The basic purpose of service is to make someone's life happier, easier, more pleasant, and any activity should be offered unselfishly and without any pre-conceived ideas or notions. I say someone as service is not always just given to a Dominant, and service is not always given by slaves or submissives.
Service should be offered with the best of intentions, the purest of motivations, with no hidden agenda or ulterior goal. Most of all, service should be offered with kindness and compassion, with attention to detail, and a dedication to do a good job.
Know that If you are with someone who is truly interested in service of some sort, he or she will want to do a good job. Any sort of play that may occur is viewed as a reward - there will not be any breaking of your fine bone china in the hopes of provoking you into some action. The individual giving the service is occupied with doing what needs to be done well, with style, to the best of his/her ability, in the hopes that you will be happy, and you will be pleased.
That’s not to say all will go well - there may be bumps in the road - but this shouldn’t deter you from voicing your thoughts and feelings as the service progresses. Feedback, both good and bad, is very important - it not only indicates that you are present in the moment, but that you care enough to keep the provider engaged. There is nothing more distressful to a service provider than to realize you are not enjoying their efforts, and with the appropriate feedback, there is no reason why any form of service can not get back on track if it should happen to jump the rails. You should feel free to speak your mind and to voice your pleasure or perhaps displeasure with the efforts being made, and trust that any criticism or praise will be taken in, measured, and efforts will be adjusted accordingly.
With that in mind, there are four actions that are key in regards to service - how to request service, how to accept service, how to offer service, and how to refuse service.
Request service with polite confidence, with a clear idea of what you want. Accept service with the trust that it has been offered with the best of intentions and the purest motives. Offer service with a good heart, and sincerity. Refuse service or service requests with kindness, without guilt, and accept the refusal with grace and understanding it is not a personal rejection or personal reflection.
If you see someone in the community, who clearly has some sort of service to offer, there is nothing wrong with politely requesting service. It can require some delicacy, for instance, a service submissive might be collared - either on a consistent basis or for a fixed term - to someone. Requesting service would then be best asked of the Dominant. If you are asking a service Top, he or she might have power dynamics with others that might be ruffled if not given their due respect.
Best approach to an individual would be something along the lines of:
"Pardon me, but I have seen that you have X service to offer. Is this correct?"
If that is correct, and you sense that further discussion is welcome:
"Might I ask, would you consider negotiating performing this service for me?"
If someone approached me in such a way - though it doesn't need to be that exact wording - I would be very much inclined to hear what he or she had to say.
When you do request service, be very clear as to what you are asking for, and what you are offering in return. Yes, we would all like to think that service providers are these endless fountains of giving, but sadly, that is not the case. As well, if multiple people want service from the same provider, one might be more inclined to fulfill a request for service from one in particular if the person requesting the service had an enticing offer.
Now, when I say offer or service, it need not be something like play, it is definitely not a euphamism for money, and majority of the time, is not something sexual. If that is something negotiated, because you are both like minded individuals, that is great, but I would caution that approaching someone and putting sexual favours/play on the table as either a request for service, or expecting sexual flavours/play as a reward for service.
Once you have established that both of you are interested in this exhange, it would be good to begin negotiations, like you would for any play scene - limits, hopes, what you truly enjoy, how to call the scene if need be etc.
If a request for service is met with a refusal or rejection, know that it is not a rejection of you as the requestor, it is merely that your offer is not feasible, for whatever reason at that time. I don't think it would hurt to politely inquire if there might be future opportunity, but know that while your attention is appreciated, any offhand remarks or pressure could ruin what could have been an otherwise beautiful exchange in the future.
I know I keep focusing on being polite and gentile, but honestly, I think many service providers are highly attuned to etiquette. I personally know I am like a Hippogriff - like from Harry Potter - I am easily offended by boarish behaviours and attitudes.
First off, let me share a little secret – those who perform service get off on making you happy. Yes, giving good service does stroke the ego, and it is addictive. I know I get a high out of giving good service – like I’m Christopher Columbus discovering the New World, and bringing back riches for my Queen Isabella – minus the raping and colonisation.
That is not the sole motivation for service – I was once asked to attend a Dominant because as her Dominant friend said, she needed someone to ‘be kind to her’. Having had a dynamic breakdown, this Dominant I was going to give service to, needed a submissive to show her gentleness – bringing her a plate of food, something to drink, giving her a foot rub. Sometimes, when Dominants have been hurt by their submissive partners, it takes another submissive to demonstrate that yes, we are not all the same, and yes, you do have redeemable qualities as a Dominant.
