Dear Doms and Dommes:
Thank you. Thank you for enjoying your role on the left of the slash. Without you, my life would not be nearly as fun and joyful as it is now. A good D-type can be transformative for a submissive. A good D-type helps ground me, can help me motivate to be better in many aspects of my life, and can bring me great joy.
But, to be honest, I know way to many people who identify with the left of the slash that do no fall into the “good” D-type. I know as a submissive it took some time to find my footing. With all the options for types of submission – baby girl, brat, little, service sub, bottom, and more – there were so many ways for me to express submission. Additionally, the idea of what submission is in a relationship takes time to develop. What power is it okay to give away? When do you give away that power? What happens if your D-type talks a good game but cannot manifest the skills and understanding it takes to make a good relationship? How do I maintain the identity of a submissive when I am uncollared, not owned, and unattached to a D-type?
I know people left of the slash are faced with parallel questions. Like submissives, they search for their identity and roles within a community and within a relationship. In nearly 30 years of doing this, I have seen D-types manifest behavior that they label “dominant” but are really more dick moves than anything.
I want to address some of the behaviors I see in the community, both so D-types can understand what subs see and subs can catch onto red flags.
1. Dominance is not eschewing manners. Let me make this really, really clear. If you are rude and inconsiderate, that does not make you a Dom(me), it makes you a dick. I went out with one Dom who eventually declared that his rude behavior to wait staff in restaurants, his failure to ever acknowledge the work a host had put into an event, and his downright rude behavior in social situations was his expression of dominance.
First, agreeing to be polite in situations and following basic social etiquette is just the right thing to do. Saying “please” and “thank you,” greeting a host at a party, offering to help out with an event, and being willing to engage in some simple small talk does not make one less dominant. Being nasty to a waiter at a restaurant in no way makes you more dominant. You are not in a D/s relationship with the wait staff, you are in their space, and paying for a service. Just because they are serving you your dinner does not mean they are in service to you. These are no way equivalents.
Second, going to an event, be it a public event or something at someone’s home is not a right. You are entering someone else’s space. Regardless of how “dominant” you see yourself, you need to show respect and kindness to the host. Being rude, not saying “thank you” for the invitation, refusing to follow house rules, and the rest of this type of behavior is obnoxious and in no way makes you more of a Dom(me).
Submissives, if a D-type is rude to others, it should be an immediate red flag. People are consistent. If a D-type disrespects people they are not in a D/s relationship with, they are not going to respect you. Regardless of how much power you want to or have negotiated away, you need to know that your D-type is going to offer you some basic respect. If a D-type sees it as appropriate to be rude to others and disregard them, the D-type will do the same to you.
2. Not everyone is your submissive. D/s occurs within the boundaries of a relationship. Not every submissive is YOUR submissive. Not everyone has to bow to your identity left of the slash. I see D-types get this confused all the time.
In high protocol kink spaces and leather spaces, yes, there are formal relationships between D-types and submissives. There are plenty of play spaces across the country where submissives should not casually approach D-types for conversation without permission or an introduction to them through another D-type. However, these spaces are limited. This does not include your local Starbucks or post office. In these vanilla, public settings, it is unreasonable to expect submissives to follow the same protocols as they would in say a high protocol dungeon. Expecting the type of deference you receive in a high protocol kink space in a vanilla venue is both unreasonable and does not make you more of a D-type.
Second, even in kink spaces with some level of protocol, all submissives do not belong to you. An uncollared submissive who is unescorted by a D-type still needs to be afforded respect. If you do not have a relationship with an uncollared sub, it is inappropriate to touch that person in ways more friendly than a handshake without some level of permission.
3. Your way is not the only way to be a Dom(me). *Sigh* I am so tired of meeting D-types, especially d-types in the range for 2-4 years experience, that believe they have the lock on the appropriate and only “right” way to be a Dom(me). There are lots of ways to be left of the slash – daddy, Dom, Master, top, owner, and more – and even two Doms will not do dominance in the same way.
I come across this a lot. There are too many D-types who really believe if another D-type varies in their behavior, they “are not a ‘real’ Dom.” Some D-types like to care for their subs in a way that is gentle and tender. Others feel this type of behavior is “coddling” and enables bad behavior. Some D-types enjoy their brats – others cannot tolerate that behavior. Simply because another D-type differs from you does not make them less dominant.
Submissives, if a D-type insists that their behavior and way of dominance is the only true way to D/s, run. Relationships are individual things. In reality, the same D-type will do things differently in each relationship, even if they fail to see their own variability. Subs, you need to know yourself and what is okay with you. If a D-type is insisting on behaviors that are not okay with you, know that there are others out there you can connect with that will meet your needs.
4. Belittling other dominants does not make you superior. This is another behavior I see a lot. Insecure D-types will spend an inordinate amount of time complaining about other D-types in the scene. Yes, there is always some drama and bitching, but a D-type who is preoccupied with telling people how bad other D-types are is using this to deflect from their own insecurities.
Submissives, D-types who spend a lot of belitting and gossiping about other D-types in the community are going to bring in way too much drama in the long run. This behavior should always be a red flag that you are getting a high drama D-type.
5. Service is not antithetical to dominance. I hear some D-types claim that they are to be served, and only to be served. They refuse to provide service in any form. A good D-type will be open to providing service to the community in different forms. This can be mentoring, leading a group, teaching, service topping, organizing, or any other myriad of things. It is not a blow to your dominance to help someone out. In fact, things like serving as a touch point for other D-types and service topping is a way to show that you can be a really good Dom(me).
Submissives, if a D-type refuses to do any type of service, they are simply too narcissistic to be a good partner. In reality, everyone occasionally needs some type of care and service. I know that in a strong D/s dynamic, after play, I need aftercare. Occasionally, I need help moving crap or making dinner or whatever. A D-type who refuses all of this is simply unsuitable and is not in reality a good representation of a Dom(me).
All the roles in the community take time to find and it is a journey to figure out how to function as a Dominant or submissive. There are many bad role models out there. There are also a lot of good role models. If you want a list of resources, check out my Resources and Reference pages.