Role playing is a firm part of this lifestyle. Many engage in it as a method of enhancing their enjoyment. The most common is in the sexual arena where people liven up their 'bedroom antics' with a bit of D/s role play. Taking the part of dominant or submissive adds a layer of pleasure which many do not experience in vanilla relationships. Light bondage, spanking, and blindfolds are often part of the practices these people engage in. While many will proclaim that this is not bdsm, I feel that it is. Certainly our life is wide enough to include people who are into light play.
Another form of role playing is within the setup of an existing relationship. Many will create scenes to enhance the pleasure with a partner. Leather outfits, whips, rope, and chains can all be used to simulate a dungeon scene. This is a way that some opt to stress the difference in power. It is not unheard of for people to switch during a scene with each person being both dominant and submissive. Since they are filling roles, the reversal is rather easy for these types. It is one area where a 'lifestyler' will differ from the role players.
As mentioned, I feel that all of these desires fall under the heading of 'BDSM'. Anyone who engages in any type of power exchange utilizing the accessories that we do is participating in BDSM.
Then there are those who 'live this lifestyle'. Before going any further, I will state that this is a bit misleading to a newer person. There are few who actually live this as a true lifestyle meaning that this is their primary involvement. Some will be involved in BDSM relationships while earning their living by performing so type of BDSM act. Professionally Dommes come to mind as a group who makes their living off BDSM.
However, these people are the minority. Most of us lead lives similar to most other people. We work regular jobs earning wages to sustain our families. The problems and difficulties that people in the vanilla world face are also common amongst us. We suffer at times physically, financially, emotionally, and with family. None of us are immune to being human. We experience many of the same things that others do.
So, what is the difference. To me, it comes in the mindset. One who 'lives the BDSM lifestyle' carries the mindset of power exchange 24/7. Even if someone is not in a relationship presently, he or she knows exactly what is being sought. For example, a dominant knows that he or she is such. It is not something that is wavered upon. Ultimately, this person is acting in accordance to a deep-seeded desire. The same is true for those who are submissive. They are following a path that comes from within.
This is a sharp contrast compared to those who role play. These individuals can exit the BDSM life once they leave the scene. When their antics are over, they return to 'normal life'. The lifestyle person does not. He or she carries that mindset in every situation. A slave is still owned even if she is at work and under the concern of another 'manager'. She does not change simply because the situation does. Equality is not sought in any area of her life. The role player returns to equality. And that is the difference.
Room For All
The BDSM life is large enough for all to be a part of. While I will take exception to some on terminology (labels) used in particular situations, I will never say that anyone needs to leave the BDSM community. I understand it is a varied spectrum. Some prefer the lighter side of things while others are seeking the extreme. Personal desires are meant to be fulfilled whatever those desires are. It is not up to anyone else to determine that for an individual. If one (or a couple) wants to simply liven things up by engaging in some light BDSM, have at it. We should be glad to have these people. Variety is what makes the world go round.
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