Answers to Your Questions About What It's Really Like to Be in a Dom/Sub Relationship (2023)

I accidentally crossed paths with my first Dominant online when I was going through a divorce seven years ago. My first thought was to run away fast: He must be some whip-toting freak with a dungeon in his basement. Fast-forward to today and I have three Dominant/submissive (D/s) relationships behind me (though I’ve had vanilla relationships, too), and I can honestly say that each relationship built on the former and has taught me profound things about my body, myself, and even life.

With so much controversy and misinformation, which I’ve written about before,out there around what D/s is and isn’t, I want to offer up a glimpse into the REAL world of D/s. Here are the answers to the most popular questions I’ve been asked.

What do you enjoy most about D/s?

What appeals to me the most is the intense cerebral connection the mind play and the feelings it conjures in me, sometimes all day long (the brain is, after all, the biggest sex organ). The words, the orders, the reprimands, the tone and the downright audacity for him to say it all: Never would I allow anyone else to speak to me in this way, or, over all, to have such deep access into my mind, body and heart.

And I hear myself responding in ways that similarly shock me from mouthy and totally improper to meek and pleasing or with no air in my lungs at all. All the while I feel with my mind, heart and full body, the anticipation, the fear, the exposure, my power, his control and protection, desire and love. Through the D/s dynamic, I not only feel more alive and aware of my sexuality/sensuality, I learn and own more of myself.

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I’ve heard of “punishment and discipline” being used in D/s relationships: What does that look like?

I can only explain this from my perspective, so I’ll have to back up a bit:

I have many different aspects to my personality. For the most part, I’m pretty straight-laced: responsible, hard-working, kind, thoughtful, capable, organized, (boring). Maybe it’s my upper middle-class, good girl upbringing at work, I don’t know.

But some parts of me itch to go outside the lines, and those parts are bitchy, aggressive, sly, daring, bold, manipulative, and even, I’d say, immature. This is where “Delaine The Brat” comes out in the D/s relationship and boy does she love to push.

Poking at my Dom, testing him, trying to break his rules and, in some ways, undermine his masculinity, brings me great pleasure. I’d almost describe it as glee. If he catches it and I always kind of hope he will I need to know he will ‘put in my place’ through some kind of “punishment/discipline” that we both somehow, on some level, enjoy. If he doesn’t rise to the challenge, it’s actually a turn-off to me.

For some people, this is where S&M comes into play. For others, it’s bondage and/or spanking and/or kink. It could even involve humiliation and standing in the corner like a berated child. The submissive never knows ‘exactly’ what her Dom is going to do and the slight fear of the unknown can be erotic. That being said, she should always know that she is safe and won’t be pushed outside her limits physically, mentally or emotionally. If this happens and she immediately wants it to stop, she can call out a mutually agreed upon “safe word.”

As for me, the best way to make me behave is to ignore me.

But why, as a grown woman, would you possibly want to behave so childishly?

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It’s not all the time, it’s just sometimes. And I don’t know the exact answer. Why do you sometimes crave tomatoes on rye bread while I feel like grilled cheese on white? Why does it even matter if we both enjoy a good meal and are both satisfied and unharmed in the end?

All I know is that some part of me is attracted to strong, decisive, creative, powerful men who also possess the Dom ‘skill set’ (a topic for another article). And when I’m around that energy and reminded of it, I like how it makes me feel as a woman and sexual being. It’s not that I think I’m not all of those things too, but something inside of me is appeased and awakened when I feel that in the company of my partner.

Why didn’t you explore D/s before you got divorced?

Looking back, all I can say is that the mundaneness of raising three kids within a stable, predictable, domestic life and marriage squashed my interest in sex beyond the requisites. Only when I became single again at age 37 did I realize how much my sexual desire rouses when my mind and imagination are consistently engaged and challenged. A D/s relationship offers me that.

What do you want women to know most about D/s?

First, D/s is first and foremost a PART of a relationship, but it’s not everything the relationship is. You need to be highly compatible in a myriad of ways beyond D/s for the relationship to be successful.

Secondly, when you love your partner, D/s becomes like this private, special journey that enables you to explore yourself and each other in intimate, breathtaking, never-ending ways. Sex is more like an extension of that journey, a vehicle if you will, that allows you to excavate, ask, dare, receive, give and explore things about yourself, and slightly beyond yourself, that you never knew existed. The power and intensity and connection to one another almost feels cosmic. It’s like you’re attached to one another, like muscle on bone.

Do you have psychological issues?

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Smile. No more than the average person.

In the real world I am a professional, a mom, capable, creative and self-reliant. But as a woman, D/s speaks to some deep and intimate part of my soul. I long to be mastered and taken and led by one amazing man I love.

But not just any many can call himself a Dom and own me. There is a ferocious tiger that guards the gates to that sacred part of me.

I encourage other women to do the same.

Is D/s all about whips, chains, blood and pain?

No. Please do not confuse D/s with S&M, which is sadomasochism. S&M is the dynamic where one person (the sadist) enjoys inflicting pain, often sexually, on someone who enjoys receiving it (the masochist). That being said, some people may incorporate some level of S&M into their D/s dynamic but more often than not, it’s mild to moderate and takes the form of spanking, which, let’s be honest, many “vanilla” couples have tried in the throes of passion.

