But what’s in it for you?

Chris (of sparkle and Chris) and I have been having a conversation lately about what he as a top gets out of the punishment dynamic.  We thought it made for an interesting post, since we talk a lot about what the bottom gets out of a discipline/punishment arrangement, but we don’t hear about the other side very often (or if we do, it’s from an unrealistic Tops Are Superior Creatures perspective).  So we compiled our discussion into a post and present it here for your reading pleasure.  It’s not a complete, polished dissertation, it's rather unfinished and in process, in fact, but we’re very interested in your thoughts on the matter.

Iris: So I have to admit that even though I probably should be, I am not completely dreading my upcoming punishment.  Don't get me wrong, I am dreading it.  But I also crave that intensity and intimacy and I've so missed it with you.  I've missed it with M too recently, but in some ways it's harder to achieve with him.  We have other life events pulling at us and he's less of a natural disciplinarian than you are, so I'm a bit wary of setting up the punishment dynamic with him sometimes because I don't want to drain him too much.  With you I get the sense that it feeds you in some way, perhaps in the same way it feeds me: not an entirely pleasant way, but a satisfying way.

Chris: It was interesting to read you say that you’re not completely dreading the punishment, because I have to admit that I feel the same thing. As we discussed last week before the texting came up, I know we both miss that dynamic, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say a part of me was a bit excited by the fact that you are in trouble. I have a hard time admitting that…maybe that’s why I’ve always been so adamant about not “enjoying” punishments. But, there is a part of me, like you say, which does feed off of that dynamic. I think we’re both on the same page there. We don’t like the actual event…but we both like the situation and what it represents. For me, as I’ve said before, it’s largely the trust. We share something very close and special in that punishment context, and I feel very close and focused on you before, during and after a punishment. That’s not to disregard the other, more fun times…but there’s a connection there that is unique to our shared roles, and nothing else (save maybe a very long, intense scene) which can compare to it.

Iris: I am with you 100% about “enjoying” punishments.  It feels like a slippery slope to go down, doesn't it?  And yet I too would be lying if I said that I didn't get a great deal out of it.  In TTWD there is an assumption that the bottom is getting something out of it–perhaps even that the bottom must be the initiator of the relationship.  And there is much truth to that.  But we don't talk about what the top is getting out of the situation.  Maybe because it feels like we shouldn't, maybe because the idea of the sad-that-I-have-to-do-this-young-lady-but-it's-for-your-own-good top is so pervasive.  But in truth, in long-term relationships (either marriages or relationships like you and I have), there has to be mutuality.  A top doing something for a bottom that doesn't feed the top is ultimately unsustainable.  So it seems obvious but slightly taboo to talk about it.  And I want you to know that I understand your feelings and that they actually make me feel better about our relationship.  One of the hard things about M being a disciplinarian for me is that it doesn't feed him in quite the same way.  He does get something out of it, but I always feel like those things are more happy byproducts than actually related.  So it is very precious to me that you are fed by this in a similar way.

Chris: I think my biggest concern with admitting to liking giving punishment is that it then feels like I'm somehow encouraging misbehavior to get what *I* want. In other words, if I tell you I like punishing you, then you're more likely to get in trouble to give me what I want…which I know is silly. It's almost like the flip side of the old argument that you can't punish someone who's into spanking because it's what they want. We both know that's certainly not true from the bottom's standpoint…so I suppose the argument holds no water from the top's side either. Interesting…I'd never really thought of it that way until I just wrote that. Something of an epiphany, I suppose.

You're right, of course: the "I'm doing this for your own good", "This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you" argument is somewhat pervasive. I guess I can agree with the first part somewhat…that is something of the crux of punishment, after all (the bottom wanting/needing it). I've never bought into the second one much, though I guess that does also fit in with the whole not liking it aspect. But you're right in that we both need to get something out of it in the larger picture, and I know we both do. That's why we’re still doing it 4 years and 350 miles later, despite all the inherent difficulties.

Iris: Absolutely.  So can I be so bold as to ask what you do get out of TTWD?  For me it creates stability and security, it re-equilibrates me when I’m off kilter, and mostly, it makes me feel deeply loved.  But what about you?

