The term BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Dominance, Submission, Sadism and Masochism) incorporates many terms and one of those is D/s, Dominance / submission or Dom/sub. It is also a term in Kinky Sex. Dom/sub play may include handcuffs, chains, whips, restraint and ropes but it is not Sadism & Masochism (the S&M in BDSM) thus not an excuse for mental or physical abuse. People interested in this lifestyle should be educated on the differences.
In sexual and non-sexual relationships there may be a dominant person and a submissive person. Sometimes those roles change or switch.
In a consensual, sexual Dom/sub relationship, people enter into a mutual agreement where one partner is dominant and the other submissive, and they communicate with one another on the terms of acceptable boundaries. Sex is not the only component of the relationship; trust and respect are also components of a Dom/sub relationship.
A “safe word” may be established to communicate with a partner when boundaries are being tested. A “safe word” is a word both partners may use to stop or pause until an understanding is reached about whether to continue or halt activities.
While being a Dom/sub is a lifestyle for some, couples can also add Dom/sub play into their sexual activities without extending a D/s relationship into other parts of their daily lives.
The sourced articles below should provide more information for those curious about Dom/sub play.
- Understanding The Submissive Husband & Dominant Wife Dynamic
“A submissive husband is a man who gets off on being dominated by his wife — in bed and beyond.”
Medically reviewed by Justin Lehmiller, PhD, Social Psychology, written by Gena Gephart, womens-health.com, accessed 10/25/2021
- What Is A Dom-Sub Relationship And Is It For You?
“An important note to remember in dom-sub relationships is that both partners enjoy the BDSM lifestyle. There is no way that the submissive is forced to do anything against their will. Everything about the dom-sub relationship is consensual.”
Rachael Pace, marriage.com, 8/30/2021
- 100 Super Sexy ‘Would You Rather’ Questions For Couples Looking To Spice Up Their Sex Lives
“3. Would you rather be in a relationship with a totally submissive partner or a totally dominant partner?”
Sean Jameson, yourtango.com, 6/25/2021
- 9 Ways To Experiment With Submission
“If you’re still both excited to give it a try, the next step will be talking about boundaries, including what you do and do not want to do. You’ll also need to pick a safe word — one you normally wouldn’t say during sex or during a role-play, Marin says, like ‘toothpick’ or ‘baseball.'”
Vanessa Marin and Carolyn Steber, bustle.com, 4/7/2021
- BDSM In The LGBTQ Community
“The thing is, the dominant-submissive straight couple is the widespread assumption of what BDSM is. However, as virtually always, the assumption is wrong. Yes, it’s a thing, but that’s not the only variant of it. Queers can also be kinky people! The BDSM community is even more accepting of people who are sexually attracted to the same sex. In fact, according to the NCSF, 35% of BDSM practitioners identify as bisexuals, as opposed to 2.8% of the overall population.”
Andrew Schroeder, lovegasm.co, 1/4/2021
- Dom Sub
“…it is worth noting that while [50 Shades of Grey] Christian is a dom in the sense that he’s dominant, Anastasia’s character isn’t quite a sub in the proper, kink-dictionary-level sense. This is because Anastasia doesn’t express equal footing in their relationship and their rough sex is more about Christian onboarding an inexperienced Anastasia into aspects of BDSM rather than two equally enthusiastic partners coming to a mutual dom-sub dynamic for kinky sex.”
Carina Hsieh, cosmopolitan.com, 1/1/2021
- Answers to Your Questions About What It’s Really Like to Be in a Dom/Sub Relationship
“What do you want women to know most about D/s?
First, D/s is first and foremost a PART of a relationship, but it’s not everything the relationship is. You need to be highly compatible in a myriad of ways beyond D/s for the relationship to be successful.”
Delaine Moore, sheknows.com, 9/7/2020
- How You Can Have A Functional (And Sexy) D/s Relationship
“Adding elements of BDSM or getting into a D/s relationship can be quite exciting! But you should proceed with caution. If regular sex requires thoughtful communication…then adding potentially risky activities to your relationship and sex life requires even more discussion!”
