Ask Emily: How to Become More Dominant In Bed

woman's hands
Dear Emily, 

My partner and I have been curious to try more power play. I’ve often told him that I want him to “take the lead” during sex and be a bit more dominant. He’s told me he’s interested but I think it would be helpful for us both to have some practical tips for getting started. He also expressed interest in seeing my dominant side from time to time, which I’m not opposed to, especially because I’ve noticed that when I get more dominant, he gets more dominant. What are some tips for keeping this power struggle going? 

Kira, 38

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Hi Kira, 

I totally get it. Power play is hot AF! Here’s why: exploring dominance and submission is really about an energy exchange. According to my friend and intimacy coach John Wineland, good sex is composed of balanced masculine and feminine energies. These energies shouldn’t be mistaken for gender; we all possess masculine and feminine energies regardless of our sex or gender identity!

Let’s break it down. Masculine energy is traditionally associated with aggression and ferocity (dominance) and feminine energy with softness and flexibility (submissive). Many of us, myself included, spend SO much time in the masculine, especially when it comes to our careers. We attempt to control and organize our jobs, families, social life, finances, physical health… the list goes on. It’s no surprise that you want your partner to take the lead sexually. You’re ready for a break from your masculine! (And it sounds like he might be too.) 

Luckily, there are ways for you both to play with these masculine and feminine energies (dominance and submission) in a way that creates mind-blowing sex. As you mentioned, your partner becomes more dominant when you express your masculinity, which likely means you both already have a foundational understanding of power play. But I can give you the tools to make it even hotter. Let’s go! 

Note: Each of these tips can be practiced in various levels of intensity, so both you and your partner can test them out and play with the erotic energy. Spicy!

1. Spanking

Have you been a bad girl? Spanking is a classic way to exert control—especially if either you or your partner are into butts. Since you’re typically the more submissive one, you might give your partner’s buttcheek a small slap during penetration or even before sex as a way to signal that you’re itching to play. 

The more dominant/masculine partner can add some extra heat by incorporating spanking in the middle of sex or when in doggy-style position. They might start with light spanks or grabbing and then increase the intensity after checking in and seeing you (hopefully) in ecstasy.

2. Hair Pulling 

Doesn’t it feel ah-mazing when someone runs their fingers through your hair? Well, the same can be said for sex—especially when you lean into your masculine energy. Note that hair-pulling can quickly go from playful to painful; you’ve got to be careful when you implement this dominance hack. If you’re in a more submissive/feminine role and want to pull your partner’s hair, go for their roots and give it a soft, little tug. This might signal that you like something or that you want your partner to go even harder.  

Those who are more dominant and want to put submissives in their place might try to incorporate hair-pulling when taking their partner from behind or during oral… After all, there’s something so erotic about seeing your partner indulge their wild side.

Safety tip! Regardless of who is pulling, it’s important to hold your partner’s hair as close to the root as possible. Think of it as guiding with control, as this will keep you from jerking it or pulling out any strands. (So not sexy.)

3. Forced Edging 

Imagine telling your partner that you’re ready to climax and they whisper, “not yet.” That’s HOT. Welcome to forced edging.

I often recommend edging, or orgasm delay, to folks who want to intensify or prolong their orgasm—but you can totally do it with a partner. Forced edging is when one partner is in control of when the other partner can finish. You or your partner might use a vibrator, penis-sleeve, hands, mouth, or genitals to bring their partner closer to the edge and then stop. The Magic Wand is an excellent toy for this—it’s one of the most iconic vibrators on the market, and its varying levels of intensity can make it an extremely erotic addition to partner play. You’ll be begging them to let you finish.

4. Dirty Talk 

We’ve talked a lot about using your hands to exert dominance—now let’s discuss using your words. Dirty talk is perhaps one of the easiest (and most erotic) ways to incorporate more dominance into your sex life. More submissive partners experimenting with dominance might instruct their more dominant partners to open up a bit, like asking “do you like that?” or “do you want me to touch you there?” 

Dominant partners looking to take this to the next level might say incorporate some consensual name-calling or demands, like “get on your knees and open your mouth” or “stop talking so that I can ride your face.” Sometimes being told what to do can be such a relief during sex. And if you’re partner delivers these demands with conviction, you’ll be positively shaking in your sheets. 

5. Bondage 

Bring on the props, baby! In addition to toys, bondage accessories like blindfolds, whips, handcuffs, and other restraints are another great way to experiment with power play. If you’re looking to take on a more masculine role, you might blindfold or restrain their partner’s hands during oral as a way of dabbling in their masculine energy. 

If you want your “dominant” partner to hold you back, try to incorporate a more intense restraint system—like bondage tape from Good Vibrations or a bed restraint system. You won’t be going anywhere. 

Remember: good sex is a dance between you and your partner’s masculine and feminine energies. You can both take turns expressing your masculine and leaning into the feminine without having to totally sacrifice your “dom” and “sub” roles in the bedroom. All of our sexual interactions are a give and take, and you’ve both got a lot to give.