceptualized as a "D/s -type" encounter by some.
My interests in D/s dynamics have been explored for the past 12 years. I've tried to understand where I can have a comfortable "niche" in my thinking and philosophy.
In my article, I speak of *complementarity* and what works for the couple. Roles are different—but equal. There is a "fit" and flow in the relationship dynamic.
There can be a "fine line" between defining a D/s vs. Taken In Hand philosophy. Each has to define it for themselves. It is often subjective.
Remember, too, that D/s is a branch of B D/s M. So, there are many people engaged in "D/s" interaction who are engaged in the more "Master/slave" concept.
I personally think when this dynamic (Master/slave) is perpetuated there can be serious emotional/physical repercussions, (e.g., lowered self-esteem; abuse; lack of empathy, love and respect) I'm not sure that a committed type of love can develop or flourish in these relationships.
My aim was to try and delineate more *precisely* D/s vs. Taken In Hand.
thanks for your comments, ~Kiva

Real D/s or M/s

I am having a problem understanding what some people are stating here. I hear people saying this type of relationship (name) is better, some state this type of relationship leads to failures. Lets be straight about one thing, just because someone calls themself a Dom or Master doesn't make them a Dom or Master, no more so than if I called myself a doctor would I become one. Labels are not the problem, people are. I have been a Dom for many, many years and have a collared submissive. I have taken my place in my community to teach (through School of Kink classes) to educate members within the kink community about what a real Dom or Master really are. A real Dom or Master's number one concern is the physical and mental well being of their sub/slave. We stress the need to completely understand the needs, desires and goals of the person who graces us with the honor to be their Dom or Master. A true Dom or Master would gladly shed his own blood to protect the whole person we call our sub/slave. We also understand that no sub/slave can truly give all of themselves to us unless they are whole as a person themself. A D/M nutures a s/s growth and potential, help them evolve into the beautiful person we see before us because only then can they truly give themself to us. We accept that being the ones in charge that we accept a huge responsibility for the person who submits to us, our needs actually come second to the needs of our s/s. I have always asked new D/S what power they truly have, many are surprised by my answer, which is "NONE", our power comes from the s/s, not ourselves. We only have the power they grant us and they have the power to remove it in an instant. The main problem is that not enough education, training and support are being offered to new s/s so they can protect themselves from predators (ones who care only about themselves). Our community is slowly awakening to this fact and we are working to offer training and support towards all s/s as well as all D/M. I wish people would stop generalizing and talking down one label over another, labels are just that, something we use to try and allow someone else to get an "idea" of who we are, they are a generalization only and not the end all to be all.
I would like to say I have enjoyed much of what has been written by those I would consider caring people (or your words seem to indicate, smiles). I wish everyone finds the happiness they desire and need in their lives are fulfilled by a caring partner. Lets stop debating labels and start to use our energies to ferret out the predators that use our lifestyle to hunt for unsuspecting victims and make our kink world a safe and caring place for people to grow and become complete as people.

Sir W

Kiva and Douglas

Kiva, You have wtitten a simply outstanding article! This morning, my husband and I were discussing this very issue: the differences between D/s and Taken In Hand. And then I get online to see you wrote an article along those very lines! And an excellent one at that!

Douglas, I realize there are many shades of D/s, but for me and my husband, it was "close, but no cigar" if you know what I mean. I feel I have D/s to thank for discovering Taken In Hand, because I found this site by clicking on a link from a D/s site! And I truly do see the Hand of the Creator in this, because He knew what I needed and led me to it. How strange that He chose to use D/s to do it, but "whatever works" and I guess the Creator looks at it that way too!

My husband and I both were turned off by much of the fetishism in the BDSM scene, and also the "master-slave" scenarios in D/s. And quite frankly, I was turned off by the emphasis on feminism and "equality" so often discussed in BDSM circles. I realize you don't have to indulge in all of that to be practicing D/s, and yes, I agree that Taken In Hand contains elements of D/s. But what bothers me is, I feel that D/s has FETISHIZED what used to be practically a normal relationship prior to feminism (ok, maybe sans the spanking, but hey, even John Wayne spanked his wife in McLintock!) ;)

I find it sad that due to the last 30 years of turbulence between the sexes, a NORMAL traditional male-led relationship has to adopt titles like D/s and even Taken In Hand. This is NORMAL, and its WHY so many women LIKE it. Because we are finally getting in touch with the way we were made, and we see that D/s is a steppingstone to it, but in the end, D/s and all of BDSM is basically a SUBSTITUTE for the real thing. In some ways it ridicules a normal, male-led relationship by making it seem odd to outsiders, with milk-maid bars, ball gags, spreader bars and the like.


