Physical contact doesn't always take place, and in some cases it can even be conducted anonymously, or over the telephone, maybe email or other messaging systems. In other cases, it can be intensely physical, sometimes traversing into Sadomasochism/Sadism. In D/s, both parties take pleasure or erotic enjoyment from either dominating or being dominated. Those who take the superior position are called dominants, Doms (male) or Dommes (female) although "Mistress" would be a more common term, while those who take the subordinate position are referred to as Submissive or Sub (male or female).
A switch is an individual who plays in either role. Two switches together may negotiate and exchange roles several times in a session.
"Dominatrix" is a term usually reserved for a female professional dominant who dominates others for pay.
A 1985 study suggested that about 30% of participants in who practice BDSM are females.
A 1995 study indicates that 89% of females who are active in BDSM expressed a preference for a submissive role, suggesting also a preference for a dominant male, and 71% of heterosexual males preferred a dominant-initiator role.
D/s may be ritualised or freeform. It is usually a negotiated lifestyle, with people discussing their wishes, limits and needs in order to find a common ground. A D/s relationship may be sexual or non-sexual, long or short term, and intimate or anonymous, but most will have or will be searching for a desired level of intensity, it should also be pointed out that, generally speaking, a D/s relationship will have a higher level of trust and intimacy than that of a more "normal".
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