So I have long thought that one of the main distinctions in how one does D/s is whether or not the person wants to be more passive or more active. And it seems natural or “normal” that the active partner “should” be the dominant person and the passive partner “should” be the submissive partner. But does it have to be that way? Is there a “should” to it? I don’t think so.
I think that it can work either way depending on how the people fit together. On a personal level, I prefer to be more active in my kinky play and mostly passive in my actual dominance. I have some strong opinions on how I want things done and how I want my relationships to run. And they don’t include much continual micromanagement or attention (in a D/s way… I actually love spending quality time with my submissive partners). So I am active in letting the submissive know how I want to do things or have things done. But once I explain how I want something done/not done, I don’t want to have to hover over them. I also don’t want to have to assert my dominance over anyone on a daily basis for them to continue to want to submit to me. I prefer those who want to follow my instruction & give me the authority over things… and then we just both understand that those things will be done my way without any further prodding or asserting on my part.
And since things can mean different things to different people, here is how I am defining things:
Passive domination… does not require any micromanagement or constant attention. Once the order/request/rule is set, things just continue to happen on their own. The submissive just does it the way s/he has been told to, and the dominant goes on about their business.
Active domination… requires the dominant to do or say something. The dominant must initiate by word or physicality. To set the original rule. To do some kind of physical action. To pay attention to the submissive. It is continual and interactive.
Neither is wrong or better than the other. And they can work well together. But I think it’s a good thing to know where one falls on the spectrum. A dominant who largely prefers to set things in place then just sit back unless something crops up is not going to be a good match for a submissive who likes to have lots of D/s interaction. A dominant who likes to micromanage is not going to be a good fit for a submissive who likes to be given direction and then turned loose.
As an example, we could look at dinner. What if the people involved agree that part of the D/s is that the dominant gets to decide what the submissive will eat for dinner. Here are a few ways that might look a bit different.
Active: The dominant will order for the submissive at the restaurant. The dominant will tell the submissive what to fix for dinner or fix dinner hirself. The dominant will approve or disapprove every time the submissive orders food at a restaurant, even if that is done via a text or phone call.
Passive: The dominant will ask the submissive what zie wants for dinner and see if that plan suits the dominant. The dominant will ask the submissive what zie is ordering before the waitperson gets to the table in case the dominant wants the submissive to order something else. The dominant gives the submissive a list of “This week’s dinner option” so the submissive will know what is OK to eat no matter where dinner ends up happening.
Or how abut laundry?
Passive: The dominant says, I want you to do laundry every week on Tuesday. If there is any upcoming trip or special need for an extra laundry day, I will let you know about it. Please separate the laundry by whites, colors, darks, and delicates. Do not wash the types together. Only wash the whites in hot and the delicates in cold. This is the laundry detergent that I want you to use. If it’s running low, let me know so I can get more before the next Tuesday. And then it isn’t mentioned again until or unless a clarification is needed.
Active: The dominant says I want you to do laundry tomorrow. This is the detergent I want you to use. I will make sure you have what you need to do my laundry. Separate the laundry into whites & colors. There are no other types of laundry this time. But next time there might be. Never wash them in the same load. If I need you to do an extra laundry day, I will call/text/write to let you know to come over and do laundry immediately. I will be checking on you to make sure you are doing my laundry the way I want it done.
Perhaps a dominant wants to have a total power exchange relationship. One where zie has authority over everything in a submissive’s life including things like money, job choice, living arrangements, friends, family contact, & schedules. But that dominant also wants a partner whose core values and life goals match that of the dominant extremely well. That might end up meaning that the dominant does not often actually exert much authority because the submissive already makes choices that the dominant would like hir to make. For some people, the lack of actually asserting the authority/having the authority asserted would be heaven. For others it would no longer feel like a D/s relationship.
Very different approaches. Does one sound better to you? Does one sound like too much work or not enough contact? That can be a good clue as to which approach might work best for you. But sometimes you just don’t know until you try it. Additionally, active or passive can sometimes come into play as to how much a dominant actually wants to exert hir dominance. (Or how often a submissive wants to have hir dominant exert authority.)
Personally, I like a little bit of both. My active dominance comes in when I originally accept authority over something. I will set rules or parameters that I want the submissive to follow. And I reserve the right to check up as I feel necessary. But after I set the rules (and have assured myself that he is doing things my way), I won’t be likely to ever mention it again. I expect that things will continue on in this vein unless something significant changes.
This means that in the beginning of my relationships, as I am taking things slow, my style of dominance is fairly active. But as time goes on, it becomes very passive. And that is how I like it. However, it can be an issue when someone who likes a very “hands-on” approach stops getting that after the initial part of the relationship. So it becomes my job to make sure that those attracted to the idea of a lot of active domination understand that they probably won’t be a good fit for me. And it is also my job to reassure the ones who like a more passive style of dominance, that we are actually a good fit if he can make it past the first bit!