October 30, 2011

The Push-Pull Paradox

Many times people say things they think they mean.  They think they know what they are saying, and the result they want from what they have said.  This isn't always the case.  Sometimes our subconscious has other ideas.  Sometimes, deep down our psyche needs something different than what we really think it needs. 

We are all familiar, when it comes to BDSM and/or D/s, that there is the type person known as a brat.  This person purposely pushes and acts out with the intention of needing correction.  Correction is what they are seeking and hoping to get.  Being a brat is their way of getting the control and attention they need.  The brat wish push for the sake of pushing, just so they can feel the other person push back even harder.  In this dynamic, it is fairly clear what is happening and why.  It is not at all hidden, and is typically outwardly obvious. 

But what about when the person isn't a brat?  What about when the pushing isn't as obvious?  What about the times that what a person (in this case a submissive) needs is contrary to what they are saying?  That can be much more difficult to see, and can take a trained eye to notice.  Or more appropriately, it takes really knowing and understanding your partner. 

In my brat scenario, the brat is purposely pushing to feel the push back at them.  In many other cases, and I think this happens much more often in every type of relationship, there is almost a contradiction.  The push may come in the form of a withdrawal.  The submissive can pull back, or even seemingly disguise her withdrawal as giving what she sees as needed space for her Dominant.  She may not even realize herself that she is withdrawing and pulling back.  That is...until she does it and realizes that this move made things worse.  In essence what she is doing, in contrast to the brat pushing to be pushed, is pulling away in order to be pulled back.  Depending on all the circumstances at the time, if the Dominant is not paying attention and reading between the lines, he may very well miss all the indications of what is happening. 

There is some irony to this whole situation...or a paradox.  The sub is pulling back, when in reality she needs to be pulled closer.  She may need more attention, but is hiding it by indicating she needs less.  This can cause some real tension and issues, if you aren't aware of what is going on.    She says she needs or is giving her Dominant space, but the reality is that she needs comfort, at least some slight control, some definition to their dynamic, some attention, support, love and reassurance.  She needs to know you are the strong man you have said you are.  She needs to know that you really are the Dominant she has come to accept, and that you will stand up and be that person when she needs it most.  It doesn't really even matter the type relationship.  She just needs you to recognize her needs, even when she doesn't, and be there standing ready to give that to her. 

The push-pull paradox...it is something we all deal with and face at some point.  The key is to understand the possibility of it, and then be able to recognize it when it may be occurring.  And yes, I of all people know this is easier said than done.  Especially when it can be hidden and disguised under other behavior.  I am guilty of missing it myself.  It isn't always blatant and obvious.  The key is to know your partner as well as you can, and pay attention to their emotional needs.  When they are reaching out, be there to grab them and hold them tight.  It isn't easy.  It's never easy.  But in the end, when you are there for them and recognize their needs...that is when it is worth all the effort you have put into the relationship. 


  1. In other words, she needs the Dom to read her mind, lol! Just kidding...I think I understand what you're saying and it makes a lot of sense.


  2. *applauds*
    Very well written post on a subtle, but very important dynamic.
    While it's good for Doms to recognize this tendency of submissives (and we all do it), I think it's equally important for subs to see it in themselves.
    When I beg for the leash, Master knows that I need him to pull me closer. Sometimes I just need to feel him on the other end of it, sometimes I need more interaction. But asking to be leashed is a quick and effective method of letting Master know what I'm feeling.

  3. DV. this post is very relevant to my situation at the moment. I feel myself pulling away-when what I really want/need is to be pulled closer.

    Similar to Dannah - instead of a leash - I ask to be spanked. For no other reason than to feel his hand on my body.

    Great post. Thank you.

    Take care, Sky

  4. This is a very wise and insightful post. I have experienced this phenomena many times with my wife, and I almost unfailingly do the opposite of what I should do. You'd think by now I'd realize what is happening when she pulls away, but when I sense her withdrawal, my own immediate impulse is to withdraw as well. It usually takes me several days to diagnose the situation and react appropriately. Maybe I'll learn eventually! In the meantime, thanks for your words of wisdom.

  5. Great post, thanks. I seem to be guilty of this, and I like how you point out that sometimes the submissive isn't aware of what (s)he's doing. A lot of times I've convinced myself that me pulling back is for the best, for whatever reason...

    It makes sense, at the time, sadly.

  6. >>> smiling... i understand you completely, at times i catch myself doing just that, and for me, i think it is kinda like a test, are you (as in the Dom) strong enough for me? And Are you capable? Show me, prove it ...

    Yes that horrible insecurity sneaks in!

    It is the brat within pulling the strings, but always unintentional...

    And as Kitty said "My Dom the mind reader"...
    Ah... there lies the keys to the kingdom!

  7. Kitty...Thanks for the comment and I'm glad you could get the point of what I was trying to say.

    Dannah...it's good that you can see within yourself and know what you need. To me, there is nothing wrong with recognizing your needs, and asking for them to be met by your Master. Good for you for recognizing when you reach that point.

    Sky...What you are feeling is exactly what I was writing about. It's good that you can see it. You have to be able to do that before you can seek what you need to correct it.

    Jake...Welcome to the club buddy. LOL! Sometimes it doesn't matter what you do, it will be the wrong thing. I totally get that. It takes time to be able to see and understand what is happening. Especially when it may not be obvious. Those subtle changes and hints can sneak up on you and be a real problem before you even know what is happening. Just keep trying and don't lose hope. We all miss seeing it, from time to time...myself included.

    Agog...Thanks for the comment. There are times a sub will not even know herself what she is doing. The same goes for a Dom. It may seem like pulling back is the best solution, but deep down what you really need is to be pulled closer. Many times I think it's easier to pull back, than to face the struggle head on. Following the path of least resistance. But, a little work now can save a lot of work later, when the the problem may be blown out of proportion.

    Sexperts...Thank so much!

    Histoy...you? A brat? I never would have thought that about you. ;) I do understand pushing to test. You need to make sure he really is who he says and who you need him to be. A mindreader? That's probably a whole other post. We can't read your mind all the time. But...we can learn you, your way of behaving, your way of thinking, your tendencies, your needs, etc... Then it is much easier to know when you are off balance, are needing something extra, and what those needs may involve.


  8. Dear DV,

    Thank you for a very interesting post - it really resonated with me. I blogged my response to it, and there was some interesting discussion in the comments. Thanks for starting the conversation.


  9. Hi DV! This isn't what I call the push-pull (paradox). I know that when Sir and i talk of push-pull we mean that sometimes i pull Him along rather than He pushing me, i e instead of pushing (bratting) to get something I want, I pull Him along, setting the pace, giving Him confidence to try something I'd like but He hasn't pushed for. Especially things we both want but the timing of it is essential (i e when I am ready). OK i'm being really confusing now I know. I guess what I'm trying to say is that when we speak of 'pull' we don't mean pulling back but rather pulling with. Sometimes I need a challenge, rather than Him feeling the need to challenge me. I need it, He grants it and is willing to explore it (we share most hard limits), of course He decides if and when, but He is very good at recognizing my needs and is happy to fulfill them as long as it is nothing He is really uncomfortable with. Compromise. Meeting each others needs to the best ability we can. Sometimes He pushes me, sometimes I pull Him. That is our push-pull paradox.
    I believe Sir has written about it in His blog too.

    Sorry for being so confusing and rambling.