Dom sub Relationships: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners

Dom sub couple riding motorbike

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I’ve collated some of the more popular questions about Dom sub relationships below.

Whilst reading, remember that the stereotypical image of a woman wearing PVC chained to the wall whilst her Dom wearing leather and waving a flogger around is only one aspect of domination and submission.

Dom and sub relationships take many different forms.

There’s no way I can do them full justice in this article, but it’ll serve as a primer to give you the basics.

What is a dom sub relationship?

A Dom sub relationship is like any normal relationship, except the couple engage in some element of BDSM (bondage & discipline, dominance & submission, sadism & masochism), and there is a clear power difference between the two participants.

One person is the dominant and the other the submissive, although the type of dominant and type of submissive roles they play vary.

Some common types of Dom sub relationship dynamics are:

Power differentials change depending upon what has been agreed, either informally, or formally in a BDSM contract.

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In one D/s relationship you might only explore power dynamics in the bedroom, or during sexual play, but at all other times the power dynamic returns to equal.

Or you may wish to have an uneven power dynamic all day, every day, even when you are not together (remote domination can be a lot of fun).

And then there’s everything in between.

Why would you want one?

The Art of Submission. A course for beginner submissives

The power differential is a turn on for some, relaxing and comforting for others.

Take a DDLG (Daddy Dom, Little Girl) Dom sub relationship for example.

This thrives on a form of age play, where the dominant is caring for his little and making sure she is safe. The little gets the opportunity to take a break from the stresses of every day life by roleplaying someone younger. The father figure looks after her whilst she’s in littlespace.

A Master and slave dynamic is more worship and acts of service-led. The slave takes pleasure from doing things for her Master (read how to be a good submissive slave and how to train a slave if this appeals to you). And the Master takes pleasure from being in control and having things done for him.

And in a Dom sub relationship which only involves sex, the submissive can feel liberated from the shame and guilt of wanting kinky sex because the dominant is giving her permission to do all these naughty things.

Read my article on why a woman would want to be a submissive for further thoughts.

Are D/s relationships healthy?


And no.

Dom sub relationships are only healthy if you work on making sure they are, just like any relationship.

Due to the power dynamic, there is potential for the submissive to be abused or taken advantage of. Natural submissives love to please and follow rules. As a Dom you need be aware of this and act responsibly.

An unhealthy Dom sub relationship can end up being abusive (physically or mentally) or end up with the sub being co-dependent and the dominant exhibiting narcissist tendencies. (Read how to be a good Dom).

A healthy Dom sub relationship requires plenty of open, honest, and direct communication and check-ins to ensure everyone is happy with the arrangement.

Who really has the power?

Who is more in control in a dom/sub relationship? The dominant or the submissive?

dom sub relationships

This is a tricky question to answer.

The dominant has a more assertive personality by his very nature (otherwise he wouldn’t be a dominant). Technically he is in charge. He sets the rules, dishes out the punishments, choose where to go for dinner, and takes charge in the bedroom.

But this doesn’t mean the submissive has no control at all. She does. Lots of it.

Submissives may be dominant in one aspect of their life but choose to be submissive in the bedroom. Both the dom and the sub are in control, but the submissive is opting to relinquish that control to someone she trusts during the roleplay.

How long the roleplay lasts, and where its boundaries are, is completely up to you.

If a person has a naturally submissive personality and isn’t very dominant in any areas of their life, then the dominant is usually the one in control. The submissive isn’t roleplaying so much – it’s just her natural inclination to want to be led.

However, ultimately both parties remain an element of control because they are free to walk away from the relationship or withdraw consent at any time.

What are the signs of a Dom sub dynamic?

My Dom sub relationships would be pretty much indistinguishable from a normal relationship if you saw me out in public with my sub.

But if you watched us closely, you might spot a few telltale signs.

  • She’d be wearing a day collar. When I”m out with my sub I enjoy being reminded each time I look at her that she is mine. Wearing a collar reminds us of the power dynamic.
  • I’d be leading her. If we were asked a question then I’d answer. She’d look to me to make the decisions. I’d take her hand and direct her to where we are going.
  • She’d be the shyer one and I’d be the more extravert. Only the case for naturally submissive subs. Many subs are incredibly extraverted, more so than their Doms.
  • You’d see her doing little things for me. She might fill up my water glass at the restaurant. Or I might get her to order my food for me. Or I might have her run little errands for me such as popping around to the shop to buy more chocolate biscuits (fucking love a chocolate biscuit).

