I’m having a weird reaction to someone I’m involved with. I find myself wanting to punish him for the slightest transgressions and scold him or give him the silent treatment until he apologizes. The poor guy hasn’t done anything very wrong — nothing wrong wrong — he’s just failed to meet my unreasonably high expectations for him. To make matters worse, we seem to have fallen into some sort of roleplay, verbally at least, where I order him around. He seems to want me to punish him and give him orders and I’m doing both, but I’ve never been a Dom or had a sub or whatever it is we’re doing. Honestly, I’m confused about what we’re doing but he seems to be inviting it somehow. How do I navigate this?

Problems Understanding Nuances In Situationship Here

“This situation reminds Me of the kinkster classic Secretary,” said The Funny Dom. “It’s a fascinating look at a Dom and a sub who don’t fully understand their identities or how to pursue the dynamic functionally. It’s sweet and hot watching Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader fall into a problematic spanking scene, but in real life we know better.”

The Funny Dom is the pen name of a 44-year-old Daddy based in Melbourne, Australia. A long-time kink practitioner and educator, The Funny Dom has been “holding light-hearted (but stern!) space” for Doms, subs, and switches online since the start of the pandemic.

“It sounds like these two have developed a kind of Dom/sub dynamic,” said The Funny Dom. “PUNISH should think of it like a particular kind of dance they’re both loosely following. And while it’s all well and good for her to say he’s inviting it, it takes two to tango.”

While your boyfriend may have known he was a sub when you met and he’s been subtly training you to dominate him all the time — by rewarding the punishing behaviors he wants to see from you — or your boyfriend is just as confused about the dynamic you’ve stumbled into as a couple; my money’s on the latter. But since you seem to enjoy punishing him, PUNISH, and since your boyfriend seems to enjoy being punished by you, this sounds less like a problem and more like the beginning of a beautiful (and hot) relationship.

“It’s obvious from the way PUNISH and her boyfriend respond to each other’s behavior that D/s resonates for both of them,” said The Funny Dom. “They have a real opportunity here to explore a big juicy part of their identities. But to take those steps, they need to have a conversation about the moves they’ve both been pulling — and what those moves mean to them — and then discuss whether they’d like to pursue this dynamic further. And if so, how they can pursue it mindfully.”

Basically, one of you needs to say, “Hey, what are we doing here?”, and since you’re the one who wrote to me first, PUNISH, I think you’re the one who needs to say it. And if you’re concerned about where this is heading — if you’re worried about this dynamic escalating in ways that make you feel uncomfortable about your actions — identifying what it is you’re doing will help contain it. Right now, PUNISH, you’re punishing your boyfriend and kindasorta hoping he likes it as much as you think he does; once you’ve talked about it, you’ll be able to punish your boyfriend confident that he likes what you’re doing. And remember: this conversation isn’t just about identifying your boyfriend’s limits as a sub, PUNISH, it’s also about identifying your limits as a Dom. If there are ways you don’t want to punish him, you don’t have to.

But how to get that conversation started?

“They can watch a decent kinky movie together,” said The Funny Dom, “something like Secretary or Love & Leashes — a much less problematic and even sweet depiction of a male sub dynamic — and then talk about what they liked, what they didn’t like, and what, if anything, reflected what’s happening between them. They can also grab a how-to book — and there are many — and look for a kink class or workshop to attend together and independently.”

One how-to book you might want to pick up and read with the boyfriend: The Funny Dom’s Guide to Kink (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2), which is available now.

“PUNISH and her boyfriend — really, all couples who are interested in kink — need to remember that kink is a big, big, hot, transformative, messy, wonderful adventure,” said The Funny Dom, “and it shouldn’t be done in a non-conscious vacuum, folks.”

In other words, PUNISH, you gotta talk about it. Or as we like to say here at Savage Love, Inc., you gotta use your words.

Read the rest of this week's column here!