Dominance and submission are roles that are widely explored in relationships yet these roles are also largely misunderstood. We see many portrayals of these types of dynamics in movies (think 50 Shades of Grey, The Secretary, etc), and of course, in pornography. 

While what we see on screen may be hot, there’s so much more to consider if you’re wanting to explore Dominance and submission with a partner. In this article, I’m going to break down the main foundations of good Dom/sub dynamics, so you can start to explore this element of BDSM with confidence. 

But first, what is power play? And What does Dominant and submissive actually mean? Allow Sarah, aka Sub in the City to explain. 

What is power play?

The role of Dominant is the one who leads the play, and the submissive is the role that follows. The Dominant takes control and the submissive surrenders. Now it’s important to emphasise that these are the roles that are playing out during the fantasy itself, and that is not necessarily the dynamic at all times. 

In actual fact, Dominance and submission is an exchange of power, where two or more consenting adults agree on the roles that they are going to step into for the purpose of play. Everyone involved has the right to stop anything at any time, thus indicating that in reality, all parties have equal power. 

 

The 3 main foundations of good D/s dynamics

 

  • Communication

Communication is the most important component of any BDSM or kink play, without it, it leaves room for potential mistakes to be made. So my number one piece of advice when it comes to exploring D/s is to get comfortable talking about what you like and don’t like. People in the BDSM community talk about sex before, during and after – communication is constantly in play, allowing for more pleasurable experiences for everyone involved. If you’re unsure where to begin, you can use resources such as yes/no/maybe checklists, to break the ice with your partner(s) and get the conversation flowing. You can download Sub in the City’s free templates to get started with communication here. 

 

  • Intention

Something that we don’t get shown in the movies and in porn is all of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into even the most extreme BDSM scenes. But the truth is, everything within BDSM is (or should be) done with intention. What this means is knowing why you’re doing something, and being present with each and every action. 

Rather than just mindlessly spanking someone, or randomly putting your hand around their throat, it’s important to understand why you’re doing it, what it’s providing for both yourself and your partner(s), and to have an awareness of the action itself.

Not just talking about, but really understanding why you like what you like and how it feels for everyone involved is one of the surest ways to have incredible kinky experiences. Knowledge is power, so make sure everything is done with intention and purpose to feel even more connected to your partner(s).

 

  • Trust and consent 

Consent really is key to exploring power play safely, and trust needs to be built in order for you to experience full control or surrender with confidence. This is why power exchange often can’t go very deep in a casual encounter. Sure, you can play around with a spank, a choke or a hair pull, and communicate very basic physical limits, but to truly get into the psychological aspect of Dominance and submission, it’s going to take much longer than one night to form that connection. 

Agreeing upon a good safe wording system is a good place to start to build this trust. The traffic light system is a universal safe word system that is easy to use – simply state green to communicate carry on, orange to communicate close to your limit and red to indicate stop completely. Practising using this with a partner can strengthen all three of these core foundations as it encourages constant communication, helps you to understand where yours and your partner’s limits are, and builds trust. 

It is important to remember that both Dominant and submissive have limits. While the submissive is on the receiving end of many things, it is not uncommon for the Dominant partner to reach their limit with certain activities too, and as this is a power exchange, they too can stop play at any time. Practising your ‘no’s’ are a great way to understand where there may be misalignments in desires, and can initiate conversations that support the evolution of your dynamic.

 

If you’d like to learn more about Dom/sub dynamics, check out Sarah’s upcoming power play workshops or book in for a 1-1 or couples coaching session for personalised guidance. 

To discover power play experiences, sign up to Sensuali today.

Educational
dominant
power play
Submissive
Sarah (Sub in the City)

Sarah (Sub in the City)

Author

Sarah is a BDSM Coach, Kink Educator, Therapist and proudly collared submissive. Her goal is to bring BDSM into the 21st Century, and empower you to consciously explore what BDSM means to you.


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