Other than that, you’re unlikely to know if a couple practises BDSM unless they tell you. We aren’t all social awkward weirdos who only wear ass-less chaps and leather waistcoats.

What is being in a Dom sub relationship like?

Like any other relationship, really. We hang out, go to the cinema, go for drinks with friends, lead our own lives, work.

dom sub couple having dinner

But there’s always that hint of power play in the background, which to me is intoxicating. It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling knowing I have power over someone else and can have them do things for me.

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In public

In public, 95% of the time we are doing normal stuff.

5% of the time we are teasing each other and the power dynamic is evident (to us – no-one else would realise).

Maybe she’s been commanded not to wear any panties under her skirt. Maybe she’s wearing vibrator I can control remotely whilst we sit at dinner. Maybe I’ll push her into a doorway on the way home, pull her hair, and whisper in her ear what a good girl she is.

In private

In private things get spicier. The dynamic is amped up and is more explicitly sexual.

She might be cockwarming me, or making me dinner, or kneeling naked waiting for my commands, or walking around the house in nothing but heels making me dinner, or curled up in my lap with me stroking her hair, or tied to the bed with some restraints as I pleasure her.

At kinky events

Kink events fall between public and private, depending on what time of event it is.

At a play party such as Torture Garden or Klub Verboten I may lead her around the venue in nothing but revealing lingerie and a leather collar with a leash.

Or I might indulge in my exhibitionist side by pulling down her panties and publically spanking her.

Or I may enjoy talking to other people about what I did to her the night before, or what I make her do for me (this is a turn on for both of us).

The power dynamic is the key part, not the activities themselves.

Any act can become a Dom sub act when done the right way.

Even a simple act as a kiss.

Kissing her on the forehead for example, rather than the lips. It’s highlighting her ‘littleness’ because it reminds us of being cared for as a child. For that brief moment she feels cherished and safe (submissive to her dominant).

What are some guidelines to follow?

General guidelines for D/s relationships are:

  • Get great at communication. You must be able to articulate how you are feeling, and feel completely comfortable talking to your partner about your wants and desires. Become a great listener. Take the time to allow your partner to open up to you.
  • Compromise. You’re unlikely to find someone who ticks all your kink preference. Learn to compromise in some areas.
  • Don’t judge. If you do, your partner will close off and stop telling you important things. If they tell you about a fetish they love, but you hate, don’t tell them you think they are disgusting. This only causes guilt and shame – the antithesis of a great D/s dynamic. It’s okay if you aren’t into everything they are, but don’t shame them for opening up to you.
  • Have fun. This is meant to be fun! Don’t take the power dynamic too seriously or overthinking it. You don’t need strict rules in place to say you are in a Dom sub relationship. Do what works for you.

How to avoid being a Fake Dom?

A Fake Dom is someone who things their are a Dom but in reality they don’t care about and are only using their sub.

Fake Doms are bad for the community because they care little about consent, and are often emotionally manipulative towards their subs.

A Fake Dom isn’t just a beginner Dom. There’s a difference between someone who is new to the lifestyle and wants to learn, and a Fake Dom who thinks they know it all, and believes the sub is there to do whatever they want all the time.

I highly recommend reading 7 Ways to Spot a Fake Dom (and Why You Should Avoid Them). If you’re a sub it will help you figure out if you’re dating a Fake Dom and how to avoid them in the future. And if you’re a Dom it’ll give you a list of things to check you aren’t are Fake Dom.

How to start a Dom sub relationship?

You build a D/s relationship like any other.

You meet someone, either online or in-person. You get chatting and building rapport.

couple starting a dom sub relationship on a motorbike

If you like their personality and how they look, you ask them out on a date. You continue to go on more and more dates as long as they continue to be fun, and eventually you find yourself in a relationship!

The only real difference when building a Dom sub relationship is a question of timing the D/s reveal!

When do you bring up the fact you are a dominant or submissive?

There’s no one answer, but my thoughts are generally as follows:

If you meet at a munch or kinky event

If you’ve met the person at a kinky event you can be upfront.

Although please treat everyone as human beings. Don’t go to a munch and wander around looking at people as though they are kink dispensers.

Get chatting to someone, and if you like them, once you’ve built some rapport, you may want to ask them their preferred dynamic and how they identify (as dominant, submissive or switch).

With that out of the way up front, the rest of the dating process is as normal.

If you meet on a vanilla app

If you use the standard dating apps, you have to be a little more under the radar. I’ve tried two approaches.

Option 1 – Keep it quiet

I have a normal dating profile with no references to kink at all.

I match, get chatting, and try to get a sense from their responses if they are submissive.

