"Within the S/M subculture, different people use the words 'submissive' and 'slave' to mean many different things. When submissives say 'I want to be your slave,' sometimes they mean only that they want to be tied up and whipped. Many professional dominants routinely refer to their (usually _not_ very genuinely submissive clients) as 'slaves.' At the other extreme, there are people who want to be full-time personal servants, and who truly want to exist solely for their Dom(me)'s use, pleasure and convenience. And there are many shades in between these two extremes."
1. THE OUTRIGHT NON-SUBMISSIVE MASOCHIST or KINKY SENSUALIST. Not into servitude, humiliation or giving up control; just pain and/or spiced-up sensuality, on the masochist's own terms and for the masochist's own direct pleasure (i.e. turned on solely/mainly by one's own bodily sensations rather than by being "used" to gratify one's partner's sadism).
2. PSEUDO-SUBMISSIVE NON-SLAVE. Not into even _playing_ "slave," but into other "submissive" role-playing, e.g. schoolteacher scenes, infantilism, "forced" transvestism. Usually into humiliation, but NOT into servitude, even in play. Dictates the scene to a large degree.
3. PSEUDO-SUBMISSIVE _PLAY_ SLAVE. Likes to play at being a slave; likes to _feel_ subservient; may in some cases like to _feel_ one is being "used" to gratify partner's sadism; may even really serve the dominant in some ways, but only on the "slave's" own terms. Dictates the scene to a large degree; often fetishistic (e.g. foot worshipers).
4. TRUE SUBMISSIVE NON-SLAVE. Really gives up control (only temporarily and within agreed upon limits), but gets her/his main satisfaction from aspects of submission _other_ than serving or being used by the dominant. Usually turned on by suspense, vulnerability, and/or giving up responsibility. Doesn't dictate the scene except in very general terms, but still seek mainly her/his own direct pleasure (rather than getting one's pleasure mainly from pleasing the dominant).
5. TRUE SUBMISSIVE _PLAY_ SLAVE. _Really_ gives up control (though only temporarily; only during brief "scenes" and within limits) and gets main satisfaction from serving/being used by dominant, but only for FUN purposes, usually erotic. May not be into pain. If so, is turned on by pain indirectly, i.e. enjoys being the object of one's partner's sadism, on which the submissive places very few requirements or restrictions.
6. UNCOMMITTED SHORT-TERM BUT MORE THAN PLAY SEMI-SLAVE. Really gives up control (usually within limits); wants to serve and be used by the dominant; wants to provide practical/non erotic as well as fun/erotic services; but only when the "slave" is in the mood. May even act as a full-time slave for, say, several days at a time, but is free to quit at any time (or at the end of the agreed upon several days). May or may not have long-term relationship with one's Mistress, but, either way, the "slave" has the final say over when she will serve.
7. PART-TIME CONSENSUAL-BUT REAL SLAVE. Has an ongoing commitment to an owner/slave relationship and regards oneself as the dominants property at all times. Wants to obey and please dom(me) in all aspects of life-practical/non erotic and fun/erotic. Devotes most of time to other commitments (e.g. job) but Dom(me) has first pick of the slave's free time.
8. FULL-TIME LIVE IN CONSENSUAL SLAVE. Within no more than a few broad limits/requirements, the slave regards herself/himself as existing solely for the Dom(me)'s pleasure/well being. Slave in turn expects to be regarded as a prized possession. Not much different from the situation of the traditional housewife, except that within the S/M world the slave's position is more likely to be fully consensual, especially if the slave is male. Within the S/M world, a full time "slave" arrangement is entered into with an explicit awareness of the magnitude carefully, with more awareness of the magnitude of power that is being given up, and hence is usually entered into much more carefully, with more awareness of the possible dangers, and with much clearer and more specific agreements than usually precede the traditional marriage.
9. CONSENSUAL TOTAL SLAVE WITH NO LIMITS. A common fantasy ideal which probably doesn't exist in real life (except in authoritarian religious cults and other situations where the "consent" is induced by brainwashing and/or social or economic pressures, and hence isn't fully consensual). A few S/M purists will insist that you aren't really a slave unless you're willing to do absolutely _anything_ for your Dom(me), with no limits at all. I've met a few people who claimed to be no-limit slaves, but in all cases I have reason to doubt the claim.
