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What Does It Mean To Be A submissive?

While chatting in a private group recently, a question was asked that I thought would be super helpful to share in a special edition of Dear Mistress. The question posted specifically asked “How do you know if you’re submissive?” which for me can be answered many different ways. Is the question being asked to figure out if you are A submissive? Or are you asking if you tend to be submissive in the bedroom?

Dear Mistress answered it in every way possible… because she’s always extra. ~Angie

From Dear Mistress:

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How Do You Know If You’re Submissive?

You may have the need to be submissive in a relationship, or perhaps sexually submissive where you prefer someone else take the driver’s seat in sexual situations.

To be “a submissive” in the BDSM lifestyle is something different. That is where you have a specific dynamic and power exchange. You submit to a Dominant, and that can be 24/7 or however it works best for you. It’s a role in a lifestyle where there are rules and protocol.

If that’s something you crave, something that goes beyond being cared for in a relationship or being sexually submissive, it might be worth exploring.

It does make sense [that you want to be cared for]. You want someone to be the caregiver and have your emotional well-being be their focus. That’s not uncommon for someone who is used to being the caregiver and responsible one for not just themselves, but others, too.
[section label=”What’s The Difference Between A submissive Or Being Submissive?” anchor=”difference”]

What’s The Difference Between A submissive Or Being Submissive?

Be sure you’re looking at the differences between between A submissive versus being a submissive person. What you’re describing [in wanting to be cared for] does not sound like A submissive in terms of the BDSM lifestyle, but more of someone who wants a strong guiding hand to lead them for once and ensure that they’re loved and cared for.

If you are A submissive, your role is illustrated with a lowercase “s” to signify your place. If you’re simply a submissive person who is taking a backseat in a relationship, using a lowercase “s” would not be necessary.

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Being sexually submissive (adjective)

You allow your partner to be the one in control in sexual situations.

You prefer your partner to be the aggressive one in a sexual manner.

You assume no role.

You are equals in all other areas of your life.

There is no power exchange.[/su_box]

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Being A submissive (noun)

You assume the role of A submissive in an active dynamic within the BDSM lifestyle.

You are the submissive to a Dominant or Master.

Sex is not the reason for your role; this is a lifestyle choice and involves psychological control.

You willingly hand yourself over.

There is a power exchange.[/su_box]

BDSM collar back

How Do I Know If I’m A Dominant Or A submissive?

It’s difficult to to pinpoint exactly what you would be in the lifestyle because you really need to have first-hand experience to determine if you actually enjoy those specific activities. If it’s just things that you’re imagining, I suppose it is going to give you a theoretical idea as to where you may fall, and also what you would want to try first. (Check out The BDSM Test to see where your tendencies fall.)

It’s like saying that you would LOVE to try skydiving because you’re an adventurous person, and then you try it and figure out that it’s not for you. You try it because in theory you assume you would like, but then it ends up not being for you. Same here. The BDSM Test is going to tell you where your tendencies may lie.

What’s The Deal With Kneeling?

Kneeling takes on a different meaning when you’re kneeling at the feet of your Dominant or Master (D/M). In the lifestyle, there are certain postures or positions that submissives and slaves learn, all part of the rules of your role and what your D/M demands of you.

When you think of kneeling, what comes to your mind? Probably reverence.

In this lifestyle, kneeling is done for two reasons (outside of the Gorean lifestyle, which has numerous positions for numerous reasons – it’s beautiful): it’s done for reverence and presentation. As a submissive, your place is at your D/M’s feet. That is where you want to be. That is where you find solace, respect, and your purpose. As a D/M, you can demand that your submissive/slave (s/s) kneels before you, even when tensions are high and they may be livid with you over something. Your s/s will kneel on command.

Before all else, the s/s kneels to show reverence, respect, adoration, vulnerability, strength, and trust. It’s the most beautiful sight to me. It’s not to be taken lightly or abused. It’s the ultimate show of reverence to a D/M because kneeling puts the s/s in their most vulnerable state. It’s submitting mentally, emotionally, and physically.

