The Realities of Being a Submissive

Between the thousands and thousands of books, short stories, countless videos, plays, and other media, there is no small shortage of fantasies out there inspired by BDSM, and specifically—being a submissive. The truth is, though, that the majority of this content is fiction. While some of it is created by people who are very well-versed in “the scene,” and so has a lot of real-world details thrown in (see Abella Danger in Sex And Submission: Domestic Sexual Servitude), a lot of it is still nothing but the products of someone’s erotic imagination. These books, stories, movies, and everything else are all fine and dandy as entertainment, but when it comes to preparing folks for what being a submissive actually is—the ups and downs, and even those unexpected sideways moments—they aren’t all that accurate… to put it mildly.

I should know; I’ve written more than my fair share of it.

Abella Danger in's Sex and Submission: Domestic Sexual Servitude
Abella Danger in's Sex and Submission: Domestic Sexual Servitude
Abella Danger in’s Sex and Submission: Domestic Sexual Servitude

So what is being a submissive actually like? And, more importantly, how can folks like yourself do to prepare yourself to experience and enjoy the reality of being one?

Well, folks, there’s good news in them thar hills, because while there are some kind-of, sort-of annoying myths that can be challenging to put behind you, getting yourself prepped to get yourself out there into the deliciously kinky world of dominance and submission isn’t all that hard. In fact, that’s just what I’m going to do here. So put on your paying-attention face and hang on for what I hope will be an informative—and maybe even entertaining—guide into what being a submissive is all about, and how you can begin your own journey into actually being one.

bondage sculpture
Kinky sculpture at The Armory, San Francisco

To get things rolling, begin by reading as much non-fiction on BDSM as you can, hopefully from people who are actually in the scene and know what they are talking about. It doesn’t matter what; in fact getting a good, all-around kink education can often be better than just focusing on articles around being submissive. You’d be surprised how often an article or video, even about something you may not be all that excited to try in real life, can help you later on: so learn and learn, and never stop learning. Believe me, you’ll be glad you did. The same is true of online, or better yet, in-person classes. Not only will doing so will advance your BDSM education, but they can also be a great way to make your early steps into the kink community.

Speaking of, do exactly that: find your scene. Sure, it might be a tad difficult if you are living in the hinterlands, but do a little online research and you might be surprised to learn that there is an active BDSM scene in your area. If you do find one, approach them not as a submissive looking only to play, but as a person who is interested in every aspect of the scene. By this I mean for most social get-togethers, such as Munches (informal meetings by and for BDSM folks, usually held at restaurants, coffee shops, etc.)—roles, such as domination and submission, are left at the door.

Be honest that you’re a newbie and politely ask for help understanding what BDSM is actually about. Folks in the community often love to teach and share their thoughts and experiences—so they will jump at the chance to teach all they know. As a newbie, don’t be afraid to make mistakes: that’s, after all, what newbies do. When you do mess up, for whatever reason, do what you should do in any situation: listen, learn, and sincerely apologize. Frankly, if you can’t or won’t do this, then consider some other group to join.

The BDSM scene isn’t perfect, but its members often really do try to be responsible, respectful players, and those who continue to be… well, jerks, could very easily find themselves without a community to be a part of or people to play with. So always strive to be polite and conscientious. Do that and all kinds of kinky doors will open for you!

Go to any BDSM party, read any non-fiction on the subject, and you’ll see three words always carved in stone. These are the guiding principles you could say for kinky play, and what you really need to take to heart if you want to try submissive play in real life.


The first is safety, in that everyone, always, needs to be aware of the physical and emotional risks involved with BDSM play. This also includes making preparations, hoping for the best but also planning for the worst, and knowing as much as possible about what you’re going to be doing—for both submissives as well as dominants.


The second is sanity, meaning that everyone should keep their noggin screwed on straight and know what exactly they are getting into. This also includes not coercing or being coerced into something you don’t want.


Finally, there’s the biggie: consensuality. In short, do not ever touch anything or anyone without clear consent to do so, or do anything they did not agree to. This is a biggie: so much so that if you don’t understand it then get yourself some learning on the subject before trying to make your BDSM dreams a reality.

