Power exchange relationships in BDSM

Bondage, Discipline, Sadism, Masochism (BDSM)

BDSM is a compounded acronym that stands for B&D or BD (bondage and discipline), D/s (Dominance and submission), and S&M or SM (sadism and masochism), and describe different types of play, kinky sex and the specific lifestyle.
BDSM is a variety of practices, mostly erotic, that in short, involve power exchange, role playing, bondage, sadism and masochism and some other interpersonal dynamics.
Interest in BDSM can range from one-time experimentation (a play, a scene) to a lifestyle, and is sometimes referred to as a sexual identity/orientation.

People who engage in BDSM do so in varying amounts; some on occasion, and others on a day-to-day basis, known in the BDSM community as "living it 24/7." BDSM is generally practiced by setting up "scenes," or a specified time and space to engage in BDSM activities. BDSM activities include, but are not limited to: spanking, whipping, sensation play (with hot and cold temperatures, clamps, feather ticklers, electrical play, etc.), bondage (with hand cuffs, chains or rope), power exchange (Dominant/submissive or Master/slave relationships) and sexual role plays (Teacher/student, Doctor/patient, Owner/pet, etc.).
Those engaging in BDSM generally agree that all play should be safe (performed in ways that reduce as much risk as possible associated with these types of play), sane (sober and of sound mind) and consensual (with all participants agreeing to pre-discussed activities), namely SSC.

The term BDSM dates back to 1991; however, the exact origin of the term BDSM is unclear, though the associated practices of its components have been clearly dated back to Mesopotamia at the earliest records, sometime between 4000 and 3000 BC and is consistently present throughout the rest of human history.

Power Exchange

Power exchange (also called erotic power exchange, authority exchange or power dynamics) is a term frequently used to describe dominance and submission relationships in the BDSM community. These types of relationships involve submissive partners, “s-type”, whom willingly and voluntarily loses some degree of authority and relinquish control to their dominant partners, D-types, in exchange for the D-type taking some degree of responsibility for the s-type.

The power exchange may be either in certain situation (session) for a specified period of time, or completely, on a 24/7 relationship. Once in power exchange relationships, submissive partners must surrender to and obey their dominant partners.
Common elements in power exchange relationships include bondage and discipline.
Intense and skillful power exchanges may result in subspace.

Power Exchange:
• can be applied to individual scenes or may govern the entire way of those living in the lifestyle;
• may also have various levels of power negotiated for or be absolute;
• may be applied to very specific aspects, such as lovemaking or finance, or to every part of daily life;
• can be practiced not only by a couple but also by a poly group with a specific hierarchy;
• is not restricted specifically to those who practice BDSM but is most commonly associated with it;
• most times includes aspects of SM and/or sexual fetishism.

Power Exchange Levels

Power exchange levels is a term for the system that links the emotional involvement and depth of feeling experienced by a BDSM couple with the degree of power exchanged between them.

There are five recognized power exchange levels: conditional compliance, restricted ongoing acquiescence, provisional submission, the covenant of dominance and submission, and absolute ownership.

Both dominant and submissive partners must negotiate each consecutive power exchange level for mutual satisfaction and comfort.
The first level, conditional compliance, is the most limited power exchange level. This level might occur during a single scene or brief period of BDSM play, such as an overnight or a weekend session. The only activities that occur during this level are the ones negotiated between the individuals involved.

The second level, restricted ongoing acquiescence, denotes casual BDSM play without serious emotional attachment over an extended time period. However, as this level is carried out over more than one occurrence, the relationship between the submissive and dominant is deeper and the submissive is more vulnerable than they are at level one.
In the third power exchange level, provisional submission, the submissive gives up greater control to their dominant partner. The activities practiced in BDSM scenes during this level may become increasingly kinky.

The fourth and fifth power exchange levels involve a more serious emotional commitment. The fourth level is the covenant of dominance and submission. This is a deeply committed relationship where the dominant and submissive work together to achieve the most intense living, sexual and emotional pleasure at higher levels during a long-term, committed BDSM relationship. The fifth level, absolute ownership, occurs when an emotionally-connected master takes complete control of a similarly emotionally-involved submissive.

