Cognitive dissonance: Clashing Desires header shows barefoot stood in a tree, in a latex top and colourful skirt, holding a big stick across her chest.

Cognitive Dissonance: Clashing Desires

Cognitive dissonance: Clashing Desires header shows barefoot stood in a tree, in a latex top and colourful skirt, holding a big stick across her chest.
Photographer: Neil S R

I can’t be the only one with a ridiculously busy brain, can I? Well, this last few weeks things have gotten even more cluttered in amongst the grey matter. Confuddlement, agitation and discomfort bordering on embarrassment. Maybe even shame. Which is weird as the rational side of my mind knows full well that I have no need to feel shame about the thoughts I’ve been experiencing. It’s not the first time I’ve experienced cognitive dissonance. However, since leaving P I’ve not felt this level of internal conflict.

Cognitive dissonance? What on earth am I on about? Come on Barefoot, spit it out!

It is simple and yet complicated.

My core beliefs about myself are being challenged. And yet, at the same time, my core beliefs are being confirmed. And that’s because my core beliefs conflict. Massively. Perhaps this shifting perspective is the cause for my self loathing which I tried to remedy in February Photo Fest. There has been a definite disconnect somewhere.

You see, I’m a submissive. Being owned by a dominant who understood, sheltered and nurtured his property for so long confirmed everything I knew about myself when I left P. Scratch that, I knew it before I even met P, and my shame is what led me to diving in – not understanding that it was OK to have alternative tastes.

But I’m also kind of not submissive. My interests in this delightful world are wide and varied. For many years I have used the label Hedonist on Fetlife. It encompasses my love of mischief, playfulness and the pursuit of pleasure over anything, rather than following specific pigeonholed roles. Some might say this is a cop out label, that I should pick a side. But for once I know that this is my side, whatever my ‘role’ within a scene, if it isn’t fun what is the point?!

Often times, at events, the sub-solidarity will pop out to say hello. This is where a submissive will try to be helpful to their peers, but accidentally ends up stitching them up with their dominant. It’s not something I’m proud of but… it can be exceptionally funny. This led to me being described as Domme, or a sadist. But really it was only ever cheekiness and a sense of fun.

Until it wasn’t.

You’ve met the Welshman. And you’ve met Mr Marks. These two men have been my main experiences of feeling more in touch with my dominant side. But both of these play relationships have been short lived. The former due to life, the latter because Miss Barefoot was scared off by disrespect. She has never fully recovered, and burrowed deeper into the opposite side of the slash.

I have enjoyed introducing others to alternative activities, but have always rationalised that as submissive sharing her kinks with her friends. An education (of sorts) rather than being in control of a scene.

Though thinking on controlling scenes, tasks have always been managed by me. My safety, my satisfaction, ensuring other participants get what they would like out of their time with me. Being my own Sir never felt like topping the others I was with until a gang bang last summer. Though this wasn’t the first time I had to take charge, it was the first time I realised that this was exactly what was happening. Submitting to Him but also dominating the men who had come to do my bidding. That was massively confusing, unhelpful in the face of my growing confidence elsewhere, causing a clash of emotions.

So, cognitive dissonance seems like a foregone conclusion?

Cognitive dissonance is, by definition, “a term for the state of discomfort felt when two or more modes of thought contradict each other. The clashing cognitions may include ideas, beliefs, or the knowledge that one has behaved in a certain way.” (Psychology Today)

So, I have the core belief that I am a submissive. I also have the understanding that my skillset and passions include activities from across the spectrum of kinks. But I am definitely not a switch. Though now, it seems that I might have to accept I am an S-word. Which brings me great discomfort.

Especially when the desire leaps out at someone I’ve been enjoying bottoming with.

I have never experienced such conflicting fantasies. Not with the same person. I want him to use me from on top while I crawl at his feet, but I want him to worship and entertain me from the bottom. And I don’t know what to do with any of that. There is so much conflict, many unanswered questions. Where the fuck does one begin?

Though I’m framing this in relation to a new play partner, I know this problem would have reared it’s head eventually. But did it have to be now? Could I not just enjoy some calm after making the biggest decision of my last few years? And with my self-esteem being a battle in-and-of itself, this curve ball is nothing short of unwelcome. It shouldn’t be this hard! I know what I would be saying to my friends if they were in this headspace. But I can’t quite put myself in their shoes. Or put them in mine!

Perhaps it’s because the barefoot sub has been a constant, gentle source of joy. I’ve healed and grown so much since showing her to the world. A woman who strives for perfection but also understands that she is only human. Through her I’ve been able to grow, building a life that I am both proud of and enjoy.

