The D/s Dynamic
D/s or Dominance and Submission is about the consensual exchange of power from one person to another. The person granting the power is known as a submissive and the person accepting the power is known as a dominant. This does not mean the dominant has total control over every aspect of the submissive's life. Both the dominant and submissive partner are equals and should respect each other as such. It is important to discuss and negotiate limits and boundaries within the relationship and for each play scene.
Negotiation, Trust, and Communication
If you are familiar at all with D/s or any of the other aspects of BDSM, you've probably heard the phrase "Safe, Sane, and Consensual." There are many specific interpretations of this phrase, but what it really boils down to is negotiation, trust, and communication. These three elements must exist for a D/s relationship to function properly.
The importance of open and honest communication cannot be stressed enough. Both partners need to sit down and discuss their desires and preferences in a supportive environment. Neither partner should make the other feel inadequate or ridiculed because of the way they feel or something they said. If one partner feels very strongly about something and the other does not agree, it is time to negotiate. Following these steps builds trust, which is the most important element of all. The submissive needs to be able to trust that the dominant will not put him in danger or in any situations he cannot handle. He should feel confidant that the dominant knows exactly what his limits and boundaries are and will push them right to the edge but will not cross them without prior consent. The dominant needs to trust that the submissive has supplied her with honest information regarding his needs and has not falsified or omitted any important information.
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The Dominant's Role
The role of the dominant in a D/s relationship is to realize that she has only the amount of power given to her by the submissive. She cannot just decide on her own to take more control than was initially given and agreed upon during negotiation. A dominant must also take seriously the power she holds over the dominant and be sure she keeps the submissive safe and free from any real harm.
The dominant must be aware of the submissive's limitations and physical well being at all times. She must recognize when to stop, even if the submissive is begging for more. She must also be very aware of the safe word that was agreed upon during negotiation and be prepared to stop immediately upon hearing that word. Utterance of the safe word is considered an immediate withdrawal of consent.
Once the D/s scene is over, the submissive will likely be completely exhausted from the experience. He may want to sleep, eat, or be left alone for a period of time. The submissive may also experience intense emotion as soon as the scene ends or intermittently over a period of hours or days following the scene. It is the dominant's responsibility to provide whatever support, known as aftercare, the submissive needs.
The Submissive's Role
The role of the submissive in a D/s relationship is to communicate their desires openly and honestly with the dominant, without omissions and falsifications. It is impossible for the submissive to trust the dominant if he has not given her accurate information, and as we discussed earlier, trust is an absolute must for any D/s scene or relationship to be successful. It is also important for the submissive to recognize their limits and boundaries and communicate them to the dominant, along with a safe word, that when spoken by the submissive, withdraws consent and ends the activity or scene immediately.
The use of a safe word during a scene dictates the necessity of communication and reflection upon the scene once things have returned to normal. It is crucial to discuss why consent was withdrawn and how the activity was affecting the submissive at the time. Perhaps it is something that can be adjusted for next time, or perhaps, it is something the submissive does not wish to repeat. Either way, it is important to suss out those details as soon as possible after the scene is over.
D/s is not for Everybody
A couple may decide to try D/s only to find that one of them enjoys it and the other does not. Be aware that this is a possibility and do not try to push the one who does not enjoy it into doing it anyway. The one who does not enjoy D/s should also respect the fact that his or her partner does enjoy it and discuss acceptable outlets for them to express their D/s desires.
Communication, negotiation, and trust are the most important elements of any relationship, not just D/s relationships. As long as those elements are present, the relationship has a good foundation on which to build.