What do you mean, you want to be taken in hand?!

Janet Hardy suggested that if you are single and looking, it is worth trying to identify clearly exactly what you want. This sounds obvious, but actually, as I myself have found, it is not that easy to articulate, and even if you do write it down, misunderstandings are common. To illustrate this fact, read the following paragraph in which I say what I'd like, and before reading further, jot down or preferably write in the comments at the foot of this page what you think I mean in practice. Ask your friends to write their own interpretations of this paragraph too. Then compare all the different responses.

I'd like to be taken in hand by a man who loves me. I'd like to be brought to submission by an even-tempered, kind, gentle, but firm man of good character. I'd like to be controlled by a lovingly dominant man who wants me to be happy. I'd like a more traditional relationship in which the man is the head of the household. I'd like it to be with a man so quietly confident that he is the head of our household, that he does not feel the need to bellow and bawl, or cut the connection by withdrawing into angry silence.

Now, for fun, write in the comments below specifically what you think I mean in practice, before reading on. Whether you are yourself looking for a partner or not, this will be a very enlightening exercise and useful to you and others, I think.


Part of the reason that different individuals will interpret the above paragraph in different ways is that it is not very specific. What do you mean by being taken in hand? What does it mean in practice to be brought to submission? Given that the word “control” usually means something very bad, as in “control freak”, whatever do I mean by that? And when I say “dominant”, do I mean that I want a man who will call me “slave” or “bitch” and make me kneel naked on the floor in front of him while he watches TV, my mouth open to act as human toilet if he doesn't want to use the bathroom? Do I want him to issue commands, military officer style, and demand obedience to his every whim, no matter how onerous his whims may be? Do I want to be patronised and bossed about like a school child? Do I want BDSM scenes? Humiliation? Pain? To be spanked over the knee?

Different individuals, coming at this from different perspectives, with different ideas, will have different interpretations. So when seeking a new relationship, or trying to introduce these ideas in an existing one, how can you minimise potential misunderstandings?

It is well worth creating a document that states what you think you want. This document should be editable because, trust me, your first attempt at writing down precisely what you want will prove to be inadequate at best. You will want to improve it over time. This will increase your self-awareness and understanding, and that is bound to be useful. For fun, each time you do a major edit, you could save the document as a new version. That way you will be able to look back and see how your understanding of yourself and what you want has improved over time. You will probably laugh at your first draft when you look at it in a year's time. You may be interested in how your wants themselves evolve over time too.

But before you attempt to write such a document, first collect together in another document any ideas you read about that you like, excerpts from email messages that speak to you. In yet another document, gather any quotes, excerpts, etc., which you find yourself reacting against. These documents will tell you more about yourself. Continue adding to them over time, and every now and then, read the documents and notice whether you still feel the same about each item. You might well find that in a year's time, half the stuff in the document of quotes you hate should now be in the other document, and vise versa. You might also find that some of the quotes that spoke to you initially now leave you indifferent, and that some of what you liked now seems simplistic or lacking insight. Create a new version of each document, making any necessary changes, as and when you feel like it. Such documents could, in themselves, convey considerable information to the person to whom you want to communicate what you want.

Secondly, create a document in which you yourself write down what you want, perhaps as follows:

First, write a broad brush strokes picture of what you want, giving the general idea. Do you have fixed ideas of what you want, or do you want the relationship to be evolvable, with on-going exploration and experiments and a willingness to back-track in the event an idea turns out to have been a dud?

Do you want an old-fashioned, chivalrous, deeply respectful relationship in which there is high contrast between the sexes and in which the man is the head of your household? Or do you want daddy-girl dynamics? Or do you want to be owned, collared, and the slave of a BDSM Dom? Or do you want a straight-forward (ha! It is never that!) DD arrangement with rules and spankings? Or do you want different things in different moods? Or different things when you are playing?

Next, get specific. What does this mean in practice? What will your man be doing? What tone of voice will he be using? How will he be addressing you? Write down quickly as many really specific examples as you can.

To make it more clear, next, write down what you don't want. This is worth doing because it will bring to light inconsistencies between your general picture of what you want, and your specific wishes. For example, in general, my impression of myself is that BDSM leaves me completely cold. But plenty of specific ideas I have could easily be considered BDSM scene ideas, even though they do not feel remotely like that to me.

If certain words evoke strong reactions from you, whether negative or positive, write those words down and describe the reaction each evokes, or at least write a list of words you hate. Does the word “sub” make you cringe? If your man were to say “I command you to…” would you find that rude and unacceptable, or would you experience it positively, like Petrucio's Kate did in the production of The Taming of the Shrew that I enthused about in this article? Whenever you notice a strong reaction to a particular word or tone of voice, add a note of it to your list.

Next, you could show your documents to selected friends and ask them to discuss your documents. This is bound to bring out many areas where clarification is needed, so will help you when you are editing it later.

Finally, consider submitting the document you have written yourself to Taken In Hand—I think such descriptions are absolutely fascinating and it would be interesting to read them. I think it is possible to learn a lot about what you want, by reading other people's ideas about what they themselves want, don't you? Oh, all right then, so I'm curious! :-)

the boss

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Comments

So very true

It is true that writing and looking back help clarify what we have in our minds. I have been doing this for some time...more in the form of a journal and I have found that many things come in to play in the forming of our desires/needs. As we experience things (either through reading or talking or actually meeting people) our ideas or the way we express them change.

