On Communication, the BDSM Lifestyle, and People Who Don’t Read

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Permit me, for a moment, to rant about people who only half read words on a page, about people who refuse to believe that there’s a way to live the BDSM lifestyle other than their own, and about people who think that they are the end-all, know-all, be-all of D/s.

Are you kidding me? Silly me, I wrote a post about how to communicate with a Dominant based on my own perspective, from my own highly successful and satisfying D/s relationship. I even closed that post with, “I know other people do this differently, feel free to share your perspective in the comments below.” And what do you do? You attempt to say I’m not a real submissive. You accuse me of encouraging submissives to “verbally attack” their Dominants. You seem to maintain the position that The Dom™ knows all, sees all, and should have ALL the say in a D/s relationship.

Really? Seriously?

Later, when I (silly me) calmly tell you that you have your right to your way, and we have our right to ours; when I tell you I’m sharing a method that has worked in a successful, almost-three-year relationship; when I say that everyone is entitled, in ANY type of relationship, to communicate with their partner – after I say all of that, you tell me I’m uneducated, don’t understand the psychology of D/s, and have no business giving advice because I know nothing about the lifestyle?

Look, Mr. Domly-Dom-Who-Knows-All-the-Dom-Stuff – you can kiss my submissive ass.

And if that post was on my own website, that’s probably what I would have said. But it wasn’t my space, and I respect the person who allows me a place to share my views on D/s and what it means (to me) to be a submissive.

Let’s go through those “points,” shall we?

BDSM, D/s, and Communication

There is no one right way to do BDSM or simply D/s (with or without the kink). The only common factor is consent. If your submissive consents to you being a raving asshole, good for them.

The Dom™ is not an omniscient being who always knows what his/her submissive always wants without input from them. If you aren’t willing to listen to your submissive, you’re not a Dom. You’re an asshole with a self-appointed title.

Communication had better be an essential part of any BDSM relationship, whether it’s Dominant and submissive or top and bottom. How you communicate is dictated by the rules and protocols you establish. The asshole who thinks his/her submissive isn’t allowed to fully communicate their needs is just as much a poser as the guy throwing out commands the first time they meet someone.

How you communicate with each other is different than how John Brownstone and I communicate. And that’s okay. Maybe it’s a set day or time of day to hash things out. Maybe it’s a code word (like a safe word) to say, “Stop. I have something to say.” Maybe it’s simply a Dominant asking questions of a submissive. I know several Dominants who have their submissive keep journals for them – a place where they can pour out their hearts. And I have no doubt, it could be any number of methods I’ve never considered. The point is not how you communicate – it’s that you do communicate.

If anyone thinks that neither Dominant nor submissive will change, grow, have different needs over time, they’re naive in a very scary way. People need to be able to express themselves. They need to be able to share their thoughts and feelings. And relationships have to allow room for growth and change. If they don’t, they stagnate and (eventually) die.

Learning about BDSM and D/s

You want to know how you learn about the lifestyle? It’s not about reading and watching porn on the internet.

It’s about living it. It’s about reading (on a DAILY basis) the perspective of other people. It’s about attending the local munches, talking to other people, listening to other perspectives, and being smart enough to put two and two together and make connections about the commonalities the good partnerships share – even when they’re as different as night and day.

I don’t need an anonymous know-it-all Domly Dom™ on the interwebs to sanctify and bless the knowledge I have accumulated over the past few years. Don’t need it, and I sure as hell didn’t ask for it.

I’ve got the backing of a 20-year plus Master in the local lifestyle who leads discussions, organizes munches, owns her own BDSM club, and has been a mentor to countless Dominants and submissives over the years. She’s one of the most respected (by those who get it) and hated (by the assholes who wants to be a Domly-Dom™) in my local area. When that person tells you that you know what you’re talking about, well, screw you Mr. Domly Dom™. That’s the approval I’m after – not yours.

You know what’s weird? I spend a lot of time hesitating over what to write or what to record for the podcast. It’s very difficult to talk about BDSM and D/s when every single relationship is different. If not for the encouragement from people I trust who know more than I do, if not for the feedback I get from submissives who say I’ve helped them, and if not for the confidence I’ve gained in my own D/s relationship, I wouldn’t even write and share as much as I do. Even then, I try to always make it clear that my way isn’t the only way, that you have a lot of freedom in how you arrange your own D/s relationship.

A New (to me) Way: Dynamic Mediator

John Brownstone and I went to our local munch a few days ago, and we were treated to a lively discussion on consent by a couple who’ve been together for 5 years. They’re in a consensual non-consent relationship. Based on their agreement and contract, simply by staying with him, she gives consent for whatever he does.

