Domination and submission play was thrown into the public spotlight by the Fifty Shades of Grey series, which focussed on a dominant male and a woman who became his submissive. The sexual BDSM implications of such a relationship were highlighted and consequently many people who read the books explored bondage with a D/s dynamic in the bedroom. But being a submissive full time is certainly not all about submitting for sexual pleasure at any given moment. Much more is involved. In fact, a D/s lifestyle seems to rely on more conventional ways to nurture a partnership. In this article, we are focussing on male dominants and female submissives.
The choice to live as a lifestyle submissive appears to be on the rise. Many strong career-minded women defer to their Dom when they return home from work each day. Willingly giving up their control by putting the other person’s needs first. They are ready to submit at any time, not just in the bedroom.
What about equality when you’re a lifestyle submissive?
However, this behaviour does seem to contradict the perspective of the vast amount of highly educated females who have fought over the years to be recognised as equal to men in all ways.
Often couples who choose to live like this turn to the D/s way of life after several years of marriage. It helps them reconnect and infuse their relationship with new meaning and commitment.
I am, as it happens, sexually submissive but think I would find being a lifestyle submissive difficult. I am unsure if I could surrender to my partner at a moment’s notice. It may have something to do with my personality or his. Perhaps certain traits or circumstances need to be in play for such an exchange to work? Or is submission a trade-off, creating the space for intelligent women to relinquish some of their control by putting their trust in a partner?
Being a lifestyle submissive
Missy is a happily married lifestyle submissive. I asked about her chosen way of life and what it means to her, and her family.
“In 2012 I realised that I was submissive. Or rather, I realised that there was a name for what I had been feeling for so long. Having the words to explain what I believed would be a good fit for us was a game-changer and I asked my husband to be my Dominant. Thankfully he agreed, and we began trying to learn all about what a Dominant submissive relationship would look like. A lot of the information I read was not applicable. It was either geared around people who played with each other in clubs, or who lived a 24/7 lifestyle where the submissive was naked, and on her knees, waiting by the front door for him to come home. We were married with kids, both working full time, so this was never going to work.”
In the beginning when I started being a lifestyle submissive
“To be honest, it was difficult to become established. This was due partly to the lack of useful resources and we were both very busy. Life got in the way of our good intentions. I’d always been sexually submissive, so the bedroom seemed a good place to start. However, despite the fact that it was something I wanted, I struggled to always put his sexual needs and desires first. Sometimes my head was still focussed on issues from work or what I was planning to put in the kid’s packed lunches. So, the willingness to jump into cuffs and a spreader bar to surrender all was not always there. I wanted to be that person, but the independent part of my nature fought against it.”
Entering a formal commitment
“After a couple of years dipping in and out, we made a formal commitment to each other to try to live a D/s lifestyle full time. We wove it throughout various aspects of our marriage in a way that worked for us building upon the best bits of our relationship. The view that submissive women are weak and cannot make decisions or manage their own lives is simply untrue. Most of the submissives I know are highly educated, vibrant women, independent and extremely capable.”
Ensuring and working on communication and trust
“We do not live this way out of necessity, it is a choice. I have chosen to live in a 24/7 power exchange dynamic, and I can honestly say that I have never felt more listened to, understood or more alive than I do right now. Being a lifestyle submissive works for me on a number of levels. Like all good relationships, ours is based on honesty, trust, communication and respect. These things are reaffirmed and demonstrated every day. This has led me to find intimacy and intensity that I never really believed possible. Having clearly defined roles means we know exactly where we are with each other. It has brought an end to the power struggles which exist in many relationships, and the tit-for-tat behaviour which comes from a lack of effective communication and misunderstandings.”
Needs and wants with being a lifestyle submissive
“Within D/s, you agree to put the other person’s needs before your own. If they are doing the same for you, then it works really well. My husband loves me more than I love myself. He is kinder to me than I am to myself. He thinks about what will make me happy. Essentially his agenda for me is much more gratifying than the one I would create. The same is true for him. So if I’m thinking about his needs and wants, and he is thinking about mine, we both get the best of both worlds. This challenges the idea of submissives not being equal to Dominants. For me it is not about equality, but about quality. I am not less than him. He does not see himself as more than me, in fact, he cherishes and adores me. The different roles we have are both of equal importance to the success of the relationship.”
“Living the dynamic full time works better for us because it gives me the emotional connection to him that I need in order to submit fully. With a large family and busy work lives, there is always something else that can take our time and pull our attention away from each other. We have a number of rules and rituals, designed to keep our connection and closeness, while we engage in the other areas of our lives. This structure allows us to remain at the centre, keeping other life events moving around us, rather than taking over or pushing us out to the periphery. Things do not happen to one of us, they happen to both of us. This is a huge connector, whether it is something brilliant to enjoy or something difficult to manage. We share our experiences.
Whatever happens in the outside world I know that at the end of the day, we will close the door behind us, and together become stronger again. Feeling like this means I’m always much more in the mood to give and put him first. I am never far from the mindset that means I want to please. I find this freeing. It provides me with such a secure and safe base.”
Ensuring open discussion
“Regular communication means everything is discussed openly. We are honest and listen carefully whether we are talking about our relationship or other parts of our lives. Previously I would try to chat with him when it wasn’t convenient. When I didn’t get his attention it felt as if I was nagging. He felt like he didn’t have a say and just went along with the things I had planned. Now we sit down at pre-organised times and give each other our undivided attention. We raise things we want to discuss and hear what the other has to say. His decision is final, but even so, I never feel my views have not been considered.”
Understanding power exchange in the role of submissive
“D/s is an agreed power exchange and that doesn’t have to be about sex. Our play is about physical and emotional connection, so sex isn’t always the final outcome. It also doesn’t have to be about kink, although the closeness we have allows us to be open about our sexual fantasies and darker thoughts we might not have expressed before. Really, the kink is the icing on the cake but the communication, trust, honesty and respect is at the core. That is what makes it possible and sustainable. We love each other but are also in love. We are excited to be around each other and are highly attuned and attentive to one another.
This is what our family see, which is important as we want to model a relationship which is healthy in every way. Our children observe their father behaving in a gentlemanly fashion towards me. They see how much I respect him for that. In our happy home, everyone is valued for who and what they are. It goes without saying that anything that happens behind the bedroom door is no more to do with them than it would be in a traditional relationship dynamic.”
What works for you
“For anyone considering building D/s into their existing relationship, remember there are no rules other than the ones you create for yourself, and the only right way is to do it the way that works for you. Read, talk, research; take the bits that you need and leave the rest behind. Whatever you do has to fit with your lifestyle, your personalities and your current relationship. When creating rules and rituals, try to think about why you are choosing them. Build upon the best bits of your relationship to bring you closer together. If you’re good at managing the finances, then that can be part of your role. If he loves to cook, then that can be part of his.
For us, learning and sharing with others has been a huge support, so finding a community of like-minded people can be really helpful, particularly at points where you become unstuck and doubt yourself.”
So, it does appear that important factors such as honesty, communication and commitment are at the heart of a D’s relationship. Indeed partnerships of any dynamic will only happily thrive when these aspects are present. The roles of the D and s are different, not equal. And surely it is by appreciating our differences that we can grow individually and together?