Taken In Hand is low-key and private, not a 'lifestyle'

A D/s person on the yahoo group wrote:

The site professes that [Taken In Hand] is different than a D/s lifestyle. Someone want to explain how this is so? Because I just don't see the difference. From what I see the dynamics are basically the same. Whitewash it any way you wish . . . The problem [Taken In Hand] people seem to have is accepting their roles and taking responsibility in those roles.

D/s is very much in your face in its approach to specific roles. They advertise. In reality, D/s has simply taken one aspect of the Taken in Hand relationship and exaggerated it. “Dominants” are proud to be dominant. “Submissives” are proud to be submissive. When compared to Taken in Hand relationships, there is too much he and she and not enough we in the D/s lifestyle.

On the other hand, Taken in Hand is very low key. Taken in Hand couples are very difficult—if not impossible—to spot in a crowd. One woman might be the young mother wearing a Big Ten alumni sweatshirt, blue jeans, and sneakers holding her child as she stands in the checkout line at the grocery store. Another might be that nice older lady conducting historical tours and patiently answering the same inane question four dozen times a day—five days a week.

Moreover, despite the stereotype of the stay-at-home mother with minimal marketable skills, Taken in Hand women can be quite independent. One might be an MBA. Another could be a former beauty queen running a successful dance studio. Still another might be a pediatrician. Most of the men are equally indistinguishable from their peers. One might be a steeplejack during the week and a Little League coach on the weekends. Another may be a bookish professor of anthropology at a local college. These men are quietly self-confident. They have little need to impress anyone with their authority—especially if it involves pointing out that they run the show at home.

Women in Taken in Hand frequently report that their husbands are both patient and complimentary. Words of praise are profuse and sincere. A helping hand is readily available. In Taken in Hand relationships in which spanking occurs, it is merely one means among many to making a stronger marriage. A very private spanking to straighten out a marriage does not a lifestyle make! Thus, while, these couples seldom stand out in a crowd, they tend to stay married and remain faithful to each other. In fact, Taken in Hand is so normal and natural that it often has no name.


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Who cares?!

Individuals who identify with the BDSM or D/s or whatever label often get really annoyed that many Taken In Hand folk refuse to label themselves BDSM or D/s or whatever the person's preferred label. I don't care what you call Taken In Hand, or how you categorise it in your own mind, I just don't personally feel the need to submit to your preferred label. [Shrug] Those labels no doubt resonate with many many individuals, but they don't with me.

You may not see any difference between Taken In Hand and D/s, but that is because you are looking at it from your own perspective. Taken In Hand folk typically think there's a world of difference, and many have come to Taken In Hand having found BDSM or D/s or whatever not quite what they were looking for. This no doubt happens in reverse too: I don't understand why some (though by no means all: many are very supportive of Taken In Hand) BDSM or D/s people get so angry that a bunch of married couples on some little website somewhere have a different preference from theirs. Why not live and let live, people? Or giggle about it if you think Taken In Hand folk are kidding themselves? Does it really matter? Do we all have to be the same?

Taken in Hand as D/s

I have no problem with Taken in Hand couples wanting to disassociate themselves from the D/s lifestyle. People should define their relationships in which ever way they are comfortable. However, reading your article, I just had to say, everything you described as being part of, or descriptive of the Taken in Hand relationship could just as easily be applied to a D/s relationship. Also, you say "D/s is very much in your face in its approach to gender-specific roles." Not true. In many D/s relationships it is the woman who is the dominant. It seems to me that a Taken in Hand relationship is much more about gender specific roles than D/s.

I personally see no difference between Taken in Hand and D/s, nor do I care to define my relationship as either Taken in Hand or D/s, it just is. However, I do know some couples who enjoy the BDSM lifestyle and define their relationships as such, and there is nothing about them that makes them stick out in public, they each have independent careers, and the man (who happens to be the dominant in one of the relationships) is not running around bragging to his friends that he "runs the show at home". Nor is there a lack of support, praise and unity. That is a pretty blatant and faulty stereotype.

I don't know why BDSM folks get upset that Taken in Hand couples don't want to identify themselves as a D/s relationship, nor do I understand why it is so important to Takn in Hand couples to disassociate themselves from D/s. But whatever the reason, it's ok with me. As long as it does not include putting negative stereotypes on others. That is just not fair.


Why I don't think of myself as D/s:

D/s = dominance/submission or dominant/submissive or dominate/submit. The idea of submission leaves me cold, and I'm not at all sure I want to be dominated, which so often seems to imply rather boring (to me) sexual games, or the slave thing, or a lot of embarrassing swaggering and/or antisocial behaviour.

