Thursday, January 03, 2013

What to Look For in a Dom/Master

The skill set required of a dom in a lifestyle D/s relationship is rather different than that for a top in an S&M scene, although there's overlap. The focus of this article is lifestyle doms. (See Relationship Variations article.) Most of these traits are straight out of the best-practices manual for vanilla relationships!

Note: I run the risk of simply summarizing my own style as a dom here. I've tried to look beyond that, and solicited feedback from sub friends.

Honesty and transparency. He answers any question you pose, shares things you should know unprompted, and hides nothing about his life. He's willing to discuss previous relationships in detail, and doesn't blame breakups mostly on the ex-partners.

Has tried kink and craves more. He wants kink for how it makes him feel, not just because you want it. He's not conflicted about it. He enjoys educating himself on the topic, and has kinky friends and/or mentors. (Because it's easier to meet appealing men in ordinary social situations, many sub gals make the mistake of falling for vanilla guys who seem to have dominant attributes. Vanilla boys cannot be converted to doms!)

Vanilla chemistry. You like each other as people, not just as kink providers! He likes you as much as you like him. He doesn't pull you into D/s dynamics until you get familiar with each other. (This can be hard to resist! See D/s Gravity article.)

Compatible life patterns and goals. Some subs, and doms, are more adaptable than others. But in general, chemistry is not enough; you need basic alignment in schedules, habits, needs for solitude & attention/affection & kink/sex, and social patterns (e.g. a social butterfly may not be well-matched to a homebody). Career and family needs and dreams also need to line up, or be adjustable!

Vision and clarity. He has a picture or plan for the future of the relationship. He sees possible paths from the present to that place, and makes the current path clear to his sub. The journey may well alter his vision of the destination, or the route to it.

Emotional sophistication. He's aware of his own feelings and issues, and able to discover and understand yours. He can ask for help when he needs it and lend help when you ask. He's not easily angered or hurt, but will promptly and calmly tell you when he is. He'll call you on your stuff, and allows you to call him on his.

Dedication to self-development. He's constantly working on himself — especially emotional and social skills. He's at peace with who he is, but isn't complacent. He learns from his mistakes. (This trait can fill a lot of gaps if he learns quickly, but it's not a substitute for missing abilities.)

Curiosity and fascination. He's profoundly interested in you, and your dynamics together, and the aspects of himself that you enable him to explore.

Intuition and empathy. He's good at reading you, and eventually predicting your likely responses in key moments. He communicates his insights about you. He has a sense of how you feel, which impacts his own mind-state.

Humility and confidence. He knows his weaknesses and vulnerabilities. He knows his strengths. He takes risks wisely. He doesn't mistake authority for knowledge and understanding. He owns it when he's at fault or has failed.

Sets limits and pushes limits. One point of D/s is redefining both partners' boundaries, emotionally and physically. A dom guides this process, both by setting beneficial restrictions on his partner, and working to dismantle barriers she may have towards him.

Patience and flexibility. He's willing to invest the time and care necessary for a deep relationship. He knows you're not superhuman. He can take "no" for an answer when necessary. He can devise or embrace alternate routes to his objectives.

Appreciation and encouragement. He conveys to you how good he feels with you. He celebrates your talents and accomplishments. He doesn't criticize you unfairly or needlessly. He urges you to pursue your interests, to hone your strengths, to address your weaknesses. (Appreciation can be overdone. A sub should draw greater meaning from acts fulfilling her partner's needs than from praise for performing them.)

Knowledge of the body. He can touch you in an observant way, or a directive one. He learns how to play your body like an instrument. He is aware of his own body. He can sense when either of you needs rest.

Financial stability. He has his own living space. His debt to income ratio is manageable. (Disposable income to spend on fetish gear is nice, but do-it-yourself projects can replicate much of it. Wealth is not essential to happiness, in fact it can get in the way.)

Cares for himself. He's sensible about nutrition, sleep, exercise, grooming, clothes, car, etc.

If you find a gent with all of the above qualities, and he's into you, be willing to bend over backwards and forwards for him daily. He's a rare find!

What's Irrelevant

Looks. How someone feels to you in person — through eyes, voice, energy — is far more important than how statuesque or photogenic he is.

Need for control. Some doms like to supervise a sub closely and often, others do so far less. How dominated a sub feels is not a matter of how often her dom barks orders. Most control freaks don't qualify as doms.

Social and workplace dominance. Romance novels describe heroes who somehow control every situation they encounter. No one does that. Almost all kinky gents are employees of some kind. And anybody is comfortable in certain social situations and less sure of themselves in others.

