BDSM BASICS: Are you a Dominant, submissive, or switch?


BDSM is a lifestyle that’s been around since people first used their penises and vaginas for pleasure. While Fifty Shades of Grey brought it into the global mainstream, it’s hardly new. 

As one dominatrix told me, “If you’re into BDSM, you were born liking BDSM.” While the majority of people are “vanilla” meaning they’re not into bondage and discipline, Dominance and submission, or sadism and masochism, those whose sexual inclinations crave kink can’t get off without it.

In a vanilla relationship, two people are never truly equal, but BDSM pushes that concept to another level. In the BDSM world, lovers consent to their roles—where one person is in charge and the other person submits. From that agreement of power, there are various ways of play—everything from the latexed dominatrixes who whip their “slaves” to the “daddies” who watch over their “little girls.”

So if you’re thinking of entering the alternative world of BDSM, do you know what role you are?

Dominant
The person in charge is known as the Dominant. Other names include Top, Domme, Dominatrix, Master, Mistress, Daddy, Sadist, Sir, Lord etc. The Dominant descriptor is always capitalized to show dominance even on the page.

In bondage and discipline and sadism and masochism, the Dominant inflicts physical pain upon his or her submissive, and the rules are agreed upon beforehand. “Hard limits” are things a submissive will never allow, and “soft limits” are modes of play that the submissive will consider. After the pain session, the Dominant gives aftercare to make sure the submissive is physically okay.

Not all BDSM relationships involve pain, however. There are plenty of relationships where the Dominant sets the rules while never harming his or her submissive. Examples include a Total Power Exchange (TPE), where the dominance controls all aspects of the submissive’s life, like their finances and diet. Basically, the Dominant is the one in control, but how that power is played out can vary drastically from relationship-to-relationship. 

Submissive
The submissive is receptive to the orders of the Dominant, and the submissive word is almost always lowercased. Some PG terms for the submissive include sub, little girl, baby, and pet; and some raunchier terms include slave, slut, and bitch. While the wording may seem like the submissive is abused, that is actually not the case at all. The two parties are in sync with one another, and the submissive naturally likes being told what to do.  

Like mentioned above, to be dominated does not always include pain, and any pain inflicted is always discussed and agreed upon beforehand. The submissive’s role in the relationship is important because without a submissive there would be no Dominant.  Giving up power is a turn on to a submissive, and that’s what makes BDSM different from abusive relationships—consent. 

Switch

A switch is a person who can go from being Dominant to being a submissive. The reasons for switching can vary from just feeling like making a change to adopting a different role with different lovers.

To figure out what kind of role you prefer, I recommend taking the BDSM Test online. 
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