What makes a sub? 18


No, I am not talking about bread, meat, and cheese here. I am talking about what makes a submissive.
I wished in this one moment that I still belonged to Fetlife so that I could pull down a list I saw once that described the similarities most submissives had. But I cannot as I left that social network for being too judgmental.
So, what is a submissive?
It doesn’t matter if you read erotica or actively live the lifestyle, you probably pigeon hole the term submissive into the category that vibrates well with you. But the fact is – every submissive is different.
There are service subs, sexual subs, bratty subs, submissive slaves (and there are some consensual slaves who are not even submissive – yes, that can give you a headache if you try to think on it too long). Submissives in the workplace. At home. Just at a club. Just from 6pm Friday until 6pm Sunday. Only on a Wednesday. For anyone who calls him/herself a dom/me. For only one who they judge worthy.
It can be overwhelming if you try and digest it too quickly. In fact, I am of the opinion that no new submissive should EVER be asked to define him/herself. Not until they have been learning for at least a year. And then they should revisit the concept every year thereafter.
Why? Because it takes a long time to figure out who you are.
It is overwhelming – new vocabulary, and not just a new vocabulary but one that changes depending on who you talk to. There are rules that some say are set in stone and others say are anything but. You might think one way but you hear every other ‘sub’ saying the exact opposite which in turn makes you doubt yourself or even worse, bend your needs to match what other subs (and doms) say a submissive is.
Guess what? Your kind of submissive is your kind. Nobody else’s. It does NOT matter what anyone else says a submissive ‘has to’ or ‘should’ be because the fact is – dominance and submission are entirely personal things. Just like you have sexual limits, you will find you have emotional and physical ones as well.
An example?
I love helping people but I am not a service sub. That took a long time to fully come to terms with. I was told – through books and through what the doms and other subs were telling me – that a sub had to serve his/her dom/me by cleaning and doing housework. Uhhh. Fuck no? And yet, I tried to fit myself into that mold. Guess what? All it did was make me one very unhappy submissive. I stopped even trying at all for several years because I just did not think I fit the mold.
I am sexually submissive. I also need – not just want, but need – a strong hand in my life, making the decisions and keeping me within certain barriers. That is something I require to be truly content. BUT – if said dom ever told me to keep his house clean? Sorry, babe. That’s why god created cleaning services.
For the longest time that made me guilty. Shouldn’t I desire to do what ‘he’ wants me to? And yet, I knew that was something I hated – no, not just hated, DESPISED – doing. A year ago, I added it to my hardest limits list. This is a non-negotiable limit for me. I was talking to a dom and we were putting our cards on the table so to speak. I saw one of his requirements and asked, “by taking care of your house are you talking about hosting parties? Or scrubbing your bathroom?”
His response was, “Well, the tub isn’t going to clean itself.”
To say any possibility of a relationship ended right there would be putting it lightly. Seriously – this pervasive idea that a sub is a great excuse for free cleaning services in addition to a blow job whenever you want it gets old.
SOME subs enjoy that. I’m not knocking that at all. If you desire service and your dom/me telling you to go clean makes you happy? Do it!
But not all subs do.
On the same vein – not all subs like to be tied up, beaten, spanked, raped, gagged, choked, treated like an animal, treated like a piece of furniture, put on food restriction, wrapped up in cellophane, given to others (shall I go on?)… And some do.
There truly is NO hard and fast rule in this – or any – alternative lifestyle. Just like you do NOT have to be poly to be a sub. No, you don’t. No matter what others tell you. If you want to be? Then, you are in luck – there seems to be a lot of that in the open scene.
If you are a sub, you can be assured that you enjoy and/or need it when you can give up some—or all—control. But that may be for an hour every once in a while all the way up to 24/7.
One could say you also need barriers, barriers you can understand, because within those ‘walls’ are where you feel safest. But even then? Who am I to tell you what you need? You have your own wants and needs, separate from my own.
If you think you are submissive – then you probably are. Don’t let what others say mess up your feelings about yourself and your journey. For being a submissive is quite a journey. You learn so much about yourself, some of it easy to understand, some of it startling. And yes, a decade from now you will still be learning startling things about yourself. From what I hear, even 20-30 years from now you (and I) will be learning startling new things about ourselves.
Is it worth it? Only you can answer that. I have found there is an incredible freedom in accepting who you are and why you do the things you do. For instance – I now understand why decision making is near-to-impossible for me; I am not wired for it. And it is a relief to realize there is a reason why for my entire life I have struggled with it.
So, since I have now confused you, what am I saying? Your kind of submission is unique to you. You do not have to kneel to be a sub, you do not have to say ‘Yes, sir’ to be a sub, you do not even have to wear a corset! Shocking, huh? These are things a sub might do. But they are not things a sub ‘has’ to do. Unless they are in a relationship and it is their dom/me’s prerogative to ask for it – and then, that is specific to their relationship.
So read. Study. Try things out. Try other things out. Never be afraid to try – never be afraid to say “no, not interested”. If someone tells you that you are not submissive ‘enough’ because you won’t do what they think you should do? Just turn and walk away. After all, they don’t get the right to tell you who you are. As for dom/mes? Guess what? They are human and you DO NOT have to submit or serve any of them unless you want to.
Plus, just like every one of us is our own individual submissive, each one of them is their own individual dominant. Respect that. You would get pissed if your dom/me tried to make you do something on your hard limit list. The reverse applies – dom/mes have hard limits too.
The trick? Finding a dom/me who fits you, who will push you where you want to be pushed, respect the boundaries you need respected, and help you be the best you that you can be. 

