By now, it’s likely you know a thing or two about BDSM. But if you need a little refresher, the acronym stands for bondage and discipline, domination and submission, and sadism and masochism.
You may have seen or heard about BDSM from reading an erotic book, watching a sexy film, or seeing the totally-not-popular series Fifty Shades of Grey (which actually isn’t all that factual, by the way). But regardless of how familiar you are with the term, if the thought of being dominant or seeing your partner submit turns you on, you’ve come to the right place.
Before we get into how to be dominant though, let’s talk about the different dynamics. For one thing, while the dominant person may be considered a “top” and the submissive person may be considered the “bottom,” this actually isn’t entirely true.
In fact, Mistress Rogue, a professional dominatrix and the headmistress of The Dom House says that “topping” and “dominating” are actually pretty different.
“A top is simply someone who leads or guides the scene, and the bottom is there to receive the experience,” says Rogue who previously told Cosmopolitan.
So to dominate someone, you’re not only leading the sexual action (or “scene”) but there’s also a power dynamic you’re working with too. Sometimes the control the dominant exhibits is physical, sometimes it’s sexual, sometimes it’s financial, and sometimes it’s just mental.
All this means that, hi, yup, there’s a whole lot to know about being a dominant. So to help, we’ve rounded up the best tips for anyone who wants to dominate in a consensual, tactical, and enjoyable way. Right this way.
Why would someone want to be dominated?
For one thing, it could be a way to have more exciting sex. “It can be fun to explore a side of yourself that you don’t usually show, and sex is a great way to start,” says founder and CEO of Afterglow, Lilly Sparks. “It’s called power play for a reason—it can be fun to exert your power and make your partner do whatever you want.”
Sparks adds: “Kink and BDSM may seem super extreme or even intimidating, but it’s a really fun way to play with a partner to add more diversity into your sex life,” Lilly explains.
It could also be because someone is never submissive in their normal, everyday life. “[Being dominated] can be something completely different from their day-to-day life where they may be expected to take charge and make all of the decisions,” says sexual expert and performer GoAskAlex.
And adult star and director Misha Montana says it “provides an escape” for some people since it’s “so opposite of what is demanded of them in their personal lives.”
How do you know if your partner wants to be dominated?
The only way to know if your partner wants to be dominated is if they explicitly tell you. Healthy communication is vital to all relationships, so make sure you’re regularly checking in with your partner to create a safe space in which they feel comfortable sharing their wants, desires, and needs with you.
If you’re just trying to feel out the situation though, pay attention to their body language and physical cues during everyday situations. GoAskAlex suggests playfully inserting domination into low-risk scenarios to see how it feels.
One example might be to playfully reach across the table at dinner and take something off of their plate. “Look them right in the eye and smile as you place it between your lips,” GoAskAlex says. “A small test like this could provide some insight into whether or not they’re open to you pushing their buttons.”
That said, someone could like the idea of being dominated, but also just not like you taking food off of their plate without asking. Fair. So, again, no matter what you think or however many “signs” your partner is giving you, you’ll need to have a conversation before moving into an actual BDSM dynamic.
What do I need to know about dominating my partner?
First off, remember that BDSM falls on a spectrum, so what domination looks like for you could be very different than what domination looks like for other people.
“So often in the media or porn, kink is portrayed as this really extreme version of sex, but it doesn’t have to be. Yes, it is a way to intensify sex, but it’s easy to start to incorporate power play into your sex life, today, in a super accessible, safe, and playful way.”
Basically, dominating your partner can range from lightly restraining your partner to edging them with a cock ring—and there’s lots of in between. So don’t think you need to go too hard or intense from the beginning.
Another thing: Before lacing up your new leather bodysuit, you personally need to think about how you feel stepping into the dom role. It’s not for everyone, so if you’re not into the idea, that’s entirely okay.
If you are ready to dip your toe into BDSM play, you should start by establishing boundaries with your partner. Talking about this before sex will ensure you’re on the same page as far as what’s okay and what’s not okay.
A good way to do this is to complete a “Yes/No/Maybe” list with your partner prior to having sex. You should each fill out the list separately, then, when you’re both finished, discuss and compare your answers. For anything that’s a “no,” know that’s off limits. For anything that’s a “yes,” consider that fair game. And for anything listed as a “maybe,” take the time to discuss what that looks like for you and why it’s a maybe.
Feel free to create your own “Yes/No/Maybe” list or find one on Google like this one.
Once you have those hard limits, boundaries, and wants expressed to your partner, it’s a good idea to decide on a safe word. Talk about this prior to engaging in sex so that you or your partner can halt action whenever it’s becoming too much or either of you want the play to stop. (“Pineapple and “red” are popular safe words that are easy to say in the moment.)
And after you go at it, it’s always important to practice aftercare, says the founder of AdmireMe.VIP Chelsea Ferguson. For some people, that means cuddling in bed, for others, it could be taking a bath together or being massaged by the dominant. “Make sure your partner feels loved and cared for afterward—if they want to spoon, spoon!”
Are there any risks to consider before dominating your partner?
As you might have guessed, there’s some serious safety to consider before diving into the world of BDSM. Both parties need to communicate things like limits and boundaries as well as establish their safe words—and sometimes signals in the case that someone is unable to physically speak because of a restraint.
Practice constant and enthusiastic consent, and if you’re new to the world of BDSM, have a solid foundation of trust built with your partner before diving in. “BDSM is great, but just like any other vanilla practice, it could turn dangerous with the wrong partner,” Rogue says.
Montana says you’ll want to “communicate honestly and ask lots of questions to ensure you’re both on the same page. It needs to be clearly defined if your partner is looking for some handcuffs and dirty talk or they want to be pegged and kicked in the genitals with 8-inch stilettos.”
Lastly, it’s always a good idea to have a first aid kit and charged cellphone on hand in case of emergencies. And just like with any sort of sexual activity, utilizing barrier methods is a smart idea for play where fluid exchange or penetration is involved.
How do you dominate your partner?
Now that you and your partner are both enthusiastically and consensually on board, it’s time to get dominating. First, Ferguson says it’s important to take things slow and only introduce one new component at a time.
“Start by taking control with foreplay and, if it’s what you’re both comfortable with, give commands and bring in bondage or sex toys,” she says. “Remember the point is pleasure for both parties.”
Per the pros, here are some ways to dominate your partner, ranging from basic to a lil more extreme:
Whether you spend the evening tying them to the bed or simply stealing all the fries from their plate, consensually dominating is one of the most fun and liberating ways to shake things up with your brand *spanking* new submissive. Enjoy!
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