While you should take these most definitely to heart, trying your absolute best to make them part of your BDSM life and explorations, also speak up when someone you are playing with violates your boundaries. The scene, again, works by reputation: not to be catty, but because it’s a form of self-policing to keep other people safe.

BDSM implements
A nice selection of kinky toys

Back to fiction for a moment, one of the biggest, if not the biggest thing that’s missing in so much kinky fiction is negotiation: the often drawn-out period when a dominant and submissive work out what they must have in a play session to be happy or sexually satisfied, what they might like to try if turned on enough, and then what they don’t like—at all. Now for casual play at parties and the like, this can be done with just a few questions, as playtime might last for just a few minutes. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it (far from it), but that you should mostly focus on immediate things like health concerns, intensity, aftercare, and safewords.

I’ll get to safewords in a second, as they are important as well, but sticking with negotiation—the key to a good one is to be brutally honest with yourself. While a submissive might get off on their dominant’s excitement, their first and foremost priority to keep themselves emotionally and physically safe. This might sometimes mean a scene is over before it begins, with you and your would-be dominant not coming to an agreement about play, but it’s far better to do that then get into a bad scene that could result in injury or trauma. Besides, there will be other opportunities for play later on.

As with being honest with yourself, it’s also critical to try to keep all those books, stories, and videos as fantasies and not as anything close to reality. Kind of “no-duh,” I know, but you’d be surprised by the number of folks new to the scene who hurt themselves or others because they thought that’s what BDSM is about, versus the reality of it.

Because this might take some getting used to, try and keep things simple when you’re first starting out. Rather than trying to go big when you may not be ready for it, find a trusted dominant who understands you’re still learning and will work with you: so no 24 hours a day, seven days a week, collared slavehood when you haven’t even gotten spanked in public.

Back to safewords: have them and most of all never be scared to use them. A good submissive isn’t one who sacrifices themselves, resulting in trauma and maybe even physical injury, but one who knows and respects their own limits. Uncomfortable? Scared? Just need a break? Use your safeword!

The reasons for doing so are infinite but also unimportant: all that is important is to understand that you and your dominant playmates have entered into a pact with each other, one based on trust. If anyone violates that, for any reason, use your safeword and walk away—and if the dominant you are playing with doesn’t respond or respect you for doing so, then tell others and never play with that person again.

Here’s another, and quite large difference between submissives in fiction and reality, one that sometimes can take folks new to the scene by surprise. Ready? Well, here it goes: the dominant actually serves the submissive. Shocking? Not so much when you think of it this way: the submissive is frequently putting themselves at risk, in all kinds of ways, and it’s the dominant’s responsibility to play accordingly, and respect their limits and desires. Sure, dominants should get something out of a scene, and that’s something that should be a key part of negotiation, but the submissive is the one whose body, mind, and spirit are on the line. If a dominant doesn’t understand and act accordingly, then find another one who will. You are, after all, in charge.

BDSM implements
Great stuff to have a hot scene with

Kinky fiction is great, kinky fiction is fun, kinky fiction can even be arousing, but never forget that it is just that: fiction… as in made-up, a fantasy, and nine out of ten times nowhere near the reality of being a submissive.

It’s fine on its own, but should you feel the urge to explore what BDSM is actually about, then take my advice and take things slowly. Learn as much as you can, be open that you are just starting out, play with your head screwed tightly onto your shoulders, be willing to admit when you mess up, and always take to heart what you learned in the process. Do this, and while your old fantasies may forever stay just that, there’s a great chance you will have a wild and hot time exploring the reality of what the BDSM community is all about.

And, better yet, in doing so you might get even hotter fantasies: and some you may actually be able to make a reality.

M. Christian is a highly regarded author (if he does say so himself) of kinky books and stories, informative non-fiction articles on sex and futurism, and—when he’s not writing—teaches BDSM classes with his pal, R. Greco Jr. Check him out at and be sure to tune the podcast he also does with Ralph: ‘Licking Non Vanilla.’

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