1. Understanding Consent and Safety as a Dominatrix

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    Never assume consent. Consent must be freely given. A person who is intoxicated or unconscious cannot consent. It’s best to check in from time to time to make sure. Of course, with BDSM it can be trickier to ensure consent, which is why it is important to set boundaries beforehand.[1]

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    Set boundaries before playing the dominatrix. Talk to your partner about what’s off-limits, and what could be off-limits, depending on a number of factors, including pain, pressure, and psychological discomfort.[2] [3] Using a “want/will/won’t” list can be helpful in determining how you and your sub’s desires align. A “want/will/won’t” list basically lists what you want, what you will do if asked, and what you won’t do.[4]

    • Creating a “contract” can be a fun way to list wants, wills and won’ts. Though aren’t legally enforceable, they can begin a scene with the sub and set limits and boundaries within the fantasy itself.[5]

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    Keep the lines of communication open throughout the experience. It is important to watch the body language of your partner. While it is often common in BDSM to play the role of ‘victim,’ you can usually tell the difference between BDSM play and a withdrawal of consent, especially if they are gagged. Look in their eyes, check to see if their body stiffens, or if they turn away. This is a sign they might not be enjoying the play. If any of this will be part of your play, establish this beforehand.[6]

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    Determine a safe-word/gesture and a caution-word/gesture. To ensure consent throughout the play, determine both a safe-word and a safe-gesture, as well as a caution-word and a caution-gesture. The caution word/gesture will indicate that they are not sure or something might be wrong, whereas the safe-word would indicate a definite withdrawal of consent. Here are some tips for safe-words and caution-words.[7]

    • Examples of safe-words and caution-words can be “stop” and “slow,” or “red” and “yellow.”
    • The gesture will depend on a number of things, including what body parts they can move, whether you can see their face, among other things. However, simple safe- and caution-gestures include blinking and nodding or shaking one’s head.

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    Always have safety shears at arm’s reach. Sometimes ropes become knotted or move to more dangerous places during play. This is why it is essential to have safety shears on hand if you are using rope play. Even if you never end up using them, they should help your partner relax and be in the moment, rather than worrying about possible asphyxiation.[8]

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    Keep water on hand. As with any strenuous exercise, staying hydrated is important. This is especially important if you or the sub is wearing heavy clothing or accessories (like leather).Water can also become part of the play, as you can tease your partner with the water before relinquishing the control of the water.[9]

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    Take a class. Taking a class is a great way to familiarize yourself with all the intricacies of being a dominatrix. Because so many BDSM toys have the potential to do actual harm, taking a class on rope safety or being a dominatrix can help delineate safe practices when in the dungeon. Check to see if you local sex-shop offers a course. Just make sure it’s sex-positive and emphasizes safety and consent.[10]

Manipulating Bodily Sensations

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    Choose an impact toy. An impact toy is used to hit the body, usually the buttocks, in BDSM play. Impact toys can include whips, canes, and paddles. The type will depend on your partner’s comfort level. There’s a whole range of products in this line from the traditional Indiana Jones-style whip to soft paddles.[11]

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    Consider using a tickling implement. While people may not immediately consider tickling to be aligned with BDSM play, a tickler can be used similarly to a paddle, but imparting ticklish discomfort rather than direct pain. It can also be used to tease your partner when you slide it across erogenous zones like the neck or nipples.

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    Use pinchers or nipple clamps. Pinchers can be used to impart pain or pressure on the skin. Typically they are used on the nipples. For beginners, it’s best to set a ten-minute limit, as they cut off circulation to the nipple.

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    Use anal plugs and dildos. Plugs and dildos are great for all kinds of sexual play, but can be especially fun in BDSM play. When buying a dildo or plug make sure they are non-toxic, and that you have lube that is safe to use with them. You can use water-based lube with all toys and condoms. Oil based lubes are no good if you’re using condoms or if your using any latex, rubber or PVC toys. Silicone lube can’t be used with silicone toys.[12]

    • Vibrating dildos or plugs can add extra energy to your Dominatrix play.

Using Bondage

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    Choose a rope that is right for you. There are a broad range of color and materials available for bondage play. From nylon to silk, you can have varying levels of comfort, security, etc., with the varying types of rope. If you are unsure what type you want or need, talk to your local sex-shop.[13]

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    Play safely with rope. Rope can be a dangerous tool in BDSM, as it can, if used improperly, cause nerve damage, asphyxiation, or even death. For instance, never press the rope against the front of your partner’s throat. Some things to consider when using rope play:[14]

    • When someone is bound, you should never leave them by themselves.
    • Avoid positions that make breathing difficult.
    • Make sure the ropes are comfortable and allow for circulation. There should be at least a finger’s-width of room between the rope and your partner’s skin.

