I was sweeping the lobby of a dungeon in Dallas when a sudden burst of emotion overtook me, and I began to cry. It wasn’t sadness, but an overarching swell of what I was doing, who I was doing it for, and a deep sense of presence in that moment.
Over the course of the last 20 plus years I’ve been a member of the BDSM community, and I’ve played on both sides of the whip, as both dominant and submissive.
What I experienced in that lobby, while sweeping a floor… of all things, is a good example of what I learned as a 24/7 slave to a dominant woman that I was in love with, and how I apply that knowledge now as a dominant.
I’ve been around long enough that I know there’s a lot of debate and controversy about dominants experiencing what it’s like to be on the other side. Some people say that real dominants would never bow to anyone. Others say that you can’t be a real dominant unless you know what it’s like to feel the thud of a flogger.
Back in the olden days, before my time, some Old Guard types moved everyone through a routine where you began your time in BDSM as a submissive and worked your way up to being a Master. Now it’s as easy as proclaiming your title on TikTok. I’m not sure either of those are great ideas today. I’d advocate for something in-between.
At the very least I think it’s a good idea to know how your toys feel before using them on someone else. It wouldn’t hurt to get tied up, so you understand the constriction on your breathing and how it affects you physically and mentally. And you sure as hell better know that the mental aspects of BDSM are just as dangerous as the physical ones are, maybe more so. Being dominant means being responsible, which also means being exceptionally informed about what you’re doing.
I’ll talk more about that in a moment.
So what follows are several things that I learned during my time as a submissive, but more specifically when I served as a 24/7 slave in two long-term relationships with dominant women. I’m giving you this information in the hopes that it will help dominants understand their submissives better and how to use this information to be better at domination.
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One of the dommes I served was a hardcore sadist. She really enjoyed giving pain and she was very good at it. I’m not now, nor have I ever been a hardcore masochist, but that play was important to her, so it was important to me. I felt like taking the pain was part of my servitude to her and so I learned how to process pain in ways that I never would have otherwise.
Unless I wanted short scenes all the time, I had to figure out how to remove myself from the moment a bit, and I had to learn to take the pain and not let it control me.
I learned that by using a simple mantra that allowed me to go much further by going past that initial surge of pain. She taught me to “breath in the pain, and then let it go when you exhale.” By taking long slow breaths and concentrating on slow steady breathing, then metaphorically releasing that pain when you exhale, it helped me to not panic and get caught in a downward pain cycle.
That process has helped me to deal with physical pain outside of BDSM too.
Once you get past the initial phase of pain, especially if it’s something like a flogging session, where the pain is constant, most people can slip further and further into subspace and the pain goes into the background.
As the dominant, you should know how to tell your submissive what to do when they are dealing with pain. Helping them to control their breathing and giving them the tools to process pain will make your scenes go longer and take your submissive deeper into subspace.
I also realize that there may be times when you want your submissive to feel the pain more profoundly, and if that’s the case, building up pain over time is the opposite of what you should do. If you’re looking for impact, then mixing things up and surprising your submissive is what will get the greatest reaction. There’s a time and place for everything.
Submissives are Watching
When you get started in a BDSM relationship there’s a wonderful thing that happens where you discuss all the things you’ve done, what you won’t do, what you like to do, and what you’ll never do. I wish that vanilla relationships regularly did the same thing!
During that time many dominants will set up a few rules for the submissive, like don’t look the dominant in the eyes, always greet the dominant in a certain way, don’t ever tell the dominant “no,” or whatever. Over time those rules get modified, expanded, and some get dropped.
As a submissive I learned that those rules and protocols became a huge thing to me. It wasn’t some silly thing that the dominant told me to do, it was a foundational aspect to our power exchange relationship. I not only focused intently on those rules, but I was excited to participate in them.
But I also noticed when those rules were not enforced.
There are always some situations where rules are not appropriate, like around kids, or in public, or other times. You should always talk about that as well when you’re setting up rules.
However, when it wasn’t one of those special circumstances, and it was just something the dominant missed, I certainly noticed it. It hurt that the dominant didn’t care to correct me, or to point out that I made a mistake. She knew the rules too. I wondered, why was she letting me get away with that?
