Understanding what D/S is

When most people think of Domination and submission (D/s), their minds are drawn to a particular film and book series (yes, the number and color one). It saw BDSM sky-rocketed into the public sphere. Some important conversations were out into the open, although the franchise itself was met with a very mixed reception. 

In our past blog post, BDSM 101, we talked about the basics of BDSM and how to get into it. In this piece, we will dive deeper into one aspect of BDSM, D/s. As well as a broad explanation of D/s, it will include more detailed explanations of the roles within it and how they interplay.

Finally, we will examine some things important to be aware of as you embark up your own D/s explorations. This is not going to be a comprehensive guide, as the world of D/s is wide-ranging. Rather, expect a glimpse at the delights that await should this be, upon reading, a journey you decide to take.

Key Terminology and Definitions.

BDSM—an umbrella term covering Bondage and Discipline, Domination and Submission and Sadism and Masochism. These pairs of concepts share an underlying psychology and can overlap in practice. However, if you like one, it does not mean you have to like or accept them all.

BDSM relationship table



D/s—Domination and submission, flip sides of the same fun coin. The term explains the two complementary aspects of this form of kink. Read on to hear more about the roles that create this dichotomy. 

Dom/Domme/Dominant - A person identifying as dominant. They can usually be seen as taking on the role of organizer, controller, protector, provider or a combination, within a D/s relationship.

This list is not exhaustive; being Dominant can be quite nuanced. Also, the extent to which a Dominant exerts their power can vary. Some relationships will feature this role within sexual interactions only. While for others it defines their entire lifestyle. Some roles that share aspects of or come under the label include: Rigger, Daddy/Mummy, Brat Tamer, Owner, Master/Mistress, Degrader and Sadist.

Sub - The Dominant’s equally valid counterpart. A submissive will give up their agency and defer to their Dominant. Again, the extent of this can vary. There are also variations in the way a sub will allow their Dom/Domme to control them. Some subcategories of sub include: Rope bunny, little, brat, slave, degrade and masochist.

Switch - There are many subcategories within the D/s lifestyle, more than we have space for here. However, we must mention the Switch. This is someone who can or does flick between the main D/s roles. A switch may do so with one partner (who is also switching) or may play different roles with different partners. Switching can also happen within one encounter or session.

Before we get into some of these dynamics further, let’s think about how D/s works from a psychological viewpoint. No doubt there are some people who may unknowingly have D/s aspects to their relationships. But, once awareness begins, the psychological aspect is unavoidable. 

FeelStars collection by kiiroo


The Psychology of Power-play

The journey to understanding power in D/s probably starts with questions like: 

Why does this feel good?

What is it about them/their behavior that arouses me?

For subs, the answers may include:

‘…feeling safe, protected, secure, wanted and valued; being able to relax and let go of responsibility; having clear rules; being at their Dominant’s mercy.

Dominants may answer,

‘…feeling in control; making my sub feel safe, protected, secure, wanted, and valued; that they relax completely when with me, letting go of responsibilities; I make the rules, all the decisions; they are at my mercy.

For any variety of reasons, some people enjoy giving up control, while others prefer taking it. But, comparing these two lists, something should become apparent. There is more than just control happening here. When a D/s dynamic is in play, the Dominant is pretty much doing all this work FOR the submissive. 

WOAH! 

Yes of course, depending on your preferences, there may be other things that come in to play. Nevertheless, at its simplest the shift in responsibility (from submissive to Dominant) is your textbook D/s power dynamic.

Once these questions have been asked and answered we can delve deeper:

How does it feel when..?

Why does ___ feel better than ___?

Discovering the answers to these new questions, with a like-minded, ethical partner, will be a lot of fun. It will likely also bring us to the point of considering exploring those other roles. We’ll save those for future writings. One thing is certain though, wherever we find ourselves on our D/s journeys, the safety of all involved should be paramount.

Staying Safe

So, why the emphasis on safety? As Mr. Somewhere-between-black-and-white showed us, not every D/s relationship is a healthy one. There is definitely scope for the shift in power to be abused by the less ethical. 

When starting out in the ‘kink community’, there will be the usual forum admins and moderators, online. In addition, there are some people who, just out of kindness, take newbies under the wing offering them guidance, warnings and support. This is great because, sadly, there are also those who will seek out newbies for more nefarious reasons. 

Safety-wise, we generally find two kinds of Dominant. The ethical types, who understand the significance of their role as protector, along with the responsibility and trust involved. Then there are those who get off on controlling others, with little regard for their well-being. To put it more succinctly, the former care about their subs, the latter care more about themselves. 

If  someone takes advantage of a power dynamic, and causes another to feel fear, like they are in danger… that is just abuse. BDSM done properly, consensually, is not abusive.

Also practice aftercare with your BDSM partner after a session. 

For me personally, working out my kinks, I read around a lot. As a switchy sub, the main benefit of doing my own reading (in addition to finding an ethical play partner) was that I already had some boundaries in place. I would say this is important especially if you are considering submission.

Being aware of our own interests and limits means we are less susceptible to others imposing theirs on us. It opens avenues to the types of open, meaningful communication that, in turn, lead to trust and respect. Any healthy relationship is be based on these.

So, finishing up for now I feel like, while we have covered some important aspects of D/s, it has been just the tip. Please stay tuned for further explorations of the world of BDSM, coming to you soon.

WRITTEN BY

PolyAna

Forty, and currently identifying as pansexual, sapiosexual, demisexual, a little kinky & polyamorous, Ana of PolyAna Says is just a happy hippy hedonist who enjoys celebrating the pleasures of life. Sex positivity and self-love are her JAM! By day Ana is also a freelancer and solo parent. Follow her on Instagram @anaeidherself

SIMILAR ARTICLES:

BDSM in a Long Distance Relationship
two people dressed up for bdsm in a long distance relationship

BDSM 101 - How to Get Started in BDSM

Five Ways to Use Erotic Hypnosis in your BDSM Sessions