Interview with a submissive: Ariel

How long have you been practicing BDSM and D/s? What drew you to it? 

When I was about 14 or 15, I had a boyfriend who was into wearing leather, and we got the idea to try to tie each other up. We’d basically switch back and forth, but I remember being very drawn to that sexually, the being tied up.  From then on, I knew I was somewhat kinky, I knew I liked anal sex, playing with different toys. Then I got married to someone who was more strait-laced, and he wasn’t very enthusiastic about the idea. I all but begged him to take control, to flog me, and at first he wouldn’t do it, he’d say, “I’m not beating my wife.”  But later in the marriage he did try. I loved that he could flog me into a floaty state. It was like a drug to me, I knew that yes, this is for me, this is where I belong. But my husband’s heart wasn’t in it, and that’s one of several reasons we ended up getting divorced. After that, I wanted to be able to own my sexuality, and I worked hard to understand myself and what I really want. I tried a lot of different things, and knew that I wanted BDSM to be part of my sexual life going forward. 

I felt there was something missing in my life until I found BDSM. I feel I am more myself now, more authentic. I like playing with the taboo aspects, but I appreciate the healing aspects, too. You can take old traumas or negative experiences, take that pain use BDSM roleplay to nurture and heal that. I don’t know of anything else that gives you that kind of outlet for transforming pain.  

Do you consider yourself a Dominant, A Submissive or a Switch? How did you decide?  

I feel like there should be a scale or spectrum between Dominant and submissive, and between sadism and masochism. We all fit somewhere unique on the spectrum. Not everyone is a Dom or Sub, there’s all kinds of different interests.   

Still, I’d say I’ve always leaned submissive, at least sexually. I’ve known since my early experience of being tied up that I liked to be helpless, made powerless, and have things done to me. But I am still trying to figure out how far down the submissive spectrum I really am. Right now, I am in my first real power exchange relationship with a Dom, he is my Daddy, and there is so much about it I love. The nurturing especially. But it’s sometimes a challenge to surrender power, not all of it comes natural to me. I don’t think I’d make a good 24/7 submissive, it clashes with my personality. I still want to feel like I have an equal partnership. I’m not into the “punishment/discipline” aspects, I don’t need someone telling me I am wrong or have been bad. I am hard enough on myself. I am more into enjoying Impact as a reward. I guess you could say I can be a brat. Or at least that’s what my Dom would say. Still, I do hate disappointing him. I am still questioning, still trying to figure out what kind of submissive I am. And can this fit with the control he needs to have?

Do you believe BDSM or D/s is simply a bedroom preference or is it a sexual orientation to you? Do you feel it is integral to who you are? Can a person be “wired” for one or the other? Do you ever switch?

I don’t know if BDSM is an orientation, or a fetish, or a kink, or what. I think you have to have some kind of wiring for it though, or else why would you respond to control, or to pain, with such pleasure? It does feel like an essential pull for me. But I’m only a few years into it, I am still learning how I operate, I still have a lot of questions about what works for me. I don’t think I’m a switch, I enjoy submitting too much, but I don’t quite know what I am for sure. I suppose it might depend on the person you’re with and how they make you feel.  

How do you personally benefit from practicing BDSM or D/s? What does it do for you, and for your life?

I felt there was something missing in my life until I found BDSM. I feel I am more myself now, more authentic. I like playing with the taboo aspects, but I appreciate the healing aspects, too. You can take old traumas or negative experiences, take that pain use BDSM roleplay to nurture and heal that. I don’t know of anything else that gives you that kind of outlet for transforming pain.  

How does a relationship benefit from D/s in your mind? 

I love the passionate intimacy of it. The feeling of growing together, growing closer. I love the submissive bliss of having someone who is going to nurture and take care of me.  I love having a Dom that I know is going to build me up and not tear me down. I love how it allows me to let go sexually, how I am able to feel free from judgment from the person I am with. We have been lucky in that we have developed together. Not that it’s always been easy …

What have been challenges for you in trying to develop a D/s relationship?

