Dominant/submissive Lifestyle.

The Dom/sub lifestyle is one that has interested me since I was about 19 and saw ‘The Story of O‘ for the first time. I haven’t known  many people who were a part of the kink community to ask about it so when a my friend Amber (not her real name) first became involved in the scene, I was interested to learn more and no, I don’t mean just the sexy details!

Dom/sub relationships are what interested me. It’s far more than leather-clad bedroom antics and I couldn’t get my head around a partnership that involved one person being so, well, dominant, over the other. How could that possibly balance out? Did the submissive partner have no say in anything? How far does that control go?


My advice to you, Dear Reader, is to leave your pre-conceived ideas and judgments at the door, grab a cuppa, and have a read because there’s a good chance you’ll learn something new!

1. Being a submissive is more than just a role in the bedroom. What does it actually mean in your day to day life?

My day to day life is the basically the same. While Master has chosen not to interfere in my everyday life he does have rules for me to follow, such as referring to him as Master at all times, not to change my appearance without his consent and to refer to approved Doms only as Sir. Master also knows I like to play with other Doms in threesomes and in groups. He has laid out very specific rules I must follow when finding and meeting others for play. Breaking these rules will result in corporal punishment to ensure I do not break the rule again. Master’s preferred method of punishment is a crop across my backside. Those who are married in D/s relationships may choose to follow high protocol. This is when the Master sets out rules and rituals for his/her sub to follow daily. These can be sexual in nature or extend to everyday living such as making Master’s coffee or performing a task in a specific way. All rules are at the discretion of the Master and if these are not followed the sub may be punished.

2. In most relationships, mutual respect is a key factor in the success of that relationship. Would you say that in a Dom/sub relationship, mutual respect is less important or more important and why?

I would suggest mutual respect is absolutely more important. D/s relationships are very different to vanilla relationships or even to sado/masochistic relationships. Mutual respect involves trust, a trust resulting in a relationship far stronger than marriage. Often the Dom or sub is either single or attached to others, and are together for the purpose of play. The play I am referring to can involve pain, control, sex or a combination of all. Safe play is a high priority within the community and commands a high level or trust and respect for the safety of all involved. Those who play with others they do not fully trust can be very dangerous.

3. To an outsider, the language used between a Dom and sub might seem confronting. You refer to your Dom as Master. What does he call you and how do you feel about it?

Master calls me slut or whore most of the time. Slut and whore, among other names, are terms of affection in the BDSM world. I love being Master’s whore.

4. Can you explain the appeal of submission in your own words?

At home and work I am a fairly dominate person as it comes with the territory. With my sex life I also thought I was quite dominant until I met Master. Our conversations were always open and free and I knew from the beginning he was dominant and I knew I liked rough sex. He suggested to me one day that I was submissive, and I didn’t believe him. The more he told me about the BDSM world the more I realised I was in fact submissive. I now enjoy the dominance my Master, or any Dom has over me, as it translates into sexual excitement. As a submissive I feel a strong desire to obey and serve for their pleasure and that excites me. I am turned on by pain inflicted during sex, safe humiliation and group play. It takes a tremendous amount of trust to hand yourself over to another for the sole purpose of their pleasure and only someone who is truly submissive would, or could, do this voluntarily. I have never done anything I did not wish to do because I was so ordered by Master. It doesn’t work that way. I do as ordered only because I wish to please my Master and I am comfortable in doing so. A true Dom would not make a sub do something they are uncomfortable with, or would morally object to. Believe it or not the one who holds the ultimate power in a D/s relationship is the sub and not the Master. If the sub in not satisfied with their Master in any way they have the right to walk away, as in the end of the 50 Shades of Grey movie. If issues can’t be resolved with open communication there is no point continuing the relationship. A true Dom wants his sub to be happy to serve him as that is what gives the Dom their power.

5. Are you ever the dominant one? If so, does it come naturally or is it something you have to work at and is it limited to bedroom play or does it spill into day to day life?

No, I am never the dominant one and I only like to play with those who are a true Dom. Before meeting Master I thought I was quite dominant in the bedroom, taking control and doing what the man would love. Master then guided me to show me that this desire was me actually being submissive. My desire to please or serve is strong and my satisfaction comes in knowing I have the skills to please and service a man. In doing this, it has heightened my pleasure and taken me to a place I’ve never been before.

6. I have to ask- 50 Shades of Grey. Is it, in your experience, an accurate portrayal of a Dom/sub relationship? It’s been widely criticised for disguising abuse as typical Dom behaviour- what’s your take?

