Who’s In Charge Anyway?


My boyfriend & I have been dating for a year, and he’s a Dom. I’m new to this, but I have been wanting this for a long time. I’ve been wanting him to restrain me with ropes, cuffs, straps, whatever & he’s always making excuses. I even brought him silk scarves and he only partially tied my hands together. How can I convince him to do it? I’ve told him repeatedly that I trust him.


There can be many things happening in this scenario.However, it boils down to one word to resolve the gap happening between these two partners: communication.

Submissives, especially new ones, need to recognize and respect the limits that the Dominant has with as much energy as the Dominant puts into doing this in return. Recognizing this reinforces that trust must always be a two-way street. While the act of restraining someone may seem elementary to BDSM, everyone is individual. Your needs, wants, and desires aren’t the only thing at play here. People, especially Dominants, are not merely dispensers for our fetishes. The Dominant in this situation may have experienced a trauma surrounding restraint and does not feel it’s “Domly” to communicate that. It may also not be his thing. A more open and productive conversation around limits and desires may effectively suss out the background surrounding his hesitancy. Communicating an understanding within a safe and open framework will lead to a better understanding of limits with your Dominant.

Some of my most memorable scenes have been with a play partner that dominated me, but did not consider himself to be a Dominant. While he enjoyed being dominant with me, he was not exclusively a Top. We choose roles when we begin exploring kink that may not necessarily be well suited to us. While the community has many peacocks puffing out their chests and declaring themselves “Uber Domly,” the fact is, there are fewer Dominants than advertised. It is the same in nature. Not all lions end up the leader of the pack and not all men or women have enough dominance to be an effective Dominant (or are able to practice healthy and ethical dominance). They may desire that control and seek out power exchange, but it may not suit them well. We tend to marginalize someone who is “evolving” or “unsure,” but, in reality, it is an apt title for many of us. The man in this scenario seems to present a hesitance that may or may not betray a lack of dominance. This is perfectly normal and okay. Additionally, his hesitance also does not make him any less of a Dom. Dom/Dommes have their own limits and boundaries. D-types are not required to engage in every “domly”, kinky act.

On the other hand, he may have many characteristics of a strong, masculine presence, but not be a Dominant. A discussion around his evolving tastes and preferences may help him determine if he is well suited for his role or needs to explore further and find something that better suits him.

The first time I wore a straitjacket, my partner went thru an elaborate process to restrain me that included a detailed explanation of how he would get me out if I needed to be released quickly.  Sure enough, the second I felt the slightest bit dizzy, he got me out of that jacket incredibly fast. My dizziness recovered swiftly in the face of his care. We continued to play for several more hours that night because of his quick response. His attention to detail and carefully laid out plan insured that we both had a fantastic night.

Many activities may seem innocuous to you, but can have much more damaging effects if both partners aren’t ready. Your boyfriend may not feel comfortable enough in controlling a scene in this way. Restraint carries expertise and a desire to control the environment. It would be irresponsible to tie, bind, or restrain you if he did not have enough experience to manage the scene. Many Toppy-type folks practice tying before ever doing it with a partner. They recognize that they need to know how to do it and how to get someone out of it quickly if panic or pain sets in. Not all panic, suffering, and pain are the same. Restriction of blood flow and muscle damage can occur. There is also the danger of traumatic panic attacks.  If he doesn’t feel the wherewithal to do so, he knows he risks both your safety and the relationship by proceeding to play in an area that he is not confident and knowledgeable in.

If your boyfriend is your Dom, you are in a power exchange relationship. He is in charge. Your needs and wants are taken into consideration, but ultimately he decides when he feels you are ready for new challenges. He may be making excuses because he does not feel comfortable telling you that he does not feel you are prepared to explore this activity yet.

Finally, submissives need to understand their place within a power exchange relationship. This is, after all, a power exchange. As the submissive, you are voluntarily and willfully relinquishing your power over to a Dominant. This means the decisions about what does or does not happen in a scene are his. He can be made aware of your desires and fantasies, but the decision to proceed with them lies in the Top’s hands. The word “convince” is not part of that conversation. Using the word “convince” implies that you are wielding your powers of persuasion to force his decision to be what you want. Unless otherwise agreed, this does not fit into a traditional Dominant/submissive framework. Decisions about what play occurs, when, and for how long are the Dominant partner’s responsibility and choice. Convincing, demanding, or bratting to get your way is considered “Topping from the bottom,” and is frowned upon in many D/s relationships.

As you are very new to all of this, your boyfriend may be trying to be gentle about the missteps you are taking. I encourage you to read up on power exchange, and the concept of “Topping from the bottom,” so that you can better understand your decision to submit and what that means. Ask your boyfriend if there are some tasks or homework that you can do to further enlighten yourself in preparation for the play you would like to explore. This way he retains the power in the relationship and you can build more confidence in your new role. Plus, it’s empowering to learn more about the endless potential available within D/s relationships. Such sexy reading is a lot of fun!

I also suggest some time away from a bedroom or scene to discuss the matter without any sexual energy present. An honest discussion about his reasoning and why he is so reticent is needed. Once you understand better where he is coming from, you will have better tools to use when communicating your desires. Ask him how he prefers you to communicate desires to him. This shows, again, that you are placing the power in his hands and are being considerate of his needs and wants. A conflict such as this provides an opportunity to deepen communication and make new discoveries about one another. It may be uncomfortable to do at first, but it’s extremely valuable to actively practice open, healthy communication until it becomes second nature. I’m sure you both will discover many beautiful things to be curious about once you do.

About the Author

LaBellePutain discovered her love of writing and her submissive side during a tumultuous divorce in 2011. From 2011 to 2015, she honed her skills as a writer and explored her sexuality and love of BDSM. Her adventures as a sex-positive single mother have also been featured in Scary Mommy and several personal blogs.

You can find her adventures in divorce and dating at http://cynthiaprose.blogspot.com/

Her musings as she finds and fixes her middle-aged shit can be found at https://medium.com/@CJBleau

The really smutty stuff can be found on Fetlife at https://fetlife.com/users/1076417

Her memoir chronicling her evolutionary 40’s, Good Girl Bad, is set to be released in early 2019. If she can ever get her act together…


  1. crawlingjune says:

    I never knew anything about this. You really opened my eyes to this subject. Thank you

    • LaBellePutain says:

      I’m so glad! I encourage you to read more here to help you better understand your sexual self. It’s great fun to learn about!

  2. Well said! You tread the shark-infested waters of the “who’s got the power in PE” debate (endless and tiresome) with grace and eloquence. I appreciate your on-point and balanced advice.

  3. Laura M Tucker says:

    I love this ….PrimalGrace

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