I met a man once and we talked for hours about DD and what we thought it was and what we wanted. It seemed as though we had the same ideas. But after meeting and spending time with him I realized that two things had happened. One was that neither of us had really defined what we needed and the other was that we each allowed the other to *sway* us from our original thinking. As it turned out he was looking more for a *slave* relationship and I was looking more to use DD as a means for conflict resolution as opposed to walking away from the relationship. Neither of us were *wrong* but we weren't right for each other either. This experience helped me to see that I needed to find ways to communicate more clearly what I interpet DD and it's meaning in my life.

I am looking forward to hearing what others write about what it means to them.

Being Swayed

Em wrote:

One was that neither of us had really defined what we needed and the other was that we each allowed the other to *sway* us from our original thinking. As it turned out he was looking more for a *slave* relationship and I was looking more to use DD as a means for conflict resolution as opposed to walking away from the relationship. Neither of us were *wrong* but we weren't right for each other either.

When I first met my fiance, he was into SM and The Story of O. He was particularly intrigued by the idea of lending his woman, like Renee lent O to Sir Stephen. I had had a relationship with a lovely man who was a sadist—but very much consentually so, no non consent—and was not interested in pain and did not enjoy The Story of O. I wanted a dominant man, but not a BDSM dom and not a sadist, and I wanted it to be 24/7, while my man had been thinking in terms of fantasy dominance only.

Together, we explored one another's ideas and desires, and out of that exploration came something new, just for us. I liked the idea of being his property and him showing me to other men, and he liked my idea of replacing the more BDSM elements with more real head of the household style dominance.

I think the boss makes a valid point that it's a good idea to be clear about what you want but being swayed a little from what you started at can be okay too—but I agree with Em that if you haven't thought about it, you might get swayed in a way that doesn't get you to where you want to be. It's also good to know yourself well enough to be able to tell when you've been swayed too far or in the wrong direction for you. Like Em says, it's nobody's fault, it's just life. This can happen to anyone so it's best to be aware of what you really want so that you can end a relationship that doesn't meet your needs before you become too attached.

Fascinating

As some of you may be aware, the exercise of explicit dominance is something that is fairly new to me. I have always been a dominant personality, but it is only in my latest relationship that this has become explicit, as opposed to implicit (hmmm—an article here for me to write, later on perhaps). As such, I find that I am sometimes unclear myself as to what I expect and look for in a relationship. My wants and desires have changed as the months have gone on, and my understanding of what I want has grown. Fortunately, my partner has understood this element of our relationship, and in some ways it has turned into a mutual voyage of exploration, with some very very nice stops along the way.

The real point of this reply is to suggest that not only women who want a strong sexually-role defined relationship should think about what they want, but dominant men as well. I find I treasure the softness of my partner's personality, something that brings out every protective instinct I have. If anyone wants to hurt her, they will need to go through me first—and I do not move easily :-) If I were in a BDSM/Slave (whatever) relationship, I would not feel that fulfilled as a man, thus the relationship would never last, being ultimately empty of feelings.

Would be interesting to see the profiles of peoples' wants and desires in a relationship, though I am not sure if the boss intends to publish them? I may well supply my profile to the boss in any case—perhaps she could publish them with no names, and we could have fun picking out Gary, MrTom or myself from the regular men? :-) If we did this, perhaps we should have a standard template or questions to make sure we answered the same issues. Perhaps the same for the Ladies?

Random

interpretation

Bascially you want a man that truly cares for you, a man that knows how to play his role as the leader and the one in control in the relationship. Moreover, not only will he play his role but encourage you to play yours by being submissive (this is where the domestic discipline comes in). You also want a man you can trust to be loving and kind towards you, not harsh.

Writing down what you want

I had such strong hangups about what I wanted that it took me over a decade to come to the point where I could tell my husband about it. Even then, about all I could manage was short sentences (directed at his tummy)—elaborate, detailed descriptions were completely out of the question. At this stage, writing down what I wanted him to know was extremely helpful. Writing came easily, and then I could go and hide while he read it. Then he asked me for clarifications. Before long, we were communicating easily, and eye-to-eye. Breaking the ice can be really hard when you don't know what your partner will think, and you're afraid he'll reject the whole idea. But I'm *so* happy I finally had the courage to break that ice!

My Interpretation

"I'd like to be taken in hand by a man who loves me. I'd like to be brought to submission by an even-tempered, kind, gentle, but firm man of good character. I'd like to be controlled by a lovingly dominant man who wants me to be happy. I'd like a more traditional relationship in which the man is the head of the household. I'd like it to be with a man so quietly confident that he is the head of our household, that he does not feel the need to bellow and bawl, or cut the connection by withdrawing into angry silence."

You want to be spanked and dominated by a nice man who loves you. You want to be told what to do and maybe you want him to stop you doing things that are unwise. He doesn't shout or abuse you. He doesn't stonewall you. There's not enough info to guess what you mean in detail.

Fergie

How do I raise this with my husband?

I'm extremely intrigued and have been looking for this ideal for a long time. I'm not sure how to introduce all of this to my husband of ten years without him getting the wrong idea. I'm not one of those women who want to be punished or even need it to be turned on—far from it—I want my husband to be more dominant in our marriage though. I love what is being said here and I want to look at my husband and see him as my hero—I do abit already—I'm just not sure he sees it. I want to submit to him wholeheartedly without reservation, knowing that he holds my love and trust in high regard.

I do believe that we're at a point in our marriage when we can explore this ideal—I'm just not really sure how to get the conversation started.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!