Bound and Shagged: The Pleasures of Dominance and Submission

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

I bet you’re all wondering why, three weeks into a BDSM column, you’ve yet to hear about BDSM. That changes today. But be warned – it might take us a while to work through. Consider this part one.

BDSM is a big acronym made up of three littler ones. B&D, D/s, and S&M. B&D stands for bondage and discipline; D/s for Dominance and submission, and S&M for sadism and masochism. This week, we’re going to talk a little bit about Dominance and submission. It’s the least sexy bit – D/s is often considered the most mental aspect of BDSM – but, for a sub like me, the most rewarding.

Dominance and submission is about a lot of things, but the one that is most prominent is power. The submissive allows the Dominant to have power in their situation. The submissive willingly decides to give their power over to the Dominant. This exchange implies that the submissive has chosen to put the Dominant’s needs and wants before their own, and that the Dominant has chosen to care for their submissive so that they can be safe and happy in that role.

D/s can be sexual or not. If it’s not, it’s usually referred to as “lifestyle,” meaning that the D/s mentality extends past the bedroom and into other aspects of a couple’s life. Sexual D/s is what people think of most often, if they know about this sort of dynamic at all. Typically, people think of one party ordering about another. To an extent, this is accurate. If a Dom asks their sub to suck them off, the sub will do it. There are punishments for disobeying, and more so than threat of punishment, subs should know better. But it’s about more than obeying.

The submissive’s need to please comes from a place deep within themselves, much similar to the middle-school yearning to be part of the popular crowd. A sub wants to please their Dom out of a deep admiration and respect. So yes – subs will do what they are told. But they also yield to a deeper belief that their Dom is more important than they are.

Interestingly, in this situation, the submissive almost has more power. They are at the mercy of the Dom, and so they are vulnerable and exposed. For a sub to sit naked, bound and blindfolded in a room where they aren’t sure if their Dom has left or not, where they aren’t sure if there is someone else watching requires a huge amount of trust that the Dom is looking after the sub’s well-being. The submissive in this situation is entirely powerless, and so if the Dominant were to take advantage, it could be likened to shooting an unarmed prisoner. The Dominant, in breaking the submissive’s trust, will lose the sub. That trust can never be rebuilt once broken. Because of this, and because D/s is based on willing submission, the sub has the power to stop whenever they desire. That’s what safe words are for.

D/s, in its proper SSC (Sane, Safe & Consensual, if you remember from last week)  form, always has a safe word. A safe word is a word that wouldn’t come up in normal conversation used to signal that the submissive is not okay and would like out of the scene. Some use a traffic light system – red means stop immediately, yellow means something is starting to feel a bit iffy – and others have a hard-and-fast word meant to immediately and permanently stop whatever activity is happening at the time. I’m especially partial to “flamingo.”

D/s can be found, in some form or another, in almost all relationships. There is always a give-and-take of power – in D/s relationships, however, this exchange is majorly one-sided. D/s relationships also stress trust in a more intimate way. All relationships depend on trust, but if it’s missing in a D/s relationship then a situation can turn dangerous, or even deadly, extremely quickly. However, they’re worth the risk: D/s relationships are incredibly fulfilling for both sides.

As a submissive, I can say that I personally find no greater joy than pleasing my Dominant. I love being certain that no one in the world can please who I love more than I can – and I can know it with certainty because if my Dominant ever wants something, my Dominant will take it from me. I never have to worry that I am inadequate, and that is incredibly freeing. Kneeling at my Dominant’s feet and knowing that I am not in control, that I am serving a purpose greater than myself, gives me a sense of completion I find nowhere else. I can only assume that having me brings the same sense, the same joy, to my Dominant.



  1. Hi,

    in regards to dominance and submission, I have written a book of how this dynamic occurs in girl fighting. I am a psychotherapist, and I explore in depth the psychology that occurs within this situation. I would love for you to review it or share it with others. It is called, GIRL FIGHTING EXPOSED.

    Thank you,
    Dean Henryson

  2. As a fellow sub, I completely agree. D/s to me is sacred, it’s a partnership bounded by trust and there is no greater feeling than to be rewarded by my master for being obedient and to please my master, and everything always ends in mutual satisfaction beyond anything I’ve imagined. It’s the sense of being claimed and knowing that I will be properly taken care of that I like, and the explicit detail as to what the scene will be that I crave. Very good article. 🙂

  3. I was wondering if you could personally email. I’m interested in being a sub and I’ve been talking to a dom but I am wondering if you can give me more insite into what I should ask before perusing more with him?

  4. Heh. Well. the reasoning behind my punishments severity is clear now that I read this….. Now all I need to do is sit chained to a wall until further notice. I hope my Dom will be satisfied with the research I undertook hastily after being commanded to do so. My ADHD makes sitting in one spot VERY stressful and agonizingly frustrating to me. >n<

  5. Hi I was wondering about something, the sub gets punished if they do something wrong, but what happens to the dom if they do something wrong?

