I’ve been thinking lately about how much I’ve changed since first discovering the concept of Taken in Hand, but also about how so many of my thoughts on the matter have stayed the same after all this time. I’ve changed in general, of course, because that’s how life works. Life is ever evolving and our ideals and views change over time as we grow and experience things, you can’t help but change as time goes on. But at the same time, some of who we are never changes.
Specifically, I’ve been thinking about how I have and haven’t changed in regard to my view of Taken in Hand and my own submissiveness. The main question I’ve been pondering recently is whether I’ve changed for the better or for the worse. I wonder whether I am more of an uber-feminine woman today than I was back then, or if I’m actually less so. I wonder if I’m more likely to find Mr. Right today than I was three years ago, or less so. Lol, some days I wonder if I am becoming exactly what I’ve always despised...a modern, independent woman who needs no one. But at the end of the day, I find that mentality far too irritating and depressing to (hopefully) ever really become that person. So, am I just going to spend my life wanting what I can’t have?
I’ve changed immensely in the last few years both as a person and as a woman; I’ve become stronger, wiser and more independent, but also more cynical and much less trusting of others. Where I was once a bit more vulnerable, I’m now strong and resilient. Where I once expected to find good in everyone I met, now I sometimes struggle not to expect the worst in people. Where I once thought I, as a woman, was simply incapable of independence, now I’ve achieved a significant amount of independence. And where I’d never really given much thought to the more old-fashioned pace of dating, now it’s something I love and hold dear.
My strength, resilience, lack of trust and cynicism mean that as much as I want to find the right man and let him lead and control me, I’ve been hurt enough times by now to become more adept and skilled at taking care of myself. After all, I know I can trust myself, right? But how do I know whom else I can trust? I’m wary of letting someone else control and guide me, because how do I know he’ll do a good job? How do I know I’ll be okay? How do I know his motives are in the right place? And further (and more importantly), how do I know I’ll actually be much better off under his guidance?
And yet somehow, even with my growing cynicism, I still want the fairytale. I want it more than I did since starting down this path.
Three years ago, when I first knew that I wanted a traditional relationship rather than a BDSM-oriented one, I’m not sure I knew anything other than handing myself over to any man who called himself dominant...in my extremely traditional view of men and women, I firmly believed that women never really get to a point where they can be successfully independent whereas men automatically achieve independence eventually. It’s a reprehensible thought to feminists everywhere, but it made sense to me. It still does in many ways, but I think my view has shifted a bit, because now I’ve achieved the very independence I thought women couldn’t…and I’ve met quite a few men who probably will never be responsible or independent! I still wonder if women can happily achieve independence. Is that independence a mark of honour or simply the result of never finding the right man to follow?
Back when I first started down this road, my biggest claims to independence were that I had lived 400 miles away from my family and friends for 18 months and that, upon moving back to my hometown, I bought a home. But I’d hated the town I moved to, and I’d had family help in buying my home. In my mind, that meant that I wasn’t really independent. I was certainly more so than many women, but it didn’t really count. I’d tried independence, but I hadn’t really succeeded.
But fast forward to two years after that and suddenly, I’d achieved more independence and success than most people, not just most women; I’d obtained an elite visa and had moved 4000 miles away from everyone I knew...and happily this time.
I do realise that I’m one person and that what I want isn’t necessarily what everyone else wants...but for me, at least, I’ve realised that yes I can achieve independence; I can hail my own cabs, dodge pickpocketers, buy my own home, move to another country...but at the end of the day, I don’t want to have this independence.
So, I suppose the overall change, for me, is that whilst I used to think I needed a man to lead me, now I merely want a man to lead me. Conventional society would read that as a healthy change, as a form of emotional growth. But this is the same society that frowns upon this very dynamic, so I can’t put much weight in its opinion! I myself am not really sure whether I’m better off now in my newfound change...in some ways it seems like it dilutes the meaning of his leadership. If I don’t need him, then why is he leading me? And further, am I less appealing to a dominant man now than I was back then? What’s more appealing: a woman who needs to be led because she cannot achieve independence or a woman who simply wants to be led because she doesn’t want the independence she did achieve? Further, what is more appealing to a man: taking the lead because it’s the woman’s automatic reaction to follow? Or taking the lead knowing that she is quelling her own gut reaction to just do things for herself? That in following him, she is undoing all the modern lessons she’s learned?
One of the things I often ponder to myself are the little things...when I walk into a restaurant with a man, it’s become more natural for me to simply state to the host that we need a table for two, rather than waiting for him to do so. I hate that, but I’ve just become so used to being on my own that waiting for him to speak is an after thought. I’ve accidentally hailed a cab whilst in the presence of a man, forgetting that he is the one who’s supposed to do that. I wonder if that makes me less submissive...if I have to work to let him be in the lead, am I really that feminine?
At the same time though, as time goes on and I understand myself more and more, I realise that in some ways, my independent and cynical nature is a safeguard, of sorts. I am independent enough today that I don’t automatically defer to every man I come across. Quite the opposite, I often quickly decide, based on his mannerisms and attitude, that I have to take the lead because he won’t. I truly hate being in that role, but at times, I’ve had to accept it, however reluctantly. But conversely, I have also had times where I’m surprised at myself...surprised at how natural and automatically I defer to a man. I have to think that in those instances, his own natural dominance comes out and I’m just comfortable and compelled not to protect myself...compelled and comfortable enough to be truly feminine in his presence. Except, even in those instances, despite loving feeling so feminine, I constantly worry and second-guess myself...wondering if I’m just reverting back to naivety and setting myself up for the fall. At some point though, I think you have to just trust your gut and try not to overanalyse. All the analysis in the world can’t predict the future...you just have to wait and see. Something I’ve never been very good at ;) One of those things that is much easier said than done.
