A Brief Guide to

Dominance and Submission

for the beginner dominant and submissive interesting in introducing power play into their relationship.

This short guide will help you understand the basics of dominance and submission in relationships, and point you in the direction of useful resources as a beginner Dominant or submissive. 

If you’re new to the concepts of dominance and submission and want to experience the thrill of power play with a partner then this guide is for you. 

This guide is not meant to be fully comprehensive – it’s more of a starter.

What is dominance and submission?

Dominance and submission – also known as D/s and Dom/sub in the BDSM community – is a set of behaviours, practices, and relationships in which one person (the submissive) surrenders control to another person (the dominant) in a powerplay dynamic. This dynamic can take many forms, ranging from simple role-playing games to full-time lifestyle commitments.

It is one of the three pillars of BDSM (bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism).

At its core, D/s is about the exchange of power. The dominant partner has control over the submissive partner, who willingly surrenders this control in a negotiated agreement. This power exchange can be physical, emotional, or psychological, and can involve a wide range of activities, including bondage, spanking, role-playing, and more.

The Dominant is in charge and controls aspects of what the couple do together, whilst the submissive consensually relinquishes control for a period of time. Often this is during sex but it doesn’t have to be – some Dom/sub relationships are entirely non-sexual.

While the dominant partner is in control, they are also responsible for the well-being and safety of the submissive partner. Trust, communication, and respect are essential elements of a healthy D/s relationship.

D/s can be a deeply fulfilling and enriching experience for those who engage in it. It can allow people to explore their boundaries, desires, and fears in a safe and controlled environment, and can also lead to increased intimacy and connection with their partner.

Sexy BDSM couple engaging in D/s

Why do people enjoy Dom/sub relationships?

People choose to engage in D/s for a variety of reasons including sexual gratification, relaxation, to overcome past trauma, to get away from the stresses of life, to practise being more assertive, as a way to have more intense orgasms, or just because their natural personality lends itself to falling into a dominant or submissive role. 

Incorporating D/s into sex and relationships is more common than you’d think!

What types of Dom sub relationships exist?

There are many styles of Dom/sub relationships. Some are purely sexual and keep the power play to the bedroom only; some are non-sexual, focusing on control in other areas of life; and some are a mixture of both.

Styles of D/s you may have heard of include:

  • Master and servant
  • Daddy/Mommy Dom and Little Girl/Boy
  • Rigger and Rope Bunny
  • Sadist and Masochist
  • Owner and Pet
  • Hunter and Prey
  • Findom and Finsub (Financial)
  • Dominatrix and Slave

The beauty of D/s is that you can be whatever type of dominant and submissive that suits you and your partner. You can blend together as many styles of D/s and BDSM activities into your relationship as you like – there’s no right or wrong.

How do I figure out what type of dominant or submissive I am?

You probably already have an inclining what style of dominance and submission suits you best; it’s the one which gets you excited and turned on when you read about it.

But I also recommend you complete a sex menu, do a BDSM test, and perform a core desires exercise to gather more data points. 

After that it’s about trying things out, adopting what you enjoy and leaving what you don’t enjoy out. That’s the way to discover what your flavour of dominant or submissive is.

What can I expect in a typical Dom/sub relationship?

Every relationship involving dominance and submission is very different. The only common element is that one person adopts a position of control and the other submits to that control.

However, generally speaking, a typical Dom/sub relationship style might include:

  • Rules set for the submissive to follow
  • Punishments to correct unwanted behaviour (or just for fun)
  • Training the submissive to perform tasks the way the Dominant likes them done
  • Elements of degradation, humiliation, or objectification
  • Power play type activities such as orgasm denial, edging, bondage, forced orgasms, roleplay, spanking, flogging, and rougher sex
  • The use of honorifics such as Sir, Master, Daddy, and Mistress for Dominants and little boy, little girl, good/bad girl, good/bad girl, slave, pet, and kitten for submissives
  • Negotiations about what the dynamic will involve, what activities are permissible, and both people consenting to them 

How does gender and sexual orientation fit into Dom sub dynamics?

Gender and sexual orientation have no bearing on whether you wish to be a Dominant or a submissive. And gender can take on any role. 

Many of my articles are written from the perspective of a male Dominant interacting with a female submissive, because I’m a straight man. It’s what I have most experience with and can therefore write from the heart. However, the vast majority of information on this website can be applied no matter your gender or sexual orientation – you just have to change the pronouns in your head as you read.

Does the Dominant have complete control?

Not really. Much of D/s is a form of roleplay, with the submissive voluntarily giving up control for as long or as short a time as they want. It’s the choice that differentiates a healthy BDSM relationship from an abusive or manipulative one. 

Dom/sub relationships are all about consent. At any point, either the Dominant or the submissive should be able to end the play using a safeword. Frequent communication is also essential between all parties involved to ensure what is happening really is consensual and that everyone is still enjoying what’s going on.

Being forced to do something you don’t enjoy and haven’t consented to is not dominance and submission – it’s abusive and unhealthy. 

Frequently asked questions

What next?

Wondering how to get started introducing D/s into your relationship? Excited to explore your kinky side and learn more about Dom/sub dynamics?

We’ve got you covered with some excellent guides, courses, and books.

Pick an option below to get started.

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