from the Submissive Guide Newsletter 10/29/16

A D/s (or M/s) relationship, for most of you reading this, you either have one or want one. For those of you who have never been in a D/s relationship before it comes as no shock that you want to know what it's like and what to expect from it. And when people ask me what a D/s relationship is like, my first thought is that it is 'like any other relationship,' but that's not entirely accurate.  Let me tell you what the common misconceptions are and then we can talk about the reality of a D/s relationship. You may be surprised to learn that they aren't as foreign as you think.

D/s relationships look no different from the outside. You likely won't be able to spot them while out shopping or dining at your favorite restaurant, but I can assure you that you've likely encountered a couple in a D/s dynamic before. We aren't as rare as you think. I can understand how you might think they'd be different. After all, you've just learned about BDSM or D/s and have been doing some reading and it sounds strange and very different to you. It might even go against your idea of feminism or gender equality and it's beating at the doors of your personal belief of an equal and balanced relationship. But it's really not that different and you don't have to surrender your feminism or stand on gender issues to entertain the idea of a D/s relationship.

False Impressions

Much of what you pick up about D/s relationships and BDSM come from online and social media these days, and to be frank, a lot of it is garbage. A few of the things I picked up when I first started my submissive exploration had me very scared of entering a D/s relationship. Here are a few of the misconceptions of D/s relationships I had when I first started:

  • All D/s relationships are polyamorous or involve sharing of one or both partners. Monogamy doesn't exist.
  • They are non-romantic partnerships and being in love is counter-productive.
  • Most people in D/s relationships are long-distance or have no intention of living together or marrying each other.
  • The submissive in the relationship has no outside job and is expected to wait hand and foot on the Dominant.
  • The submissive is naked all the time, there is a lot of playtime and is always chained up waiting on the Dominant's whims.
  • A submissive in a D/s relationship has no opinion, lots of rules to follow and a strict discipline or punishment for misbehavior.

Now, these things are not complete myths, some of these things are perfectly normal D/s relationships styles. The point I'm trying to make is that expecting all of this or fearing you'll have to submit to these things when you don't want to just to have a D/s relationship is wrong. We all have needs and desires for our ideal partner and you don't settle to have a D/s relationship, in fact, these needs and desires are important.

The Basics of a D/s Relationship

At the core of the D/s relationship is the conscious decision that one person leads and the other follows. Many (if not most) vanilla relationships are what I consider to be fluid, who leads or follows depends on the situation at hand, which means it can shift from one partner to another. This is not the case in a D/s relationship. Roles are defined and rigid so that one is always in control and the other always submits. Even in casual D/s relationships where there are on and off times, it's still clear that one is the Dominant and one is the submissive.

I've also come to realize that BDSM relationships communicate far more openly and than the vanilla counterparts. Communication is a cornerstone of a strong relationship, vanilla or not, but through my experience and time watching the people around me develop relationships I've come to see that vanilla relationships often have more secrets or things that go unsaid. Which, in my opinion, leads to so much confusion it's no wonder our relationships aren't as strong as they can be.

The reality is that every relationship is unique and different based on the people in it. Trying to describe a generic idea of a strong D/s relationship is a short list. But the beauty is that there is so much we can personally add to our own idea of a relationship that will make it perfect for us. It will always be a mix of both people's strengths that make a great D/s relationship.

D/s relationships are full of negotiation and compromise. Unlike scene negotiation, relationships negotiate more frequently and openly present what they want and need as its discovered. This helps the partnership stay balanced.

When a relationship is working well, it won't attract attention from bystanders. When was the last time you saw a couple stand out from the crowd that wasn't yelling or acting poorly? Often, a strong D/s relationship is even cloaked from friends in family. It's hard to notice something odd when everything looks normal. And a D/s relationship is normal.

What D/s Relationships are NOT Supposed to Look Like

Unhealthy relationships abound; we've all encountered someone that isn't good for us or friends that you wonder why they are together at all. There are a few things that should never happen in a healthy relationship, D/s dynamic or not.

1. Manipulation. If you feel manipulated into doing things you feel objectionable then you could be in a poor relationship.

2. Abuse. Many D/s relationships have elements of BDSM, but that's consensual and meant to enhance the relationship. Abuse tears apart the trust and builds fear. It should never exist in a healthy relationship.

3. 24/7 Dungeon scenes. Yeah, our fantasies sound great, but you can not function if you are tied to the wall all day being flogged and fucked. A relationship is more than the fantasy.

4. Nonconsensual involvement of bystanders. Don't parade your kink around the mall. You don't need to walk on a leash at the grocery store. Forcing the public to witness your kink is inappropriate. There are discreet ways to do many of the things that push your buttons and the good news is they fly under the radar of the public. Keep the general population out of your play.

Everything we do to establish a D/s relationship is up for interpretation between the people involved. And as you can tell, there are very few established guidelines. What a D/s relationship is supposed to look like is whatever you feel it is the most healthy, functional way for you. Start with what you know about relationships and work from there. Find your wants and needs, write them down if you need to. And stick to it.

Relationships are complex, which is why each is unique and works or doesn't work for the people within it. Make sure you aim for the best possible relationship that will fulfill your needs and you'll never go wrong.

Thoughts to Ponder


  1. How would you describe your current or previous D/s relationship?
  2. How would you answer the question, "What is a D/s relationship supposed to look like?"
  3. What would you like to know about D/s relationships?