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This article is about consensual adult sadomasochistic activity.For the medical condition involving non-consensual ideation or behaviour, see Sexual sadism disorder.
The resulting consent and understanding is occasionally summarized in a written "contract", which is an agreement of what can and cannot take place."BDSM" is an umbrella term for certain kinds of erotic behavior between consenting adults.There are distinct subcultures under this umbrella term.The terms "top" and "bottom" are also used: the top is the instigator of an action while the bottom is the receiver of the action.The two sets of terms are subtly different: for example, someone may choose to act as bottom to another person, for example, by being whipped, purely recreationally, without any implication of being psychologically dominated by them.
The abbreviations "sub" and "dom" are frequently used instead of "submissive" and "dominant".