Just like there can’t be just one picture-postcard example of a general BDSM aficionado, there’s also no singular example of those who find pleasure being on the receiving end.

Canes, bondage, humiliation, sexual domination, floggers ... the list is near-infinite. There are just about as many types of bottoms as there are these kinky items and/or activities.

Even the concept of being submissive can be a slippery one, as some find pleasure in being anything but. Sure, they might end up in a position that might appear to be bottom-ish, but for them, getting there involves as much conflict as it does surrender.

In celebration of this diversity, let’s explore some of these different forms of bottoming by making a list. Yeah, I know, that sounds more than a tad hypocritical, but the goal here is not to say what is or isn’t submissive play, but rather to show some of the different styles that are out there.

If I’ve done my job even moderately well, this will hopefully lead to celebrating these differences while simultaneously dispelling the myths that there is a right - or wrong - way to be a submissive, a bottom, a slave ...or wherever you might want to call it.

Read: A Beginner's Guide to Submission

To Thine Own Self Be True

Before we get to our list, I want to take a small detour. Don’t worry, though, this isn’t going to be a long, meandering trip. If anything, it’s a short hop: the distance between the people involved in a relationship, a scene, or a BDSM dynamic.

What I’m getting at is that who you are and what you like to do should always be self-defined. Sure, you can put on a role or embrace a specific behavior, but it should always be chosen by you, for you. When you play with others, who you are should be respected by those involved, just as you should respect who they are.

Between these two points is negotiation, consent and growth. The people involved hopefully have an enjoyable experience. If you find yourself in a situation where you are being told that what you like to do, and what kind of person you are, is not the “right” way to be a submissive, it’s time to move on. This is equally true for dominants. Please resist the urge to copy someone else’s dom behavior because you think there’s a “right” way or a “wrong” way.

Instead, forge your own path - safely, sanely and consensually, of course.

With that out of the way, let’s grab some good seats, get some popcorn, and watch our parade of submissives march past.

The Parade of Submissives

The Smart-Assed-Masochist (SAM)

Remember how we talked about some submissives being anything but? Well, say hello to the Smart-Assed-Masochist: the bottom who is anything but submissive. SAMs might come off as bratty, overly critical, spoiled, or even totally disrespectful to their tops, but that’s the way they like it, just as tops who enjoy SAMs love their attitude.

SAMs sometimes get chastised for “topping from the bottom,” but, again, this is just an example of people thinking that this behavior is not “right” for a submissive. If it works for those involved, then it works. Period.

The Little

This type of submissive may not be a little per se, but they can sometimes feel like they are emotionally becoming childlike: playful on one end of the spectrum or very vulnerable on the other. Not to sound like a broken record, but there is nothing wrong with this as long as this emotional reaction is communicated to, understood by, and accepted by the top involved.

Read: What a Daddy Dom/Litltle Girl Relationship Is Really Like

The Domestic

This is a submissive who finds enjoyment either in pleasing their top through domestic tasks or finding sexual/emotional arousal directly through it. Just as we all have certain skills, some domestics might be great at cooking while others might be wonderful at cleaning. With the domestic, it is key to understanding where the pleasure in domestic service lies for the submissive and where it is for the dominant. The next step is setting up an effective or pleasurable reward or punishment system for everyone involved.

The Punisher

No, not the Marvel anti-hero (although one does wonder what kind of kink Frank Castle might be into … but I digress). A punisher is a submissive that will tip the scales of misbehavior in order to get punished, sometimes unconsciously or sometimes consciously. It might be dropping a dish or a glass, or “forgetting” a key part of their agreed-upon behavior with their dom. It’s crucial, though, to know that you are dealing with an actual punisher, as some doms might think that a real mistake or accident is the submissive trying to get punished. Conversely, if you do have a punisher, you might want to keep them away from the good china, or give then some hand-me-downs to clean …just in case.

The Pet

Just like with the little, sometimes submissives will become a different person, in this case changing into something animalistic ... think fierce wolf or playful puppy. The challenge with pets is that it can be challenging to maintain communication. This is why it's important to establish a few good methods to keep those lines of communication open or even suspend the scene entirely.

The Worthless Object

This type of submissive, no matter the form, absolutely requires precise and in-depth negotiation and, as always, communication. The worthless object is a submissive who finds sexual or emotional pleasure in being humiliated: verbally, physically, or using a combination of the two. The reason for the extra-firm advice for negotiation and communication is that humiliation play can be like playing with dynamite. One wrong move, one wrong word or behavior, and the scene goes from enjoyable to emotionally devastating.

My advice here is to take things very slowly, with frequent check-ins to make sure that things are going well for both the submissive as well as the dominant. It it also extremely important to respect everyone’s limits and requirements, especially with aftercare. Never forget one of the most beautiful sentiments in the BDSM world: everyone should leave a scene feeling not just satisfied, but better than when they entered it ... even someone who enjoys being treated like a worthless object.

The Slave

Just like there are all kinds of submissives, there are all kinds of slaves. We’re going to discuss the slave as someone who relinquishes much, or all, of their existence to their Owner. This can include everything from behavior (with or away from their Owner), diet, sexual activities, and even income. While this may sound intense, and it definitely can be, it should always be done with clear consent from all those involved, with the ability to have the relationship altered or even ended at any time. While it is common in a lot of fiction, and so is a common fantasy, slavehood is not something that should be entered into lightly or casually. It should be taken in careful, incremental steps.

Read: A Day in the Life of a 24/7 Submissive

The Rebel

Sort of a kissing-kin to the SAM, the rebel lives to be conquered. For them, the battle is a key part of the victory. The difference between them and a SAM is that the SAM usually demands to be on the receiving end of a top’s handiwork. The rebel, meanwhile, while having the same kind of goal, will resist and fight ... until that magic moment when they finally submit.

Always Be Your Own Submissive

In the end, what kind of submissive you are is totally up to you. It might take the form of one of these, be a wild mixture of a few of them, or be something totally and beautifully unique: Vive la différence!

Remember, though, that no matter what form your submission takes, don’t let anyone tell you that what and who you are is wrong. As long as your play is safe, sane, and consensual, you will always be your perfect submissive: no matter who you might play with - or be owned by.