Yet again, dominant players in BDSM show a mental health advantage.
It is worth noting that in the Italian study (Botta et al., 2019) that I have been discussing, both submissives and the control group scored in the normal range on the measures of sexual satisfaction and sexual problems compared to general population norms. Hence, the findings were not that these groups were particularly distressed compared to dominants, but rather that dominants were functioning unusually well. People who feel comfortable in the dominant role may have a higher sense of agency and self-confidence than those who prefer the submissive role, and even people more generally. This is consistent with my suggestion in a previous post that BDSM practitioners may prefer roles that suit their personalities rather than seeking compensatory roles that contrast with their usual personality. The finding that switches had higher sexual satisfaction than the control group is new in that a previous study that examined switches (Wismeijer & van Assen, 2013) did not find any particular advantage for switches in terms of subjective well-being or neuroticism, with dominants scoring better than all other groups in that study. Hence, it may be worth investigating if the versatility of the switch role is associated with any advantages in other populations of BDSM practitioners. Moreover, that people in an ownership/belonging relationship had higher sexual satisfaction than those who were not, especially when this was in the context of a committed romantic relationship, appears to be a new finding. Botta et al. suggested that people in such relationships might be freer from sexual stigma and benefit from heightened trust and emotional connection. It could also be that people enter into such an arrangement when they see it as a good fit to their personal psychosexual needs. This would be consistent with the increasingly accepted view that BDSM activities are not a pathological aberration or an expression of difficulties with normal sex, but simply an alternative that some people find attractive (Richters, Visser, Rissel, Grulich, & Smith, 2008).