Jay is a 45-year-old Michigan man who says he pulls down six figures as a successful business consultant. He drives a luxury car; he has a smoking hot girlfriend. He also pees sitting down because his penis is caged by a hard-plastic harness the color of pink bubble gum. His girlfriend put it there, and she’s the only one who can take it off.
Jay is in a female-led relationship (FLR), a sub-dom couple’s dynamic growing in popularity, where the woman makes the lion’s share of decisions. Jay’s partner picks which restaurants they go to and what clothes he wears. She also controls the TV remote, on many nights opting for HGTV home-improvement shows, which Jay abhors. While they watch, however, he dutifully rubs her feet. He may have cooked dinner for two earlier that evening, did the dishes and completed any number of household chores as well.
This arrangement with his girlfriend provides Jay’s brain a cognitive break outside of work — a demanding job he admits does not totally fulfill him. Serving another in his romantic relationship gives him a greater sense of purpose, too.
The chastity harness, though, is “one of the most embarrassing elements” of the FLR for Jay. He scopes out men’s rooms, especially when at the office, to ensure he’s the only one present while urinating in a seated position. If Jay wants to go out and play basketball with his buddies, it’s up to his girlfriend, who possesses the harness’ key, whether or not it will be removed. She also decides when they can have sex.
But while the harness was at first tight and uncomfortable, hindering both urination and ejaculation, Jay got used to its weight and has since grown to enjoy its embrace. All that worrying about coworkers or friends catching him with the thing on gives Jay an adrenaline rush like that of having sex in public. When the harness is finally removed by his girlfriend — for cleanings, certain social occasions or for intercourse — he says it’s like “a treat.” The release, freedom and delayed gratification makes these experiences special and, thus, more pleasurable.
Jay wasn’t always in FLRs. While dating earlier in adulthood, he was the controlling one. But Jay eventually grew tired of his old, domineering ways with women. Now, engaged in his second long-term FLR, he says, “I don’t know if I can be in a relationship that didn’t have the female-led aspect to it.”
Other male units of FLRs interviewed for this article, from the U.S. and overseas, are equally exultant about their meek, deferential roles.
“As I belong to her, I have nothing to hide from her and that feeling makes me feel free,” says Reddit user HappySubmissiveCuck, a 29-year-old data analyst from Argentina. “Curious is that I have found my freedom under the strict and authoritarian control of my owner. But that’s how it is: When she rules me, I’m my truest self.”
“My partner is an amazing person who loves me deeply, and submitting to her is my way of giving back that love,” writes another Redditor, u/Mediocre-Place7188, an engineer who’s also 29 and from Brazil. “The thing I enjoy the most is the inversion of traditional roles. Society here is still mostly conservative and expects men to lead and women to follow, though this is changing. We believe that women make better leaders and are free to pursue that in a FLR.”
A 59-year-old Philadelphia man who works in computer software sales, u/alphaforflr, says he’s engaged in a series of FLR’s and particularly enjoys the sexual aspect of the dynamic. A former partner once instructed him, “out of the blue,” not to orgasm for two weeks. Another placed his penis in a plastic chastity harness that had a small metal lock on it. Knowing he was soon going on a business trip that required a flight, he says, “She secretly was hoping the metal detector would go off and embarrass me.” He made it through security, though, “luckily.” A third partner forced him to engage in daily “rituals,” he says, “such as making her breakfast — naked — while she got ready for work, kneeling down to put on her heels before she left, kissing her feet and kissing her goodbye — still naked.”
He says he can’t pinpoint exactly what he gets out of these interactions, just that being with a woman who’s in control is “like satisfying a need or craving,” something he’s been attracted to on some level since elementary school.
Sonny, a pseudonymous factory worker who’s 48 and lives in the Cleveland area, says the chastity harness he wears in his FLR ensures that he directs all his sexual energy toward his 38-year-old wife, “Camille,” who’s a nurse, instead of himself. In response to various childhood trauma, for years he not only drank to soothe himself, but also masturbated frequently. Early in his marriage to Camille, when his masturbating was still excessive, “Our sex life was way off,” Sonny says.
Today, they have sex on a regular basis, with Camille ordering Sonny to sit on the edge of the bed, where he’s given the key to unlock his chastity harness. Camille often puts a blackout hood over his head and orders him on his knees where he asks, “How can I please you?”
“I prefer for him not to speak unless spoken to,” Camille says.
“Waiting on a queen is the way I look at it,” says Sonny. “If she says to rub her feet, I’m rubbing her feet. If she says, ‘I want four orgasms before you can even attempt to enter me,’ then that’s the way it goes.”
