BDSM 101

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Dominance and Submission

There's are quite a lot of misconceptions about Dominance and submission known as D/s or Ds. One assumption is that D/s is misogyny at its worst with female submissives being abused and/or brainwashed. Another misconception is that men are always Dominant and never submissive in a relationship. Another is that D/s always involves sex.Let me clear up the inaccuracies and explain Dominance and submission in greater detail.

Power Exchange

At the heart of any D/s relationship, ­ sexual or not, ­ is a consensual power exchange. One person, the Dominant, is given control while the submissive grants control. Notice I didn't say control is taken. Taking control without consent has no place in BDSM, especially in Dominance and submission, and is abuse, pure and simple. Consent is granted after communication and trust have been established and limits and desires discussed and negotiated.

You might wonder how Dominants and submissives are different from tops and bottoms. Anyone can be a top or a bottom in a BDSM scene or sexual situation. Dominants and submissives internalize those power exchange roles as a part of who they are as people. In other words, BDSM is the physical act while D/s is the relationship between two (or more) people.When a Dominant has control, they also assume a certain amount of responsibility for their submissive.

They must look after the submissive's physical, mental, and emotional well-being ­whether that's during a single BDSM scene or in the midst of a long­ term relationship. In a scene, this is important in order to make sure no one is harmed since play can get extreme from time to time. In a relationship that's based on mutual care, appreciation, and respect, this responsibility is often simply part of a Dominant's inherent nature.

Submissives can grant as much or as little control as they want ­ and that their Dominant is willing to accept. Many submissives have professional lives that require them to exert authority and control. Submissives are also parents and caregivers. ­ They must be in charge and in command at all times. For many, being dominated is a relief from the day ­to­ day stress of life.

At its heart, though, D/s is a negotiated, consensual power exchange. One person is in charge, and the other person isn't. The amount of control varies from relationship to relationship. No two relationships will ever look identical.

It's Not Always About Sex

Dominant and submissive acts are not always sexual. I know one "couple" that plays hard in the dungeon. They're best friends, but nothing sexual exists between them. She's a single bi­sexual woman and the Dominant. He's a single gay man and her submissive. Their relationship is one of friendship first, and power and control second. Ask a submissive what they get from D/s, and rarely is it all about the kinky sex, forced orgasms, and other more erotic parts of the dynamic. They'll tell you they can finally quiet the noise in their mind, focus, and depend on someone they trust to look after their own best interests ­ even when they won't.

Think about it. How many times have you told yourself you won't eat the junk food, you'll go to the gym, and you'll get more sleep at night? We know we should do these things, but for any number of reasons, we don't. In a D/s relationship, a Dominant can set a bedtime, send their submissive to the gym, and require their sub to ask permission before eating certain foods. If you notice, none of it's sexual, and the submissive reaps most of the benefits. A good Dominant does not think only of themselves, although it can seem this way when you're on the outside looking in. You may hear them say, "I'm going to take what's mine," and assume the submissive exists only for the pleasure of their Dominant. Look closer. Both are engaged in a scene or a sex act that they both enjoy. At any time, a safe word should be available to stop the moment or the scene when there's fear, pain, or concern.

Dominants and submissives come from all walks of life. They're rich and poor, educated or not, married, or single. They can be male, female, transgender, straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and anything else on the gender and sexuality spectrum. Despite what you read, not all D/s pairings are between a billionaire alpha male and his reluctant, headstrong, soon-­to­-be submissive.

Staying Safe

Because D/s is the relationship aspect of BDSM and can exist without kinky sex, just as you can enjoy BDSM without considering yourself a Dominant or a submissive, there are many aspects of safety to consider. Most advice is geared towards submissives as they are the ones who hand over control to Dominants and place themselves in potential danger. A safe word should definitely be in play, especially in new relationships.

When meeting someone new for the first time, make sure you tell trusted friends where you're going and who you'll be with. Set up a safe call. This is a call that you will make at a certain time in order to let your friends know you're okay. If they don't receive your call on time, they should call you. In the worst case scenario, if they don't get a hold of you, they should be able to get to you or call the local police to let them know you may be in danger.

As a submissive, if a Dominant approaches you, online or in the real world, and makes demands upon you without getting to know you, you are free to, and should, tell the person that you don't appreciate their behavior, tell them no, leave the situation, or whatever you need to do. You are under no obligation to submit to a Dominant simply because you're submissive. Dominance is earned, never taken.You do not have to consent to any type of play, scene, or sexual act that makes you uncomfortable. If you consider something a hard limit or something you're unwilling to try, you are under no obligation to do it. Anyone who violates your consent or ignores a safe word is not safe to play with and is abusive. Put distance between you as soon as possible. If necessary, call the authorities.

Dominance and submission is not for everyone even if you enjoy kinky sex. There are responsibilities and expectations for both Doms and subs that must be met in order for the dynamic to be successful. Open and honest communication is an absolute must. Trust and respect will follow if honest communication is present. Once those three elements are in place, you can create the D/s dynamic that works best for you and your partner, whether you're married with three children, asexual and single, or looking for the right one. No matter what, though, your relationship will be unique to you and your partner and only has to meet one requirement: it has to be consensual.



Written by Kayla Lords
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Professional writer, sex blogger, erotic author, sexual submissive, and kinkster, Kayla writes more than is probably healthy over at A Sexual Being and overshares about the kinky and mundane side of her BDSM relationship. Her mission: to make BDSM, specifically Dominance and submission, less scary, less weird, and much more real and attainable for anyone willing to learn more.

 

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