If that sounds scary to you, don’t be worried. His sadism and her masochism complement each other. She enjoys it, and she stays, and that’s what matters. They were also a very loving couple who looked for reasons to touch one another during the presentation. They were, dare I say it, cute.

What I found most enlightening was the way they handle communication – when something isn’t quite right, when one of them wants a change. He’s the Master, she’s the slave – even though I’m not sure they use that terminology. In terms of common labels, Master/slave is the closest I can find. So their dynamic is not the D/s I’m used to where I have the freedom to speak at will, even though the decision won’t ultimately be mine.

Anyway, they use someone called a dynamic mediator. It’s a person who they both trust that understands their specific lifestyle. When one of them needs to discuss something difficult, outside the confines of their dynamic, this is the person they go to. A mediator.

It’s freaking brilliant. And it makes sense.

I’d often wondered how people in those types of dynamics worked out communication. I know that every couple, Master and slave, Dominant and submissive, Daddy and babygirl, has their own way. The mediator idea was definitely new to me and it made sense.

There’s no question as to the seriousness of the issue. There’s no question about whether the issue, the conversation, or even the need is within their protocol. This unbiased third-party (who knows them both very well and understands their lifestyle) helps them come together for those discussions.


I have more to share from their presentation. Apparently, it’s National Consent Month (I really need to put these things on the calendar!). And his discussion on consent was nuanced and something to think about. We (including myself) throw out the term a lot, but it’s more than simply saying “yes.” Give me time, and let’s see if my blood pressure can come down a bit, lol, and I’ll write about that part of his discussion, too.

And if you’re curious, here’s the post that started the rant and rave.

P.S. My original rant at the top was much more scathing, filled with f-bombs and lots of name-calling. John Brownstone told me to take that part out – which is why I never hit publish when I’m really angry. And why I look to my Daddy for support and guidance.

About the author

Kayla Lords

I am a sex blogger, podcaster, freelance writer, international speaker, kink educator, and all-around kinky woman. You can find me online sharing my innermost sexual thoughts and experiences, teaching other bloggers how to make money writing about sex, and helping kinksters have happy healthy BDSM relationships. I'm also a masochistic babygirl submissive with an amazing and sadistic Daddy Dom and business partner, John Brownstone. Welcome to my kinky corner of the internet!


  • I’m always suspicious of people who think that “their way” is the only way to live life. It discounts our individuality as people and the uniqueness of each person and his or her situation, not to mention the complexities that evolve when you start talking about relationships.

    I remember, in graduate school (clinical psychology), when the message really hit home that the job of a therapist/counselor was NOT to give advice, but to help clients/patients find their own answers. That’s how life works. It’s not our job to tell other people how to live, but to share our thoughts, what has worked for us. When someone is more interested in pushing their agenda down other people’s throats – it’s time to step back and look at their motivation.

    Keep doing what you’re doing and standing up for what you believe. 🙂

    • I like it when science and education back me. 🙂 I, who am always so worried about following the rules and doing something right or wrong, absolutely bristle when someone tries to tell me what this life should look like. I try my damnedest not to do that to anyone else.

  • Fantastic post. Thanks for saying these things. There is way too much judgement from a world that wants to be free from judgement itself.

    • I agree. The people who aren’t judgemental are very, very open and accepting. But the people who are judgemental aren’t much different from those who’d take our kids away, fire us from jobs, and think we’re some kind of freaks – all because we don’t do BDSM the way they do. It’s frustrating…and sad.

  • Good post 🙂
    I’m only 9 months into my first BDSM relationship. We don’t live together so it’s not 24/7, sometimes I really wish it was. It is also Sirs first BDSM relatinship. If we had no communication and no talking through our likes, dislikes and things we wanted to try we’d still be at the point of him just tying me up and spanking me. We all grow and change, our relationships should grow and change too. If it wasn’t for blogs like yours offering sensible advice we’d probably be doing the 50 shades BDSM. We do what works for us.
    I really don’t like those who belittle others for not ‘doing it right’, every relationship is different, whatever the type of relationship and if it works for the people in the relationship then nobody has the right to tell them otherwise.

    • Exactly! And I never write with the intent to tell someone else how they should experience BDSM or live their life (please someone tell me if I ever do that!). But I do believe in sharing my experiences so that others can see a different side of how it works – especially so they can discover for themselves what works for their relationship.

      • I’m glad that you do share, I would be so lost without all of the other writers out there who also share their experiences. The good and the bad.
        Thank you.

