Fear of Failure..

All too often I have found, in my travels via the internet and in talking to submissives with lots of life experience, maturity and even BDSM experience, that a very high proportion of these submissives acknowledge a common fear. Uppermost in their minds is the fear of failure: Failure to please, failure to achieve a required standard, failure to be able to do what they think they should, and failure even to "qualify" as a submissive. Equally, those who are already within some kind of relationship with a Dom, be it online or real life, have this feeling of not being able to "make the grade".
One could say that this might be because many submissives carry, maybe from past relationships, a low self esteem image of themselves. Usually, if they were to look at themselves from outside, they in fact, have no real need to harbour these feelings, but none the less, they are still there and are manifest in so many different ways that cause the submissive to constantly check and double check themselves and whether they will be able to do what they believe they should.

The older submissive who has perhaps come into the lifestyle having had previous relationships; who are mothers or ex-wives, carry this burden. Maybe the failure of their marriage didn't help; or the possibility that within the previous relationship they were made to believe that they were inadequate in some way. This stays with them as they travel into the BDSM lifestyle. The younger submissive, with little or no life experience, no previous relationships of any substance upon which to build simply fears that their lack of experience gives them no foundation upon which to create a fulfilling BDSM relationship. Whatever the reasons the result is the same: an inherent fear of failure. Is this fear in fact a part of what makes a submissive? Were the submissive tendencies what caused the original failure?

What ever the reason, this "fear" is most definitely a part of many submissives.

It might be difficult to understand how a mature woman, a mother, career professional etc. can have low self esteem or be worried about her sexual performance; be afraid that she will not measure up to what is expected of her within any kind of relationship, let alone one that requires her to serve a Dominant in specific ways. It is easier to see how younger less experienced people might have these tendencies, but whatever the reasons these traits are seen within many submissives

The understanding between a Dominant and submissive, as we know, is important if any kind of BDSM relationship is to blossom. As she moves deeper into her submissiveness she becomes even more aware that if both partners' needs are to be fulfilled then she will be expected to complete certain tasks and achieve certain levels of commitment. Her fear that she will be unable to do this makes it almost impossible for her to see her way forward.

Even the small things that she feels are going to be asked of her, become a huge burden: will she be able to cope, will she even manage to meet the required levels of submission, will she have to do things that, in the early stages are not natural to her and, if she can't, (her worse fear) does that make her any less a submissive? Does it bar her from some forms of BDSM play? Does it even make it impossible for her to see herself as submissive to a Dominant in the future? Let's look at an example: Some people might have a fear of their own nakedness, based upon their perception of their own bodies as being inadequate in some way. (I am too fat, too thin, etc). If they cannot get over that hurdle, they genuinely believe that there is little possibility of taking their submissiveness to the next level and participating in BDSM play, whether they can please thier Dominant at all.... .reinstating the fear of failure all over again.

All these fears grow and eat away at the submissive psyche until she may even convince herself that this lifestyle is not really for her; some will just give up and leave, taking the easy option because this way there is no real need to face the reality of their fears. Others stay on the edge of the lifestyle not prepared to commit for fear of being unable to fulfil their promise: hoping that something will happen that tells them once again that they are submissive and that they have chosen the right path after all.

The submissive, by nature, is a demanding creature; one who has many traits and characteristics that can be seen in the majority: the need to serve, the desire to take their sexuality to another level for the pleasure of, not just themselves but their Dominant partner, and the need to grow to become a special kind of creature who lives on a whirlwind of highs and lows. They desire to give up control, not just of their body, but also of their mind, to another who, if the relationship is a good one, will take them to levels they could never experience outside of BDSM. Yet still, underneath all these desires, the fear of not being able to achieve removes the ability to become complete. So, is it an innate part of a submissive, are the fears valid?

I have never met a Dominant who has low self esteem or fears failure. Of course those new to the lifestyle do have the need to learn the techniques but that does not mean they fear their inability to do that or that they will not, with practice, achieve the required levels of expertise, unlike the submissive who would be afraid to try something new for fear of failure, It may be interesting to note that while we are essentially talking about a fear of failure in female submissives, the fear of failure in a female Dominant does not show itself, if it is there at all. I have never met a Domme who fears she will be unable to attain a level of control that she requires. If a Domme for example is not a person who carries themselves, head high, proud and forceful, in control of any given situation, surely, the chances are that the person is not of a dominant character in the first place and would be more of a submissive nature than a dominant one. So by this observation it may well be that the fear of failure is a submissive trait, rather than a female one?