I’m quite a flirty person by nature, so the banter between us gives me clues as to how experienced they are with BDSM, and if they are keen.

As an example, a conversation might go like this:

Me: Hey, what are you up to today?
Her: I’m still in bed. Don’t wanna get up!
Me: Oh yeah? Is that because you’ve got some stud lying next to you preparing for round two.
Her: Haha of course 😉
Me: Well tell him from me to give you a few spanks on the ass.
Her: If only he was real… ?

From her responses I know she is open to the idea (and may in fact already love) being dominated in the bedroom.

This doesn’t mean she would want the same type of D/s dynamic I enjoy outside of the bedroom, but it’s a stepping stone in the right direction.

Option 2 – Be more open

The second option is to be more open and honest in your profile. You can outright say you are looking for a D/s relationship, or just sprinkle a few words here and there that people in the know will clock.

I’ve seen people use the line ‘Vanilla is only for ice-cream‘ or simply put ‘D/s’ at the end of their profile.

The benefit of this approach is vanilla folks will have no idea what you are talking about, and won’t mention it. Kinky folks will start chatting to you about it.

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The downside is you are likely to be rejected by potential matches because they don’t understand what a D/s dynamic involves, and it scares them off (even though they might actually love it if they fully understood it).

The other downside for women highlighting they are into BDSM on their profiles is it is likely to increase the number of creepy messages they get from men. Nothing you can do about this sadly – you just need to spend more time looking through them. There will be a gem amongst them somewhere.

Try both approaches and let me know in the comments which works for you.

If you meet in-person

If you meet the person in public, at a house party, or get talking to them in a bookstore (does this really happen anymore!?), how should you start things then?

The same way you would on a vanilla app. Be friendly. Don’t bring up sex, BDSM, or kink at all.

Take the time to get to know her, flirt a little.

If you’re a woman you’ll pick up if he has a naturally dominant personality (although that doesn’t mean he is good at being a Dom at all).

If you’re a guy you’ll sense if she has a submissive nature (although again, this doesn’t mean she wants a Dom sub relationship), which is a good start.

From there, go on a date, get to know them. Depending on how flirty they were, I would subtly introduce the topic of dominance and submission in the bedroom (much like how I do it in the text example above) and gauge her reaction.

If she’s interested, I open up more. If it’s making her uncomfortable I switch back to more vanilla topics.

After we’ve slept together once or twice I would want to have a more frank discussion, and be very open about my enjoyment of D/s, and take time to listen to her thoughts on the subject.

She may bolt out the door (hopefully not if you’ve built a good rapport), may politely decline, be somewhat interested in learning more, or turn out to be a kinky little freak who’s going to teach you a thing or two!

You just can’t tell until you have an honest conversation.

What do we call each other?

What names do you call each other? Once again, the moniker or pet name you use is entirely up to you.

Most dominants will enjoy Sir, Master or Daddy, whilst submissives can be Baby, Babygirl, Little Girl or Kitten. But this is far from a complete list.

How long do Dom sub relationships last?

Dom sub relationships last as long as normal relationships.

They can be short-term, lasting but a few nights, weeks or months. Or span multiple decades (a married couple for example).

The longer the relationship has lasted, the better the Dom sub dynamic is likely to be, because the dominant and submissive have had time to learn each other’s ways of doing things, likes, and dislikes.

You could have kinky BDSM sex during a one night stand, and have a D/s power dynamic going on, but I wouldn’t call that a Dom sub relationship.

What about ending a Dom sub relationship?

Some element of grief and pain is natural at the end of all relationships. A Dom sub relationship perhaps more so due to the increased trust and connection you have with that partner.

You may wonder how you will ever find another submissive like her, and she might wonder how to cope without the safety net of her dom.

As this quote from an article on ending a submissive relationship says, there is a more intense connection created in a D/s relationship compared to a vanilla one, making post-breakups more difficult.

…a submissive and a Dominant ‘bond’ to each other in ways beyond love or even a vanilla marriage. This bond may or may not end even when you make the ‘mental’ decisions to leave. You may still experience the same needs and desires. You may find yourself vacillating even though you know that the relationship is not forward moving for you or positive. A Dominant can feel these same connectors. In addition many will feel a continued obligation to ‘protect’ submissives long after that submissive has moved away into other relationships. The linkage may never truly end and that is something that both sides need to be cognizant of especially if their relationship moves into one of friendship.

Mistress Steel writing on

However, don’t think that just because a woman is in a Dom sub relationship she is completely reliant on her Dom. This should not be the case.

