There’s a lot written about service submission in power exchange relationships, such as this really informative primer by Tilari, and this beautiful, painful essay on the unique grief of ending a BDSM relationship by Daemonumx.
I’ve always been the type of partner who has shown affection through actions and deeds, but the problem I kept encountering in vanilla relationships was that these offerings were taken for granted, not reciprocated in some way, and generally made me feel not so great about giving of myself due to an unbalanced exchange.
From Tilari’s essay, What Is Service Submission and Service Orientation?
I wanted to write just a little about a service that I offer Cadi, one that I’ve not seen featured on as many lists of potential services.
I really love learning. Blame it on my Aries moon, but I love picking up a new project and then inevitably abandoning it when I fall in love with something else. I’m very much a jack of all trades, the sort of person that will sign up to a 10 week lino printing course on a whim! At the moment I’m currently interested in learning to braid hair (I love to plait Cadi’s hair before bed and I’d like to do more interesting styles), mastering bao (cooking has always been a part of my service) and maybe trying a bit of basic leatherwork.
When Cadi and I discussed going back to Berlin, I offered to learn some German as an act of service to her. I wanted to make our journey abroad smooth, from arriving at the airport to finding our way around the beer list! To learn German I used a variety of different tools including the Memrise app, podcasts, workbooks and talking in German to my German colleague (with her consent!*).
I’m far from fluent, but it was very helpful when we were out there. It was really handy for working out travel announcements, buying tickets for the museums and making basic chat with people at kinky events (even though all the workshops we attended were taught in English!).
This type of service does reflect the type of people we are. Cadi is a quiet, reserved Domme. People often mistake me as the Domme at kinky events because I’m usually the one who is standing in front, buying tickets and sorting out our bags etc. Dealing with small talk is a useful act of service for Cadi, who finds exchanging niceties with strangers tiring. I like to imagine that I’m freeing up her energy, mind and her time for other things. Cadi says that receiving this service makes her feel supported, and also powerful.
Another holiday-related service that I perform is research and planning. I have meticulously curated spreadsheets and Google maps for all of our holidays. Rather like a cat bringing back a mouse, I really love bringing Cadi little “gifts” in the form of finding out when the galleries have cheaper admission, which Vietnamese restaurants have the most veggie options and the best reviews, and where the best-stocked sex shops are.
This service also extends to the labour of reaching out to others. We attended three BDSM events/workshops/parties on this most recent trip. For one of them we had to fill out a form about our prior experience and learning aims, for the other two we had to email the organiser to be vetted and register in advance. In a personal capacity, Cadi finds emailing strangers inconvenient, challenging and exposing. In contrast, I really enjoy getting in touch with people. She does this task a lot in her paid employment, and she likes the “looked after” feeling of having me do it for her at home.
By all this I just mean to say that service doesn’t necessarily mean kneeling by the bed with a cup of coffee in the morning. In fact, Cadi often wakes me up by bringing me a coffee in bed. Service can look like using your passions and skills to enhance the life of your Dominant (and your life as well.)
*Just a fun little sidenote: My colleague and I were hanging out in the pub and I was talking to her about the formal and informal cases in German (Sie vs du.) She told me to relax, and not to bother about learning the formal. I was aghast, and blurted out, “But what if I’m addressing a Dominant?!” To her credit, she laughed and said, “Well yes, you would use the formal in that case.”