More Thoughts On Projecting And Roleplay

[This is a follow up on the previous post.]

So, when I think about how I am in this, I end up with several questions. First, I wonder if roleplay is the right word for what I mean. Because, it and the ‘pretending to be someone else in particular’ roleplay are different enough that I’m not sure they should be sharing a word. But I don’t actually know a better word, and that’s what seems the closest. And anyway, when I do put on a specific person, it feels about the same way to me, so I’m not sure exactly where the line is.

The other thing this leads me to is, do any other people do what I do/experience things like I do? And, in order to properly think about that question, I first had to think of something else I do. My kind of roleplay is the only time I put on someone I’m not. But, it’s not the only time I put on someone. Quite frequently, I, in a rather similar way, put on aspects of myself.

When I stop at a bagel place for lunch, and the cashier asks me if I want anything else, I say ‘no thank you, I’m good’, and I’m using a very specific voice and demeanor, and I might be thinking about work or the news or people or anything, but outside I’m all the same. When store employees ask me if I’m finding everything fine, inside I’m having my anxiousness and wishing they would leave me alone, but I get that same voice and demeanor, and say that I’m good and I’m finding everything OK and thank you very much. And, that’s an aspect of me, interacting-with-helpful-people!me if I had to name her, and I’m putting her on, projecting her out, not like dropping into it but like sculpting a clay castle on my hand and then turning it around so no one can see it, because they see the other side of my hand. Actions and reactions. And I’ve got me’s that draw more on real!me (good-student!me is like this), and me’s that I like being (responsible-good-citizen!me is a reason I happen to really like airports, including security), and sometimes the boundaries kind of blur, but I know the feeling, and it’s not quite like my roleplay feeling, but I think it has things in common.

And then I’ve got mind-states, which are all real!me and not aspects, but share the bit where I feel and function differently – when I’m immersed in work, the steady-focus-with-intensity that service topping something is for me, etc. And then the lines blur again, really badly, with that and mood, and that and situation, and that and other things, and I’m not sure.

And there’s another inbetween. The one time I did ageplay, it almost felt like a cross between the two things. I projected (though the projection felt a bit different, and none of the other metaphors feel like they quite apply), and I wasn’t an aspect of me, but it felt more like I drew the character out of myself than quite like I made her. (Now, as I talked about here, the group dynamic of ageplay is rather different, so that might have also influenced things. But either way, the feeling was what it was).

And, this brings me back to the question of, how does all this work for other people. And of course, given that I’m me and not them, I can’t actually know. But I can try to think of things, at least.

Some people, people in certain kinds of power exchange relationships, don’t have my problem to begin with, because real!them can and does do the things they want to do. Some people are into the physical side of the interaction, and therefore what real!them does is fine with them. And then after this I’m not sure.

I think, from what I’ve heard, that for some people it is like my aspects-of-me – they have aspects of them that can react like what they’re looking for. And I think, from what I’ve heard, that some people share my ageplay experience of pulling something out of yourself. And I think some people have other things, also sharing some similarities with all of this, but not quite any of the things I have. (In a story I read once, a couple who spends their weekends in a D/s dynamic have an in-dynamic moment where he tells her he’s disappointed in her. And I read this and I thought, this is interesting, because he’s not being the-rest-of-the-time!him, who would ask her what happened and they’d discuss it and figure things out. But it’s not like it is for me in roleplay either, because here and now, he means it, and it’s true, and it’s true for both of them. And in the story a lot of attention is paid to how their ‘on’ and ‘off’ times feel different for them, on both sides. And it seems that the best way I could describe that is this is drawing up or immersing yourself in different parts/states/beings, all of which are you).

And this is kind of a rambly blog post, given that I’m not sure if I can quite put my finger on what I’m talking about. Does anyone have any ideas?

On What I Mean When I Say Roleplay

A few times now, I’ve run into a miscommunication about what I mean when I say that the thing I want to do for my kink is roleplay. People hear it and think I mean ‘I’m King Arthur and you’re Sir Lancelot”, or “cop and person guilty of a traffic violation”, or something like that. And, it’s true that I’ve done basically all my roleplay in the category of the second type – I’ve played a prisoner, and a mad scientist supervillain, and a revolutionary, etc. But that isn’t what I mean.

