Service Roles, Part 2 of 3 – Theory

Posted: November 20, 2010 by Isaac Cross in Featured Posts, Learn Something, Philosophy

Part 1 – Background

This post will cover the theory behind “Defining and Refining Your Roles as a Submissive”

A note from the author: This has been getting a lot of extra traffic lately and some people have been misunderstanding the purpose. This information is pulled from the class that I teach on “Defining and Refining Your Role as a Submissive”. To understand the purpose for it, you really need to read Part 1 (linked above) and Part 3 (once it’s posted). If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at

Are you a “True” Submissive?

Anyone who has spent any time online with sites like,, or any others, you have probably come across one or two people who believe there is such a thing as a “true” submissive. The definitions for this term vary from group to group, but generally the definition will be the exact description of how the person using the term sees themselves. In other words, they are a “true” or “real” submissive and you are something less than that.

Well, I don’t buy it. I believe that it is ok to be selfish. In my world view, everyone is, whether they admit it or not. So it’s ok to not be service oriented. It doesn’t make you a bad sub. It only means that your approach to submission is different. It is important, however, to be honest with yourself and your partner on this point, because trying to be something that you’re not will only harm your relationship. But at the end of the day, the only criteria for being submissive is that you choose, for however long, to defer some level of control to someone else, be it for the five minutes it takes to do a scene or for the five years of a slave contract. There are no “true” submissives. There are only people who are more interested in being submissive for greater lengths of time and in more different ways.

In other words…

žWhile you are submitting, you are a submissive, regardless of the duration. You may be a great bottom and enjoy power exchange. Service does not have to be a component of a D/s dynamic. Short term submission, bottoming or role-playing is certainly as valid as service-oriented, full-time, or “natural” submission. To understand this for yourself, you need to answer one key question:

Why do you submit?

This is the first very important question as you try to determine what role you may be suited for. In the interviews, there were several common answers:

  • žPhysical sensation (sex, play, etc.)
  • žFeeling of “usefulness” / Fulfillment
  • žA simpler existence
  • Mental focus
  • Intimate relationships
  • Spiritual connection

Another Perspective from http://www.ozabis.onfo “Three Types of Submissives”

žThe immediate submissive finds an immediate reward as a “consequence” of the act of submission. This may be something like sexual arousal, the satiation (temporarily, at least) of feelings of guilt, or simply the pleasure of an endorphin rush. The act of submission (or service) is not pleasurable or satisfying on its own.

The psychological submissive finds her reward in the act of submission itself. This satisfaction or pleasure can, for example, come from the feelings associated with temporarily giving up responsibility. Or it can come from a relaxation of the need to “be herself” while the dominant is in control; she can, instead, simply be nothing, she can abandon herself completely.

The slave has an internal need or craving that is appeased by the act of submission. The act of submission itself may or may not be pleasurable to the slave, but the release from the pressure of the need always is.

On other words, he says, “Slavery is like drinking a glass of water…”

Immediate submissives might have water only when they eat curry. They don’t do it for itself really, they drink it because it makes the curry much better, cleanses the mouth, cuts the fire, makes them able to eat more. They wouldn’t think of drinking water without the curry.

Psychological submissives drink water because they like it. Sure they will drink it with curry, but they’ll drink it with roast beef, they’ll drink it with sandwiches, they’ll drink it without food at all–because they like the taste, the way if flows down the gullet, the cleansing feel.

The slave is someone in a hot climate. They have to drink water. Nothing else does the job. They can try wine or beer or sweet drinks, but when push comes to shove they must have clean water, because the others don’t cure the thirst. They might allay it some but when the heat is very fierce, water is the only solution.

The specific terms he uses are irrelevant. What matters is the notion that not everyone does this stuff for the same reasons, and if we treat all submissives the same, we deny the differing needs and motivations and we condemn ourselves and our partners to dissatisfaction.


Before you start this process, be sure to consider how consistent your desires are. Do you want to have the same submissive role each day, or do your desires fluctuate?

My partner, Rain, has a number of distinct submissive roles. When I switch to a submissive state, I have a few as well. So we went through the following analysis for each one separately. But a person who has fairly consistent desires and one primary submissive role would only do it once. I am going to take a moment now to tell you about our roles so that I can use them as examples later.

Rain’s Submissive Roles

Partnered Submission – While she will defer to Cross for final decisions, and while she is certainly submissive in sex and play, the primary relationship is one of collaboration and partnership. This is her default state.

Sub Boi – Sexually submissive, heavy pain tolerance, and very obedient, but not particularly service oriented.

Protocol Service – An extremely service-oriented role, particularly active service, but that service is focused toward the one (or few) that she is in service to.

