Being kind to each other and showing gratitude to your partner isn’t a kink or vanilla thing, it’s a human one. But because our roles in D/s can be very clearly defined, we can fall into a trap of taking our partner for granted. That never leads anywhere good.

Submissives and Dominants alike should show and receive gratitude for what we bring to a relationship. Here are a few ways to do that…

Say Thank You

It might sound obvious to say thank you, but for many people, it’s not. There is a belief (a bad one, we think) that “Thank you” isn’t necessary in D/s. The Dominant tells a submissive what to do, and the sub does it. Why should they get a “thank you?” Taking care of a submissive is a Dom’s responsibility. A sub shouldn’t do it for the gratitude.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrongity-wrong-wrong-wrong.

While we shouldn’t do anything in expectation of gratitude, it’s still a kind and caring thing to do. Saying “Thank you” means that you see what your partner does for you. You acknowledge it and you appreciate it. When things get tough (and they always do, eventually) we all want to know we’re appreciated.

Acknowledge Your Partner’s Efforts

We all try and fail from time to time. Making the effort is worthy of acknowledgement.

“Good job!”

“You’ll do better next time!”

“Thank you for even trying…”

Knowing that we’re seen and heard, that even the basic efforts we make count for something, keeps us going. A lack of acknowledgement breeds resentment. We feel taken for granted, as if the care we put into each other is assumed. Acknowledging your partner’s efforts shows you’re paying attention.

Notice Both the Small and Big Things

Maybe you say thanks when your partner goes 50 miles out of their way to get your favorite dessert. Good for you! Did you also notice when they put the kids to bed so you could read your book for a few more minutes? Your partner didn’t do it so you’d say thanks, but showing gratitude means they’re more likely to do it again.

Okay, so let’s flip the tables. You notice every small thing your partner does for you – from making your coffee to putting away the laundry. Have you thanked them for taking on the responsibility for being your Dominant? Did you show your gratitude for the service your submissive provides even when they’re exhausted? Yes, these are the roles we want but that doesn’t mean kind words don’t matter. We all want our efforts to be appreciated.

Offer to Help

As a submissive who wants to do All The Things for John Brownstone, I know this one isn’t easy. It’s taken me a few years to not only accept his help but to ask for it. For a long time, just the offer of assistance in the kitchen or doing chores made my heart sing. Eventually I got real and understood I needed help and accepted his offer.

Dominants aren’t “lowering” themselves by offering to help. Instead, you’re seeing what your partner does and acknowledging that it’s hard work. Submissives, you can do the same. Sure, our job is often to “help” with all kinds of things, but step outside your role. Is your Dominant struggling with a new set of rules or trying to learn new kinky fuckery for you both to enjoy (like bondage)? It’s okay to ask if you can help.

Heap Praise on Each Other

I detest false praise. Don’t tell me what you think sounds good. Tell me what you really think. But real praise can make hearts soar (including mine). When your partner does something good, great, or amazing, tell them! Better yet, tell everyone else. Be proud of each other’s accomplishments. Your Dominant or submissive tried a new thing, met a goal, or worked through a problem – and it’s all worthy of praise and acknowledgement.

Hug in Good Times and in Bad

Words aren’t always easy to come by. When you’re together, a good hug can usually speak volumes. Hugs of comfort or celebration, it doesn’t matter which it is. It’s another way of telling your partner, “I see you, and I’m here with you.” Along with hugs, even the smallest touch can help – a hand on the shoulder, a butt rub, holding hands. I like to squeeze John Brownstone’s hand in a silent, “I’m here with you. I see you. Keep doing what you’re doing.” That’s a lot to pack into a small touch. Even when he doesn’t get the full translation, I know it helps.

Say “You Were Right”

If you’re like me, you love saying, “I was right!” That’s not what we mean this time. Crowing about how awesome you are definitely has it’s place (says the babygirl who loves being proven right). Flip that around, though. Sometimes we disagree, and our partner takes a course of action we don’t think like, and then they’re proven correct. When they’re right, tell them so. Let them see that you don’t hold a grudge and are genuinely happy for them.

Showing gratitude requires a few things: paying attention, a bit of vulnerability, and a desire to make your partner feel good. When we hear, “Thank you” or “You do so much for me, please let me help you” we know that our contributions and efforts are seen and appreciated. We might be Dominant or submissive because it’s who we are, and we may be in this relationship because we love our partner, but that’s not always enough.

No matter how much we want to be right where we are in a D/s relationship, knowing our partner recognizes what we do helps. It’s how you keep going when things get rough. Gratitude is how you’re able to see the best in your partner’s intentions, even in an argument. Knowing we’re appreciated allows us to try a little more, say the hard thing, and make changes that benefit our relationship.

In episode 108, we discuss the importance of gratitude in D/s relationships.