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What Is a Soft Dom? Praise Him While He’s Whimpering

What is a soft Dom? Does such a thing truly exist? Here’s the 411 on the gentler approach to the Dom/sub relationship you may not know about.
Editorial team
March 13, 2024
April 16, 2024
min. read
Table of Contents

Is there such a thing as gentle domination? What about diet bondage?

BDSM usually involves a stark power dynamic between the Dom and sub. Although that power exchange is a hallmark in these relationships, people often assume the Dom or Domme is always inflicting discomfort or sexually charged pain on their submissive partner.

Sure, this is a popular way that D/s relationships manifest, but it’s not the only way. Those of us with gentle souls and weak cores can still find a way to become the Dom we see in the mirror. We just need to picture ourselves as a soft Dom instead.

What is a soft Dom?

Soft Doms practice a specific style of dominance that’s more kind and nurturing. There can still be aspects of the traditional D/s power exchange between these couples, but the goal of the soft Dom is to create a more loving and gentle environment.

That doesn’t mean the dominant partner doesn’t carry authority; instead, the authority is expressed through affection. 

The anatomy of a soft Dom

Soft Doms get their moniker from their gentle demeanor. They’re often communication-oriented and engage with submissives about their desires and concerns. You could say honest communication is their primal kink. That might sound like something straight out of a romance novel, but it’s actually a prerequisite for all healthy, consensual D/s relationships, regardless of how the parties partake.

Unlike other Doms, soft Doms are often quick to praise and slow to punish. So, how is this different from just being nice? Because they maintain consensual control over their partner during the scene. Maybe they’ll tell their sub what to do, but they’ll say “please,” “thank you,” and “you’re such a good little slut.” They’re often masters of intuition, responding to a submissive’s wants and needs on the fly.

Above all else, soft Doms are a doting, loving partner. They want to let their partner know how much they love and appreciate them, even during BDSM activities like kink and impact play. 

Pleasure Dom vs. soft Dom

Domming takes many forms. Some would tell you the difference between a pleasure Dom and a soft Dom is a semantic thing. But there are vital distinctions.

The difference lies in the pleasure Dom’s emphasis on pleasure (duh). These dominant individuals often wield pleasure as a means of control. This frequently accompanies the care and attention you’d see from soft Doms, but it doesn’t have to. Pleasure Doms can be much more Fifty Shades of Grey, just with more submissive men and less Dakota Johnson (usually).

Soft Doms focus more on leading with an erotic tenderness, ensuring there’s always an avenue for the sub to engage in intimacy. Essentially, both Doms prioritize mutual trust and pleasure, but soft Doms lean more toward butterfly kisses than spanking — but hey, why not both?

Aftercare: Still essential

If you know anything about BDSM, you know how vital aftercare is for both the dominant and the submissive parties. Aftercare is a time to debrief, reconnect, and come back to each other to check in and make sure everyone is feeling okay. 

You can’t practice healthy BDSM without proper aftercare; it’s crucial to have conversations about what felt good and what didn’t so you can make adjustments for next time. More importantly, all parties must take time to bring things back down to Earth — because even a nicely worded exchange of power can shock your system.

How to become a soft Dom

Are you a gentle soul in the streets and the sheets? If you want to dominate but wouldn’t hurt a fly, this could be your opportunity for a sexual awakening!

Here’s our handy guide to becoming the plushiest, comfiest Dom your sexy sub ever did see:


1. Consent is king, Queen

What does “sub” mean to you and your partner? Any healthy definition should make mention of consent. No matter who’s in charge, nobody gets to violate consent.

All BDSM or D/s connections require lengthy, detailed conversations about boundaries. Consensual play is key to protecting yourself and your partner from uncomfortable or triggering sexual situations. Establish a strong communication channel where both parties feel comfortable expressing their boundaries and desires without judgment.

Moreover, negotiating boundaries can be challenging in these scenarios, even if you have conversations before you begin. That’s why fail-safes like a safe word and consistent check-ins are also necessary for any Dom/sub relationship. Soft Doms understand the importance of actively practicing consent throughout sex or a scene.

2. Gradual gratification

With a softer approach to domination, things tend to move cautiously. Caution doesn’t mean it can’t get wet and wild, however. It’s usually the opposite; gradually working up to boundaries helps both parties ease into more extreme forms of play. (Chastity cage, anyone?)

Going too quickly, even if your partner is excited about how it feels, is often a recipe for discomfort or emotional distress. It’s your responsibility as the soft Dom to cushion the blows, so take things slow for the well-being of you and your submissive partner.

3. Reading between the lines

Many softer Dom/sub relationships are budding, still learning about their erotic place in the world. Although conversations about consent and safe words are par for the course, some inexperienced subs might have a hard time fully understanding when something isn’t working for them right away.

If your partner struggles to communicate their desires or boundaries verbally, that’s where your soft, supple intuition comes into play. Use your emotional intelligence to read their facial expressions and body language. If something seems off, say something. If something seems very, very on… well, good for you, diva.

4. You’re doing great, sweaty

Part of creating a safe space for your sub is giving them agency to express themselves fully and freely. Always take their feelings and opinions seriously. Practice active listening and empathy — things you’re probably already a natural at if you favor soft domination.

Praise is also another trademark of soft Doms. They’ll often let their partner (or partners) know how well they’re performing. This affirmation puts the submissive partner at ease and promotes dialogue about what feels good and comfortable. Set a communication precedent by saying what feels good to you so they feel empowered to do the same.

5. Aftercare, underscored

We’ve already gone over the importance of aftercare in BDSM relationships, but let’s take a peek under the hood and see what soft Dom aftercare really looks like.

Your goal during aftercare should be to ensure the physical and emotional comfort of all parties. Find out what they need to feel more at ease: physical touch, verbal affirmation, a glass of water, or $20 worth of Taco Bell — whatever works.

And don’t forget about yourself. Domming can be an equally harrowing experience. Each individual, whether Dom or sub, will have different needs. Voice yours, respect theirs, and engage in aftercare as deeply and lovingly as you do the sex itself.

Dommin’ me softly with his song (and other stuff)

Some woefully misunderstand dominance, defining it as whenever someone brings “rude to waiters” energy to the bedroom. Hopefully, you’re seeing this role through a new, rosier lens. 

If you like what you see, now’s the time to get inspired and inflict so much kindness and affection on your submissive male partner that they’re begging for more. And because you’re such a softie, you know you’ll give it to them.

Whether you’re Dom, sub, or just cruising for some chub, you’re in good hands, mouths, and other extremities with Grindr! Download the Grindr app today and feel the love.

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