"What is a Dom/sub Relationship Really Like?"

by Cara

on 14 Oct 2018

Cara Sutra Lovehoney Headboard

Lots of you wanted to know what the relationship between a Dominant and a submissive partner is really like, so we reached out to sex blogger and queen of kink, Cara Sutra, to tell us more.

The world of Dominance and submission holds a dark allure while remaining an enigmatic mystery to many. How does a Dom/sub relationship work? Can you just dip your toes into kink or do you have to become a permanent member of the BDSM scene?

Couples often experience surprising benefits to their relationship when sampling the world of Dominance and submission, and it’s not all kinky spankings and bondage cuffs. Full surrender of control, and acceptance of that control, can be a defining bonding experience for your relationship.

Exploring new kinky adventures together will be a sexy shared secret. Plus, the mutual trust required for such intensely erotic play may lead to a stronger attraction to your partner than ever before.

There's no need to feel daunted by the thought of trying out a Dom/sub relationship. Discover the beauty of a relationship which thrives on an exchange of power between partners.

What is a Dom/sub relationship?

In a Dom/sub relationship, one person is the Dominant party (Dom) while the other is submissive (sub).

The Dominant may identify as Dominant by nature (lifestyle Dominant) or they might only enjoy dominating their partner during bedroom-based roleplay sessions.

The submissive, likewise, may feel they have a submissive identity. This could be sexual submission or a preference for obeying non-sexual instructions. Other submissives only enjoy submitting to a Dominant partner in the bedroom, during foreplay and sex.

This means that while some couples only enjoy Dominance and submission in the bedroom, other Dom/sub relationships extend to every aspect of life. When couples enjoy being Dominant or submissive on a 24/7 basis, this is known as Total Power Exchange (TPE).

Dom/sub relationships involve extreme amounts of trust which are rewarded with sexual and/or psychological satisfaction. This type of relationship offers a level of emotional bonding which some people find difficult or impossible to achieve through typical relationships or non-kinky sex.

Consent is mandatory

Rule number one? Consent is an absolute must. It's the non-negotiable pre-requisite. And not only for bondage and BDSM play, but for any sexual or intimate activities. This helps to keep everybody happy, safe and having fun, which is what it's all about.

Respect and trust

Dom/sub relationships involve strong mutual respect. To outsiders, play sessions may seem like the sub is being abused by the Dom. However, all activity has been discussed and consented to beforehand, and is desirable to those involved.

The Dom has the utmost respect for their actively consenting submissive - respect for their desires, kinks, any limits they may have plus the fact that they have willingly surrendered control within those agreed limits to the Dom.

The sub respects their Dom and trusts that they will only act in ways suited to their level of surrender. Even if the sub's limits and desires change over time, these changes are respectfully discussed then new avenues of play carefully explored.

Respect goes both ways between the Dom and sub. This engenders strong trust between the couple. BDSM often touches on the most vulnerable areas of a person's psyche and sexuality, which is what leads to such intensely sensual and erotic sessions.

That makes absolute trust invaluable. The bond between a Dom and sub is strong. The continual evidence of the couple's mutual trust through bondage, spanking or exploring various kinks together forges a uniquely powerful relationship.

Freedom of expression

Regular and clear communication between the Dom and sub is very important. Although counsel to 'keep the lines of communication open' is frequently found in sex and relationship advice columns, nowhere is this more pertinent than in a Dom/sub relationship.

In a Dom/sub relationship, one person surrenders control while the other enjoys having that control over them. This control may take the form of sexual actions or fulfilling other tasks. With such intimate control given and accepted, it's clear that in-depth discussion is required between the Dom and sub. Not only at the beginning, but as an ongoing facet of the relationship.

When 'stop' means 'go', how do you say 'stop'?

During kinky spanking sessions or erotic bondage, it's quite a common occurrence for the submissive party to protest. The protests are part of the roleplay, adding to the atmosphere and turning both partners on.

If moaning 'no, please stop' means 'I love this, more please!', how can the submissive communicate when they really mean stop? And how does the Dominant partner know when stop really means stop, or when no really means no?

It may all seem quite confusing. Surely no means no, and stop means stop. Seeing a Dom/sub relationship where these words are used but the action continues, and both partners seem to be enjoying it, can seem contradictory. Is it safe? What if the Dom misreads the situation? How can the sub say stop and mean it?

Worry not, there is a clear way to say stop and mean it when you're having kinky fun in a Dom/sub relationship. You use a safe word.

Agreeing a safe word before you begin your kinky playtime is the best way to make sure the sub can say 'stop' and really mean 'stop'. A safe word has to be a word you wouldn't usually say during kinky play or sex, so words like 'stop' and 'no' are out. Words like 'giraffe', 'tractor' or 'teacup', for example, would be out of context and therefore clearly communicate to the Dom the true meaning: 'stop'.

Another way to introduce a safe word is to use the traffic light system. Instead of agreeing a random word to mean 'stop', the words 'red', 'amber' and 'green' are used. 'Red' means stop immediately, 'amber' means things are getting intense so proceed with caution, and 'green' means everything's fine.

How it feels when you're in a Dom/sub relationship

Regular communication of needs and desires, deep trust leading to unafraid vulnerability, and full body and mind fulfilment as your reward, combine to make a Dom/sub relationship feel magical.

It's about more than getting soundly spanked on the bottom or enjoying writhing within bondage cuffs (although that's all good, too). It comes down to two people who are the balance and resolution to one another's needs, however those needs are manifested.

The erotic parts are sexy, for sure. The crops and paddles, the bondage rope, demanding sexual services. However, the non-erotic parts are sexy in their own way. A Dom/sub relationship can have deep psychological and emotional benefits which go beyond bondage-based orgasms.

The exchange of power is a shared secret which can being couples closer together. Having control over your partner offered up to you, or surrendering your control to your partner, is an intoxicating thrill.

Remember, the focus is on FUN

There's no need to dive into the deep end when exploring if Dominance and submission is your thing. It's all about safe, consensual fun. If you want to experiment and see where the path takes you, that's absolutely fine. Most Dom/sub relationships are constantly evolving and adapting to changing needs, wants and limits of both partners. Enjoy the journey!

If you're considering the pleasurable possibilities of Dom/sub relationship, you've taken your first step towards a new, kinky life. No-one else needs to know, so your exploration as a couple will be a sexy shared secret.

Deciding to start this new journey together will spark the eroticism in your imaginations, add spice to your sex life and a create a thrilling undercurrent of excitement in your everyday lives.

You can follow Cara on her blog, or on Twitter, or Instagram.

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Written by Cara.

Originally published on 14 Oct 2018. Updated on 5 Aug 2020