My Philosophy On Power Exchange In Relationships (BDSM Content)
It is no secret that most marriages these days are failing, and less relationships than ever are even making it to the point of marriage. I have a theory on one of the main reasons why I believe that this is, which I believe is due to the lack of proper power exchange in relationships today. Relationships are of course about two people being partners and thus sharing the power that they once had independently in their lives. This can happen one of two ways, 1.) Through the parties both struggling to have the same power in the relationship, and 2.) Through the parties exchanging power in the relationship. I have learned a lot about how to have a successful relationship through Power Exchange and Dominant & submissive roles in relationships over the past decade I have spent in the BDSM world. And in this article I am going to share what I have learned and the theories I have developed on healthy successful relationships through this information, which I hope will help you be able to benefit by having them yourself.
Introduction To Power Exchange Vs. Power Struggles
Many people who first come into BDSM are a bit confused about what a Dominant/submissive relationship is all about. They may think that it is a form of sexual deviance that is not even healthy, when in actuality Dominant/submissive relationships are not just about sex at all, but are about the relationship structure that is engineered in order to ensure that the relationship is in fact a healthy and successful one. They may also be under the mistaken impression that it is a dynamic that is only present in role play in the bedroom. Or they may think that it is a dynamic in which one in which one person, the Dominant, has total control over the other, the submissive, who is treated more like property than a person. And while these two things can be the case, they are only two ends of a very broad and dynamic spectrum. Dom/sub relationships are not one size fits all, or black and white, rather the contrary. D/s is full of complex dynamics and thus it can be extremely varied from one couple to another, or from one scenario to another. So here in this article I am going to be discussing what Dom/sub relationship dynamics are based upon a bulk of knowledge that I have learned over almost a decade of time spent studying and practicing BDSM, which I will be doing so from a philosophical standpoint that will allow a newcomer to the BDSM world to intellectually understand the theories behind them and why we engage in these roles, and what makes them be healthy and successful relationships that any couple can learn and benefit from.
To start, let me address some misconceptions about Dominance in particular. Because many people who are new to BDSM may have a warped perception of what Dominance is. They may confuse Dominance with things such as domineering, bullying, aggression, bossiness, or even abuse or predatory behavior. People with this misconception may just think that those who are involved in Dominant and submissive relations are not healthy people, and may be confused about why someone would want such an abusive relationship. But actually the reverse is true, and numerous studies have been published showing that people into BDSM are actually more sexually healthy than those who are not. And the aforementioned things that people confuse with Dominance are very different from what Dominance is. Being Dominant means being in a leadership role and having some sort of influence or control over others, which is only supposed to be used in ways that the submissive wants and enjoys, otherwise a Dominant will not find any submissive who want to submit to them. Dominance, even when it involves physical acts of aggressiveness and force, are things that the submissive wants and has signed up for and consented to. So it is not abuse. But Dominance and submission goes far beyond the bedroom and sexual role play. The Dominant is a leadership role, like having a manager or mentor. And so if you are still confused about why someone would sign up for a Dominant/submissive relationship dynamic, allow me to elucidate more upon the concept of Dominance and just how natural it is to our lives in this world, not just in BDSM.
Imagine yourself now without having ever had anyone in your life who played a Dominant role, no parents or role models, no leaders, no teachers, no mentors, no helpers what so ever. Imagine what your life would have been like and just how terrible it would have been. This shows just how beneficial it is to have people in Dominant roles over others. We all have people like that in our lives, it is how we have been able to develop ourselves and become the people we want to become. We as humans have organized our society into sets of roles such as these because it is how we are able to help one another succeed in society. Without your teachers in school or your employers at work you simply would not be able to be successful. We need people in Dominant roles to help lead and guide us through life into the positions we want to have in it. And in any group or organization there there will be chaos until there forms a dominance hierarchy within it with leadership roles helping to guide others. And this will always be the way that social groups function, because otherwise there is chaos and disorder which if it does not lead to this order, can only lead to social stagnation or failure. It is only with Dominant figures in a group that the group is able to gain order, direction, purpose, and success. And if the group is large enough it will require more than one Dominant figure, but a hierarchy with various levels of leadership roles in a social hierarchy called a “Dominance Hierarchy”.