D/s experience. If a guy hasn't "owned" a sub before, it doesn't mean he's not qualified. Talent and dedication to honing it are more crucial than experience.

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22 Comments:

At July 08, 2013 8:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your blog, it really does help put some of my thoughts in order, so I can articulate my needs without sounding like a school girl, who cant breath when he is around...

 
At October 25, 2013 10:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Operative statement being "..is a rare find". That's the part that makes me sad. I'm just worried I'm going to encounter a Channing Tatum on the street and Buffalo Bill in bed. :sigh:... Keeping my hopes up, eyes open and all senses honed in. Thanks for all the tips!

 
At November 12, 2013 3:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, how do you speak your mind? If in fact you feel you are this dom or at least the potential for such? I find myself sounding immodest and wanting... Where, it seems to me, doms should be who they are at the very core, and that should be enough to show an observer (sub or not) what kind of a person they are... But, from my experience, people at large are not looking my way... They do not see me or what I do.. I feel my power as a dom be compromised by the functional need to find myself a sub... I feel pathetically conflicted because I feel the focus is all doms on subs but seemingly not subs on doms... Sorry this is so brief but this is something with which I am really struggling.. Can you help me see what it is I.can not?

 
At November 12, 2013 3:41 PM, Blogger Will said...

"I find myself sounding immodest and wanting." Well, I'm right there with you, mate! All parties would be better off if we agreed that subs should approach doms, rather than trying to live a romance-novel fantasy being swept from their feet by a gent who magically finds them.

That said, a fair number of subs have reached out to me via ads on OKCupid (which is kink-friendly) and Craigslist (where I lead with other interests, and mention kink near the end). I've had very little luck initiating contact myself on dating sites.

It's helped me a lot to become fluent in one social context (partner dancing) where there are equal numbers of men and women. The joy and confidence I derive from that tends to spill over into other interactions.

As for showing a specific person who I am, once I have her attention, I ask a lot of questions, and tell stories about my romantic experiences. That illuminates my past and demonstrates some of my knowledge of good relationship patterns.

 
At November 17, 2013 6:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very awesome blog. Thank you so much....

 
At December 30, 2013 12:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So... Question of the day; what if you actually got someone like that handed to you on a silver plate. But you're still in a very stable, 'regular' relationship, though you know you're a sub, and your current partner is by no means a Dom... And oh, yeah, bonus... you work together and are actually his manager? Oh, and he loves you, and you're in love with him, but still love your partner? Do you still bend over backwards? Or do you pick self protection and gtfo? If anyone has any good advice? I'm going mental...

 
At December 30, 2013 12:56 PM, Blogger Will said...

Life's interesting at times, eh? Here are some questions to ask yourself... Had you been evaluating your vanilla relationship before the silver plate arrived, and if so, what conclusions were you drawing? Have you discussed your need for D/s with your vanilla partner, and if so what did you learn? Have you perhaps become attached to the new dom as a way to free yourself from the vanilla partner or test his passion for you?

It will take time for you to learn whether the new dom is a long-term match for you; although perhaps short-term kink is appealing as well? How carefully have you vetted the dom? (See How to Interview...) How much are you two drawn together by D/s Gravity? Note that one of you might have to change work roles if you get sexually involved. How important is your current employer/position to you? Changing both job and relationship at the same time might be extremely stressful; it might make sense to pick one to shift first.

This sounds like one of those situations where you need to "be your own dom" -- find that part of yourself that can protect and direct you into a safe harbor!

 
At December 30, 2013 2:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pfff, it sure is :) Yes, I have discussed my needs, though in slightly more covert terms, but after 9 years he knows damned well what I mean, and it's not for him.

The weirdest part is that the Dom is definitly right for me, in every single way. Even the work environment doesn't really seem to have impact on either work (except for some loss of focus ;) or the relationship between me and the Dom. (yeah, I know that's idealistic and won't end like I think right now) In work, he knows I have the upper hand, and I known damn well that's only the professional part.

But in my head, 9 years is still a friggin long time in a stable relationship, for something that has been slumbering for so long and has only been really active for a while... On the other hand, will I ever lose that itch? Can I have a fulfilling relationship without satisfying that itch?

No worries if you don't have the answers, but I just have a sneaking suspicion I can't really be the only one in this situation ;)

 
At December 30, 2013 4:13 PM, Blogger Will said...

If your current relationship isn't fulfilling -- which you seem to imply, can you call it "stable"? In my view, a lasting relationship needs not only companionship and stability, but also some tension and rhythm, which foster learning and growth for both partners.

