How to Start Exploring Dominant and Submissive Relationships

Over the last couple of decades, dominant and submissive fantasies have become more visible in mainstream culture. BDSM-themed visual entertainment like Fifty Shades of Grey, Secretary and Bonding have given graphic nods to power play in the bedroom, allowing dominant and submissive desires room to becoming more accepted and less stigmatized.

Still, people who want dominant and submissive relationships may feel like they can’t share that desire. They fear being judged or rejected, which can lead to negative relationship patterns and a lack of sex drive.

Maybe you have already explored your BDSM, kink, or other power-related fantasies. Or perhaps you’ve never felt safe or comfortable enough to share those desires with anyone. Regardless of where you are in your journey, here are some tips to help you explore dominant and submissive relationships.

The Popularity of Dominant and Submissive Relationships

Hottest Sexual Movies” is a term we use at Somatica to describe what turns people on. When we ask someone about their Hottest Sexual Movie, we want them to think about the experiences they want to have during sex. Where do they want sex to take place, who is there with them, what are they wearing, what are the actions? If they could direct their own sexy movie from beginning to end, what would it look like? Although the characters and actions may change, a Hottest Sexual Movie is a fantasy that brings them maximum arousal.

After seeing thousands of clients and students, we can confirm that dominant and submissive relationships — and playing with power dynamics in general — is one of the most common Hottest Sexual Movies people have.

woman in cuffs engaged in a dominant and submissive relationship

Getting Started with Dominant and Submissive Relationships

Achieving the right balance of communication and play to make dominance and submission pleasurable can be tricky. Use these tips to get started:

1. Determine Which Side of the Power Dynamic Excites You

Are you interested in dominance and being in complete power? Or do you enjoy feeling powerless? Or perhaps you’d like a bit of both?

Here’s a quick guide to help you figure out which side of the power dynamic arouses you the most:

  • Submissive: Many submissives want to feel restrained or contained in a way that paradoxically makes them feel safe. You may want to feel like you don’t have to take any responsibility. You also may want to feel punished or coerced.
  • Dominant: As a dominant, you may want to feel powerful and in command. You may like coercing your partner to do something and having them realize they like it. You may want to be judgmental, scold, or punish.
  • Switch: A switch likes to be dominant at times and submissive at other times.

2. Prepare Yourself Emotionally

When playing with power dynamics, it’s essential to recognize this play can provoke strong emotions. You or a partner may need to feel a romantic or passionate connection before there’s a willingness to explore, or you might want to dive right into power play.

People often fear playing with dominant and submissive relationships will not be contained to that space. The truth is there are power differences in every relationship, and dominance and submission can be one way to explore these dynamics openly. This is why we recommend occasionally switching roles and seeing what it feels like to be on the other side of these scenarios.

3. Bring a Non-Judgmental Attitude

When it comes to fantasies about power play, it’s normal to be on a different page than your partner. While you may be unable to change your partner’s desires, you can accept them without feeling responsible for fulfilling them.

Even when dominant and submissive desires align, we caution clients to have realistic expectations. Getting the dominant and submissive relationship dynamic right the first time is rare. You and your partner should be prepared to have several “takes” to find out what words and actions turn the two of you on the most.

4. Explore Themes

If your partner tells you something turns them on, ask them what turns them on about it. Then, when you get more insight into why particular actions are a turn-on, you can explore ones that are thematically similar. This will add variety and keep explorations fresh and interesting — after all, there are only so many times a teacher can punish an unruly student before some additional creativity is in order!

Your partner may say, “I like it because I feel like you’re in control of the experience, and I have to do exactly what you say.” Alternatively, they might say, “I like it because it feels like you’re using me for your pleasure.” These are two very different themes that would lead to different sexual experiences. The first could include pleasing both parties, while the second would mean the dominant should focus more on their own pleasure, and if they focus too much on their partner’s pleasure, the submissive might get turned off.

Pro Tip: We recommend clients avoid bringing in “real life” conflicts (even as innocuous as chores, or as charged as infidelity) unless they have some practice. These can break the scene and lead to continued conflict instead of easing it.

Leather mask and whip for dominant and submissive play

4 Tips for Sex and Relationship Coaches Helping Clients Explore Dominant and Submissive Relationships

If you are working with clients who want to explore these power dynamics, make sure to keep these tips in mind:

  • Set boundaries for sessions. Clearly differentiate the submissive and dominant dynamic from the client / practitioner relationship as you help them experientially explore their fantasies. This way, you can still hold the space necessary for your clients’ growth while offering them a place to explore without judgment.
  • Recognize gender norms. Because of heterosexual gender stereotypes, it’s rare to find dominant women and submissive men pairings — and those in this category may even feel ashamed or judged by their partner for falling outside of gender norms. Be prepared to help your clients tackle these challenges.
  • Understand the feminist angle. Many women have gleaned from society that they can’t be both a feminist and act on their submissive desires. In actuality, women deserve to choose how they want to experience their bodies, and as a coach, you’ll need to help them overcome these mental blocks before diving into submissive play.
  • Prepare for power struggles. Another common challenge is when two dominants or two submissives get together. In these scenarios, you can end up in deadlocked power struggles or with no one taking any initiative at all. As a coach, you will want to help them see why they are having so many power struggles (two dominants) or never getting around to sex (two submissives), and that this isn’t personal. Then, you can see if either or both of them are willing or able to switch, so they can explore being both the dominant and submissive.

Guiding clients in these conversations can be challenging. Luckily, the Somatica Method is the best way to help clients explore dominant and submissive relationships in a form that’s safe, exciting, and sexy. And for any Somatica-trained sex coach wanting to add specific D/s skills to their tool chest, we offer this annual BDSM class.

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