It sounds very one-sided doesn't it? Doing for someone and not getting anything in return - sounds like an uneven equation. Have you ever made someone a meal, and at some point they look up at you with a look of wonder, gratitude, appreciation, and perhaps even a little admiration? Seeing that look, feeling the pride that it stirs within you - what an instant rush! Knowing that you used your skills, your knowledge, your experience to make someone happy - okay, it's not a new car, but it is a fantastic feeling. There is something deep in me, hard-wired, that desires to engage in a power exchange where the Dominant partner receives my actions - a massage, being waited upon, having a meal prepared, being escorted around town. In return, I feel pride, a sense of accomplishment, I enjoy the approval and appreciation of the one I am serving. Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate a skillful spanking, but when I offer service, it is not done with the intention that at the end of the night, or time of service, I will get my reward. Serving provides many rewards if you are open to these rewards.
For me, it is not sexual, it is not being a masochist - that figures into another side of my submission - it is being of use - of engaging with someone who is willing to take up the reins, who is willing to accept the gifts that I offer - and more importantly, they like the gifts I have to offer.
What Are the Characteristics of a Service Submissive?
I would say the main characteristics of an efficient and proficient service submissive would be the following:
Desire - Most importantly, there must be the desire to serve - this is either innate in an individual, or not. For some, they may offer service for an evening, for a session, for a weekend, but it is not part of his/her core. I'm sure there are more submissives out there who innately have a desire to serve than not, but just aren't certain how to express this desire.
For myself, I take on the role of a butler, chef, body-servant, and chauffeur - a domestic. I'm not a maid, and I definitely don't do housework - though if I were in a committed power exchange relationship, and this was asked of me, I would of course honour such a request - I just might not like it.
I take on such tasks as preparing meals, setting a table (formal or informally), ironing clothing, organizing, running errands, some light household repairs and fixes, serving a meal, attending a Top at an event (ensure they have a drink, perhaps something to eat, their toys are at the ready, the stations they wish to use are cleaned after or perhaps even before), preparing a bath or perhaps even bathing the Dominant, assisting with dressing and attire, polishing shoes, massage and pampering - and the list could go on.
I offer these services because I can do them - through a combination of knowledge and experience, and I know I can do them well.
Invisibility - Probably the greatest skill a service submissive can have is to be invisible. At a leather or BDSM gathering, to effortlessly and without much fuss, to skirt around the event or happening to perform tasks without notice or attention, to be a ghost - but a productive and useful one.
Even in a private setting, where it may be just you and the Dominant or individual you are serving, it is possible to be silent, proactive and attentive, and allow the individual on the other side of the power exchange to slip into the fantasy you have created.
Dependability - As with other social situations, your word should be your bond. If you commit to service to an individual, or even a group, for a fixed amount of time, you should carry through with that commitment or promise. If you make a promise to be at a certain place at a certain time, realize the other person or group is depending on you to be there.
It is ill advised when negotiating service, to make commitments that are either outside your scope of interest, or outside of your scope of expertise, knowledge, and experience. I spoke with a Domme friend once, who told me the story of being attended to by a submissive at a BDSM establishment. The submissive had laid down the protocols he would follow, such as eating only after she had been served and begun to eat, following her and being in view just over her shoulder, carrying her equipment for her etc. Apparently, he failed on just about every protocol and promise he made.
The moral being, if you can't follow through with a promise or protocol, communicate this ahead of time. Remember, it is not just your enjoyment and happiness that is being affected here.
Interest - Interest is huge with respect to being a service submissive. Many tasks that are taken on by service submissives can be very mundane - washing dishes, vacuuming, polishing silverware, cleaning, being a chauffeur etc. Ordinarily, no one really gets any pleasure or enjoyment from washing the dishes - unless you have some sort of obsessive-compulsive bent, which actually might be a bonus and benefit to you if you are interested in service - but to know that you are performing this task for your Domme, Master, Daddy, client, then the task becomes something special.
Also, it is of benefit for a service submissive to always seek to improve his/her skill set. You may know the importance of separating colours and whites when attacking a mountain of laundry, but do you know how to remove a grease stain from linen? You may set a table with the fork on the left and the knife on the right, but what might be the difference with an American place setting versus a European place setting? It may be that you will never be asked to serve at an event where a formal American place setting will be of use, but you never know, and it is this little extra bit of knowledge that might make your service more desireable and interesting than the next submissive's gifts.
Discretion - Leaving the best for last, the characteristic of discretion. It can not be stressed enough, if one is welcomed into the inner sanctum of any Top - a bedroom, a home, a family setting - anywhere that is space occupied by the Top or power exchange partner you might be serving at that moment, such a welcome must be honoured with discretion. Unless local laws are broken, all that is seen, heard, read, viewed, should be kept private and confidential. Even if you are witness to the most amazing power exchange you have ever participated in, do not speak of it - not even to trusted friends.
As as domestic service submissive, it is possible that you might be asked to handle very private situations - balancing the household budget, paying the bills, assisting in the entertainment of guests - and these situations require trust. In the realm of BDSM, your reputation and whether or not you are trustworthy are your best credentials, they are your personal credit rating. Certainly, you may be very skilled, but if you can not keep a confidence, your knowledge and experience is not worth the risk of having your loose lips present.
While there are many different types of service submissives, the examples I have listed pertain mostly to domestic service submissives. That being said, the characteristics and qualities I have listed would be of benefit to anyone wishing to perform some sort of service.
Everyone serves for his or her own reasons, and I challenge you to discover your reasons. Good luck!