I’ve been doing this Dominant thing for a long time now, long enough to have learnt a thing or two, but also long enough to understand that there’s always more to learn. Over the years I’ve talked to a lot of people who have very wrong impressions of what being a good Dominant is all about. Sure we need to know a lot of things, but you don’t need to know it all to be a good Dominant, and you’re certainly not going to be a good Dominant if you’re a know it all who can never admit when they are wrong. Yes we may have slaves at our feet ready to do our every bidding, but as Batman famously said: with great power comes a great amount of work and being responsible for the submissives you are dominating.
Being a good Dominant is not about submissives owing you their submission or you demanding their submission, it’s about you being someone who is deserving of their submission, being someone who earns their respect, admiration and submission.
As a Dominant you’re the one enforcing the rules, and being a Dominant is about doing what you choose to do. You shouldn’t pay attention to people who want to tell you that you can’t do something because it’s not “Domly” enough (I was once told I couldn’t wear my Batman t-shirt for that reason) but that doesn’t mean there are no rules for you to follow.
Here’s a few rules that I believe are important for all Dominants to live by:
If you don’t have respect for yourself and your boundaries then you’re not going to have a lot of success as a Dominant. Being a Dominant is first and foremost about you, but that doesn’t mean what some people think it does. It’s not all about you taking or receiving at the expense of others, it’s about you knowing yourself deeply, understanding your wants and needs, setting your boundaries clearly, and having the respect for yourself to go out there and make the things you want happen.
Respect your submissive
While to some people looking from the outside, it may seem at times that the things we Dominants do to our submissives are far from respectful, but being a good Dominant is about doing those things with great respect for the submissive. This is a place where the lines between abuse and dominance can seem to be blurred, because an abuser can do many things that a Dominant does, but the abuser does them without respect. A so-called Dominant who does not respect their submissives can seem perfectly fine as a Dominant, until they are not, and when they are not, things can get very bad.
Respect other people in the community and their relationships
How you conduct yourself as a Dominant within the community is vitally important and says a lot about you as a person and as a Dominant. If a “Dominant” is on Fetlife acting like a festering bag of dicks, I think it’s probably fair to assume that they are in fact a sack of rotting chopped off penisis and therefore not particularly good Dominant material. If they can’t respect other people and other people’s relationships then they are probably also incapable of respecting their own submissives, and realistically that is likely to be because they don’t actually respect themselves.
Affirmative and enthusiastic consent
I could and probably should write a whole article explaining consent, it’s shocking how many people still don’t get it. As a good Dominant it’s your responsibility to have a deep understanding of consent and make sure that the consent that you get is both affirmative and enthusiastic. If a submissive is forced or coerced to consent then they are not consenting at all.
Safewords are essential. If you’re doing BDSM without a safeword then guess what, your safewords are “stop”, “no” and “don’t”. I’m not going to go into too much detail on safewords here, again I should write a whole article about them, but I do need to say that safewords are important in the context of consent because when a safeword is used it withdraws consent.
Limits are things that your submissive doesn’t consent to. That means you don’t go trying to pressure, coerce or force them into doing something that they have set out as a limit.
BDSM relationships need to be built on trust and honesty. I’m not sure if they really require more honesty than a vanilla relationship should have, but they definitely require a lot more honesty than many vanilla relationships seem to actually have. I think that polite dishonesty is something that is normalized far too much in our society and it really has no place in a BDSM relationship. Just be honest about what you want, what you need, what your expectations are… the more honestly you can communicate with your submissives the better you are going to be as a Dominant.
Your submissives shouldn’t need to drag information out of you. A Dominant shouldn’t be keeping things to themselves because their submissive didn’t ask. You have the responsibility here to openly communicate with your submissives and make sure that you are giving them all of the information that you need to communicate to them.
Create an environment where submissives feels comfortable and safe communicating with you
It’s worth noting that a submissive knows they should be communicating, unless they feel comfortable and safe actually engaging in that communication. As a good Dominant you should be actively making sure that your submissives have the safe space they need to communicate difficult things with you.
This is not an exhaustive list of rules for Dominants, but I think that it’s a good starting point. From here it’s important to educate yourself more, and if you need help with something, don’t hesitate to ask for help or advice from a dominant you respect and trust. A really good Dominant will be happy to share knowledge and advice with you if you are genuinely trying to learn how to be a better Dominant.