Yes, I said he has the empathy to be my perfect leader.
I’ve seen many, perhaps too many discussions of what makes a “good dominant.” (Silly rabbits, it’s whatever works for you, and we are all “real.”) in fact, I’ve tried to remove Papabear and me from the framework of those discussions by using the expression Control and Compliance to indicate what our relationship is like rather than any version of D/s.
But I’ve never seen empathy at the top of the list of requirements for the leader in any such relationship, and I think it belongs there. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum from bedroom-only hardcore D/s to the sweetest most Vaseline-lensed romanticism, an unusual level of empathy is necessary in the leader of the relationship.
Without empathy, discipline can easily become abuse. Control can easily become an ego-driven nastiness that isn’t healthy. Dominance can become a twisted thing that destroys the submissive’s spirit.
Empathy shows itself early in a relationship and never goes away. It’s in the instant backing-off when things move too fast. It’s in the listening ear for strangers who need a lift. It’s in the balancing advice when we are angry or hurt.
After so much time, it’s in the smallest gestures.
We have a baby rabbit living around the foundation of our house. There’s lots to eat here, and I don’t mind sharing, planting extra for the bunny. I hope it will stay. But we also have two big dogs, only one of whom is compliant enough to have stopped looking for the bunny because I said he should. The Palace Queen will do as she chooses.
So I have laid down cleaned tomato cages to block parts of the foundation where I see the bunny most often, and I’ve removed the firewood that was blocking access to the space under the concrete steps we never use so it can have good hiding places, easily attained.
Even so, I know Papabear was right in what he muttered to himself outside the other day as we looked to see where the bunny had gotten to: “This is not likely to end well.” He didn’t mean for me to hear it, but I did.
What does this have to do with empathy? Given his accurate evaluation of the situation, he could tell me to to stop putting out food. He could even laugh at me when I yell at The Palace Queen to stop running after the bunny. He does not. He seconds my reprimands and walks with me looking for the bunny, hoping all with be well aganst the odds.
His empathy allows him to simply walk with me through this little adventure and hope with me that it will not become something ugly. And that is an apt metaphor for our life together. Because of the way empathy shapes his strengths, our life has much more beauty than ugliness, and I am happy to comply with his control.