I’ve been doing some thinking (and reading) about the different types of Dominant/submissive relationships. There are a number of classification systems for D/s out there, some of which I think have merit, and others with which I disagree. This post and the several that follow intend to lay out my own ideas on classifications. These are meant to be preliminary thoughts, and eventually I hope they’ll grow up into a complete set of classifications on a more permanent web page.
Let’s start today with the shallow end of the D/s pool and then work towards the deeper water in future entries:
Pretenders: This first category is where the water is shallowest, and it’s where many new initiates enter the BDSM pool. Some people swim on deeper from here, and others remain where the water only comes up to their knees.
In this category, you will find those who only pretend to dominance and submission, either because they don’t yet have a concept of what D/s means, because they’re not yet ready to commit to a deeper D/s relationship, or because they choose not to (or can’t) delve into it. Occasionally this is due to fear (though the fearful usually don’t last long as pretenders) or to loss (perhaps they’ve been in a D/s relationship before and it’s fallen apart), and sometimes it’s because they simply don’t understand D/s or are not interested.
Pretenders play at it, but there’s no real submission or domination going on. Activities are primarily (often exclusively) focused around sex, and may include bondage and the various forms of corporal punishment. These activities are performed casually by the participants, and really constitute nothing more than elaborate role-playing. This group uses BDSM as a form of kinky sex, in other words, and all participants usually operate well within their comfort zones. When someone goes beyond what they’ve tried before, it’s because they choose to—they think it would be fun or exciting.
Note that it’s possible for one partner in a relationship to fall into the Pretender category while the other belongs in a different Dominant/submissive category. Depending on what that other category is, things might well work out okay. For a pretender, it’s really the role-playing and/or activities that are important, so as long as they’re comfortable with the roles and activities their partner desires, success is possible. Pretenders can also change partners if their relationship ends, and start right back into the same types of dominance/submission games with their new mate.
Pretenders may stop playing BDSM games at any time. They might miss the kinky sex if they drop out, but because there’s really no emotional commitment to the domination or submission, stopping causes no serious heartburn. Later, they may choose to go back, or they may become strictly vanilla as they get older, chalking up their time as a Pretender to their wild youth.
Beginners usually enter into BDSM via the Pretender category. If they have an experienced guide (and a genuine interest/need), they may swim deeper relatively rapidly. If they lack the experienced guide, however, it’s possible to languish in this category for a long period of time even if the need and desire to progress exist. Education and exposure to information about BDSM and Dominance/submission can assist newbies caught in this situation.
I don’t mean to knock this category, by the way—Pretending can be lots of fun, and arguably Joy and I could be classified here. I believe we fall more on the near edge of the next category, but others may not agree. Pretenders are one of the two subsets of the BDSM world that are meant to be the target audience for this blog. The other, the “BDSM Lite” crowd, which I believe encompasses the relationshiop Joy and I have, will be described in the next entry.
Please feel free to share your thoughts on D/s relationships if you care to–I’d love to get your feedback as I work on trying to create these categories. Thanks very much, and…