Then we must look at the male submissive. Does he also have a fear of failure: of being unable to prove his worth, his sexual prowess, not forgetting of course that he has also to overcome the prejudice of the general public's perception that if one is male, one must be dominant?

Could it be that his perspective on submission is different to that of the female? On the surface his wants and needs tend to be more along the lines of the physical aspects of BDSM rather than the mental ones of D/s. He may have fears, perhaps of rejection or disapproval, but fear of failure isn't one of them. He knows his worth, and what he has to offer. The majority of male submissive are much more aware of what they want, rather than what they can give to another. This is not to say of course that all male subs are like this. Many tend to have hightened awareness of their feminine side, and in these submissives it is likely that the fear of failure will be more obvious, as it is in the female submissive.

A female submissive falters at taking the step to failure, whereas the male goes for it in the hope of achieving and if he does not, will accept the consequences. If the male sub is ready to accept failure and the fact that there is nothing he can do to change it. Why fear it.? He also accepts that if he has failed, punishment (of whatever nature is appropriate) will follow; maybe he even desires punishment as part of his fulfilment. The female sub won't even try as she doesn't want to fail and she also has the added problem that when she is experiencing one type of fear it tends to drag in all the other fears along with it.

So, what's the answer to removing the fears.

The fears themselves can never really be removed but rather, if one looks at them from a different angle it may be possible to move around them to such a point as to make them less significant. If one can see that the steps needed to be taken on any given line are "experiences", then it may be possible to feel that these in themselves are pleasurable and challenging, rather than something to be feared. With each step taken along a path to achieving an end result, the experiences that are gained, new and exciting as they are bound to be, cannot be a cause of fear, only fear of the unknown and that in itself should be an exciting journey. (Use the argument: How can you be afraid of something if you don't actually know what it is yet).

A Dominant, if he is worth his salt, should be able to encourage a submissive to move slowly and with delight, along all avenues within this vast scheme that we call BDSM without creating any kind of fear, or dragging up any old ones that can interfere with new life experiences. The fear of not being good enough is only manifested in someone if they have been told repeatedly that they are not good enough. With each new experience, if one is told frequently that everything is fine and that expectations are being reached, as long as the expectations are set at an attainable level, and reviewed as each new experiences is gained, there can be no fear of failure.

The role of the Dominant is also likely to be called into play for fears embedded over time and these may take some getting over, but again, if the right partner is found, then it is possible, with each little experience, to change the fear response to any given activity by changing the reflex action to that which creates the fear in the first place. Lets go back to the "I am too fat, or to thin" fear. If the submissive is fearful that her outward appearance is going to bring out a fear reflex of rejection, the Dominant must impress on her that this is not going to cause a major adverse reaction in him; he will need to reassure her constantly that she is loved and admired, (warts and all). It won't happen overnight, it won't go away in a matter of days, but in time, the submissive will know that the dominants attitude to the physical representation of his sub is not going to cause a reaction in him that may be transmitted to her.

In all this we have spoken about the need for the Dominant to reassure and create a trust within the submissive: this begins with an important facet of any relationship, but one that is doubly important in BDSM, which is to find the right partner. Compatibility is so important: if one has a compatible partner whose needs, wants and desires match yours, then you are already more than half way there. Allied to this, over time the trust that is created between two compatible people becomes the driving force within the relationship. You trust the Dominant not to push you too far, allowing him to manage the expectation you have (this is the expectation of both achieving the desired results, and overcoming the fears you originally had). The Dominant too, has to trust that you will accept His management.

While the fear of failure is evidenced as a real concern to the submissive, it is often a difficult concept for a Dominant to grasp. This again is why compatibility is vital, and each partner in the relationship must spend time trying, at least, to understand the other's fears, needs, and concerns. Only by doing this can the depth of understanding, trust, respect and fulfilment of a workable and honest BDSM, or D/s relationship be built, and maintained.

© D/s Seekers