You Can’t Make Your Partner Be a Dominant or Submissive

Are Dominants and submissives born or are they made?

I have no freaking clue. I can see an argument for both sides — some people inherently feel a desire to dominate or submit while others may learn about it, explore it, and then decide if it’s for them.

But here’s what I am positive about:

You can’t make your partner become a Dominant or a submissive in your relationship. No matter how much you want it, crave it, or need it.

Let’s talk about this.

Finding BDSM First

Being the first one in your relationship to figure out you want kink and BDSM can be both exciting and stressful. Exciting because you’re turned on and ready to go. Stressful because you have to figure out how to convince your partner to go along for the ride.

The first step is talking to your partner about it. Sometimes you declare your kinky self, tell your partner what you want to try, and they agree to try. Great!

Sometimes you tell them what you want and need, and they either reject it or indicate interest but don’t follow through. I get it — it’s frustrating. You desperately want this kinky thing you’re learning about, but they’re not jumping up and down with joy.

No matter how many times people ask us, “What do I do?” there’s one answer that remains the same: you can’t force it or make your partner do anything. They have to want it, too.

But sometimes you can help.

Listen to Your Partner

We spend a lot of time talking about communication, but there’s two sides to communicating: talking and listening. It’s not enough for you to pour your heart out, declare your kinky self, and ask your partner to get kinky with you. You also have to listen to what they say in response.

Let them ask questions. Just like you didn’t know anything about BDSM at first, neither do they. And we all want to feel heard. As they move forward, they’re going to have more questions — and they need to have space to ask them.

Listen to their assumptions. Your partner may reject becoming your Dominant or submissive because of what they think kink is. If you’re paying attention to what they’re saying about it, you may be able to correct their assumptions before things go wrong.

Pay attention to procrastination and silences. When a partner says they’ll do something, and then doesn’t — or promises to have a conversation, and then doesn’t — there’s a reason. Are they afraid of something — of BDSM, of hurting your feelings? Do they really want this? They’re likely not actively trying make this difficult. Your partner may simply need more time and information — or maybe this isn’t their thing, and they’re afraid to say so.

Share Your Resources

Where did you first learn about healthy BDSM? A podcast (ahem), a YouTube channel, a book, a website? Just like you had to learn what you want and need about BDSM, and how you felt about it, so do they. This isn’t a time to dump the concept of kink in their lap and walk away. The communication is only just beginning at this point.

You want them to seriously consider being a Dominant or submissive partner? You’re going to have to help they discover what that means for them — if anything. But you also need to consider their learning style. If you’re a reader, but they prefer video or audio, don’t hand them a 300 page book.

And to the submissives who say doing this makes you feel less submissive, we know, but it doesn’t have to. Submissives lead the transition to D/s all the time.

Get Your Relationship Right First

D/s can’t fix your relationship problems. Even if you believe the problem is that one of you should be in charge and the other should submit. Depending on how long you’ve been together, you may have to overcome past hurts, miscommunication, and any bad habits you’ve developed over the years.

  • If you don’t feel heard in your vanilla life with your partner, they’re not automatically going to listen well when you get kinky.
  • If one or both of you get mean and vicious when you argue, that won’t automatically stop when D/s enters the picture.

It’s possible that your partner isn’t able to accept the idea of kink because of your past problems. Maybe you’ve gotten excited about something before and then didn’t follow through. Maybe they’ve jumped through hoops to fix your relationship but the fix didn’t stick, and they don’t trust it now.

Can D/s help two people grow closer and learn to communicate and trust each other? Absolutely. But if your relationship problems prevent one or both of you from trying something new together (like kink and BDSM), that’s got to be dealt with first.

What If They Still Don’t Want to Get Kinky?

You’ve listened. You’ve educated. Maybe you’ve worked on your relationship issues. And your partner still doesn’t want to get kinky.

What do you do?

Only you can decide that. For some people, D/s and BDSM are vital to their sexual and emotional well-being in a relationship. For others, they can take it or leave it.

If the relationship is healthy and worth keeping, you may be able to find other outlets to express your kink. Remember, not all kink is about sex or long-term committed relationships.

And if the relationship is miserable, with or without kink, it may be time to make some difficult decisions.

There’s no single right answer. Hopefully your partner will have a sense of curiosity and be willing to explore before making a decision. But not being interested in kink is valid, too. Just as you want your desires respected, your partner deserves the same respect in return.

Okay, now it’s your turn. Have you been in this situation before? What do you do, how did you handle it, and did things turn out the way you wanted them to?

4 Responses

  1. Growlingwolf says:

    This is a very good article. I really appreciate the sentence, “Submissives lead the transition to D/s all the time.” I’m the more Dominant partner who seems to be more interested in incorporating a D/s element into our relationship without enthusiasm from my partner.

    Based on all the articles, books and blogs, it seems it’s always the submissive partner who is more interested in incorporating a D/s dynamic into their relationship. I would to hear your thoughts on this.

    • Kayla Lords says:

      I don’t think that it’s *always* the submissive partner, but i do think submissive partners are sometimes more vocal — either online or in the community in general — about their desires. Also, single submissives have to navigate a lot of potential problems (like abusive “dominants”) and so we talk about the submissive journey most often. But plenty of Doms lead the transition in their relationships. From those I’ve heard from personally, they meet with mixed success. Sometimes it goes amazingly well and their partner is on board, and sometimes it doesn’t.

  2. HopeFaith says:

    This was my situation with my husband. I was the submissive, “teaching” him. And it really does make you feel not very submissive by being the teacher. He wanted to embrace D/s for me because he wanted to please ME so much. He really didn’t have a Dominant bone in his body. I think we may have been two submissives! Life got busy for us, and the idea sort of went to the wayside. It was okay by me, because it ended up feeling very awkward. Then, unfortunately he passed away from a heart attack. But I still enjoyed reading and thinking about continuing my journey again. I met my current Sir through Fetlife and we have been together for a little over 4 years now.

    • Kayla Lords says:

      Sometimes it’s only in hindsight that you can see something wasn’t supposed to work the way you hoped it would. I think it’s wonderful that he tried for your sake. I’m so sorry for your loss.

      I’m also glad that you’re now with someone who can be the Dominant you want and need, too.

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