I think we need to remember that McLintock is a comedy, and what happens in it is not meant to be a representation of normal everyday life. I can't remember ever seeing a man chase his wife through the town centre in her underclothes, drag her through mud and then spank her. Perhaps this is an everyday occurence in the USA, but it would definitely create a stir in my local town centre.

Male-led relationships may have been more common thirty years ago, but I seriously doubt that a lot of the stuff that you read about on this website would have been considered 'normal' even then.

Scenes like that are one of t

Scenes like that are one of the reasons I hate John Wayne movies...the fact the man couldn't act his way out of a paper bag helps that feeling along....

Not Normal Anywhere

No, this was not normal in the US either. It's a comedy. So is Taming of the Shrew from which it was derived. What it tells us about society outside the movie theater is highly debatable.

A generation ago I heard men of my parents' age saying things like "my wife doesn't HAVE to work." I know of women who are just slightly older than me who were discouraged from attending college because their only job was going to be to keep house and pop out babies.

But, I never had the impression that men ruled the roost and had the final say, all the time, in every marriage. Maybe that was the unwritten expectation but in real life it just wasn't the case and I doubt every man, let alone every woman, really wanted it to be the case. You had to look at the individual dynamics in people's marriages: human beings tend to make their own rules.


I agree with you

I know that many people would disagree with the idea that a male-led relationship is the norm, biologically speaking—and I understand that we will have to "agree to disagree," and I know no one else in real life who believes as I do, so I have a lot of practice "agreeing to disagree" ;-)

But I happen to agree with you, Blue Rose.


The biological norm

Someone on another site recently posted a message that said that clinical studies had shown that about 7% of women were submissive by nature and required some form of discipline to be happy. It didn't say anything about women who like to be in male-led relationships without any form of discipline being involved. There are probably quite a lot of those, but I don't know what percentage of women fall into that category.

It doesn't bother me at all whether it is the norm or not, I don't feel the need to justify my desire to be in a male-led relationship by insisting that it is 'the norm'. I j don't really care, but I very much doubt that what suits me is what suits everybody. I cannot assume that what I want is what all women must want. Besides, while trawling round the Internet I have come across too many instances of men who seem to have submissive desires, and who want to be in female-led relationships, for me to feel that it is quite as simple as that. There's a lot of interesting mixtures in human nature.

numbers and reality


You wrote

Someone on another site recently posted a message that said that clinical studies had shown that about 7% of women were submissive by nature and required some form of discipline to be happy.

In a long-ago class on opinion surveys, the instructor claimed that many percentage responses could be multiplied or divided by 2 or 3 depending on what the subject thought was the more acceptable answer. This gives a more realistic prediction.

Based on surverys, some large percent of people report they attend religious services regularly. But the pews seem strangely empty.

And Richard Nixon was elected president twice but only 20% admit that they voted for him.

IMO, since our social norms still frown on the term 'discipline', it's probably closer to 14% or 21%.

In any case, you are right when you say you don't feel a need to justify your desire. But a number like 14 to 21 percent refutes any claim that Taken In Hand type relationships are unusual.


Taken In Hand type relationships

Whether they are unusual or not I don't know, but the thing is, what is a 'taken in hand type relationship' because it seems to mean so many different things to different people.

Some people, for instance, seem to be keen on rough sex and rape and stuff, which would terrify me, to me that sort of brutal stuff is the very antithesis of a Taken In Hand relationship, but a lot of women seem to love it.

And then there are women who apparently are turned on by the idea of being kept perpetually pregnant, or of breastfeeding their husbands, which again for me would be a total turn-off, I've no desire at all to play a maternal role to my husband, and again that doesn't to me seem at all Taken In Hand. But it is to some.

And I'm really into spanking but there are a lot of women for whom spanking is a turn-off, and they don't want that in their relationship at all.

So what is a 'Taken In Hand type relationship'? and how do you figure out how many people actually want one, of any kind? They may not be all that unusual, but I suspect that they are still a minority taste, whatever kind they are.

Some People Do

Some people do want to feel they exist only to serve the Master and get some kind of pleasure out of negating themselves. So they admire the Master who says, "It's not about you, it's all about me."

However, that's not what a D/s relationship supposedly's supposed to serve the needs of both and in fact the submissive is often very much the focus of attention.

Just as there are "do me Doms," there are "do me subs" as well and dominant individuals in that lifestyle get equally frustrated by them.