Musings on the necessity of leadership in D/s relationships

lead [leed]
verb (used with object), led, lead·ing.
1.to go before or with to show the way; conduct or escort: to lead a group on a cross-country hike.
2.to conduct by holding and guiding: to lead a horse by a rope.
3.to influence or induce; cause: Subsequent events led him to reconsider his position.
4.to guide in direction, course, action, opinion, etc.; bring: You can lead her around to your point of view if you are persistent.
5.to conduct or bring (water, wire, etc.) in a particular course.

All over the world wide web, I hear that dominants are Leaders… with a Capital L. Submissives follow, dominants lead. They lead their household. They lead their submissive. They probably lead at their job. And they lead their friends too apparently. This is something that I am not really sure I believe. I know for sure that I don’t believe that a dominant must lead all the time. If that were true, no dominants would ever be able to be friends with other dominants. It would be a constant power struggle, and that doesn’t lend itself to lasting friendships. I’m also unconvinced about the “leader at work” part of this assessment. I know many very successful people who are fantastic leaders in their professional life but are very submissive in their personal life (or are vanilla). So I’m completely fine in calling bullshit on people who think this way.

Where things get iffy for me is on a personal level within my own relationship. I don’t really identify as a leader. I certainly don’t identify as a Leader (with a Capital L!) at all. So then if the entire internet agrees that dominants are leaders (at the very least within their personal relationships), then can I claim that label? Well I do. More and more, I claim it and am comfortable claiming it. So the questions is what is my relationship with leadership? And do I agree that I need to be a leader in my D/s relationships? Perhaps I’m deluding myself that I’m not leading. Or perhaps leadership is not intrinsic to D/s.

1.to go before or with to show the way; conduct or escort: to lead a group on a cross-country hike.

Ok I’m really not going to lead anyone on a cross-country hike. Let’s just get that out of the way. So anyone who was putting on their hiking boots and grabbing their walking stick can just stop right now. But the rest of this… well maybe. In a metaphorical sense, I do show him the way. I will be happy to show him the way to make me happy and please me. I will show him how I like things. I will show him what I want. So while I’m not exactly good with directions (I could probably get lost in my own closet), I can let people I’m close to know what I want. Though they are not always good at listening or hearing me. I am good at expressing what I need. So by this definition, I’m a leader in my relationship. But then again so is he. He shows me what his needs are and lets me know what works for him. So now we’re both leaders?

2.to conduct by holding and guiding: to lead a horse by a rope.
3.to influence or induce; cause: Subsequent events led him to reconsider his position.

I don’t have a horse. Not even a human horse. In fact, I’m not into animal play of any kind. So all you pony people, don’t get excited. So do I guide my submissive partners? In a way I do. I think that It’s been drilled into my head over the years by various people, the media, movies, books, etc… that the best way to lead is by example. Which is pretty problematic for a lot of D/s. I have no interest in showing him how I want him to submit by submitting to him or anyone else. I am not going to be interested in doing a lot of the things (probably most of the things) that I will ask of him. Those things don’t fulfil me, and are quite likely to annoy me. Or worse. But when it comes to modeling personal growth and integrity and things like that, I can lead by example. I can guide. I feel confident in that. In my relationship with the husband I do it whether he likes it or not. With the raven, I only tend to suggest and encourage. But I still expect and encourage personal growth and living life with integrity. I will nudge, poke, suggest, demand, or insist on it. So in this, I can claim that I lead. And they don’t.

4.to guide in direction, course, action, opinion, etc.; bring: You can lead her around to your point of view if you are persistent.

I think this is where I have the bulk of my issue with the idea of being a leader. I do not have much of a direction for my relationships. And I have always associated leading with leading the led in a particular direction. I would say that the closest I have to a direction for my relationship with the husband is parallel growth so that we can hopefully grow old together. So my direction is, at best, vague. I don’t have a game plan. I don’t have any ultimate goal. I don’t have any long term plan for us other than that there should continue to be an “us.” I do know that a lot of my dominant friends and acquaintances tend to have a game plan. They are heading somewhere and expect their submissive to follow behind them. I don’t. In this way, I am very much not the leader of my relationship. Neither is he. Nobody is leading. Nobody is following. We do our own things.

It’s chaos. CHAOS!! But wait. It isn’t. It’s fine. Maybe I lead and maybe I don’t. We don’t have a master plan. We are not headed “somewhere important.” I try to live my life in a way that models honesty, integrity, and authenticity. I push him to do the same. We seem to muddle along pretty well. We’re muddling along a lot better than several of our friends and acquaintances who are in a leader/follower model. We’ve already outlasted 4 of them. Though I also have a friend who is a leader in her D/s marriage who is going on 17 years now. So maybe leadership is… optional. Do it or not. But get off my lawn with the idea that I have to lead or I’m not a dominant.

 

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