With its emphasis on submission, the D/s label fails to capture the idea of subjection, not submitting, the delectable intensity of the tension and release—and (paradoxically) the fascinating complexity—of force. (Not to mention the sheer fun of force.) “Submission” is often associated with the idea of living to serve, which is a very different thing from enjoying being actively controlled and brought into subjection, and as has been stated on this site before, when you call yourself submissive, dominant men are sometimes (understandably) a bit put out when it turns out that you are not the live-to-serve “Yes, Sir, no, Sir, three bags full, Sir” type.

Men who think of themselves as D/s tend to take a very dim view of wilful women like me. In my experience they want a very different kind of relationship—one with an egoless, will-less submissive woman who lives to serve and is never any trouble. (But, as George Woodcock wrote in a different context, “He who, to hold his own, must count on the absence of will in others is a thing made by those others, as the master is made by the servant.”)

That is, if D/s men want a relationship at all. The D/s label does not imply that the person desires or even approves of the idea of a happily sexually exclusive, permanent marriage. In my experience, many D/s men either want a harem of slaves or at the very least don't hold with the idea of marriage or sexual exclusivity, let alone both. This is not to say that many D/s folk are not happily married etc. Many are. But the label implies no more about one's preferences in that respect than it does about who is the dominant person and who is the submissive person. Taken In Hand is specifically about sexually-exclusive monogamous male-controlled relationships. (Again, it is not that there is anything better about this preference, merely that it is a specific preference that the D/s label does not imply.)

There is also a whiff of the political in the D/s label, inasmuch as it is related to the BDSM community. All the rules and protocols and the talk of how many years Sir Domalot has been In The Lifestyle (and the cliquey idea that one's level of knowledge and wisdom is determined by this and this alone)—that whole alternative lifestyle thing leaves me cold. (And before you say that this is only on the internet, not IRL, that is simply false! Sir Domalot occasionally leaves his computer and goes out into the real world in search of submissive women.) Incidentally, I know D/s folk who feel the same way as I do about this. But the question someone asked was why some Taken In Hand folk feel the need to disassociate themselves from the D/s label, and this is part of my reason.

The D/s label seems to me to overemphasise the sexual lifestyle aspect, and underemphasise the happy marriage idea, and yet—or perhaps therefore—I personally find it decidedly unerotic.

It might be merely a matter of having a different sexual preference. The kind of control that I enjoy (and find highly erotic) is the less obviously sexual, more everyday, less obviously consensual sexual fun kind, and for me it has to be in the context of a permanent, sexually exclusive relationship (marriage) rather than being something more casual, uncommitted, or an open arrangement. The exaggerated, in-your-face sexual stuff positively turns me off, and feels silly, boring and gamelike. This is not to say that it is any less real than the kind of control relationship that does it for me. It just feels that way to me.

I am not in the slightest saying that anyone else should share my preference. It just happens to be mine. The D/s label doesn't feel like a fit for me.

To each his own, 'eh?

Me, too.

"The D/s label seems to me to overemphasise the sexual lifestyle aspect, and underemphasise the happy marriage idea, and yet—or perhaps therefore—I personally find it decidedly unerotic. "

Sarah—I couldn't agree with you more.

About 10 years ago, as many of us did, I started searching for a name for what I felt. D/s got close, but there was one thing missing.

I have known for 10 years that I was "this way." But until I met my husband, I did not really even experiment with this power dynamic in my personal relationships. I knew all about BDSM and D/s, but felt bored by what it really had to offer. I never wanted to be somebody's slave, nor even somebody's "submissive." BLAH.

Years after I knew what I desired, I met my husband. Our power dynamic was very much like what people in "the lifestyle" tout, but it was unspoken and natural. What drove me to this website was a search for information about the power elements that I'm interested in (along with some of the physical elements). During that search, I saw all sorts of D/s/BDSM sites that just leave me feeling amused, disgusted and bored again. This site gets to the heart of what my husband and I want for our relationship. D/s, in general, does not.

The key element here is that I desire this relationship with my husband. I think it touches a different level of intimacy that D/s alone does not. Therefore, my husband and I do not consider ourselves D/s, BDSMers or any other label like that. I am not a submissive person. I have no desire to submit to anyone other than my husband. My husband has never had another "submissive" and has not been in "the lifestyle" EVER, but he is naturally very take-charge and we enjoy the power dynamic of our relationship. I also, have never been "dominated" by anyone but him. I have never been able to trust someone that much.

It has taken time to build our relationship in this manner, not just some fling or "scene" that we conjured. It has taken commitment and work. That is why I think the D/s label does not apply to our relationship, either.