Chris: Good – and tough – question. Obviously, there are different things I get out of it in different settings and with different people, so I’ll limit it to the punishment aspect with you. I think the biggest thing I get out of it is knowing that you trust me enough to let me punish you when you need it. I know you don’t enjoy the spanking and hairbrushing itself, and the fact that you do trust me to do it anyway is something I cherish. It does definitely create a closeness, intimacy and yes, love that doesn’t necessarily manifest in other ways.  Beyond that, even during a punishment I enjoy the physical aspects of spanking and your reactions. Those reactions are very different from a fun spanking, but they feed the punishment fantasy as well without being “fake”.


Iris: Your trust and care are cherished and valuable pieces of this equation for me too.  We have to have mutuality in this, otherwise it wouldn't work.  Thanks for doing this post/conversation with me.  Obviously we're not going to resolve this issue in a few exchanges, but I think this is a good beginning.




And what do you all think? 

12 thoughts on “But what’s in it for you?

  1. Serenity Everton

    I think it’s bosh to assume or infer that the top shouldn’t get anything from a punishment scene. To be expected to go through the emotional difficulty of one while at the same time feeling disinterested or even put off by the experience seems to me to ask an awful lot of a partner in a spanking relationship (and even more of a partner in a non-spanking relationship).
    So “I’m doing this for your own good” may be true, but it’s not the entire story. The disciplinarian (don’t really like that word) ought to get something from it, whether it’s the simple pleasure of seeing the bottom partner take better care, an acknowledged reinforcement of intimacy, or a more sexual reaction that can be called up later in appropriate times & places.
    Love you both. 🙂

  2. iris_731

    You’re completely right, of course. If there is nothing in it for the top, it’s not sustainable on any level and probably isn’t even an ethical way to engage with that person. What I’m thinking about here, though, is a quality that’s a little harder to describe. Not just the pleasure or intimacy or sexual reactions, but the ineffable satisfaction that it completes the person in a way nothing else can. For as much as I would like to say that I merely “enjoy” or “desire” a discipline relationship, it’s more honest to say that it’s so deeply a part of who I am that I am not as complete without it. Not to put words in Chris’ mouth, but that’s a little closer to what I’m talking about. That the dynamic fulfills a part of the top’s identity and makes the top a little more complete too.

  3. dykegrrl

    Thanks so much for sharing this, you guys!
    I agree that, without there being benefits to the top/spanker/what-have-you, the dynamic fails. A relationship needs to be beneficial to everyone involved.
    W is away for the weekend, but I will point her to this post to see what she, as an initially reluctant spanker who is now unwilling to let the dynamic go, has to say. (Did that sentence make any sense at all?)
    I know that one thing she has brought up is that practicing being authoritative with me, has carried over into the rest of her life. It has made her more assertive, and more confident that she has the right to make decisions that other people might disagree with. (She’s a teacher, so you can see where this might come in handy!)

  4. Zille Defeu

    This is a wonderful discussion of an issue which I think really plagues the world of TTWD. I mean, obviously we all want to keep our cherished fantasies firmly in place (because, hells, from my perspective, it makes it possible to get through a punishment!) but for those of us who are trying to work it into a long-term relationship of any sort (short of a pro- and customer one, which does have it easier in some ways, but of course less satisfactory in others) we have to put as much thought and honest assessment into it as any other aspect of the relationship — and possibly more!
    This is such a vital issue, and I’m so glad it’s been brought up here. I’m going to go off and think and see if I can’t add something more than a “You go!” comment!

  5. iris_731

    DG, this is interesting and I’ll be looking forward to W’s perspective too, if she chooses to share. Are you saying that maybe for W, this has shaped her identity more than fulfilled it?

  6. dykegrrl

    My take is that it’s given her permission to behave in authoritative ways, which is probably both a bit of fulfilling her identity and shaping it. Her strengths with discipline are the same ones she has always had–she is caring, and loving, and nurturing. And that *is* a part of discipline. What has changed is that she is more able to speak up when she is displeased, and more assertive about what she wants.
    But discipline in general, and authority in specific, are still areas where she is challenged, and where we’ve been struggling in our relationship. We’ve backed off from discipline recently, in part due to her struggles with being authoritative, but even without discipline, it’s an area she recognizes she needs to work on.
    I do hope W chooses to share (and gets time at her computer to do so!)