Power exchange levels are not set for good. For example, a couple may that their level one relationship has some elements of power exchange level two. BDSM relationships always involve a consensual exchange of power. Even though a submissive will normally gradually surrender more and more control as the relationship progresses, this control must always be surrendered willingly. An understanding of the successive BDSM power exchange levels helps both dominant and submissive better negotiate their relationship.

Absolute Power Exchange (APE)

An absolute power exchange (APE) is an extreme form of power exchange within a Master/slave relationship. It is less extreme than a Owner/property relationship, and is also sometimes referred to as a total power exchange (TPE).

In an absolute power exchange, the slave or submissive owns their own property and may act in their own right, but follows all the commands of the master or dominant. In this type of power exchange the submissive does have a degree of freedom, while in Owner/property relationship there is no freedom of the submissive.

Total Power Exchange (TPE)

Total power exchange (TPE) is a relationship dynamic that occurs in a BDSM relationship where the dominant partner has total power over the submissive in everything. TPE always applies in sexual situations, but generally also refers to the dominant having power over all other elements of the submissive's life.

TPE is a turn-on for a lot of people because of the level of trust involved. The submissive actually gives their life away to the dominant. This is also a huge responsibility for the dominant and should not be taken lightly.

TPE can exist for a scene or as part of a lifestyle. TPE can be used in day-to-day activities, or it can be used for just a few hours during play to spice things up.

A 24/7 TPE is most commonly associated with Master/slave relationship.

During this type of play, the submissive is giving complete trust to the dominant partner believing that they will keep the submissive's well being, best interests and pleasure in mind.

What can be hard to understand but true, is that the submissive actually controls the dynamic of the relationship. That is because in sane, respectful D/s relationship the submissive can stop the play at any time. It is all about the submissive being able to give up control and the dominant being able to exert control in a safe, consensual way.


24/7 or less commonly 24/7/365 is a power exchange relationship in which the s-type is subject to the protocols in the D/s or M/s relationship anytime, anyplace; the D-type decides and has access to all powers they have negotiated for at all times of the day, including times and spaces where the D-type and s-type are not together.

24/7 authority may include:
Not 24/7: a command that an s-type may not experience orgasm would apply for the duration of the scene or until retracted;
24/7: a command that the s-type may not experience orgasm would apply at all times indefinitely, until retracted, even if both are separated across great distances for extended periods of time.

24/7 is an abbreviation which stands for "24 hours a day, 7 days a week"; the extended phrase 24/7/365 adds “365 days a year”.
This term is also frequently used in conjunction with TPE; 24/7 TPE indicating a dynamic synonymous with Master/slave relationship. 24/7 TPE may also be referred to as the lifestyle.
That not only plays together, but lives the lifestyle full time, in real time, every day. These couples may live together or apart but maintain this dynamic on a constant basis, regardless. Power exchange relationships take on a new and more intimate meaning when the couple has no break at all from the D/s dynamic. These relationships often have a similar level of involvement and dependency as a spouse or parent/child relationship.

24/7 is considered edge play because of the profound psychological impact through conditioning that this type of power exchange can have, and that if not very carefully and skillfully managed can lead to very long lasting and damaging psychological effects.

24/7 Slavery

24/7 slavery is a BDSM lifestyle choice which sees an individual taking an extreme submissive role in their relationship 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The slave gives up control in the relationship and agrees to obey their master’s every request.

This form of slavery differs from many other BDSM arrangements where slaves surrender control to their masters only during BDSM scenes.
When a person lives a life of 24/7 slavery, their master controls all elements of their life including what they eat, what they wear, when they sleep and for how long, and how and when they have sex. Slaves are generally responsible for all household duties. They live to ensure their master's happiness which they achieve through acts of servitude. These may range from making a cup of coffee or being sexually available. Slaves are always obedient and devoted. Many slaves wear a collar at all times as a symbol of their arrangement much like the wedding rings that married vanilla couples wear to show their commitment.
24/7 slavery only works when both individuals have a clear understanding and acceptance of their role in the relationship. Before entering into 24/7 slavery, the terms of the relationship are defined and often sealed by the signing of a contract that is not legally binding. Trust is crucial for a 24/7 slavery relationship. Slaves must feel confident that their master will take care of them and not abuse their position of power.

by sclava

Please login to see the comments or to comment

BDSM lovers, go to bdsmside.com to find out your best partners for an intense, happy, long-term relationship in the lifestyle, for successful BDSM play sessions to enrich your life!