    • That depends on what you mean by “wrong” because a sub is usually punished for doing something against what their dom/me requests, or going directly against an order given (excluding using their safe word for whatever reason).
      Remember, the Dominate person controls the scene and should know what is ‘best’ for their submissive in that moment. A dom/me can safe word out of a scene as well, and the sub will take care of whatever their needs are.

      If the dom/me did something ‘wrong’ as in ignore their sub’s safe word or warning, the sub needs to leave the relationship as soon as possible because it is not safe for them to be with someone who can so easily ignore a safe word. (The same goes for a sub ignoring their dom’s word, but the likelihood and severity of that is slightly less.)

    • That would depend on what the Dom/me has done wrong. If it was breaking your trust, not putting your safety as a sub first, or not providing proper after care then the punishment should be he/she looses the sub completely.

      for anything else the answer is always Yes Sir or Yes Master

  6. It’s truly amazing to see these articles. I am looking for a sub and being a trained Dom, I completely understand and rate your article as perfect

    • WTF is a ‘trained Dom’ anyway? There’s academy’s for that? The Dom is a natural. You ever think you ‘trained’ someone to be a Dom then you just made an actor act.

      • @Henry Balfour That’s not even remotely true. Why does a sub need “sub training” but a Dom is just supposed to …be Dominant? Neither domination nor submission exist in a vacuum: each side of the slash needs the other. Not to mention each pairing of people is inherently unique, therefore it takes time for both sides to learn and satisfactorily engage each other. The myth of “natural Doms” is bad for business because it keeps people interested in the Dom side of things, particularly Femdoms, out of the community if they aren’t what gatekeepers like you deem “natural”.

  7. Do sub’s also get sexually pleased by the Dom? Or is it only in material items? I’m curious as I would love to bring this into my relationship but sexual pleasure to me is important as well as pleasing my partner.

    • A Dom is the one who decides. My dom decides when I get to finish, or if I get to finish. When you bring this aspect into a relationship you need to talk about limits and what you want out of it. My dom knows my limits, and enforces his actively. If you want to get off each encounter thats something you’d let your dom know, it may just be something you need to earn.

    • It is very sexual for me. I am the sub//little in the relationship and yes my daddydom does bring me presents (and spanks my ass when im bad ) but it’s more of me submitting to him sexually 100%. We sat down in the beginning and wrote everything we like, want, and dont before hand. He gave me rules to follow and consequences for not following them. It is the most sexually rewarding relationship i have ever been in. Communication is the key to any relationship but especially a dom/sub one.

  8. I have been looking in to D/s a while now and i really want to learn more about this but I do not know how to find a good dom for me

  9. I was wondering about the D/s relationship. Y’see with my romantic life I am usually the more dominant of the two. However, my partner wants me to relinquish this Dom/me role and become the sub. I’ve tried, but I don’t feel I’m cut out for it. Is there anyway that I could learn to better myself?

    • I’m going through this right now myself. I’m very dominant and have recently gotten into a D/s thing and it is very hard to relinquish control. But I kind of look at it like a growth thing to do it. Kind of a self discovery situation..I am enjoying it…but it is not easy….

      • Feel free to be Dominant then. I’m a lifestyle Femdom to my service sub husband of 10 years. Don’t let cultural norms dictate your relationships and you’ll be satisfied, no matter what that looks like.

  10. Okay, so this is going to sound stupid to some of the more experienced subs and doms who read this, but is this the kind of stuff I should expect from my sub? My long-term partner and I recently decided to try D/s. I’m a born Dominant and I’ve always wanted to get into the whole D/S dynamic, but I didn’t want to frighten my partner after so long of having gone without. Luckily, she knows me well enough to see what I really want and brought the idea to me. However, in spite of the eagerness on both our parts, it seems we’re having a difficult time adjusting. I’ve been doing research to try to figure out how to be better about this, especially since its a lifestyle for me, not just sex. When this popped up and I read through it, I realized that I need more help than i thought. I worry that I’m hurting my partner by pushing too hard, but she also doesn’t seem willing to be as is explained above, even with the very light things. Help, please? I would greatly appreciate it.

    • If it helps to bring light to why I have no prior experience in this, my current partner is the same one I’ve had since freshman year in highschool.

  11. I am very intrigued about the Dom/sub relationship idea. I and finding this to sound very exciting. In this type if relationship can the Dom and Sub switch roles at any point?
    I have a partner that I trust to engage with and want to know all I can before I take that step

  12. Im starting in a sub/dom relationship.. he has experienced and he choose me as hes sub.
    And my Daddy wants to punish me for being a bad girl and disobeying.. but he is still undecided if to punishe me as an adult and beat me or to punished me as his little girl.. my question is.. what kind of beating is he talking about.. like brutal beating. Should i be concerned

    • I don’t know if you ever got an answer to your question or if you have experienced your punishment as of yet. The answer is that every DOM/ MASTER is different. If He punishes you as a little girl He may put you over His knees and spank you with is open hand or as an adult He may use different forms of bondage and other equipment; such as floggers and paddles. I hope this helped. If done effectively you will not only enjoy the pain but build a beautiful mental and physical Bond with your DOM/MASTER.

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