Trainer? Protector? Mentor?

If anyone has ever offered to train, protect or mentor you, you might want to keep reading.

The dictionary is full of words that define other words and yet, when it comes to the stuff we do and the kind of relationships we have, the BDSM community can’t seem to agree on many (if any) definitions.

Not a big deal except when people (i.e. submissives) wind up harmed by opportunists taking full advantage of the ambiguities in our language and labels.   i’m gonna go out on a limb and propose that if we could come up with working definitions for these three words –Trainer, Protector and Mentor– submissives would have far fewer horror stories to relate.

Some say labels don’t matter

And i agree, that sometimes they don’t, but not when it comes to entering into relationships with others, because…

if you and the person you’re in relationship with aren’t on the same page about the nature of your relationship, it’s just a matter of time before discord and unhappiness erupt.

i’ll admit, i might be a little hyper-sensitive in this regard, having encountered more than a few such opportunists in the early part of my submissive journey.  Ignorance coupled with newly discovered, and overwhelmingly powerful, submissive desires set the perfect stage for disreputable “Doms” to swoop in and take their best shots.

Photo credit: Paul Souders

Even after enduring years of emotional bludgeoning; narrowly escaping disaster on a few dates; and spending 3 years in a really disappointing D/s relationship, i consider myself blessed because at the end of it all, i found a mentor …and it changed the game!

i no longer felt alone and adrift amid a pool of sharks.  i still made some mistakes but my mentor helped me make quick course corrections, offering guidance and instructions so i could stop repeating them!

Under my mentors wing, the hopelessness i’d begun to feel about wondering if i’d ever find the kind of partner i longed for, actually began to give way to enthusiasm and a sense of empowerment.

And when my Master appeared on the horizon, my mentor helped me accurately assess him, his actions and my feelings about him — which i really needed because i had lost faith in my own perceptions where dominant men were concerned.  Without my mentor’s help, i may have passed by Master!

What do i believe about these relationships?

i believe that Trainer, Protector and Mentor relationships ought to be platonic – friendship without benefits.  They should not “require” submission from you or include domination of you.  And they should not be sexual.

Otherwise, it can quickly become a slippery slope where the judgement of either party can be clouded and lead to wounded hearts …or worse.

DINO = dom in name only
DINO = dom in name only

If someone tells you they can’t train, protect or mentor you without also dominating you, i hope you’ll notice the red flags waving in the background as they speak.

Entering into these types of relationships should include a negotiation process.  i also think the best scenario is when you are the approacher, not the approachee.

Talk about what you want the relationship to provide for you. Take the time to get clear input from the other person about what they are offering and what they expect in return (see advice about platonic-ness above.)

There’s no need to rush into any arrangement.  Someone who genuinely wants to be helpful will not be pushy …cuz pushy ain’t helpful!

As for definitions…

What’s the difference between a Trainer, Protector or Mentor?  All i can offer you are my opinions, and here they are:

Trainer  The dictionary says, (n.) one who teaches or coaches.

Think about when you have started a new job and had to undergo training.  Someone imparted information and observed as you put it into action, offering corrective feedback, right?  Platonic.  No emotional entanglement.  Usually performed by a peer, not someone with authority over you.

A Trainer can offer you education in things like lifestyle etiquette and lingo.  But, to my way of thinking, training you by scening with you is not part of the deal.  The risk is too great for emotional lines to get blurred.

Protector (n.) a guardian; a device used to prevent injury

So many of us want to feel protected, that the offer of protection is almost irresistible but tread very carefully here because the ill-intentioned are well aware of this soft spot. Offers to protect are one of their favorite gestures.

Protective is different than possessive.  Trust your gut and think, big brother.  Someone who will keep an eye out for you and stand ready to come to your aid if needed.  A safety net.  A safe harbor.

This may also be someone who fields inquiries from Doms for you.  Simply telling someone you have a protector with whom they must connect will naturally filter out most undesirables.

Mentor  (n.) an experienced and trusted adviser or guide

To me, this is the most profound of the three.  It will most likely include elements of the other two as well as a commitment to nurture you until you reach your desired goals. i see this as a very sacred relationship because someone is making an enormous investment of time and energy into you and that deserves an equal investment of respect and effort on your part.

Mentorship can be life changing and ought not be entered into lightly.

Even though our formal mentorship relationship has ended, the deep and abiding gratitude and respect i hold for my mentor remains.  What was invested is quite literally something i can never repay; i am where i belong because of it and that is priceless.

i believe that If you are patient in choosing, and steadfast with negotiated boundaries, you will be able to look back and smile at how well such a relationship has served you on your journey. i know i have, and am equally blessed to have found an ongoing Trainer, Protector and Mentor all rolled into one, in Master :)

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