Sonny says that when he and Camille are intimate he’s better able to be in the moment and enjoy the physical pleasures that will ultimately arrive. But FLR purviews typically extend far outside the bedroom. Like Jay, Sonny tends to the home. (Camille says with a Mommy Dearest tone of lingering frustration over past fuck ups that she has to instruct Sonny on how to do chores the way she likes them done.) However, Sonny and Camille’s FLR pact is, by some standards, tame. If Sonny is struggling one day, energy-wise, mentally or emotionally, Camille won’t lean on him too hard, if at all.
“We’re realistic about it,” Sonny says. “There’s that fantasy role where the guy is just cleaning and getting spit on and all of that; that isn’t the case with us.”
Marie, a pseudonymous, 50-year-old Texan who runs her own construction business and is an FLR wife to a c-level executive of a Fortune 100 company, says her submissive husband still retains a relatively high degree of autonomy and power — under certain circumstances. Though she finalizes major and minor decisions in their marriage, while in public, say, at a party, if her husband scratches the side of his neck, that’s a signal to Marie that she’s being obnoxious and had better read the room.
“He’s not telling me I have to,” Marie says. “He’s just helping me be self-aware and understand my surroundings.”
Some couples, including Marie and her hubby, go so far as to sign contracts outlining their FLR’s parameters. The agreements may obligate the man to do his female partner’s bidding, no matter the ask, at any given moment.
Outside the obvious perks of having a partner dote on them perhaps every waking minute they’re together and taking care of whatever tasks they order up, women derive other pleasures and positives from their FLRs.
Sonny says on Camille’s behalf that since their female-led relationship began in about 2018 — some seven years into their marriage — she’s been more self-confident and empowered outside the relationship, particularly at work. He says his nurse wife is “able to talk to men with no problem and say, ‘Hey, you’re gonna go do this,’ even to a doctor.”
Krystine Kellogg, a 42-year-old erotic voiceover actor living in Minnesota, also says she’s become “so much more confident in who I am” since she and her husband formalized their FLR six years ago, one year into their relationship. Her appearance has improved, she says, “and I’m so much more able to advocate for what I want, even outside our dynamic.” She adds: “I used to be such a people-pleaser.”
In her FLR, Kellogg says she’s “in control of pretty much everything,” including financial decisions. Vehicle titles are in her name; she also delegates household chores to her husband, who works a physically demanding job in construction. But just because he plays a submissive at home, doesn’t mean he’s weak. She observes that “the submissives are such strong people and there’s such a demand on them to do things.”
“He has a lot of responsibility,” she says of her husband. “His sole purpose — and he’ll tell you this — is my happiness, so whatever it takes to make me happy, he’s willing to do.”
In August 2020, Kellogg launched Krystine’s FLR Podcast, discussing FLRs writ large as well as her marriage, in which she describes herself as a “nurturing dom.” She’s happy to take on what might appear to be a more exhaustive share of relational burdens. While many seem to think being the dominant in a relationship is like caring for a child, she says, the dynamic she shares with her husband “isn’t overly demanding.”
“It kind of just flows,” she continues. “It’s just our natural personalities.”
Still, like when a dominatrix is executing a “scene,” and the submissive has entrusted control over their body’s safety to them, communication in an FLR is paramount. One interview subject after another indicated to me that they regularly discuss their relationship status with their partners, checking in on comfort levels and periodically updating any contracts they may have signed. Any relationship counselor will summon the old phrase “communication is key” to a happy partnership, and it’s no wonder that the people I spoke to — of both genders — all sound extremely content in their FLRs.
FLRs are becoming so prevalent that at least one hookup app, Headero, which pairs people who are looking for oral sex stimulation, recently featured the arrangement in its “Seeking” options. Stephen Quaderer, Headero’s founder, says he’s growing the app’s usership by engaging in conversations with people in sex-focused communities. When chatting with folks, particularly in the cuckolding community, FLR seemed a constant topic.
“It was clear to me that this was a fairly broad-based kind of movement,” Quaderer says of FLRs, a trend he does not find terribly surprising because “society has been led by the patriarchy or with a masculine energy [and] this is just one of the manifestations of how people feel that that needs to change.”
Quaderer adds that he believes the emergence of female-led relationships is also a direct reaction to the destigmatization of female sexual empowerment. “This concept of having the woman lead is foreign or exotic in a way,” he says. “And we know that ‘exotic’ is ‘erotic.’”
As far as Jay, the successful business consultant, is concerned, though, there’s nothing outlandish to the FLR philosophy.
“The people who enjoy this kind of lifestyle are normal,” says Jay. “Some people would think I’m a freak, but I’m the guy that would be coaching your little league team or you’d see at the community fundraiser.”