What's the meaning of a submissive and dominant relationship?
Whenever you hear the words dominant and submissive, the first thing that comes to mind is Fifty Shades of Grey. And why wouldn't it? After all, it was this series that brought the concept of BDSM into the mainstream. However, much like everything else, fiction is not always a reliable source of information. BDSM or Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, Sadochism and Masochism is not related just to sexual preference but is a lifestyle for many couples. And it isn't as torturing as Fifty Shades would have you believe. A part of BDSM is Dominance and Submission or Dom/sub (D/s) which is a much milder form of the entire spectrum.
Let's explore Dom/Sub relationships in detail, look at the exact meaning and the different aspects of the dominant and submissive relationship. Who knows? Maybe you are in a Dom/sub relationship and don't know yet!
What is the meaning of dominant and submissive?
A dominant and submissive relationship is all about power play.
It is a form of relationship where one partner plays a more dominant role and dictates or controls the other partner who is the submissive. These roles aren't fixed and the couple doesn't play these roles in all aspects of their life. Some dominant and submissive relationships are sexual as well. Just like some people might play these roles only during sex. So, what do I mean by that?
Like I said earlier, dominant and submissive relationships are all about being a lifestyle. Here one partner dominates certain aspects of the relationship more than the other, who follows. These could be simple things like, the submissive cooking food that the dominant asks for. Or the submissive having to ask the dominant's permission before going out somewhere. And like I said, some couples switch roles too. the dominant becomes the submissive in some case and vice versa.
The idea is an exchange of power. Many couples who might not be in a recognized dominant and submissive relationship might engage in it sometimes. For example, couples engage in roleplay-based sex where one person plays a dominant character, like a pirate and the other plays a submissive, like a captive. More defined dominant and submissive relationships have pre-defined roles and rules. At the start of the relationship itself, ground rules are set on what each person is comfortable doing. Consent is a big part of this relationship.
Another important thing to mention here is that dominant and submissive relationships are not supposed to be violent. The dominant can give punishments to the submissive for not following the rules. But this doesn't involve the kind of violence that is portrayed in the media. servitude in a dominant and submissive relationship is a choice that the submissive makes. They derive pleasure out of it. It isn't forced on them. Which is why the misconception that dominant and submissive or even BDSM relationships have a master and slave dynamic is false.
What does a submissive mean?
What is a submissive person in a relationship? As I said, there are clearly defined roles and rules in a dominant and submissive relationship. We can understand what is submissive behavior by looking at the characteristics of a submissive. Studies have suggested that both the dominant and submissive are more open to experiences and higher in conscientiousness compared to the general population.
The submissives are more extraverted compared to the general population. This combines with the openness to experience shows that they are more willing to try new sexual experimentation. Compared to dominants, submissives score less on self-esteem, satisfaction with life, and a greater desire for control.
Another important factor that studies have found is that a large majority of female BDSM practitioners tend to prefer being a submissive. While a considerable population of men are submissive. But the gap is not as significant as that seen in the female population.
So, what are the roles that a successful submissive must play?
The submissive's most important job is to delight the dominant. For that, they must do what the dominant asks. Of course, this is within the already agreed-upon terms. Their role is to elevate the desires of the dominant. Sometimes even at the expense of their own. In some ways, this brings them more joy than giving more importance to their own pleasure.
They have to accept being controlled. The dominant and submissive relationship is based on control. Failing to comply with the same reaps punishment. Something that the submissive might want to avoid. And finally, they have to express the desire to be dominated. This too is a part of pleasing the dominant.
What does the dominant mean?
What is a dominant person like? According to studies, dominant partners in dominant and submissive relationships, lower in emotionality, higher in extraversion, and equal in conscientiousness, openness to experience compared to the submissives. Being low in emotionality helps the dominant stay naturally calmer.
However, compared to the general population, dominants are less sensitive to rejection and have higher subjective well-being. This would make them much better adjusted than the general population. Studies have also found dominants to be low in agreeableness compared to submissives. This combined with their higher extraversion indicates that these people are more domineering. Being agreeable comes with a need to please. If this need is less, then the person can dominate more easily.
So, what roles does a dominant play in a Dom/sub relationship?
The main role of the dominant is to take control of the submissive. They dictate the terms of the relationship and the submissive's life that was previously agreed upon. In many relationships, the dominants are also responsible for the submissive's safety and well-being. Which in some ways is also what sets the dynamics of the relationship.
The dominant's role is to exercise power. They give priority to their own desire over that of the submissive. In fact, the submissive's desires are at the mercy of the dominant. They demand obedience and compliance but also fulfill their responsibilities. These responsibilities include duties to be performed for the submissive.
Writer & Relationship Expert
An avid reader and a romance writer, Sherry aims at empowering women to be stronger and happier in their relationships. In her novels, she tries to capture the essence of what it means to be a woman.
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