People on FetLife regularly trot out the D/s platitude that “in a D/s relationship, the sub is really the one in control.”
Why is the sub the one ultimately in control? Because the sub can stop a scene with a safeword at any time, and because a sub can leave a relationship that’s not fulfilling.
Here’s why the platitude is bullshit, though: the dominant can stop a scene whenever they want, too (and doesn’t even need a safeword. They can just…stop). The dominant can also leave a relationship that’s unfulfilling.
Neither person in a D/s relationship is actually more powerful than the other.
Seriously, the more I think about this stuff, the more obvious it is to me that D/s relationships are not a hierarchy (as most people seem to want to believe); they’re a symbiosis. You have one person who thrives on being humiliated or receiving pain or giving service or taking orders or feeling owned, and you have another person who thrives on giving humiliation or pain or accepting service or giving orders or feeling a sense of ownership. These two people’s interests mesh well and they agree that the dominant will do certain things and the sub will do certain things and, ideally, everyone ends up happy.
Yes, the dynamic is thrilling. Yes, when all goes well the sub feels owned or powerless and the dominant feels powerful. But these are roles the two people are occupying, and the spell can be broken if either party steps out of place.
So I’m getting a little sick of domly-doms who take themselves too seriously and subs who smugly claim that they secretly run the show. STFU. Your relationship is a negotiated dance between equals, hopefully choreographed to keep everyone content, and either one of you can end it and either one of you can fuck it up. Just like the vanillas.