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Sex Q&A: Head Bitch in Charge

SONY DSCEver found yourself wondering how to introduce a new sex act to your partner, or how to have orgasms that really hit the spot?  If so, you’ve come to the right place!  The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health will be publishing a monthly question and answer series for all your sex and sexuality-related inquiries.  From sex toys to fantasies to safer sex, we’ll be doling out advice to keep your bedroom romps fresh and your inner sex kitten purring.

This month’s column is by staff member Gypsy Vidal. Email your pressing sex questions to sex@motifri.com, where they will be kept confidential!

Question:

I’m a woman, and I recently entered a relationship with a man who wants me to be more dominant in the bedroom. I’ve never tried before.  How do I become more comfortable in the role?

In the hype following the release of 50 Shades of Grey, the fanfic-turned-million-dollar-series by E.L. James, it seemed like all the media could talk about was the salacious desires of women who want to be dominated. Significantly less conversation has gone on about men who desire the very same — and the women whose inclinations lead them to holding the leash rather than wearing one. Fortunately, your partner is not alone in his submissive wishes, nor are you the first woman to find herself looking to live large by taking charge.

Of course, teasing out one’s fantasies from the realm of mental delights into physical carnality isn’t always second nature. Hopefully this article will give you an idea or two of how to feel more at-ease in your dom shoes.

Before I delve into the nuts and bolts of the matter, I want you to take a moment to think about your own desires in exploring sexual dominance. Do you want this, or are you looking to simply fulfill your boyfriend’s fantasies? Do you even know where you stand in the matter? Indeed, it may very well be the case that for a number of reasons, including past partners and societal gender expectations, you never previously considered donning a Top hat. It may also be the case that you’ve been curious about taking charge in the bedroom, but have never had the opportunity.

In both scenarios, it’s understandable why you’d feel less than comfortable trying your hand at this role.  However, depending on the method behind the madness, your experiences in getting your feet wet might feel a little different.  To help determine where in the puddle you stand, I recommend that you spend a little time fantasizing about the role. If you could tell your partner exactly what to do to please you, would you? What would you tell him? What do you feel when you think about him serving you or lying beneath you, surrendered to your whim? Fleshing out your will and desires may help you take to the role more easily, and will give you more to communicate about when the time comes.

In addition to figuring out your own desires, it is also useful to think about what actions and behaviors you type as “dominant.” What comes to mind when your partner asks this of you? Also, what does dominance mean to your partner? While society seems to specifically focus on power games consisting of sadomasochism, being dominant does not require toys or pain. In fact, there are many dominant people who don’t incorporate either into their play, and while there are many who do, it’s up to you and your boyfriend to flesh out these dirty details through good ol’ fashioned conversation.

I’ll note here that dominance is in many ways an attitude and mindset of self-confidence, which often denotes a degree of power, capability, strength and even protectiveness.  For many people, sexual dominance simply means “taking charge in the bedroom,” as opposed to kinky, tie-you-up-and-flog-you debauchery.

Because dominance means different things to different people, before you delve into any play, you and your boyfriend should communicate about these definitions. By “dominant,” does your boyfriend mean that he wants you to initiate sex more often, or is he asking you to bring out the cat o’ nine tails? Does your beau want you to kiss him passionately and pull his body to you, or is he hoping that you’ll make him sleep in a cage? Does his idea of “dominant” consist of a stern voice and mild orders, such as “rub my feet,” or is he looking to be degraded?

Discerning these particularities in your desires is key, not only for mental and physical safety of you and your partner, but also in potentially helping you become more comfortable. By having a better idea of what your partner specifically wants, and by communicating your own interests and doubts, you may find yourself feeling more at ease in the role. After all, it’s often easier to embark on the unknown when you have a good guideline to lead you.

Naturally, it may be difficult to talk about what you and your partner want when you may not have the most comprehensive understanding of what types of dominance play are out there. For that, I recommend that you and your partner fill out a Yes/No/Maybe checklist. You can also check out online couples-oriented questionnaires such as MojoUpgrade and Sexionnaire. While none of these activity lists are all-encompassing, they will encourage both you and your partner to take a moment to consider what exactly it is you want to explore, as well as serve as a jumping off point to discuss all your unique ideas for sexy fun.

Of course, not only is it important to discuss desires, it’s also supremely important to discuss boundaries. The questionnaires and checklist above do a great job at expressing such limits, but I nonetheless encourage you and your partner to think outside the box in accordance to your own histories and experiences. I’ll also note that all boundaries are legitimate and should be respected, regardless of whether they make sense to other individuals. Moreover, there exist both “soft limits” and “hard limits,” in which the former consists of boundaries that may be pushed or teased either in specific, agreed-upon contexts or with specific individuals. The latter, hard limits, are boundaries that cannot and should not be broached. Understanding your own and your partner’s soft and hard limits is vital to safe power play.

Another key component to navigating the waters of BDSM is the necessity and inclusion of safe words. Safe words are specifically picked out to either pause, slow down or completely stop play, and are not words that are usually said during sex. Common safe words include “red” for stop, and “yellow” for pause/slow down, but they can be just about anything. Furthermore, if your partner is not capable of talking, either due to being gagged or having speech impediment, you should negotiate a safe action, such as snapping one’s fingers or dropping a handkerchief, which will bring a stop to play. You should also ensure that any potential journeys into bondage allow for either safe word or safe action, to ensure the full consent and safety of all parties.

In addition to communication and consent, another important aspect to playing with dominance and submission is acquiring the relevant skills. I urge you to do your research before any type of play, not only out of concern for safety, but also because I think learning may help you feel more comfortable with your capabilities.

One particular place to pick up and hone your kinky skills is through KinkAcademy.com, a comprehensive collection of instruction and educational videos about kink. While Kink Academy requires payment to use, it’s a resource that I highly recommend to both newbies and veteran kinksters alike, as its breadth of material is unlike anything else online. Are you looking for more interaction with like-minded folk? You can also visit Fetlife.com, a social networking website for kinksters and fetishists of various degrees of experience. Fetlife is a great place to find local events and classes, and it provides emerging kinksters the opportunity to find people who can mentor and train them.

Of course, as I said before, it may also be the case that your boyfriend isn’t exactly looking for a mistress; maybe he just wants you to be more assertive! If this doesn’t come naturally to you, it’s okay to cheat a little. I recommend setting an alarm to remind you to initiate. You can also jot down a quick list of actions that you feel exude sexual aggression. Maybe it’s a strong kiss, maybe it’s hair-pulling, maybe it’s a whispered, “I want you.” Whatever it is, the next time you’re with your boyfriend, try one or two of these moves and see how he reacts.

At the end of the day, I encourage you and your partner to be as safe as possible and have fun.  Learning to be sexually dominant can take a try or two to get used to, but should the shoe fit, you and your partner may very well have ahead of you a new, exciting sexual adventure. Should sexual dominance not be your cup of tea, that is also totally a-okay; people’s sexual desires run the gamut, and what’s most important is that all parties communicate and consent to play.