It may seem easy enough to accept service, that seems like such an easy concept, but I am finding that it is actually a skill that is lacking. Perhaps it is due to mistrust - why would anyone want to do anything for someone without a catch involved? Perhaps it is due to service becoming an antiquated nicety in regards to BDSM-D/s. I'm not certain what the cause is, but I think it is something that we as a community need to embrace once again.
Receiving service requires practicing the art of allowing - allowing someone else to see to your needs, wants, desires and whims. It may be difficult, it may seem as though you are giving up control, but rest assured, when service is given, if pure in intent, it is done from a place of both joy and pleasure. It requires, at times, opening up your home, allowing another into your private realm, perhaps even sharing whatever is most precious to you, but with practice, this can feel like second nature, if you are open to the experience.
If you are ever approached by someone who wishes to serve you, here are a few ideas you might want to keep in mind:
1. You are under no obligation to accept service from anyone, ever. Yes, the individual (and it could be a service Top making the offer) is offering to serve you, but there is an element of selfishness to the offer – selfishness in that the person offering the service gets off on giving good service. If you don’t feel comfortable accepting, for whatever reason, a simple “no thank you” is all that is required. You don’t need to explain yourself, or your reasons. You are perfectly within your right to reject service, I would just ask that you reject as gently as you would want to be rejected.
2. Without any sort of direction from you, and should the individual in question not think to ask, the individual is going to act as they believe he or she should. If an object is proceeding in one direction, and it is not inhibited by anything, it will continue on the path in that direction until something larger and heavier knocks it off course. If you would enjoy service from a submissive, as an exmaple – having a tea made, having your hands rubbed, having your toys or play station wiped down – if you want it done in a particular fashion, please don’t hesitate to say so. We are still, at the end of the day, service oriented, and it is comforting to be told how to perform an act – because it will please you, make you happy, and we will be doing it right – or at least right for you.
3. Not all service types are seeking something from you – other than your approval and perhaps a bit of praise. I know that for many female Dominants in the lifestyle, being approached by male submissives is akin to being a star ship, in the neutral zone, and a Romulan Warbird just decloaked in front of you – shields up! If you are approached by a service submissive, as an example, please give them a chance, at least hear them out. I can’t guarantee that all service submissives, or all service Tops will be complete angels, I’m certain there are a few who feel if they do you a service, they are entitled to some sort of reciprocal reward, but you can help curtail such expectations.
4. Treat acts of service like a scene - it is a scene! So to build on the third idea, when you are approached by a service provider, don’t hesitate to negotiate and define the terms – just like you would with a scene. Lay it all out – how long the service will last, what is expected – what is not expected, what you are willing to give/do on your part etc. If you feel play is a good reward for service done well, then feel free to say so. If you feel a hug is a good reward, then say so as well. Good service is more than balancing a tray with one hand, or giving a good flogging, it is about making you feel comfortable.
5. If you accept service from a service provider, allow them to do their jobs – but at the same time, ensure you know what they will be doing. I have had the privilege of driving Dominants around from time to time, running errands, and I was grateful when I was instructed by at least one Dominant that I would be opening the doors for her. So every time we stopped, I would rush ahead to ensure the door was open for her, and when we left, I would open the door to the car, closing it when she said so. If this hasn’t been discussed, it may very well be that the submissive will open the car door and building doors for you, I would suggest perhaps giving them the chance to impress you. If you exit the car as soon as the vehicle is parked, they don’t have the opportunity to demonstrate proper manners and etiquette. If you wish to punish a service submissive, open your own doors – that hurts right down to the bone faster than any caning ever could.
6. Just relax – easy enough to say I know – it is making yourself vulnerable to rely on someone else, even for the smallest task, but with practice, this can come easier over time. Start with something small, having someone open the door for you, and progress as fast as you are comfortable. Keep in mind, you need not accept every offer of service extended to you – “Mistress, may I fetch you a beverage?”, “Master, may I rub your temples?”, "Madam, would you care for a caning?" – only the ones you are comfortable with, from people you are comfortable with, in the right setting, at the proper time.
7. Exercise trust/caution at all times. This may seem like an odd concept – but please stay with me. In receiving service, you are placing trust in the provider giving the service – trust that they will not harm or hurt you, trust that they are doing only what is best for you, trust they have only good intentions. Sadly, this is not always the case. I would exercise caution as to who fetches a drink for you, or who you might have cleaning your house, or whatever act of service where your health, house, finance, might sustain damage. Sure, it might seem like a great idea for some submissive to come over for the day to clean your house for free, but perhaps there is an attached cost that you have no knowledge of. How would you know if this person forged a checque and cashed it until weeks later when the bank came calling? Are you certain you want to allow a service Top to scene with you when you barely know them, or know anyone you trust to vouch for his or her skill. Even the simple act of getting you a drink, from a bar, could have a very bad outcome. Know who you are giving access to, and ensure you are comfortable with how far that access extends.
