Power exchange

From Spanking Art

Pony play scene from The Libertine (1968).

Power exchange, in BDSM, means that one person, the submissive, grants the other person, the dominant, the power over him or her. In return, the dominant takes responsibility for his or her happiness and health. It is also known as erotic power exchange (EPE) to distinguish it from other forms of power exchange.

Power exchange forms the basis of most short-term BDSM play sessions and longer term relationships, whether they are of a BD, D/s or SM nature. The degree of power granted may be very limited, absolute, or anywhere in between. The duration of a power exchange can be anywhere from a 10-minute scene up to life-long, 24/7 relationships, also known as Total Power Exchange (TPE).

In consensual BDSM play, power exchange is a conscious agreement and always has limits. If there were no limits, it wouldn't be safe, sane and consensual. The limits may be implicit or negotiated. There may also be ad-hoc limits, such as when a safeword is spoken. Different degrees of nonconsensuality can be played, and nonconsensuality (NC) is in fact a common fantasy. But this kind of NC is played (see consensual non-consent), or enjoyed in fiction, rather than real.

Common types of BDSM power exchange[edit]

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