Dominance and Submission: BDSM Relationships in Everyday Life



No other world is as multi-faceted as BDSM. Sexual fantasies can be lived out to the limit of pain, create new insights and usually bring master and subordinate closer together. But what does such a relationship actually look like in everyday life? How can one maintain this kind of partnership if one imagines, for example, a 24-hour submission? A topic I have dealt with myself before, a practice I enjoyed very much. At that time I was a sex slave and gave myself to this submission with passion, but wasn’t I really rather a slave of love, because I was fascinated by the imposing charisma of the man to whom I subjected myself, because he was the one who could wrap me around the finger? Questions that I ask myself afterwards, since I rather prefer balanced relationships and also like to change roles during sex. Nevertheless, I often think of the time that has brought me so much pleasure, but also so much pain. Where is the limit when total dedication to your dominant partner determines your life, when you lose yourself and may run the risk of being exploited? When such a relationship is subject to psychological stress and real suffering emerges from a first desire?

Let’s start with the origins of BDSM, a mysterious practice that causes a lot of excitement among many women. When we read the book series »Fifty Shades of Grey«, we eventually wet our panties and the longing for this power, a man who concentrates completely on female sexual desires, literally owns them, became bigger, let’s face it.


The origins of BDSM

»Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission, Sadism & Masochism« is the English abbreviation for »BDSM«. The development of the term BDSM is complex. Originally sadism and masochism were pure technical terms for psychological phenomena that were diagnosed as a mental illness. Today, BDSM is accepted as a sexual orientation exercised amicably and to the satisfaction of all parties involved. Psychologists estimate between 5 and 25 percent of Germans are actively involved in this sexual practice, while a lot more have SM fantasies.

The terms »dominance« and »submission« find their origin in the English usage, and mean an unequal balance of power between partners, which is consciously accepted and striven for, a so-called »Power Exchange« takes place. A psychological component of BDSM, which is not only a hobby, but also lived out in many partnerships. The range of variation of the individual characteristics is large. Especially psychologically oriented practices are e.g. educational games, in which certain behaviors are demanded. The dominant partner demonstrates the submission of his submissive partner usually by different symbols, like a collar or a tattoo. In some cases, the balance of power is even set out in writing in so-called »master/slave contracts« in longer relationships.


Dom/sub level versus relationship level

To maintain a BDSM relationship, it is divided into two levels: the dom/sub level and the relationship level. In the dom/sub level, one partner is completely subject to the other and has to obey. At the relationship level, however, tasks are shared, just as in a normal partnership. In the best case, you give yourself characters or agreed codes to avoid mixing or confusing the layers. Couples who have lived in a BDSM relationship for years have found their common rhythm. In a 24/7 BDSM relationship, generally the power gap is permanent, but is not exploited in this way. To this end, contracts must be concluded, clear rules specified and exercised. The submissive partner entrusts himself to the dominant partner and also takes full or predominant responsibility in everyday life. For example, power games can also take place outside of the actual time together, through messages or photos via texts.


Equality despite dominance only works if there is open communication. If you know your partner and entrust yourself to him blindly, such relationships can gain special depth and appreciation. By defining personal boundaries, taboos, interests and intimate desires, the sexual horizon of one’s own and one’s partner is broadened.


Psyche and BDSM

But what happens to the soul’s life in new BDSM encounters? If you don’t know your partner that well yet and get involved in this game, entrust yourself completely, without really knowing if the person is serious? Then borders can easily blur, one feels manipulated, perhaps even neglects oneself, because one only gets involved in a role in favor of the partner, which does not fit to one, in order to simply please. This can quickly turn into a game of dependency and an unwanted development takes place: The slave of lust becomes the slave of obsessive love.

First you have to find out what you really want and what really turns you on. In addition, one’s own mental state plays an important role. So I ask myself questions like: Am I open to such power games at all or am I falling into old patterns from the past, which I have not yet properly processed? Do pictures like the film »Secretary« really turn me on? If this is the case, you should definitely pay attention to your choice of partner. A dominant partner should have his dominance under control on one hand and on the other hand be able to develop empathy, carry a feeling for social togetherness within him and treat his submissive partner with care. Eventually, the partner goes to the lowest level, surrenders himself and trusts. If you want to practice BDSM, you always run the risk of meeting extreme personalities, so the desire for pain needs responsible players. After all, both should like this erotic game and not end up in some disgusting dependency, which then only brings suffering instead of desire to the submissive part.


Perhaps this way of sharing power through lived BDSM practices in a society like today means exactly the opposite of being trapped. To entrust oneself to a partner, to really let go into complete devotion, seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Perhaps one also adjusts a little in his crammed distribution of tasks as far as sexuality is concerned and sometimes disappears for a moment into the role of the pleasure slave or that of the merciless Dominatrix. Because isn’t that the greatest freedom we can live out, experiment, slip into different roles and just let go for a moment?