When I say roleplay, I don’t necessarily mean that I’m being someone else in particular. I simply mean that I’m not being me. Or, specifically, I’m not acting and reacting as me.

If I’m playing with someone, and I’m being real!me, and they tell me to kneel, I’ll do it. I’ll do it and I’ll smile inside if not outside, and I’ll like it, and it’ll be fun and a nice part of the scene. And if someone says ‘well, you’re in trouble for XYZ, I’m going to hit you with things’, in my head it’s something like ‘damn right I am!’, and I’ll giggle and get in position and banter with them, and I’ll like it, and I want to do it.

But it won’t be my kink.

It won’t be my kink, because I don’t have a kink for people in enjoyable scenes getting on their knees or getting hit with things. I have a kink for felt power dynamics, for someone who kneels because of power, in respect or fear or pride-despite-nothing. I have a kink for looking down and saying ‘yes, miss’, and being serious and anticipating pain like I don’t want it. And real!me can’t do that. Real!me doesn’t fit there, it doesn’t work.

So, I’m not real me. I take a character in my mind, who can react the way I want, and I project them out of myself, I drop into them, I put them on, I look out of their eyes. I do that so that they can do what real!me can’t, and behind their eyes and realizations, I can get that feeling like my breath catches, like something strikes me to the core and fills me up and is exactly right.

Yes, I play out scenarios, give my characters names and stories. I do that because that’s the way of playing that occurs to me, and I like it. But I like it like a piece of dungeon furniture or a toy. It’s awesome, and things can happen with it that couldn’t without it, and I want to use it – but I don’t absolutely need it. It’s wonderful, but it’s not the core.

The core, for me, is that when I’m looking for a character, I don’t mean ‘am I pretending to be a galley slave or someone arrested for shoplifting?’ What I mean is, what am I going to be like. If there’s a threat, am I going to shiver in fear, or gaze back steadily, or look at the ground and take a breath, or give a snappy retort? (And real!me can’t do any of these things, because to real!me, the threat isn’t real. I either want something, or I’m willing to try it, or I know it’s not going to happen but I’m fine talking about it, or I’m going to call a stop to things. I want the threat, but to get it, I have to be in its universe, and that’s not real!me’s universe). I want this other, so I drop into this other.

That’s what I mean.

Constricts Who are Not Defiant

As noted in the defiance post, aside from different kinds of scenarios involving defiance, there are also many scenarios in which the constrict is not defiant to begin with. Alternatively, some constricts start out defiant, but become compliant, while some are defiant sometimes, and compliant other times. Either way, however, since non-defiance is an absence of something, and not a presence, it doesn’t so much determine the scenario as originate from a state of mind.

So, an exploration of some states of mind that lead to the constrict being non-defiant:

1)    The threat of the principal. The power dynamic between the principal and the constrict means that the principal holds the potential for hurting the constrict. The constrict is probably aware of this, either just due to the situation, or to something more explicit- perhaps the principal has a reputation they have heard about, or has actually threatened or hurt them or someone else (If the constrict starts out defiant, this can also be an outcome of #3 on the defiance list). The constrict wants to avoid getting hurt, and so complies with the wishes of the principal. This generally manifests in one of two emotional ways (which can be mixed together in varying ratios).

  1. Terror. The constrict is afraid of the principal, and this fear is in control of them. They might be shaking, crying, begging, etc. It’s unlikely that they’re even thinking about defiance. Some principals enjoy this manifestation- in fact, for some it is their goal in whatever they are doing. Other can find it irritating.
    • This is the dynamic that I have actually roleplayed. It is a lot of fun, involving both a threatening principal, which I enjoy, and very ‘active’ acting.
  2. Pragmatism. The constrict may still be afraid (and often is), but they are controlling this fear enough to be thinking more clearly. However, being aware of their situation, they come to the conclusion that defying/antagonizing the principal will harm them more than benefit them, so they refrain from it. Alternatively, this can be combined with limited amounts of defiance- the constrict decides that some things are important enough to them to be worth suffering for, but everything else is not, and they save their energy for the important things. This is then very compatible with #2 from defiance.
    • I generally really love this set-up, and would like to try roleplaying it. However, this would be a very different kind of scene- this situation is largely in the constrict’s head, and would need to be brought into the scene with dialogue. (For example, the principal might ask the constrict why they are not defiant). I do not at all think this is a bad thing though.

