...what does it mean?
"Dominant" I feel like I've got something of a handle on (and I didn't for years) because there's a distinction between "topspace" and "dominance" in a lot of people's minds. Topspace is about the thrill of control or the thrill of seeing someone in pain or both. It's a rush. But dominance is often, when I hear it described, used to talk about something more permanent. A personality trait or a desire to have control in non-sexual arenas too.
"Submissive" I hear in a lot of different contexts. Some people mean "I like subspace; being sexually vulnerable excites and/or otherwise gratifies me." Some people mean a personality trait, whether that's tending to defer to others, being a "people pleaser" generally, not liking to lead groups, having a deep need to serve others, or various other things. (Some of which I think are good and some of which I think are self-deprecating.)
And there is a lot of emphasis on who's "lifestyle/24/7/TPE/Master/slave/whatever word offends you least" and who isn't, and a lot of insistence that one's submission is "real"
and I keep thinking that some of it is the term being so broad.
My old problem with "dominant" is it seemed to specific to apply to me, and "top" seemed too broad and unconnected to power dynamics. I liked "submissive" because it could apply to all kinds of people easily.
But now I find myself actually feeling the opposite. Because with "dominant" -- well, there are similar ambiguities but they don't flummox me quite as much somehow. But with "submissive" I really have no idea whether someone means "I want to bottom, but I also want a power dynamic temporarily that makes me feel vulnerable" or whether sie means "I want to serve."
If someone is a potential partner of mine, this is no huge issue -- dating is about getting to know someone, and once I've done a bit of that I know what their submissiveness is about. That tells me whether I want a D/s dynamic with that person, or if they don't suit me, or if they use "submissive" to describe things I think more of as "bottoming" with, perhaps, a slight twist of surrender.
(Note that I see nothing wrong with that last and have plenty of fun with such people. I don't know that my brain would slot them into "sub", but their labels are their business, and I don't and have never required heavy power exchange from everyone I date, hook up with, or beat for fun. That would be exhausting and limit my pool of friends and lovers for no good reason.)
And recently when I called out one of the guys on here for on the one hand espousing very strict submission to "women" as a gender, but on the other being petty and obnoxious toward the people that his own apparent interpretation of "submission" meant he should have been taking seriously, several people interpreted that as me endorsing a very strict form of submission, rather than my finding this particular person's behavior inconsistent with what he professed to be.
So... submissive people in here: what do you mean by submissive and submission? Is it about sexual play? Personality? How you choose to live? If it's a cordoned-off part of you for sexual thrills "only", does it ever impact your daily life? Is this good or bad? If you see it as a part of your personality, integral to your relationships, etc., how is it?