In the kink/BDSM realm, the most common dynamic is the Dom/Sub or D/S dynamic, and there are variations. This dynamic falls under the umbrella of ENM or Ethical Non-Monogamy, which in turn has a variety of umbrella terms associated with it, including polyamory (many love), open relationship (sex or romance with others/more than one), and swingers (sex with other couples/swap). There are also a few other ways the D/S relationship is talked about, such as Top/bottom.
Let’s break down what a Dom is versus a Sub and examine some stereotypes along the way as well. First things first: D/S is an energy dynamic between two consenting adults. This is not to be confused with the Master/slave dynamic, which is more intense, more in-depth, and very much a lifestyle.
DOM: Or Dominance. The Dominant takes on the role of the leader, the guide, the protector, the enforcer, etc. As a Dom, you have the innate ability to know what’s best for your Sub and the responsibility to not put her/him in harm’s way. A Dom must hold space for trust, and do so responsibly, within their role.
SUB: Or Submissive. A submissive relinquishes control and surrenders to the Dom, who will lead with their consent. Surrendering involves trust and vulnerability, which can be hard to do. Conversations around agreed-upon scenes and boundaries are key to the ability to be trusting and vulnerable. So is establishing a safe word or “tap out,” so a Sub can stop the scene at any point. A Sub must be willing, wanting, and completely consenting in order to fully surrender to a Dom’s lead in a scene.
Kink/BDSM checklists are great tools that can be found online and reviewed together so you can both really hone in on what scenes would be good for your dynamic.
There are four pillars of a Dom/Sub relationship:
Common stereotypes and myths:
The Dom has the power, and the Sub just does whatever they say. NO! This is far from the truth since this dynamic is very much based on the needs and desires of the Sub. It is up to the Dom and Sub together to define boundaries while the Dom secures the trust and information they need from the Sub in order to safely explore.
“It’s not about control, it’s about TRUST!”
Subs do not have power. As mentioned above, this is far from the truth. To create that safety and surrender, there must be trust and open communication on limits and boundaries that are then respected by both parties. I hear too many Doms reaching out for Subs, only to find out that what they wanted was a subordinate slave who would do what they were told. It’s important to be clear on what’s ok and not ok within your own dynamic.
Subs listen to Doms in all aspects of life; subs do not have any opinions. WRONG! Again, this is far from the truth. Again, trust is necessary on both sides. Subs have opinions and lives; this is only a mindset switch and not necessarily a physical or sexually explicit one. For example; a Dom might order food for Sub, and a Sub would do what they need to do to serve their Dom.
BDSM is a form of trauma-related sex or a Dom or Sub acting out something that happened to them. HECK NO! Studies have been done and no links between the sheets have been found. However, BDSM can give someone who has experienced trauma a sense of safety and control since the scenes occur between trusting, consensual individuals who have discussed precautions, talking both before and after. Also, it is normal to get heated and turned on in a scene. Just be sure neither party is expressing themselves in an abusive way, that everyone is considered, and everyone has consented and knows they can stop at any time.
“Being the Dom is NOT about manipulation, aggression, abuse, or doing what you want without consideration.”
Doms can lie back and let the sub do all the work. WRONG!! Omg so wrong. In a scene, a Dom is responsible for two people: themselves and their Sub. Which sounds like more work? A Dom needs to make sure they are attending to the sub’s needs – without taking advantage of them. For example, Doms are not to get a sub to anything they don’t want to do. They are not to demand or try to sway a sub into a scene. Doms need to own up to any mistakes, such as poor communication and being domineering rather than dominating – to name a few.
Here are some key elements for both parties:
Great communication: You need to be open on wants, needs, and boundaries.
Compromise: It’s exceedingly rare for a partner to check all your boxes, so learn to compromise.
Don’t judge: Don’t yuck someone’s yum! Everyone has their own preferences and can share openly and safely. Sharing also does not mean doing.
FUN! This is supposed to be for both of your enjoyment. Play!
All in all…
Finding the right fit is a must. So is having some of the same goals and dreams, as well as mutual admiration. Support each other in order to experience this exchange. This pairing should be a level-up, not down. Accept each other fully. Respect, appreciate, and trust each other. Do not be a door mat, and do not permit disrespect.
Learn the language:
What does D/s stand for?
What are the different types of Dom/Sub relationships out there?
What does Safe, Sane, and Consensual mean?
What does RACK stand for?
What does BDSM stand for? Kink?
What does being a “switch” mean?
What’s a munch?
How do you set boundaries?
What are your boundaries?
How should you communicate your boundaries?
What is your safe word? What does “tapping out” look like?
What are soft and hard limits?
Again, there are many subtypes of D/s relationships, such as DDLG, MS, and FLR, to name a few. Remember to do your research. Do not assume things. Ask questions. Set boundaries and limits. Have a safe word or tap out to watch out for. Remember your aftercare and reach out to the kink community.
Play safe, play consensually.
(Chief, March 14, 2020)