Dominance hierarchies are a natural part of society and social order. If you were to place a number of strangers in a new environment with no government or set social order, and not give them any positions or rules to live by in their new environment, they would still naturally organize themselves into a Dominance hierarchy with leaders and subordinates and would naturally find ways to create such social order themselves. This is just the way humans are as social animals. And since we do not live on a desert island and live in a society, the society we live in has sociopolitical infrastructure, and this infrastructure is made up of an infinite array of various Dominance hierarchies. In Dominance hierarchies in modern western society people may be equals in that they have the same basic human rights endowed by birth as humans, but they are not equal in the positions they occupy on the social hierarchy and thus the level of status they have and amount of power they have over others. There are people who have supervisory roles over others and others who have subordinate roles towards those in the supervisory roles. These two types of people are not equals in the Dominance hierarchy, and that is not a bad thing, for those in the leadership/supervisory/managerial roles use their Dominant status over others to help guide them in their life in the social structure they occupy together. The managers in any social organization are the ones who are in charge of bringing order and making sure it is organized, this is what makes it an organization, and that is what makes it functional. Without the management positions it would not be able to function well at all.
These dominance hierarchies are found anywhere you go in the world. In any place you go it will most likely be a form of business where there will be a person who is the owner of that place, who is at the top of the Dominance hierarchy, and then there are employees of various degrees of status from the CEO/president/board, the general/regional/upper level managers, to the middle/lower management, to the lower level employees and other contractors, and then there are customers or people who patronize the place. The people who are at the top of these dominance hierarchies are the ones who have the most power and control to make decisions that affect that place and all of the people beneath them in the Dominance hierarchy. The people who are higher up in the dominance hierarchy are more Dominant and the ones who are lower are more submissive. The ones at the very top are only Dominant, and the ones at the bottom are only submissive, and the ones in between have to be submissive to those above them, and Dominant to those below them.
Outside of businesses the same goes for organizations and institutions, and any other sociological or political structure of any kind. There are many great models for this from universities & schools to religious institutions to the military. In greater environments there are politicians who are at the top of the dominance hierarchy, and governments are themselves a dominance hierarchy as well. The higher up in government someone is the more power and control they have over others in government and a broader environment in their culture/country. And the same will occur on a micro level for any large group as well. These dominance hierarchies have always existed since time immemorial, they are not things that were engineered along with society and its infrastructure such as governments and the business world. These are things that are natural to social animals such as humans and other primates and most other mammals that are highly social beings as well, just as how a group of lions organize themselves into a pride with an alpha male in the leadership position at the top of their dominance hierarchy. Any group with enough people will naturally form a dominance hierarchy in order to become a cohesive unit that can accomplish certain directives. This is because these dominance hierarchies one of the organizing factors of the natural world and the social order that intelligent beings tend to form in order to create cohesive functional groups that will survive and succeed together. This is the very reason we have formed societies with governments, which are actually just the greatest macro-expressions of dominance hierarchies.
So Dominance, and by the same token but on the opposite side, submission, are not an unnatural invention that is forced upon people, but are actually expressions of the natural social order that forms among people in any type of group setting. And it is this very same social order that is being instituted in Dom/sub relationships, which are a Dominance hierarchy with only two members (unless they are a polygamous group, in which their dominance hierarchy would be organized more like any other multi-person group). Because these relationships follow the natural sociological order of Dominance & submission, and they also utilize the principle of structure that many dominance hierarchies utilize (especially businesses, institutions, and organizations), they are geared towards being very successful relationships, more so than a relationship that does not have structure or follow the same natural order. You see the dynamics of Dominant/submissive relationships are organizing factors that make these relationships more cooperative and harmonious, causing them to function just like a successful business does.
However many people in romantic relationships are not doing this and their relationship does not have much structure or organizing factors, and that is probably why a lot of couples relationships do not succeed. They believe that they are equals and thus should share in the power in their relationship 50/50 across the board, in every situation and scenario, in every interaction. So instead of establishing Dominant and submissive roles and exchanging power & Dominance they engage in constant power struggles trying to maintain equal Dominance & power. The entire relationship ends up being a power struggle and battle for control like a tug of war. This causes the relationship to not be healthy, and if it continues to get worse it will then lead to Machiavellian manipulation tactics, which can lead to extreme fighting, psychological abuse, and a break down of the relationship. One partner may feel threatened by the other partners potential power and that causes them to become domineering, coercive, and even physically abusive. And as I mentioned before, this is not the way Dominance is supposed to be and anyone being subjected to this kind of treatment would be well advised to run from it. This is unhealthy because an exchange of power was not agreed upon. Instead power is attempting to be taken and that is not a healthy way for power to be exchanged between people. It is the difference between a governmental leader being voted in, or being a dictator. Countries with leaders who are voted in are seen as much better places to live and have much happier citizens than those living in a dictatorship. And a relationship should not be a dictatorship. Power should not be attained through a power struggle. Power should be given to one another in an agreeable exchange, this is the only healthy way for power to be acquired. And any relationship where the opposite is true and power is attempted to be taken from one another in a power struggle is not a healthy.