Adriana, badgirlsbible.com, 9/1/2020
- 50 Sex Bucket List Ideas To Try With A Partner—And Alone
“Experiment with BDSM. The world of kink and dominance has been somewhat misrepresented in popular culture (such as the Fifty Shades of Grey series), but feel free to consensually tie one another up to get the ball rolling. For a better understanding of true BDSM’s dynamics, check out a book like Morgan Thorne’s Exploring BDSM: A Workbook for Couples (or More!) Discovering Kink.”
Samantha Vincenty, oprahdaily.com, 6/30/2020
- A Beginner’s Guide To Sexual Submission
“Typically, the ‘S’ in BDSM — submission — takes place within a kinky context when someone takes on a more (or the only) dominant role and someone else takes on a more (or the only) submissive role, explains Ashley Paige, an NYC-based professional Dominatrix and smut maker. ‘It’s when there’s a consensual exchange of power,’ Paige says.”
Medically reviewed by Janet Brito, Ph.D., LCSW, CST, written by Gabrielle Kassel, healthline.com, 4/24/2020
- Between Pleasure And Pain: A Pilot Study On The Biological Mechanisms Associated With BDSM Interactions In Dominants And Submissives
“Outcomes: We compared the evolution of the stress and reward hormone levels of cortisol, beta-endorphins, and endocannabinoids (2AG and anandamide) in a group of BDSM practitioners before and after an active BDSM interaction with the levels in control individuals.
Results: We showed that submissives showed increases in cortisol and endocannabinoid levels due to the BDSM interaction, with dominants only showing increased endocannabinoid levels when the BDSM interaction was associated with power play.
Clinical implications: This study effectively provides a link between behavior that many think of as aberrant on one hand, and biological pleasure experience on the other, in the hope that it may relieve some of the stigma these practitioners still endure.”
Elise Wuyts MD, Nele De Neef MD, Violette Coppens, Erik Fransen PhD, Eline Schellens, Maarten Van Der Pol, Manuel Morrens PhD, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, 4/2020
- Who’s On Top? How Playing With Power Can Save Your Sex Life
“Everyone interacts with power during sex. Dominance and submission isn’t just for kinksters, and you don’t have to go all 50 Shades to play with power dynamics.”
Nat Tencic, abc.net.au, 2/25/2020
- Dominant And Submissive Relationships – Top 10 Rules To Follow
“When it comes to defining and understanding BDSM, people (especially those in vanilla relationships) generally link it with Fifty Shades of Grey and Christian Grey’s kinky equipment like handcuffs, chains, ropes – you name it….The truth is that this type of relationship isn’t only about sex, even though most people may think it is. Actually, the dominant-submissive relationship can be seen in all aspects of life.”
Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes, allceus.com, 2/18/2020
- A Very Sexy Beginner’s Guide To BDSM Words
“A is for Aftercare
Aftercare is the practice of checking in with one another after a scene (or ‘play session,’ a.k.a., the time in which the BDSM happens) to make sure all parties feel nice and chill about what just went down. The dominant partner may bring the submissive ice for any bruises, but it’s important to know that aftercare involves emotional care as well as physical. BDSM releases endorphins, which can lead to both dominants and submissives experiencing a ‘drop.’ Aftercare can help prevent that. There’s often cuddling and always conversation; kinksters need love too.”
Sophie Saint Thomas, gq.com. 2/4/2020
- What Is BDSM? Fundamentals, Types And Roles, Safety Rules, And More
“…Nearly 47 percent of women and 60 percent of men have fantasized about dominating someone sexually, while slightly more women and less men are aroused by the idea of being dominated, according to a study published online March 3, 2016, in The Journal of Sex Research. The same study also found that almost 47 percent adults would like to participate in at least one nontraditional type of sexual activity, and 33.9 percent said that they’d done so at least once in the past.”
Medically Reviewed by Allison Young, MD, written by Nuna Alberts, LCSW, everydayhealth.com, 11/5/2019
- What To Expect In A Sub-Dom Relationship
“Since communication and consent is the key, couples generally talk first about the roles [they] want to play and the things they want to try. Sharing erotic thoughts and stories, at times even images work well for couples, and it is certainly very important to go into things that the individuals really want to try, and not feel forced or obliged into doing so. Without consent or keeping safety rules in mind, any BDSM act can get harmful and dangerous.”
