I was recently chatting at a local BDSM coffee event with a just-made friend who made mention (as she was just meeting my husband and I for the first time) that it was quite surprising to learn that he is the Dominant one and I am the submissive one. We get this all the time, if we are being honest!
Over the years, we have both worked tirelessly to maintain our "true" selves. We want to be authentic to who we are, as individuals, in spite of our dynamic.
One of my husband's biggest concerns as we delved deeper into the world of 24/7 Power Exchange (we transitioned from vanilla to part time Power Exchange, to full time D/s, to full time M/s over several years) was the insistence that he didn't want my personality to change. He liked me, just the way I was. He wanted to be with a woman/submissive who was smart. Who would challenge him and keep him on his toes. Who would call him out on his shit, help him grow into the best man he could be (all while growing into the best submissive I can be). We had a spicy relationship, full of playful banter and button pushing on both sides of the slash.
Also, in the beginning when we began engaging with other D/s couples, we often met boisterous, big personalities of D-types. They led... "dominated"... the conversation in the room. Talking over each other, one could feel the heat rise in the room as their opinions were traded louder and louder. The submissives sat silently, eyes bouncing back and forth between those speaking, sometimes raising a hand or starting to speak an opinion but many times not heard.
This is not my guy.
My husband is quiet; restrained. He insists he learns so much more from listening than he ever has talking. He sits back, takes everything in. He can read an entire room of 30 people, taking in moods and body language, catching snippets of a dozen conversations at once. He's contemplative and constantly aware. When he does speak up? Everybody listens.
So I get it. We get it. Loud, boisterous (as an understatement), talkative and opinionated woman. Quiet, laid back, restricted man. Sounds like a clear pointing to Female-led/male followed D/s relationship, right?
In some ways I think we all make this mistake, whether we are brand new to the kink community or have been around for awhile. We tend to associate certain personality traits to a label: Dominant, or submissive, or a Master, slave, Leather, baby girl, whatever. But I do think this is where many insecurities in individuals in Power Exchange dynamics comes from, and my husband and I hope to be a part of dispelling this notion.
"I'm not submissive enough because I am not meek and quiet enough." or "Should I be seen and not heard?"
Wondering if in order to be a "proper" Dominant you need to be some sort of chest pounding, loudly-ordering prick.
I'd like to encourage everybody to drop the notion that any personality trait at all indicates that a person should be wearing a specific label.
Dominants can be caring and kind. Quiet and thoughtful. Meticulous. Nerdy. Helpful. They can not pound their chest, like, at all.
Or maybe they do. Maybe it's a mixture of these.
Submissives can be powerful. Let me say again: submissives can be powerful.
They can be smart and loud and have great opinions. They can speak to others without getting written permission to do so. They do not have to be into service, they do not have to enjoy pain, they do not have to fade into the background.
Or they can be the opposite of all that. They can be a mix of their own comfortable selves.
Because personality traits don't indicate... anything at all.
The only thing you should interpret from somebody being dominant is that they enjoy dominating others. The only assumption of a submissive should be that they enjoy the notion of submitting, in some ways, to a partner.
Next time you are at a table of kinksters in your local munch or dungeon or even online, remember this advice and please drop the assumptions. Remember that every person alive has their own rich makeup of personality and talk with them as if they are a blank slate of labels. We are just people, after all. And our preference in a relationship shouldn't dictate our personality.
"Nobody is superior, nobody is inferior, but nobody is equal either. People are simply unique, incomparable. You are you, I am I."