It’s often said that the best Doms have been subs, and perhaps the best subs have been Doms, by that logic. It’s a gesture towards the wealth of experience when it comes to BDSM play. And to be fair, there lies truth in that. We play hard, we play deep, and we play specific. Yet not all of us can say they’ve “played for the other side” when it comes to Dominant and Submissive (SM in BDSM). And couldn’t it be argued that experts in a field of something, are experts through their knowledge and exposure to that specific thing, not its opposite?
If you ask me, I’d say, why can’t both be true? I’d say, for example from the perspective of a submissive, not only do we gain valuable experience through both being a sub, but also through practising our Dominant side. To go further, I’d even say diverse knowledge is required for a diverse range along a spectrum, in this case, Dominant to submissive. Let’s talk about that spectrum.
I recently met up with a friend in Berlin, let’s call him Max, who has a long-term, permanent Master, let’s call him Felix. Max lives with his Master Felix and has arguably had, and I speak from personal experience in witnessing this, some of the deepest most intense sessions one can have. Felix has the ability to look into Max’s eyes and take total control of Mind and Body, with a single look. When you play with Felix, it’s all about Felix. It’s about what Felix wants, and how Felix is going to use you. It’s His style, it’s His signature. But, as Max has shared with me, over time he has felt something lacking in his experience as a submissive with Felix.
Max explained that he feels he has some ideas in mind, some fantasies, which he is keen to explore. However, though their play is so hot and intense, giving direction in a session is difficult to reconcile with Felix and his style of Domination. Over time, this has made Max feel as though something might be missing which he needs. Let’s talk about what is going on here, and what we (and Max) can learn about ourselves.
Max is a submissive, of course, just as Felix is a Dominant, however, Max is not purely a submissive in the way Felix is purely a dominant. Max gets pleasure not only from serving his Master but also from certain situations (or fantasies) that he knows he wants to experience. To better understand this, let’s map this along an X-Axis, where the left side is 10% Dominant and the right side is 100% submissive. Just as with being Bisexual, Heteroflexible, or just totally Gay, it’s a spectrum, and we can identify with a bit of each side. Max would fall naturally somewhere on the Center right side, mostly submissive but not entirely, whereas Felix would fall fully on the left side as a purely Dominant.
Now for simplicity’s sake, if we group this spectrum into 4 quarters along the x-axis, and name them as such below, we can begin to get a better understanding of the different kinds of Doms and subs out there, let’s call it the Dominant-Submissive Spectrum.
100% Dominant, needs to be in total control, attracted most to ss
Mostly Dominant, needs control but play is dynamic with submissive, and is open to some steer from submissive, attracted most to sD
Mostly submissive, needs to be controlled but play is dynamic with Dominant, with wiggle room for nudging direction, attracted most to Ds
100% submissive, needs to be totally controlled, attracted most to DD
Now this isn’t to say that Max and Felix are a bad match, and especially from what I’ve seen, they certainly aren’t! But this is saying that our DS sexuality is diverse and we therefore have diverse needs which can largely align, and will sometimes not. If we can gain a better understanding of ourselves through this lens, perhaps can also better understand what we want and what to look for in a BDSM partner.