Ask! – What is an Alpha Sub?

What is the definition of an Alpha Sub? I’m new to BDM and believe it might apply to me.

There are a few possible answers to this question about the definition of alpha sub, so let’s take a look at each of them!

Alpha Sub in Leather Family/BDSM House

An alpha sub appears most often in leather families or other BDSM houses. The alpha sub is the ‘head submissive’ or the submissive with the most seniority and experience. Think of them as a Majordomo – they assist in the running of the household and instruct those they are in charge of. They don’t necessarily make decisions, they simply execute the will of their master(s).

But I’m totally dominant in real life…

More commonly, we see people who are new to BDSM claim the title of ‘alpha sub’ not to mean that they are the first or are the sub with the most responsibility in a group, but to hide insecurity.

alpha sub ask morgan thorne bdsm questionsSubmissive doesn’t mean weak, timid, shy, etc. Most of the submissives I know are strong people who know who they are. They are often confident and sure of themselves. Sometimes they have jobs with great responsibility, are bosses or team leaders.

Being a submissive means that you have chosen to follow a dominant – in whatever capacity the two (or more) of you have decided. It could be an agreement to power exchange in the bedroom, a 24/7 TPE situation, or anything in between. Submissive only describes your relationship orientation and/or configuration.

I see the term alpha sub a lot in FemDom circles. It makes me sad. Sad because ideas of toxic masculinity – “to be a real man, I need to be in charge” – are so ingrained in our society.

I have had some wonderful, strong, powerful men submit to me. It didn’t make them any less manly. Likewise, I’ve had some incredible, smart, wonderful ladies offer their submission and I’ve cherished it. I’ve also been lucky enough to have some folks on the trans spectrum and non-binary folks submit and you better believe that they were beautifully bad-ass in their own way too.

Don’t make the ‘alpha sub’ mistake

Most experienced kinksters will agree that new people declaring themselves an alpha sub is a red flag. To me, it says that the person isn’t comfortable with their submission and not ready for a D/s relationship with me. I’m not looking for someone that I have to fight for dominance (although bratting can be fun sometimes but that’s a different thing altogether). I want someone who knows what they want and who is comfortable with it.

While I’m unsure the reception that self-declared alpha subs get in M/f or M/m circles, I know they are generally ignored in F/m and F/f groups. At least until the chest thumping starts, which it often does.

Want to learn more about various roles in BDSM?
Check out my Youtube channel where we discuss this topic and many more!


If you feel that alpha sub describes you, ask yourself why?

alpha sub alpha submissive ask morgan thorne bdsm questions Are you in charge during your normal life but submissive in BDSM or the bedroom? Congrats, you’re a submissive. BDSM identities only relate to BDSM or D/s relationships, they don’t describe your interactions with the vanilla world.

Do you like the idea of submitting but also like the idea of being in charge? You may be a switch! Switches can switch D/s roles or Top/bottom roles (in any combination, like Dominant/bottom). They may switch within their relationship with another switch, or they may take on different roles with different partners. Lots of possibilities to explore there.

Do you find bottoming activities attractive (getting spanked, pegged/anal sex, being tied up, etc) but don’t want to give up control or authority? You sound like a bottom – a person who enjoys the receptive side of BDSM play without power exchange. The complementary role it Top, a person who enjoys the active side of BDSM activities without power exchange.

Finally, do you desire a relationship where you are one submissive amongst many? Where you are in charge of the other submissives but follow the direction of a dominant or dominants? You may be an alpha sub.

Ask Your Questions!



4 thoughts on “Ask! – What is an Alpha Sub?

  1. Marissa Odell says:

    YES. Thank you. I am a switch who has been involved with the BDSM community for about 20 years. After a year or so of kinky vanilla & a default D/s dynamic we’ve begun formalizing our power exchange.
    We have been best friends over a decade & have always had a natural flow & healthy competition. He is also a switch & early on we agreed to just be and allow room for a natural dynamic to show itself.
    I have been struggling with a particular aspect of my submission and hadn’t been able to pin it down until I found your site. I recognized the term alpha sub from my time around the old guard. I was pleased to see that my recollection of the term is accurate & I was able to finally get there. I needed the reminders of how D/s relationships are equitable and submission is not less than, rather a treasured gift. Thank you for that 💜

  2. storm says:

    I found this article after doing a search for the term “alpha sub”. This description is really disheartening.

    I’ve considered myself Dominant up until now. I’d tried submission before but could never let go. For various reasons – having to be a mediator in an abusive environment, people relying on me, etc – I’ve had to become confident and in control, even though I’ve always wanted to hand the reins over to someone else.

    Now I have met someone (at 41 years old) with whom I can do that. This person has worked with me through insecurities and paranoia. I have had to rely on myself (OR ELSE) for most of my life that this isn’t easy! It’s not that I don’t want it. It’s not that I’m full of ego. And I’m certainly not the things that you’ve described in this article.

    I might be a submissive who is accustomed to being in control of things and making things work. I might be a control freak who needs help letting go of behaviors that life has basically beaten into me. This article makes it seem like a person such as me is undesirable because of aspects of who I am that are logical results of experiences.

    Even typing these words makes me think that I’ll just look ornery and contrary and somehow prove your point. In reality I’m just disappointed. I was hoping to find an article about how someone like me can learn to let go, but instead it seems that people think someone like me isn’t worth working with. Which I guess has been my fear all along.

    I’ll keep looking. Just thought I’d let someone know that I’m out here and I’m desperate to submit and let go but I’m wired completely opposite and trying to undo all of that conditioning is hard.

    1. Morgan says:

      This comment is old – I wasn’t getting notifications for them, so I apologize! I think you’ve misunderstood what I was talking about in this article. The vast majority of submissives are perfectly capable people in day-to-day life. They can adult the same as anyone else. Dominance and submission (in a BDSM context) aren’t personality traits, they’re preferences for a position in a relationship. Describing yourself as dominant in day to say context is a misunderstanding of what it is to be dominant (or submissive). If you want to give up authority in your relationship, you are submissive (or whichever s-type label suits you). How you are with other people, at work, etc. really has no bearing on that.

      As for how to let go, I don’t know – I’m not submissive. I would say trust is the #1 thing. Building trust gives one the ability to be vulnerable. The other thing, which I was attempting to address in this article, is letting go of your own, internalized issues with submission. It’s not weak, it’s not less than. Submissives can be just as strong as dominants – physically and mentally. In fact, I would argue that they need quite a bit of self-actualization to accept and embrace their identity. Claiming dominance is easy, it’s seen as having more status. Claiming and really embracing submission often takes a lot of courage because of that conditioning you mention.


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