When it comes to kink, sometimes “putting up a fight” is part of the consensual fun. But sometimes it’s an indicator that there’s another emotional element at play.
Reactance is a relatively new term; I feel it’s beneficial for anyone in a power exchange dynamic and/or anyone who engages in any type of D/s play to know the difference between reactance and resistance.
Even though the two can look similar symptomatically, what is driving each of these is quite different. Because of this, reactance and resistance should be handled differently.
Let’s start define a couple of terms:
*D-type- a person that consensually takes control of another entirely or of certain agreed upon aspects of another’s life for an agreed upon amount of time
*s-type- a person who consensually yields to another and agrees to give up control of themselves entirely or partially for an agreed upon amount of time
Resistance is caused by anxiety, which leads the s-type to resist their D-type in some way. This could be resisting a ritual, a protocol, the D-type’s standards, the overall structure of the relationship, etc.
Resistance could occur for a number of reasons. Some being the s-type does not fully trust the D-type, they are not ready to be an s-type, they do not agree with how the D-type is governing them, etc. The reasons are endless, but hopefully you get the idea.
Even though reactance is a subset of overall resistance, it is quite different than the type of resistance I have described above. Reactance is fueled by anxiety (like resistance) resulting from the s-type’s past, their triggers, their past traumas, a past relationship, their own mental state, etc. They are not in fact resisting their D-type, the power exchange dynamic, or what they have been ordered to do. S-types that experience reactance usually very much want to be in the relationship and act in accordance with what their D-type has prescribed, but there is just something mentally holding them back that they need to work through.
Again, please note, resistance and reactance can happen in a scene and/or a relationship.
Because the root of where reactance and resistance comes from is so different, it’s important to first distinguish which one one is experiencing.
This will guide you to what steps you take next.
And now that I think about it, D-types could totally experience resistance and reactance too. D- types are not exempt from having anxiety. A D-type could resist being someone’s D-type and/or react due to one of their triggers.
Bottom line, realize when these things are occurring, and work together to create the best possible outcome and solution. Anxiety/reactance/resistance should never be ignored, no matter what type of situation or dynamic one is in. Anxiety should be expected; after all we are all only human.
When structuring your dynamic, I suggest putting in protocols to help deal with and reduce anxiety when it occurs. More specific protocols can be added as you understand your partner better, and your relationship becomes more solidified and grounded.
I hope this has given readers a basic overview of what resistance and reactance is. To learn more, please feel free to check out my articles on how submission/slavery can help reduce anxiety. I have found that my service and slavery have greatly reduced instances of reactance and my overall stress level. This is just another wonderful benefit of finding the right power exchange dynamic.
Slave Bunny is the Creative Director of Kink Weekly. Along with being a part of the Kink Weekly
team, she is proud to announce that she will be teaching Kink classes all over the Los Angeles
area this year. She identifies as a 1950’s power slave, and belongs to her wonderful
With the help of her degree in Psychology and her career in the fitness industry, she has
dedicated her life to working on herself mentally, spiritually, and physically, and hopes to inspire
others to do the same. Through teaching and mentoring, she hopes to help everyone in the Kink
community as much as she can. Feel free to add her on Fetlife to see her upcoming workshops and classes.