When Femdom Goes Wrong

A long-awaited session with my dream domme left me hurt, disappointed and confused. What now?

What follows happened a year ago. The description of the session is taken from my journal entry two days afterward. I’ve no desire to run down the Mistress in the story, so I’ve changed her name and appearance. Apologies to anyone named Mistress Linda; this is not about you.

I think something in my brain broke the first time I saw a picture of Mistress Linda. It was like someone had hacked into my mind to create my ideal woman – full bodied, long dark shiny hair, a mischievous smile. She was gorgeous beyond words, and I know a lot of words.

She lived in Western Europe, though, and she rarely came to New York, so there was no point in reaching out. I figured I’d obsess over her for a month or two and then move on.  But then I listened to one of her interviews, and then another. She was down to earth, and she laughed a lot. She was sophisticated and kind, and her accent was oh-so European and enticing. I read her website and got a clear picture of a skilled and experienced dominatrix, supportive of her fellow dommes and friendly to submissives who approached her respectfully. Her site had a membership option that assigned daily tasks. I subscribed.

I took her tasks seriously. If she wanted a poem, I labored over that poem. If she wanted information on a fetish-wear supplier, I researched it thoroughly. She appreciated my effort. I won a monthly contest on her website and got DM access to her on Twitter. From that, I got to know her better, and she me. She was charming and curious. Why the name Thimble? What was my history with D/s? What were my favorite activities? When she discovered I was a writer, she asked if I was interested in doing some writing for her website. I was. This led to a phone call that lasted over an hour. I told her I was writing a femdom novel, and she asked for a sample. She liked it and asked when I was going to publish. I hadn’t planned to, but it sounded like a good idea, so I said a month. Four weeks later, I published my first book.

I was careful not to pester her, but every so often I’d send a note or a funny story or picture. I bought her gifts – not a lot, but a cane here and a bullwhip there. She was supportive and caring, and she seemed to be able to read my moods instinctually. Serving her was fun, and we shared a similar worldview. She was an introvert, too, and she gave me advice on how to manage large social events. When she asked me to explain how her membership site worked to a journalist, I felt honored to have earned a small token of her trust.

Her acceptance of me felt validating. That said, I knew our relationship wasn’t going to progress further. Even if she would have accepted me as her slave – which she never mentioned and I didn’t presume – she already had a handful of slaves who lived with her and a dozen more around the world. I needed more attention than it was fair to ask of her. I needed a relationship with someone I could touch and talk to regularly. I prepared an email explaining this, asking if we could just be friends. Before I sent it, though, I won another monthly contest. The prize was a play session when she came to New York in five months! I saved my email for another time.

Two months later, I wrote a larger project for her website. It was a lot of work, but I loved doing it. She sent me the following note:

It's just perfect Thimble. I love it so much. There are one or two things in there that I may give variations on for the more hesitant souls but otherwise I think that you have the tone gorgeously down. Thank you as always, I don't think I will ever be able to properly express how grateful I am for the time, care and energy that you've put into this project for us.

I was so happy I had pleased her. I thought about our session: I wanted to submit to her fully. Maybe there was a chance I could be her slave.

And then I got a girlfriend.

On our first date, I told her about my erotic stories and my interest in femdom. That was huge for me. I had always kept my kinks secret at the beginning of relationships. She liked that I was kinky, and she was a wonderful and caring person. We got close quickly. I told her about Mistress Linda and my upcoming session. She wasn’t crazy about me serving someone else, but she understood how important the relationship was to me and wanted me to enjoy it.

As the months went by and the session drew closer, Mistress Linda and I occasionally talked over DM. She was happy to hear I had a girlfriend. A few weeks before she arrived in New York, she asked if I was free for lunch a week before the session. I said yes and scouted restaurants, making sure to test the one I chose. Mistress Linda collected cigarette tins, so I bought her an antique cigarette tin I found in a vintage store. The week before our meeting, I went over her interviews, making sure I knew her preferences: how she liked to be greeted, what type of table she preferred to sit at in restaurants.

Lunch went great. She asked about my girlfriend and was happy things were going well. She said that this was the ideal solution for me, and that I wasn’t a good match to serve as her slave. She seemed, as usual, to be able to read me intuitively. I asked if she would consider just being friends. She said she didn’t normally do that with subs, but she’d consider it. We talked about me doing more writing for her. I didn’t expect her to be perfect and she wasn’t, but she was dominant and friendly, and I felt lucky to have earned her attention.

The next week was difficult. I had to deal with the remnants of a legal battle with an old business partner, and my girlfriend broke her wrist. I didn’t sleep much, and I had an issue with the sale of my apartment that seemed like it was going to sink the entire deal. I was frazzled, but I kept clear boundaries around the session. Nothing was going to interfere with that.

The day of, she asked me to pick her up a pair of bedroom slippers and some arnica cream. I also bought her cayenne pepper, as she had complained at lunch that the food wasn’t spicy enough. I had to hustle to get everything and make it to her AirBnB in the West Village on time, but I did. I had made it. I was ready to put my awful week behind me and submit to her fully. After 11 months of serving her and five months of anticipation and a rough week, I was finally going to session with Mistress Linda, the domme of my dreams.

