In our sexual lives we all form a sort of sexual “identity” through the years. Some of us are aggressive lovers, some are more passive and still others are very plain-Jane when it comes to sex. Then there are those who have a much different sexual dynamic, something that centers around either control or submission (and, rarely, both) – and these roles are called Dominants and submissives. While submissives prefer to be controlled, or manipulated physically and sexually by their partners, Dominants tend to want to exert control. The amount of control for a Dominant varies from simply “taking the lead” during sex to full on control of the other person. Most people have a very skewed view of what being a sexual Dominant or submissive means and assume that a Dominant wants to humiliate and torture their submissive partner; and that the submissive likes to be sexually abused. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most Dominants simply want to be the leader, if you will, during the sexual play. Sure, they may want to restrain or control their submissive in various ways, but most times Domination (the standard form) has nothing to do with pain or suffering. Most submissives, conversely, like the freedom of not having to be the sexual aggressor. There are exceptions to this, of course, with certain types of Dominants who also practice S/M (Sadism and Masochism). However, for the purposes of this article the term will be discussed relevant to someone who likes to maintain the sexual upper hand or be more subservient.
For terminology purposes, Dominants are called Doms (for male) and Dommes (for females). (s)ubmissives (always with a small ‘s’) are gender neutral. Switches do not have gender delineation either.
How does one decide if they are a Dominant or submissive (or both – termed a switch)? Do all people identify as one or the other? Can you force yourself to change over from one to the other or learn to be Dominant or submissive? Why is this type of identity sexually gratifying? Should I try to be Dominant or submissive? These are all common questions and can be answered in a general manner.
Usually there is no “deciding” if you are a Dominant or submissive. If you tend to be one or the other, you will know it. In sexual situations you will be more of the aggressor or the initiator if you are more Dominant. You may have the urge to control your partner via different methods of restraint (or even just holding down). You derive sexual pleasure from giving them pleasure in a way that makes you the active partner while they are “forced” to take it (no force as in rape). Many Dominants are one of two personality types (a) type-A personalities who need to find order and control in all areas of their lives or (b) relaxed types who tend to feel they have little to no actual control in their standard lives. As you can see, there is no hard and fast rule here. A type-A Dominant is so because he/she NEEDS to have that control in every aspect of their lives. However, if you tend to be more laid back in real life, you may have the urge to be in control in your sexual life. Either possibility can ring true.
If you identify as submissive you ultimately derive pleasure from relinquishing control. This can be as simple as not being the one to initiate sex all the way to not being able to make any sexual decisions (consensual withdrawal of participation). There are different levels of submission as well. Many submissives are such because in their standard life they are very timid and do not enjoy being the one in control. Their “natural state” is one of submission and they carry that to the bedroom. The flip side of this are people who are very high-powered in their real lives. They may have jobs that are very demanding and stressful. Therefore when it comes to sex they do not want to make any decisions at all. It is easier for them to relinquish that control sexually.
Switches, however, can be comfortable in either situation. Most “vanilla” people are not switches, as it means more to be a switch than being able to be the aggressor or the submissive easily. A true switch not only feels comfortable being the Dominant but he/she feels equally comfortable being the submissive. Switches tend to understand the psychological dynamic of both sides of the sexual coin and therefore can transition to either/or without disruption to their sexual psyche.
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Not all people identify as a Dominant or submissive. Many people just go through their sexual lives not ever thinking about it. It may be partner-dependent. You may take a more dominant role with a more passive partner and vice versa. Obviously, if pressed to think about which side of the coin you fall you could pick, but for some it will never be obvious. For others, however, you definitely KNOW which side you fall because sex becomes much more involved when you can engage in activities as either a Dominant or Submissive. It may never be necessary for you to choose. However, if you feel the urge to be Dominant or submissive, you will likely know it.
Sometimes we have a partner who is more submissive and they want us to be more Dominant. If we are submissive by nature, can we learn to be Dominant? The answer is yes and no. You can “fake it” in some manners by participating in an almost role playing identity where you engage in activities that are seen as being more Dominant. You can order your “submissive” to do things, initiate sex, or perhaps engage in some light bondage. If you do not identify as a Dominant, these activities will likely not give you much sexual gratification. Likewise if you are a more Dominant personality and your partner wants you to be submissive. Dominant people do not do well as submissives as that is too far the other direction sexually. Can you learn to do it, sure. However, it is not usually a true “learnt” behavior, it is more of an inner need to be one or the other. If you are a true switch, however, then you can learn to be both sides very successfully.
What is sexually gratifying about being Dominant or submissive? Well, think of it as being transgendered. If you are born a boy, but identify as a girl you may go through your whole life feeling like you are in the wrong body. Everything seems awkward and at-odds with who you really are. When you can finally identify as the gender you KNOW you are, you will feel at peace and whole. With true Dominants or submissives when they are in the role that is the most truly “them” they can feel a form of sexual freedom which is unmatched. For people who have never tried being Dominant or submissive and then have that experience, they feel a sort of sexual peace. It is like fulfilling your true purpose sexually. This is a large part of what makes it sexually gratifying. On a more basic note, experimenting with different types of power exchange can be and is extremely exhilarating. Being able to exercise (or relinquish) sexual control with your partner is an experience that brings exhilaration! The excitement and fear factor alone can bring sex to new heights. Not to mention exploring these options with a partner whom you trust can make sex in general that much better.
Finally, is this an experience that you should try to engage in? Do you feel the need to be more Dominant in bed? Are you feeling like you need to be “taken” in a sexual way? Are you afraid of offending your partner by asking for some sort of sexual role play? If you feel a strong urge from within or if your partner has expressed an interest in Domination or submission then talk it out. See if both of you feel that you could experiment with this type of sexual dynamic. One word of caution however, when someone realizes that they are a true Dominant or submissive and experience that type of sexual freedom they often (not always) find it difficult to go back to another role. This may cause issues if you have a partner that simply cannot be your complimentary role. You may have to discuss this and find a situation that can gratify both of you equally.
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