I started my D/s relationship not having read the books. I tried to explain to my Mum and Sister what it was like with a Master but they found it difficult to understand so they asked me to read the books and tell them if it was the same thing. I read 50 shades and I found some parts to be accurate and but others far from reality. The scene where Christian and Ana entered into negotiation on limits was great. For BDSM play to be safe and consensual there is some type of negotiation before anything happens. This way all participants know what to expect and boundaries are respected. The scenes where Christian is demanding control over Ana leaving her an emotional mess and him shutting down into his “50 shades of fucked up” routine was terrible, giving the public a false reality. To me I saw this as emotional abuse against Ana. He may have Dom tendencies but with his emotional baggage, it does not qualify him a true Dom. A true Dom is both confident and strong with a caring nature. He/she would never leave a sub in a distressed state and would insist on open communication at all times. If there was a problem steps would be taken to rectify it immediately. Also a true Dom would not be ‘cured’ by their partner as it’s suggested in the books. Being Dom, as with being sub, is in a person’s nature. There is a common misconception that Doms are sadists who get off on hurting women. There are certainly dangerous people like that out there and don’t deserve to be linked to the kink community.

7. 50 Shades has also been applauded by some for bringing the Dom/sub relationships into the open. Do you think this is necessary? Do you think you’d benefit in general if your lifestyle was more widely understood and accepted?

I’ve only been in the lifestyle a few years but before I met Master I had almost no knowledge on BDSM other than what I had seen in porn. Getting people talking about sexuality, not just kink, is always a good thing. Education brings awareness and tolerance. The kink community sets an amazing example of open-mindedness towards everyone’s sexual preferences, size, shape, fashion and kinks, no matter how bizarre the vanilla world would consider it.

See the follow-up, ‘7 Questions with a Dom’, here.


7 Questions

Like it? Share it!
  • Well, you learn something new everyday!

  • What Leanne said!

  • LydiaCLee

    Good for her, not for me. (and good for you for seeking someone out to be interviewed if the movie portrayed it all wrong – didn’t see it or read the book)

    • Oh exactly- not for everyone, but we all have our kinks 😉

  • It’s not for me either but I personally did enjoy the movie. 🙂

    • It’s interesting to have the perspective of someone involved IRL!

  • Wow that was certainly eye opening! The language definitely makes me feel uncomfortable – as a strong, independent woman the thought of referring to someone as Master makes me feel angry, as does the use of slut and whore. But I also realise that she has made an empowered choice to be in this kind of relationship…

    • Me too, to be honest, though reading this has given me a greater understanding, especially knowing how strong and independent Amber truly is.

      • I find it hard to accept that someone needs to be hurt and/or called derogatory names in order to be turned on. That bit I find very confronting. If it were me, I’d be doing some deep questioning of my motivations and self-beliefs. If that sounds judgey (and I guess it is and I apologise to Amber), I only meant it in terms of how I would feel, not necessarily how others should feel.

  • Such an interesting and revealing read on a Friday morning! You had me a Dom. To be honest, I don’t really know a lot about it but I found this really great read and thank you for sharing this.

    • It’s an eye opener but hopefully a mind-opener too!

  • Mel Roworth

    I am definitely not submissive and I share Mumma McD’s view on this one.
    Although, I now realise that I have never made this an option for my husband, perhaps he would like more power in this department?
    Interesting topic and food for thought.

  • Grace

    Wow! A whole different world from the one I live in. Absolutely fascinating interview. I’m glad you asked about 50 Shades because that part about the negotiation of their contract had me wondering how realistic that was.

    • It is different, isn’t it? But also so cool to see how diverse we all are!

  • Wow – thanks for enlightening us. Your post was fascinating reading. I agree with Mumma McD too – the use of such derogatory names goes against my grain. However, I do respect Amber’s decision to participate in the relationship – so long as she’s happy and nobody gets hurt (well, maybe just a little – those whips would sting!) 🙂

    • Definitely not my cup of tea but I too appreciate the consensual nature.

  • Hmm…interesting topic. I’m a bit torn on it though…there’s something about it that creeps me out. I wondered though, are there any Dom/Sub relationships where the Sub is a male and the Dom is female? It’d be interesting to look into that I think. I wonder if I’d have a similar reaction or if I’d be more ‘okay’ with that. I think my comment says a lot more about me than it does about those in these relationships! 😛

    • There definitely are female doms. It’s a funny thing as a feminist isn’t it- one side is totally happy about the consent and respect- the other can’t see past the “names” etc.

  • Definitely fascinating. It is interesting to consider the role of respect in what, to the outside and uninformed, looks like abusive behaviour. It all comes down to consent and respect doesn’t it?

  • I love you and your blog Amy because you aren’t nervous about exploring topics outside the square. This was very intriguing. I wonder if I know anyone who is into it behind closed doors? Not that it would bother me in the slightest. As you say in the comments, we all have our kinks!

