Total Power Exchange (TPE)

Total Power Exchange (TPE)

Reviewed by Dr. Laura McGuire
on September 14, 2021

Total power exchange (TPE) is a BDSM relationship dynamic where the partners have agreed that the Dominant has total power over the submissive. Total power exchange usually applies in sexual situations, but generally also refers to the dominant having power over all other elements of the submissive’s life in a way they have discussed and decided on together.

In a total power exchange, the Dominant makes all the decisions on the submissive’s behalf. The submissive agrees to do what they are told, without arguments or discussions. If they do challenge the dominant, the dominant may punish the submissive in accordance with their agreement.

Interactions during total power exchange may be sexual. For example, the submissive might perform or recieve oral sex, or have penetrative sex, or touch themselves, or refrain from touching themselves, based on the Dominant’s instructions. However, the interactions may also be non-sexual. For example, a submissive may make the dominant dinner, clean the house or wear an outfit that the dominant likes.

Total power exchange is a turn-on for a lot of people because of the level of trust involved. The submissive puts all trust in the Dominant, which can be both scary and liberating. This is also a huge responsibility for the dominant and should not be taken lightly. However, total power exchange strengthens the power dynamic that exists in BDSM relationships. The submissive enjoys giving up control while the dominant loves having control over their submissive.

Some people use the term total power exchange to refer to any arrangements where power totally shifts, whether they are permanent or lasting just a few hours or days at a time. For these people, the total trust and faith a submissive puts in their Dominant during these times matters more than the amount of time they commit to TPE. However, others reserve the term for arrangements that are permanent lifestyle choices. In these arrangements, the dominant and submissive usually live together, usually as a couple, although this isn’t always the case. An online relationship may also involve TPE if the Dominant and submissive are committed and have the right mindset.

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