*Disclaimer: This post may piss a few of you off. That’s not my intent. This is meant to be more of a “these are my thoughts, what are your thoughts.” So if this pisses you off, please tell me what your thoughts on the matter are. I seek to understand…*

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A random series of events led to a conversation between M and I the other day regarding Dominance and submission and power exchange. I think I’m going to have to back up a little bit for this post to have any flow whatsoever, so please bear with me…

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A long long time ago, well before I knew any intricacies of D/s first hand, I wrote a post about different roles in bdsm. It doesn’t really matter what I thought then, but here is what I think now, that is relevant to the point at hand.

  • Top/bottom: A Top takes the dominate position in sexual play. They are the one that holds the whip, the one that pulls the hair. This is just for play and enjoyment. A bottom takes the submissive role in sex. They are the one getting flogged, the one that gets choked. Again, this is for enjoyment, and for the bedroom only.
  • Dominate/submissive: A Dom is dominate in the bedroom, perhaps outside of it. They choose what is going to happen and do it. A sub is submissive in the bedroom, perhaps outside of it. The do what they are told because they are told to do so. There is an exchange of power. Often there is a mind fuck to some degree.

*Disclaimer: Often times these terms are used interchangeably. But here, I want to distinguish them from one another, for the sake of meaning. Neither of these are better than another. One is not more meaningful or less than the other. They are simply different.*

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In Lily’s book, she has this quote, which I think is a fantastic demonstration of a power exchange. She is discussing talking to strangers regarding one of her relationships:

I could tell them about the fact that I own 200 feet of premium bondage rope and know how to use it. It might raise their eyebrows a bit, though in this post Fifty Shades world, not very much. But if I really wanted to flip them right out? I’d tell them that I determine my girlfriend’s bedtime.

To me, the power exchange is at the root of a Dom/sub’s relationship. I think without it, there is simply play. More on this later.

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A little while before our date, Paige and I were discussing D/s relationships. She is very familiar with bdsm and considers herself a switch. I had disclosed that M and I engaged in a power exchange, and that our dynamic leaked out of the bedroom. She didn’t know what I meant by power exchange, and had some initial difficulty with the idea. And when I told her about the belt, she nearly panicked. Said something along the lines of “There’s a difference between punishment and abuse.” She struggled with the concept of actually being punished for something and me truly being okay with it.

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Over on Speaking Out on Nate a few weeks ago, there was a discussion of D/s and some of its components, including power exchanges (here and here). Here were some of my comments, with some more explanation that will eventually be relevant, I hope, by the end of this post. There are many other great comments and exchanges over there by some great bloggers, so if you’re interested, check them out.

For me, the D/s dynamic is psychological. The physical is simply the manifestation.

I submit because I want to, because I want to give that gift to M. It’s something deep inside me that helps me express to him the importance of him in my world, the importance of our love and our life. Take away the emotion behind it, the meaning of it, then it’s not there, neither my submission nor his Dominance.

Our dynamic could be in place, just as it is now, without kinky sex. Hell, without any sex. Without nipple clamps or paddles. Without orgasms. *sad face* Without any of that. Because it is a mindset, it is a way of life, it is beyond just fucking.

A D/s dynamic… is an exchange of power. If you take away that exchange, you simply have kinky sex.

And not that there’s anything wrong with kinky sex. I’m a big fan. But I think most of us would agree that D/s is something more than just kinky sex. That “more” is the power exchange.

Power exchange occurs when the sub gives up, to some extent, their power to their Dom. In exchange, the Dom gives something in return, whether it be pleasure, a lesson, discipline, any number of things. For M and I, I have given him the ultimate say in matter regarding our relationship, and to some extent our life. He has the final say, always. In exchange, I get to let go of certain stressors and work on becoming a better person (with his assistance). He also makes me cum a whole lot. Don’t forget that.

Power exchange is such a hard thing to explain to someone who is not involved in one. At its most basic level, it is simply exchange of power. I give you some of mine, you give me some of yours. But what power do you give, what does it mean? It means different things to different people. It’s about complete trust, to give someone something that they could use to harm you, psychologically and physically. Yet to know that they won’t. That they’ll use it for good. That they know what you need and they’ll give it to you.

And as a sub, sometimes my need is simply to submit, simply to give, to be used, to be a vehicle for His pleasure or release. Simply because I love him.

There are no one-way power exchanges. The trust that a power exchange requires,  in and of itself creates one.

Does this make sense? A power exchange requires a large amount of trust. Because you are giving that to someone, it automatically creates an exchange of power.

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Quick thought: A power exchange can manifest itself in many different forms. It can involve specific ceremony. It can become rules and rituals. It can be discipline and punishment. It can be nothing more than knowing who has what roles and doing them because you have the desire to please.

The comment by Lily is a prime example. People are almost accustom to kinky sex. It’s tolerated in polite society. But when you start talking about “rules” and telling another adult what to do and them obeying… Well, many would think that is a little weird. That’s a little “too far” if you will. That, my friend, is the power exchange. Because the rules are there for a reason, to serve a purpose, to reinforce that exchange of power.

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M and I were having a random discussion about something or another. Perhaps it was regarding someone’s blog post, perhaps it was about something I read or wrote.  Anyway, he says something along the lines of “I don’t really think someone can really be in a D/s dynamic if they aren’t in a relationship.”

Now here are my thoughts… Anyone can have kinky sex. But when you talk about being in a dynamic, engaging in a power exchange, you are talking about something else. It is a different type of relationship, but a relationship, not just a sexual preference. *key difference* I can’t seem to understand how it can be casual. It makes my brain glitch. And maybe this is simply my thinking, conditioning to society norms. I don’t know…

Because to me, my submission is there because of M’s Dominance. I could not do what I do with him with just anyone. It’s so much more than fucking, it’s so much more than kink.  *Damn, I wish I could phrase that differently. Again, I’m not saying it’s better, but almost completely different at a fundamental level.* It’s a part of my love, my devotion.

Do those of you that engage in Dominance and submission get what I’m saying? What about those of you that don’t?

I can bottom to any number of people, be on the receiving end of a spanking, etc, etc. But I’m not going to be collared to them. I’m not going to submit to them. I’m simply going to fuck them. And while it might be a damn good fucking, it is nothing more.

So… I think I lost my direction here. I guess the point was just to say that to me, there is a significant difference between D/s and simply kinky sex and topping/bottoming. There needs to be trust, extreme trust, to give yourself, psychologically, to someone else. To become theirs. To be owned. To submit to their will, without question. Submission is a gift, and should not be given lightly, to just anyone. It is earned and needs to be deserved.

And I guess I don’t understand how casual sex fits into D/s. How do you give yourself in that way casually? Can you be submissive, engage in a power exchange, and it not mean more, so much more? I just don’t know…

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Happy (late) anniversary Sir. I love you. More than words can say. You make me happier than I ever imagined life could be. Thank you. For everything. xoxo