RJ Frometa, ventsmagazine.com, 8/17/2019
- How To Be A Loving Dominant
“A ‘loving’ Dominant is self-aware, mindful, respectful, and giving….They understand, in reality, the sub holds tons of power in the dynamic, and they’re completely comfortable with that….Beyond the power dynamic, a loving Dominant also happily shoulders a great responsibility to nurture and take care of their sub, and reciprocate the mutual service of pleasure, always with the sub’s best interests in mind.”
Jordan Gray, jordangrayconsulting.com, 6/7/2019
- 5 BDSM Games To Spice Up Your Sex Life Tonight
“Best Game for Newbies
This one is a lot of fun, can be tailored to your own kinky comfort level, and only requires a piece of paper, a pen, and a die to play. If you don’t have any dice, you can easily make one with an eraser and a pen, or even a little piece of wood.”
Isabella Frappier, sexwithemily.com, 6/6/2019
- Is My Wife, a Feminist, Testing Me When She Asks to Be Dominated in Bed?
“The job of reconciling your wife’s feminism with her sexual submission belongs to your wife, if she hasn’t done so already or is even interested in doing so at all (she could also be content to be complicated). Your job is to believe her. One of feminism’s defining features is the belief that women have the right to choose what to do with their bodies and lives.”
Rich Juzwiak, slate.com, 6/3/2019
- 40 Erotic Role Play Ideas That’ll Totally Spice Up Your Sex Life
“Switch It Up
Is one of you the more dominant partner in your relationship, while the other is more submissive? A great intro to role play that doesn’t entail much in the way of theatrics is to explore that dynamic. [Sex therapist Dulcinea] Pitagora says that once you establish your roles, you can either exaggerate those pre-existing dynamics in the relationship, or you can reverse them.”
Grant Stoddard, bestlifeonline.com, 2/15/2019
- 11 BDSM Games Everyone Should Try At Least Once
“If you’re curious about trying BDSM, it might be tempting to run out right now and spend a paycheck on leather gear. But it’s important for newbies to start with the basics. Take time to carefully explore each kink that makes up BDSM—bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism—and pencil in time to go over safety words and limits beforehand.”
Anna Breslaw, cosmopolitan.com, 10/9/2018
- BDSM Role Fluidity: A Mixed-Methods Approach to Investigating Switches Within Dominant/Submissive Binaries
“Data were gathered from 202 online surveys and 25 semistructured interviews about participants’ roles given their gender and sexual identities. These data reveal that men tend to self-identify as Dominant, Master, Top, or Sadist (DMTS) and always perform dominant roles, while women tend to self-identify as Submissive, Slave, Bottom, or Masochist (SSBM) and always perform submissive roles. Although this would seem to support the theory that BDSM reinforces gendered dominant/submissive binaries, further analyses indicate that women and queer/pansexual individuals disrupt this binary through their Switch identities and roles. Switching and queer identities, thus, offer the possibility for transforming dominant/submissive and other binaries.”
Katherine Martinez, PhD, tandfonline.com, 9/28/2017
- Dominant Submissive Relationships In The Bedroom: Why BDSM Couples Like Having Rough Sex
“Communication and consent are critical in BDSM, especially when it comes to pain play.”
Lizette Borreli, medicaldaily.com, 4/28/2017
- How BDSM Can Help Save Your Relationship
“Dr. Stephanie Hunter Jones, a certified sex therapist, works with couples to introduce BDSM into their bedrooms — and she told Motto that she’s seen the practice completely revive partnerships. ‘It definitely makes a difference for damaged relationships,’ Dr. Jones said.”
Samantha Cooney, time.com 2/10/2017
- Most Americans Open To Sexual Dominance And Submission
“Research conducted by YouGov in the US, UK and Germany shows that Americans (13%) and Brits (12%) are about as likely to have taken part in BDSM as each other and are more likely than Germans (8%) to have done so. In the United States younger people are far more likely to say that they have taken part in BDSM and to say that they would want to take part in it in the future. 23% of under-30s have taken part in it, while 35% would like to do it in the future. Only 20% of people aged 30-44 would like to do it, a figure that drops to 7% of people aged 45 to 64.”
Peter Moore, yougov.com, 2/13/2015