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Primals in the Kink Community

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

Question: What is a Primal? I don't under stand ... how they are different from a switch.

Jay's Answer: Primal's can be a little intimidating for those within the power exchange community. Many kinksters, whose power exchange roles don't change, are not quite sure how to approach Primals since its not clear to them how they decide who is Dominant and who is submissive. (1)

Power exchange (also known as kink or BDSM) is a sexual preference, identity, or orientation based on one practitioner consensually giving up some or all control to a another practitioner. (2) In most cases in the practitioners enter into play with predefined Dominant or submissive roles. A Switch is a practitioners who may take on either a Dominant or submissive role. (3) Within a power exchange dynamic, Switches are versatile and individually unique with how they play. There are no common rules or boundaries, It is quite common that a switch may be solely one orientation with one person and switch back and forth with others.(4)

Primals and Switches

Primals have the innate qualities of a switch. However, there is a big difference between being a “Switch (or Dom/sub) who enjoys rough sex” and a Primal. Unlike Switches who may enjoy rough sex, Primals observe a situational dynamism with each person they encounter called the "Struggle for Dominance." In the Struggle for Dominance, the Dominant Primal is decided in at least one of three ways:

  1. Physical besting - the Primals engage in a physical grappling that leads to a submission. (5)

  2. Psychological - the Primals have interacted with each other and it has been determined that one Primal has a mental bondage over the other (6)

  3. Chemistry - one Primal just gets around another person and can't help but submit. (7)

The Struggle for Dominance plays into the competitive nature of the Primal, similar to how animals in a pack will compete for access to resources. If an animal loses the struggle they submit; it’s a given in their social hierarchy. (8) The competitive nature and the desire for encounters that involve the "Struggle for Dominance” necessitates the ability to adapt and conform to the reality of the given power dynamic. It's either submission or risk looking weak in the eyes of the other partner. This energetic dance and possibility is part of what defines Primal. If a Primal loses the struggle they have to be emotionally and psychologically prepared to submit. Kinksters who are strictly “Dom/subs who enjoy rough sex” won’t get involved in situations that would potentially put them in a role counter to their kink orientation. They will refuse or be unable to switch if they lose a “Struggle for Dominance.” Being a Dom or sub who likes rough animalistic sex while maintaining a set role or orientation is a completely valid approach; kink has something for everyone.

In recent years there has been an increase in kink's social acceptance of community members taking on the sexual behaviors of an LGBTQ+ sexual orientation without necessarily claiming the sexual identity associated with the behavior. (9) In 2021, we saw a significant rise in the interest in Primal and Primal play dues to people on TikTok sharing their interest in primal play. (5) This has given rise to the development of the Primal subcategories Primal-Predator and Primal-Prey. Our society continues its evolution in recognition of fluid behaviors, attractions, and identities to allow individuals emotional and psychological acceptance.

Curious to learn more about Primals and kink as a Sexual orientation?

Kink 101 podcasts can be found on the Wolfspirit YouTube Chanel, as well as the playlists of your favorite Wolfspiritjay scene models.


  1. Lee Harrington, Mollena Williams (2012) Playing Well With Others. Greenery Press. ISBN 9780937609583

  2. Power Exchange. (2021)

  3. Switch. (2021)

  4. Lee Harrington, Mollena Williams (2012) Playing Well With Others. Greenery Press. ISBN 9780937609583

  5. Primal Fetish (2023)

  6. Mental Bondage (2023)

  7. Walker, A and Lutmer, A (2023) Caring, Chemistry, and Orgasms: Components of Great Sexual Experiences. Springer Link.

  8. Makai, M. (2013) Domination & Submission: The BDSM Relationship Handbook. Createspace. ISBN 9781492775973.

  9. Cabaj, R.P., (No Date) Working with LGBTQ Patients. American Psychiatric Association.

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