Why is being ordered around in bed so damn hot? If someone I was dating were to fire off orders to me in our daily lives, I probably wouldn’t be thrilled. I'm about as far from submissive as it gets. But when I am told to lie perfectly still or say something in particular or perform any host of commands in bed, I am instantly turned on. Why is that? What does it say about me? This seems important, and I felt inspired to learn more.
I did some research about the psychology behind such stimuli, and I talked to Hannah Green, a sex therapist in San Francisco, to find out more about what all this really means.
“A person has a lot of different parts,” Green says. “Usually only certain parts are forefront; people tend to stay with a certain polarity. The picture of wellness is actually to have access to a wide range of those parts.” So, then, sex is a chance to play with that polarity. In the bedroom, a Type A personality can experiment with power to see what it feels like to be told what to do.
Here are five important things you need to know about being dominated in the bedroom.
1. It’s possible to have a perfectly normal, loving relationship and also play with submission between the sheets.
Sex and love can go together, of course, but they can also run parallel; what happens in the bedroom can stay in the bedroom. If your boyfriend or girlfriend dominates in bed, it doesn’t mean he or she has all of the power in the relationship. If it turns out you like to play with power during sex, you don’t have to worry that you’ll be seen as too submissive or weak in your day-to-day experience with your partner.
“It can be really healthy,” Green says, “to experience all parts of yourself. And it gives you access to a wide range of experiences.” Amen to that.
2. Surrendering control to your lover in bed is a great opportunity to experience pleasure, so let go of the fear that he or she is secretly judging or losing respect for you.
Green says that being ordered around in bed can be especially helpful for those who are used to being in control. “It’s an experience of surrender,” she says. “It makes sense that there would be some fear there, especially if somebody is trying to be in control in their life." It seems as though the more someone wants to control their own lives, the more they'll enjoy being submissive and letting go in bed. "Being in control is one of the first ways we try to deal with anxiety. But facing that fear and moving through it before we worry what our partner is going to do is coming into acceptance of our own parts. If we bring a spirit of curiosity to all our different parts, our partner is probably going to do the same.”
3. Just because you like to be dominated doesn’t mean you’re neurotic, damaged, or anything at all.
“Just be fluid,” Green says. It’s not pathological to have submissive fantasies — or to act them out. “Our psyches are very wise, and know how to create balance,” she says. She suggests that you ask yourself what’s fun about this for you, and remember to have fun.
4. Forget any feelings of guilt or shame, because they really don’t belong here.
If you can, Green says, “put aside any old ideas and look at the truth of what’s happening for you in the bedroom. What I've seen mostly is that people are afraid to explore something with their partner because they’re afraid they’ll be judged. Have as much curiosity as possible, and be curious about what you want.” If you feel open enough with yourself and in the relationship, run with it. Because of taboos, this type of thing can bring up fear and shame, “because people are used to being only certain parts of themselves,” Green says. Let it go.
5. Submission in bed can be so fiery hot because it’s a method of being that is so different from everyday life.
“Sex is a place where we are giving of ourselves in a different way than in regular life,” Green says. “There’s more freedom to surrender, and therefore experience different parts of ourselves. It’s about finding aliveness.” So, then, being submissive with your partner can lead to feeling more alive, experiencing more pleasure, and getting out of your own head. Um, yes, please. It makes perfect sense that it’s so hot — and so fun.