Switching Roles

Whether we call it "domestic discipline" or "rules" or "structure" or just "getting our needs met." This is a spot for those meta discussions about what it is that we do.

Switching Roles

Postby Meg » Sat Apr 09, 2011 11:37 pm

I was going to start this thread with just switching...but that has multiple meanings :)

Relationally, I am a bottom through and through and really have no desire to "switch". I can tell you right now, O would be a nightmare as a bottom, and it would take a far stronger woman than I to get her to submit to *anyone*....I shudder to think of the battles we would get in if I tried to overtly Top her.

But, I know that there are those here who do switch. How does that work? How do you know when the roles have changed. O and I do have to do a little "switching" in that I have to be the boss at work...at least to a certain extent....and that is tricky, and we have had to work around that. But that is a clear divide, work vs. home. How do you navigate that at home while living together?

Just curious.
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Re: Switching Roles

Postby W-Jigsaw'sBoss » Sun Apr 10, 2011 1:06 am

the simple answer is

not well.

The more complicated answer is that we, and when I say we I mean humans, switch ALL THE TIME. we behave much differently with say, a waiter, than we do with our parents. or our bosses. or our subordinates, if we ARE the bosses. it's all about power.

having really clear delineations as to when you're in power and when you're not is helpful. Knowing that when we are talking about appliances and how to use them, j is the one with the knowledge, the patience and the lack of a power surge that causes machines to stop working when I get near them, means that in essence, J has the power. that doesn't necessarily mean she's topping me, though, so I guess that's a bad example.

Think of when you're kids on the playground. the best games worked when you were clear about taking turns.
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Re: Switching Roles

Postby Meg » Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:54 am

W-Jigsaw'sBoss wrote:The more complicated answer is that we, and when I say we I mean humans, switch ALL THE TIME. we behave much differently with say, a waiter, than we do with our parents. or our bosses. or our subordinates, if we ARE the bosses. it's all about power.


I agree completely with this. Honestly, in most of our interactions, O and I really do operate pretty much as equals. Ttwd is there as an undercurrent more than anything else. For example, when we are alone, I usually call O, "sir," and there is always the possibility that something I will do will earn me a punishment, but that is really the extent of it.

It is also the case, though, that the more the power dynamics flow to O being in charge, the more pleasant things are all the way around...for *both* of us. I feel really good and peaceful when I am able to submit, and O says that I get "softer". While I always find O attractive, I find her even more attractive when she takes charge.

When the power dynamics flow in the other direction, both of us start to become more and more cranky and irritable, and things just feel *wrong*, if that makes any sense. For this reason, I had to think long and hard about how we would handle O working in the office. It has worked out much better than I thought it would....but there is still some tension around that.

I guess I was curious if, for some, the power dynamics flow naturally in both directions.
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Re: Switching Roles

Postby Julia » Sun Apr 10, 2011 7:21 am

Ahhhh......the wonderful world of switching.

Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it! :lol: As W says, there is a sense in which we all do it all the time. But,as W also says, it can be a bit sticky at times.

I have a series of TTWD-er friends. When we met we knew we were TTWD-ers. We declared our hand when we met in this context by saying, "I'm top", "I'm bottom" or "I switch". After that we never really discussed that statement again but, through individual interactions and over time, we subtly 'negotiated' our position in relation to each other. This was never done through conversation. Much more often it was done through raised eyebrows, nods or shakes of the head, discussions of what should be done with a particular person if they had done something wrong and a million other overt and covert means. Now, after years of knowing one another's functions, thoughts and attitudes, we have an understanding. So.....rather complicated as it may seem......I have the following friends:

Carla - we are absolute equal tops. We would never even begin to think about topping one another. The idea of spanking her is beyond my conception (although I did it once and it felt ridiculous!)

Amanda - She is absolute bottom to me. She couldn't top a bottle of milk as far as I am concerned. But she is top in her own house.

Maureen - Has been able to top me from the beginning but she would say she is bottom if asked.

Victoria - We both switch but each of us MUCH prefers to be bottom when we are together.

(By the way, only the first letter of each name is the same as my real friends' names- Privacy and all that!)

These are interactions of a few hours at a time though. We might have an evening together or lunch together for example. I once had a weekend with Carla and Amanda but that was the longest interaction we have shared.

What I am saying, I suppose, is that if you are thinking about switching with one person, that doesn't necessarily define your relationship with everyone else you ever meet in the context. But I should make it clear that none of the relationships I describe above was planned or forced. They are just ways of relating that are completely right and natural in their place. I can't begin to think of relating to these people in any other way than the one we have established. At the same time, none of them is a 24/7 arrangement so don't suffer the kinds of stresses that our home relationships undergo.

