Submission and Shyness

I want to share a brief commentary on something that’s been bugging me lately in writing about D/s relationships geared towards submissives.  I keep seeing a submissive empowerment message, which on its own is great, but I’ve also noticed a kind of hostility towards submissives who are naturally shy.  A few different people have said some variation on a theme of “go after what you want, because if you don’t, you’re boring and no one will ever want to scene with you.”

Now, I realize that dominants are not mind readers, and that it is important to have some comfort with approaching someone you’re interested in if you want to hook up in a D/s space.  Submissives shouldn’t expect to stand shyly in a corner and have a dominant immediately approach and proposition them.  But it’s also insulting to put down shy personalities.  It’s not unreasonable for someone who identifies as submissive to prefer to be the one reacting when it comes to flirting.  Many submissives may be more comfortable accepting an invitation than making one.  And frankly, that can lead to a more rewarding submissive sexuality.

Let’s say a submissive person runs up to you and says “hey, I’m interested, let’s go, here’s what I want to do, right now, come on.”  If that approach attracts you, you may very well be uncomfortable taking the lead.  If that’s true, then submitting to you might be be difficult, scary, and possibly unrewarding.  It would seem to make more sense, then, for a shy submissive to wait for someone more compatible than risk that kind of thing happening.

This post was originally published on the blog Sex Positive Activism, which has now merged to become the sex & relationships section of Queer & Now.

One comment

  1. Shyness is understandable, but being submissive should not equate to being unable or unwilling to communicate sexual preferences, desires and limits, which is something that does happen. For a dominant, this is an uncomfortable situation. Some people who are interested in being submissive seem to have absorbed some pretty harmful social programming about what that means. To me, as the dominant partner, it feels like I am being perceived and fetishized as a predator.

    Shyness is part of who many people are, naturally, and that’s fine, but even shy people can be great communicators and courageously express desires and limits in their own unique style. The “approach” method of a submissive may not be the way you describe (“hey, I’m interested, let’s go”) but it can be just as clear while still being sexy.

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