View From the Top: Dominant Fantasy vs. Dominant Reality

My alarm goes off and I wake up refreshed. The boy is asleep at the foot of my bed on a large dog pillow, which works great for him because he curls up like a fox to self-cuddle, regardless of his sleeping arrangement; he only sleeps in the bed with me on special days. He wakes and stretches at the alarm, and I invite him into the bed for a kiss and tell him to suck me off.

When I’m done, I dismiss him, and he heads to the bathroom. He knows his proper morning routine, and takes care to brush his teeth, wash his face, do his hair, and get dressed in his casual daily uniform before heading to the kitchen. He prepares his own coffee and breakfast, eating outside, then cleans the kitchen and prepares my work area and breakfast.

Meanwhile, I’m deep in my own quiet and private morning routine: yoga, meditation, writing and a shower. When I emerge from the dressing room refreshed and clear-minded an hour and a half later, my breakfast is waiting on the table under a simple wooden cloche to keep it warm, daily supplements are in a small dish next to it, and my chai tea is just how I like it.

The boy comes back from walking the dog just after I sit down at my desk. He greets me excitedly and kneels next to me, and we quickly go over our goals for the day, any protocol experiments we’re doing, and any important upcoming deadlines. He keeps me company as I eat, refilling my water without me noticing and clearing away the dishes when I’m done.

Then, I get to work.

In reality, the cat jumps on our faces, meowing, so that’s when I know it’s time to get up. Maybe the alarm has already gone off; did I hit snooze? I did. Oops. I probably drank a little too much whiskey the night before, so I’m groggy. The boy is never functional before coffee, so he gets out of bed, struggling to find his glasses. He dresses while I start breakfast, then takes orders about how to help. We eat together, then walk the dog on a quick loop around the block, sharing share our dreams or processing our feelings from couple’s therapy or discussing some funny animal video we saw on Facebook.

When we get home, we both get our computers out and start working. Deadlines, bills, inboxes overflowing, did I update Patreon, did I reply to those tweets? And I have a doctor’s appointment later, so I never quite drop in to creating, I just putter around with administrative tasks.

After rife and I got together, we were long distance for a year and a half. Maybe three-quarters of our relationship was online, in emails, texts and Skype, and one-quarter was in person every couple of months for a weekend. Those weekends sustained us, the teasing promise of 24/7 and a functional, healthy D/s dynamic just out of reach, keeping me striving.

We wrote to each other all the time. Fantasies, desires, what I thought about when I masturbated the other day. I gave him dozens of tasks to complete, mostly prompts for making art. I mused about my desires as a dominant, as a master, and he met me — equal and opposite — with his own cravings for enslavement and being controlled.

I’m not sure what I thought moving in together and living our dynamic all day, every day, would really do for us, though at first I was worried that we would have so much sex and lust and desire that neither of us would focus on our work ever again. I thought we would keep escalating the power and control that I had, and we did — but after he was collared, I wondered: What more is there? What are the next steps? How do I grow further as a dominant, as a master? We pretty much had the basics down, but I wanted the fine-tuning, and I began to be more and more aware of my shortcomings — but how could I work on them? It became harder to feel into the growth once I had more experience. Any advanced study is all about taking one concept and diving deep into all the nuance, so I did, and I started giving rife more complicated assignments toward longer-term goals, too.

But we still have to manage the facts of contemporary American life. Mail and health insurance (thanks, Obama) and income and friends in crisis, and all the adult details that everyone has to deal with. Sometimes people ask me if 24/7 is a lot of work, but the truth is, it’s a very different kind of dominance than having a submissive for three days every two months. It’s more intimate, more vulnerable, but less postured and less mysterious. As a weekend dominant, I could put everything else in my life aside for three days, use every spare moment to fuck or play, make sure to dress up, bring only my best briefs, clean all my leathers and all my sex toys before I showed up. But in real life, sometimes I want to use the dildo that’s been at the back of the drawer for a month, and it’s covered in cat hair. Sometimes I wear pajamas for two (okay, five) days in a row. Sometimes I don’t shower in the morning, so I don’t do my hair.

I have to be willing to reveal the messy, intimate parts of my life to have this authority exchange really work twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Otherwise, it just isn’t sustainable — that weekend dominant is a part of me, sure, but relegated to the weekend for a reason. In order to hand over that kind of control, there are dozens of areas of rife’s life that I don’t manage, but rather let him steer, knowing that at any moment I could take the reigns or give orders for him to implement change.

The reality of being a 24/7 master with a live-in slave isn’t quite what I expected, though I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I knew it wouldn’t be like the fantasies and erotica portray it, but I wanted to see what it would be like for me, for us. I know now that it has to be built around the realities of my life and my limitations, acknowledging my humanity and thus my many flaws, as well as his, in order for it to really last. So far, three years in, it has far exceeded my expectations, and I am grateful every day I am lucky enough to receive service from my boy.

PS: To read rife’s version of this, check out Submissive Fantasy vs Submissive Reality over on Sugarbutch.

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Sinclair Sexsmith

Sinclair Sexsmith (they/them) is “the best-known butch erotica writer whose kinky, groundbreaking stories have turned on countless queer women” (AfterEllen), who “is in all the books, wins all the awards, speaks at all the panels and readings, knows all the stuff, and writes for all the places” (Autostraddle). ​Their short story collection, Sweet & Rough: Queer Kink Erotica, was a 2016 finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Sinclair identifies as a white non-binary butch dominant, a survivor and an introvert. Follow their writings at Sugarbutch Chronicles.

Sinclair has written 43 articles for us.


  1. like any relationship, once you’ve moved past the long distance hurdle its the work of day to day living that becomes the new challenge

  2. Communication. I can’t speak to M/s, but it’s no different than D/s where communication is essential. So, a normal relationship. People don’t have to write professionally or attend classes to take this seriously. Most of us do.

  3. I don’t have anything to share in regards to your questions, but I just had to say how much I loved this comment — it’s so thoughtful and respectful. Autostraddle readers are the best. I’m eager to hear more people join Joanna in sharing their thoughts/experiences regarding the questions you’ve raised.

  4. I.d say that any relationship requires that you expose yourself. To follow a desire along the fantasy of erotical ideal life is to leap before you think.

    But Im not for the lifestyle. My partner and I take turns trying new things and caring for eachother. Kinda like Sunstone but without the Dom/Sub mechanic.

  5. It takes a great deal of courage to live your truth. It takes even more to share that truth with others. I, for one, think it’s commendable. That aside, I enjoyed the piece very much. I went on to read rife’s piece on Sugarbutch as well. It was refreshing to read about the day-to-day aspects of a 24/7 D/s relationship and get a glimpse into the minutiae of the everyday moments. Thank you both for sharing.

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