The above list isn't intended as a rigid classification. Most submissives don't fall neatly into one of these categories; there are still further shades in between. (For example, a live-in slave with an outside paying job would be category 7 1/2. Also the same submissive may attain different degrees of submission with different Dom(me)s. The list is intended simply to show the wide range of different possible meanings of the words "submissive" and "slave."
In the S/M subculture, the majority of "submissives" seek scenes in categories 1-3, whereas most of the Dom(mes) I know (including myself) seek slaves in categories 6-7. If you're a submissive in categories 1-3, you are probably best off seeking a relationship not with a Dom(me) but with a fellow "sub," or with a switchable person into both roles. The two can take turns acting out each other's "submissive" or masochistic fantasies.
When a submissive tells a dominant, "I want to be your slave," it is often hard to tell exactly what is meant. Lots of people fantasize a much greater degree of submission than they are able or willing to attain in real life, and lots of "slaves," especially inexperienced ones, over estimate their own desire for real life servitude. A dominant must carefully find out how far the "slave" really wants to go. Caveat emptor.
POOR-ME SUB: This "sub" always has something going wrong in her life. Of course, it is never her fault..she is always being played upon and victimized by others. If only she found the *perfect* dom, her life would be problem-free and forever-blissful. Favorite IM to send: "Will you be my dom, sir? I am just a helpless little subbie." Favorite IM to receive: "Just do what I say, slave!"
JUST-DO-ME SUB: This "sub" just wants to be beaten. It doesn't really matter by who, or what..as long as he (I use "he" here because these are typically male) can feel the lash. Frequently misbehaving on purpose, this sub can drive a dom *crazy*. Favorite IM to send: "I have been naughty and need to be punished. Spank me now, Mistress!" Favorite IM to receive: "You are a bad sub and need to be punished! Bend over!"
BARBIE-SUB: This "sub" just likes the way she looks in leather fashions. She is afraid of the whip, and has never seen a clamp in her life. Her favorite store is "Dream Dresser", and her whole paycheck is spent there each week. Favorite IM to send: "Would you like to know what I am wearing, sir?" Favorite IM to receive: "What are you wearing?"
HE-HURT-ME SUB: This "sub", without any negotiations, talks of limits or safewords, rushes out to a country cabin to to play with a dom she met 2 days ago online. After letting him tie her up and whip her, she decides he is a menace to society, and can't wait to tell all her "sub" friends he is a "BAD dom". Favorite IM to send: "Subsis, I need to pass on a warning to you!" Favorite IM to receive: "My poor subsis, you have got to warn everyone about this creep!"
I-JUST-NEED-A-MAN SUB: This "sub", after exhausting all her singles bar and health club meeting places, decides that the D/s world would be a good place to meet a *man*. She really has no interest in D/s, she just needs someone to spend the rest of her life with. She is a close relative of POOR-ME SUB. Amazingly, when she "gets her dom", she suddenly looses interest in any type of sex. Favorite IM to send: "Sir, will you take care of me forever?" Favorite IM to receive: "I have always dreamed of having a large family."
NO-ONE-CAN-TOP-ME SUB: This "sub" longs to submit, yet claims no dom is strong enough to top her. Some say she is really just a domme in disguise. Favorite IM to send: "Think you are strong enough to put me in my place, jerk?" Favorite IM to receive: "No, Mistress, I am really just a weak and helpless slave. ::falling to the floor and kissing your boots::
SUBMISSION IS THE GREATEST GIFT Submissive. This submissive has stars in her eyes and naivete in her heart. She swoons at the mere thought of a dom, any dom, asking her to pass the salt. She writes her dom's name in the corner of her notebook with little hearts and flowers around it. She declares that there is no better way to love than through submission, and that D/s is a "better" and "higher" manner of loving than anything a silly old vanilla person might do. She lives on an emotional roller-coaster, sentimental enough to cry when seeing a long-distance phone company commercial. Favorite IM to send: "You are all of life to me, there is nothing about life worthwhile without you." Favorite IM to receive: "I am everything you'll ever want or need, and I'll protect you from everything."