The problem here is that in an attempt to have a completely balanced egalitarian partnership many people actually cause their relationship to have no balance at all. This is due to a lack of polarity between the two. They may have wanted to be equals, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but in trying to play the same exact roles in the relationship all the time, there was no compliment between them, so they end up fighting for centralized power in their own partnership. This is not how a healthy relationship is supposed to be. There needs to be some contrast between two people in order for them to come together and intersect in a balanced and harmonious way. There needs to be contrast in order for them to be a good match. That is why it is often said that opposites attract, which is not absolutely true, but we certainly do want/need some key characteristics in a couple-ship to be opposite (like one person being masculine and the other feminine), because relationships need to be polarized. And that is why two people who are mostly Dominant personality types, or submissive personality types, generally do not go well together. They simply do not compliment each other because there is no contrast between them to achieve balance.
Contrasting Complementary Roles
For a relationship to work the two partners must be Complementary to one another in the roles they play in their dynamic. That is the only way for there to be balance and harmony. That is what makes them match up well, like two interlocking puzzle pieces. Think of a Yin/Yang symbol. Each piece is of equal size and takes up equal space in the circle that they share. But they are able to completely fill this space together because they are opposite shapes. They are not mirrors of one another. If they were to overlap they would not do so in the exact same places and ways, but rather in opposite ones. Because they are in fact opposite shapes themselves. And it is the fact that they are opposites that makes them able to intersect perfectly and achieve perfect balance and harmony. And while they are equals in the sense that they are of equal size and space, there is usually one side that is somehow in a Dominant position (in the case of yin and yang, it is the Yang which is on top of yin), and the other in a submissive position (like yin on bottom).
In Yin Yang philosophy the Yang side which is supposed to be on top in the symbol represents Dominance and the Masculine archetype, and the one on bottom is the Yin side which represents submissiveness and the feminine archetype. But you will see some symbols in which the Yin is in a Dominant position on top and the Yang is in the submissive position on the bottom, however the gender polarity will always be the same with Yang being masculine and yin feminine. Which just goes to show that a man does not always have to be Dominant, and the person in a more Dominant role does not even have to always be Dominant either, and in fact someone can even do what is called “Topping from the bottom”, which means being in a submissive role but still having some dominance and control over what goes on, which a submissive person always does have as well, nothing is ever totally outside of their control, and the power the Dominant has over them is only the power that they give them. So as you can see Yin and Yang are not absolutes, and the same goes for Dominance and submission, they are both relative to one another.
The reason why the symbol does not always appear with the Yang on top is because of the fact that this symbol is not meant to be a static one, but a moving one. The yin and yang are actually supposed to be cyclical. So the Yang may start on top in the Dominant position in power over the submissive Yang. But in time they move and exchange positions and the Yin is given the Top Dominant position by Yang, and Yang takes a submissive position under the Yin, who then has the power over it. And then when they are done with those roles/positions, they will exchange positions again. And so they cycle back and forth. And as they do they exchange energy and power as well in a balanced give and take on each end. Each one taking the power of the other when they move into the top position and assume a Dominant role over the submissive one. This cyclical power exchange is how they maintain true balance and harmony. It is in this manner that they not only compliment each other, but complete each other in a perfect circle of oneness together. And with each cycle this dynamic becomes more conducive and their relationship more productive. Just like the cycle of the earth around the sun, and the seasons on the earth, and the day and night, every cycle of their power exchange causes them to grow and evolve together over time. That is how an ideal relationship should be. This is what true partnership should look like. Two people coming together to exchange energy, power and strength with one another in complete balance and harmony acting as two Complementary synchronized parts of one greater unit in which each one gives to one another in contrasting ways that is what causes them to match up, fulfill and empower each other in ways that they couldn’t alone.
