Choosing A Dominant

Choosing A Dominant

Choosing a Dominant can be difficult. There is no way to spot a Dominant at ten paces. Unfortunately many submissives, and particularly novices, are impressed by these superficial things, making it easy for Dominant fakers. Anyone can learn to swing a flogger, talk in BDSM speak, and wear 13 pounds of leather; but these do not make a Dominant.

If you want a quality partner you’ll have to take some time and get to know them. In some ways, choosing a good Dominant is similar to choosing a good partner in general. In others it’s quite different because of the unique style of our relationships. They key difference is that when we go into subspace, we make ourselves vulnerable in ways that we may never do with a vanilla partner. This makes the D/s relationship far riskier and we must take extra care when choosing partners. Here are some things to look for, to avoid, and to ignore in your search for a quality Dominant.

A Dominant Is…


A quality Dominant shows respect to submissives, and to everyone. He or she asks questions about your life, listens to the answers, and doesn’t put you down.


A quality Dominant keeps a balance between their vanilla and BDSM lives. They can talk about their family, pets, other things that have nothing to do with BDSM. They have a sense of humor about the lifestyle, and don’t take themselves too seriously. Avoid Dominants with a chip on their shoulder, or who cannot hold a job or keep friends. Especially avoid people who complain about their ex partners or about everyone else in the scene. One day you will be the ex and they will be bitching about you.


A quality Dominant needs to be able to access their emotions, and articulate them. If they are the stereotypical guy who can’t express their emotional side, they will not be able to support your emotional side when the time comes. If they can’t control their temper, or they make a big drama out of life, they will be too self-directed to take care of you.


A quality Dominant is as good as their word. If they say they’ll show up at 6 PM, they show up. If you are going to trust this person with your body and possibly your heart, you need to know that they will come through. A some time Dominant is not an effective Dominant.


A quality Dominant recognizes that D/s relationships have several dynamics that are very different, and sometimes far more complex than vanilla ones. Because of this, he or she should have a better understanding of human nature than the average Joe or Jane. Messing with subspace is a heavy experience. To live a present life you have to understand human nature. But to be a successful Dominant, you have to really get it at a much deeper level. Doing it with a shallow or superficial person makes for a shallow and superficial experience.


A quality Dominant does not need to know how to use every toy in the toy box, but they do need to be motivated to learn. A novice should not be doing high-end play like whipping, fire play, or knife play without a mentor to guide them. They should be knowledgeable about how to avoid sexually transmitted diseases, and have an awareness of first aid. They know that reading and fantasizing about BDSM is not the same thing as doing it. A good Dom acknowledges that he’s not the be-all end-all of information and encourages you to find information about BDSM from many sources.


A quality Dominant doesn’t hit on you during the first date, and doesn’t discourage you from dating other Dominants until you are ready to make a commitment. They know that a good relationship takes time and that there’s no need to rush in or glom onto you. They also don’t try to “make” you submit before you have given permission to go ahead.


A quality Dominant is known by someone. A novice may not have BDSM references, but everyone has friends and family. If they are totally in the closet and can’t even offer a vanilla reference then they might not be a good person to get involved with. Being “known” in the scene doesn’t guarantee that a person is a good Dominant, but they will probably be a safe Dominant. There are plenty of Dominants who have great reputations because of their technical knowledge, but have little to offer when it comes to the complexities of a real relationship.

A Quality Dominant Isn’t…

Lord This and Mistress That

In the days of the Old Guard, a Dominant had to “earn” their leather vest. Anyone who wore it could be considered a safe and experienced player. Today, anyone can call themselves Lady Bigcheese or Master Bigshot. Author Jay Wiseman writes in his article “Ten Tips for the Novice, Single, Heterosexual, Submissive Woman” of a submissive friend who “has concluded that there is also a strong inverse relationship between how many titles a man awards himself and how good a dominant he is.” Similarly if they make an “entrance” a la Scarlet O’Hara or claim relationships with many well-known scene personalities, they lose points on the respect-o-meter. Ignore the titles and look at the person.

Toy Obsessions

Dominants who obsess about their toy collections send the message that BDSM is about the toys. It’s not. A quality Dominant does not need equipment to dominate, only a powerful and creative mind. Not to mention the Dominants who dangle multiple toys off their belt, especially when they aren’t playing.

Horndog on the Prowl

Many novice Dominants or vanilla horndogs view submissives as a quick way to get some free nookie. Wiseman also comments about another submissive friend who “has come to believe that there is a strong inverse relationship between how good a dominant a man is and how quickly he brings up the subject of fellatio.”

Bullies & Manipulators

Some people think that being a bully means they’re being dominant. Bullies tell you how things are done and get upset when you disagree. Adults discuss the options respectfully. A real Dominant doesn’t have to force you to do anything. Dominants who try to manipulate you into doing what they want are losers.