    • We sure do! I did sign up for a peek user test with this on the front page- my reviewer was intrigued too! 😀

  • Every relationship different and as a former journalist who sometimes was a sex writer I can vouch for the fact that there are also men who are submissive and women who are dominant. This is a great piece, and definitely sheds a light on how things really work. In a consenting relationship, as long as everyone is happy and respected, I don’t think there is a problem. It’s when it isn’t consenting and when everyone isn’t respected – or equal – that there are problems.

    • Thanks Bronnie- Amber also stressed that aspect to me- consent and communication are key in this type of relationship, for sure.

  • I love that you hit the “hard” topics Amy. Each to their own but this really isn’t my thing, I would find it really disrespectful to be treated like that. But I don’t judge those who do like it, more power to them for finding their ‘thing’ and being happy.

  • VERY interesting! And I think we’re all so quick to judge but until we’ve been in someone else’s place we have no idea why they do what they do – love your work! x

  • Definitely eye-opening. I’ve always felt that as long as it’s between two consenting adults, people can do what they like, but I agree the language is very confronting, I guess it’s all part of the role play. You can’t help but feel that with some people, it could easily lend itself to abuse though – figuratively and literally!

    • It could- this is why rules and respect are actually so important in this situation- and a lot of trust.

  • Thanks for this interview, Amy. I find this so interesting, and wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to find out the real details of the dom/sub life. I haven’t read the 50 books or seen the movie, so found this enlightening.

    • This is much more real than 50SOG – I like to see things through other people’s eyes!

  • Yeah, I don’t get it. Will never get it. I am so god-damned vanilla! Vanilla to my core.

    But this was a fascinating read and if all parties are consensual, then they should go on with their bad selves! YOLO. 😉

    • HAHA yes! YOLO! I ‘get’ it in that I understand how it goes, even if it’s not for me.

  • Kaz @ MeltingMoments

    My eyes are wide open now! How fascinating.

  • Lilly Mary

    Mmmmm I guess this is why I am not a Sub or a Dom or part of this BDSM life… I find it neither personally interesting or appealing, but I also agree, each to their own mutually consensual own 😉

    • I find it fascinating though not to my personal taste 🙂

  • Interesting in a way… I find this dominant/submissive thing very unappealling. I agree with Mumma McD, I hate use of the world Master… but each to their own I suppose

    • I don’t like it either- but I understand it more, now.

  • Cool interview, Amy. I thought you asked some really great questions. Whatever turns people on and is consensual is completely okay with me. I don’t really have a lot of interest in what other people get up to in their sex life. I think we should all just get on with it… the call for tolerance from people outside of the kink community is an interesting one to me. Why would you care? I don’t think I care what anyone else thinks of what turns me on, mostly because only my man and I know about it. x

    • I guess because they feel like people react negatively when they are open about their lifestyle- tolerance and acceptance goes a long way towards removing negative stereotypes and if more knew about the rules, respect and communication required it would be less open to abuse? Just speculating 🙂

    • Love Smith

      The call for tolerance is like the call for open mindedness surrounding the LGBTQ+ community. If you do some research, you can find examples of court cases where a person has lost their job, family, even custody of their children for participating in a lifestyle that is often immediately assumed to be very unhealthy–even abusive–to people outside of the kink community. The call for tolerance is asking people who aren’t into BDSM to keep an open mind and not let misconceptions and stereotypes rule their perspective of what is truly a very diverse population.

      I personally know that a lot of shame can surround discovering kinks because some of it is considered tabboo or morally wrong in some communities (particularly conservative ones) in much the same way homosexuality and gender nonconformity can be shamed as immoral.

      The call for tolerance is necessary in everything, including kink.

  • I’m so vanilla – they call me pudding! This was really interesting – the whore and slut stuff kill me and the feminist in me wants to launch and rip heads off, but working in the area of sexual health for years I also get that this excites people – I’ve heard it all. I get the consent, open communication, honesty and safety aspects but like so many other things in life I worry about what happens if it goes wrong. Thanks for sharing Amy. Mel xx

  • So interesting. Loved it and thanks for bringing it to us. I have always been interested in kink though I’m definitely not in the world of it. Like most comments here, the only thing I don’t really understand is the need for names like slut and whore for the sub. I guess it comes into a role-play scenario but this is a little different.

    • Yes I think it extends beyond the bedroom but aside from the names, respect features very highly. Interesting dynamic!

  • You asked some cracking questions Amy and the interview was really rather fascinating. And I found out that I was vanilla! Who knew? (Not me, obviously!) I feel like I need a glossary!

  • Wow – so interesting Amy!!

  • I find it all sooooooooo fascinating…. I’d be up for some of it. Except pain. Can’t handle pain.

  • I too found this fascinating and had wondered how accurate the fifty shades books were. Thanks for such an awesome interview x

    • Not very, it seems- though the contract negotiations were well represented- who knew!

  • An eye-opener!