Self-Sabotage and Passive Aggression in Relationships…

I recently posted in a group about self-sabotage in M/s relationships.  Situations where a slave acts out passive aggressively, or in ways that destroy the benefits of the power exchange.  I came up with a number of core reasons that lie behind destructive self-sabotaging or passive aggressive behavior in relationships, and I thought I’d enlarge and repeat the comments as I think they have a wider relevance.   
Note that this isn’t a book…I skip over or treat quickly some concepts here that I’ve gone over more deeply in other places…
Genuine Resentment
I think the first thing to start with is genuine resentment.  We set up M/s relationships and it’s easy to assume that because someone in a book said that girls should just be quiet and listen to Master, that’s how it is.   But it is supposed to be a “power exchange.”  Traditional relationships say each partner has the same authority/power and the same responsibility.  In M/s, we shift that around.  But it’s an exchange, not a swindle.  The Master has to be giving back something for the power exchange to be complete.  If the slave/servant isn’t clear on what this is, or doesn’t feel it emotionally…they can feel cheated and that’s going to cause resentment.  It is possible for a slave to understand the logic of the exchange but fail to “feel” it in their emotional mind and that leads to trouble. 
The slave/servant partner is more likely to act out passive aggressively than the Dominant/Master partner, because they feel less empowerment to use direct methods.  But the Master partner sometimes does this too…if they feel eclipsed by a bossy or controlling slave, or trapped in a relationship where the responsibility outweighs the power-trip of ownership or the sexual release that goes with control.
The remedy to this is to go over the relationship dynamics. Carefully talk through them all and ask a lot of questions. An external point of view in the form of classes or books is really helpful to this situation, because few of us even know what questions to start by asking.   External sources such as workbooks really help with this, as do workshops such as Lee Harrington’s “Delving into Power” which make us really examine our feelings about M/s. 
There are good workbooks for this that present discussion topics, checklists and writing assignments.  The partners need to look seriously at what they want to get out of the M/s dynamic and why they are in it, and be exceptionally honest with each other about the reasons and their needs.
The Master must be the one to support this.  In business we often say that “change will only occur if it is supported by management.”  That’s true in M/s as well.  The Master is management and must be the one to both encourage honesty and reward it, even if it stings or hurts.
Conditioned Resistance
This is resistance that happens when someone has chosen an M/s path or mindset, but it runs against their programming.  We each have programming in the part of the mind that Freud calls “Superego” and Berne calls “Parent.”  Some people call this the “conscience” and then can’t understand why people raised much differently than them “don’t know right from wrong.”  In fact it is a synthesis of everything we were taught in childhood, starting when we’re born, and slowly sealing off from about age 8-12.    Ideas can get into this part of the mind in adults (advertisers spend millions to figure out how), but it is harder and slower. 
Often a “new” idea (I should give myself to a Master) will war with an “old” idea already in programming “you must grow up to be independent and fend for yourself….you can’t trust a man….” etc.  This contains things we’re told by parents, church, peers, siblings.  Since very few Westerners were brought up to seek an M/s relationship, most of us have programming that says we’re weak/bad/wrong/deficient/losers for choosing to serve.  This can be hard to beat and is one reason that slave-training tends to use mental conditioning techniques.   
Obviously people should be able to make their own decisions…but the decision to serve another…like the decision to serve the military or a religion…is a personal and valid one. 
The remedy here is to work voluntarily on elements of mind control.  Mantras, devotions, etc. that help build the Response.  Immersion in the M/s Community, talking and sharing with other slaves, attendance at SIGs and workshops, and participation in forums, as well as reading and video (stuff like much of the Insex and related libraries, or’s Upper Room, which show situations in which real people present and are accepted as slaves)
Resistance to Authority
It would be an ideal world if everyone who sought a Master was completely comfortable with the idea, and simply chose a Master, sat at their feet, and learned and since they wanted a Master, did what their Master said.  Unfortunately this is not how human beings are wired. 
Let’s start by saying that…since M/s is not a really common path in North America…most Westerners who are drawn to it are drawn because they are *missing* something.  That doesn’t mean every slave is broken or messed up.  It can be the same sort of “lack” in life that draws stable people to the military, or priesthood. 
Unfortunately, a very common reason for seeking M/s is coming from an abusive background, where there was little or no security.  There’s a huge amount of writing and literature on this, in terms of abuse meaning inconsistent reinforcement.  As simple as “sometimes paying attention to Daddy makes him happy and sometimes paying attention to Daddy makes him angry (depending on if he’s drunk or not).”  There’s the entire gamut of what is termed “codependency” where someone is brought up to have an exaggerated concern for the happiness of another person.
So…as adults you get people who *want* a Master, because a Master represents parent/safety/good/support, etc.
But…they also resent the fuck out of the people who were their original role models in this regard.  Maybe even hate them.  A lot of girls hate men, openly or on some level. 
Amplify this if there’s a history of sexual abuse…the reasons can be wildly varied, but they tend to cluster around a combination of fascination/draw to older men and deep resentment at what was done.
So…girls (and presumably boys…I just have no experience) seek a Master and take refuge.  Then begin acting out based on their resentments of the people who abused them in the past.  That’s a simplification, but I’m trying to keep this short.  In the end they tear down their relationship by making it a proxy for their first abuser.  It’s confusing, because they love their abuser and getting consummation…approval from their abuser feels good.  But They also have unresolved anger/hatred, etc. and they vent it on the person whose approval they want. 
