Ttwd is very much about intent. It changes everything and shapes the experiences within a BDSM oriented relationship.
The intentions behind actions largely determine their outcome and impacts. Take humiliation for instance, if the intent behind it is to make someone a lesser being, to break their spirit and crush who they are, without thought for their well-being, then it's not a healthy thing at all right? If the intent is to remind another of their place, to exercise one's rights over that person, to somehow deepen the connection (insert description here. I'm still trying to get a handle on the workings of humiliation lol), then it can have very different consequences.
The focus behind a gentle touch, the intent of a slap in the face--it changes what that action becomes, what it does to the person on the receiving end. If Alpha were to slap me in anger during one of those rare knock-down-drag-out fights, that would be a problem. But, while He does slap me (on a fairly regular basis I might add), it's not done in anger. Sometimes in displeasure yes, but never anger. And those tender touches? Yes, they feel good, but if there is focused intent behind them, they make your hair stand on end and send shivers down your spine.
I have focused mainly on Dominant intentions, but what about the other end? I have come to believe that the intent behind submission is just as important as the act of submission itself. Less blatantly noticeable than those from the Dominant side, but they still matter within the context of the relationship. Submission can be lovely, it can be reluctant, it can be scary, it can be primal, it can be selfish. If we submit only for what we get out of it, doesn't that effect the quality of our submission? I believe that, by definition, submission is undertaken not only for our need of it, but for the service of another (yes yes, I'm not getting any service awards, I know lol).
When the intent behind our submission is based solely on our wants, does it not lose value? It's good to know what you want. Even better to know what you need. I gots lots of wants (told you no service awards for me), and a fair amount of needs. I try not to get stuck in my wants, and make a great deal of effort to recognize my needs. But they aren't always compatible (totally rude right). Anyways...
It's true what they say, that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. But I am doubtful about how, ahem, "good" Alpha's intentions are anyways lol.
Intention isn't everything, but it does play a big part in ttwd.