One Size Does Not Fit All

Nude submissive woman shoulder, bdsm act with Wartenberg wheel on black background

I think one thing we can all agree on, whether beginner or experienced, is that the “one size fits all” approach to BDSM doesn’t work. Sorry to say, there is no universal way to do BDSM. (That would be too robotic anyway.) Each person has his/her own needs; the way people interact with one another is totally unpredictable. As it would be impossible to look at different personal approaches, let’s examine “one size doesn’t fit all” from a technical or play point of view. This article will be addressed to the Dom/mes, as they control the action. (Although submissives are welcome to eavesdrop!)

First, let’s examine the different ways a submissive reacts to pain. It varies by implement; by the way the toy is used and the sub’s reaction to the Top him/herself. (For example, if the sub trusts the Dom/me, he/she will take more pain, can probably go into subspace more easily and the scene will be more pleasurable.) Some subs need a lot of warm-up, some a light warm-up and others don’t need or want any warm-up at all. My sub prefers a warm-up when being flogged, but no warm-up before being hand spanked. Every submissive is different — and his/her response to a given “tool-of-torment” will vary day-to-day, mood-to-mood and setting-to-setting. What works on Wednesday will not necessarily work on Thursday.

I have heard, from Dom/mes, “I cannot believe I couldn’t put her/him into subspace. I used the same technique I always have!” This actually should be the common observation, not the rare one. Nevertheless, once the Dom/me has encountered situations where their “auto-pilot” stops working, it is time to turn it off and change the approach.

How does one figure out the best way to play with a sub who is not responding to your tried-and-true methods? I would say listening is the best answer. There is an old salesman’s adage that says, “The customer will tell you exactly how to sell him/her. Just shut-up and listen.” Similarly, the submissive will usually provide a roadmap to success for the attentive Dominant.

By simply listening, you can discover those areas that the submissive finds conducive to a successful session. For example, if the sub says he/she is a newbie and is scared of playing in public, don’t insist on it – at least not until the sub feels comfortable doing a public scene. When asked, the more experienced subs will tell you just about everything. They will tell you whether they prefer rattan or acrylic canes; whether they hate flogging on the back or love it. Neoprene floggers, stingy floggers, thuddy ones – subs are only too glad to tell you their preferences. They are effusive when explaining what gets them into sub-space and what kind of warm-ups they like. If you have questions, they have answers. This is not “topping from the bottom.” (Although if it happens during a scene, it might qualify as “topping from the bottom.”) We are talking about pre-scene negotiation here.

Obviously, identifying soft and hard limits is essential; just relying on a safe word is not the best way to go. This goes without saying. (Then why is BaadMaster saying it? Hmmmm!) Again, you can find this information out by…asking! It is as simple as that.

Finally, no matter how experienced any submissive is, it is up to the Dominant to make the sub feel as comfortable and trusting as possible. And, the amount of trust a submissive gives the Dominant varies from submissive to submissive. So, to coin an article title, “one size does not fit all.” If you keep this in mind, listen intently to what the submissive tells you and understand that trust is not granted immediately and is earned, you will find your scenes will be awesome!


By BaadMaster
After a ten year run as head writer for the legendary, and an equally long run as the host of the hit internet show “Baadmaster’s Dungeon,” we are pleased to welcome the one and only Baadmaster to KinkWeekly. His thoughts about all things BDSM will now appear regularly on these pages. From the mental aspects of D/s to the nuts and bolts of S&M play, Baadmaster will cover every facet of this ever expanding lifestyle.


  1. whipmeblue says:

    Great article, Baadmaster! Do you have any advice on how to make someone a better listener?

    • I am not sure there is a lot of latitude with respect to listening. It might be a case of what you see is what you get. I would say try and discuss it; if he/she doesn’t listen don’t expect to change him/her.

  2. Thanks once again for emphasizing the importance of strong, clear communication and close listening. Whenever I’m asked how I learned what I know about being an effective Dom I always say I learned it from my submissive partners. Not only does a Dom fail to satisfy a sub by failing to solicit vital information regarding their preferences and dislikes, the Dom also misses out on the creative imagination and past experience of a submissive partner.

    • As the BDSM scene goes through twists and turns, some good, some bad, you can always count on Ernest Greene to uphold what is best about in our BDSM “community.” This consistency is important in an era where negativity gets all the headlines.

  3. domdomdom says:

    Thank you, Ernest, for giving such inspiring advice.

    Btw great interview and excerpt!

  4. whipmeblue says:

    Thanks for the advice, Baadmaster!

  5. marksproperty says:

    Can’t wait to read what you will write next!

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