When most people think of a BDSM relationship, they usually only think of the Dominant and submissive roles (typically a guy and a girl). The truth is, there are many shades of gray on the kink spectrum. Many people (even vanilla ones) enjoy being what’s called a “switch,” and switching from Dom or sub can be a lot of fun. But what exactly is the definition and meaning of a switch, and how do you do it right? Keep reading to find out.
The definition and meaning of switch in BDSM
The definition of a switch is someone who enjoys engaging in both Dominant and submissive roles, or both topping and bottoming. But what does that mean exactly? Well, the answer is: it depends on each individual dynamic. Here are some aspects about switching:
- Switching doesn’t always involve a sexual relationship
- You may be a Dom with one partner, but a sub with another
- You may enjoy switching, but prefer a specific role.
- Some couples switch as a way of taking turns
- As your life changes, you may switch to fulfill an emotional need
Some or all of these points may apply to you. That doesn’t mean you have to label yourself a switch (unless you want to). Choose the BDSM identity that makes you feel the most comfortable.
Can only a girl switch or can a guy switch too?
The porn industry has perpetuated the idea of one girl topping another girl, while the guy enjoys the show. Many Doms have this fantasy, but society doesn’t accept it as easily when the roles are reversed. A guy who is a switch, even if their partner is a girl, may be seen as weak or unmanly.
However, gender doesn’t have to have a deeper meaning, or play a factor at all when someone decides to switch in BDSM or vanilla dynamics. It simply involves domination and submission, and both can be enjoyed whether you’re a girl or a guy.
You can switch even if you’re in a vanilla relationship
Switching isn’t just for those in the kink community. A lot of vanilla couples switch roles in the bedroom either part-time or full-time. It’s a great way to keep the relationship new and exciting. Letting your vanilla partner be the more dominant one can help you see what they like and are into.
Taking turns in a vanilla relationship also lets both of you have all your needs fulfilled. If you’re nervous about bringing up the idea of switching with your partner, you can say something like, “I think it’d be really hot if you took control tonight (or, if I took control tonight).” Just be sure to start slow, and have fun with it!
Switching can help you test out the Dom/sub roles
You may be in a Dom/sub relationship, but that doesn’t mean it has to be that way all of the time. Switching can be a way to see what the other side has to offer, and who knows, you may like it more than you think.
I believe switching, even lightly, can help both BDSM partners appreciate each other more. It’s like when a parent and child switch roles for the day.
I think switching can also be a way to see if there are any aspects of the other side you like, and want to test out and explore in scenes and play sessions.
How to know if you’re a switch
Since most people aren’t perfectly, 100% a Dom or sub, many people wonder if they could be a switch. After all, a switch doesn’t have to be an even 50:50 split between each role. So how do you know if you’re a switch? Here’s 8 clues:
- You really enjoy or encourage topping from the bottom
- You enjoy both giving and receiving pain
- You’re more dominant outside the bedroom, but submissive in the bedroom, or vice versa
- Your relationship tends to work better when there’s topping from the bottom
- If you’re a sub, you’ve been told by others that you’d make a good Dom
- If you’re a Dom, you’ve been told by others that you’d make a good sub
- You like or encourage bratty behavior
- You’ve been in a different role in the past and enjoyed it
IMPORTANT: Just because one or more of the above applies to you, doesn’t have to mean that you’re a switch. How you choose to identify yourself in the BDSM lifestyle is completely up to you.
BDSM and kink ideas for the Dominant or submissive switch
There are lots of different ways to enjoy switching and bring more kink to your relationship. To get started, try sharing your fantasies with your partner in a light, and non-judgmental conversation.
When you’re ready to take the next step, either the Dominant or submissive can just say, “I’d like to try something a little different tonight, how about…”. If you need some inspiration, here are some ideas:
- Trying a different position during sex where the sub is on top and in control
- If the submissive is a girl, having her use a strap-on
- The Dom can let the sub try out flogging, paddling, or another punishment tool
- Instead of giving commands, say please and ask for permission, or vice versa
- Allow topping from the bottom, with the sub doing it more on purpose
- The sub can control the Dom’s orgasm by stopping the stimulation and taking a break
- The Dom can have to “earn” to be with the sub
- The sub can be more bossy and authoritative when they are receiving oral sex
Overcoming common obstacles with being a switch
Unlike the more traditional Dominant and submissive roles, switches tend to have unique challenges. Here are just a few and what you can do to overcome them:
Does a switch have to be with a switch?
No. What makes a relationship work isn’t each partner’s role or what their preferences are. The real definition of a successful dynamic is one that’s based on communication, negotiation, and balancing each other’s wants and needs.
What do you do when your partner won’t switch for you?
First of all, you should never expect or force a person to switch for you (or be into kink and not be vanilla). There are ways to encourage your partner to be more Dominant, submissive, or kinky, and I cover in detail how to do that here. But if you take the right steps and be patient, it will become easier for them to do so.
How do you decide who’s turn it is?
There are so many ways! I think letting it happen organically is best, as the mood hits you. Usually long-term dynamics will find a good “rhythm”, or at least you can pick up on each other’s desires over time. But you can also alternate days, or have set roles for specific situations (for instance one person is always the rigger in rope play).
Another fun way is to make getting to choose a certain role a reward for good behavior, even creating something like a contest. Experiment, have fun, and find what works for you!
How can you make it work 24/7?
The first step to making it work 24/7 is the same for all dynamics: Don’t rush into it without fully knowing and trusting your partner. Also be cognizant of your partner’s needs and wants, picking up on when you should switch roles for them, not just for you.
One thing that works for a lot of couples is having set areas in your life where you don’t switch, like finances or in parenting. But really, any area that you agree upon in advance can work as long as you communicate openly about what you both need and want.
What is the best way to switch during a scene?
Again, I usually say that the best way is to let it happen naturally. When the desire hits you to be more Dominant, submissive, sadistic, or masochistic, just go with it (as long as it’s been agreed upon in your contract or negations). You can also have set situations where you switch, or alternate whole scenes.
Important safety note: If you do switch, make sure safewords are revisited. If you’re not used to saying them or responding to them, then it’s good to practice. Also make sure to go over limits, which may be different in your new role.
Whether you’re a Dom or sub, guy or girl, vanilla or into kink, switching can be a lot of fun. And remember, it doesn’t have to always be sexual. It can bring more fulfillment in your life, and more meaning to a relationship. You may find that in BDSM, “switch” is the best fit for you. 🖤