Kink and BDSM has become a popular topic in recent years in books, movies, and social media. Many wonder what kink and BDSM is all about, and maybe you’re one of those people! What happens in those types of relationships? What are the different parts of practicing BDSM? Who are the different types of players and what are their roles? In this blog series, I’m going to give you the inside scoop on those questions and many more. Whether you’re just curious about it or ready to dive in, see what resonates with you and what aspects you might want to bring to your life.
But, first things first: what even is Kink and BDSM? At its core, it is an exchange of power between consenting partners through a series of activities and roleplays, also known as scenes and sessions. BDSM stands for Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, Sadism and Masochism.
In the first two parts of this series, I’m going to be discussing the different roles that individuals take on in the power exchange. There are always at least two sides to the exchange: the Dominant and the submissive. Part one will focus on the Dominant, who they are, and what they do.
Dominants have many different styles and can go by many different titles, which are referred to as honorifics. Honorifics are important for a couple of reasons. They show respect for the Dominants’ position in the relationship, and sometimes within the community. They can also give information as to what style of Dom they are and how they practice their kink and BDSM.
What is a Dom in kink?
First and foremost, what is a Dom? A Dom (or the feminine version Domme) is someone who consensually holds the power in a BDSM relationship during sexual play, or at other agreed-upon times in the relationship. They only hold power freely given by their partner; they do not take that power by force or coercion.
There are many different styles of Doms; none of which are the correct or only way to be, but instead offer a framework to grow into your own Domination style. You may find yourself fitting into many of these styles, none at all, or both dominant and submissive styles (covered in part 2 of the series). These descriptions are generalizations of each style and do not encompass every way of participating in BDSM as a Dom.
Kink Roles: Master/Mistress
A Master/Mistress style Dom is the style that individuals usually think of when they think of BDSM and is a very large umbrella encompassing many different versions. In general, this style of Dom holds a lot of control both in and out of scenes, and they usually have certain protocols surrounding their relationships/dynamics. While all Domination styles can, and usually do, include certain protocols Master/Mistress styles tend to be stricter in protocols for both them and their partners.
Some Masters/Mistresses are considered High Protocol which is an elevated level of protocol and control in their relationships. Those individuals tend to have what’s called total power exchange (TPE) relationships, which are typically a 24/7 arrangement. In those relationships, the Dom is in control of many if not all aspects of their partner's life.
On the other side some Master/Mistress style Doms exert a lot of control within scenes and play spaces but don’t have as much control or protocol outside of those spaces with their partners. Like many of these styles, there is no single way to do it and there can be a lot of variety.
What is a Sadist?
A Sadist style Dom is one who finds the most fulfillment from doing different types of consensual pain play and/or mind play with their partner. This can include a wide range of activities and can include but does not have to include physical pain. Examples include impact play, needleplay, predicament scenes, humiliation, degradation, etc. Their Domination and practice are generally centered around these types of play but are typically combined with other styles. However, there are individuals who consider Sadist their main or only Dom style.
Someone who mainly enjoys primal play or primal style scenes may consider themselves a Hunter or a Primal Dom. They enjoy the chase and satisfaction of catching their prey. This can either be done in a human headspace or in an animal headspace. It can have overlapping features to pet play, but primal play and Primal Doms are usually distinguished by the actual hunt and attack aspects of the play. They tap into their primal nature, emphasizing the physical and emotional exchange of energy. One thing that makes Primal Doms different from other Doms is that they enjoy and expect consensual resistance from their partner. They expect their partner to run, hide, or even fight against them. The hunting aspect for Primal Doms is just as important as what follows. Similar to Sadists this can be just one part of their overall style of Domination, or it can be their only Dom style.
An owner can mean a couple of different things in BDSM. Plainly speaking it means to have consensual ownership of a partner in an agreed-upon relationship/dynamic. When it comes to the Dom style, however, that can also mean that you enjoy participating in pet play and owning a pet. Owners typically have partners that like to participate in pet play as one of their, or possibly only, types of kink play. Depending on the type of animal headspace their partner is drawn to, the Owner's style can vary. Some individuals enjoy having partners that they can train and control, whereas others enjoy having a partner that is more of a playful lap pet. Through the use of toys and accessories, an immersive experience is usually created for both parties to find fulfillment in.
Daddy. Mommy. Caregiver.
Daddy/Mommy/Caregiver style Doms take on a more nurturing approach to their Domination with their partner. They typically are gentler in their approach, but not always any less strict than other Dom styles. They enjoy guiding and providing structure and protection for their partner. The Daddy/Mommy/Caregiver Doms do not always adhere to the typical gender title; just as there can be female Daddys, there can also be male Mommies. Many times, this style of Dom engages in some sort of age play with their partner or “little”. However, it isn’t something that is required or always happens in this style of Domination. There can be some differences between a Daddy Dom and a Mommy Dom depending on how individuals practice. Daddy Doms typically are stricter, and more rule and structure-focused than Mommy Doms who are focused more on the nurturing and guiding side.
Individuals who consider themselves Riggers enjoy bondage as their main or only kink, specifically rope bondage. They feel fulfillment and enjoyment from creating rope art, also known as shibari, through intricate ties and often suspensions. By taking away the freedom of movement they create for their partner a place to be free emotionally and mentally. To be alone; to destress. Like other styles, they have a strong focus on the safety of their partner when in these bondage scenes. It takes a lot of training and practice to become skilled in shibari. They can create a lot of different scenes and sensations based solely on the material they use.
Findommes or Financial Doms are those who enjoy and find fulfillment through Dominating their partner financially. This can be done in a lot of different ways. Some Doms have their partner or finsub send them money every month or have them pay for different things in their life. Some enjoy doing what’s called drains, where their sub watches as their money is taken out of their accounts. Others just enjoy controlling their partners' budgets and how they spend their money. There are many ways to do Financial Domination. For many individuals this is their main kink, but just like the others it can be in combination with other styles and other kinks.
Enthusiastic Consent for BDSM & Domination
There is no right type or wrong type of Domination in BDSM, as long as it’s all done with enthusiastic consent from your partner or partners. Which also includes extensive negotiations between partners, so everyone feels safe and that their needs are being met. The most genuine style of Domination is one that is almost an extension of yourself; not one that feels forced or put upon. BDSM and Dominance can be a new and exciting avenue to explore with a partner. However, it’s important to go slowly and communicate with your partner about your interests and explorations in this area. If you don’t have a partner Dominance can still be explored through self-exploration of likes and dislikes in kink. Both topics, and many more, will be discussed in future blog posts.
Ready to Talk About Kink or BDSM? Consider Meeting with a Sex Therapist in Plymouth, MN
I hope this has helped you get more information on how to use BDSM, help you consider how to try BDSM or incorporate other erotic play into your sex life! In the meantime, consider talking with a professional about BDSM to get your questions answered. Our sex therapists want to help you address sexual concerns here in Plymouth, or anywhere in the state with online therapy in Minnesota. Get started by following these simple steps:
Other Mental Health Services in Minnesota
In addition to sex therapy, our LGBT & polyamory friendly sex therapists provide a wide range of mental health services at our Plymouth, MN counseling office. Other services include couples therapy & marriage counseling, EFT, evidence-based couples therapy, EMDR & sexual trauma therapy, as well as, teen therapy. In order to help serve the mental health needs of all those living in Minnesota, we also offer online counseling & sex therapy. We also provide a variety of helpful tips on our mental health blog. Please feel free to reach out with questions, or if you would like to schedule an appointment to begin working with a skilled sex therapist! Your sex life can be amazing. Sex therapy can be a part of that process for you.
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