 
At December 31, 2013 2:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm, I guess that's indeed the question it boils down to, I'll need to think on that... Thanks for taking the time to reply, I really apreciate it, and I find your blog very helpful!

 
At March 07, 2014 2:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous, your sneaking suspicion about not being the only one in this situation is absolutely correct ;)
I've had kink fantasies for as long as I can think back and dipped into it a little before I met my totally vanilla husband at a fairly young age.Before we had our first child (and got married some months after) he did try his hand at very mild bondage and even milder S&M but in hindsight he's just been humouring me. Fast forward a decade and we are looking at 17 years and 3 kids together. We work well as parents, we have worked well as a couple outside of the bedroom until recently, and my husband declares himself to be very happy. Unfortunately I am not! For a multitude of reasons to long to list here I feel obliged to stay in this relationship for the time being. So for the past weeks I've been thinking hard on how to deal with this situation, not that I am any closer to a solution, mind you ;)
Will, thank you for the best blog on the topic!
I was starting to think that most Doms/Tops lacked intelligence, empathy, insight and multiple other traits that would recommend them to me as a friend or even partner and that being submissive would work best if I'd manage to switch my brain, humour, need for coherent conversation and sarcastic streak off ;)

 
At May 13, 2014 3:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This entry is perfect!!!
I really would love to put this list up on my wall. It really sums it up what every sub craves. As a sub, one wants to be 100% perfect for such a dom - and with such a dynamic comes sacrifice. Nothing worthwhile comes easy even when the D/s fit feels perfect, lots of hard work is required!

Your blog is fab Thanks for the valuable insights x

 
At May 28, 2014 7:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what's a sub gotta do to meet a Dom like that?!?!?Honestly, you've pretty much described the kind of guy I've been looking for my WHOLE darn life, even before I began tapping into my submission. Sometimes I feel like I'm a magnet for said frogs and trolls, like I have "fresh meat" tattooed on my forehead. That leads me to question whether there's something in me that's pinging their radar...

That guy you've described is like the "Holy Grail" of Dom's (in my own opinion). I'd date a guy who was half of that list as long as he was willing to work on the rest. A part of me doesn't believe he exists and then I stumble onto these nuggets of wisdom that leave me hoping he's out there somewhere.

 
At June 12, 2014 7:45 AM, Blogger Malin "Ravna" Runsten said...

This put a smile on my face because it describes my love interest so well.

I've always had kinky inclinations. And most of those have almost always been centered around being the submissive one. I have an alphatype personality because of my childhood and an innate knowledge that if I don't sort things out and make them happen it most likely won't. Despite that I have always wanted to find that one person I can surrender myself to completely. It just hasn't happened. My first marriage whas with a total sweetheart where I ruled the roost so to speak because he was such a sub in personality. I took charge all the time and started resenting it. I didn't like having to be the strong one all the time and I was frustrated because I did not get what I craved sexually or emotionally. Puppy love, it never lasts. Then followed some years of of having fund and playing around. I went to kinkfests and salivated over everything I saw but I never found someone I trusted enough to give myself over to. I have trust issues obviously. Got into another relationship that lasted more than 7 years and resulted in a child and the knowledge that even though a man may have a dominating personality it does not guarantee he will be a good Dom. Uninspiring vanilla sex (I don't mind vanilla much, it can be satisfying but it doesn't get the synapses firing like a volcano eruption)and thoughts centered around him only taking pleasure for himself and a general lack of respect made us part ways.
So I've spent quite some time soulsearching and figuring out what I need and coming to the conclusion that I will always be a wicked one and to go with the flow. So not long ago I went to a friend to visit and I could hear the chemistry sing in the air. I could feel the waves of tightly controlled energy in him and I suddenly realised that even though we've known eachother for years I've had blinders on for so very long. He's amazing. He can make me more aroused than I've ever been by just pinning down my hands and teasing my skin. We are both more into BD than SM so we are very compatible like that. My entire being wants to please him, wants to see him light up and tell me I've been a good girl. I'm utterly besotted. I'm scared that it will not work, that my son won't like us being together or that He won't ever feel like I know I do. It's maddening.
So thank you. I've been reading your blog and feel more calm and balanced about where things are going and that I'm doing the right thing.

