Sweet Music To My Ears: On Titles & Relationship Dynamics


When I think of names and titles, especially as relates to romantic or sexual relationships that encompass any form of power exchange, I often think of the word ‘dynamics’.


What are ‘dynamics’?

In any system, the forces exerted on the system – from within or without – that relate to motion or equilibrium, are referred to as dynamics.  Any thing that *is* ‘dynamic’ is, as a result of those forces, always changing.

A dynamic language is a living language, because it is not static; it is constantly developing.

Dynamics in physics have to do with force.  It is a mathematical study of the rules of motion.

In music, the term ‘dynamics’ refers to the changes in loudness.  These changes are relative – to the instrument, to the size of the room in which it is being played, to that instrument’s position of importance to the piece; to the mood of the occasion, to the specificity of the composer; to the change in degree of loudness or intensity as compared to what sounded immediately before – and are often open to interpretation.

Dynamics in relationships are often reflective of all those things.  The vocabulary used to describe the relationship changes over time.  Nicknames (in general) and titles (whether arbitrary or honorific) are often part of that vocabulary change, and (perhaps especially) when they relate to power/force, there are rules attached.

And, as in music, there is a certain ‘loudness’ to titles.

To wit:


Pianississimo [ppp]:  Extremely Soft

Sometimes titles are barely there.  They are whisper-soft statements in the quietest of spaces, audible only to those whose ears are attuned.

If I had to state a preference for the use of titles within my relationships, this would be it.  It is the “Momma” uttered with quiet desperation in the silent confines of our private room and the “Ma’am” spoken publicly in softly deferential tones, the meaning of which is conveyed in a secret smile shared between us.

This concept is illustrated brilliantly in Lionel Richie’s Lady.  The first word is his love’s title, and is also the title of the song.  Lady, intoned with such respectful admiration, is an auditory bowed knee – the knight at the gentlewoman’s feet – and noticeable only to those who are paying *very* close attention.

You have made me what I am, Lionel sings, and I’m yours.


Mezzo Piano [mp]:  Moderately Soft

These are the quiet notes, played  _just_ loud enough to be noticeable.  It is the things he says that can be heard by all but understood only by the discerning listener. It is the words (and actions) that do not seek attention but that do *call* attention to themselves by the very gentleness of their intent.

For the most part, I consider respectful internet interactions to fall into this category (i.e., when people refer to me as Lady Fever or Madame Fever or Ma’am in a way that is natural for them).  But there are private interactions that apply as well.  Pet names fall into this category for me (I call my husband ‘Smotch’, for example; it is a nickname but also a bit more), as do capitalized terms of endearment (as when my partner addresses me as ‘My Love’).

U2’s song Mysterious Ways illustrates this concept perfectly.  Most people miss it, but at the end of the first verse Bono calls her Love, and he ends the song (Lift my days and light up my nights / Love) on the same note, brushing broad strokes of emotional color across the canvas of the entire composition.

If you want to kiss the sky, better learn how to kneel
(On your knees, boy!)

She’s the wave, she turns the tide
She sees the man inside the child


Fortissimo [ff]:  Very Loud

I do not go in for deafening sounds, which to me are how enforced and repeated titles (think: Yes, Mistress -or- No, Mistress -or- Every time I address you in any way or express an opinion or utter a single word in your direction I add the word, Mistress) come across. It’s…



And also…


It’s bland.  Predictable.

Sure, it can be fun – in a toddler-first-discovering-their-lung-capacity, yell-y kind of way – the first couple of times.  Then…

Meh.  Not so much.

Very Nine Inch Nails.

Look.  I am not Mistress (except in very specific situations and then only rarely) or Goddess or Empress or Highness or Her Supremely Stupendous She-ness.  Those titles are sfozando abruptions, overloud and grating to my ears.

Besides, I am none of those things.  I’m just me.  And ‘me’ has a name.  I expect you to use it.

Likewise, if you are my partner, then you are my partner.  You are not my “slave” or any derogatory ‘thing’.  Again, I find that shouty.  Too Head Like A Hole for my liking.

I do not need denotations of subservience.  I just need you to be you.  And I will call you by your given name – either the one you were born with or one I have devised – thankyouverymuch.