Interdependence & Synergy
This type of cooperative partnership based upon mutual power exchange, instead of a relationship based upon power struggle and both partners fighting for the Dominant position and coercively taking energy and control from one another is one of the ways we make the distinction is between what are called a “codependent relationship” and an “interdependent relationship”. The healthy version of power exchange occurs in an interdependent way, and the unhealthy version of power taking happens in a codependent way. The reason we want relationships is because we know that independently we cannot achieve as great a state as we can when in a partnership. However when a person does not have enough independence and feels too much of a need for a partner so that they can have someone to take from, this is what is called a codependent relationship. In many cases these people will also find someone who does the same thing with them and then they have a relationship based upon two people trying to take power and energy from one another causing energy deficits in each other and bringing each other down, which is the great detriment of a codependent relationship. Conversely when you have two independent partners who can already meet all of their own needs but want a partner to supplement that and combine their energies and resources together with and exchange strengths and power to help each other attain a greater state than they could themselves alone this is what can create an interdependent relationship. When two such people then come together and do ombine their energies and power in mutual giving and sharing, they are then able to achieve much greater heights together because this combined resource sharing causes a synergy between them which is so empowering. This is the benefit of an interdependent relationship.
This synergistic affect between two people is very powerful because it is exponential in that it is greater than the sum of its parts. In these relationships 1 person and 1 person do not come together to equal 2, but in this case 1 and 1 come together to equal 11. So interdependent partnerships are not just mutually beneficial but are extraordinarily empowering and something that all single people should strive for in their relationships. That interdependent synergy is something that a Dom/sub relationship is very good at creating because of its Complementary roles and power exchange, just like the cycle of yin and yang. When two powerful people, one Dominant and one submissive, come together in a power exchange dynamic, the submissive gives their power to the Dominant to use over them for a time. The Dominant then uses that power the submissive has given to the Dom and along with their own personal power they then are able to take on a greater more empowered role than they had before. They then can use all that power to empower the submissive by acting Dominant over them. And when they are done they give power back to the submissive, who then feels much more empowered than they were before. And so then when they wish to exchange power again the cycle continues through this mutual giving of power back and forth between Dominant and submissive, making it the most productive and empowering type of partnership which is able to progress and grow as more and more power exchange takes place over time. It is in this way that such interdependent synergy is produced. It is the opposite of the effect in which two people are constantly struggling for power in a relationship trying to assert dominance over one another, or in which two people are constantly taking from one another in a codependent partnership. Such relationships are very disempowering.
Dominant & Submissive Power Exchange
Dom/sub Power Exchange generally begins with negotiation. Power is not something that is supposed to simply get taken from the sub without them having a say in the matter and negotiating the terms and conditions of an exchange. The exchange of power and everything about it and the way it is to be done is supposed to be agreed upon by both parties and done as a back and forth transaction, just like many business deals. The Dom and sub will first negotiate the specifics of the dynamic and the situation they want to create between them and what they want from each other in it. The Dom will communicate about how they want to be Dominant and how they want the sub to be submissive to them. The sub will communicate about how they want to be submissive and how they want the Dom to be Dominant to them. Then they will see where they overlap on this Venn diagram and will also negotiate compromises so that there might possibly be even more overlap. They will also negotiate all of the specifics of the situation/dynamic between them and how they want the power exchange to occur. When an agreement has been reached about these terms and conditions either consent is given and/or a contract is signed and then the power exchange is executed. The submissive then gives their power to the Dominant in the ways they have signed up to do so, the Dominant uses their power over the submissive for the agreed upon time and in the agreed upon ways, and then when they are done the Dominant gives the submissive their power back and the power exchange is complete. Oftentimes there is aftercare and another discussion afterward about how they both feel the power exchange went. And then if they wish to exchange power again in the future they will return and repeat the process over again, this time having better knowledge of each other and their D/s dynamics and how to make it even better every time the power exchange happens.
