Are you thankful your e-reader never reveals your deepest secret and guiltiest pleasure - your love of BDSM erotica? Do you pray no one ever checks your browser history? Your interest in Dominance and submission (D/s) might be hard to explain. You think you might be submissive but then you do some research and feel that it all sounds too extreme. You're not sure what you are anymore, other than turned on and confused.

Narrowing down the world of D/s - specifically submission - in a few short paragraphs may seem impossible, but never fear, I'm here to attempt just that. So that you know where I'm coming from, I am a masochistic babygirl in a 24/7 relationship with my Daddy Dom. To say that I've created my own type of submission based on personal preferences would be an understatement.

Dominance and Submission

Dominance and submission (or D/s) are sexual fetishes that are part of the BDSM spectrum of sexuality. Bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism are all components of BDSM. Contrary to what many people believe, BDSM isn't all leather and latex or whips and chains, although it can be - if you're into that kind of thing.

In D/s, one person is the Dominant (sometimes called the "top") and the other partner is the submissive (sometimes referred to as a "bottom"). Dominants and submissives come in all races, sexual identities, and sexual preferences. Dominants are not always men and submissives are not always women. Some D/s relationships are long-term, loving relationships. Some are temporary. Communication, negotiation, trust, and safety are the most important components to any D/s relationship. (Take a look at our Beginner's Guide to Submission for more info.)

If you think you might be submissive, check out the common categories listed below. Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all. You may identify with a little bit of everything or you may see yourself falling within a particular category. Over time, as you learn and discover more about yourself, the personas with which you choose to identify and the activities you prefer may change. For the record, not all submissives are masochistic, and not all Dominants are sadists.

Bedroom Only

A bedroom submissive wants their partner to dominate them but only during sexual intimacy. Control is given up temporarily and taken back once the sexual play is over. Tasks, expectations and rules are often negotiated between partners before sexual play begins, and control within scenarios is often granted to the Dominant. Bedroom Only submissives may wish to establish a safe word to use with their partner if they begin to feel uncomortable or unsafe in any way.

24/7/365

A 24/7 D/s relationship is often undetectable to the outside world. Submission in this type of relationship includes sexual submission, but will often also encompass the performance of domestic tasks, rituals, and established rules between the dominant and submissive. Every relationship is different, and the expectations of both partners must be discussed and thoroughly negotiated. What most outsiders see when they observe a couple in a 24/7 D/s relationship is one partner who defers to the other and follows their lead, but this doesn't mean that there isn't mutual respect between the Dominant and submissive. I describe my relationship, for example, as one of constant courtesy and respect.

Pets & Furries

This type of submissive often loves puppies, kittens, and bunnies so much so that they may want to act like a small furry animal for their Dominant (temporarily at least). Submissive acts may involve behaving like a pet by crawling on all fours or making animal sounds. Dominants may give their submissives pet-related gifts such as a leash, food dish, and squeaky toys. There are even unique, tail-shaped anal plugs that submissives may wish to wear. It's important to note that neither pets and furries nor their Doms are acting on a desire to have sex with animals. They simply have a desire to explore different power dynamics and play scenario.

Littles & Babygirls

This is one of the most misunderstood classifications of submissive. The first thing to remember is that this type of D/s relationship does not condone pedophilia. Littles and babygirls are two separate classes of submissive, although they have some characteristics in common. Littles often (but not always) identify with young children - anywhere on the spectrum from toddlers to tweens to teenagers. A babygirl is often childlike without identifying with a specific age and may indulge in giggles, sassy behavior, and even whining.

Slave

Another misunderstood category of submission is the slave. When slaves enter a relationship, typically referred to as a Master/slave relationship, they often give up all rights within their relationship. The Master controls most the details of the slave's life such as when to use the bathroom, when to speak, how much money to spend, when to sleep, and what to wear. All details are communicated, negotiated, and agreed upon before the relationship begins.

Service Submissive

A service submissive is decidedly non-sexual. Service submissives often perform domestic duties such as cleaning and cooking, but may also handle other jobs and tasks as agreed upon by both partners. This submissive is most often part of a larger polyamorous D/s relationship or household.

There are no hard and fast rules for being a submissive. The things that matter most in a BDSM relationship are good communication, safety, trust, and negotiation. Whether you like the idea of giving up control during sex or in other parts of your life, your experience with submission is whatever you make of it. The best way to discover your likes and dislikes, and what you need versus what you want, is to communicate with your partner, learn as much as you can, and explore your sexuality.