Once upon a time, a long while ago, I had this lovely hot play date.

We started off with her making a fancy dinner in service to me, and I directed her through serving it with all the naked, kneeling, submissive flourishes. I started toying with her at the table and continued through the rest of the evening and the rest of the house⁠, hurting and teasing her as I liked, and using her body until I was satisfied.

Afterward⁠—after coming down, lounging in the afterglow, and stepping out of our temporarily elevated power exchange roles⁠—she said something like “I made dinner; how about you handle clean up?”

That’s as fair as fair can be. Outside of power exchange it’s how I’d assume things would go. And I cleaned the dishes, because our dynamic was limited to a scene, the scene was over, and I’m not an asshole.

But that request dulled the shine of the evening for me.

It also illuminated something about what I desire from dominating: I don’t want submission to be something I pay back.

For me, having dinner made for me isn’t the point. The concrete benefits that I get from service aren’t what feeds me. I usually prefer to do things for myself, really, and if she’d said “I’m running late and I don’t have time to clean up,” doing it myself wouldn’t have bothered me in the least. What sat wrong with me was the quid pro quo: the implication that because she’d done me a service during our scene, it would be fair for me to repay that favor now.

For me, the unfairness is the point.

I don’t want favors when I dominate. I want subjugation. I want abject devotion. 

One of the big things that makes dominating so darkly compelling for me is having someone work to serve me, suffer to amuse me, sacrifice their own desires in favor of mine, or otherwise do things that by any reasonable measure ought to earn them some kind of credit, and then thank me for the privilege.

I want it specifically because it’s fucked up; because it breaks the usual, reasonable expectations of give and take. It’s the unbalanced wrongness of it that I find intriguing and exciting. So if submissive acts get treated like favors or something to be paid back, even after the dynamic comes to an end, that kind of defeats the purpose. When a power exchange dynamic comes to an end then I stop expecting any further out-of-balance interactions, but all the degrading shit my partner did while they were submitting to me? I want that to still be treated as service freely rendered or⁠—better yet⁠—like a favor I did for them.

But then, there is a deeper level on which the exchange is fair.

It’s fair because I seek out partners who get their own hot, wet reward from being treated unfairly: from being subjugated and used. They may hate it while it’s happening, but it scratches an itch that they know they need to have scratched. I work to understand the details of their submissive needs and make sure to dominate them in ways that push the buttons that inflame and satisfy them, and if we do it right then making me dinner or being used as my footstool or not being allowed to cum for weeks on end becomes its own reward.

If we can make that fucked up balance work⁠—unfair by every metric normal people would understand, but balanced out in the ultimate analysis by their perverse need to be treated unfairly⁠—we can create something that is so damned juicy. My partner gets to float in a state of emotional superposition where they are simultaneously being given exactly what they need most and also being used with no regard for what they want. And I get to play with them there, take from them in profound ways⁠; and then send them scurrying to clean up, to show how grateful they are for being given the opportunity to serve.