Masochist, brat, rope bunny, bottom, little, pet, slave… If you’re interested in the BDSM lifestyle, some of these probably sound familiar. Perhaps you consider yourself to belong to one of these types of submissives, or you’re curious and just dipping your toe into the world of kink and the BDSM community.
To understand submission a little deeper, it’s helpful to explore your options. There are various ways to split submissives into categories, depending on several elements. Still, keep in mind that these categories aren’t definitive or exclusive.
Being a submissive is not about fitting into a certain role but submitting in a way that feels unique to you. Even so, information about what is out there might give you an idea of the type of submissive you want to be and help you take a step towards exploring it.
Defining Types Of Submissives By Elements of D/s
Submissive is a broad term used to describe someone who has relinquished control to another person. There are a variety of ways to experience submission, and it’s up to the submissive to decide what it means for them.
Before getting involved in a D/s relationship, it’s essential to have a strong sense of self. Any healthy relationship depends on everyone involved having self-respect, which is especially important in a power-exchange relationship.
Not all BDSM relationships are the same, and not all types of submissives are willing or capable of certain things. Let’s look at some elements that define Dominant/submissive relationships.
Submission can be temporary or last for a very long time. Some D/s couples are in committed relationships, and some only get together for a single scene. For some, the practice of BDSM is limited to the bedroom – others revolve entirely around power exchange.
• Short-term power exchange
Your submission or even the entirety of the relationship with your dominant partner can take place during one scene. A scene is a space where BDSM acts take place after careful negotiation. This can involve sexual acts, sadism and masochism, roleplay, or other planned activities.
Planning a scene is non-negotiable if you are to practice healthy BDSM. It involves discussing and agreeing on what’s going to happen, establishing rules and limits, and giving consent.
• Medium-term power exchange
Some people stay in their D/s roles only during a scene, while others expand the power exchange to more aspects of their relationships. You might choose to give control over certain aspects of your life to another person.
In the same way a single scene is negotiated beforehand, careful and thoughtful discussion to establish rules of giving power over parts of your life to another person is essential. There are responsibilities on both sides, and this is not something that should be entered into lightly.
• Long-term power exchange
Some D/s couples stay in their roles full time in what is called a Total Power Exchange (TPE) relationship. The submissive partner entrusts the dominant with control of their life 24/7. These are usually referred to as Master/slave or Mistress/slave relationships.
Entering this kind of relationship must be taken seriously. Some people prepare contracts after negotiations. For any type of BDSM relationship, it’s important to establish boundaries, limits, safewords, and needs, even more so when the power exchange is extensive.
2. Level of submission
The way you choose to submit has nothing to do with equality. In a healthy relationship of any kind, everyone involved is appreciated and valued. A healthy D/s relationship works the same way, as long as your choices are consensual.
Be honest and realistic with yourself to decide what kind of submission works for you. What does it take to meet your emotional and physical needs? What are your limits? What level of control can you give up to get what you need from the relationship?
Lots of people prefer this term because they don’t identify exactly as submissive. It’s the same term that’s used in gay relationships and has more or less the same meaning: the partner who enjoys receiving.
Unlike a submissive – who desires surrendering and submitting to the dominant’s control for its own sake –the bottom mainly enjoys sensations. Acts like spanking and hair pulling or the rush from being bossed around and dominated contribute to their pleasure.
This is the most common way people choose to spice up vanilla sex lives by adding some acts they consider kinky.
• Sexual submissive
A sexual submissive only enjoys the D/s dynamic in the bedroom but leads vanilla lives. The power exchange happens in the bedroom, where this type of submissive embraces their role. Outside of this environment, they may have vanilla or even dominant personalities.
Unlike a bottom, a sex sub isn’t in it only for the sensations. While they are usually turned on by dominance, they also enjoy being controlled in bed and obeying their dominant.
• Non-sexual submissive
Sex is not a necessary component of a D/s relationship. Some people enjoy submitting in other ways. Regardless if sex is involved or not, prior negotiation and consent are vital.
Non-sexual submission is practiced through things like servitude, obedience, domestic discipline, and roleplay. Submission is in large part psychological, and releasing some or all control to a dom meets a submissive’s needs.
• Consensual slave
A step further than a submissive, a slave is under complete control of their Master or Mistress. The slave considers themselves a possession that exists only to obey and please their dominant.
This kind of arrangement usually involves commitment and involves the full surrender of power. It’s entered into carefully and preceded by detailed negotiations.
Emotionally, a slave feels happy when their Master is happy. They submit to the control of their Mistress, placing trust in her to honor their agreement, which is usually long-term.
