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A relationship is defined by how we:

  1. engage,
  2. behave towards, and
  3. feel about another.

Who exactly these others are is interesting. In fact, the range of relationships we can have extends beyond those just with our partners or ourselves, and all of these different types of relationship have a place in the understanding of BDSM.

Here is a small sample of the types of relationship we can have:

  • Relationships with other individuals (such as partners)
  • Relationships with ourselves (i.e., with what we think of ourselves to be). See also identity.
  • Relationships with images of others in ourselves. See also projection.
  • Relationships with abstract others (such as time, luck, etc.)
  • Relationships with our social or other groups, which has to do with our behaviour when we are with members of our BDSM or social group


A dynamic is the actual way two people interact. When we talk about relationships, we're frequently talking about labels. These labels, such as "master/slave", don't tell us much at all about the way the master and slave interact. The dynamic, instead, is a describes how they bring their relationship to life.

Common BDSM relationships

Top <===> Bottom
Dominant <===> Submissive
Master / mistress <===> Slave
Trainer <===> Trainee
Owner <===> Property

See also