Please note that BDSM is divided into three areas: BD, bondage and discipline; DS, Dominance and submission; and SM, for sadomasochism. Not everyone combines all areas, nor do they do so in the same ways; it’s up to the couple to decide upon and consent to together. Also, many couples don’t even categorize themselves under these labels and simply call acts like blindfolding or handcuffing “kink.”

Is D/s largely about kinky sex then?

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D/s is first and foremost an energy dynamic that flows between two people. One person, the Dom, takes on more the role of leader, guide, enforcer, protector and/or daddy, while the other person, the sub, assumes more the role of pleaser, brat, tester, baby girl, and/or servant. Many couples limit the D/s dynamic to sexual role play in the bedroom. But D/s can be expanded and applied in exciting and creative ways beyond it.

For example, a Dom may create simple yet ‘unordinary’ rules for his sub to follow, such as requiring she ask his permission to masturbate when he’s absent. Or, the dynamic may involve much stricter rules and numerous tasks that entrust him with more control of her mind, body and behaviors. This is where the line between D/s crosses into that of Master/slave, which is much more in-depth and more of a lifestyle.

Does the Dom have all the power while the sub is pretty much a doormat?

No. This is one of the biggest myths about D/s. A true D/s relationship is based upon the needs, wants, desires and curiosities of the sub she defines the flow and boundaries of the relationship. The Dom’s job is to listen closely to her, ask questions, intuit what she says and sometimes can’t, and help her creatively and safely explore her innermost self, mentally, emotionally and yes, sexually, too. Sometimes her boundaries get gently pressed, too.

This is why the four pillars of a D/s relationship are trust, communication, respect and honesty. And if one pillar is missing or one starts crumbling, the relationship becomes stunted and may even collapse.

Read more from Delaine at

This post was originally published in November 2016.

Before you go, check out our favorite sex handcuffs for all kinds of couples:

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Answers to Your Questions About What It's Really Like to Be in a Dom/Sub Relationship (2)


What's it like being in a dom sub relationship? ›

One person, the Dom, takes on more the role of leader, guide, enforcer, protector and/or daddy, while the other person, the sub, assumes more the role of pleaser, brat, tester, baby girl, and/or servant. Many couples limit the D/s dynamic to sexual role play in the bedroom.

How do you build trust in a DOM sub relationship? ›

Be responsive, receptive, consistent, available, and reliable. If you can't show up or be available, explain why. Never ghost, don't be hot and cold or inconsistent, and do your best not to leave someone in the dark about what you're feeling.

What are qualities of a good dom? ›

Simply put, a good Dominant is someone who possesses the very qualities we would ascribe to a “good person”: kindness, consideration, politeness, empathy, sympathy. A good Dominant, like a “good person” has a strong sense of ethics and honesty and is respectful of others regardless of their position in life.

What are the personality traits of a dom? ›

A dominant personality involves traits like proactivity, assertiveness, and often, extroversion. Agression and manipulation are also possible.
Under the DiSC model, dominant personality traits include:
  • impatience.
  • manipulation.
  • egotism.
  • bluntness.
  • stubbornness.
  • determination.
  • aloofness.
  • perfectionism.
Jul 1, 2022

How do you stay submissive? ›

Keep reading for 10 ways to be a submissive wife.
  1. Be the peacemaker. ...
  2. Allow your husband to be your provider. ...
  3. Keep the house under control. ...
  4. Be open to your husband's sexual needs and desires. ...
  5. Listen intently to your husband without interruption. ...
  6. Include your husband in financial decisions.
Aug 13, 2019

What is sub drop in a DOM sub relationship? ›

What is sub-drop? It's an emotional and physical low, that begins anywhere from a few hours to a few days after an emotional/endorphin high and can last hours to weeks. The specific term sub-drop comes from the kink community, because it's typically experienced by submissive individuals after an intense scene.

What do you look for in a submissive? ›

A submissive personality is someone who willingly submits to the authority of someone else. They have a service-oriented mindset and find peace in taking instructions from those he or she looks up to. This can be at home, at workplace, with friends or in community relationships.

What are the traits of a submissive personality? ›

Submissive personality traits:

Submissives are concerned with facts rather than emotion, and won't spend time getting to know you on a personal level. In conversation, submissives are serious, direct, and formal and often like to be dealt with at arm's length.

What are the signs of a dominant woman? ›

The Alpha Female: 9 Ways You Can Tell Who is an Alpha Woman
  • They Offer Fearless Leadership.
  • They Possess High Emotional Intelligence.
  • They Are Obsessive Learners.
  • They Are Strong.
  • They Are Sought Out.
  • They Are Highly Ambitious.
  • They Love Their Mommas (and Daddies)
  • They Cultivate Harmony.

What does feeling submissive feel like? ›

When we're feeling submissive, we basically go along with what other people want. We let them take charge or make all of the decisions without really speaking up about our own needs. Even if it makes us uncomfortable or unhappy, we might feel submissive in our personal relationships for lots of reasons.

What does submissive Behaviour look like? ›

They like to be in control and take charge of situations. They are often good at making decisions and tend to be natural leaders. Submissive personality types are typically more shy and introverted. They prefer to follow rather than lead and often defer to others when it comes to decision-making.

Can a dom marry a sub? ›

Originally Answered: Do Doms marry their subs? Some do. Some don't. Some Doms are already married to someone else, as are some subs (yours truly).


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