Kayla Lords talks about a special feature of her D/s relationship with John Brownstone – the Tough Love clause. It’s what allows her to “tell” her Daddy Dominant what she thinks he needs to do in tough or stressful situations. In their 24/7 relationship, he always has the last word but the Tough Love clause gives her the freedom to speak her mind when what she has to say may be less than popular – without being seen as disrespectful.
From this episode:
- The Tough Love clause was part of the renegotiations when Kayla and John moved in together.
- Dominants work hard to take care of their submissive, especially when a submissive may resist the help.
- How can a submissive help a Dominant in the same way? Kayla’s idea: the Tough Love clause.
- The Tough Love clause allows a submissive to tell a Dominant hard truths about their care and well-being.
- She asked, he agreed.
- It comes down to trust.
- The Tough Love clause is used only as necessary
- His sister’s death: Lessons Learned from Grief, Chaos, and Love
- Medical issues
- Work and life stress
- The Tough Love clause isn’t nagging, harping, or making someone feel bad. It’s done out of love but must be used carefully.
- Ultimately, the decision remains his.
- Kayla wants to know – do you have a similar “clause” in your D/s relationship? If not, will you consider it now? Drop her a line to let her know!
As always, if you have a question or topic suggestion for a future episode, feel free to contact Kayla or John directly.
Scroll down for full transcript.
You’re listening to Loving BDSM podcast: episode 9. Today, I’m going to share something from our D/s relationship called the Tough Love clause. Hey, everybody. Kayla Lords here. Welcome to the Loving BDSM podcast. If this is your first time listening, glad to have you! If you’re back for another week, welcome back! Loving BDSM is produced every Friday for your kinky pleasure and education and show notes are found at kaylalords.com. Come back often and feel free to add the podcast to your favorite RSS feed or iTunes. If you love what you hear, we’d love a good review on iTunes to help other kinksters find us! You can follow me on Twitter @KaylaLords. And stalk John Brownstone at southernsirsplace.com. All links are in the show notes. Now, let’s get into the show.
When John Brownstone and I first moved in together, June of 2014 in case you wondered, we had a lot of discussions about how our relationship would change. We’d been doing the long distance D/s thing for well over a year, and we knew living together would change almost everything.
Living apart meant that we could – usually – show our best selves to each other. Even if we were having a bad day, we could perk up for a phone call or two. But what would it be like when we lived together and would see every minute detail – the good, the bad, and the ugly?
As you can imagine, we discussed rules, tasks, routines, expectations. Any decent Dominant takes the care and well-being of his or her submissive very seriously. They’re trying to build us up to become all that we can be – both in kinky and non-kinky ways. Sometimes that comes in the form of tough love – making us take care of ourselves, making us deal with issues we’d rather ignore, making us face demons instead of hide away from them.
But something bothered me in these discussions. I wanted all of that and more from John Brownstone, but who was going to do that for him? Think about it. The very nature of a submissive is to acquiesce, to serve, to submit, and we were transitioning to a 24/7 relationship. What if he wasn’t looking out for himself and polite requests to consider going to the doctor or talking through a problem or whatever wouldn’t be enough?
Yes, Dominants seem larger than life and when things are going well, they are strong, firm, charismatic people who do well when they’re in control of their submissive. But at the heart of it, they’re people, and people have bad days. Family members get sick and die. Jobs get lost. Money gets tight. Everyone gets sick, sad, depressed, angry, or pissed off at the world. Our Dominants are no different.
While I was trying to imagine living with Daddy, I couldn’t help but wonder how we were going to navigate all of this. How could I be my best submissive self for him at times when he needed pushing instead of kneeling? Now, if you can’t tell, I’ve got a strong personality and plenty of opinions. There was no way I was going to be able to see him go through something and not try to help, especially if I thought I knew what he needed to do.
Enter the Tough Love clause.
As part of our near-constant discussions about the move and the changes in our life, I asked, point blank – Can I give you tough love when you need it? Can I be firm with you when you’re lost in your own head or not doing things that are good for you? Like going to work when you’re sick. Refusing to discuss something that’s eating away at you. When what you need is a firm kick in the butt more than me kneeling at your feet?
Surprisingly, he agreed.
Now let me point out a few things here…
He only agreed because he trusted me. He trusted my judgment. He trusted me to never use tough love against him when it wasn’t warranted. He trusted me to be firm but polite. He trusted me to have his back and to see a situation with clear eyes.
If you don’t have that level of trust with your Dominant, this might not work for you. Not yet, anyway.
So what does the tough love clause look like in action?
Earlier this summer, early August, Daddy’s sister died after a 13 month battle with colon cancer. I don’t have to tell you how devastating that was for everyone involved. Daddy. His family. His niece and nephew left without a mother. It was awful. So yes, of course, he needed me to be supportive and to be his partner.
But, because of denial, neglect, and an amazing amount of willful blindness from his family, he wasn’t just contending with a mountain of grief. He had to deal with family issues that brought him low, made him question everything he’d done for his sister, and truly wonder if he was going crazy.
