View From The Top: Don’t Come Until I Say You Can

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Picture a submissive tied to the bed, wrists and ankles bound, spread-eagle and blindfolded. Their dominant holds a Magic Wand over their cunt, perhaps inserts something into one or more of their holes. Working them up. Faster, faster.

“Can I come?”

“No.” The dominant slows the toys down, moves the vibrator away, softens their touch. They kiss the submissive. After a moment, the dominant puts the vibrator back directly on the submissive’s clit and starts to build the rhythm again.

Whimpering, whining; restraint. Then, again: “Can I come now?”

“No.” Slowing down again. Repeat.

“Please. Please may I come? Please let me, oh god, I have to, you’re going to make me, please—”

“Don’t you dare. You know you’re not allowed. Don’t be so dirty and greedy. I can tell you want it. Look how wet you are.”

“Please, please!” Begging now. “I’m so close!”

The dominant waits a little longer. And just a little longer than that. And then: “Okay. Now. Come now. For me. Because I say.” They talk as the submissive comes. “Good, that’s how I like it, that’s what I wanted.” The submissive is a puddle and the dominant soothes and caresses and grins.

I love orgasm control; it’s one of my core kinks, something that thrills me every time. It’s so sexy, so erotic, so intimate, and such an exercise in immediate control. I’ve played with it in dirty talk for years, and it’s a window into my tendencies to possess and own.

The more I play with dominance, the more I want to dominate. Like the “relationship escalator,” where dating leads to a formal relationship leads to moving in together, on and unquestionably, I unconsciously pursued a “D/s escalator,” where topping and bottoming lead to dominance and submission play lead to D/s outside of the bedroom lead to 24/7 power exchange. In conscious D/s dynamics, folks navigate the exchange of various areas of power. On a spectrum with “total control over everything” at one end and “control over sex scenes, while they happen, only” at the other, most dynamics fall somewhere in the middle — negotiating some areas of control, but not every area of control. For example, a dominant might determine how a submissive dresses or eats, but not where she works or who she befriends. On my unconscious escalator, I expected to gain more control over my submissive partner’s life the longer we stayed together.

The problem with wanting more, though, is that as a dominant my requests are often loaded with our power differentials, and that power is never not in play. In one particular relationship, I would ask for something more, and they would give it, and I would ask for something else, and they would give it… but they slowly began to resent me under the surface. Our relationship inevitably blew up. Sorting out the rubble, I was scared: I didn’t want to make demands that would lead to resentment again. I wanted to play with being demanding and controlling and forceful, but in a way that built closeness and connection rather than mistrust and unease. How would that even be possible? Would I ever have it?

With time, I began to think about it differently: in order for someone to fully give me the gift of their submission, I have to create a space to receive that gift, a space for it to thrive, so my control can thrive as well. It takes time to consciously build that trust and that space.

In my current D/s partnership, we started with orgasm control. Some of the first dirty sexting we exchanged was around tease and denial. “I especially like it when you notice that I’m getting all turned on, and you call me on it, but you don’t let me have what I want,” he told me. This game became a staple: “Oh look how wet you are. You like this so much, don’t you, boy. You want my dick in there? I don’t think so. You probably can’t handle it. Well, maybe just a little. No, I don’t think so. Look how much you want it. You’re going to have to earn it.”

I started to make rules about how he was absolutely not allowed to come. I’d still fuck him madly for a few days in a row, sometimes allowing him one orgasm a day, sometimes none. He’d be “punished” for coming when he wasn’t allowed to, but it wasn’t ever serious — it was more like “funishment,” something he actually liked.

I’d deny him and deny him and deny him, only to “force” him to come on command. Because he’s multiply orgasmic and capable of following directions really well, he quickly learned to control his own body in response to my demands. I learned how to work him up (and then back down, and then back up, and then back down) to keep him in a state of readiness while we played.

Eventually, he asked me to control his orgasms outside of our scenes, too. I started to control his masturbation. The rules have varied over the years we’ve been together, and sometimes he’s had to ask for permission to start, or he’s had to ask for permission to come, or he could only come x times per week, or he was required to come x times per week. All those masturbatory games have been great fun for me, and getting texts like, “Sir, may I please masturbate with a butt plug in?” at work is always a highlight of my day.

