Bound Together
One couple’s insights into BDSM

The New Submissive Survival Guide

Woman reading a map

The start of your submissive BDSM journey is an exciting time, but where do you begin? What signs should you look for along the way? What if you encounter obstacles? While there is no one true way to be submissive, this guide lays out some basic tips to help you navigate the road ahead.

1. Know your self-worth 

Just because you identify as submissive does not mean that you forfeit the right to be respected and valued as an equal. Remember that you can’t give up power to a dominant if you have no power to begin with. Don’t waste your time with dominants who don’t take this concept to heart. 

2. Know and express your limits 

If you already have a good grasp of which activities you’re interested in and which ones give you the heebie jeebies, make your likes and dislikes known to your dom. Be sure to delineate hard and soft limits and establish a safeword that you’ll remember and use if you need to. If you’re unsure how you feel about a particular activity, explain that as well. And if you’re thinking, “But I don’t have any limits! Anything goes!” think again. It’s unlikely you want to end up in an emergency room with a broken nose, for example. 

3. Trust your gut

The age-old advice “if something feels wrong, it probably is” pertains just as much to kink as to other facets of life, but the stakes may be higher with BDSM. Know the signs of abuse and reject so-called doms who demand submission immediately; eschew safewords, limits, and/or aftercare; isolate you from other people; or are generally assholes. It doesn’t matter how experienced a potential dom is; if they raise red flags or treat you badly, move on.

4. Do your research

Familiarize yourself with key BDSM concepts, such as consent, negotiationSSC, and RACK. Develop a working knowledge of how the activities you’re interested in should be performed. For example, if you’re into rope bondage, study up on where wraps should and shouldn’t be placed, how to avoid potential nerve damage, etc. so you’ll be able to tell if the person tying you does something wrong, and you can communicate effectively about anything that doesn’t feel right. The same goes for other types of activities. In many cases, the best way to learn about proper technique is to take a class (check FetLife to see what’s available near you), but if there are no classes in your area, read reputable books or articles.

5. Beware of sub frenzy

Sub frenzy refers to a state of mind that new subs sometimes experience that manifests as an almost compulsive desire to seek out as many kinky experiences as fast as possible, often at the expense of personal safety. Sub frenzy is dangerous because it can cloud your judgment and make you less risk averse than you would be normally. To combat this phenomenon, Kate Kinsey, expert on all things submissive, recommends writing a note to yourself to “SLOW THE FUCK DOWN” and taping it to your bathroom mirror. She’s written more about sub frenzy here. Learn about the “symptoms” so you can avoid this common pitfall when starting out on your submissive journey. 

6. Know the difference between fantasy and reality 

You may fantasize about being a full-time, live-in slave or having a dom dictate every aspect of your life, but it’s usually not realistic to try to turn these fantasies into reality. Most people have jobs, families, school, or other time-consuming responsibilities that make full immersion into BDSM impossible. Further, don’t place unreasonable expectations on a dom. While BDSM may be therapeutic, it’s not therapy, and it’s unfair to expect a dom to fix all your problems. All the rules and punishments in the world aren’t substitutes for help from a mental health professional.

7. Don’t mistake submission for passivity 

Just because you identify as submissive doesn’t mean you have no say in what happens in a D/s dynamic. On the contrary, you can and should be an active participant. Most doms appreciate input and ideas from subs so they can construct scenes that will blow your mind. It’s difficult to maintain a constant fever pitch of creativity as a dom, and perhaps more importantly, doms are not mind readers. So don’t be afraid to express your desires; doing so will not make you any less submissive.

8. Seek fun and fulfillment 

No submissive guide would be complete without mentioning that submission should be pleasurable. If it feels like a chore or worse, leaves you feeling disrespected or abused (in a bad way), then you need to figure out why. Is it because you don’t like giving up control as much as you thought you did? Or is it because your dom is treating you poorly? Take a step back and reevaluate your situation so you can move forward on the path that’s right for you.

Check out The New Dominant Survival Guide to learn about the other side of the slash.


Bound Together
One couple’s insights into BDSM