  • I just left the following at “the submissive guide” in response to this post, miss Kayla…

    Yes, miss Kayla, communication is the keystone to TTWD. Each of your points are very clear and are on the mark. I have only one clarification- I don’t believe the word “negotiation” was utilized by some of the commenters in the correct context. Negotiation, by definition, means that there are two sides seeking to come to terms, and are perhaps troubled or at odds with one another. I’m certain that’s not how it was meant to be delivered. Other definitions include words like understanding, conversing, exchanging ideas- I believe this is how this was meant to be conveyed. Having said this, I beg your indulgence of my briefly defined role as a Dominant to my Mynx, but I’ve actually been a dominant person all of my life, largely unaware of the definition. This radical interpretation of the word “negotiation” as it applies to a D/s relationship is likely just a misunderstanding of the original intent of your solid advice.

    To be clear, a seasoned Dominant looks for the opportunities to have such dialogue with their submissive. If this isn’t present, the submissive isn’t really a submissive but likely a slave. In a Master / slave relationship, the slave really gives over all rights and decision making to the Master and really just asks how she can better serve the master, and is profoundly thankful for being able serve the master. There is no such “exchange of ideas” unless originated by the master. While the is much more than this to an M/s relationship, clearly, your dialogue doesn’t describe yours or the example as an M/s relationship. Instead, it describes a loving, trusting, truthful, honest exchange of needs and desires by both the Dom and the sub. While this dialogue may one day lead the two down a road toward or into an M/s role, in its present state, it is one of an openly respectful communication, where one relents or defers to the other for the final or conclusive decision or position regarding the conversation. This leadership is part of the trust which the dominant has built with his submissive through careful listening of her needs, both kinky and and otherwise.

    In our 22 years together, Mynx and I have never been more open to one another than since we formalized our D/s relationship, renewing and recommitting our love for one another. Those who are new to this lifestyle should practice what it might mean to submit, perhaps first in the bedroom, then outside of it, then maybe 24/7… but seek to appreciate the other’s needs, what they want and don’t want, and how that might lead to a more fulfilling life together following your points closely.

    Well said, miss Kayla, thank you for sharing this information!

    -Tom Wolf

    • TW, thank you for your very thoughtful comment. After a conversation at our recent munch, I think we use the term “negotiation” for exactly that – an exchange of ideas – instead of the Webster’s definition of the word.

      I saw a video the other day of a slave discussing her relationship with her Master and BDSM relationships in general, and even *she* said (as a slave), if you can’t discuss everything and anything with your partner, RUN. That was powerful – especially since the M/s dynamic isn’t one I know very well.

  • Many people read or listen to things with a preconceived notion of “how it ought to be” instead of reading or listening for content. It’s also common to read or listen only for a chance to respond, so that you get YOURSELF heard, not necessarily “in response” to the other person. If what you read or hear is threatening to your way of thinking and you cannot engage in a discussion of ideas then you resort to attacking the person, and THAT, my friends is the hallmark of a small mind. Small minds do not Doms make.

    • You’re completely right. I had to let go of the idea, several years ago, that every reader would get and understand the point I was trying to make – their own perception will always take over, and if the point of taking in the information is only to give your own opinion, then it’s lost even more.

      Ironically, on the very next post published on the site, the response was immediate, varied, and in contrast to my own opinion, and yet not one person went on the attack. Strange how these things work.

  • Bravo Mr Wolf, so well said Sir. I myself read the other post on Submissives Guide too, and was so angry at the ‘dom’s’ comments to Kayla, that I was just itching to let go at him. However, I recognised that doing so while emotionally charged was the wrong thing to do, so I have waited a few days to gather my thoughts. Since you have now addressed the issue so eloquently, I see no need to address it myself, and don’t feel it’s appropriate as a submissive to address him directly. As such I am happy to let your words stand and hope that he reads them and respects them. My own Dom has had over 37 years experience and has written a book about BDSM for everyone interested in the lifestyle from the vanilla world, to new people and the more experienced in the lifestyle, and has deliberately all the very different variations in conducting relationship dynamics within it. Ultimately, it always comes down to the individual Dom and sub and what works for them. It appears quite clear to me that the commenter in question, believes only in his own ‘one twue way’ and would not be persuaded otherwise, as shown by his verbal attack on Kayla. Thank you again for stepping in and explaining as you did.

    • TW is pretty darn awesome, isn’t he? I think the reasons so many people flock to BDSM is because it’s unique to each of us. I’m still not used to being verbally attacked, but at least I can be confident that there are plenty of people like you and TW who understand there’s a difference between debating the issue and attacking someone simply for having a differing opinion. Thank you. 🙂

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