Yes, he needed hugs, love, soothing touches, and as stable a home life as I could give him. But when I saw him spiraling down into feelings of worthlessness and questioning himself, after 13 months of being there for his sister when the rest of the family bailed, he needed someone to give him some honest truths.
The only person who could do it was me.
I’ve lived through three terminal illnesses in my family. My father died when I was 22, and I was by his side at the end. I know what it’s like to lose someone, and I know what it’s like to have a family member or two lose their shit over it. I know how to live through the grief and deal with the anger of family who just didn’t get it.
And I wasn’t going to let this amazing man who’d sacrificed time and money for his baby sister be made to feel guilty or question himself because his family couldn’t handle reality.
There were a lot of tough conversations. There was a lot of tough love. Plenty of times I told him to take all the time he needed to grieve, that there was no one right way, but I wasn’t going to let him sink into a low place because his family couldn’t appreciate what he did and didn’t understand that no miracle could have saved his sister.
Eventually, I think, it worked a little. The more you hear something, the more you internalize it. He’d spent days listening to the crazy rantings of his family, and it was playing over and over in a loop in his head. So I spent time building him up, reminding him in no uncertain terms that he’d done all he could, and letting her die with dignity was better than keeping her hooked up to machines when there was no possibility of recovery. It took a while, but eventually, he got to a better place where he could deal with the grief instead of just the anger.
That’s kind of an extreme case, I know. So what does tough love look like in the normal day-to-day routine?
When Daddy began to have pain in his mouth recently, he didn’t want to go to the dentist. He knew what they would tell him. I couldn’t stand to see him in pain, and I was worried something might be very wrong. I also knew what they would tell him, but since I’m not afraid of dentists or surgery, the solution was going to be worth it in the end, and I knew his fears were getting in the way of seeing that. So, I asked if I could do some research and for the name of his dentist. (Asking, not telling.) Once I had his permission, I called around, did the research, and gave him his options – dental surgery from one of several places, here’s the cost, here’s the prognosis, we can do this.
So he had the surgery. Once he was in recovery,, he didn’t always want to follow up with the dentist when he had too much pain. I reminded him that this was part of the recovery and he needed to make the appointment. I never told him anything, but I strongly encouraged. Once, I even made the appointment for him – with his permission, of course.
Here’s another example.
When his employer made several cutbacks recently that is now crushing his entire department under the weight of too heavy a workload, he became stressed and angry, refusing to see good in anything else in life. The issues at work took center stage – which I completely understand. In my old job, I went through something very similar. That kind of anger and stress eats away at you. I sort of, kind of told him he needed to find a way to deal with the stress and find something positive to focus on, to stop complaining about hating his job but not looking for another one, to start doing something towards making a change instead of getting mired down in negativity.
Now, before anyone gets offended at my supposed lack of submissiveness, I am never rude. I am always measured in my words, doing my best to be both firm and respectful. I don’t – or at least I try not to – harp on anything, nag him, or bring up the same topic over and over again. I tend to say my piece once – maybe twice – and then it’s done and the rest is up to him. I also offer to help him. There’s nothing worse than someone telling you what you should do but offering no support, help, or advice.
He doesn’t always like what I say – a sign I’ve hit a nerve – but he always listens. Even when I’m giving him a dose of tough love, he’s always Daddy and he’s always in charge. Ultimately, he decides what he’s going to do or how he’ll handle a situation. I respect that.
Like I said before, none of this would work without the trust we have in each other. He knows I’m not going to become a nagging, raving bitch simply because I don’t like something he’s doing. He knows I’m only going to use tough love when I see something affecting him negatively. He knows I always, always have his best interest at heart and that I would rather die than cause him pain with my words.
But the fact of the matter is that Dominants aren’t superheroes. They are very human, and can get weighed down with crap just like the rest of us. To me, part of the job of a submissive partner is to pick them up when they fall, and sometimes, it requires giving them hard truths, firm talk, and a dose of tough love.
We tease about it from time to time, especially when he doesn’t see the problem that I do. He’ll laughingly call me a brat, and I’ll remind him of the tough love clause. Yes, we call it that.
The main thing is that I try never to abuse that clause. Sometimes I wait a little too long, because I’m afraid of seeing a problem that doesn’t exist – this happens most when he tells me his headache and sniffles are allergies when really it’s a sinus infection, and he needs to go to the doctor or when he growls that he feels fine but his back is bothering him.
Tough love, as a submissive in a 24/7 relationship, is a delicate balance, and if you’ve got that kind of freedom in your relationship – regardless of what you call it – it should never be abused. For a Dominant to give you permission to tell him things he doesn’t want to hear when he’s hurt, stressed, depressed, or sad is a big honor – it comes from a place of trust. Don’t abuse it. Cherish it.
Okay, that’s all for me this week. I’d love to hear from other D/s couples – do you have a similar clause in your relationship? Now that we’ve talked about it, is it something you’ll consider in your relationship? Drop me a line at kaylalords at gmail dot com and let me know what you think.
And as always, if you have a question or topic suggestion for a future episode, you can always contact me or John Brownstone directly.
Okay, no really, I’m done for today. Keep it kinky, y’all, and we’ll see you next week!