The positive view of the change in my outlook is that the men I am attracted to today are, in general, extremely confident and comfortable in their dominance...I’m quite comfortable on my own and in my own abilities, so in order for a man to make me consider that he’s more capable than I am, he must be much more naturally dominant than the average man. In essence, due to my own growth, I am automatically attracted to men who are extremely responsible and capable...which means that, having waited to find Mr. Right, it’s more likely today that he will actually be Mr. Right than it was a few years ago. And I suppose that’s where I have, in fact, grown emotionally. Whilst I used to defer to a man with no expectations of what he might offer back, now I only offer my submission with the expectation – even insistence - that he will accept it with all the responsibility that comes with it. Whilst I might be initially drawn to submit to a man because he exudes an aura of dominance, I tend to realise quickly if my instincts were wrong; if he simply isn’t willing to stand up and be a man, taking the lead in a responsible and total manner. I guess, in other words, in order for me to increasingly trust a man, I need to see him show confident leadership more and more as time goes on. I need to see signs that he values me...I need to receive something back from him.
I go back and forth though, some days it makes complete sense to me that I’m better off today because I’m more careful with trusting men than I once was. But then some days I think I’m less likely to find someone, because I have less to offer today than I used to. I’m not a meek girl, incapable of taking care of herself...I’m not as endearing as I used to be. I often think I don’t exude an aura of soft femininity.
But, someone recently called me little and cute...and, as silly as it may sound, it felt like a huge compliment. It took me by surprise a little, because I often feel like I’m too capable. I often feel like I’m no longer little or cute...and as damaged as it sounds, I am cynical and distrustful enough at this point in my life that I’m afraid to be little and cute. I’m afraid of letting a man lead me because I worry I’ll get hurt, that he won’t act responsibly, that he isn’t who he says he is. As much as I want to submit, I’m afraid of being that vulnerable.
So, what does all of this mean from the man’s perspective? Is it true that I’m less appealing to Mr. Right today than I was a few years ago? Most of the naturally dominant men I’ve spoken to say that much of the appeal and reward in leading a woman is the feeling of responsibility; he is motivated and driven by the knowledge that he is taking care of someone else’s well-being, that she sees him as capable and trustworthy enough to excel with that responsibility. I’m inferring quite a bit, but it seems to me that in order to feel fully rewarded in that respect, he has to feel confident that his leadership is needed – that he’s taken responsibility for someone who would otherwise be worse off.
So by extension, doesn’t that make me less appealing? If I give a man responsibility for my well being, will he really feel fulfilled, knowing that if I had to be, I’d be fine on my own?
I wrote awhile ago about the idea of chivalry and courtship, about the old-fashioned pace of dating. That was something I hadn’t really given much thought to when I first started down this path..."do people really still do that??" I thought. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that I loved, and maybe even needed, that pace in order to trust and submit to a man. In order for me to get past all that built up distrust and cynicism, I need to know that he values me and is strong enough to make difficult decisions. Further, I need to know that he understands – and agrees – with my view that the control, the guidance and really the relationship in general, is much, much more than just in the bedroom.
In many ways, I think it’s a testament to my confidence in my submission and my self-awareness that whilst my ideas about some of the attitudes and specifics around traditional gender roles and relations have changed, my ideas and attitudes about the overall concept have remained nearly completely static after all this time. I’m that much more sure today that I really and truly want and need a man to lead me because even through all my life changes and experiences over the last few years, I still want to hand all of it over.
I do still believe that the right man will do a far better job than I have done at leading my life...even through all my accomplishments, I still yearn to hand someone else the reins. I struggle often with motivation and self-discipline and I wish someone were around to control those behaviours...and I wish I were accountable to someone about getting home at a decent hour, etc. In short, I don’t really want this independence I seem to have acquired ;)
At the end of the day, we can’t change the past or undo our life experiences. Life is what it is and it’s much more pleasant and productive to take the positive lessons from life and move on than it is to dwell on mistakes and bad experiences...and I’m better at accomplishing that on some days than on others :)
The most positive aspect of all these changes and nonchanges in my ideals and attitudes is that I’m just that much more sure of what I want...and I’m also a bit more comfortable with the realisation that the exact specifics of what I want today aren’t necessarily what I’ll want next year. Case in point, I’ve had recent experience that’s making me question some of the very attitudes I’ve just mentioned...life isn’t ploughing along quite as I expected, but I’m rather enjoying the ride and trying to abstain from that overanalysing I’m so good at ;) I’m trying to force my distrustful and cynical self to shush up so that my feminine self can do its thing :)
Lastly, I suppose in a way, when I do find him, it’ll be that much sweeter than it would have been a few years ago; despite all this life experience, changing ideas and cynicism, I’ll have managed to find “him,” and he’ll be such a strong, kind and upstanding man that he wanted and managed to get me to trust him despite myself – to get me to finally be willing to go back to that trusting person I was a few years ago.