In a D/s relationship the power exchange is about the two partners exchanging one area of strength where the other has weakness and vice versa. This way they can fill in each others gaps where they have Complementary strengths and contrasting weaknesses. For instance the Dom may agree to take power and control over the submissive in certain ways to help them manage their life better. This could be managerial type work like managing their schedule or professional life, it could be with helping them with personal development training, it could be mentor-ship, or anything that someone in a leadership type role would do for someone. The submissive gives the Dominant power over them in these ways so that the Dominant can help them to empower themselves more than they were doing for themselves alone. In exchange, the Dom may have certain things in their life that they do not wish to do for them self, so the submissive may serve the Dom in ways that meet these needs for them. This could be domestic such as cooking and cleaning, or it could be professional services such as personal assistant work, or it could be personal or sexual, such as things done in private, etc. So in the D/s relationship dynamic the Dominant gives the submissive power to take care of him and certain aspects of his life through their submissive service, and through their service to the Dom the sub is able to empower them in ways better than the Dominant was doing for them self.
This is how a structured D/s Relationship dynamics power exchange takes place and is so mutually beneficial to both parties because of the fact that they are able to use each of their individual strengths in Complementary ways to help one another be more empowered together in an interdependent partnership. Neither partner gives up any kind or amount of power or control that they do not wish the other to have over them and would like to retain for themselves. They maintain all freedoms they wish to have, and are simply being assisted by the other partner to attain greater states than they were before, making this loss of control not actually about a loss of freedom, but a liberation from responsibilities they did not wish to have, and a gaining of empowerment. They agree that such power and control will be exchanged in specific times and ways. And both agree that specific roles will be played in the relationship and specific tasks will be carried out by each partner at certain times. This structured form of relationship where the terms and conditions are clearly negotiated and settled upon and each partner has a specific set of responsibilities and expectations and protocols to follow allows a D/s relationship dynamic to function like a well oiled machine.
These terms and conditions of the D/s relationship are usually outlined in a D/s relationship contract so that there is no confusion about what agreements were made after the fact, as can tend to be the case with verbal conversations as time goes on and memories of the specific details of the conversation become foggy. Having the terms and conditions in writing ensures that there is never any debate over who said what and what expectations were agreed upon and what the specific details were because the parties will always have the contract to reference. They then carry out their assigned roles and responsibilities in a harmonious fashion, exchanging power and using the power given to one another in a manner so as to empower each other together in a mutually beneficial and fulfilling partnership. And as the cycle of power exchange continues and their needs are met and they become more empowered, over time they may cease to have the same needs, because with the help of the other they learn to fulfill them on their own, or cease to feel a need for them. Likewise their wants and preferences may also change over time as they get used to one thing and it becomes obsolete. And as they become empowered and more skilled and knowledgeable with the help of the other, they are also growing as a people and changing as people tend to do over time. And so as the two partners change and grow together they must adapt the relationship. Thus they will revisit their contract every 6 months to a year to make changes to it and the manner in which they are engaging in power exchange and the D/s power play dynamics. They will continue to change and customize the roles that they play as Dom and sub, and they will continue to adjust the parameters and protocols of the relationship, and the types/amount of power & control each are given in different situations, and the responsibilities and tasks each is to carry out in it.
The cyclical interplay of power exchange dynamics in the D/s relationship continues in an ever growing and evolving fashion more and more as time goes on. And so over time both partners and the relationship itself evolve together due to the balanced and harmonious power exchange involved in the Dom/sub dynamics and the synergy it produces for them. That is the great benefit of being in a D/s Power Exchange relationship. Where many people try to be equally Dominant in their relationship and will fight for power and the relationship will soon implode, the Dom and sub exchange power in a mutually beneficial way that is healthy, balanced, sustainable, and brings about a happy fulfilling relationship that helps them both to thrive and flourish and grow together. And so this is something that people of all types could learn from, even if they do not sexually identify with kink & BDSM. It is simply about having a cooperative interdependent partnership which is a very important relationship skill for any couple to learn, and should be practiced much more widely, for if it were I’m sure that many more relationships would be successful.