Little (Age Play) – Like most young girls, she is not service oriented. While she will do what she’s told, her own desires are prominent in her mind.

Personal Attendant (Escort) – The most challenging and fulfilling of her roles. The Escort is focused entirely on service to Cross. Her role, however, is not simply to do things for him, but to benefit him, by accompanying him to high profile events, entertaining guests at their home, or otherwise promoting relationships with others. In short, she makes him look good.

My Submissive Roles

Object/Toy – In this state, I take absolutely no initiative. Nothing I do is pro-active. Instead, I am guided by the gestures of the top and absorb/endure what they choose to give me. I don’t speak, and I don’t express desire.

Defiant – In this role, I am forced into passive service. The defiant has no desire to serve, but is either overpowered or tricked into a position where there is no choice. Unlike all other roles, this is a role-playing game. In the other roles, I am simply me acting a certain way. In this role, I m acting as someone else for the purposes of the game.

Human Pet – In this state, I am completely selfish, but I am also well-trained. The things I do are done for the purpose of earning rewards and/or avoiding punishments.

Servant – Much like the personal servants of royalty, I am there for whatever purpose they choose, which may be household duties, sexual services, whatever. I will express my desires, if asked, but I don’t offer them.

Four Indicators

I believe that by realistically assessing your desires and needs according to these four indicators, you can accurately identify the type of submissive role that you will enjoy, find fulfilling, and succeed in.

1. Desire for Active Service
2. Desire for Passive Service
3. Desired Level of Independence
4. Level of Selflessness

1. Desire for Active Service

Active Service is defined as those things that the submissive does for others, such as cooking, performing oral sex, or managing the dominant’s schedule

The desire for active service can be marked along a scale, such as this one:

Some questions which may help you determine where you fall on this scale:

  • Do you derive pleasure or fulfillment from doing things for others?
  • How would you feel about a D/s relationship that did not include active service as a component of the dynamic?
  • Is sex* better for you if it is in reward for something you did well?

*Sex, in this case, means pleasurable physical intimacy, up to and including actual intercourse.

2. Desire for Passive Service

Passive Service is defined as those things that the submissive allows to be done to them for the pleasure or benefit of others, such as flogging, sexual use, or body painting

The desire for passive service can be marked along the same scale:

Some questions to help you determine where you fall on this scale:

  • Do you derive pleasure or fulfillment from allowing your body to be used for others’ pleasure?
  • How would you feel about a D/s relationship that did not include passive service as a component of the dynamic?
  • Is sex* better if it is in reward for enduring something that was done to you?

3. Desired Level of Independence

Independence is defined as the desire and ability to act without the direct instruction of the dominant. However, one may have that ability, but desire to turn it over and surrender themselves to the will of the dominant.

The scale for independence is similar:

Some questions to help you determine where you fall on this scale:

  • If the carpet must be vacuumed once per week, do you simply do it, or do you need/want to be told each week?
  • If your know a person very well and you are making them tea, do you ask them what kind they want every time, or prefer to anticipate their needs and desires?
  • Do you wish for your own needs to be regulated by the dominant, such as eating and using the bathroom?

4. Level of Selflessness

Selflessness is the degree of influence that others’ pleasure or well-being has on the decisions of the submissive.A person at 0 will give equal weight to their own benefit and that of the dominant.

Once more, there is a scale for visual representation:

Some questions to help you determine where you fall on this scale:

  • If a situation arose that required you to choose between preserving your own reputation and your dominant’s, and your decision would never be known to anyone, who would you protect?
  • If you knew that your submission was appreciated, but would never be rewarded with anything tangible, would you still submit?

Putting it Together

Once you have figured out where you fall on each of those scales, you can put them together to form a single picture, like this:

So, for the example pictured above, the person would mark themselves down as a A-R-I-S. The main reason for using the letters is so that I don’t have to make one of these pictures for each of the 16+ role types, and can simply list the letters instead.

Part 3 will be posted next week and will cover how to analyse your results.

Remember that you might have more than one of these pictures if you have more than one role type. Again, Rain and I have several different roles, each. Our pictures look like this:

Rain (Click for larger image)

Cross (Click for larger image)

  1. John says:

    I really enjoyed reading this a lot. I think it’s a fantastic breakdown and can help others understand their own service needs or the needs of their partner(s).

    Thank you for writing it!

  2. snow says:

    From your roles’ pictures and the way you are writing the lettering, it is rather contradictory. The pictures show your Servant role and Rain’s Escort role have different dynamics, but were we to go by letters, they would both be APIS. Perhaps this will be explained better in part three, but at the moment, though different values are set, the lettering take the scale of 21 and makes it a scale of three. This does not seem right.

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