On submission and speaking up
Mo Ranyart replies:I am a trained Submissive. I have only ever been in relationships with Dominants who know exactly how to be sexually/emotionally involved with a Sub. I am extremely into bondage/spanking/biting/ect., and the Doms that I have been involved with know exactly how to effectively provide that for me in a sexual relationship. I don't think I can even HAVE an orgasm without the aforementioned activities. But recently I met this AMAZING guy that I have totally fallen for. He is perfect in every way and is just a total dream. He is pretty dominant, but I know he isn't a dom. We have been dating for almost 4 months now, and I haven't told him about my sexual past. We have been having sex but it isn't at all satisfying to me. I've been faking all of my orgasms, and have been putting up with the "Vanilla" sex since we've started dating. I'm afraid to tell him about my sexual preferences. I'm scared that hell think its disgusting or weird and run away. Or even worse, he'll stay but not be able to provide the things I need in a sexual relationship which will completely ruin our entire relationship all together. How do I effectively communicate to him my sexual needs and tell him that I've been hiding this from him? It's really hard for me to even think about doing that because as a Submissive I have always been with Dominants who always know exactly what I want and provide for my needs. Help!
There are a couple of things that I want to talk about here. Obviously, the fact that you're not enjoying sex with your current partner is the big one, but I also want to address what sounds, from what you've written, like an assumption about what it means to be dominant or submissive, and a dominant partner's ability to know and provide for a partner's needs. I'm going to start by talking about that assumption first, because it may be that part of the reason you're finding it difficult to discuss your desires with your partner is that you have an idea in your head about how D/s relationships are supposed to go.
No one, dominant or not, has the ability to know what a partner wants or needs in a sexual relationship without communicating with them first. From what you've said I'm not sure how much discussion about your desires and limits you had with previous partners but it sounds like there wasn't a lot of communication there. If you didn't talk about your shared preferences beforehand, you didn't get your needs met because those partners were True Dominants who understood How to Dominate Properly, but because you got lucky with partners who happened to like a lot of the same things you do. So, if you're approaching this from a position that dominants instinctively know what their submissive partners want, I think it's important to re-examine that thought.
Part of safe D/s play is determining, outside of a scene and away from the bedroom, what each person is comfortable with; making assumptions about a partner's desires is really risky business. Even if someone wants their partner to take complete control of what happens during sex, that still needs to be negotiated beforehand, so that there are at least some hard limits, safewords, and safety guidelines in place. There's no one way to be submissive or dominant, and in general it isn't safe to assume that everyone who enjoys that relationship dynamic is going to have identical preferences. For example, it sounds like bondage, spanking, and biting during sex are an important component of your identity as a submissive, but there are also submissives who don't enjoy pain and roughness during sex, or who don't focus on sex as an expression of their submission. Without having a discussion beforehand, someone who identifies as dominant can't know their desires will align with those of a submissive partner, and just because they are dominant they do not have the right to impose their desires on someone who doesn't share them.
I'd be very surprised if, as you continue to date people who identify as dominant, every one of them has desires that align perfectly with yours. It might be helpful to keep in mind that having some level of mismatch in terms of specific sexual desires or preferences is very common in relationships, including D/s or other kinky ones. Sexuality is such a huge thing, encompassing so much possibility, that it's nearly impossible to find someone whose sexual preferences are like yours in every way. What is more common is that people who like each other take the time to talk about their sexual desires and preferences and find the places where they overlap.
As for bringing this up with your partner, I do think it's important to be honest about your sexual desires, for the sake of your sexual satisfaction and the long-term health of your relationship. I know that starting a big emotional conversation like this, where you have to reveal a lot of deep personal feelings about your desires, can be intimidating. It's understandable why you're hesitant to have this conversation, especially when there's the issue of faking orgasm to address as well, but from what you've said here, it doesn't sound like the sex you're having is at all satisfying to you. In light of that, being open with him seems like a reasonable risk to take. While speaking up may or may not change the dynamic in your relationship, you already know that keeping silent isn't getting your needs met, so why not take the risk so you have a chance of changing things for the better? It's also likely that the longer you go on not enjoying sex in this relationship, and feeling like you're hiding an important part of your identity, the less happy you'll be able to be, no matter how wonderful your boyfriend is.
You have a lot of great things to say about your current boyfriend, and a truly amazing guy isn't going to run for the hills if it turns out he isn't excited by the same things you are. Someone who respects you will be able to say "I'm sorry, but I'm not sure I can give you what you need" and not "that's gross and you're gross" if it turns out he doesn't think it's something he can do. Plenty of people who don't feel naturally drawn to taking a dominant role in sex can warm up to the idea in time; of course some people just won't be into it, but you can't necessarily write him off just because you aren't noticing the same things in him you saw in previous dominant partners. He may not have the same skills or experience previous partners have had, but everyone starts somewhere, and this is another place where open communication comes into play. Interest and enthusiasm, paired with good communication, can do a long way towards making up for a lack of experience.
Another thing to keep in mind is that a caring person isn't going to want to have sex that their partner isn't enjoying! I think it's fair to assume that your boyfriend thinks that you are enjoying sex, if you are faking orgasms and not saying that vanilla sex isn't exciting for you; he might be upset to learn the truth, but he'd probably much rather NOT have sex with you that you aren't enjoying than continue inadvertently boring or upsetting you during sex. It really is beneficial to both of you, as well as your relationship, to come clean about this. Whether or not he wants to be more dominant in your relationship, he probably only wants to have sex with you that you're feeling enthusiastic about.
I think a good first step is to have a conversation with your partner about how you've been faking orgasms up until now. We have a great article that I think will be good for you to read before having this conversation, so give that a look first. (If you want some general tips on talking about sex with a partner, we have a piece on that too.) Part of that conversation can be spent discussing what submission means to you and what sort of dynamic and activities you're looking for in a sexual relationship to feel fulfilled in that role. It may be that you just touch on this in the initial conversation and fill in details later, or you may find that the conversation flows naturally towards talking about things in more depth; I think this is really only something you can decide at the time, as you get a feel for how the discussion is going. It will likely be a hard conversation for both of you, but the only way to move forward with a chance of you feeling sexually fulfilled is to start from a place of honesty.
If it turns out that he isn't interested in the same kind of D/s play you are, it'll be up to you if you are willing to give that up for the other good things in the relationship. I think it's good to keep in mind that plenty of people who aren't interested in a formal D/s dynamic are happy to incorporate the elements like bondage, biting, etc. you mentioned into their sex lives. That may or may not be enough for you, but there's a wide range of opportunity between the extremes of not engaging in any of those things during sex and experiencing them in a D/s framework. So when you're having this discussion with him, if you're both able to be open about your desires and what you're willing to try, you may find there's a bit of wiggle room for negotiation and experimentation that can make you both happy.
Open and honest communication with a partner can be tough - by talking about our deepest, most fundamental desires, we're making ourselves extremely vulnerable, and that can be a scary process. But it can be really rewarding too, because once we've shared those desires and feelings, we're able to make stronger connections with the people we open up to. Your amazing current boyfriend might be happy for an opportunity to speak more openly about his sexual desires, and to work towards a mutually fulfilling sex life with you. I know you've said you're used to partners taking this active role for themselves as dominants, but submissives can be proactive in getting their needs met too, so I encourage you to take that step and see where it takes you.