What does Dom and sub mean?

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What is the meaning of Dom and sub?

Dom stands for Dominant and sub for submissive. The phrase Dom and sub is typically used to mean the power dynamic between two adults who consent to a BDSM relationship.

One person adopts the dominant role, whilst the other adopts the submission role. The dominant partner takes the lead, and controls what happens. The submissive partner is lead and follows.

It’s a sexual preference in a way, although not ALL Dom and sub relationships have to involve sex.

The D in Dominant is often capitalised and the s in submissive left lower case to emphasise the power dynamic. That’s why you’ll see Dom/sub or D/s written like that.

The phrase Dom and sub is most often used in the context of sexual activity, not not always.

Although the dominant one has the more assertive personality, being a good dominant requires excellent communication and negotiation skills.

And the submissive partner in the Dom sub relationship isn’t always a quiet, meek, helpless figure you might imagine. Some of the submissive women I know are hard-nosed, outgoing and sociable creatures.

It just so happens they enjoy CHOOSING to bring out their more submissive nature when with a more dominant partner.

And that’s the key. Choice.

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A Dom and sub lifestyle means you have the freedom to engage in as much dominance or submission as you choose.

And it’s the reason you agree upon a safe word before you engage in any activity. It’s a safety measure for the submission, who can use the safe word at any point to end whatever activity is happening.

Dom and sub meaning during sex

Dom and sub is most commonly used to describe a power play during sexual activity.

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For example, during sex, the dominant partner would be the one tying up the sub, pulling hair, and generally doing to the sub.

But Dom and sub can also mean a power play at work outside the bedroom. At the extreme end, a Dom sub relationship could mean a dynamic where the dominant partner is in charge of all aspects of the sub’s life. For example, picking what she eats, what she wears, what furniture she is allowed to use, and even when she uses the bathroom. This is more of a total power exchange situation.

Does gender change Dom and sub meaning?

Whilst it is true that men tend to veer towards being Dominants and women submissives, gender doesn’t have to be the deciding factor.

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Not all men are Dominants (many choose to be subs), and not all women are submissive (many choose to be Dominants).

In gay relationships gender is irrelevant, yet one partner can still choose to take the Dom role whilst the other takes the sub role.

And someone might also identify as being switch, meaning they are sometimes the Dom and sometimes the sub. It all depends on their mood and who they are playing with.

Where does Dom and sub fit into BDSM?

dom and sub meaning. submissive woman on rooftop

Think of Dom and sub as being a subcategory of BDSM (BDSM stands for Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission, Sadism & Masochism). In fact, the D and S in BDSM have two meanings. The first mean dominance and submission, but also mean bonDage and Sadism.

Just because you enjoy a Dom and sub relationship doesn’t mean you have to enjoy bondage or sadism. And likewise, if you enjoy sadism, it doesn’t mean you have to be engaged in Dom and sub powerplay (although you often are).

I therefore think of Dom and sub to mean the overarching theme of BDSM, dictating who has been consensually agreed upon to lead and who is to follow.

If you are interested in getting started with the Dom/sub relationship and want to practise BDSM, then I recommend you take a look at my guides on getting starting as a Dom and starting as a sub.

The Art of Submission. A course for beginner submissives
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