3. Types of BDSM acts
As with other aspects of D/s relationships, there’s great variety in the acts that can be practiced. They often include sexual elements, but it’s not a requirement. Some practices that fall under dominance and submission don’t even require physical contact.
For instance, a fetish lifestyle known as findom, or financial domination, can take place entirely online. The submissive gives money or gifts to the financial dominant, and the relationship doesn’t have to involve anything else.
• Power exchange
Note that the term for the crucial element of BDSM is called power exchange, instead of power surrender or something of that kind. This is important to keep in mind because a D/s relationship is supposed to benefit everyone involved in the same amount.
What each person gets from the relationship isn’t the same, but it should be of equal worth to everyone.
Exchange means giving or taking one thing of value in return for another, and in this sense, the submissive is giving control in exchange for leadership, guidance, decision making, or whatever else it is they need.
If the dominant is taking more than they give, they’re not fulfilling their role.
D/s doesn’t always involve sexual submission. Some submissives enjoy performing acts of service, such as household chores, caring for their dominant by grooming or massaging them, cooking, and generally making their lives more comfortable.
It’s rare that a sub only makes themselves useful in this way. This type of submissive often enjoys humiliation and finds ways to experience it through these actions.
In addition to servitude, their dominant might also expect them to be sexually available, which illustrates the point that different expressions of submission aren’t mutually exclusive.
Elements of sado-masochism, such as pain, humiliation, bondage, and impact play, are often part of D/s relationships. Some of these acts are also plain and simple violence, so where do you draw the line?
The distinction between abuse and sado-masochism is consent. Informed consent – where everyone involved knows exactly what they’re consenting to – and established limits and a system of safewords ensure that the sub is not truly powerless and that the dominant isn’t taking advantage.
Some people engage in BDSM to fulfill a fantasy, sexual or non-sexual. They are frequently actually the one who controls the scene because it’s mainly taking place to satisfy their desires. They’re often into humiliation and not into serving the dominant partner.
These kinds of submissives include: adult baby diaper lovers, “forced” feminization, genderplay, as well as various scenarios like teacher/student, police officer/criminal, etc.
Ongoing communication and consent, as well as safewords, must be honored.
What Are The Different Types Of Submissives?
Depending on the elements we discussed, there can be many types of submissives. Some want to obey, some like pain, some like to be taken care of, and others want to give up all control to the dominant.
Different types of subs prefer different types of doms, and vice versa – not all types of dominants are good fits for all types of submissives.
People of any gender or sexuality can be interested in this type of relationship. Some people in D/s relationships are only in it for the power exchange, and some are romantically involved with one another. There are monogamous and polyamorous BDSM relationships.
Here are some examples of different types of submissives.
1. Service Sub
This kind of sub mostly performs domestic duties and spends most of their time cleaning, cooking, and doing chores. You could say that a service sub fulfills the role of a maid or a butler.
A service sub enjoys helping their doms without needing to be ordered. They take enjoyment not only from people-pleasing and serving others but also from being corrected when they make a mistake. Their needs are met when they’re able to make their partner’s life easier.
At their core, someone who chooses to become a service sub wants to be useful. Usefulness and taking care of their play partners are part of their submission. This kind of submission doesn’t revolve around scenes – it’s a whole lifestyle.
Subs can play a variety of roles, and a service sub is rarely only a household duties sub. More often than not, they also fulfill their dom’s sexual or emotional needs, unless the dominant has more than one sub.
A beginner sub shouldn’t even consider adopting this role. The depth of submission required in this dynamic makes it easy to abuse by someone controlling who’s posing as a dom.
As with all kinds of BDSM, everyone involved should know exactly what they are getting into. The Master/slave dynamic is only for experienced practitioners who are already familiar with what TPE (total power exchange) looks like and are aware of what it entails.
Among all types of submissives, a slave gives up the most control. They enjoy giving full control of some or all of their daily lives to their dominant partner and being dependent on them for everything.
Still, not all aspects of a slave’s life are always included in the 24/7 dynamic. Depending on the person, there might be things that they need to handle on their own.
This specific power exchange dynamic often includes a contract defining what parts of a submissive’s life are under the control of their partner and what freedoms they require.
This is the best-known type of submissive among non-practitioners, even though it’s one of the most complex. A little bit of pain can make pleasure more intense even in vanilla interactions, but a masochist enjoys different levels of pain.
A masochist might enjoy things such as impact play with floggers and crops, bondage, humiliation, edge play, and so on. The possibility of serious injuries makes these practices risky, but the role of a masochist is delicate on an emotional and mental level as well.
This kind of submission involves knowing yourself very well. The need for pain and other aspects of masochism is rooted in the high the sub experiences from their body’s physiological response to pain and how that affects them mentally and emotionally.