  • For some? That is easy. 
  • For others? Infinitely harder. 
  • For me? I’m still looking. 

Good luck!

photo credit: jeffreyw via photopin cc

18 thoughts on “What makes a sub?

  • Lily Katherine

    Thianna such a great post! It is so easy to get caught up in what others are saying and get pigeon holed into what is and isn't a submissive action or trait. Just have to focus on what works for you and then find someone that works with you as well.

  • LA Cloutier

    Thianna, you have some really great advice here, but I really thought the blog was about the sandwich. <br /><br />You are very correct though. In the end we need to find what/who works for and with us. <br /><br />

  • Natasha Knight

    Like this post Thianna. I feel like I&#39;m on this whole new road and really just at the very start of it. It&#39;s even that I just pushed away the branches that were hiding this road from view altogether. It&#39;s a whole new learning.<br /><br />One thing I wholeheartedly agree on is that each person is individual and one person&#39;s submission will be very different than another&#39;s. <br

    • Thianna D

      Thanks Natasha:) So happy you have found the journey that feels like you! You have an incredible time ahead. <br /><br />I am amazed at all the things I have learned about myself in the last decade.

  • Ciaran Dwynvil

    A great post, Thianna. I enjoyed reading it. And I agree, dominance and submission are very personal things. Eventually, in a partnership, the Dom and his/ her sub need to find a common language 🙂 but it is very unlikely that their one will be exactly the same as the BDSM couple&#39;s next door. That&#39;s why I always smile when I read a comment: But according to BDSM rules… (supply whatever

  • Tara Finnegan

    Wonderful post…for years I would have sworn I was not a sub, Cleaning bathrooms? – no bleeding way! Cook meals? yeah, fine if I&#39;m cooking anyway otherwise get it yourself…etc, etc. Intimate acts that I don&#39;t enjoy, nah, not for me, but like you say everyone has their own definition and inclinations. Rules, schmules.

  • Em

    &#39;The reverse applies – dom/mes have hard limits too.&#39;<br /><br />Thank you so much for saying this. I switch between the two depending on my partners, but as a domme I&#39;ve had the same difficulty in establishing barriers and accepting that not everything a sub asks for will be my cuppa/a kink I can satisfy. And that it doesn&#39;t make me less of a domme when that happens. <br /><br />

    • Thianna D

      YW:) There seems to be this strange idea out there that the dom/me is willing to do anything the sub wants. *shakes head* Not sure who started it, but we are all human and we all have what we will and won&#39;t do. <br /><br />And your rights as a domme to do or not do something are just as valid as the subs and if the sub needs something the dom/me will not do? Then maybe it isn&#39;t a good

  • Jennifer France

    There are some communities that have submissive munches where they have topics for those who are just learning.<br />I prefer &quot;Bottoms Buffet&quot; where you can try out different types of play to help decide what you might like – good thing &#39;cleaning bathrooms&#39; isnt one of them… although I did do that when visiting my Owner … it was when that became the ONLY thing I did that it

    • Thianna D

      An hour from here, they have &#39;tasters&#39; every once in awhile. But that kind of thing never works for me. I have to have an emotional connection with my Top or it is the equivalent of eating cardboard. <br /><br />The last sadist that flogged me was not happy because I could not get into the scene. lol

  • Joelle

    I&#39;m so glad I went to your facebook timeline or I&#39;d have missed this completely, Thianna. What a beautiful message. You&#39;d think after 20 years as a submissive, I&#39;d know better, but I still struggle with a lot of &quot;submissives have to…&quot;s. Like my Master fights the deeply ingrained-in-me &quot;the Dom should always eat first.&quot;- I&#39;ve hypoglycemic and vegan while

  • Max

    Finding a match is always hard, and the overwhelming mix of doctrines and &quot;must-dos&quot; within the scene don&#39;t help with that. I&#39;m glad you sorted that out for yourself, and I&#39;m sure sharing your experiences helps others look at their options rather than feeling bad about not fitting some arbitrary set of roles or rules.

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