I will call you MINE.

But only when I’m ready, and only if “Mine” is what you show me you really and truly want to be.

A la Arctic Monkeys:

She’s a silver lining, lone ranger riding through an open space in my mind

When she’s not right there beside me, I go crazy
Cause here isn’t where I wanna be
And satisfaction feels like a distant memory

And I can’t help myself
All I wanna hear her say is “Are you Mine?


If music be the food of love…

I’ve used songs and lyrics to illustrate my points today because I’ve found that much of what happens in relationships can be expressed through music.

There are dynamics and compositions, classic notations and common time.  There is repetition and rhythm, themes and variations.  For every staccato note that glances sharply in and out of our lives, there is – if we are lucky – a sustained note or arpeggiated chord that saturates the air in pleasing tones.

We vary in tempo and style, in period preference and favored movements.  We play different instruments, or prefer different genres.  What’s popular is not always to our taste, and what’s pleasing to our ears is not always universally acclaimed.  (And some of us are just plain tone deaf.)

Sometimes we move in harmony.  Other times there is dissonance and atonality and our trebles are staffed with accidentals.  But always we strive for perfect pitch.

Thus it is with music, so it also goes with relationships.

The dynamics vary according to the players, as do the titles that signify them.


Do you use titles in your relationships?

Is there a song that expresses your relationship dynamics or your feeling(s) on the matter?


terms denoting musical dynamics


10 thoughts on “Sweet Music To My Ears: On Titles & Relationship Dynamics

  1. Sally

    Your relating these dynamics to music is exactly the expression I have looked for, from the forte of our public lives, to the pianssimo of my submissiveness in private.

  2. Bee

    I’m with you here, names that roll off the tongue naturally work really well. We used Sir because we felt we should but it felt wrong and forced but I do have to disagree with your NIN analogy here.

    As for songs that describe us, there are so many and it changes all the time. Sometimes it’s sappy and other times it’s something daft and ridiculous.
    Bee recently posted…What’s my name?My Profile

    1. Mrs Fever Post author

      Thus the caveats “to me” and “for my liking.” Everyone has their own perspectives, and no two need be the same. 🙂

      I have found over the years that music and its relevance to life & love tends to be intensely personal and ever-changing. Songs that ‘work’ in a yes-that-describes-ME kind of way seem to be difficult to come by where F/m dynamics are concerned. But “he & me” type songs? Yep, those songs are sometimes sappy and sometimes ridiculous. As are We. 🙂

  3. Molly

    We are a big fan of sappy and ridiculous. In my post I wrote about his name/title as it had recently been something we had recently spent some time talking about, however sometimes I call him Mr Pooh, pooh (don’t ask me why I don’t know) and he will call me Mrs Tinkle. We might be D/s but that does not mean we can’t still be silly

    Molly recently posted…Troublesome thingMy Profile

    1. Mrs Fever Post author

      I love the silly. I can’t imagine having a humorless relationship. I may occasionally be a Domly Domme McSpankypants, but I wouldn’t be any good at it if I couldn’t laugh about it. 🙂

  4. Kayla Lords

    I love the music analogy. And yes, give me the soft and the medium. The loud is a bit too much. Maybe that’s why I have such a hard time using JB’s “title” or as I think of it, “his real name” in public or in groups where I feel reserved. It’s a semi-private thing and not everyone needs or gets to hear it. Hmm, something to think about.

    1. Mrs Fever Post author

      I get it. And there’s a “Just Us” softness to keeping titles between one another. A piano duet, harmonized in a capella.

      Also, for me… What about consent?

      A man who removes his chastity cage prior to seeing his massage therapist, because he doesn’t want to involve her in his sex life nonconsensually, is a man who has taken the time to consider the implications of ‘playing’ his ‘music’ at that loud of a volume.

      To me, noisy titles – and their non/consensual implications – deserve the same amount of respectful forethought. If that makes sense.

      {Just the same, I freely admit it gives me giggles thinking of Thanksgiving Dinner scenarios in which a woman says, “Do you want more turkey, daddy?” and two men answer. 😛 }

      A W K W A R D

      (And damn funny.)


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