Communicating Your Needs
Reproduction is permitted by non-profit and not-for-profit SM groups for educational purposes with acknowledgements given to SAADE and the author.
[The term “Master” is used in this article as a non-gender specific term and refers to the Owner or person being served. The term “slave” refers to the property or server.]
Our primary goal as slaves is to make our Master’s life as easy as possible, but in the end we are human. We have needs, wants, and desires just like everyone else and we have expectations about their fulfillment. In a Master/slave relationship, the Master is responsible for meeting the slave's needs - and sometimes He/She will decide to fulfill a slave's want or desire. Since the Master has agreed to be responsible for meeting the slave’s needs, a slave can reasonably expect to have his/her needs met - any expectations a slave has beyond that are not justified unless the Master has told the slave to expect something. However, in order for a Master to meet a slave’s needs or reward a slave by giving something that is a want or a desire, the slave must effectively communicate his/her needs, wants, and desires.
A short lecture for slaves who have a hard time asking for things: You are your Master's property and you have a responsibility to your Master to look after his/her property - so that means you have a responsibility to look out for yourself. As much as we (and they) like to pretend otherwise, Masters are not mind-readers and do not "know all and see all". You have a responsibility to let your Master know what your needs are and let your Master know when they are not being met. It's hard because we like to think we are superhuman and don't have needs, and sometimes our Masters like to think that we don't have needs either, but we do. Think of owning a slave as being similar to owning a car. Wouldn't it be nice if you owned a car that could tell you "My fan belt is getting frayed and if you don't replace it you've got 5,000 miles left before I blow"? You're doing your Master a service when you communicate your needs before they get to the critical point.
The first step to being able to communicate your needs, wants and desires is to understand the differences among them. The analogy I use to describe this is that everyone has an emotional "glass of water" and a physical "glass of water" that serve as their "reserve tanks". If our needs aren’t met, our water level goes down and as the water level goes down so does our ability to function properly. We can ignore our needs and stretch our limits for a while, but that length of time depends on the water level in our glass. If we go too long, the water is all gone and we have nothing left to give - either to ourselves or to another person. So, the longer a slave goes without getting his/her needs met, the more work the Master needs to do after that to get the slave back in a smooth running condition. "Wants" are things that put water back in our glass when we get them and can sometimes turn into “needs” if we don’t get them or if our water level gets very low. "Desires" are things that are nice to have and put a lot of water into our glass, but if we don't get them it doesn't affect our water level.
The next step to being able to successfully communicate your needs, wants, and desires is knowing yourself well enough to know where something falls in the classification system. I've been using this classification system for over four years now and I still "mis-file" things occasionally - usually because I didn't file them under "need" when I should have. Second, your Master has to trust you to be honest. It's tempting sometimes, but don't say something is a need when it is really a want or a desire just to get it. Something that slaves can do to reinforce the Master’s trust in the slave and how serious the slave takes this is that if the slave later feels that he/she mis-classified something, come to the Master, tell the Master what happened, and apologize for the mistake. (Admitting mistakes actually builds trust rather than destroys it because it tells the other person that you take responsibility for your actions and you trust him/her to forgive you for being human.) Finally, keep in mind that some wants and desires can get changed into needs if we don't get them fulfilled soon enough (i.e., I always have a desire to play, as time goes by and we haven't played, it becomes a want, after more time it becomes a need). If you know that a want is going to become a need soon, try to give your Master a "heads up" about it before it becomes a need so that he/she can have more control over when and where it is met.
We all have certain things we expect to get from the people around us. These expectations can range from basic politeness from strangers to love and support from a parent. If our expectations are met, we don’t always notice it – we expected it so it isn’t noteworthy in our mind. However, I have found that my expectations can directly affect the water level in my “emotional glass”. If my expectations are not met, then my water level goes down; but if my expectations are exceeded, then my water goes up. As part of my never-ending struggle to be "superslave", I try to keep my expectations as low as possible so that the chances are increased that I will have them exceeded. Many times when my expectations are not met, I realize that I had no right to the expectation because Master Scott didn't give it to me and I never told him that I had it. In that case, it's my own fault and I try not to let it affect my water level. However, when Master Scott tells me I can expect something, then it becomes a need for me to have that expectation met (if it is in his power to meet it). As an example, if he tells me that we are going to spend the evening together with no computer and no TV, but comes home and turns on the TV and gets caught up in a movie, then I get hurt (my water level goes down) and it effects my trust in him. I didn't ask for the evening together, I didn't need an evening with him, but it became a need once I started counting on getting it. If he comes home and the phone rings and it is an emergency that he needs to go back to work to handle, it isn't his fault and my water level doesn’t change.
The “needs, wants, and desires” classification system I’ve described above is just one way for slaves to communicate with their Masters. Each Master and slave pairing is different and may require a different form of communication. However, the slave’s objectives should be to use terms that work best for the Master and to increase his/her self-awareness so that needs can be identified and communicated before they reach a critical point.