Back when I was growing up in the 1970s, advice columnist Ann Landers had what she called the Ann Landers Question, which was something she frequently asked letter-writers who wrote in with complaints about their husband/boyfriend. “Are you better off with him or without him?” Lots of readers told her that the question helped them decide whether to stay with a partner or leave him.
So I’d like to introduce you to what I call the Hadrian Temple Question. This is a question I frequently ask my subs, and I think it’s a good question for doms to ask their boys and for boys to think about if they have trouble with their doms. It owes something to Ann Landers’ question, but it gets at something important in how doms and subs relate.
Here it is:
Is what you are giving up worth what you are getting?
The idea of this question is to think about the things the sub sacrifices for the dom. These things can be time, physical comfort, freedom of choice, bodily autonomy of whatever degree, the right to sit on the furniture, control over sex, financial tribute, or a host of other things. In exchange for what the sub gives up to the dom, what does the sub get back from the dom, in terms of the Dom’s time, attention, advice and support, humiliation, pain play, control and rules enforcement, verbal abuse, hard fucking, piss, or whatever else the dom is doing to the sub.
My goal with my subs is to make them feel that what I am giving to them outweighs what they are giving to me. I want my boys to feel like the way I make them feel when I use them is so good that they are getting the better side of the exchange. That way, when I tell them to take my crop, my spit, my dick, my demands on their time or freedom of action, their tribute, or whatever, they do so gladly because the cost of obeying me seems more than worth it.
If I ask that question and the sub isn’t sure that the answer is yes, that tells me that I need to up my game. I need to figure out what they aren’t getting that they need. Often that just means a conversation about how to tweak our dynamic to make it a little more satisfying for the sub. But if the sub really isn’t sure, it might mean that we need to drastically reassess whether we make sense as dom and sub. Maybe the boy’s needs have changed or he’s realized he needs something I’m not able to provide.
The point of this question is to remind the sub that power exchange is just that–an exchange. Both dom and sub give and both dom and sub get, or at least they’re supposed to. If that’s not happening–if all the giving is being done by the sub and all the getting is being done by the dom, it means there is something seriously wrong in the dynamic and they need to either have a serious conversation or the sub needs to move on and find someone who can better address his needs.
So, is what you are giving up to your dom worth what you’re getting?