Figuring Out What to Do in Your Power Exchange | 30 Days of D/s
In power exchange, there tend to be two sides to what people do. There’s the sexy, kinky fuckery, fun, and then there are the tasks, roles, assignments, rules, protocols, and rituals. Sometimes, those two sides overlap. But sometimes they don’t.
This is especially true for kinksters navigating power exchange outside of the bedroom.
The thinking tends to go, “If we’re not naked, getting kinky, and fucking, what do we do as a Dom or sub?”
And we have a lot of people ask us for a list of tasks they can do or assign in their power exchange. As with all things in kink, though, there’s no standard. It’s all personal, and it needs to fit the people involved.
So no, we’re not giving you a list of things you can do in your D/s that aren’t fuckery-related. But we will give you some things to think about so you can figure it out for yourself.
What Does the Dominant Want or Need?
Are there tasks in your life that you hate doing? Tasks you keep forgetting and never get around to? Things you’d simply love help with? Make a list of them.
From that list, what is your submissive partner willing to do, best suited to do, and/or capable of doing? There are two questions here: Can they do those things? Are they willing to do those things?
Example: To make John Brownstone’s life easier (because he’s grumpy and foggy before coffee), I get his Keurig ready before we go to bed every night. All he has to do is push a button for coffee in the morning. This is helpful because every coffee-drinker knows the hardest cup to make is the one before your first cup of coffee.
It helps him and it’s something I’m capable of doing, even though I didn’t know how at first. He had to teach me how to make his coffee. You may have to teach your sub how you like something or what you expect them to do, so consider that as well.
What Does the Submissive Want or Need?
Do you have goals you really want to accomplish but know you need outside help? Have you developed some bad habits that you’d like to stop? Do you want to help your Dominant in some way? (This last one is easier done if a Dom makes the list we mentioned above.)
Okay, now you make a list of what those are and think about what kind of help you’d like, if you have any ideas. It’s okay if you don’t.
Now…which of those is your Dom willing to do? Once you figure that out, you can work together to decide how they’ll help you. You’ll need to give feedback on whether the method you try actually works. And sometimes it won’t.
Just like subs don’t have to do tasks or start submissive practices/rituals they don’t want to do or feel suited to, a Dom doesn’t either.
What Actions and Behaviors are Important to You Both?
Do you both want a D/s that’s fairly structured with more formal language (labels, specific phrasing)? Do you both want a looser, more relaxed type of power exchange?
Or, as is fairly common, do you want something in between those extremes? Probably this one, but some kinksters are very clear in what they want their power exchange to look like.
This could be the tone of voice a submissive uses, eye contact, specific ways of asking permission, the use of certain titles, body positions, etc. Make a list of whatever those things are that you’re both willing to consider.
John Brownstone and I have a fairly relaxed power exchange. During a scene, he may want me to address him in a specific way or hold my body in a certain position (eyes down or hands behind my back). But outside of that, my number one rule is to always speak to him with respect.
You might want to be addressed by a certain title. Some Doms want their subs to perform certain tasks in a specific set of clothing or using specific body language. Others want their partners to be silly and relaxed.
Think about what turns you on. What’s important to you. What gets you into the headspace of your role. And what you think might help your partner get into their role. You don’t have to do or try everything you think of, but this gives you a starting point for a conversation with your partner.
What Appeals to You?
Beyond wants and needs, sometimes we learn what others do that just sound interesting. They’re appealing in some way. You should also make note of these, too.
If you have no idea what you want, it’s time to explore different BDSM communities and writings to see what’s out there. Kinky educators and content creators (*waves*) tend to share what they do. Pick and choose what appeals to you. An online or in-person community exposes you to so many different forms of power exchange that you’re likely to get ideas just from what other people around you do.
Being around other kinksters can be a huge source of inspiration.
Use Your Answers to Figure Out Tasks and Routines
Okay, so you’ve thought about all of these things. Maybe you’ve got a monster list worked out. (Try not to be overwhelmed or intimidated by it all. We’re not telling you to do ALL of the things.)
Now it’s time to narrow things down a bit.
If you didn’t do this while you were making the lists, now is the time to discuss what you’re both interested in out of everything listed here. What would you both like to explore?
Anything you can’t both agree on gets put aside. It may be that you can never do that together or that now isn’t the right time. But this is like negotiating kinky boundaries and limits. If one of you isn’t into it, you don’t do it together.
Once you’ve talked it through — and depending on the size of your lists, this could be multiple conversations over days, weeks, or even months — you should have one list that reflects your mutual choices.
Reminder: this can be an ongoing thing you do throughout your relationship. You don’t have to figure it all out on the first day, y’all.
Don’t panic! The next step is difficult but will help reduce any overwhelm you might feel:
Pick one thing from your list and establish a rule or task around it.
Why one thing?
Because few of us are capable of implementing multiple rules or changing long-standing habits and patterns all at once. It gets overwhelming. Things get forgotten. And then one or both of you are disappointed or in conflict.
So start small and slow. Pick the thing on your list you’re most excited about. Or the thing that seems the easiest. Or whatever.
Discuss when it should happen. How it should look or sound. Consider anything that may conflict with the task or rule. (Example: JB is always “Daddy” to me but we don’t use titles in front of non-kinksters. So if this was a rule to always call him “Daddy” my question would be: What should I call you when non-kinky people are around?).
Once you’ve worked through what it will look like and how it will work, try it out. Give yourself a deadline of a day or a week (or longer). Set a time to check in to discuss it. (We also encourage you to allow for check-ins before that set time, in case there are problems or concerns that come up.)
During a check-in you can change things if something doesn’t work or scrap it entirely if one or both of you hates it. You can also tweak it to make it better and then give yourself another deadline.
If it works, and you feel like you have a handle on it, add something else from the list. Try it out. Check-in to change, tweak, or toss. Rinse and repeat.
Before you know it, you’ll have a laundry list of “things you do” in your D/s that can be called rules, tasks, routines, rituals, etc.
These are just ideas to help you get started if you’re struggling with the “But what do we do??” part of your power exchange. There’s no right or wrong answer, as long as both of you discuss it thoroughly and leave room for withdrawing consent or changing things to make it better for one or both of you.
The best list of tasks and rituals you can have as a kinkster isn’t a cookie-cutter list from us. It’s whatever you come up with between you and a partner that fits your dynamic. Is it overwhelming for there to be no right or wrong answer? Sometimes. But that’s also the beauty of power exchange. There are as many ways to do it as there are people involved in it. Take the time to figure out what you both want and start there.
One of the things that stumps most Doms and subs in a power exchange relationship is thinking about what that will look like. The rules, tasks, rituals, protocols, and expectations they’ll create together. Sometimes it just sort of comes together organically but we think being intentional about it can really help. As part of our 30 Days of D/s program, we ask participants to think about what they want to do in power exchange. For those who are stumped, hopefully this helps.