We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions remain anonymous. Now, onto this week’s topic: how to be submissive in bed when you're just starting to experiment with being dominated.
Q: My partner and I are enthusiastic newbies to the world of power play. I have always loved the idea of being a submissive, but was never able to find a partner who would explore it with me. Now that I’ve got someone who is as into it as I am, how can we expand our horizons? We’ve done basic things like have him take control during sex, but are looking for new ideas. How can we take our power play to the next level?
A: Thanks for your question! Power play is a pretty broad category, and there is a huge world for the two of you to explore together. I’m going to share eight ideas for bringing more dominance and submission into your sex life, but before we get to that, we need to talk safety.
First, Do Your Sexy Homework
Venturing into the land of dominance and submission requires a little research. First, you want to define what you even mean by dominance and submission. Many people confuse kink, BDSM, D/s, and power play. This Wikipedia entry about domination and submission and this one about BDSM terms have great overviews of many of the definitions and possibilities. I also recommend The Ultimate Guide To Kink by Tristan Taormino and S&M 101 by Jay Wiseman as introductory guides.
From there, you’ll want to learn how to keep things safe when you bring domination and submission into the bedroom. Even acts that seem straightforward, like spanking, can become dangerous if done improperly (for example, spanking too hard or hitting delicate parts of the body). If you simply Google “how to (fill in the blank) safely during sex,” you’ll usually find decent advice. If you’re using any sort of prop or toy, make sure you read the instruction manual in full.
Power play can bring up emotional issues as well. Even though you’re excited to have found a partner who is into the same things you are, take it slow until you get to know each other better. Power play requires an unbelievable amount of trust, and that level of trust takes time to build. I recommend reading How To Be A Healthy And Happy Submissive by Kate Kinsey, which will help you anticipate some of the dynamics that might come up for you, and learn some strategies about how to deal with them.
Talk Boundaries & Safewords
At the very least, read through this article and talk through each of the suggestions together. Identify some baby steps to take, and make sure you are explicitly clear about your boundaries beforehand. You should also pick a safeword to use any time you’re engaging in power play.
Pick a word that you normally wouldn’t use during sex or during a role-play. Something random like “toothpick” or “baseball” works best. Any time one of you utters the safeword, that means that you need to immediately stop whatever you were doing and check in with each other. You can also use “green,” “yellow,” and “red,” where “green” means you’re great, “yellow” means you’re fine but approaching a boundary, and “red” means stop immediately.
8 Submissive Techniques To Try
OK — now that we've talked safety and communication, let’s get to some of the actual sexy ideas to try!
If you’re pretty new to submission, you can use roleplay to help ease any initial awkwardness you may feel. It can take time to develop your submissive identity, so playing a role can make it easier to come up with things to say and actions to take. Try out king or queen and servant, sergeant and private, or student and teacher.
Bondage is a literal way to play around with control. Your partner has an incredible amount of power if they’ve got you tied up or restrained (again, this is why it’s important to have trust in each other!). For beginners, the Sportsheets Under The Bed Restraint System is easy to use and has velcro straps that can be undone quickly.
3. Talk The Talk
One of the easiest ways to play up the power dynamic is by using your language. Address your partner as “Sir,” “Master,” or “Mistress.” Say “please” and “thank you”. Speak deferentially, with sentences like, “please, mistress, tell me what I can do for you” or “I exist to serve you.”
4. Ask For Permission
You can emphasize your servitude to your partner by asking for their permission in the bedroom. Plead with your partner to touch or kiss you. Try making certain things forbidden unless you’ve received explicit permission. For example, you could agree that you’re not allowed to touch yourself or not allowed to orgasm until your partner gives you the go-ahead.
5. Get Punished
Once you’ve agreed on certain rules of conduct, you can have your partner punish you for your infractions. For example, if you touch yourself without your partner’s permission, they can give you a spanking. Punishment can create some extreme power dynamics, so make sure you talk about it beforehand and agree on proper punishments. Make sure you start with less intense punishments. For example, your partner might withhold kisses from you for an hour.
6. Up The Pain Factor
Not everyone who likes dominance and submission is into pain, but if you are, there are plenty of ways to play. You can experiment with spanking, slapping, pinching, hair pulling, and choking. Again, safety is important (especially with things like choking), so make sure you educate yourselves about the proper way to play.
7. Bring In More Gear
There are so many different toys you can use to help you get more into your roles. Try blindfolds, cuffs, nipple clamps, ball gags, spreader bars, whips, and paddles. Each of these toys is relatively inexpensive, and a lot of fun to explore together. You can also try costumes that fit with your role-plays.
8. Take It Outside Of The Bedroom
Once you’ve gotten more comfortable with power play in the bedroom, you can really up your submissive game by being your partner’s submissive in everyday life. Some people live in D/s relationships 24/7, but you may want to ease into things by coming up with specific “play days” or “play hours” where you engage in domination and submission. Give yourselves plenty of days off to process the experience.
During your play periods, have your partner come up with certain guidelines for your behavior, including things that are necessary and things that are forbidden. Ask their permission for anything outside of those guidelines. Come up with punishments for disobeying their instructions. Do chores for your partner. You can also make up a dom/submissive contract if you really want to go whole-hog.
Throughout all of these experiences, don’t forget to keep checking in with each other and with yourself to make sure you’re feeling happy and being safe. You should also be sure to have aftercare sessions, where you cuddle and debrief with each other lovingly after these experiences. Have fun!
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