Hi, hello! I actually have a question. I identify as a sub - tying and some force appeal to me. But I hate when someone dominates with words - i like politeness and being asked if I want something, and I hate when someone orders me what to do. But my partner likes to dominate in all of those aspects. Should I cross my lines? 

I have crossed them for others in the past, but how I felt after that affected how I look at myself on daily basis - not in a good way. So after a therapy I started saying that I don't want something, or something is not ok. But now, idk what should I do :(

Hi hello yourself! I’ll start by answering with some general, off-the-shelf advice, then dive into some specifics for you. Before engaging in play with someone new, or even someone you’ve played with before it can be very helpful to identify yourself as a certain kind of sub. Some have names - babygirls, brats, rope bunnies - and others are more specific to the sub themselves or even the day of the week they’re playing. We all exist on a spectrum. One really helpful tool to identify yourself is this quiz. It’s not perfect, but it will help you take stock of what you like and don’t. It may also be helpful to ask your partner to take the quiz as well, so that they can define what parts of domination really matter to them and are non-negotiable “prices of admission” (a Dan Savage-ism), versus things that would be fun but aren’t necessary to their sexual fulfillment.

An example from my own life: my Dom really likes nipple torture (giving). I, on the other hand, have the most sensitive nipples on the planet Earth, so that is a hard limit for me. Nipple torture is just icing on His cake, so he can take or leave it. However, He requires proper address and polite speech from His subs. If I weren’t able to call him by His chosen form of address, or use “please” and “thank You” when addressing Him, we wouldn't have been able to establish a dynamic that worked for both of us.

But your concern, little sub, is about how certain language makes you feel. The goal of BDSM is to make power exchange very clearly delineated for a sub, so he/she/they can go into their own life with boosted confidence, clarity, and joy. When you are degraded or ordered around, you can’t feel that. And that’s ok! It may change over time, or there may be some way your partner can tweak their language to better suit your limits. Maybe it’s as simple as “please lay across my lap for a spanking.” If you have access to your safe words at all times and know you can always politely decline an order without repercussions, maybe these kinds of requests won’t be so grating and you and your partner can find a happy medium. If, after discussing it at length and really playing with it, that still doesn’t feel good - then don’t do it!! BDSM is a buffet from which you can take whatever you want. You’re not more of a “real sub” if you load up your plate with everything on offer.

BDSM is a buffet from which you can take whatever you want. You’re not more of a “real sub” if you load up your plate with everything on offer.

The last thing I’ll say is crossing your lines is something NO ONE deserves from you. If you have clearly expressed that certain things are not ok for you, and someone refuses to accept that, they have not earned your submission. Full stop. However, it is your responsibility to communicate what your limits are. And if an in-person conversation is too scary or overwhelming, something I have found very useful is the “fetishes” list on FetLife (this is the only feature of theirs I’ve ever used). They supply you with an exhaustive list of everything that can happen in a BDSM scene, and you can go through them one-by-one and mark each as “into,” “curious about,” “soft limit,” and “hard limit.” When playing with a new partner or even an old one, presenting them with a list can be an excellent non-verbal way of laying down the ground rules. And the key is standing strongly by your hard limits. You deserve that. Those are never up for discussion. The only appropriate response from a partner to your hard limits is either a polite question that helps them meet your needs, or simply a “got it, ok, I respect that.”

Best of luck going forward with your negotiating. You can do this!