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What is Power Exchange

A power exchange relationship is a type of sexual or lifestyle relationship in which the dominant partner assumes control over the submissive one. This kind of dynamic can be either temporary or long-term, and it often corresponds to a pre-determined agreement between both partners. Though it's not for everyone, many find that being part of a power exchange relationship brings them peace and happiness. In this post we'll discuss what exactly these relationships are, how they work, and why so many people get involved with one!


Many people have confused power exchange relationships with BDSM, but they can be, and often are, two separate things. A power exchange relationship is when partners agree to give up some of their personal power in order to enhance the connection between them. Power in this sense can mean emotional or physical control.

Power Exchange relationships can involve BDSM play, where the partners agree to one another's limits, but it doesn't have to be sexual or include BDSM activities. The important part of all of these relationships is the implicit trust between both parties involved in the arrangement.

Exchanging power happens on many levels: physical (submitting), mental (subverting notions about gender roles and societal expectations), and emotional (connecting with your partner). An example of a power exchange relationship is one in which the feminine energy in the relationship is in charge of navigating the couple's decisions. For simplification, we will use She and he pronouns, although as mentioned before, gender roles are social constructs!

In this female-led relationship example, D (She) is married to F (he). D is the final word on new purchases, pays the bills (or delegates the task) decides what's for dinner (although she may not cook), and handles all other household decision-making power. F (male) cooks, stays at home with the children, asks permission to do pretty much anything outside of the home, and checks in with D before making any major decisions. He understands D has a better grasp of finances and a more outgoing personality. Decisions make F anxious, and he leaves them for D, who naturally enjoys being in charge. They do not have kinky sex but D is usually the initiator and aggressor, giving instructions on how she wants to be pleased. If F breaks a rule, he may be reprimanded verbally, ignored, or otherwise punished. The main thing to note is that both parties enjoy and embrace a role that fits them naturally. If any of these roles were forced upon the other and was something they did not agree to, nor enjoy, this would be a great example of an abusive relationship.

In a D/s (BDSM) relationship, the rules, punishments, and rewards may be more clearly defined. The Dominant takes on the same role, only they may not be in a romantic relationship with their submissive at all. Kink and fetish activities may be a major part of the connection, with physical training like spankings happening regularly. The submissive may have a life outside of the D/s that doesn't include the Dominant and/or their rules.

Power exchange relationships have many similarities to BDSM, but are not always the same. Consent is the main factor for both types of relationships and should be negotiated thoroughly between partners before beginning any type of power exchange relationship. There are some other important differences that need to be considered when deciding whether or not you want to explore this option with your partner. One being that in power exchanges there are no set rules around how much control will change hands during the course of the relationship - it all depends on what each individual person wants from their experience.

Individual and couples coaching with Divine Rae helps define individual roles, establish individual and communal protocol, and decide what type of relationship structure would help establish and maintain a deeper connection for all those involved. What are your thoughts on Power Exchange vs D/s?

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Thank you for the information. I’ve always thought of power exchange in reference to a D/s dynamic, yet now it can see how they present in other ways and also how they can be viewed based on social constructs. I also find it interesting how a D/s dynamic and be structured in a way that it doesn’t cross into a submissives possible vanilla relationship. I am always gitty to hear about how many possibilities exist. I am still I search for what works for me.

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