I want my sub to function without me, not just to sit in the corner waiting for me to tell her what do to at all times.

So when a breakup happens, although there is an element of emotional pain left by the hole your partner used to fill, it isn’t the end of the world.

The submissive may be the one who ends the relationship. Although the power dynamic is often tilted in favour of the dominant, the submissive has the right to speak up if the relationship isn’t suiting her, and end things.

Any dominant who thinks this isn’t the case, and only he has the power to let her go, is probably more of an abuser than a real Dom.

What books are there I can read?

There certainly aren’t as many books on Dom sub relationships as there are on traditional relationships. It’s one of the reasons I started this website – to share as much knowledge on the subject as I can.

I recommend the following books:

The New Topping Book by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy (for dominants)

The New Topping Book

The New Bottoming Book by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy (for submissives)

The New Bottoming Book

The Ultimate Guide to Kink by Tristan Taormino (for both)

The Ultimate Guide to Kink

To help the relationship and person growth I would also recommend:

Radical Honesty: How to Transform Your Life by Telling the Truth by Brad Blanton.

Radical Honesty

Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg and Arun Gandhi.

Non-violent communication


So there it is – the mega article on Dom sub relationships.

Ultimately they are like normal relationships, but with aspects of BDSM and power differences thrown in. The barebones are the same for everyone, but it’s the nuances and detail which makes each D/s relationship unique.

Communication and trust as key. Listen to your partner and evolve your relationship over time, keeping the good stuff and throwing out the bad.

Above all, remember that the purpose of a relationship is to make you feel happy, content and act as a platform for personal growth. If you’re not getting that in a relationship (regardless of whether its a D/s relationship or not) then something has to change.

Enjoy meeting kinky people, and building a D/s relationship of your own.

The Art of Submission. A course for beginner submissives
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My Dominant Calls me his “little Fennec” mostly bc My fav animal i s a fennec and he finds it cute, and i usually don’t call him anything, but sometimes i’ll add in master, just to spice up our texts.


Thank you for the invitation. Very much interested in this lifestyle…(i think). No , really i’m sure. But, as a newbie without any experiance, i find it difficult to lick it off and find that special someone. HELP me please, if anyone out there can, i’d be greatly in debt to You. I should probably mention that i’d mostly alighn as a sub but would enjoyed trying switch as well. Thank you s/michael


Hello so I guess I’ll get right to the point.. so I’ve been in D/s relationships before but it’s been a very long time. Well I meet a Dom online and we both are wanting to give it a try with each other . He has been very kind, caring, and forgiving me for a day of my sassy month getting away from me. But I really want to be his sub and I want to be able to please him in all areas. I’m confident in my bedroom abilities but I need help and ways to get information on speaking to him. He is a soft /hard Dom and I’m a Brat. I want to be the best sub I can. If you can help me i would be most grateful. Thank you.


Its been a while since I was involved in the Dom/sub world. It started when I was having an affair with a work colleague. We just started chatting one day about kink and it turns out we were both interested in the Dom/sub relationship but didn’t know where to go. We had both broached the subject with our respective partners but it was clear they were not in the slightest bit interested, so we both ‘hid’ our interest.
Following our confession, we set out to explore this fascinating world and purchased some items. At first it was a bit of trial and error, but we loved it.
Unfortunately our affair ended when she moved out the area due to hubbys job move. The BDSM gear went into a charity bin. (I’d have loved to have seen the faces of the women sorting through the box).
Fast forward to 2021 and I started an affair with a nurse who also expressed an interest in the Dom/sub relationship. Obviously I’m a little rusty, but started to explore and purchase some items from love honey. She was keen on rope work, and having been a boy scout, I was well trained on knots. We had just started to get into it when covid kicked in and ruined it all and we’ve drifted apart….
Having piqued my interest, I’m keen to find another sub to go on a new venture with. Where do you find one?