Thank you!

For many years I have searched to explain how I felt. I joined quite a few BDSM sites and none of them filled the need I had.
Having the woman as "property" is just not acceptable to me.
I met a wonderful woman on one of these sites. After a lot of talking it became clear that we wanted the same things. We both craved a DD dynamic and neither of us wanted her to be a slave. We were saying things to each other that didn't fit in with the BDSM sites we had visited.
Then she found a link to this site (Yes it was on an adult BDSM site) and everything just clicked! Those ideas we had expressed to each other were here expressed by others. The need for equality is openly discussed and accepted. Seeing that I don't have to put my foot down, giving her no say in matters is a great relief.
I just wanted to say thank you for this wonderful site.

Some overlap between D/s and Taken In Hand

I think there is some room for overlap between D/s (domination and submission) and Taken In Hand, for some people. And for me personally, that area of overlap is what is most appealing.

I've known ever since puberty that I am sexually attracted only to strong, dominant men. I went through what I suspect is a typical denial phase about the word "submissive"—which I now regard as the natural complementary counterpart to the word "dominant." I didn't want anyone thinking I was a meek and compliant dishrag, which is patently untrue, in any case. But eventually I came to define the word "submissive" on my own terms, as meaning my desire to be forcefully and erotically conquered by a much stronger dominant male; in addition, it means the response that his conquest will evoke in me, which is a blissful erotic surrender. So I would now say that my sexuality is most accurately described as submissive; but what brings me to submission and surrender is being actively conquered and controlled and dominated by a strong man.

Like many people, I first started looking into the whole BDSM scene around the time the internet got big. It was both eye-opening and immensely confusing. There I learned that there are plenty of other women who enjoy being dominated by their men; but the ways in which they enjoyed that were usually quite puzzling to me: all the gags and clamps and violet wands and hardware contraptions, etc. Huh?? Why does a big strong man need all that, just to control a woman who is so much smaller and weaker than he is?

To me that's where the real fun is with a dominant man: playful wrestling and pushing and sparring whereby he can demonstrate his very real physical power over me; and which kindles the erotic fire that most happily will end up in the bedroom. But all the hardware and protocols, and the casual sex and partner swapping, and "play parties" and special wardrobe and culture and all that? Er, no thanks. However, it was and still is mainly an erotic thing for me, this business of male dominance; or more broadly, I would say that it's a romantic thing. I was not looking for someone to "guide" me and advise me and tell me what to do in life in general; I just wanted a man who was very dominant sexually. And that includes *some* of the erotic things that other people in D/s relationships seem to like; but by no means all of them. (In particular, I am really drawn to erotic combat and body worship; especially those two things together. But I don't hear much about either of those here at the Taken In Hand site; or on D/s sites either.)

So BDSM was not a total mismatch for me, but the mismatch was about 90% or more. And it was mainly the B&D part and the S&M part that I could not much relate to. With regard to D/s couples, there were some things I could relate to, and some that I could not. So I had the idea that what I'm looking for is just one specific kind of D/s relationship; which does not seem to be what the majority of D/s people are into at this time. But there was something else that started going on with me then, too. And that had to do with reading about D/s couples who are "24/7" so the man is always the boss. And slowly, my decades-long resistance to that idea started fading. Mainly, again, for erotic reasons.

So I started thinking and fantasizing about how hot that would be, to know that I had to obey my man even outside of the bedroom, that I would be under his control no matter where we were; and I realized that in that case the erotic fire and romance would pervade the whole relationship, and not just begin and end with bedroom games. So, slowly I began to realize that I was willing to entertain the idea of his dominance extending outside the bedroom. So what I was looking for started to look more and more different from most BDSM; but I still think it can be considered as *one* specific subset of dominance and submission.

Among the various things about the BDSM movement or community that turned me off, the biggest one by far was their open embrace of any kind of gender roles. I personally believe there is a deep and natural connection between masculinity and dominance, and a similar deep connection between femininity and romantic surrender. So that is the only kind of relationship that appeals to me. I really don't like it when I encounter "dominant" women and submissive men. I just have an innate aversion to that, which makes it really unpleasant and distasteful. So I would rather avoid that. (Of course, I accept everyone's right to pursue their own happiness in their own way, so long as they're not harming anyone. But since I find the whole femdom thing so unappealing, my own pursuit of happiness involves trying to stay as far away from it as possible.)