  7. Pandora

    Fantastic discussion! I really enjoyed this post – very articulate, and lots to think about.
    I suspect this is one of those questions that’s really hard to answer because for most people, it’s all one great big feedy feedback loop. The bottom gets certain things out of it (Iris’ explanation is spot on – stability, security, feeling loved and looked after, catharsis, re-achieving equilibrium and the feeling of “starting again”) and, because the top cares about the bottom, those are all things the top gets out of it as well – the joy of knowing they are having this effect.
    Plus, there’s the sexual stimulation of watching yourself enact a scenario you find hot – even if that’s happening in another room of your head, and the self in your body is feeling remorse and sorrow and upset. This is shared by both of you, and it loops because you’re each aware, even as you’re immersed in this genuinely emotionally distressing experience, that the other finds the idea of this sort of thing hot, and perhaps that when they look back on it the memory will carry some sexual excitement.
    Then there’s what the top gets out of it – I love Chris’s explanation here. Love, care, pleasure in the bottom’s trust, pleasure at being able to help them – and perhaps pleasure in the experience of being granted this authority or power over them, as well as in the trust that implies. The bottom gets to enjoy the fact that their top is enjoying all these things, as well as enjoying his or her own experience.
    I think this is one of the reasons many of us find power exchange play more electric and stimulating than sex in which each parter’s experience is emotionally equivalent. It creates this delightful moebius strip of emotional response where the difference and imbalance in each person’s response feeds back into the other’s, and you both get to share in each other’s experience.

  8. Serenity Everton

    I suspect that many tops don’t like to articulate why they engage in punishment or how they benefit from it. There is this ‘expectation’ I guess, especially in DD (and LDD and CDD) circles that the punisher isn’t SUPPOSED to ENJOY it – that they are engaging in it for the betterment of the punishee or to stabilize the relationship or something like that. If the punisher got (*gasp*) some emotional gain from it, then he might be inclined to – in the future – punish more frequently or stretch the rules so that he could have that physical experience again. (This scenario reminds me of Zille’s recent comments about CDD relationships in which fellatio isn’t ‘sexual’ but a mere physical behavior for after-spanking.)
    I’ve always thought it was somewhat of a balderdash to think the punisher was immune from the experience or could harden his/ her heart. In fact, when Chris and I started along a road of discipline discovery together years ago, all of the first rules & consequences were set up specifically so that he enjoyed all of it, which did help with enforcement, as you might imagine. (Those rules still in effect are not domestic or behavior-related, but primarily D/s rules, but he still does get to enjoy the punishments, as he ought to.)

  9. Pet

    I’m more of a bottom than a top, but have done some switching.
    For me, what I get from being the top, at a healthy stage of the relationship, is empathy with my partner… knowing how it feels both physically and emotionally… almost feeling it myself at second hand.
    With a relationship on the rocks, I was aware, in acting as top, of discharging anger with my partner. My feeling is that (in terms of the relationship) this is not a healthy thing to do.
    I’m not sure whether it’s relevant, but the discharge of anger thing puts me in mind of my relationship with my ex-spouse. Angry with someone else (anger is surprisingly easily transferred emotion) my ex gave me a furious punishment which was (very largely) what convinced me that I wished to marry the person. Looking back, I feel that the marriage was, essentially, based upon mistaken identity.

  10. Jason

    Yes!! This is so important to remember. Spanking is a very emotional thing. If you are going to do it to a wife, girlfriend, etc., you two need to really have a strong relationship. Many people are too careless when it comes to spanking.
    Just my opinion 🙂

  11. Guy

    Wow – because of this exchange, I’m starting to get an inkling of what this punishment thing is about. Several years ago, I “met” a young lady (yes, young enough to be my daughter) in a chat room. She was a very interesting person and I really enjoyed our chats.
    As we got to know and trust each other better, she told me more about her life with her parents. A big issue was discipline. Her father still spanked her, often bare-bottomed – and this floored me as she was already in her late teens. As she revealed more intimate details of her father’s spankings, I was partially horrified at what she was being put through, but to be honest, I was also a bit excited. It was very confusing. It wasn’t until later that I discovered that her stories were just that – stories. Fantasies. She wanted that relationship, but didn’t have it with her father, so she sought it with older men on the Internet. I was one of them. But I was woefully ignorant of the whole process. I had never heard of the whole “discipline/spanking” thing.
    Further complicating this relationship was the geographical distance between us; she was in the middle east, I was in North America. So it was all “remote.” I never really understood what she needed. I knew I truly enjoyed talking with her about her life, as much as I enjoyed our “sessions.” But we eventually drifted apart and I’ve not heard from her in a couple years. I believe that’s because I never really understood what she wanted and needed – or, more to the point, HOW to give her what she needed.
    So, again, I think the both of you for sharing your thoughts – the exchange has really helped me to get a better understanding on the discipline thing. I appreciate it.


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