In terms of presentation, your D/M will instruct you on how to “present” yourself to them. That is done for obedience, inspection, and also can signify the start of a session. You are expected to know the demanded position and assume it on command. The s/s is displaying their role essentially. If I say, “Present yourself to me,” to my submissive, they know what I expect and know what’s coming to them if they forget. Again, this is a beautiful sight and it’s not to be taken lightly.

If the concept of kneeling for another person is something you don’t find appealing, a D/s dynamic might not be for you. And that’s perfectly okay. It’s most definitely a lot of rules, contracts, etc. If you feel you may want to explore it, there are lots of reference books and websites collected in past Dear Mistress columns. (Some are included below.)

Bound Wrists in BDSM Pose

What If My Man Says He Has Dominant Tendencies?

Having dominant tendencies does not make A Dominant. Does he seem like an Alpha male? If so, he can be an Alpha in your life without having to assume the role of A Dominant. In assuming that role, a Dominant will be taking on a huge responsibility. It’s a massive undertaking which is why you will find more submissives than you will Dominants.

If he feels he is A Dominant, he would need to assume a role and there is a lot involved in doing so like training, mentoring, etc. It would have to be something that he is committed to because the dynamic is based on psychological control. So to do it, it’s hard when both participants are inexperienced.

For someone to say he has dominant tendencies, it sounds like you might want to try a few things casually with him merely taking on an Alpha role in your life, not A Dominant. If you’re still getting to know him, be careful. Taking on a D/s dynamic is as serious as a marriage and involves more communication, trust, and vulnerability. I would suggest you BOTH read up on it.

How Do I Make My Man Into A More Dominant Person?

It’s extremely difficult to change someone’s tendencies or turn them into something they’re not. You can awaken curiosities and a willingness to try, but that has to align with the person’s inherent personality. It takes a ton of confidence to pull off a convincing Alpha persona.

Sadly, a lot of women get married at a younger age and do not fully understand what they need. Once they mature emotionally and sexually, they find themselves in a tough spot of not being truly fulfilled. Very challenging.

How Do I Know If I’m A Switch?

You don’t have to identify yourself either way because it’s normal sexual drive to occasionally want to be the aggressor and then occasionally want to be controlled; different people bring out different feelings in us. The way you respond to one person and their sexual vibe will be totally different than the next one.

If you come across a strong Alpha type, your instincts will probably tell you that you want to challenge him to see if he can top your dominant traits. It’s like a test to see how you match up sexually. Your controlling self is drawing a line in the sand to see if he will have the balls to step over it.

And the end of the day you want to be cared for and adored for the kickass women you are. You want to find a person who appreciates the ravenous beast, but also loves the tenderness that gets buried by daily life. I think it’s normal to want that balance for personal fulfillment. The great thing is you are in tune with your needs and that’s half the battle.

In terms of labels within the BDSM lifestyle, Switches do exist, but they mean something a little different. The difference is you should not change your dynamic with your partner. If you’re topping a person, you should not bottom with them because it will throw off the dynamic in a HUGE way. Granted the lifestyle labels are needed because that defines your role, and that’s totally different than determining your sexual tastes with a specific partner. Once you take BDSM out of it, it’s no longer about psychological control and a power exchange.

Suggested Reading

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About Dear Mistress

Do you have a question for our resident Dear Mistress?

She’s experienced in all things BDSM, power exchange, and general knowledge of anything outside of traditional vanilla relationships. With over 25 years in the lifestyle behind her, she continues to live what she preaches and she’s sharing what she knows with us.

Nothing is off limits. NOTHING. Too embarrassed to ask a friend or afraid your search history will be discovered? Ask Dear Mistress!

Authors: Are you writing a book with BDSM? Ask the Mistress! Just make sure you include your name and email address in the question submission box, and she’ll email you personally.

Check back every #BDSMFriday – or whenever it pleases her – for the answers to your questions.

Want to know more from the Lady in Charge? Visit Dear Mistress’s earlier contributions.[/su_note]

Hi. My name is Angie, and I’m a social-media-and-smut-book-reading addict. Hi…Angie… I’ve been working hard on the magical internet since 2006 when I retired from teaching elementary school to stay at home with my two baby girls. Now, I am a smut peddler. You can follow my nonsense on Twitter and Facebook. Simply, I’m just a girl, looking at the book world, asking it to love her.

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