Things I Do To Feel Submissive Even Though My Partner Isn’t Super Dominant

I want to lie back and take instruction. I want my partner to nudge me toward their pleasure. Hearing and knowing my partner is happy makes me happy. It even extends to my day-to-day behaviors and life. Some people have a submissive streak. But me? I am the submissive streak.

But my girlfriend isn’t dominant.

Growing into unexpected changes

Okay, so that opening may have read like kinky short-form horror. Which, now that I think about it, should be a thing. However, it’s not a horror story. It’s just an ordinary day in my intensely loving five-year relationship with my girlfriend, Lucy. We’re what I call a same-role or same sexual modality relationship. We both have sexual leanings that would typically be served by someone with the opposite leaning. In our case, we’re submissive. Typically, we’d seek out a dominant counterpart.

But, life doesn’t always go that way. Our relationship began heteronormatively. We were a heterosexual couple. My sex drive was spontaneous, and hers was responsive. I took the lead in our sex life. Despite good appearances, wearing some guy’s skin grew more tiresome with each passing day. I transitioned in 2020, and we kept the relationship. Even so, transitions mean change. I shed the assertive mask I’d worn my whole life and became a softer person.

Same-role relationships are not impossible

This left Lucy and I in an unusual position. My interest in initiating sex became one of the only casualties of transition. We spent long nights talking about the changing nature of our relationship. Our support for each other was unfaltering: It was always us vs. a problem and never me vs. you. We just needed common ground to work from.

The first sign came from her end when Lucy noticed she didn’t mind a downswing in sex. Her sex drive is responsive and goes into comfortable hibernation if nobody initiates. My sex drive had done something similar. The common ground we found was that neither of us saw the act of sex as a prerequisite for happiness. What we needed was a space to be intimate and express ourselves sexually. Sex with each other was a vehicle for that.

That was the breakthrough that saved our sex life. We didn’t need to have sex very often. We just needed to know that our sexuality and desires were respected. For her part, she started using her open relationship privileges to meet her needs. Getting a man to fuck my girlfriend is man’s work, and these sapphics aren’t afraid to outsource.

Being submissive without a dominant partner

For Lucy, the occasional night away with another partner or a threesome can satisfy her appetite. My desires work differently. I want to feel submissive on a regular basis — sex optional. The usual suggestion here would be to find someone dominant to complement you! Not a bad idea, but consider this: I’m a skittish, neurodivergent thing who is slow to trust and even slower to text.

My solution? Be a strong, independent submissive who is her own domme.

This is how I do it.

1. I don’t walk ahead of her.

I always walk a step behind Lucy or alongside her. I try not to ‘lead’. This maintains my comfortable following mindset and keeps my person in sight at all times. The main con is that I can be super useless about directions.

2. I collared myself.

Collaring is a big deal in BDSM. It represents willfully given authority over someone’s body. It’s a visible reminder of a relationship’s kinky values and achievements. It’s comforting. All of those values (and more!) fit me perfectly. Rather than subjecting my non-dominant girlfriend to the uncomfortable act of collaring me, I did it for myself. My collar is my love letter to me about my responsibilities of self-care and growth. It’s also very comfy. This is where ‘being my own domme’ got literal.

3. I do the little things.

I do things for her at every opportunity. I give her post-gym back massages with a home-mixed oil. I serve her meals first (partly because I can’t take hot food). I run her errands. I do anything in my power to make her life a bit easier.

4. She can touch as she pleases.

I want to make my body available to my partners. I don’t give access to it lightly, but Lucy has more than earned the right. She’s fully aware of the fact that she can touch me anywhere, anytime. This may conjure up images of a raunchy anything-goes fantasy, but remember that we’re both pretty chill people. The benign reality mostly involves boob-grabs and a butt touch as I walk past. It works just fine to make me feel desired.

Making space in a relationship

Relationships are about making reasonable compromises. I completely understand if a person needs sex to feel fulfilled. However, there’s room for ‘incompatibilities’ if we find mutually supportive ways to manage them. No person could fit my every need perfectly. That would be a hyper-dependent robot, not a complete and complex person. People come with hits and misses and, in the face of a survivable miss, I’ve made space for my desires within our loving relationship. Our relationship doesn’t have to end because our sexual interests don’t align.

You know what would end it? If one of us became a morning person.

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Summer Tao

Summer Tao is a South Africa based writer. She has a fondness for queer relationships, sexuality and news. Her love for plush cats, and video games is only exceeded by the joy of being her bright, transgender self

Summer has written 39 articles for us.


  1. Wow, as a trans woman who is *also* in a relationship that started before my transition, and whose partner isn’t dominant (although, in her case, it’s more that she’s asexual than submissive), this is really good advice.

  2. I found this fascinating to read because I have a similar/related challenge with some key differences that have led to quite different coping mechanisms.

    Basically I am very much a sub & bottom; my partner is largely uninterested in dom/sub dynamics, but is on the toppy side–maybe would fit the description of “service top”, but mostly avoids labels. For me my sub-ness is pretty specific to sexual contexts, so many of the ideas listed here don’t necessarily apply. The compromise for us tends to be partly about balancing different desires/styles at different times and partly about mindset and interpretation in the moment–we can each think about the same interaction in different ways that are hot for us. Which sometimes is easier said than done, but often works out really well.

    Overall, though, the differences mostly highlight the importance of the general strategy you describe here: thinking/talking about each person’s needs, desires, and boundaries and then problem solving to try to fit within the overlaps.

    Thank you for writing and sharing the article!

    • Thanks so much for your thoughts – it’s always been interesting to me how relationships are mostly an exercise in measured and persistent communication and compromise. I’m glad you’re able to balance out different ways of loving.

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