D/s Dynamics & Roles
This Dom/sub type of relationship structure is meant to ensure that both partners are meeting each others needs and contributing to the relationship and the fulfillment of one another. The Dom, through their Dominance, takes care of the submissive. The submissive, through their submission, serves the Dominant. So in this way they are both making equal but opposite contributions to the relationship, and working to meet each others needs and fulfill one another through different behavioral modalities in their respective roles. These different modes of acting may have the same effect—that ones needs are being met by the other—but they are referred to by different pretenses, either “caring” or “serving”, because they are being done in different ways. BDSM acknowledges that everyone is different, and some people are very different—more like polar opposites—and that is exactly how we are able to achieve a balanced partnership with them. And so because people can be so different, they have different wants and needs. So the old golden rule of “treat others how you wish to be treated” does not actually apply since one person will not often want to be treated the same as someone else does. If one person is a Dominant type, and the other a submissive type, they certainly won’t want to be treated the same, but rather quite oppositely. So in BDSM the golden rule is rather to “treat others how they want to be treated.” And each mode of acting in every D/s role play dynamic will be different as well because every Dominant and submissive type is unique as well, so not all of them wish to be treated the same either.
Some people may be Dominant or submissive in certain ways but not want a full D/s relationship dynamic. They may just want to play with power exchange in a bedroom role play scenario or a BDSM sex scene, but not outside of that situation. Even though in that sex scene they may want a full power exchange, also known as a Total Power Exchange, or TPE. They may want to give their partner total power over them to do whatever they want. But then as soon as the sex scene is over, the power exchange and D/s roles are as well. However many people want a fuller dynamic that isn’t compartmentalized to just role play scenarios or “scenes”, and what a full D/s relationship in which the roles extend beyond the bedroom and into everyday life. And so there is a very broad spectrum with a lot of different dynamics and levels of power exchange and ways that it can occur along it, as well as different roles that can be played as Dom and sub.
Some Dom’s may want their submissive to become like a toy for them to play with, and some may want them to be like a maid in a role of domestic servitude. Some may even want the Dom and sub roles to be like that of a parent and child, in which the parent takes care of the child and gives it instructions and it can choose to obey and be rewarded, or disobey and be punished with spankings. Others may want to be more like a Master and their sub a slave who is completely obedient and subservient and surrenders complete and total control to the Dominant to be used in whatever way they wish. Some may want to even have their partner act like a animalistic predator and they become like their partners prey. Some may even want sex to seem more like rape. There is a very wide variety of roles to play and role play dynamics to share with a partner or partners. These types of dynamics are very complex and can occur along an entire spectrum of their own, from being either confined to role play with a lesser back and forth power exchange, or as a complete relationship dynamic with a Total Power Exchange.
Now some of you may be wondering when you hear about these scenarios, are these two partners really equals? Well often enough, yes they are equal, but opposite, just as how Yin & Yang are equal but opposite. However, just as often, no, they are not always necessarily equals. Sometimes the Dominant is considered the superior and the submissive is considered the subordinate in the relationship. It depends on what both parties want their status in the relationship to be. While both partners certainly will always have the same equal human rights as one another, in some partnerships the Total Power Exchange means that one partner gives up total power and control to the other partner permanently and becomes not just a submissive to them, but a slave, or property, depending on how they would like to think of themselves. Again, this doesn’t have to be permanent but can be done simply in a role play scenario, but it could also be done in an entire relationship on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. In TPE the Dominant, or Master, or Owner, takes on full responsibility over the submissive type. Though this again is not done for the purpose of being disempowering, but is because the submissive simply does not enjoy the feeling of having control over themselves and thus does not want it. Instead they wish to give full control to someone who will be able to take such responsibility and power over them and use it well to help them live the way that they want to. So it is not actually disempowering at all to them, rather the opposite.
This type of submissive, or slave, does this because they do not enjoy having things like responsibility, control, power, or even freedom. For them these things are burdensome and they wish to be relieved of these burdens. To them true freedom is in surrendering control to someone else and not having to bear that responsibility. This feeling of complete submission is extremely liberating to them. But most importantly, a submissive surrenders control and power to the Dominant and agrees to serve them because it is something that they enjoy doing and helps them to feel the way that they want to feel as a person. They submit because they enjoy being submissive and it is what they want to do. So the fact that this is what makes them feel good is reason enough to do it. Just as how some people feel the way they want to feel by acting in a Dominant manner over others, other people feel fulfilled by acting in a submissive or service oriented manner towards others.