8. Service is in a sense its own reward, but sometimes, there needs to be something more. For some service providers, for some acts of service, it can be very draining. This should be discussed before the service is given – what does the individual require to recharge, is there an expectation for the receiver to give back in some capacity? A service provider should know what recharges him or her, and should state that when arranging any long term period of service. For myself, for example, to recharge me, so I can give the best service, I ask for the four items:
a. If I am giving service away from home, and it is overnight – or over a few nights, I ask for a clean, safe place to sleep with access to a toilet and shower.
b. I ask for a few of my meals to be paid for or provided to me – the rest I can purchase on my own or obtain for myself.
c. A night or two so I might have a break – so I can go see a movie, walk around, see the sights, do some shopping.
d. Hugs and cuddles – not necessarily from the person I am serving, it’s always nice though.
These are the things I ask for when giving longer service – short term service, as long as my bodily needs of having a place to occasionally rest, hydrate, eat, and take care of bio breaks are met, I’m pretty happy. It would be nice to think that a service provider can give and be fulfilled just on the energy of the exchange, but in practice, I have found this to not be the case.
Offering to lick a Dominant's feet clean with your tongue is only service if it is something he/she would enjoy, and engages in on a regular basis, and possibly requested. If you offer this to a Dominant, and it is not of interest to the Dominant, it is not something he/her would enjoy, and he or she would never engage in this, then it is a selfish action which is only concerned with your self gratification.
If you are interested in offering someone service, you should approach with humility, and gentility. Do not offer any specific tasks, and realize that you are beginning a conversation/negotiation. Begin with an opening line such as:
"Pardon me Sir/Miss, but I would be greatly honoured if I might be able to offer you some form of service. Might we discuss what would be of interest to you?"
If you are granted leave to engage in conversation further, it would be wise to allow the other person to lead into the conversation - remember, you are here to make his/her life more enjoyable. You need to listen to what would make his/her life more enjoyable, because at this point, unless you know the Dominant even a little, you really have no clue. You could find a way to politely highlight your skills and expertise to the person, keeping in mind they may already have a good understanding, as well as having a clear idea of what they want from you.
During this negotiation, once you know what would please this person, you may be asked if you would like anything in return. I would caution being too forward in your requests, asking for an inappropriate reciprocal boon at this point could mean that you are quickly dismissed.
Once service is offered and negotiated, it is upon your honour to fulfill what you have offered/negotiated. The community is not that large, people will know if you do not fulfill what you have said you would do, and you most certainly will not have much credit or favour with that particular service receiver you slight.
Now there are two types of service refusal really:
1. The provider refuses a request
2. The receiver refuses your offer
If a service provider refuses or rejects your request for service, understand there may be reasons for such. Perhaps they are tired - either physically or mentally - how do you know? Perhaps they are not in a good head space emotionally and just want to either recover, or be left alone until they are again fit for human consumption. Pressuring them amounts to harassment, and honestly, do you really want someone who is not in the best frame of mind fetching your drink, or clearing your play space, or massaging any part of you?
We as a community wouldn't stand for someone to be pressured into playing with someone, so service should be no different. No should be respected - whether it is a refusal for service, or a refusal to play.
Now, it may happen that if you offer service, the service receiver may refuse/reject your offer. Again, similar to your own reasons for refusing/rejecting a request for service, the receiver has his or her reasons for not wanting to accept your attentions. You can with much humility and respect clarify if the refusal is based on the offer you proposed, but this can skirt the edge of respecting the intended receiver's privacy.
Saying something like "If it my particular offer that you find unappealing, but would still appreciate my service in some form, I would be most happy to discuss an alternative offer with you.", would not be amiss. If this is refused or rejected as well, it would be best to move on to someone more receptive of your talents.
There are many forms of service, as there are many different archetypes of service providers. Not all are equal, not all share the same skill set, and not all have the same experience. Seize the opportunity to avail yourself of the talents of the various providers, and at the same time, assist them in gaining the skills he or she may need to progress further in the lifestyle.
Service providers are just one half of the equation, we need the service receivers to keep us razor sharp, engaged, and always striving for excellence.
Note: Just because someone offers service in general, does not mean they are offering it to everyone, or just anyone. Do not assume that because someone enjoys service, or that they have offered you service in the past, that this is the case presently, or will be in the future. It is always best to check each time, as circumstances may have changed.
Assuming is the fastest way to kill any possibility of someone doing you a service in the future. I had an occasion where someone approached me and said "I know you enjoy service, so you may serve me by making a plate of food for me". Can you see how at best that comes across as rude, and at worst, it is violating consent, because there is no room for consent?