Basically the relationship that feels natural to them is to be periodically abused.  So getting attention from their abuser feels really good.  But they also resent the fuck out of it and act out subconsciously and passive-aggressively against their abuser.
But it gets worse
What the abused person feels most strongly in life is a need for control.  They want someone to control them completely because that will make their life feel under control.  But they have never had that, it has always been a lie, always been subject to sudden shifts.  So they will “test” often to the point of destruction.  They destroy each of their relationships, systematically because if they can chip away a little bit of control, more will follow, and they feel that actually getting what they want is an unnatural state.  It has always been a lie so it must be a lie, and they may honestly feel in danger if they don’t uncover the lie and see where the abuse is going to come from.
Again, a simplification.
This is probably the hardest form to deal with…I don’t have any ready answers, but an
  • awareness of the behavior on the part of the slave
  • tolerance of shifts on the part of the Master 
are good starts.  I use hypnosis a lot to try and break the original mental conditioning, but that can only be part of a holistic approach.  Ritualization of abuse can also help by making the time and the acting out afterwards “expected and acceptable.” 
Finding channels for the acting out can be tough…often the thing that a girl who has violent tendencies is most terrified of is…her own violence, and accepting that she has rage, let alone finding ways to work through it can be tremendously difficult.  
The principal of Homeostasis states that every system tries to stay the same.  This is true of rivers and of dysfunctional families.  Human beings also try to stay the same.  If a man was raised to think that he’ll be moderately successful, have a good paying office job, but that he’s not destined for great things, it is very difficult for him to break that mental mold and grasp for greatness.  People who are raised to believe that they like their father will be a drunkard and failure have a hard time not being a drunkard and a failure.  We want to rise to the level we’ve been told we can. 
That includes happiness.  If we were raised in a place that wasn’t entirely happy…especially if that unhappiness was a result of classic “codependence” or abuse, we are used to the idea that we may be happy today, but miserable tomorrow.
People who get suddenly rich often crack up and will do self-sabotaging, destructive things to get rid of the money.  They feel threatened by it and don’t really feel they deserve it.  The classic scenario for this…which our media actually promotes…is someone who wins the lottery and gives it all to charity because despite having had imaginings of being rich when they bought the ticket, they actually feel very threatened by BEING rich.
The same thing can happen with happiness.  We can get what we want, and find there is too much of it.  It doesn’t feel right.  If we are happy and not abused one…two…three days…that may be more than feels right.  After a week…something is wrong.  So we act to return ourselves to the cycle of fight/argument/abuse/catharsis that we had before. 
This ties so closely into the above two, that I am almost inclined not to break it out, but I think it deserves a quick mention of its own.  Self-Hate is very closely attached to self-destruction.  It is the perfection of the cycle of abuse mentioned above.
When we’re very young we depend on our caregivers (usually parents) for everything.  We need the attention of our caregiver to survive.  If this care is freely given and consistent, we grow up fairly stable.  If it is sometimes present and sometimes not we develop mental issues.   Our minds seek control and a consistent universe. 
  • If crying = formula, life is good.  
  • If crying = formula unless the light is out life is still okay.  
  • But if crying = maybe there will be formula and maybe not…we have a hard time with that loss of control.
That just keeps mushrooming through childhood.  So if parents are cyclically abusive…if a word sometimes gets a smile, and sometimes a curse.  We can’t really handle that.  We have two choices and you may be surprised which one we pick.
The first is to accept that the world is beyond our control, and shrug and not care.  And the human mind is equipped to do that about as well as a dumptruck is to run in a Grand Prix race.  Which is to say “poorly or not at all.”  Because just giving up and figuring things are beyond our control is not a survival trait.  If people thought that way our species would have died out.  So…as tormenting and tortuous as it seems…we seek to find a way to control the situation.
And the first element of that is to believe that it’s our fault.  If it is not our fault, how can we control it.  It must be our fault and that makes us powerful.  If the reason mom sometimes doesn’t pay us attention or is cruel to us is our fault, then we can control it by acting differently.  And so…the cycle of self-hate begins.
We get more information, and may understand that “mom only hates us when she is drinking,” or “dad is only dismissive when he’s stressed about mom being out.”  But that doesn’t fix the cycle that causes us to hate ourselves saying “if only we could do better…things would be okay.”
The thing to understand about the cycle of self-hate is that it involves enormous frustration, because of course we can’t do better and can’t exert control.  It creates anxiety and that invokes the “fight flight” instinct. 
It’s worth noting that fight/flight in humans isn’t the same as in cheetahs or gazzelles.  Humans aren’t good runners, and can’t run fast and long.  The human flight instinct is to run away and *hide.*  So while the first part is panic, the second part is domancy.  In primitive times, crawl in a hole and try to stop breathing and thinking and making scent…in modern times…hide in the bedroom under the covers with the lights out. 
Depression is the actualization of human flight instincts
Fight is also not necessarily throwing sticks or stones, or even epithets.  It can be acted out as passive aggression.  And where you find Depression from self-hate induced anxiety….you’ll also find Fight…most likely in the form of passive aggression.
Self hate is hard to heal and takes a lot of work.  Start by understanding and identifying episodes.  One element that can help is very strongly enforced rules and guidelines…where the slave/submissive type can *know* that a certain action will *always* get a certain result. 
This helps break up the core anxiety of uncertainty and move the current situation away from remembered abuse.
click analytics

One Response

  1. kajiraTrinity 14 March, 2011 at 1:51 am | |

    just as helpful as it was on fetlife for Master and i…thanks for replying to our question

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.