Sometimes when extremely Dominant people want someone very intensely they desire to have them to such a great extent that they wish to actually own them completely, and in as literal a sense as that person will allow. And often when extremely submissive people want someone enough they want to become the object of their desire to the extent that they want this person to exert ownership them and to become theirs entirely. This level of desire, and the fulfillment of it, can feel extremely gratifying to the submissive type. This is very similar to how many women want to feel “taken” by their male partners, and when you take that idea to the extreme, you have the want to feel owned. As long as both of these things are done in a healthy and helpful way, any amount of power and control may be exchanged and will only benefit of both parties involved. Even if it means one person taking complete ownership over another and that person becoming like a household object, if that is the kind of relationship and lifestyle they would like. This is how D/s dynamics function on the extreme end of the scale, also known as Master/slave, or Owner/property relationships.
Up until now the manner in which I have been discussing D/s is under the assumption that one person is a fully Dominant type and the other is a fully submissive type. However things are also not always that cut and dry. People can be any ratio of Dominant and submissive within themselves. You are most often going to be more of one than the other, which would make you generally that type, unless you wished to switch fairly often, perhaps approaching about half of the time, at which point you wouldn’t label yourself a Dom or a sub, but a “Switch”. However most people who are into BDSM are going to fall primarily into either the Dominant or submissive role and would label themselves as such. That does not mean they will always want to be confined to that role however. In some partnerships one person is only a little more Dominant and the other is a little more submissive, and they may mostly like stepping into these roles most fully in the bedroom, or certain isolated incidences. This is still technically a D/s Power Exchange dynamic, and even if the D/s aspects are compartmentalized to certain areas of their life it can still function well as long as they retain those tenents of power exchange rather than power struggle at times when they may both want to be more Dominant. Two people acting Dominant at the same exact time will most often turn into a battle for power, unless you can engage in that power exchange and take turns giving each other the power in an equal give and take.
It is also important to know that while both parties in any relationship may be equals in that they each hold equal importance and power in the relationship, that does not make them both the same. For if people were too much alike they would have no want/need for one another. The reason two people are attracted to each other is because of their differences and the way that they can “fill each other in”. Again, it is the contrast between people that makes them attractive to one another and match up well for a relationship. And in D/s relationships those differences are embraced and celebrated, as they are what make the relationship such a great one. So it is important for two partners to not try to play the same roles or do the same things in their relationship. Always remember that there must be equal but opposite Complementary roles that both partners play in order for there to be that cooperative balance and harmony, and that it is this contrast that causes two people to match up well and complete each other and cause that kind of synergy. That is why Dom/sub relationships so successful.
Making It Work & Communication
Even if both partners have generally Dominant personalities in their normal everyday lives and their career’s, it is important to establish a set of roles and rules in your relationship to ensure that Complementary cooperation of one partner being Dominant and the other being submissive. Maybe one partner is a better cook and would do best taking charge of the kitchen and being in a Dominant role while in it by doing the meal planning and the cooking and serving of food, and giving the other instructions on how to help with prep-cooking and setting the table and cleanup while they are in a more submissive role. Perhaps one partner is better at managing the home and domestic life and should be in charge of taking control of that and having more power over the home and giving the other instructions on how to help out around it. There is also probably one partner who does better with scheduling, organizational skills, and big lifestyle and career decisions that ought to play more of a Dominant role when it comes to these aspects, and the other should be more submissive to them and listen to their input about these things and follow their direction with them. And there is also most likely one partner who does better with being more in charge in the bedroom and generally being the one who is on top during sex, is more active and aggressive, and when the other partner does take on a more active role in sex it is because this partner has either asked for it or given them permission to, so they are obviously the Dominant one in the bedroom and the more passive partner is the sub.
These Dominant & submissive roles in various scenarios are a natural part of any relationship dynamic. This is because of the fact that we are so often attracted to people based upon certain key areas of contrast, which again is why it is often said that opposites attract, for that is what produces the sexual magnetism that brings people together. We all have strengths and weaknesses and we generally end up pair bonding and entering into relationships with those who’s strengths compliment our weaknesses, and who our strengths compliment the weaknesses of. That is why two people in partnership are stronger than they would be when single. That is what is called the “Social Utility” of being in a relationship and why two people are better off together. For interdependence is better than independence. The problem is that some people do not want to admit that they have weaknesses where their partners has strengths (due to their ego), and thus they do not ask for help from their partners and their partners are not allowed to compliment their weaknesses with their strengths. Or similarly their ego may cause them to have issues with giving up power and being submissive in ways that they really ought to be because their partner is naturally more empowered in that area, and allowing them to have power over them in that way would actually be very empowering to them. One partner may be attempting to take control of a situation in which they know best and would do best being in control, and the other may attempt to stop them simply for the sake of not being made to be submissive and not wanting to feel out of control or less than their partner, in spite of the fact that this would actually help them to thrive much better than they are when left to their own devices. And this defeats the purpose of being in a partnership.
