The letters D/s stand for Dominant/submissive. The use of the uppercase ‘D’ for Dominant and the lower case ‘s’ for submissive is intentional and appropriate. A Dominant/submissive relationship is one where one party submits to the authority of the other. The relationships can be heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual and can involve two of more parties. Dominant/submissive relationships can range from the casual to 24/7 and may or may not involve formalisation of the relationship in other ways.
Men and women from all walks of life and all social stratas are interested in being submissive (in a sub-relationship) or Dominant (taking the Dominant role in the relationship). Research suggests that 64.5% of women and 53.3% of men fantasise about being dominated and 46.7% of women and 59.6% of men fantasise about dominating in a relationship.
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A D/s relationship can involve two or more parties. One of the parties will take the Dominant role and the other party or parties will tend to take the submissive role. Switching between Dominant and submissive does occur but many ‘switchers’ are not considered to be in a strictly D/s relationship – but rather a BDSM relationship (with BDSM including a raft of things including those classified as bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism).
People involved in a Dom/sub relationship include female Dominants, male Dominants, male submissives and female submissives. While all relationships are unique and have their variances, in most D/s relationships the party in the Dominant role takes the lead, setting the rules and determining what will and will not happen in the relationship including obedience and administering punishment. Again, while there is variability, submissives are expected to follow, take instruction and behave in a manner consistent with the requirements of their Dominant.
A dominant might be referred to as many things including SIR, MA’AM, DADDY, GODDESS, MASTER or MISTRESS. A submissive might be referred to as slave (although not all submissives are slaves) girl, boy, or some other term that establishes and reinforces their subservience. Some of the terminology used and behaviours engaged in are negotiated at the start of the relationship (or should be). Many are simply edicts from the Dominant party.
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Like all vanilla relationships, each D/s relationships has its own rules and protocols. That said, a Dom/sub relationship or D/s lifestyle tend to have rules and protocols in common. The most important of this being that the Dominant (Master, Mistress or Owner) sets the rules and protocols while the submissive (sub, subie, slave or pet) follows those rules and protocols.
The level and precision of the enforcement of rules and protocols varies from relationship to relationship, as does the consequences for failure to comply or obey. In other words, D/s relationships or Master/slave relationships can operate at various levels. At the most moderate level, it is all little more than a game, while at the highest level, rules and protocols are set in stone and disobedience will result in punishment – often involving very severe corporal punishment.
Rules and protocols might address only a few to just about every aspect of the sub’s life, the Dom’s life and the D/s relationship. At the highest level, they can address grooming, clothing, body modifications and enhancements, deportment, manners, requirements for entering or leaving a room, requirements for standing or sitting, use of the toilet, shower or bathroom in general, sexual requirements and just about every other aspect of life.
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There is as many types of D/s relationships are there are vanilla relationships or indeed relationships involving one or more of a range of dynamics. As it should be, it is the parties in a relationship that should ultimately determine its nature or type. That said, the literature does refer to different types of Dominant/submissive relationships particularity in terms of level and tastes or preferences.
At the lowest level, a D/s relationship is little more than a game, sometimes played out entirely on the internet, other times involving casual meetings – or D/s activities occurring from time to time in the bedroom of a couple or group. Online submissive and Dominant relationships, while not my cup of tea, are increasingly common.
Sometimes Dom/sub relationships are confined to the bedroom while on other occasions they involve all aspects of a couple’s lives. In its most sincere and complete for, D/s relationships are 24/7 and involve all aspects of a couple’s life – or indeed that of an extended group. It is a matter of horses for course and what ever floats your boat.
Dominant/submissive relationships can also vary in terms of who is involved. They can by heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or pansexual – with the latter most common in a 24/7 relationship. They can be monogamous or polygamous – for one party or both parties. Submissive behaviour can take many forms including ‘little’ ‘baby girl’, ‘slave’ and ‘pet’. Dominant behaviour can also take many forms including Master/Mistress, Daddy or Owner.
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I am not sure I know all of the myths about D/s relationships, but I know there are many. Perhaps the most pervasive are that they are:
Dom/sub relationships are not at all sexist. A foundation principle for this sight is equal opportunity. No-one becomes as submissive, Dominant, slave, Mater, Mistress or anything else in a D/s relationship unless they choose to. Consent is a cornerstone of the D/s lifestyle and while the submissive might lose all power in the relationship – they are free to leave the relationship or the arrangement when ever they choose. Further, there are opportunities for men and women to become either slaves or slave owners, Dominant or submissive – and I know of relationships with all gender dynamics.
On the subject of exploitation, I again believe relationships are as voluntary as any other. Just as one might leave a vanilla relationship or change the dynamics in a vanilla relationship – so they can do both in a Dom/sub relationships. Further to this, in my experience neither partly gets any more or less out of the relationship. Indeed, if both or all parties do not get what they want and do no feel fulfilled by the relationship – it will end. Different human beings have different needs. We are not homogenous
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Many of the benefits of a D/s relationship are no different to the benefits of any relationship. Relationships or good relationships, bring enjoyment, fulfilment, support and a connection that is critical to out longevity. A feature of Dom/sub relationships however is the decision by both parties to enter into the arrangement. While in many vanila relationships there might be little discussion as to where the relationship is headed, what the sex life will look like, what the two parties want to make the most of the relationship and how they can maximise the experience. In most D/s relationships this discussion has occurred – and in my experience is frequently revisited.
A Dominant/submissive relationship is entered into deliberately and with forethought. Like other deliberative relationship styles the D/s lifestyle is designed to enhance the bond between the parties and position the relationship as an adventure that may not exist in other relationships. In addition to this of course, there is the potential for the parties to live a lifestyle that plays to their strengths, likes and preferences. Some people enjoy leading while others enjoy following. Some enjoy being in control while other get real joy from having no control.
Getting back to myths for a moment, there is no less work involved for either party in most D/s relationships I have known, although, the parties tend to have very prescribes responsibilities. The benefits for the Dom or Dominant party certainly include control and generally a reduction in domestic duties – but that does not relieve them of many other responsibilities. A submissive may find they lose control and have more domestic duties to contend with but they have other things taken away.
The greatest benefits however seem to be that both parties know where they stand and decisions are a whole lot easier to make. In my experience there are few if any disputes and life is calmer.
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