I'm uncomfortable with how sexually dominant I am

I've recently done a lot of internal sexual exploration. Around three years ago, I came out to most of my family and friends as bisexual. This year I became MUCH more attracted to men than I've ever been. It was confusing but I ended up coming to the conclusion that labeling my sexuality was a confusing waste of time and energy for me. I also realized that while, yes, I am predominantly attracted to men, it's mainly "submissive" men. It REALLY turns me off when I think about a male partner being dominant with me. I'm really only talking about a general dynamic here. (No hardcore BDSM or anything.) The problem with this is that I hardly ever see this kind of relationship represented or talked about. I'm no dominatrix, I just want to be the one in control. I'm not gay either. I'm positive that I like men. (I feel like I should also mention that I am 14 and a virgin. I do still know what I like though.) Are there ever going to be men in my life that are willing to be sexually submissive with me? And are into it? I feel like if they are it'll be only, as i've mentioned, hardcore-BDSM-black leather handcuffs-"mommy" and "mistress" type of deal. Which I'm not ENTIRELY opposed to, but point still stands, y'know?
Mo Ranyart replies:

First off, you aren't alone in being turned off by "hardcore BDSM" or in feeling like you aren't really seeing a wider range of nuanced depictions of dominant/submissive relationships with which you might identify more easily.

It's true that there's a mainstream image of d/s dynamics that many people see, one that's focused a lot on humiliation, punishment, bondage and leather, and while none of these things are inherently a problem, it can be tough to picture or create a different d/s dynamic and one that feels good to you and a partner if you don't personally find those themes compelling and you've never been exposed to anything else.

It may help to compare this to the ways sex as a whole is often portrayed in mainstream pornography. If someone were to learn about sex only through porn that's easily accessible online, they'd get a pretty narrow view of what sex is, too. They might think there are only a few body types that people find attractive, or struggle to find types of sex they enjoy represented on the screen and conclude that other people don't like those kinds of sex, either. But that doesn't mean that these folks wouldn't enjoy sex if they were able to craft a sexual relationship on their own terms, based on what was mutually enjoyable for them and their partner.

In fact, we can say this about the ways a lot of things are depicted in mainstream media of all kinds: another example I've heard a lot is the large number of trans people I know who genuinely didn't know being trans was even a possibility because they grew up before trans identities were depicted in most media at all, and certainly well before trans people were ever shown in a positive light. When you aren't seeing some part of your identity represented in media or in your community, it can be hard to know if it even exists or not, so I can understand why the lack of d/s content you connect with has made me wonder if the kind of relationship dynamic you want is possible for you at all.

But the good news here is that pornography isn't -- and also isn't designed to be -- a comprehensive representation of the wide variety of human sexual desires and experiences.

What people enjoy and who they enjoy doing it with outside of sexual media is a vast and varied spectrum.

I feel confident saying there are plenty of submissive men out there who would be fine with, or even enthusiastic about, a dominant partner. Many of them will be interested in a d/s dynamic that doesn't involve calling their partner "mistress" or expecting her to get dressed up in latex dominatrix gear. It's also true that there are plenty of people who don't have really strong feelings about power dynamics in relationships, or who'd be happy to go along with a partner's preference either way. So while you may find yourself in relationships with men who actively identify as submissive, you may also find that guys who are just pretty easygoing or open to a lot of things are good fits for you as well.

What's important to keep in mind is that any relationship dynamic, whether it involves a d/s component or not, is something that the people involved craft together and can shape however they want. It may be helpful if you can pin down what exactly sounds good to you, when you picture having a submissive male partner, before you begin actively seeking partners out.

Is this a dynamic you'd be interested in primarily in a sexual context, or would you like it to carry over to the rest of a relationship? Do you picture focusing only on certain kinds of sex? Do you want to feel like you're "leading" the sexual activities, with a partner's role to be a more responsive one? Do you want a partner who's very focused on pleasing you? There aren't right or wrong answers here, but I think it's important to take some time to figure out what all this means to you, regardless of what you've seen depicted in sexual media. Even if you aren't entirely sure yet, having some idea of things you might want, or that you know for sure you don't, will be helpful.

I want to make a quick note, while we're talking about what you think you'd prefer in a sexual dynamic, that it might be helpful to check in with, and potentially reframe, how you think and talk about your desire to be "the one in control" during sex. Everyone involved in sex needs to feel like they have control over the situation; even when partners have negotiated dominant and submissive roles, a submissive partner needs to feel secure in the knowledge that they could pause the activity or stop it altogether if they no longer feel comfortable with what's happening. I'm interpreting your statement to mean that you'd like to be a dominant partner, which is certainly fine, but I do encourage you to think of that framework is one where your submissive counterpart would still have a measure of control over the situation and their complete and constant consent would be essential just like it should be with other ways of being sexual together.

Once you have some sense of what you want in particular, I think that'll make it easier to find guys who you're compatible with. You could be upfront with it, putting information on a dating profile or saying on an early date something like "I'm really only interested in guys who are submissive; the important aspects of that to me are [one or two key attributes you'd like a guy you date to have]," or you could bring it up when and if you start talking about sexual intimacy with someone.

I certainly think it's best if you don't try to fit yourself into a certain kind of dominant role if it isn't one you feel drawn to! It's possible that you'll run across guys who have been mostly exposed to the type of BDSM content you've found yourself pretty turned off by, and that you'll have to discuss what aspects you are and aren't up for, but hopefully even if there is a bit of a mismatch in expectations with anyone, you'll be able to talk it through and find where your desires and interests overlap.

And really, any time people are interested in exploring power dynamics together, it's a good idea to have a conversation about exactly what their expectations, desires, and limits are; it's something you'll want to do in detail even if you seem to be a very good match with someone!

I've included a few links below for further reading; you may find them helpful as you think about what kind of relationship you might like and how to distinguish the messages you get from sexual media from your own desires. Best of luck!

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