4 WAYS Power Exchange Relationships are Confused

There’s lots of general confusion about power exchange relationships:


Many people confuse power exchange relationships for codependent ones because, from the outside, many of the characteristics are similar, but the goal is quite different.

Codependency is where one person in the relationship enables another person’s “addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement,” while power exchange, IMO, is where the Dominant enables the submissive to improve mental health, foster good habits, increase responsibility and maturity, and optimize opportunities for success.


In most situations, people PE relationships are not “best friends”, which is a strongly promoted concept of modern monogamous cultures in western civilizations.

The notion that “my partner is my best friend” can often subvert D/s & M/s relationships by creating an artificial need for “equality” and “peer” relationships, which inherently contradicts power exchange.

Additionally, in a polygynist relationship, the notion further implies that the Dominant can have several “best friends”, which is pretty childish. And many Dominants may impose hierarchical structures, but they are not usually based on the “best friends” method.


Tops and bottoms in a relationship with little to no power exchange outside of scenes are relatively equal peers who can be romantically “in love” each other. In general, PE relationships involve much more emotional range and complexity because of the power differential.

For example, In some power exchange relationships the submissive is absolutely head-over-heals, intoxicatingly in love with the Dominant, while the Dominant is not “in love”, but instead has an overwhelming, deep compassionate love. While in the vanilla world this might be looked down on, in a power exchange relationship it may create an even greater dynamic and mutual fulfillment.


Relationships with a power differential are portrayed negatively in vanilla society because of the inherent risk of abuse, but fail to see the value of such relationships

Example: The Guardian said that slave Leia, in a sexy, golden bikini chained to the giant, old, ugly and bloated Jabba-the-Hut “is a not-even-concealed Orientalist harem fantasy, complete with desert, chuckling dissipated bloated pasha and hapless princess decked out in fetishwear and chains”.

That Leia is a smart, tough, and empowered women only adds to the power differential. Of course, genuine power exchange relationships are established by agreement, not force, however, this examples serves to illustrate the awkward discomfort vanilla society has with power differentials in relationships.