Tease and denial is a classic flirtation. Orgasm control is just one step further. It started almost as a game, mostly in the bedroom, and then as I worked to build trust and create a space in which he could feel safe giving more, it extended out of the bedroom and beyond our scenes. We reached a place where I am totally in charge of what happens with his genitals: how often he masturbates, when he comes, what he’s allowed to insert into which holes, how he keeps his pubic hair, who he plays with — everything. And we began to take D/s out of the bedroom, and into everyday life.

Once I started exploring 24/7 D/s, I got to a whole new playing field, along with thousands of new options for play, control, demand, pleasure, and, inevitably, making massive mistakes.

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Sinclair Sexsmith

Sinclair Sexsmith (they/them) is “the best-known butch erotica writer whose kinky, groundbreaking stories have turned on countless queer women” (AfterEllen), who “is in all the books, wins all the awards, speaks at all the panels and readings, knows all the stuff, and writes for all the places” (Autostraddle). ​Their short story collection, Sweet & Rough: Queer Kink Erotica, was a 2016 finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Sinclair identifies as a white non-binary butch dominant, a survivor and an introvert. Follow their writings at Sugarbutch Chronicles.

Sinclair has written 43 articles for us.


  1. Oh god there are so many things I want to say about this.

    Okay here are a few of them

    (1) Orgasm control is one of my biggest turn-on and I should have NEVER read this at work. Damn.

    (2) Since I’m at work… i’m in academia and deal with the concept of power quite a lot. Something really resonated at this part :

    The problem with wanting more, though, is that as a dominant my requests are often loaded with our power differentials, and that power is never not in play.

    So the way we look at power in my academic circle is a bit different and less binary. Foucault talks about power as something that’s relational (it’s not intrinsic to one person or other) which I think is something people in BDSM can relate to. He also says that “power is neither given, nor exchanged, nor recovered, but rather exercised, and it only exists in action” (Foucault, 1980:89), which I think is also an interesting way to think about power in BDSM, because we usually talk about the power that Doms have, and the power that subs give (but also the one they have as being able to give a safeword and stop a scene), etc. But if you think about power as only existing in action, then every discussion that you have, everything you do or don’t do redefines and shifts the structure constantly because the actions change.

    I think that’s useful to think about how a D/s relationship can evolve, because it makes you stop thinking about power as something that the Dom HAS and more as something that moves through the people in the relationship, but also the codes used to define it, the symbols, etc.

    So I think in the end it becomes more useful (for me at least) to think of it in terms of control more so than power. I tell my students that Foucault’s view of power is kind of like the “force” in Star Wars: it’s everywhere and anywhere and it’s neither good nor bad. In BDSM, it expresses itself as control. Control over someone, and control over ourselves.

    (sorry that was my nerdy brain needing to think out loud. Here’s the Foucault reference: Foucault, M. (1980). Power/knowledge: Selected interviews and other writings, 1972-1977. Pantheon. Foucault was awesome and also spent some time in the leather scene in San Francisco).

    • omg yes. This view on power is something I’ve tried so hard to get people to realize (in the academic & activist setting), but so few seem willing to get it. I’d never thought about applying it to D/s before, but, of course, it makes complete sense. Definitely something to, er, explore in greater depth ;)

  2. I swear, every time I read one of these articles (without fail) I beg my Dom to take me to bed. Thanks for inciting an awesome afternoon for me. XD

  3. Wow, the effect the title had on me at work I better wait till I get home to read the rest

  4. Love it, as always! What really made me think is the D/s-elevator. Now, that I finally jumped off my inner relationship escalator, so that the relationships can exactly be what we want it to be, I start thinking again: am I doing the same thing with BDSM? Are my partners, unknowingly, on the bdsm-escalator? How can we become aware of what we really want and need in regards of bdsm and what we “want” just because “that’s what should be done”… Wow, big thinking ahead!

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