The new year is upon us and with that usually comes aspects of change – change that we are excited for, but change nonetheless.
- For some people that means starting a new workout routine
- For others that may mean focusing on their career goals
- Or maybe it’s just simply taking time for themselves
But…if you’re a self torturing-masochist like myself, it may mean laying the next layer to the foundation of your ideal 24/7 LIFEstyle. For years I have put in the time and dedication to rounding out my Femdommery to encompass all that I am. This has been an entire adult-life journey so far, realized only as I place my leather boots into the next realm. I have dreamed about having a “twue” 24/7 lifestyle since I first entered kink but it always seemed like fetish fantasy gone wild.
But here I stand, finally holding the tangible fruits of my labor firmly within my grasp.
One of the most frequent questions about attempting to formulate this non-traditional lifestyle is one that is always in the back of my Mistress mind as well:
“How do you avoid feeling rundown as a full-time, 24/7, lifestyle dominant?”
It’s a valid question, a query my partners put to me as well, and fairly so.
The dreaded, Dominant Drain™ as I call it.
It happens. Even when your best efforts are in action, it can creep up on you. It’s not the same as BDSM burnout. I want to share what helps me keep the fatigue at bay. After the pandemic squeezed us physically and psychologically closer, the excess togetherness plunged some of us into relationship fatigue. That is, mental and physical exhaustion and depletion of emotional energy brought on by the stress of interacting with and helping others at the expense of taking care of ourselves. This can be felt by either side of the slash but I am going to be speaking specifically from the Top/Dominant perspective.
Similar to typical burnout, relationship burnout can occur when stress becomes chronic, resulting in exhaustion. While burnout is often associated with one’s profession, it can also infiltrate relationships. Often, when a person feels undervalued by or lacks support from their partner, the risk of experiencing burnout greatly increases. Dominant Drain™ is the manifestation of this in a power exchange dynamic, but honestly, this can be applied to any role in D/s.
It can be hard to imagine the one in charge getting what they want feeling tired but I promise you, it happens, and it happens frequently if not addressed.
This fatigue doesn’t happen overnight; rather, it occurs as a result of periods of emotional stress and tension within a relationship. A person may notice that they begin to dread spending time or interacting with their partner. Eventually, this culmination of unhappiness can cause a person to collapse and lose the energy to further maintain their relationship completely.
In terms of D/s it can present as the following:
Physical and emotional exhaustion
Giving orders can start to feel like micromanaging or nagging if your partner isn’t receptive or as obedient as you like. You may know this needs attention, perhaps a refining of rules, more enforcement of protocols, or it could be that being in that headspace drains you. Even a regular “play date” makes you feel exhausted when you consider what it will take to make it happen.
Heavy is the head that wears the crown and it can start to feel like being in charge is synonymous with parenting, as leadership is like parenting.
The self-awareness of how your actions and behavior influence those around you, whether your play partner or someone else are key. Learning how to increase self-awareness around your own patterns and clarify who owns the problem can be a big help. At the heart of effective leadership is self-awareness.
Disappointment and doubt
When things aren’t going the way you want, you can harbor feelings of disappointment. Maybe your partner (or you!) aren’t performing in the way you agreed. You may start to have increasingly negative/cynical thoughts about their tone, how they speak to you, their unique idiosyncrasies, or worst. This is where the guilt of wondering if there’s another (better) “option” out there can begin.
Disobedience, back-talking, general ‘aloofness’ can all read as not wanting to partake in the dynamic and can create doubt when assessing your vitality as partners.
The truth is sometimes anxiety, a fear or even a paranoia about potentially disappointing their dominant leaning partner or potential partner can create self doubt and prevent a submissive from flourishing in a fitting role.
Lowered investment and futile feelings
If you feel as if you’re just going through the motions without any real passion behind them, you’ll be less inclined to make more of a concerted effort. You may start to feel as if working longer hours, distracting yourself with lackluster hobbies, or even hanging out with friends or just your phone is preferable to being with your partner.