I am very new to the Dom-sub world. Better said, I decided to learn more about it only a few days ago, because vanilla relationships have not given me what I wanted. I quickly got bored in such a relationship and thought I was relationship-incapable, as I was always missing something. Then when I came across the Dom-sub world, I realized that this is exactly what I was missing. Since then I have been reading your blog very carefully, learning and now working on myself to be a good Dom.
When I review my past relationships, I have always had a tendency to dominate. I decided a lot of things and told her what to do and I also took the lead in bed more often. (Of course, if it was too much for her or she was uncomfortable, I always made sure to stop and this would not happen again, because I’m not an asshole) But still, it was not a D/s relationship. We were just always equal. But that is boring for me and I need action. That means I don’t want to be dominant only once in bed, but in all areas. So I ended every relationship after a few months. Now that I have come across the Dom-sub world, I feel like I have been enlightened. I am also very happy to have found your blog and can learn a lot here.
That a D/s relationship is built on respect & fun has really reassured me a lot, as I also thought in the beginning that women are oppressed rather than that there is a mutual consent to this relationship.
The only thing is that I keep coming across one thing that I personally don’t like so much. That is the kink parties. So that you should talk to people from the same area to learn from them and how others handle this relationship. I think these kink parties are also good and important. But there are also kink parties where it’s more than just talking, like partner swapping, sex etc. Do I have to attend such events or is it more for people with polygamous characteristics? It comes across on many blogs and sites as if everyone does this and that it is almost essential to participate in something like this if you are in the D/s / BDSM.


My husband and i have been in and out of a 24/7 dom sub relationship for years but sometimes im just not interested then he speaks to me in a certain way and its crazy the effect it has on me but neither of us know what it is that’s different from the way we normally talk haha! But we love the dynamic there is so much trust and care many people say they aspire to our closeness (if only they knew!)
This blog was a wonderful thing to read! Its brill that you covered so many different things. This sort of relationship should be spoken about and not compared just to 50 shades or 365 days 🤦🏼‍♀️

Last edited 2 years ago by Pixie

Sad that you only talk about d/s relationships where the woman is submissive and the man is dominant. You know there are dominant women(like me)? And that samesex couples exist? I thought people in the bdsm community were supposed to be inclusive and openminded..


But I have a dom bf and he is an age reggeser and is little sometimes and he wants me to dominate him sexually when he’s little but I’m new to this how to I do that

Not telling

Well written an informative article. Something my husband and I want to try very much but weren’t sure where to start. I have a dominant personality in everyday life and would love to be a sub in our private life. The idea of having the space to let go of control is appealing to me if that makes any sense.


Thank you for writing things like this for beginners. I’ve been the one to introduce D/s dynamics to someone and this is always the first I send to them if they express an interest in that power dynamic. Most of what I learned if your posts, and then I branch off and do my own research and talk to my more experienced friends and mentors. But this post has really been the best beginner guide I have found.


Any suggestions for someone that’s been in a long-term committed relationship (11 years), and wants to explore the Dom/Sub kink more? How to begin considering this – do we just try to dive in? Thanks!


Would you make a recommendation on where to meet healthy BDSM/D/s/Persons with Kinks?


I have been with my boyfriend for years now, I am a sub I have know that for a while.. if tried introducing him into bdsm d/s.. but it’s hard to when he doesn’t really show so much interest but he does as well, if that makes sense.. I have tried many ways but he still doesn’t get it.. I am also a little and I kinda feel left out but I do love him what do I do-?

He knows I’m a little, he knows I’m a sub. He finds it cute when I freak out over stuffed animals, tho.. I was talking to him in public walking through a mall about bdsm and he got embarrassed and mad. Which kinda hurt because that’s my life style I really don’t know what to do, but I vanilla isn’t for me, it doesn’t get me off.. he grabs my neck or bites my shoulder or pulls hair sometimes spanking me but he doesn’t fully understand.. what do I do?


Im back in a dom sub relation ship.
With a past dom…he was on a rebound..on fence…trying to live and marry in a vinolla …7 yrs later div…realized he needs to be dom…he open the door to me once again. I didnt walk right back thru..was causcious…im back and we have s 24/7 relationship.very happy both fullfilled…know each other from past…had strengthened our dom master…can this work. This time…


This is really interesting.. my husband and i have been married 10 years, our marriage was drifting.. he was always into things like this and i was very scared and unsure. Fast forward to a few weeks ago i found out he was having an affair and fulfilling his desires with someone else that likes this type of dynamic. I now want to be his sub. For her to fuck off essentially. I want to be desired by him. Do you have any positive stories about married couples and this type of relationship? Really look forward to your reply!

Kat Voorhees

Omg this makes sense to me. I’m taking it slow with a Dom since I’m a new sub in kink but I wanna thank you for making me feel okay about this.


Ok so I’m new to the whole dom and sub things. So i don’t know what to expect I could really use some advice on how to be a good girl.


I’ve recently realised I have always be a submissive in relationships and that this is what I enjoyed but have no clue how to find the right dom. what I mean I guess is where do you find a dom who is willing to teach and nurture a sub? Do you join a website? I’ve seen a couple and have no clue what is the right way forward. Does anyone have any advice for a sub in training?