The definition of suffering is... an experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with harm or threat of harm in an individual, and may be qualified either physically or mentally. Suffering can be seen in many ways as pain. In TTWD, there is a lot of what we do that revolves around pain and suffering. This can be anywhere from very mild to very severe, depending on the type and way it is inflicted. It can be anything from orgasm withdrawal and mind games, to spanking, caning, flogging, and whatever else that may fall into the realm of physically inflicted pain.
Discerning Dom wrote a post recently where he looked at whether all Dominants are Sadists. A sadist being someone who derives pleasure from the infliction of pain. Conversely, a masochist is someone who derives pleasure from receiving pain. I don't by any means think that all Doms are sadists, and don't believe that all subs are masochists. Yet, I do think that some sort of suffering is inherent in any and all D/s or power exchange relationships.
Due to the nature of these type relationships, I think that suffering on some level is crucial to the relationship. It tests the resolve and commitment of the relationship. It can test a submissives desire and need to submit to her Dominant. It can test her willingness to submit to her Doms desires and wishes. From the Dominant side, it can test his willingness to push his submissive further. It can test his desire to show his strength, power and control.
Does this mean that either person is either a sadist or a masochist? No, not at all. Neither of them my receive direct pleasure from whatever activity is instituted. Yet, they may both receive pleasure from the outcome of what the activity accomplished. There may be quite a bit of pleasure, for one or both, by seeing the results of what they have done together. As a Dominant, I may not get pleasure from making or seeing my submissive suffer, but I will get pleasure from know she laid herself out there for me, and suffered for me, to become a better person for it. It can bring the two of you closer and strengthen the bond the two of you have. The suffering, however mild or severe, can lead to a greater good.
I think that suffering for the greater good can be a wonderful thing. A person can learn and grow from positive reinforcement and behavior, but can also learn from negative behavior, suffering, and pain. The key is knowing what type of suffering to inflict, doing it with a specific purpose, and doing it with love and intention, as well as a goal. For me personally, I don't get pleasure from inflicting pain and suffering just for the sake of doing it. There needs to be a purpose and a goal behind it. I don't want to make and see her suffer for no reason. I want to see the growth and benefits that come from having inflicted whatever I have done.
I will leave you with this quote that I think describes very well exactly what I am trying to say...that there is a goal behind the infliction of the chosen suffering, and that hopefully it leads to the betterment of you both and to a greater good.
Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but - I hope - into a better shape. --Charles Dickens