Do you have a good idea of what your submission looks like? Just about every single BDSM book, website, or experienced kinky person has defined submission at one time or another. The dictionary definition just doesn’t cover all the nuances that living in a submissive lifestyle can include. If you’re brand new to BDSM or even if you’ve got a few years under your belt, it’s good to sit down and figure out what submission means for you and how it works in your dynamic.

When I was a newer submissive, I had this preconceived notion that submission was this magical feeling of joy and pride for pleasing your Dominant. Once I entered a relationship, I was to submit, obey, wait on all his desires, and keep my mouth shut. I know now that submission is much more than that: having opinions and thoughts is expected! Your partner chose you because they love your mind not because you’re a mindless doll.

Let’s start by discarding the definition of submissive that you’ve probably held on to since the first BDSM novel you read. Because, while it’s titillating, it’s not doing your decision to explore submission any favors. Instead, your personal definition of submission, based on your wants and needs, should follow a few basic tenets that will give you a full look at submission without all the fluff and false notions.

Basic Tenets of Being Submissive

Your personality is who you are, embrace it. Your Dominant shouldn’t want to change who you are. If you are a bratty submissive, for example, you shouldn’t feel pressured to change yourself unless you both desire it. Sometimes that means you need a more in-depth discussion into each other’s desires in a partner. Being in a D/s relationship has many opportunities for personal growth and change, but in general, it should be a dynamic full of acceptance and positive encouragement.

You have rights. What you surrender is your choice, be it in all areas of your life, or just a few but you can never surrender your right to advocate for yourself or leave the relationship if it no longer works. A lot of people like to fantasize dominance as ruling with absolute power and a firm hand, and submission is absolute surrender, with minimal (if any) leeway. That’s good for play scenes, but, in reality, a dynamic built this way is often abusive.

You are not a doormat. Your wants and needs are just as important as those of your Dominant, so don’t neglect the important parts of your life, like your family, friends, and work. Your personal life should not revolve around your Dominant. Make sure you are still doing the things you enjoy doing on your own, like your hobbies and hanging out with your friends. Take care of yourself as well as the dynamic.

Your definition of submission does not have to match anyone else. Submission for one person does not equal submission to another. That’s right; your definition is only valid for you and your partner and should be negotiated and renegotiated to help ensure you’re both in agreement about what your submission is. Your life experiences and what you are seeking for fulfillment will be different than anyone else’s. It’s nice to see how other people’s D/s dynamics work, but don’t expect yours to look anything like it. You don’t have to submit in the same way, and there are no molds to force yourself into. Just be yourself.

You shouldn’t compare yourself with other submissives. You don’t have to prove that you’re better than anyone else. Nor should you feel pressured to live up to somebody else by comparison. As long as you and your partner are happy, that’s all that matters.** **I know being competitive is a part of human nature. If you focus on the submissive you think is better than you are and get entirely caught up in everything they do or say, you lose track of why you submit.

You will make mistakes as you learn. Not surprisingly, you are not perfect. You’ll have lessons to learn, and you will probably make your partner upset from time to time. Accept that you’ll grow and improve, and your submission will adapt to that.

You don’t need a Dominant “to fix” you. There’s nothing wrong with being submissive: you are not weak and you are not broken. Submitting is a choice to be the best version of yourself. A good Dominant can help, but being a submissive is hugely empowering.

You shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions or raise concerns about anything in your relationship. It’s MORE than okay to ask questions! Your communication with your Dominant should be a relaxed and comfortable thing to do. It may take more preparation to talk about difficult subjects, but that shouldn’t stop you from communicating with your partner. You can learn about creating safe spaces to have difficult conversations on our site. Your relationship is only mutually beneficial if you can have open communication about everything, even difficult or embarrassing subjects.

You shouldn’t be afraid to request something you’d like. Asking for what you want is not topping from the bottom. It’s advocating for something you desire. You don’t have to blindly follow the Dominant’s lead.

Basic Tenets of a D/s Dynamic

D/s is a power EXCHANGE, and you should be getting everything you negotiated as needs and fulfilling their needs in return. While a relationship is ultimately about compromise, a D/s dynamic has many opportunities to have your needs met, and many of your desires enjoyed as well! While the control may be in your Dominant’s hands, if you don’t feel happy and feel like your needs are being ignored, it’s time to have a conversation.

Negotiation in a D/s dynamic is ongoing. Even long-term relationships have moments where they need to address concerns, changes in the dynamic, or negotiate parts of the exchange. No relationship is stagnant; it will grow and change with the people involved.

D/s dynamics are still relationships and can have similar expectations to traditional ones. You should talk about things like physical touch, sexual exclusivity, monogamy/polyamory, marriage, children (future planning), financial responsibility, and many other aspects that are important to you.

D/s dynamics are developed slowly over time. While you may have read about other people’s dynamics, consider how long they have been in the relationship. It didn’t start out looking the way it does now; they had to work at it. And so should you.

In the end, your personal definition of submission isn’t static; it will evolve as you learn more about BDSM and who you are within it. It’s not anyone else’s submission; this is your submission. Explore your submissive identity with these things in mind and keep your needs in focus. Once you know what you need as a submissive, you can work with your Dominant to make your D/s relationship exactly what you desire.

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