When it comes to BDSM, one of the biggest misconceptions is that it’s all about pain, humiliation and degradation. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. The beauty of the kink world is that there is room for everyone, so while being a hardcore sadist is a kink for many people, you don’t have to be into this to call yourself kinky.
What is a Dom?
When we peel back the definition of a Dominant in a BDSM context, the Dominant is the person who leads in a power exchange dynamic. They are the ‘masculine’ in the dynamic. And by masculine I am not talking about gender, I am talking about energy! While the submissive is the feminine energy who surrenders and lets themselves go, the Dominant brings the masculine energy of leadership and control via consent.
Dominants have a cool confidence about them, they are respectful in their direction, and have a clear understanding of themselves and their submissive. Whatever style of Dominance you enjoy, you must always play by the core foundations of BDSM and power exchange dynamics: Communication, Trust, Mutual Respect, and Care.
If you’re new to exploring your Dominant side, you may have some ideas about the style of Dominance you enjoy, or perhaps you don’t know at all. Either way, BDSM is a beautiful journey of self-discovery that will allow you to explore different kinks until you find the style that suits you best.
While this guide to Dominant styles is by no means an exhaustive list, it will give you a quick and dirty (excuse the pun) introduction to some of the common styles of Dominance you may wish to explore. If after reading these you’re still unsure which style resonates with you, you can check out bdsmtest.org, which is an in-depth questionnaire that can give you a detailed breakdown of your possible kinks/interests, based on your answers to the questions.
So, I’m starting with the obvious but this does not mean that all Dominant’s are sadists. Sadism by definition means getting gratification (often sexual) from inflicting pain or humiliation upon someone. Sadists pair well with Masochists, who by definition enjoy and get gratification (again often sexual) from receiving pain or humiliation.
Sadists may enjoy kinks such as impact play (spanking), punishments, erotic humiliation and degradation, rough play (hair pulling, nipple pinching etc), and bondage (tying or restraining your partner).
Some of you may be wondering how BDSM could ever be deemed as sensual, and the truth is, BDSM can be incredibly sensual and slow – after all, BDSM really is about 80% anticipation. Sensual Dominants are likely to enjoy really giving their submissive a sensory experience, allowing them to feel everything (this could be pain and pleasure).
Sensual Dominants may enjoy temperature play, using hot wax, or cold ice to tease and tantalise their partner, and sensory deprivation such as blindfolds or earplugs to heighten arousal in the other senses. Sensual Dominants may wish to punish their submissive sometimes, but also really, really enjoy giving them pleasure. Their goal is to create unforgettable pleasurable experiences for their partner, and they worship their submission in a beautiful way.
Sensual Dominants may enjoy incorporating tantric practices into their BDSM experiences ( yes, they go together very well), to deepen their connection to their submissive and create highly erotic scenes that both can enjoy.
Who’s your Daddy? While caregiver Dominants aren’t all ‘Daddies’, a caregiver Dominant will often assume the caring, parental-like role in the dynamic. This could involve setting rules to ensure their submissive’s wellbeing such as drinking water, journaling, or having a bedtime, and involve punishment if rules are not followed.
Often Caregiver Dominants are age-players, meaning they enjoy assuming the role of the elder in the dynamic, and their submissive the younger, even if this may not be true in real life. When engaging in extreme age-play, the submissive is often referred to as the ‘little’, and this type of dynamic can be both sexual or non-sexual.
While all Dominants should have an element of Caregiver in them, some Dominant’s thrive on providing care to their submissive and this is the main focus of the dynamic.
A Rigger is a term used to refer to Tops or Dominants who play primarily with rope and bondage. Rigger’s use rope bondage as their main form of Dominance and it may even be a fetish for them. This can often be paired with Sadism but for some, the art of restraining their partner is purely for aesthetic purposes.
A Rigger’s submissive is referred to as a “rope bunny” and they may be tied in different positions, to furniture, or even suspended in the air as part of a rope scene.
While Master/Mistress are both titles that can be used for any type of Dominant, these titles can also represent the style of dynamic they may enjoy. Masters/Mistresses commonly have service submissives or slaves with whom they create strict rules, rituals, and routines. This type of dynamic is based on the submissive devoting their time to serving their Dominant both sexually and otherwise.
Masters/Mistresses may enjoy corporal punishment and like the idea of having a dynamic in which the submissive serves them both in and outside of the bedroom.
Perhaps you’re reading these Dominant styles and resonating with all of them in some way or another. This is very common and oftentimes you won’t just be one type of Dominant, you will incorporate different styles depending on the partner you’re with, the mood you’re in or the scene you are creating.
It’s important to remember that ultimately labels don’t matter, and you shouldn’t try to stuff yourself into one kinky box. Kink is fluid and it ebbs and flows as you evolve and grow. That’s the beauty of BDSM.
If you’re new to BDSM or Kink, or simply looking to dive deeper into your kinks, then you can book a 1-1 BDSM Exploratory Session with me where I can assist you in discovering and exploring your BDSM style, so that you can gain clarity and confidence around your sexuality and desires.
You can also get tickets to my upcoming event, BDSM 101: An Introduction to the World of Kink – online on 3rd February.