Submission isn’t automatic — not even when somebody dearly wants to submit or has a partner to who they dearly want to submit to. To a degree, you can only submit as deeply as you’re dominated. And it can be insanely frustrating to have a partner fail to dominate you down to your depths.
It’s hard to be a demanding submissive. Some subs give in easily, but many are extremely potent people, and demand a dominant as potent as they are (see the previous article on Alpha Submissives). Oftentimes, these subs are shunned and shamed by the people they try to play with, as if it’s their fault that their Doms/Dommes aren’t up to the task. But even the ones who are accommodated and cherished can have a hard time finding fulfillment, as their partner’s idea of domination doesn’t run nearly as deep as their idea of what it means to utterly submit. Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to COMMUNICATE MORE/BETTER and far too many subs subconsciously wish their Doms/Dommes are mind readers. Anyways… back to it.
There are layers to what makes somebody submit. Knowing what they helps you find them, either as a dominant trying to make your sub happy, or as a submissive trying to help your Dom/domme find what they want.
The WHAT of submission.
This is the cheapest and most obvious layer. If you and your partner know enough to call what you have D/s, you’ve already got this — and if this is all you’ve got, then you’re not doing D/s remotely like it deserves to be done.
What are you doing? Submitting. What does that make you? A submissive.
For some people, recognising that your fantasies entail a layer of surrender can be a breakthrough all its own. Having a partner who knows you want that, and who lets you have that, can be a thrill like nothing you’ve experienced before.
Think of this as “ballpark” submission. If you’ve got this, you are officially in the right field. But that doesn’t mean you’re playing the greatest game.
The HOW of submission.
People who want something fantasize about it. And their fantasies are useful: they tell you how they imagine you acting, whether it’s the look on your face or the things you say or the ways you treat them. When you’re first learning a partner, playing through their fantasies is a quick and easy way to learn what page they’re on. They tell you how they imagine things happening, and then you do them.
It helps, here, not to have an ego. If someone tells you how they want things, they’re not asking you to take that and go off and do something entirely different. Some Doms/Dommes hate following ‘scripts’: they feel it isn’t “legitimate” if they are doing something the’ve been told their sub likes. But this isn’t about you being a super domly-Dom/Domme. This is about you getting a feel for what your partner’s submission means to them.
“How” can be a palette of colours, or a library of stories. It can be methods and practices. It can be knowing which implements to use, which pet names to employ, which forms of control will bring pleasure rather than pain. In a sense, this is the part where you learn the rules—and rules are different for every sub.
But this isn’t the end-all be-all of a person’s submission. In a sense, this is still a kind of roleplay: you’re becoming something in your partner’s head. And it’s great to hit the point where you can help them realise their fantasies! But that’s not the total reality of submission, and simply acting like they want you to act will only take you so far.
The WHY of submission.
This part’s tricky.
There’s something about you that makes your partner want to submit. Qualities you hold that they value so dearly, they’d melt, contort, and mold themselves in your image just so long as they have those parts of you the way they want to. Something about you, in other words, that makes them feel most vividly and truly themselves.
What you really want to do is discover those parts of you, and learn how to give them. The more your partner has of you — the more they have of these parts of you, the parts which they likely see far more clearly than you do — the more immediately they will submit to your every whim.
This is what it means to DOMINATE, after all. Dominance isn’t about giving orders — orders are proof of dominance, not establishment. It’s not about making your partner act like a submissive—again, that’s the fun aftermath, and not the dominance itself. To dominate is simply to be something so appealing, so overwhelming, so enough, that your partner takes it in and finds they have nothing left to offer but need and pleasure and surrender. It’s not an inert feeling: submission is active, but the activity is centred on experiencing you. It isn’t mindless: mindlessness is a fun fantasy, but submission is profoundly mindful, a deep attunement to your rhythms and your way of being.
To dominate like this can be stressful, at first! If you feel utterly confident plunging into it, I would hazard that you’re not likely not doing this the way you think you are. This kind of dominance takes risk: attempting to give your partner things you think will trigger their submission, fully aware that what you give them might be wildly off-base, especially at first. (Even once you’ve established relative mastery of your partner, you will find that things you try don’t always work; mastery, here, means having the confidence to move onto the next thing without faltering, knowing that you have the time and your partner’s dedication, and that you can try again without penalty.)
The HOW of submission can play off scripts that already exist. The WHY of submission, however, requires you to anticipate where your partner will be, or even just could be. You have to take the lead with them, and develop things in directions that you think will plunge them deeper into their submission. You also have to learn your partner well enough to know the telltale signs that something legitimately worked, and that they’re not just passively and politely going along with your behaviours.
It’s less like writing a story in your head, and making your submissive partner to read along, and more like… well, like play. It’s like the way you might do a silly thing to try and make somebody laugh, and if you see their lips widen involuntarily, you push it a little further, ever-further, until they’re in hysterics and you can push and push and push them till they’re almost out of breath. Less narrative, more whim. Less of an intentional destination, and more a drive to take them somewhere, anywhere, offering up ideas that you’d enjoy in the hopes that they’d enjoy them too.
You can tell the difference between this kind of empathetic fantasy and the other sort, the sort that’s simply playing by the book. The latter sort feels arbitrary, contrived. There’s a hesitation to it, usually; there’s a sense that the dominant partner is thinking about what to do, trying to get things right, trying to make something that connects the proper dots. The good ones feel more like a dominant’s playing dress-up in a huge, cavernous wardrobe. There’s a sense of throwing things together on-the-fly, a sense of self-centered amusement, an appeal to feedback that’s less “You like this, don’t you?” and more “Ooh, do you like this? How about this? Haha, and this?” The proper sort of dominance is relaxed and fun, even when it’s at its most intense.
You’re attentive to your partner’s submission, but you know that their submission is ultimately all about you. They might want to submit, they might have a way of submitting, but they submit because you dominate them. They submit because something about you lets them submit and draws it out of them. They submit because you give them what they need to utterly surrender.
Dominance is tricky because it means believing in yourself. It means discovering yourself: seeing the parts of you that you’ll never see except through other people’s eyes, seeing the chemistries you stir up when other people come into contact with you. There’s a part of being dominant where you get to focus on what you want, and on the many things you might make your submissive do on your behalf, but the most powerful appeal of dominance is even simpler and more self-centered than that: it’s about learning what you already do to people. It’s about seeing yourself as you always have been: seeing the ways you make people weak in the heart and in the knees, the ways you linger in their moods and thoughts and dreams, the ways you stir them up as if they were a river you were kind enough to skip through.
It’s about seeing your beauty, your appeal, and your power. Not power in the sense of establishing control, but power in the sense of being there. Power in the sense of mattering. Power in the sense that simply letting someone have you, be it through look or touch or genuine submission, is enough to make them happy.
We all have an impact on people. And the impact we have is likely stranger, more colorful, and unpredictable than we would expect. People can’t submit to you fully, not as deeply as they want—and trust me, some people want it—until you know what you mean to them. Learn why they want to submit, and you will learn yourself. And you will see yourself in the way they soften for you, the way they lose their speech, the way they desperately plead with you for more. You will see your dominance, and their submission, in how they are content to be nothing when they have you, because having you is everything they’ve ever wanted in their lives.
Have fun, play safe, communicate heaps – before/during and after.. and most of all.. CONNECT.