So then I found the Taken In Hand site a while after that; and here was finally something that made sense to me, something that I could relate to. Because it was not just about sex games, but about deep committed love and romance; and it did not involve strange bits of hardware and ritual protocols and funny clothes and specialized jargon and belonging to a subculture. And, most importantly for me, it's strictly about male dominated relationships; and it makes the connection between masculinity and dominance , which to me seems so natural and so important. So for me the Taken In Hand website seemed to be about a 90% match, at least; just the opposite from the BDSM mismatch.

However, I am not much into the Domestic Discipline model of Taken In Hand, which seems to be pretty popular with some women here. I've never been into spanking, for example; although I would not object if my man wanted to do that, and I might even learn to enjoy it. I'm also not that interested in being "punished" or "disciplined" or "corrected" or led or guided or etc. Really, what I most enjoy is just being dominated and controlled, and I enjoy that mainly for sexual reasons. I'm not too keen on the idea of having a man who thinks it's his place to teach me and guide me into being a better person or whatever. When it comes to wisdom and guidance, then I'd like for us to be partners in that. So his domination is not about his wisdom, but about his superior physical strength that allows him to conquer me. So, for me it's still mainly about the erotic charge that male domination holds for me.

And there are still some things that are popular in D/s relationships that I still find appealing, and that I don't hear being discussed much around here; and those things relate more specifically to acts of (surprise!) domination and submission. (Like I mentioned, erotic combat and body worship; among other things.) So while I find I have more in common with the Taken In Hand viewpoint in general, I still regard myself as primarily interested in D/s—masculine domination and feminine submission.

But I also still define that on my own terms and in my own way, which has more to do with the literal meaning of the words "domination" and "submission"—and less to do with the accidental fact that the D/s "lifestyle" got its first impetus as a spin-off from the BDSM community; and that many D/s couples tend to define themselves in ways that fit better with BDSM than with Taken In Hand. The way that I look at it is simple, I feel: I want a dominant man to conquer and dominate me, and make me submit to him. So what I'm into is Domination and submission. But the specific way that I'm into that has a lot in common with the Taken In Hand viewpoint. So it's the overlap of those two things that feels right to me.

But "domination and submission" is a very broad term, really; I think logically it's a much broader term than BDSM even, because in any instance of BDSM one partner will be dominant; even if they change roles the next week or day or hour.. So within the umbrella of D/s relationships, there are many ways to do that; and while the majority of D/s people may be more into B&D and S&M, some D/s people will be more drawn to a Taken In Hand version of D/s. And that's where I'm at.

There is some significant overlap between those two terms, and it's the overlap that most appeals to me. Of course, many or maybe even most Taken In Hand folks are not only not into BDSM, but they are not even into various D/s modes of interaction. And that's fine, I'm not saying that all of Taken In Hand is a subset of D/s. I'm just saying that the aspects of Taken In Hand that appeal to me are much more aligned with D/s than they are with, say, DD (domestic discipline). Also, while there is something very charming and apropos about the phrase "taken in hand"—it is still rather awkward to use habitually. The phrase "domination and submission" seems to me to have the virtues of being simple and straightforward, and (in theory anyway) unambiguous.

I get it!

I have really been puzzled by this one since it was first posted in September...today I found myself really thinking about it. I mean, what is the difference between BDSM and Taken in Hand? You see, this week I read an argument on the difference between being a submissive and being a slave, and I realized what do labels have to do with how two people related to each other. Then it was like a light bulb went on. The difference is the focus. BDSM focuses on labels, roles, extreme sex acts. Taken in hand focus on what it takes to have a long term, exciting, monogamous relationship. The trouble I have finally realized with BDSM is it does nobody any good to argue over who is better a slave or a submissive when every single person on the internet plays those roles differently. They are just words people pick to describe how they feel about themselves. Then they use these words to put down others who have chosen other word. What makes a relationship good has nothing to do with what safe word you use, or how many extreme sex acts you can pull off in a night with out killing any one. I am not even hitting on the polyamory stuff and going outside of ones marriage that is really rapid in the BDSM community.

I might be repeating myself and others here...but what makes Taken In Hand different. Focus. The focus here...and I am so glad for it...is on what it takes to have a long and happy monogamous relationship. Also the fact that we are all into to same dynamic...male led relationship...makes for less conflicting ideas. The lack of self imposed labels, give nobody false rank over the other.

Lastly, the way people speak to each other here. I really like it when people share what they do. Or what they have learned. Or how they worked through a similar problem. The use of one's own success as an example...I love that. I really like the fact that there are people here that have been in a relationship for 10, 20, 30 + happy years. Those are the kinds of people I want to look up to.

Truthfully there is a place in this big world for both BDSM and Taken in Hand...some of us have one foot in each camp. I just had to stop by today and say...I think I finally got it.