A submissive is an individual who willingly relinquishes control to another person, usually to satisfy a sexual urge. If you're here reading this, chances are the thought of relinquishing control to another person has piqued your interest or has even gotten your sexual juices flowing, so to speak. Think you're odd?

Don't worry - you're not weird. Far from it, really. In fact becoming sexually submissive is one of the most common sexual fantasies. Just check out these statistics from the Kinsey Institute.

  • 5-10 percent of Americans engages in sadism/masochism (S/M) practices for sexual pleasure at least occasionally.
  • 12 percent of women and 22 percent of men reported erotic response to an S/M story.
  • 55 percent of women and 50 percent of men reported having responded erotically to being bitten.
  • 14 percent of men and 11 percent of women have had some sexual experience with sadomasochism.
  • 11 percent of men and 17 percent of women reported trying bondage.
Clearly, for many peoples, the fantasy of being ordered around, spanked, and generally coerced to perform sexual acts can seem thrilling. The question for those who haven't actually done it, however, is where to start. And if you want to be a submissive, what do you really need to know? (Read more about BDSM in Why BDSM Might Be the Sanest Sex Out There.)

Read on, and find out...

Educate Yourself

Becoming a submissive is not a decision that should be made lightly. Before you decide to take the plunge and put yourself at the mercy of another, educate yourself on all things submission.

First, some excellent books have been written on the subject of submission and dominance, and there are some very valuable online communities that cater to both veterans and novices. ("The Ultimate Guide to Kink" by Tristan Taormino provides an educated look at the topic, while "SM 101" by Jay Wiseman provides the fundamentals of safe, sane S/M.)

Another way to learn more about what it's like to become a submissive is to attend a "munch". A "munch" (short for "burger munch") is a casual social gathering for individuals interested in the dominant/submissive lifestyle. Attending these gatherings is a great way to connect with experienced individuals and learn more about the lifestyle.

Determine If You're Really the Submissive Type

Not surprisingly, submissive behavior typically comes very naturally to true submissives. But how can you tell if you're a true submissive?

Generally, true submissives have a desire to please a more dominant person and may even be turned on by the thought of being humiliated or overpowered. But don't think for a second that all submissives bend to everyone's whims in their everyday lives. Some submissives are individuals in truly powerful positions who simply want a release from their responsibilities from time to time.

On the flip side, however, if submitting to another person turns you off, being a submissive probably isn't for you. Instead, you could look into becoming a dominant or even a switch (someone who participates in BDSM as both a dominant and a submissive).

Finally, ask yourself honestly why you want to become a submissive. Is it because you truly enjoy the idea of relinquishing power to a dominant person? Or is it because your partner wants to dominate you? Remember that dominant/submissive relationships must always be consensual. Never become a submissive if you feel that you're being pressured into it.

Determine Your Level of Submission

There are a few different distinct levels of dominance and submission. Some people, for instance, simply use dominance and submission to add a little spice to their sex lives. This typically includes fantasy role-playing in the bedroom from time to time, with some light spanking, dirty talk or bondage. (Read more about how to mix it up in Why Bondage Can Be So Much Fun.)

Part-time submissives find that the submissive lifestyle is a much more important part of their lives. They may transform into a submissive during certain times, such as during sex or when visiting a BDSM club. They will often invest in outfits and other props, but won't usually let their role interfere with other areas of their lives.

Full-time submissives, on the other hand, are usually the hard-core players in the BDSM game. These types of submissives may even be looking to live in a full-time dominant/submissive relationship. They will usually relinquish all control to their dominate in most - if not all - areas of their lives. Many of these relationships also involve signed contracts. In some ways, they are very similar to marriage - although, of course, most marriages these days have much less of a power imbalance.

As with all things in life, when it comes to dominance and submission, it's usually best to start small and work your way up. Maybe try a little fantasy role-playing before you completely submit to a full-time dominant, for example.

Know Your Limits

Does the thought of being caned make you want to cower in the corner? Do handcuffs and spreader bars raise your hackles? As you delve into the world of dominance and submission, you're bound to come across more than a few things that test your comfort zone. You know what we're talking about - the things that make you go "Yikes!" Don't let these things turn you off of submission completely, though. Keep in mind that just just because others enjoy something doesn't mean that you have to. Know your limits and stand firm!

Communicate

While communication is important in any relationship, it's absolutely essential in a dominant/submissive relationship. Now's not the time to be shy; if you're uncomfortable with the thought of sharing your innermost sexual desires and turn-offs it can really affect your safety - not to mention whether your enjoy your encounters. As a submissive, you must be willing and able to openly communicate with your partner or partners to ensure that all sex play is truly consensual. (Get some tips on sexual communication in Talk Dirty to Me: The Why and How of Hot Aural Sex.)

Before a scene or relationship begins, you and your partners should share your wants, desires, and sexual fantasies. However, it is equally important to make your partners aware of any turn-offs and limits you may have. Make your limits known and set boundaries as soon as possible.

Put Safety First

In recent years, the term "safe, sane and consensual" has become something of a motto for the BDSM community and BDSM play. If you're looking into BDSM play for the first time, or even if you're a hardened veteran, safety should be a No.1 priority.

To be clear, whether you're flogging someone or submitting them to some other delicious torture, there is an element of danger or potential harm in any BDSM activity. Always take the time to learn how to properly and safely use any toys and props, and always establish a safeword before beginning any BDSM play. This simple word or phrase can be spoken by a submissive at any time they want to slow down or stop a scene, no questions asked. Of course, words like "stop" and "no" should also be avoided when choosing a safeword, since they can often be used to heighten the excitement during a scene.

Distinguish Fantasy from Reality

If you're willing to take that first step into a dominant/submissive relationship, it's imperative that you're able to distinguish fantasy from reality. Unless you have another arrangement, you and your dominant should keep in mind that your role-playing is just that - playing.

Don't let your dominant's words and actions get to you, and maintain your self-respect. However, remember that unless you communicate with your dominant, he or she will simply assume that you're satisfied with how your relationship is going. Of course, if your partner don't respect you enough to stop overstepping your limits, respect yourself enough to end the relationship.

Cultivate Patience

Don't expect to read a few articles on the Internet and then be able to call yourself a submissive. No matter how eager you are to learn and experiment, you won't become a submissive overnight. Becoming a true submissive takes a great deal of time and patience. In fact, many submissives may even go through a formal "training" period, which can take months or even years.

And if you do decide to open this new chapter in your life, have fun with it. You may choose to close it in the future, or it may become a big part of who you are. Either way, learn what you can from the experience and, most importantly, enjoy it!