But, I know that there are those here who do switch. How does that work? How do you know when the roles have changed. O and I do have to do a little "switching" in that I have to be the boss at work...at least to a certain extent....and that is tricky, and we have had to work around that. But that is a clear divide, work vs. home. How do you navigate that at home while living together?


Re: your switching at work - How do you describe O's relationship to you at work? You know in your mind that you are the boss in that space, but would you describe her to a customer or someone else as your "colleague" or your "subordinate" or your "employee" or your "XYZ manager" etc? This distinction might begin to reveal whether at work you see yourself as her 'top' psychologically or as her 'bottom who is trying her best to act like the boss because it is appropriate". Switching roles (at work) is not always the same as switching the power balance.

Re: How it works - well it's obviously all about consent when you're switching. I find a trigger question as simple as, "Do we need to switch?" is really useful. If the response is 'no' then there is no consent and the switch won't happen successfully. The alternative answer is, "Yes, ma'am" and the consent is clear. That might be useful if O needs to top you at work (which is a move out of context) or if you need to top her at home (which sounds a little unlikely in your case but is included for the sake of completeness!)
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Re: Switching Roles

Postby JigsawAnalogy » Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:56 am

When things are working well, I actually think that W and I *do* switch roles pretty naturally. Our dynamic has the top/bottom element, and that does seem to work best with W as top, although a big part of why I (collectively) had initiated some switching was realizing that she seemed to be craving some time as a bottom as well. That didn't work out too well, but I don't actually think the switching was the problem.

Anyhow.

The other part of our dynamic is shaped by older sibling/younger sibling stuff. I was in charge of my younger siblings and niece and nephew starting pretty much as soon as I can remember. I had to get them to do their chores, and behave, and I'd babysit for hours at a time starting when I was nine or ten. It's kind of natural for me to take charge, because that's how you get four little kids home from the park on time, with none of them being hit by a car. (Or how you get them up and ready for school, or through doing their homework, and so forth.)

W is a younger sibling, and I suspect she grew up pretty used to being bossed around having someone else take charge.

For us, this dynamic isn't too bad, so long as W spends some time explicitly topping me on a regular basis. If she doesn't make a point of being a top, I think we both fall back into patterns we had growing up, and I start to think of her as a younger sibling--someone I might love, but who is kind of annoying, and not as smart or capable as I am (because the skill and intelligence difference between, say, a fifteen year old and a five year old is not insignificant).

I don't think that 24/7 would work for either of us, in either direction. And while I suppose that we could mentally reframe my taking charge into an act of submission... that's not something I've been successful at doing. And, with me and W, I think that the give and take of our relationship, and the shifting power balance, is probably what works best for us (certainly, we seem to be happiest when things are moving like that).
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Re: Switching Roles

Postby Meg » Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:28 pm

Jigsaw, it is funny that you mention sibling dynamics. O is the oldest of four. They are *really* close in age. Her youngest sibling (her baby brother...lol) is 6 years younger than her. I am four years younger than her, exactly 2 months older than her younger sister. She is used to being the top of the pecking order in her sibling dynamics, and I think if I start to tell her what to do, it *feels* like her younger sister telling her what to do (although, her sister is really bossy...especially after she became a parent...lol). You can imagine how that goes over :). I was telling about what I was writing just now, and she chimed in, "and I am always *right*. :roll: 0:)

I am an only child. Unless a parent or parental figure decided to exercise control...I was pretty much left to my own devices. I also firmly believed that we HAD to be equal because of what I was taught as a child.

The power struggles early on in our marriage were terrible. It is truly amazing that our relationship survived them.

After almost 16 years of being together...she is still training me out of my "only childness," as she calls it. Things like remembering if I am getting a glass of water for myself to ask her if she wants one, too...although...I am pretty good about that now :). With ttwd, we are still working on me asking permission to do things (like go play online :)), rather than doing it without asking, or *telling* her that I am going to do whatever it is I am going to do. I honestly don't *mean* to be rude sometimes..I just don't think of things...lol.
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Re: Switching Roles

Postby brightlyblaze » Sun Apr 10, 2011 9:34 pm

I have a really, really hard time with having to "top" in any capacity with Sir. The example that comes to mind: when we first met, he didn't know my neighborhood at all. When we went someplace together, he would always drive, but I'd have to give him directions. Telling him "you're going to make a right at the third light, and then get on the ramp for the expressway" was the most difficult thing for me. Telling him what to do, even in such a minor, casual way, was a big issue.

He, on the other hand, is much more adaptable. There is no doubt of his authority across the boards, so he has no problem deferring to me when he needs help-- he constantly asks me for help with the Wii, how to switch the TV from one setting to another, when he cooks I frequently get texts asking my opinion on something.

I wouldn't say he ever takes a real "bottom" role between us, but he's definitely ok admitting when I know better about something or he wants my advice. I just need to learn to give it without getting squirmy.
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