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    Add cuffs to the play. There are cuffs for the wrists, legs, and even genitalia. They are a quicker way of restraining your partner than rope and can be safer depending on the type. They come in a lot of varieties from soft-velcro to locking metal handcuffs. Again, check with your partner to determine what type to use.[15]

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    Choose a gag that fits your partner. There are a few different types of gags out there, and you should talk to your partner about the best fit for them. A ball gag can create an intense sense of vulnerability as it can impede breathing somewhat and stretches the jaw in a way the body isn’t used to. A bit gag is friendlier on the jaw and breathing. With any gag you choose, you should establish a safe-gesture or signal, so your partner can let you know they feel unsafe.

    • Don’t keep the gag on for longer than twenty minutes, especially if someone is new to gag play.

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    Use a leash. A leash can be fun for the sense of control it offers to the dominatrix and the sense of being controlled it gives to the sub. In order to use a leash safely, don’t pull on it sharply. Make sure the collar is fitted properly, leaving two fingers’ width of room between the collar and the skin.[16]

Setting the Tone

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    Choose a theme. Whether you’re imagining the eighteenth-century aristocratic sex dungeons of the Marquis de Sade or a futuristic sex lair, a theme can enliven the fantasy. While you may not want to change your entire bedroom for the theme, you can have props that help create the sense of fantasy you’re envisioning.[17]

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    Wear clothing that shapes your dominatrix identity. This can include leather or brocade, a mask, a cloak, or really any thing that adds a sense of power or mystery to your play. You can work your outfit into your theme for the room or fantasy. You can choose an eighteenth-century vampire look or a steampunk goth look. It all depends on your fantasy and your identity as a dom.[18]

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    Choose clothing for your sub. This can be part of the play, or you can decide together what your sub will wear during play. This can include hoods, straight jackets, and even chastity belts. Just make sure your sub is comfortable with the clothing and accessories before embarking on dominatrix play.[19]

    • Try a blindfold. Keeping your partner in suspense is a tool you can use as a dominatrix. They will not see what is coming next. You can choose a soft silk blindfold or a leather one depending on your style. There are plenty of options available.

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    Add furniture to your dungeon. Sex furniture or particularly BDSM furniture can add an element of intrigue to your power plays as a dominatrix. From sex swings to cages, there all kinds of furniture for you to use in your dungeon or bedroom. You can use the furniture to tweak or enhance your theme.[20]

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    Choose music for your fantasy. Whether Bach’s creepy Toccata in D Minor or something from Mozart the Rock Opera suits your fancy, you can add a layer of sensuality, power, or creepiness through the use of music. Music can enhance emotions and sensuality as you enact your fantasy. Avoid music that distracts, though.[21]

Playing the Dominatrix

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    Tell your partner when they can and cannot speak. This can be used in addition to or instead of gagging. Besides giving them permission to speak after they have had to be silent can be a way to evoke pleasure on both sides.[22]

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    Tell them what to say. When you tell them what to say, you can do it in character (if you’re acting out a fantasy), or even use words you’ve previously discussed. Either way the control can be helpful in building intensity. For instance, you can say, “Tell me I’m your queen” or “Tell me exactly what you want.”

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    Tell your partner what to do. This is often seen as traditional in a domme/sub relationship, but it can be definitely add to the power dynamic. Telling your partner to kiss you or touch you can create new understandings of both your sexualities. For instance, you can say, “Kiss me on the lips.” Just make sure you’re not asking them to do something you know they wouldn’t be comfortable with. If they use the safe word, stop the action or relinquish your request. That doesn’t mean all play has to stop, just that you need to change tactics. Try offering up an alternative to your partner instead. You can say, “If you don’t want to kiss me on my lips, will you offer up a kiss on the cheek as an alternative?”[23]

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    Construct roles in a fantasy. Role play can be a creative and fun way to increase the tension of a scene. For instance you can play any role that has a power dynamic, such as queen and subject, boss and assistant, or anything else you can think of. Adding costumes can make the fantasy more real for you and your partner.

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    Implement punishments as part of the play. Sometimes, dominatrix will institute punishments for infractions on the part of the sub. These should be discussed thoroughly before a session, especially if you’re new to BDSM. Ideally the punishments should really be fun for the sub. For instance you could use any of the impact toys as a way to punish your sub, or you can implement silence or an apology. In any case, it should not go beyond the sub’s comfort zone.[24]


Expert Q&A

Ask a Question


  • Get to know people who already enjoy this type of lifestyle. Even a dominatrix needs a mentor. Ask someone you are comfortable with to help you navigate the scene and adopt the safest, healthiest practices.

  • Always do some research and take extra precautions when doing anything potentially dangerous such as suspension, bondage or gagging. One wrong move and your partner can wind up with some awful injuries! Talk to a professional first.hh