Who we are and how we behave in the bedroom might be a reflection of our everyday personas or a complete divorce from them. If you’ve figured out that incorporating a power dynamic to your sex life brings the satisfaction you seek, there are innumerable routes to explore. Determining where you lie on the Dom/sub spectrum may be as fickle as choosing your outfit for the day, and that’s totally okay! Sexuality is an ever-shifting component of our identities.
‘Power’ in the bedroom can be derived (or relinquished) in all sorts of ways, and can be expressed verbally and non-verbally. If you’re someone who craves total control or total loss of it (or maybe a little of both), establishing a power dynamic prior to playtime can ensure both parties understand their role and can satisfy their wants. Power dynamics can facilitate deeper levels of intimacy for you and your partner, as there are tremendous amounts of trust and negotiation they require. They allow us to express our desires clearly and honestly, and cultivate an experience that honors both communication and vulnerability. If you’ve never experienced sex with a clear power dynamic, it can seem like an intimidating topic to approach, but we’ll break down the basics of both sides so you can feel more empowered about what to ask for next time!
When we think about submission in the bedroom, it can kick up all sorts of connotations. Newbies to BDSM might assume that Doms get to have all the fun in the bedroom, while the submissive simply has to take what’s handed to them. Some uneducated folks might even associate submission with receiving abuse, or, if you’re a man, emasculating oneself, but this could not be further from the truth. Kinksters understand that submission is negotiated and granted, not something taken by force, and can be just as empowering as dominating. When we articulate our desire to be dominated (or ‘topped’) by our partners, what we’re really saying is, “I trust you to guide me.” Submission allows us to fully immerse ourselves in a sexual experience, granting our partners the role of the ‘leader’. It can be incredibly freeing to let go in a sense, handing over the role of curating and decision-making to another person and allowing you to simply receive. Subs often describe a blissed-out state during and after a hot BDSM scene, often referred to as ‘subspace’. Subspace can best be described as a rush of endorphins that occurs when the mind has only a singular focus, in this context, usually through some combinations of sensation play, bondage or physical pain. Many subs seek to achieve this feeling, as- in addition to connecting deeply with their partner(s)- it can encourage presence in the moment and freedom from nagging thoughts, responsibilities and other stressors. Sounds more like a mini vacation, right?
Dominance in the bedroom can also be deeply misunderstood by newbies or vanilla folks for many of the same reasons. It can be mistaken as simply a penchant for abuse, but this too is a false and harmful narrative. Dominance requires thoughtfulness, explicit negotiation, care and restraint, and can deepen bonds in the bedroom like no other. When we express a desire to dominate our partner, what we’re really saying is, “I hope you’ll allow me to guide you.” We’re telling our partners that we’ll shoulder the responsibilities and decision-making such that we allow them to let go and lose themselves completely. Dominance is kindness, listening and re-assessing to ensure we’re delivering a pleasurable and safe experience for our subs. This may look like regularly checking in during an intense scene, making sure our subs are in a comfortable position, and allowing them to speak up or pump the brakes if it ever becomes overwhelming. Dominance enables us to be leaders, caretakers and protectors during sex, as our singular focus in that moment is our partner’s experience. In this way, dominance can and should be reframed as an act of selflessness (though, we admit, it’s no fun being a Dom unless you can get your way a little bit, too- just make sure everything is negotiated beforehand). Just like subs, Doms can experience something known as ‘topspace’, a similar feeling of total immersion and losing oneself in the moment; they just have to be keen to keep an eye or ear out for whatever their sub might be trying to tell them. Dominance in the bedroom can be summed up as an act of guidance, trust and accountability, and can empower you to take new directions or create fun experiments for you and your partner.
If either (or both!) of these described roles in the bedroom speak to you, it’s never too late to try something new. Whether you’re an aspiring sub, Dom, or feel like you could be both in different situations, adding a power dynamic to the bedroom can create deeper bonds rooted in trust and intimacy between you and your partner. Facilitating that conversation can seem challenging at first, but articulating our desires with honesty is always sexy, and, hey- you never know who might be harboring the same secret desires, too.