Frequently, this allows the sub to live in the moment, separate from everyday troubles, and find freedom in it. For this reason, masochists often don’t enjoy other aspects of submission. They’re only submissive in the bedroom or during a play session, finding their needs fulfilled already.
This is the most common role for new bottoms just starting out with BDSM.
A brat is playful, cheeky, and pushes their dominant to get attention and earn punishment. They like strength and want to be overpowered. This kind of sub needs a partner who can take control and put them in their place as a way of fulfilling their needs.
They enjoy rough play. This kind of sub purposely misbehaves or acts bratty to provoke their partner into dominating them. A brat pushes back and resists the dominant to feel that the dominant deserves submission.
To a dom, a brat can be one of the most challenging of the subtypes and requires a great deal of patience. The type of dom who enjoys playing with brats is called a brat tamer. Both the brat and the brat tamer derive pleasure from the fighting and the final act of submission.
A subcategory of brats called smart-assed masochists uses verbal provocation rather than other behaviors to incite their dom into giving them what they need.
The daddy dom/little girl type of relationship has made this kind of dynamic well known. The dominant takes the role of the caretaker, and the submissive takes the role of the little. It’s not limited to a male dom and a female sub or heterosexual relationships.
This dynamic doesn’t always involve age play (acting younger or older than their real age), but it may. Some littles don’t pretend to be a child, but they take on childish aspects that they include in their behavior and the relationship.
The dom acts in an older caregiver role. This dynamic can include anything from assuring the sub that she is a good girl to discipline when the little misbehaves. This dynamic can be completely non-sexual, or sex can be involved.
A submissive in the role of little enjoys feeling nurtured and momentarily forgetting the stress of adult life in order to enjoy simple, childlike pleasures. Some littles want nothing more than to be cuddled and taken care of.
A BDSM scene littles engage in often involves playing, dressing up, and activities that children would enjoy. This kind of sub is a good fit for a more tender and kind dominant who enjoys taking care of their sub.
Somewhat similar to littles, some subs enjoy taking on the role of a pet, with their dom being their owner and caretaker.
Pet play most commonly includes kittens, puppies, and ponies as personas that subs adopt. This dynamic is not considered roleplaying – a pet embodies their chosen animal and enters a submissive headspace known as pet space.
Submissives who engage in pet play might take pleasure in the dehumanization and exhibitionism that this kind of dynamic involves and the mindless freedom from responsibility it brings.
Play can involve petting, cuddles, training, and discipline. A variety of costumes and add-ons are also included, such as tails, leashes, treats, or cages.
Safety And Consent In BDSM
Beginners who are interested in BDSM sometimes have misconceptions about what it is. They might have a vague idea or a completely wrong impression. Safety and mutual respect are the cornerstones of this lifestyle.
Here are some important points to consider before engaging in BDSM:
• Safe, sane, and consensual. The fundamental principle of healthy BDSM relationships is contained in this motto. It states that all performed activities should be safe and that everyone is able to consent and does consent.
• Safeword. This is a word chosen before the scene that can be used to halt activities if they get too much for anyone involved. Some people use the traffic light system (green for keep going, yellow for slow down, and red for stop.) Non-verbal cues, such as raising a hand or pinching, are used when unable to speak.
• Aftercare. Taking the time after a scene or having sex to cuddle, clean up, take care of, and express affection for each other. It’s a way to come down after play, as many people can experience sub-drop or top-drop (negative feelings following a scene).
• Fifty Shades of Grey. This book/movie doesn’t represent an accurate and proper picture of the D/s lifestyle. It’s a depiction of an unhealthy, abusive relationship. The main character doesn’t choose to explore BDSM on her own but is forced into it. The male character is a representation of a manipulative sadist and not a real dom.
• Red flags. Signs that you’re dealing with an abuser and not a dom:
1. Shaming or pressuring you into anything.
2. Wants to play without a safeword.
3. Making you consent to something you don’t like or reconsider a boundary.
4. Doesn’t give aftercare.
5. Humiliates you outside of play.
6. Gets angry if you don’t obey them.
Which One Are You?
This detailed overview of the different types of submissives has illustrated how complex the submissive identity can be. Depending on their preferences, needs, and circumstances, a submissive might need different things at different times. For this reason, a submissive rarely plays only one role.
Ideally, the dynamic of power exchange should be based on mutual trust and fulfilling the needs of both the dominant and the submissive. A D/s relationship shouldn’t be entered into lightly but with communication and consideration.
If you’ve found something that piqued your interest in this article, stay safe and enjoy the kink.