My friend Jonathan is in a heterosexual relationship; but it’s a heterosexual relationship with kinks—massive kinks. Jonathan is a dominant; his partner, Susie, is his submissive. I asked Jonathan to tell me about his and Susie’s life together. How do they organise things and deal with household pragmatics? Is their relationship typical of the lifestyle of dominant and submissive? Is there such a thing as a typical dominant/submissive lifestyle? Here’s what Jonathan told me…
“I should start by saying that it’s one of those questions where different people will undoubtedly have different answers. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ type of dominant, and I’m not even going to try to create a typology. Even the terminology is flexible: dominant/submissive isn’t quite the same relationship as top/bottom, with the conventional understanding being that the former is more about power exchange and the latter about the administration and receiving of pain and pleasure.
“I would say, though, that the essence of domination and submission is about having a sexual relationship—or indeed several sexual relationships—that include a particular dynamic. The nature of that dynamic is that my play partner is seeking excitement and gratification through being controlled, and I’m seeking those things through exercising that control.
“What that means for me is that I need to think in a very precise way about what my submissive is seeking. Do they want the experience of being taken back to some point in their life, perhaps a point in childhood, where they were controlled and perhaps punished by a father figure? Do they want to experience a type of control (and reward) that one might use with a family pet such as a dog? Do they want an experience they can fight against and yet be forced against their will, as in an interrogation scene? Do they seek a more spiritual and meditative experience, the kind that’s common with rope bondage?
“There’s a sense in which being a dominant isn’t about being bossy and bullying—or if it is, that’s because the submissive feels the need to experience those things. It’s about recognising what your submissive needs and being, as I’ve sometimes put it, the vehicle through which the submissive can express and explore their desires. My gratification as a dominant is about being successful at doing that. That’s not to deny the gratifications of hearing the thwap of a flogger hitting flesh and the soft shriek of shock and pain, seeing the way skin colours up when it’s been tortured, and smelling the sex in the air. Those are all great turn-ons. But the key thing for me is taking the trust of the submissive and proving to them they were right to trust that I can deliver the fantasy-into-reality they were seeking. That’s the thing that gives me a crazy smile on my face for days after an intensive play session.
“Being dominant can be demanding. It requires me to think about what I’m doing at every point: planning what I’m going to do, doing it, being alert to issues that arise during play, and following up afterwards. For example: will it be feasible to tie someone up in a certain way given their known health condition and the way rope constriction can affect muscles? If the sub has, for example, asthma that means they need their inhaler available at all times, is it to hand? Does a particular fantasy—for example being treated as a non-person through the use of a hood—trigger something bad in the sub when it happens for real, so the scene needs to stop? And how do they feel after the whole experience when they’ve had time to reflect on it?
“I’ve sometimes wondered, incidentally, how dominants manage in dom/sub relationships that are 24/7 because frankly, I don’t think I could keep up that level of attention all the time. I’d assume those relationships are more like master or mistress and slave, because they surely can’t exist on the basis of being permanent domination sessions.
“How, then, did I get into domination? It started fairly early with pre-pubescent fantasies that involved the kinds of things we now term ‘power exchange’. As a teenager I found pulp magazines that told me, if nothing else, that I wasn’t the only person to have such fantasies. Shortly thereafter I found sexual partners who were similarly exploring their sexuality and not averse to being tied up. And on it went from there.
“In real life I’m a pretty laid-back person. I don’t impose myself on others, have a particularly dominant bearing, or other obvious trappings of being a ‘dominant person’. But I’m generally a good listener and try to understand what my submissive wants. I have a wicked turn to my sense of humour. I’ve taken time out to understand the range of ‘tools’ I use in bdsm—from rope and bullwhips to gags and candles. I know what they do, and wide range of ways they can be used.
“And I was lucky enough, a decade ago now, to meet the submissive who is now my partner. We met in a fetish club; I was doing an impromptu bondage demonstration and she was a volunteer…
“By way of a conclusion, I’ll offer these thoughts.
“A dominant isn’t someone who ‘feels dominant to their core’, was ‘born to rule others’ or feels they should always be privileged over others. People who persistently act that way can usually be described using other, less savoury terms such ‘pain in the ass’—or perhaps ‘bully’.
“It is, of course, important sometimes to act in such ways, because that’s part of the play of domination and submission. But if someone starts taking that kind of role as the key part of their personality they’ll quickly find themselves being laughed at.
“A dominant is someone who takes the gift of submission and works with the submissive to make it something more beautiful and more meaningful to both parties. This is why domination is a craft. It requires dedication, self-reflection and an open and enquiring mind—as well as a balanced personality, a sadistic imagination and a rigorous approach to what is safe, sane and consensual.”
billierosie has been writing erotica for about three years. She has been published by Oysters and Chocolate, in The Wedding Dress. Logical Lust accepted her story “Retribution” for Best S&M 3. She has also been published by Sizzler, in Pirate Booty and in their Sherlock Holmes anthology, My Love of all that is Bizarre, as well as Hunger: A Feast of Sensual Tales of Sex and Gastronomy and Sex in London: Tales of Pleasure and Perversity in the English Capital. She also has a collection of short, erotic stories, Fetish Worship, as well as novellas Memoirs of a Sex Slave and Enslaving Eli, both published by Sizzler Editions in 2012 and available for purchase at Amazon.
billierosie can be found at Twitter, @jojojojude and at her blog.