It was awful. Horribly, horribly awful and hurtful and confusing.

I had expected she would be exacting in session, but she seemed genuinely irritated by everything I did: where I put my shoes, how I spoke, that I was five minutes early.

“Sit in the corner while I finish my dinner.”

I sat in the corner feeling awkward, which wasn’t odd for me. I had felt awkward at the beginning of the last two femdom sessions I’d had. Both times, the dommes quickly and skillfully set me at ease, and the sessions went really well. I knew I’d be fine if we could just talk for a moment. We hadn’t discussed the session anyway, and I had limits and an injury I needed to share.

Mistress Linda began peppering me with questions. She wasn’t happy with any of my answers. I heard myself talking in a strange, sing-songy voice. What was I doing?

“Why are you talking that way?”

“I’m sorry, Mistress. I don’t know. I’m just nervous.”

“You’re very selfish.”

“What do you mean?”

“Everything you say is selfish. You consider yourself first. It’s a very American trait.”

“I’m just being honest.”

“Yes. You’re telling me your honest, selfish little thoughts.”

She asked another question. She wasn’t happy with that answer, either.

“You have no idea how to serve as a lifestyle slave.”

“I don’t know what you want me to say.”

She paused for a second.

“Come out of the corner. You’re not a real submissive. I don’t have the energy or desire to play with someone who isn’t submissive. I can tie you up and you can watch me drink my mineral water with lemon for two hours, or we can just talk, but I’m not doing anything else with you.”

I had been there for five minutes.

“Welcome to lifestyle slavery.”

She turned away from me and took a sip of her drink.

Was she serious? Was this roleplay?

She told me to kneel with my forehead on the floor. I asked her for a second chance, but she said no. She asked more questions and criticized my answers. At one point, she asked about my sessions with other dommes. She accused me of just doing the things I wanted to do. I agreed, even though it wasn’t true. I wasn’t thinking straight, and I was starting to panic. She went to her bedroom and brought back some rope.

“I’ll tie you up to give you a taste of what a session with me would have been like, but that’s it.”

She began tying my arms behind my back. I could feel her impatience as she tied me. I couldn’t figure out what I had done to upset her. She knew I didn’t have any lifestyle experience: she had asked me that at lunch. Why was she surprised I didn’t know how to serve as a lifestyle slave? I wondered if this were a degradation session, but she knew that was a hard limit for me. I have trauma around that. Would she really ignore a hard limit without any discussion?

She put me on my stomach and pushed my right knee to my butt. I had hurt my right knee a month before and was still recovering. She still hadn’t asked if I had any injuries. She started cranking my right leg, trying to bind my calf to my thigh. I stopped her and explained my injury. She made a derogatory comment and moved to my left leg, but her bind slipped off. She began again but got frustrated and gave up. She sat me up and put a latex hood on me. I tried to will myself to relax. This was my one chance to ever session with her, and I was blowing it. I needed to be more submissive. If I could just be more submissive, she’d play with me; she wouldn’t just end this session 15 minutes in. I leaned my head to the side and closed my eyes. I let my mouth fall open and collapsed back against her. Maybe by pretending to be in subspace, I could actually get into subspace. It didn’t work. My body was tense and rigid. I heard her exhale irritably.

She untied me and told me that that was it, then offered me some mineral water. She said she would be friends with me as long I recognized her superiority. She asked me more questions and seemed annoyed by all my answers. She told me I was selfish again, that I was all about “me, me, me, me, me,” that it was obvious in everything I did, even the way I walked. I didn’t know what that meant. She brought up a disagreement I’d had with a domme she knew. She said that domme could tell I was inauthentic. I knew that wasn’t right, but it just confused me. My chest hurt. I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t place it. When I came into the apartment, I had let down my defenses and put myself in her hands, and now I was having trouble getting myself back.

She asked if I thought I had a strong mind. I told her no, that my mind was weak. But I don’t actually think that. Why did I say it? I put my hand on my chest.

“Something we talked about upset me,” I said. “I don’t know what it was, but I’m upset.”

She ignored that. We talked more, but the feeling that she disliked my company continued. I felt like everything I said was wrong. My chest continued to hurt, but I couldn’t make sense of the feeling. Finally, after an hour and a half, I stood and told her I was leaving. She shrugged. When I was dressed, she offered to let me kiss her foot, “for old time’s sake.” I did. I asked to kiss her other foot, but she said no. I talked to her about a play party she was going to in two days and she said I could come talk to her if I wanted. I gave her the slippers, arnica cream and cayenne pepper I’d bought. My stomach hurt.

As soon as I hit the street, the fog lifted, and I realized that the feelings in my chest that I couldn’t place were anger, disappointment and sadness. On the subway ride home, the questions started: Why would she end the session after five minutes without any attempt to shift the energy? On her website, she claimed she could easily lull anyone into submission: why hadn’t she tried that with me? She had said she didn’t know how to thank me for the material I’d written for her; why would she treat me like this?