This is usually when physical intimacy (scenes, casual in-home flirting, playfulness, etc.) fades into a distant memory, along with the emotional connection you are probably craving. Most people are at sixes and sevens about what to do and feel as if they should walk away.
If you have differing love languages, you may struggle when it comes to effective communication. For example, a person whose love language is “acts of service” may feel unappreciated by their partner, because their efforts are not reciprocated. Understanding each other’s love language can help restore the connection between partners.
What can I do to prevent getting to this place?
Experiencing Dominant Drain™ (or relationship fatigue) doesn’t necessarily mean that a relationship has to come to an end. When people are committed to one another, there are a number of methods they can utilize to help bring energy back to their partnership.
Remember the self-awareness I mentioned earlier? If you’re the Dominant, use the following questions to assess responsibility. These questions will provide self-awareness and clarity on your role as a leader to create the conditions for your submissive to grow and keep you from micromanaging.
- Have I been clear about expectations?
- Have I provided the necessary training for the submissive/bottom to excel at their role?
- Are other people negatively affected by the submissive’s performance or behavior?
- Am I asking the submissive to do tasks outside of their skill set?
- Have I outlined what will happen if the poor performance/behaviors continue?
- Have I followed through with what I said I’d do if the poor performance/behavior doesn’t improve?
As a Dominant it’s your responsibility to monitor and manage both the performance and behavior of your submissive. While your s-type is responsible for their behavior and choices, you are responsible to take action when problem performance or behavior occurs.
If you want to come together to revive the invigorating feelings you enjoy most from your D/s dynamic try to keep these in mind:
Honesty about needs is important. Expressing your emotional and physical needs in a dynamic is critical. Being honest about how you’re feeling and what your expectations are will allow you to build trust and encourage open communication. While it can be easier to gloss over unwanted emotions, sharing them with your partner might help ensure that there is no “bad blood” between you that can eventually impact your relationship. Hurtful words are impossible to take back, so being open with your partner is necessary. We keep a ‘sin-free’ journal where the submissive can share honestly without repercussion.
Unplug and unite. A person can become easily disconnected from their partner when they don’t make their relationship a priority. Before giving up on your relationship, try making a commitment to spending more time with your partner. Try taking turns planning scenes, toy shopping together, or dedicating 10 minutes a day to simply reconnect, we like to do this through various worship play.
Press the pause button. Sometimes, taking a break from each other can be beneficial. Spending too much time with a partner can make a person feel claustrophobic within a relationship. For some, independence is a crucial part of their self-identity and can easily be lost in a tight-knit romantic partnership. Allowing you or your partner to take some personal time for self-reflection and relaxation can allow you to rejuvenate lost emotional energy. I love knowing my boys have interests and passions outside of pleasing me.
Recognize and respect effort. Concentrating on the negative aspects of a relationship is not healthy. When someone gets in the habit of doing so, they can become hyper-focused on nitpicking trivial issues and problems. It can be constructive to shift your perspective to one that celebrates the positives as they come. Expressing gratitude for the little things your partner does can help you see that your relationship is worthwhile after all. Our reward system has proven to be a fun and healthy way for me to appreciate the dedication of my submissives.
Center your self-care. Burnout impacts every aspect of your life, not just your relationships. Chronic stress can leave you feeling entirely worn out and defeated. For this reason, practicing self-care is extremely important! Prioritize maintaining a healthy sleep, exercise, and diet routine to limit excessive stressors. Self-care is not selfish. In reality, it allows you to be your best self and, in return, a better partner. Just ask the boys what Mistress is like when she skips a nail appointment or an afternoon with her favorite masseuse.
Dominant Drain™ can seem debilitating at times, and can have a serious impact on the individuals in the relationship. It is important to recognize the signs of relationship burnout and address them sooner rather than later. When all partners are committed to making the effort to take care of themselves and the relationship, true healing takes place and can mitigate undesirable weariness.