Submissive Training and Development

Submissive Training and Development

by Cross (Handout for 8/11/10 Presentation)

NOTE: This was a handout designed to act as an anchor point in the context of a much larger discussion. This is not inclusive of all information presented in the class and should not be taken as a complete resource.

The Three Aims of Submissive Training and Development:

While the goals of training will always be determined by those involvlopmented, the following three areas are the most common and tend to have the highest priority

  • Submissive Skill Development – Make the submissive more valuable to a Dominant
    The purpose of this section is to learn skills and knowledge that can be valuable in a variety of settings with a variety of dominant partners.

    • Household Management
    • Personal Attendance
    • Sexual Services
    • Business Communication and Organization
    • Event Coordination
    • Interpersonal Skills
    • Etc
  • Individual Preferences – Make the submissive more valuable to an individual
    The purpose of this section is to learn the preferences of specific dominant partner(s) for use during service to them.

    • How they like their food prepared
    • Their daily or weekly schedule and what you can do to help with it
    • How much pressure they like during a massage
    • What are their favorite fetishes
    • Protocols, rules, and consequences
    • Etc.
  • Personal Goals – Make the submissive more valuable to themselves
    The purpose of this section is to continue personal growth as an individual according to your own dreams and drives.

    • Things you are embarrassed that you can’t do well
    • Abilities or skills that you are proud of
    • Things that you always wanted to learn
    • Abilities that will be useful in your future career
    • Hobbies that keep you sane and focused
    • Etc.

Important Information about Conditioning (Behavioral Learning)

People learn information through a variety of methods, but behavioral learning is accomplished through two primary methods (according to some theorists). Conditioning is a type of training.

  • Classical Conditioning (Pavlovian Conditioning)
    Classical conditioning modifies the respondent patterns of the submissive by associating certain sensations/stimuli with an unrelated sensation/stimulus so that both illicit the same reaction. Examples:

    • If the submissive is given an orgasm at the conclusion of every rope bondage scene, they may begin to get hard/wet every time they feel rope on their skin.
    • If a certain toy is always used for punishment, and never used in a positive fashion, the submissive will react fearfully or apologetically if you even reach for that implement.
  • Operant Conditioning
    Operant conditioning is the use of consequences to modify the voluntary behavior of the submissive by associating certain choices and behavior with a defined set of consequences.

    • Reinforcement is a consequence that encourages a specific behavior
      • Positive Reinforcement (Reinforcement) – Providing a positive stimulus or other positive stimulus in response to a desired behavior. Ex: The submissive gets to have an orgasm if they keep the house clean
      • Negative Reinforcement (Escape) – Removing an averse stimulus in response to a desired behavior. Ex: Removing the butt plug for the evening if they correctly cook the meal you request.
    • Punishment is a consequence that discourages a specific behavior
      • Positive Punishment (Punishment) – Providing an averse stimulus in response to an undesired behavior. Ex: Shocking the submissive with a cattle prod when they speak out of turn.
      • Negative Punishment (Penalty) – Removing a positive stimulus in response to an undesired behavior. Ex: Taking away the submissive’s favorite sex toy when they forget to do the laundry.
    • Extinction occurs when a behavior results in neither reward nor punishment for long enough that the association is broken and no longer guides their choices or behavior.

Identifying the proclivities of the submissive and determining the submissive’s role

An important first step is to understand the starting place of the submissive and their personality. Are they service oriented? How obedient are they? By answering these questions and others, you can determine what type of submissive role will be best for them. I posit that the following four factors can be used to make this determination.

  • Desire for Active Service – Active services are those things that the submissive does for others, such as cooking, performing oral sex, or managing the dominant’s schedule.
  • Desire for Passive Service – Passive services are those things that the submissive allows to be done to them for the pleasure or benefit of others, such as flogging, sexual use, or body painting.
  • Independence – To what level does the submissive desire to act on their own, without the direct instruction of the dominant?
  • Selflessness – To what degree does pleasing others motivate them?

In a study performed over the last several months, a very high correlation was found between those who identified with similar levels of these traits. For instance, those with a low desire for either active or passive service, a low degree of selflessness, and a high level of independence tend to want to be conquered. They will not offer submission, but rather want it to be extracted from them. Similarly, a person with a high desire for either type of service, a high level of independence, and a high level of selflessness will resent being punished or rewarded, and would much prefer being able to look after the needs of the dominant without direction.

Each configuration of the four factors tends to have a set of characteristics that can be predicted with moderate to high reliability. By understanding these patterns you can identify what roles a submissive is best suited for and for which they are not very well suited. This does not mean that they can or cannot perform such roles, it merely suggests which they will learn and adapt to most easily. For instance, a person with a low desire for active service and a high desire for passive service will struggle to find joy in house-cleaning and may need to be heavily motivated. However, the same submissive may find great joy in being put on display at a party without any other reward.

Finally, it is important to understand that these characteristics do not define a submissive. There are many other factors, such as fetishes, pain tolerance, a need for emotional connection, and many more which will define the relationship between a dominant and a submissive. This information is meant only as a tool to help define one small part of that relationship.

Helpful Links:

Mentoring, Self-Help and Submissive Exploration   
One of the most comprehensive submissive resource and support sites I’ve ever found. Great for un-partnered submissives who wish to better themselves without a dominant.


Dominance and Submission
Submissives (BDSM)             
Operant Conditioning          
Classical Conditioning           

Recommended Reading:

Abernathy, C. Training With Miss Abernathy: A Workbook for Erotic Slaves and Their Owners, California: Greenery Press, 1998. ISBN 1890159077
(As well as the companion book: Miss Abernathy’s Concise Slave Training Manual)

Easton, E & Hardy, JW. The New Bottoming Book. Greenery Press, 2003. ISBN 1890159352

Reilly, S. The Submissive Activity Book: Building Blocks To Better Service. New York: CreateSpace. 2008. ISBN 1440470499.

Rinella, J. Partners in Power: Living in Kinky Relationships. Greenery Press, 2003. ISBN 1890159506

  1. kajiradreams says:

    Greetings Sir,
    I would would love to read more of your thoughts on the conditioning aspect – as in the benefits of operant vs classical conditioning? develoipment of such over time within an M/s relationship.

    Thank you for a thought provolking post


  2. sam says:

    Yet another website for subs that has no clue what it’s doing – beginning with allowing capital letters in reference to sub missives? Is there any one out there who nows what they are doing?! Has anyone actually been to Roissy? Not from here, obviously…..

    • Cross says:


      Who says this is a website for subs? This is a website for me, more than anything, where I can keep track of the things I am learning. But I hope it is also useful as a resource for other people exploring a similar path.

      I have no idea what Roissy is. But something that you need to understand is that people approach D/s dynamics differently. My particular approach is that everyone in a power exchange dynamic is in service. One is not better or more deserving of respect or consideration than the other. I don’t do the silly alternate language rules with weird capitalization and I don’t think of my subs as less than human, even if I sometimes treat them that way.

      And I believe that is the reason why I have been with my partners for 9 and 3 years, respectively. While many Domly-Dom, High-Horse, Greater-Than-Thou types tend to have relationships for a few months at a time.

      No one gets to dictate what the “right way” of doing D/s, Sam.

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