That night, I paced my apartment, disgusted with myself. Why hadn’t I walked out sooner? Why did I kiss her foot at the end? And why did I give her the gifts I bought after she treated me so terribly, after she refused to give me the session she had promised? I was so ridiculous and weak! Being a submissive was pathetic. I was pathetic. I was so fucking pathetic!

By morning, I had calmed down. I called my therapist and she made time for a session. I met a friend for coffee. With both of them, I talked about what happened and slowly came back to myself.

“It’s sounds like she didn’t know what she was doing,” my therapist said. “Have you considered that she’s just not a good dominatrix?”

I hadn’t. Her website made her seem like such a professional. I thought back to the session. So many things about it were wrong, so many things contradicted with how she presented herself. I wrote her a short email telling her how upset I was. When I went to send it, she had already DM’d me, asking how I was doing. I replied:

I’m disappointed, Mistress Linda. Our session left me with bad feelings on a number of levels. I won't go into them other than to say that I wish my year of service had earned me just a little benefit of the doubt.

Her reply:

I am sorry that negative feelings have found you. Your dedication affords you the attention to speak on them if you wish. However the reality of personalities and how they suit each other in reality is unavoidable. Incompatibility needn't be such a difficult realisation. Attachment to immateriality is what makes it hard. I wish you the best Thimble.

I told her that the lack of compatibility wasn’t the reason I was upset. She didn’t write back.

I didn’t want to feel hurt – I think that’s a masculine reaction to pain – but I was. It hurt to realize that I meant so little to someone who had meant so much to me, that I wasn’t even worth the smallest effort to make the session work. It hurt to feel like a sucker, seduced by an online persona and slick marketing. And it really hurt that I let her treat me the way she did, that I couldn’t realize in the moment that I needed to remove myself from the situation. All of it hurt, and so little of it made sense.

To be clear: I’m not arguing that Linda didn’t have the right to end our session. A dominatrix always has the right to end a session, but sometimes doing so is ungenerous and unkind. I’m sure Linda would say the energy between us was bad, and I’m sure my nervousness was off-putting, but I think her decision, five minutes in and without any attempt to address whatever the issue was, was ungenerous and unkind.

But the lack of generosity wasn’t the only issue. She was degrading throughout the session; could she really not see that it was too much? My moods are transparent: it’s a running joke in my family. I was clearly upset and triggered. I even mentioned it to her, but she didn’t care. She didn’t check in once, and there was no aftercare. In one of her interviews, she talked about the need to care for subs after a degradation session. Where was that? Why was she so different in person?

I don’t know what I expected when I told her I was disappointed. A part of me wanted her to say she’d had a bad day, so that I could believe she was still the person I admired. But she clearly didn’t think she’d done anything wrong. Her reply, which basically told me to get over it in condescending, pseudo-Buddhist terminology, didn’t surprise me at all, which in itself was both sad and telling.

Over the next week, I struggled to make sense of what happened. I couldn’t reconcile the sophisticated and caring online persona with the woman I met in real life. How much of her image was fake? Was our entire relationship a lie? Was she an emotional sadist? Maybe this was funny to her. Or maybe she’d just become ungrounded. She had told me that she interacted almost exclusively with her slaves and other dominatrices. When was the last time anyone challenged her or held her accountable? A year? Three years?

For a while, I wanted everyone to know that she wasn’t the dominatrix she claimed to be, that serving her faithfully meant nothing against her merest whim. But taking on a popular domme was stupid. She would dispute my version of events and we’d get into a he said-she said. All I could do was sit with it.

I canceled my membership to her site. I stopped her daily tasks from coming to my inbox. I didn’t block her on Twitter, though, not right away. A part of me hoped that she would reach out to me with at least some curiosity, with at least the question why. Why was I upset? It didn’t come, and after a month and a half, I blocked her.

In time I cooled down. It was upsetting, but she hadn’t swindled my life savings. She hadn’t knocked me out and stolen a kidney. At a relatively cheap price, I learned a valuable lesson about overly trusting someone I’d never sessioned with before. At its heart, this was just a relationship that ended poorly, like millions of other people suffer and endure, as I had suffered and endured and forced others to suffer and endure as well. With distance, I came to accept that there was no way to reconcile the two versions of Linda: the generous and insightful woman who was supportive of me for a year, and the unsafe, unkind person I met in a West Village apartment. People are complicated and multifaceted. Linda has good and bad sides, and obviously some large blind spots. I don’t need more closure than that. It happened and it hurt, and I learned from it. It was time to move on. 

A few weeks after the session, my therapist asked me if I wished I’d never met Linda. I didn’t then, and I still don’t. She motivated me to publish my writing, which has brought me great joy. She made me a little more open about who I was, and that helped me woo my girlfriend, who’s the best thing to happen to me in a long time. Linda was, and I imagine still is, a positive voice for female domination. Yes, it ended badly, but there’s always that risk with relationships, and a bad experience shouldn’t make me close off that part of me that loves, needs and appreciates femdom so much.

Mike Hutchins