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Many people enjoy introducing power dynamics into the bedroom, playing either a submissive or a dominant role to heighten their pleasure and explore new and unique sexual fantasies. If you want to try a submissive role in your sex life, here are a few tips to get you started with power play.

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Emily Morse Teaches Sex and CommunicationEmily Morse Teaches Sex and Communication

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What Is Submissive Sex?

Submissive sex is sexual intercourse between two consenting adults in which one plays the role of a submissive partner (called the “sub”), while the other plays the role of a dominant partner (called the “dom”). Both partners receive sexual pleasure and satisfaction from performing their role (whether dominant or submissive) during the sexual encounter.

Submissive sex is an element of the dominance and submission community (often shortened to Dom/sub or D/s). D/s is a subcategory under BDSM play, a collection of erotic practices, fetishes, and kinks built upon power dynamics between consenting sexual partners. Other groups within the BDSM community include bondage and discipline (B/D) and sadism and masochism (S/M or sadomasochism).

6 Submissive Techniques

Being submissive encompasses a wide range of experiences, and you and your partner can explore any avenue of pleasure you prefer. Here are a few standard practices that D/s practitioners use in the bedroom:

  1. Permission and punishment: Two key tensions at play during most dominant and submissive sexual experiences are permission and punishment. During this type of session, the sub must ask permission to perform certain activities—for instance, performing oral sex or orgasming—and when they act outside of the dom’s rules, they receive a requisite punishment. When starting with D/s play, consider having the dom set up a few sexy rules (for instance, choosing the sex positions or what you’re allowed to wear) and punishments. Common punishments include spanking, edging or chastity, and bondage.
  2. Spanking and impact play: Erotic spanking is a type of impact play in which the dom uses their hands, a whip, paddle, or crop to spank parts of the sub’s body for consensual and mutual sexual pleasure. You can use spanking as foreplay before sexual intercourse or a kinky punishment during submission and domination play. Receiving an erotic spanking can increase blood flow in your groin area and releases pleasurable chemicals in the brain, including endorphins and dopamine, to enhance sexual pleasure.
  3. Dirty talk: Using a particular language in the bedroom is a key part of submissive behavior in a D/s relationship. As a sub, you can address your partner with respectful pronouns (like “sir” or “madam”) to show that they’re in control. If you’re both new to D/s play and you notice your partner isn’t quite sure how to perform as a dom, consider offering suggestions deferentially—for instance, suggesting what you will do for them or how they can punish you for bad behavior.
  4. Roleplay: Roleplaying scenarios can help jumpstart the action of a D/s scenario because they offer easy roles for each person to slip into and help you distance yourself from the situation if you’re feeling a little stage fright. If you’re just starting, consider roleplay situations that already have a built-in power dynamic—for instance, boss and employee, teacher and student, or doctor and patient.
  5. Outfits: D/s often incorporates specific outfits or attire that you can use during a scene. For instance, doms may wear leather outfits, suits, and boots or heels, while subs wear collars, leashes, or roleplay-based costumes like maid outfits. Dressing the part can help you and your partner immerse yourself in your roles and explore different sides of yourselves.
  6. Bondage: Bondage is a sexual practice in which one partner uses tools to restrain the other partner (usually the sub) during a sexual encounter. The most common restraints include rope, leather straps, bondage tape, ties, handcuffs, spreader bars, ball gags, blindfolds, and chains. These restraints are designed to restrict the sub’s senses or freedom of movement to place control in the dom’s hands and heighten mutual sexual stimulation.
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6 Submissive Sex Tips

If you want to try submissive sex with your partner for the first time but aren’t sure where to start, check out the following tips:

  1. Discuss submission with your partner beforehand. To engage in healthy submissive/dominant play, you and your partner should both agree on what you’re comfortable with before you begin. Have an open and honest dialogue with your partner about your desire to try being submissive during sex, and see if they would be comfortable experimenting with you. Nobody should feel pressured into a particular role (whether submissive or dominant) or feel as if they don’t have a choice. If you are curious about whether your partner is interested in submissive sex, consider watching some light sub/dom erotica with them to determine their interest level.
  2. Agree on a safe word (or two). Submission and dominance are based on trust and mutual consent between partners. However, it may be hard to distinguish between playful banter and an honest request to slow down or stop the experience altogether in the middle of a particular session, which is why it’s essential to establish at least one unique safe word with your partner. The safe word should be a word that either party (whether sub or dom) can use to signal that a boundary has been crossed and it’s time to take a break. You can also select two safe words—one for a complete stop in play and another that signals that you’re coming close to a boundary and should ease off or move the session in a different direction.
  3. Surprise yourself. There are many preconceived societal notions when it comes to D/s play—for instance, that the relationship usually consists of a dominant man and a submissive woman, or that someone who’s a dominant person in their everyday life will naturally choose a dominant role in the bedroom. However, people of any gender identity, personality, or sexual preference can perform the part of dom or sub. Allow yourself to experiment to determine which option you prefer.
  4. Embrace your inner rebel. While the classic image of a sub is someone perfectly obedient to a dom’s commands, there are many other ways that subs and doms can interact for mutual pleasure. One example is what the BDSM community sometimes calls a “bratty sub”—a sub who likes to be a little naughty, playful, or disobedient during a session. If you want to push back against some of your dom’s commands for a little extra punishment or to be put back in your place, experiment to see how you like it. You may also want to check in with your partner after a bratty session to ensure that they enjoy and feel comfortable with the dynamic.
  5. Try switching roles. Having an interest in submission doesn’t mean you can’t also participate in domination. Some people (called “switches”) like to switch between dominant and submissive roles in a relationship or even undergo a power exchange during a single encounter. Talk with your partner about the possibility of changing roles in your next session.
  6. Aftercare is key. Like many BDSM activities, many D/s sessions can be more physically or emotionally intense for both participants than a traditional sexual experience, so both partners must engage in healthy aftercare following the experience. After your session, check in with your partner to assess their overall feelings about the experience (likes, dislikes, areas for improvement). Cuddling and cleaning up together are also great ways to help everyone wind down and process the session, fostering a sense of calm, physical wellness, and emotional well-being.

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Craving a little more intimacy? Grab a MasterClass Annual Membership and learn more about communicating openly with your partners, experimenting in the bedroom, and being your own best sexual advocate with a little help from Emily Morse (host of the wildly popular podcast Sex With Emily).

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