Not all power exchange dynamics include acts of service. While it is more common than punishment, it is still one of those things that doesn’t fit everyone. It also fits in dynamics differently for different people. For some, acts of service go both ways; from each side of the slash to the other. For others, like ours, it is the submissive performing the acts of service.
A common mistake made when addressing acts of service is confusing them with what they aren’t; chores. A chore is something done for the household, or because it needs to be done to make your environment feel better or day run smoother. You might be thinking, “Wait, my acts of service do that.” And you would be right. BUt the difference is in the details.
An act of service is performed, not because of the benefits it brings, like a stress-free environment. Instead, it is performed out of honor or service for a person or people. The fact that it also benefits the house, or daily activities is meaningless to the person who is performing the act. Those are just side-effects. If that isn’t true, then you aren’t performing an act of service, you are completing a task or chore required of you.
This may feel like splitting hairs here, but the difference is significant. When your goal is to honor or serve another person, your focus is very different. When completing an act of service, you are thinking about the person you are serving. You take steps to ensure the act is completed in a way that pleases them, that makes them feel honored, or loved, or cared for. You do it differently than you would if you doing the same act for yourself. You may not do it the fastest way, or the easiest way. Instead, you do it in a way that makes them feel your presence and your time spent by doing it.
The opposite is true if you are completing a task or chore. In those cases, your goal is completion of the task, and your thoughts go toward the function of that task. Speed and time may be considered. There is no going above and beyond, because the task does not care what you do. Completion of the chore is the goal, not the feeling of the person being served. It is more important that it gets done, then it gets done with care and effort.
An act of service may include extra ceremony, effort attended to particular scents or taste preferences, care made to accommodate favorites, additional ceremony, or a bit of pizazz. It is not just an cream cone versus an ice cream sundae. It is making sure the ice cream goes all the way to the bottom of the cone. Ensuring the ice cream is exactly the flavor and brand preferred, even if that means going to the only grocery store that sells it. It is serving only the prefered type of cone, and checking it for cracks or breaks before scooping the ice cream. It is making sure the ice cream is perfectly frozen, and not too soft or too hard. It is knowing which scoop will give the best shape at the top. It is serving it with a smile and a kneel, even when you are dogged tired. It is always having everything ready whenever desired, without being told to have it ready.
It is striving for perfection.
Most importantly, it is doing it because you love and honor that person, and are acting in service of them to show them the place they deserve to be in your life.
I have three acts of service I perform for my Master. Two of them are daily, and one weekly, or as needed. Every morning, I both make the bed, and serve him coffee. On weekends, or as needed, I take care of his laundry. This includes every step of the process, from hamper to hanger, so all he has to do is get dressed. Once in awhile, I need him to tell me when he needs things washed, but that is the end of his responsibility in it. Coffee comes every morning, and occasionally in the afternoon. I get the perfect roast shipped in and keep it in supply, upgrade our equipment when needed, work on bettering my pour, warm his mug, and prepare his favorite mug. I end this by bringing it to him wherever he sits, sweet and hot. (Just like he likes me 😉 ) The bed I make while he is in the shower, so when he comes out, it is already nice for him. It includes fluffing the pillows, washing everything when needed, buying new pillows as needed, and upgrading our bedding with pleasing colors and patterns to suit the space and feel overall.
While, he has chosen the acts of service he wants completed for me, he has never told me how or what to do to complete them. Instead, I pay attention. I notice what he likes, and change my actions to improve my service. That is the key difference between an act of service and a chore.
There are other chores I perform for him, or for the household. There are even other tasks I perform for him as his submissive. But with those, he would have to ask me if he wanted me to do something different since they are not an act of service. Cleaning the bedroom, for example. It is my task to complete, under our negotiations, but I do it when I want, how I want. If I’m busy, I put it off, and that’s okay. It will get done when I have time. The goal is just that it gets done, not that it gets done to honor him.
Do you have acts of service that you perform? I’d love to hear about them!