I also learned that when you let minor infractions go that sometimes the minor stuff would snowball into being more and more lax with rules, until the rules were no longer applied at all. Small things can unravel a whole relationship.
Dominants should know that submissives need those rules and rituals, no matter how small, to reinforce the BDSM dynamic. And when it isn’t reinforced, submissives notice. If you miss it too often, you run the risk of dismantling the whole D/s relationship you’ve developed. I’ve seen it happen many times, and I’ve been in relationships where it’s happened too.
Enforcing rules is important, and it means a lot more than you may realize.
Being submissive can be Strangely Emotional
Back at that public dungeon in Dallas, I was staying the weekend with a dominatrix, and we were taking care of the dungeon for several days. We got to live there and play there the whole weekend.
That Saturday night was a big community party, and it was absolutely a blast!
Earlier, on that Saturday, we were getting ready for the party, and she had given me several chores to do in preparation. I was near the lobby, in collar and cuffs, sweeping away, and suddenly I felt the weight of our relationship, and my love for her, and what it felt like to serve her, and that we were sharing this moment in this cool place, and that I was doing this simple act in respect for her and the broader community… and I started to cry.
This was not a moment of sadness, this was more about being overwhelmed by the power of who I was with, what she meant to me, and the broader implications of the simple act that I was doing in that moment. I was feeling more submissive in that moment than ever before.
Not every submissive is going to be so damn wrapped up in the relationship that they are capable of experiencing this sort of emotional moment. Some people are just in it for the play and nothing else.
But if you’re lucky enough to find someone who really buys into your power dynamic, and who trusts you, and who can let go enough to sink into their submissive role-then they can be moved in highly profound ways. In fact, they can be swept away with emotion that they may not even fully understand themselves.
It’s something that is incredibly strong, if everything is going right.
As a dominant, the first thing you need to know is that your submissive, if all the planets are aligned, may be feeling all kinds of weird emotions. These emotions may not even make sense to the submissive (it didn’t to me). And the emotions may be wildly removed from how the submissive is feeling (again, I was happy in this moment, but still crying).
It’s so vital that you have the communication lines open with your submissive, and that they feel comfortable talking to you about things, whether they are good or bad. Being submissive can be an emotional roller coaster ride. They need your ear, and they need your guidance.
Here is where the responsibility comes into play. The submissive might be going through all kinds of things emotionally, and it’s your responsibility to give them an outlet to discuss their mental state, and their emotional reactions, to your scenes and to your overall relationship.
You must be open to this sort of discussion, and you have to let your submissive know that it’s okay to come to you, even if it’s uncomfortable or confusing… especially if it’s uncomfortable or confusing!
Being submissive is something that many people do not share with their friends or family. It’s even rare to have friends in the community. So often, their only outlet to discuss this stuff is with you.
As the dominant in the relationship, you have the responsibility to be aware of how your submissive is doing physically and mentally. I’ve found that having the submissive use a journal to keep track of scenes and thoughts about the relationship (something that you can also read) is a good way to get that discussion going.
Also, checking in with a submissive regularly and talking about how scenes are going, and how they are feeling, and how things could improve, is a great tool to open the lines of communication. But it only works if your submissive knows that they can be honest without being punished. Those talks can be good for both of you.
It’s not for everyone, but my time as a submissive unquestionably made me a better dominant. I innately understand much of the physical and mental things that a submissive is going through because I went through them as well. And I know how important it is to help guide them through their journey, with knowledge and compassion.
By Dirk Hooper
Dirk Hooper is a professional writer who has done work for many high-profile online magazines, has won the Top Writer Award at Quora for three years, and a Moore Award for copywriting in 2017. He published his first erotic BDSM book under a pen name in 2018. Hooper’s articles have been published at Business Insider, Inc. Magazine, HuffPost, Slate Magazine, The Sporting News, MSN Sport, and Quartz. He has also been published as a comic writer, a poet, and performed numerous copywriting assignments for professional and private clients. He is currently writing an erotic novel, a kinky comic book project, and a non-fiction book about social networking. Dirk Hooper has been a proud member of the BDSM community for over two decades and has been a BDSM mentor for over ten years.
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