But then, Miss Barefoot is flighty, scared of her own shadow, lacking in confidence. I’ve experienced some of the worst drop from scenes I’ve topped in. She’s occasionally been disrespected, laughed at and made to feel less than. Maybe, what she needs is to build the evidence that topping won’t always be like that. Or maybe some fantasies should just stay as such.

I’m a brave soul, but sometimes things are too scary.

I’m frozen like a rabbit in the headlights. Is it even possible to be the big spoon and the little spoon? Perhaps I should just float around picking up play as an impact bottom and all round rope slut? Having a giggle and fucking about. Rather than stretching myself past discomfort to explore a side of me that remains in the shadows. Will this help alleviate the dissonance I am experiencing? Or will stifling an emerging part of me hurt me in the long run and put me into complete denial.

Intentionally making myself vulnerable is not a strong point for me. Not slicing myself open emotionally, anyway.

Perhaps this is the time to ask my two questions:

  • Is it safe?
  • Do I want to?

These have always helped focus me. And when my world is being ruled by the question of ‘what if…’ they provide a consistent framework.

I know that he is safe to share Miss Barefoot with.

She stuck her head above the parapet in his kitchen much to his delight! She shocked me and I hurried her back into the box but we have discussed coaxing her out again. We share an outlook on kink (as well as kinks in and of themselves) which is reassuring. And his communication is very straightforward, if he didn’t want to switch he would tell me.

But do I want to?

Yes, I really do, but I’m scared. I know, I know, fear isn’t something that normally holds me back. The noise rattles away inside my skull. I know that I can, potentially, make a great scene with him. But what if I don’t? What if he’s disappointed? Or brats me? Or I can’t keep him safe? And then there’s the possibility that I trigger something negative in him? We’ve all been there, we can be the most self-aware person ever, and still a trigger will pop up out of nowhere. I don’t want to harm anyone, least of all someone whose company I enjoy, and would like to keep enjoying.

Perhaps it’s the responsibility for another persons pleasure that is making me so nervous? Or my history making me feel massively vulnerable. Both within my kinky lifestyle and my vanilla marriage. As the bottom in our scene time I have felt nothing but safe. Do I want to jeopardise that safe space by turning it on its head? And will I emasculate him by topping him? (Whether that is in my eyes or his. Realistically, neither. BDSM is a game, to be played however suits the people in any given play dynamic.)

Bugger. This is tricky!

I do try not to use this space for unpicking my brain, preferring instead to have it all understood and processed before I share my thoughts publicly. But Runner J has told me – in no uncertain terms – to stop overthinking. What better way to do that than purge the unhelpful thoughts? Perhaps by opening up to myself, I will find my way to accepting the conflicting desires within me. Perhaps I can turn my dissonance into cognitive consonance. And maybe, by sharing my fears here, one of you, my lovely readers, will have a helpful insight from your own experiences. Perhaps, at the very least, I’ll be able to lay some demons to rest and give myself some grace to explore these conflicting sides of myself without judging myself too harshly.

Cognitive Dissonance: Clashing Desires is my latest addition to Mrs Fever’s 43 for ’23. Linking up to Lists, Prompts and Inspiration by accident, when I realised that my brain dump works for prompt 20: Cognitive Dissonance.


  1. I used to be switchy, but it only ever worked in a fluid way. I could not (and still don’t) “scene.”

    Having to be one thing for a whole sexual episode is not necessary. A mostly D/ can also /s in the minute a position changes or the moment a kiss begins or ends.

    Maybe having a less structured interaction would allow you to explore in a non-threatening way. And it doesn’t have to be ‘sex’ (whatever that means). It could be a kissing session, or a short exploration of sensation play, or any other thing that comes to mind.

    On the one hand, it’s all about mindset.

    But the mind doesn’t have to be SET. It’s okay to be fluid.

    My two cents, for what it’s worth. 🙂

    1. Thank you for your two cents, I think it’s the fluidity that allows the flip side of me to jump out unannounced.

      I use “scene” interchangeably within playtime, from structured play to more relaxed and ad hoc fun and games – often not sexual play either. Please don’t think ALL of my play is heavily planned fucking! (I’d get so bored!!!) But I have definitely been overthinking the whole switch thing, and putting too much pressure on myself. Because I want (whatever happens when I top another) to be as good for them as I can make it. I guess that it will only be good for them if I am enjoying myself too.

      A short exploration of sensations would be a gentle, easy entry, moving into it fluidly from kissing. I think, maybe, I was a little overcome with Frenzy, and ALL the ideas. Blooming minds and imaginations. I definitely need to try standing before I can walk, then I can move onto running.

      Thank you SOOOO much Mrs Fever. 😊

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