This is how power struggles often begin. And they occur because these things are not being pre-arranged beforehand through constructive conversation. And any roles that the partners play in the relationship are just being assumed without negotiation, which will naturally occur at times without issues, but oftentimes there will become power struggle issues if these things are not pre-agreed upon. You can not just start acting Dominant and telling others what to do in all situations and expect them to instantly jump to your behest and start following orders. Their ego will often tell them to rebel and act defiant because they are being treated as a subordinate and given orders that they did not sign up for (yet). In order for one person to be truly submissive to a person who is a proper Dominant, there has to be an agreement between them about these dynamics and how they are going to play out. So there needs to be communication about these things ahead of time before you begin trying to play out these roles. People can not understand expectations without communication. And there is also not much else that they need to know about each other in order to have a healthy relationship without proper communication either. In fact without proper communication, a relationship simply will not be healthy, and will barely be functional, and will most certainly be doomed to failure.
There are two types of communication: implicit and explicit, implicit being things that are implied and explicit being things that are stated clearly in a way that you can be sure that the other person has understood, and often involves getting feedback to make sure that they have understood them. For many purposes such as D/s this explicit communication is being done so that the two parties can reach an agreement or accord and create some sort of functional exchange or relationship. This is only possible with explicit communication, and never with implicit communication, and why explicit communication is the only type of communication that generally works in Dom/sub relationships, or BDSM in general. You cannot assume that someone is going to Dominate you or submit to you in exactly the way you want because of an implicit communication such as a facial expression. Expectations need to be communicated explicitly in a clear manner that you are sure they understand, and consent to. Otherwise if you are doing a sexual play scene together, this could end up with a situation that is actually sexual assault. And in a relationship this can end up in an unhealthy or abusive relationship. So make sure you are communicating as explicitly as possible, as specifically as possible, by using as many words as it takes to get your point across, and then asking for feedback and discussing things and negotiating them until you reach an agreement you both are sure you consent to (meaning that you both are sure of your own consent and one another’s).
While people are often either inherently more Dominant or submissive and this may indeed come out in many social interactions, one person can not just start Dominating another and expect them to submit to them, especially in sex or BDSM. Remember that Domination is not the same as being domineering or abusive. It is not about taking power and control from them that they do not want to give and making them do things they do not want to do. It is about freeing them from the power and control they do not want to have, and giving them the Dominance that they want and the opportunity to be the submissive person that they want to be and have the type of relationship and lifestyle that they wish to have as such. A real Dom allows the submissive to surrender to them the control that they want and would never try to take any control from the sub that they didn’t want to give. And a real Dom would never try Dominate a sub in any way that they did not consent to. Consent is the most important thing in D/s dynamics.
In order to create a cooperative, balanced, harmonious D/s dynamic that will be conducive to the success in whatever it is you wish to do together, be it playing together or forming a growth oriented partnership, it all lies upon the foundation of good communication. You need to communicate with each other about who you are and what you are looking for in a partner and relationship, the knowledge and skills and other things that you have to offer, your wants and needs, and discuss the terms and conditions that you wish to be a part of your dynamic be it a role play or relationship. You will each be bringing different things to the table (which is why you are attracted to each other), and some of these things may match up well and some may not. It is up to you both to discuss the possibilities of how everything you both have to offer can intersect and in what ways you wish to cooperate together as Dom & sub in order to fulfill one another and achieve your desired state. This means that both of you are going to have to compromise some of your wants and needs which the other simply can not or will not meet, and should not be coerced into feeling as though they must try to. The areas of overlap between you is where you match up and have the potential for great synergy, and anything outside of that is not and should not be a part of your dynamic. It is in this area where you overlap on your venn diagram that constitutes the information that will become the terms and conditions of the agreements you will make that become either the verbal or written contract between you two for the scene, relationship, or other dynamic you are going to have. Just as how two people who are getting married know exactly what they are agreeing to and signing up for, so too can (and should) anyone else in any other type of relationship dynamic, or sexual interaction. This is how you can ensure that your dynamic is going to be harmonious, successful and fulfilling. Everything is based upon communication.