I don’t live with my Dom and so it’s challenging when we’re apart, communication is challenging, figuring out what he wants is challenging. Figuring out what I want and what works for me is not easy either. New boundaries are hard to figure out. You have to be willing to experiment, to fail. I think it’s a challenge to find a balance between having a partner and submitting to a Dom. Sometimes I want a partner to live life with, and sometimes I want the safety of D/s. But sometimes I have to try hard not to fight my Dom, I sometimes feel I have to trick myself into letting go. I also have the challenge of dealing with chronic pain. Sometimes we will want to play but my pain tolerance is low. Still, I might want the experience of pain of anyway, it can actually be helpful to get endorphins flowing, makes the chronic pain more bearable. But we do have to be more careful then, check in with each other more often.  

Do you have vanilla sexual relationships? If so, are vanilla relationships as satisfying to you?

I am not interested in vanilla sex, been there done that for 17 years. I tasted it, I’m done. I crave a certain intensity with sex, and vanilla sex just doesn’t give me that.   

What are the biggest misconceptions about BDSM?  

That being beaten is abusive, or that a flogger is a horrible tool. A flogger is the lightest tool. A lot of people believe that if you are into BDSM, you have to enjoy pain or be a big masochist.  I wouldn’t call myself heavily into pain, I am not a painslut. There is a wide spectrum, and a bunch of things between painslut to mild enjoyment of pain. Everything in BDSM exists on a spectrum, there is not just one way to go about it. There is not just Master and slave, or Daddy and babygirl, you don’t have to adopt a rigid category that doesn’t feel right. You can figure out what works for you as a couple and make it your own.   

Are you “out” as BDSM to friends and family? Why or Why Not? 

Yes, I’m pretty open with my friends and family. I see no reason not to be honest about who I am and why BDSM is important to me. 

Are you part of your local BDSM community? Is it worth joining one?   

I am involved in the local community, and I’ve made some good friends. But it’s also very clique-y. Sometimes I can see where I fit, and sometimes I feel like I don’t belong. One thing I most appreciate about it is the educational side of it, the BDSM 101 classes. I always push new people to take the class, the emphasis on consent and safety for everyone is so important.

Do you have any thoughts on how to counter feminist arguments that BDSM is inherently abusive to women? Do you think abuse in BDSM is a common problem?

I have never been a huge feminist, but I do see myself as a strong and independent woman, and don’t see any conflict between BDSM and feminism. Every submissive has the power to say no by using a safeword. I’ve used mine. I’ve never felt abused, or worried too much about it. The BDSM community emphasizes respect and communication and consent, they educate everyone in the community about it. So as long as the rules of basic consent and respect are being followed, I feel like I’m in a safe place as a woman.  

How much do you think polyamory or non-monogamy overlaps with BDSM? How well do they mix? How does BDSM change the flavor of non-monogamy?   

I am poly, and I do look for kinky people to date, because that is who I am. Can they mix? I don’t see why not, but you don’t have to be poly to play with other people. It depends on if you are just playing, or playing and having sex. You can have a BDSM play partner without having sex and remain monogamous. What matters most to me about non-monogamy is whether everyone is doing it ethically, is everyone being truthful and open. That’s very important to me.  

What advice would you give someone new to BDSM? 

First, communication, communication, communication. Be honest with your partners about what you like and don’t like. If you’re not honest, you will land in bad spots, and it can end a relationship. So open and honest communication about what you want and what you need is most important. But it’s also important to know when to compromise. I’ve worked hard to get where I’m at, and I stand my ground pretty well, and I think I get a decent amount of respect from my Dom for that, but I’ve learned it’s best to pick my battles. I don’t always need to get my way, I can let him stand his ground on certain things, too. We have come to respect and honor our differences. After communication, I’d say education is key. Find all the ways to educate yourself about BDSM as you can, you will have much better experiences.  

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