2)    Acceptance/acquiescence. In this situation, the constrict does not need to be intimidated into complying, because they already agree, for others reasons, that complying is what they ought to do. Again, this generally takes two forms.

  1. Attitude toward the event. For whatever reason, the constrict agrees that the negative things happening to them should, in fact, be happening to them. This is most common in a punishment dynamic in which the constrict agrees the punishment is deserved.
    • I would love to play this as well. This situation would also need to be expressed in dialogue, but for here, I think this could happen very naturally, and again the idea of such dialog appeals to me a lot.
  2. Attitude toward the principal. The constrict has feelings for the principal (love, loyalty, devotion, etc, often in rather twisted forms) in such a way that anything the principal wishes them to endure, they will accept enduring.
    • I think this would be interesting to try. Again, it is a ‘mostly in the contrict’s head’ situation, and would need to be treated accordingly.

A note on #2) in general: some constricts have or develop these feelings on their own. Others are mindscrewed into them. The first version appeals to me generally, while the second has absolutely appealed to me in some instances, but can also very much be the kind of unappealing where I want nothing to do with it, so thought and care would be required in any scene involving it.

Defiance in Narrative Power Dynamics

Ways defiance scenarios can happen in a narrative power dynamic, and my thoughts on roleplaying each way (generally as the constrict, because I have other issues with the idea of playing the principal):

(Note: ‘Defiance’ in this case means any kind of purposeful behavior by the constrict that the principal doesn’t want them engaging in. This includes insulting the principal, not obeying orders, breaking rules, etc.)

  1. The constrict is defiant. The principal tries (in whatever way) to make them stop, but is unsuccessful.
    • While this kind of situation can be very enjoyable to read about, I don’t think I would want to roleplay it. It basically makes the principal helpless and powerless- all they can do is rage futilely- and this is non-conducive to the feeling that they are powerful or even self-possessed. I don’t want that in a scenario I’m playing in.
  2. The constrict is defiant. For every defiance, there is a set punishment, and the principal delivers that punishment. The constrict continues to be defiant, knowing they will be punished each time, and they are.
    • I like this dynamic a lot, and would like to try playing it. It requires a rather self-possessed constrict, and a principal with the ability to be dispassionate. I very much like the former, and the latter is what keeps the principal from becoming pathetic like the one in scenario #1.
  3. The constrict is defiant. With some combination of consequences and threats, the principal ‘convinces’ them to stop it.
    • I think this would be interesting to play, but it would need to be planned out ahead of time. Basically, if I play the constrict, I would need to decide ahead of time at which ‘point’ I will break and become compliant. The reality of this scenario would be impossible (for me, at least) to play out in a safe and consensual manner, because if I’m actually being pushed to the point of breaking, I wouldn’t start complying, I would safeword.
  4. The constrict is defiant. They are physically prevented from continuing this. (So, if they’re refusing to walk across a room, they get dragged. If they keep insulting the principal, a gag is used. Etc. Note that this is not possible for everything- if they are refusing to, say, cook dinner, this method can’t be used (#3 could, though)).
    • There would be two ways to play this one. One, like in #3, C decides ahead of time at which point to be ‘overpowered’. Two, they actually fight and are actually overpowered. Both of these actually interest me, but the second would require a lot of care and thought about safety, both physical (making sure P doesn’t hurt C more than C is alright with, and, if C is actually fighting, making sure C doesn’t hurt P either), and psychological (How OK is P with physically coercing C? Does C feel safe enough with P to allow this?).
  5. The constrict is defiant. The principal acts in a way that demonstrates to the constrict that they are worthy of respect and obedience. The constrict comes to believe this, and stops being defiant. (Note: I actually didn’t think of this one when I thought of the other ones. It was sparked by a reading I did later).
    • Honestly, this is a dynamic that I’m not particularly interested in. While I do enjoy positive-authority dynamics as well as negative-authority ones, I prefer a positive authority to have a cooperative constrict. Also, I am rather bad with characters who are dynamic (change how they are) in this way.
  6. The constrict is not defiant. This is obviously then not a defiance scenario, but it belongs here as an acknowledgement of its possibility/reality. At some point, I might do a closer examination of its subcategories too.
    • This is the only dynamic I have actually roleplayed, and I do enjoy it.