 
At October 12, 2014 2:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, Will. I am in a very unique situation that you may be able to guide me through given your astute understanding of the D/s dynamic. I have a sweet, young friend with whom I also have an ongoing casual sexual relationship. Although our relationship will only ever be casual and friendly, we have incredible sexual chemistry, and as it turns out, he has the potential to be an outstanding Dom. Unfortunately, I am the only woman in his life who has ever allowed him to express his true self without complaint or ridicule, and I believe he also may be in denial about his deepest desires. Personally, I consider it disrespectful for a sub to train a/her Dom and don't want to ruin our dynamic or artificialize our passion. So, do you have any advice on how I can be instructive on taking control without topping from the bottom? Neither of us are the type to be part of any BDSM "scene" in a general, group sense, and I'm fairly certain he would not be willing to consult a more experienced Dom. I consider my situation with this incredible young man to be quite a privilege and do not want to overstep my position in this relationship. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

 
At October 12, 2014 2:38 PM, Blogger Will said...

Re "advice on how I can be instructive on taking control". Probably the easiest approach is pointing him to BDSM web sites, particularly kink porn, blogs, and discussion groups (such as on Fetlife). I found these resources fascinating and validating in the early stages of developing my dom side. And of course tell him about your own kink experiences and fantasies, and how they make you feel. Also there are a couple relevant comments on Emotional Issues in Dom/Sub Relationships. You needn't shoulder responsibility for his emergence; he has to purse D/s for his own reasons, and be emotionally ready to take such risks.

 
At October 12, 2014 8:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the advice. I'm glad you suggested sharing my experiences and desires with him, and that in doing so I'm not threatening our dynamic. Quite honestly, he's much more at ease to take control when I tell him what I want and why. It just makes me sad for him that he thinks he can only have this with me, that it's unique to "us." But as you rightly pointed out, his emergence is not my responsibility. Thank you again.

 
At October 26, 2014 6:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did nobody said you that a Dom isn't necessary "he" and a sub isn't necessary "she"? The article is good in general, but your use of pronouns is offensive for both dominant women and submissive men (like me).

 
At October 26, 2014 6:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not believe He had intentions on being offensive. These are words of guidance cultivated from His own growth and findings as a Dom that He is willing to display for others to understand the dynamics for potential healthy understanding and budding of D/s relationships. It should not be taken personally with His usage of pronouns as He also states in His writings the varieties of relationships whether male sub/fem dom and vice versa. When being read it should be known that it is not just cookie cutter male dom fem sub.

He's just coming from His own experiences. Do not get overworked on the specifics as you've said yourself the advice is quite sound.

-GentleCuriousity

 
At October 30, 2014 3:09 PM, Blogger Will said...

GentleCuriousity, I admit I'm confused when people capitalize pronouns referring to a dom, especially so when the dom is myself. I have a Protestant background so it makes me think we're discussing God! But yes, your take is correct.

Writing "the dom" and "the sub" repeatedly is clumsy language, so he/she is a convenient shorthand. I could alternate with she/he periodically, but that muddles things and omits gay & lesbian couples. I don't think this/that would quite work either ;-)

 
At October 31, 2014 5:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haha, I'm sorry to have done that. I'm discovering myself and thought I was being respectful but it just turned out awkward.

Thank you for your lovely insight though, I've read all your entries some of them twice to get a grasp of specific topics.

This blog is informative and I keep referring back to it.

-GC

 
At November 15, 2014 8:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing blog and writing, I came looking for a 'physical' trait of a Dom and learn much more..
I myself is in a complicated situation; the 14 years partner I been with has been (as my friends tell me) mentally abusive towards me for the last 8 years, controlled me through sex and aggression and although I am 'strong' in a sense, as I view her as my lady.. I never pressed my dominant.
I have since met someone who awoken the D/s in me and I am currently her Dom.. but as I am still with my partner - everything is stolen moment and I have helped and guided my sub and yet, after 4 months, I have respected her confusion that I have a partner and not pressed or forced sexual 'scene' on her.
I am planning to leave my current partner - my life is all scheduled and this is not time yet.. but
I am new to D/s whereas my sub isn't and sometime, she confuses me in the sense that through conversation.. she sometime wants me to be the Dom and yet, sometime just be a friend and I find that in a few instances, I have read it wrong and offended her by showing my Dom side. (when we made plans to see one another and she later booked herself - I asked why she did not tell me until I had to confirm our meet and she got crossed with me.) etc.
Everything you have written is everything I am working on/or currently have but I feel I am not enough for her.. slow to anger (if ever), very patient, understanding, nurturing, financially stable, willing to learn and explore, reads to educate myself (SM101; fock the roses, give me thorns etc).. always trying to better myself and although I know I am the Dom, I have always place the wellness; happiness and care of my sub foremost.. but I am missing.. something.

 

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