In recent conversations with a few people, I’ve been mulling over issues around submissives and bottoms not wanting to be seen as a “doormat”.
I’m not referring to the trampling kink… hence me, rather cheekily, posting a trampling photo with one of my rope bottoms. That’s fun. It’s negotiated. Everyone gets a need fulfilled by such kinks, whatever they happen to be for the individuals involved.
Being someone’s doormat, usually refers to someone expected to take whatever is thrown at them without any complaint. Just because someone is a bottom or submissive, categorically does not mean you can do whatever you want to them. I write regularly about the importance of entusiactic, informed, clear, ongoing consent in rope and kink play, and how we must always respect one another’s personal boundaries.
But, in reality, the issue is far more complex than that.
If someone proclaims to another person “Do what you want to me”, that is deeply problematic. It communicates a complete lack of understanding of personal boundaries. The other person could interpret that and do things that the proclaiming person had not envisioned or known about. They’ve assumed something based on what they have seen or heard about the top/dominant/ partner, and assumed that’s all they do. How could you possibly know everything about a person without getting to know them?
To prove my point, when I get a message from someone saying “Do what you want to me”, I reply something like “Chop off your leg, then” or “Give me your house”. I’m obviously not being serious. The extreme demand hopefully teaches them that those sorts of blanket doormat statements offering to bottom/submit to me are dangerous and ignorant.
You only know what you know. You can’t possibly read another person’s mind to know what they think. And we don’t always have the skills to manage complex discussions around our negotiation processes. So, top or bottom, dominant or submissive, a scenario or dynamic where one person does everything they want without question, is steeped in consent issues. There needs to be room for feedback and reflection, there needs to be space for growth.
Furthermore, if a bottom or submissive is being a “doormat”, taking whatever, not giving feedback, avoiding conflict perhaps, they are not being fair to their top/dominant. In an aim to please, foregoing your own needs (not wants) is dangerous. Don’t do that.
If you fear that communicating your boundaries to your top or dominant means they will leave you, then your relationship won’t last. They’ll either (a) realise you’ve been lying by not being truthful when giving the feedback, and are therefore disrespecting the consent process; and so they can’t in good faith continue to play with you. Or, (b) not care and they will continue to walk over you, rather selfishly, not caring about communication and your boundaries at all; so you’ll wake up one day and realise that you’re stuck with someone who does not have your best interests at heart, and you need to leave.
When I hear the words “I’m not a doormat”, that normally means they’ve not had their boundaries respected in the past and fear they’ll be asked to do things they don’t want. This saddens me.
What is really needed in this situation, in my humble opinion, are:
- You need to learn what your boundaries are. In my book Rope Happy, there are self reflection exercises for you to learn how to find these. Start by writing down what you like, what you don’t like, and what you think you might like to try one day. Also, reflection on the circumstances within which those things you like would suit you. Who? Where? When? How? What with?
- Learn how to communicate assertively. Again, it’s in my book Rope Happy. If you can’t ask for what you want, if you can’t respond to feedback with authenticity and self respect, you will get stuck. Know what you want to say and say it. And remember, their response is not your responsibility.
- Be comfortable with walking away from people that do not respect you nor your boundaries. People who, when you say these are my boundaries, eithervignore them or try yo talk you out of it. Do not tolerate abuse, because that is what it is, just to get sex/kink/rope/ intimacy. Want more for yourself.
- Speak to a counsellor if this is a real issue for you. There might be a deep seated problem that needs exploring with a trained professional. Your partner(s) is not your therapist. Trauma processing belongs in a safe, independent place, where your autonomy is nourished (rather than creating a co-dependancy, which is unfair for your partner to live with).
It is worth noting, quite significantly, that tops and dominants can be treated as doormats too. Their boundaries disrespected, unreasonable demands placed on them. ANYONE expected to churn out kink without due consideration for their needs, is being abused too.
Don’t abuse, and don’t be abused. My aunt told me those words once, and they’ve stuck ever since.
Ultimately, being a doormat means someone has not respected your communication, or you’ve been silent when you needed to speak up.