Submissive Skills: The Ceiling and The Floor

We domly types often like to think the way D/s works is that we tell you exactly what to do and you do exactly what we tell you and that’s all there is to it. But have you thought about how impossible it is to tell someone exactly what to do? If I tell my partner to be waiting in bed when I get home, they could be kneeling in the center of the bed in sexy underthings, or they could be curled under the covers with a mug of tea and a good book. Even if I tell them to be waiting naked face down on top of the covers with their legs spread and their hands on the headboard, there’s still some wiggle room. Do I find them whimpering and grinding their hips against the bed, or flopped and slack like they’re half asleep? Is the bedroom clean with candles lit, or do I find their clothes piled onto the bed beside them in a heap? There’s always at least a tiny bit of room for interpretation in any orders.

That room for interpretation is your domain, and what you do with it speaks volumes.

Aiming for the Floor

Few things suck the energy out of a D/s dynamic more quickly than when the submissive partner regularly does the bare minimum to obey an order: when they aim for the floor. It communicates that submission is a chore you’re trying to get through with the least possible effort, and it does so in a way that’s particularly difficult for your dominant to engage with constructively. Because you are obeying… technically; so there’s nothing to call you on.

It’s like when you invite a friend over for dinner and they say “I guess I can come if you want me to. I’ll be late, though, because traffic is going to be such a huge hassle, and I have to leave early because I’ll still have work to do that night and I’m going to be up so late getting that done, and I just haven’t really been excited about food lately. But yeah, I suppose I can come.” and you kind of want to tell them that it’s okay if they don’t want to come, but they haven’t said they don’t want to come so that would be awkward.

Sometimes submissives aim for the floor because they’re afraid of being seen as overeager, or as topping from the bottom. They worry that doing anything that their dominant didn’t specifically instruct them to do would be overstepping. They were told to bring their owner a drink, but they weren’t told to kneel as they delivered it, or to smile, or to ask if there’s anything else they could do to be of service, so they don’t do any of those things. They attempt to do exactly what they were told to do, without interpreting in any way.

But that wiggle room is still always therethey also weren’t told to deliver that drink standing, or with a blank expression, or in silence. Trying not to interpret orders tends to result in submission that feels flat, unenthusiastic, even grudging.

Sometimes submissives aim for the floor because they really aren’t enthusiastic about this particular order in this particular moment. They really are not in the mood for a beating tonight, so when they’re told to go fetch the paddle they drag their feet and stop to check Fetlife on the way and bring the paddle back and sulkily toss it onto the couch next to their partner.

Not wanting to obey an order is legitimateyou’re human and you’re going to have your own feelings, desires and sometimes boundariesbut halfassed, minimal obedience is almost never the best way to express that feeling. Directly (and respectfully) telling your partner that you don’t want to obey, and why you don’t, lets you deal with the issue together, whether by having that order amended or by resolving whatever it was that was preventing you from obeying wholeheartedly. Doing the minimum necessary to obey can leave your partner not certain whether you’re intending to resist and with no idea why, and that makes it difficult to address.

And, sometimes, submissives aim for the floor as a way of trying to provoke discipline. It’s a way of pushing the line to see how much malingering they can get away with, while hoping that they won’t get away with it. Told to be waiting naked at home, they do strip, but go right back to watching TV and don’t look up when their partner walks inwaiting to see if they’re taken to task for being insolent.

There are better ways to provoke. Provocation that’s actively mischievous, teasing or defiant while still showing your good humor and your desire to engage in D/s with your partner is far more likely to lead to the sexy takedown that you’re hoping for. Get naked except for a pair of silly socks. Or text your partner back and say “If you want me naked, you’re gonna have to strip me yourself.” Rather than doing an uninspiring, halfassed job of obedience, resist obeying at all until you’ve been sufficiently “persuaded” to obey wholeheartedly.

Aiming for the Ceiling

That’s the downside. The upside is that every order, assignment or rule is an opportunity for you to be an active partner in building the powerful D/s dynamic you desire. Do you want more dominance? Do you want your partner to be more confident and push you deeper into your fantasies? You can help make that happen from your position as the submissive, without being demanding or topping from the bottom. Just aim for the ceiling.

I’m not advocating that you exceed your orders, or pester your dominant partner for more frequent or more demanding ordersboth of those can easily come across as criticism, like you’re implying that you’re unsatisfied with your partner’s dominance. That’s more likely to shut them down than to get you more of what you crave.

I’m also definitely not advocating that you do anything you can’t wholeheartedly consent to. Don’t push past your limits to try to be a SuperSubmissive. That road leads to trauma and heartbreak for everyone involved.

But when you’re given an order that you can obey, obey the hell out of it. Look for that inevitable wiggle room and use it to communicate your investment in your submission and your desire for your partner’s dominance. That’ll egg your partner on. It’ll tell them in unmistakable language that next time they can go farther with you, if they want to.

Here are a few ideas for ways to aim high when obeying. Dominants will have their own individual preferences, of course, but these things will go over well with many or most.

  • Respond to orders like they’re the highest priority thing you have to do right then. Stop whatever else you’re doing and obey right away.
  • Acknowledge orders in a way that makes it clear you take them as orders rather than friendly suggestions: “Yes, owner” rather than “Okay.”
  • Put your full attention into everything you do when obeying. Even if a task is so easy you could do it in your sleep, focus on doing it deliberately and well. The care that you invest will be apparent to your partner.
  • Look for ways to include gestures of deference in your obediencethings like obeying from your knees, kissing hands or feet, or obeying with a bow.
  • When you’re finished, check to see if you can be of further service.

Once I told a partner to remove my boots for me. It was an offhand thing, as we came into the house after a long and tiring trip. My mind was mostly on unpacking and getting to bed and all the unanswered emails waiting for me at work the next morning.

She dropped what she was doing and came over to me immediately. She arranged herself precisely at my feet. She stopped chatting and focused completely on this one simple task. When she was done, she kissed each of my feet, came back up to her knees, and stoppedlooking up to me for dismissal or further guidance.

She treated this little, simple order like it was important, putting her full attention into exceeding my expectations while remaining within the bounds of what I’d told her to do, and it got my full attention. I stopped thinking about work, or even about being tired, and connected with her as my submissive right there in that moment. After that, her removing my boots for me became an ongoing ritual within a powerful and deepening D/s dynamic.

If she’d just slouched over, fumbled my boots off while continuing to grouse about how late we’d gotten home, and then headed straight for the showerthat’d still have been obedience. Weary as we both were, I wouldn’t even have faulted her for it. It wouldn’t have ratcheted up our D/s in the same way, though. It wouldn’t have brought us closer together. And it wouldn’t have become a ritual that I remember with pleasure many years later.

That’s how aiming for the ceiling can let you contribute to taking your D/s dynamic to new heights.