It’s a good question and an obvious question to begin with.
To me, a Dominant is a person who has a calm, commanding, and confident personality. Someone who is used to getting their way and demands it in subtle (and not so subtle) ways. Just their presence, the way they stand, the way they speak, and their eye contact can be enough to bend others to their will. A Dominant is intelligent…observing, listening, and constantly learning so that they can improve and stay at the top of their game.
Dominants are not cocky assholes who expect others to cater to their needs. They are not abusive dicks who enjoy hurting others to make themselves feel more powerful. Dominants don’t need to use other people to build themselves up, but they do gain power from offered submission. Having another person follow them, need them, respect them, and serve them does bolster them, which shows that Dominants need submissives as much as submissives need Dominants. However, a Dominant doesn’t need a submissive in order to BE Dominant. The personality traits of a Dominant remain, even when they are not being exhibited through a relationship. A Dominant is essentially a leader, and therefore should have the qualities of a good leader…..
……There are other qualities, of course, but I’ve selected the qualities I think are central to Dominance.
So, how do these qualities apply to D/s? Let’s take a look (I’ll be using “he/him” in these descriptions, since that is what works in my life, but those pronouns could easily be swapped for any others):
- Self-Management: Obviously, if a Dominant is to be in control, he must be able to manage his own affairs. How is he to manage a submissive if he can’t manage his own life? Sure a sub may or may not “serve” him or care for his needs, however that is done not because he can’t do it for himself, but rather because she is in a position of subservience. He is using his position strategically and giving her tasks or expecting particular behaviors to maintain and build the power dynamic in a way that works for them both. Which leads me to…
- Acting Strategically: I would imagine that a good Dominant would have some idea of where a D/s relationship is headed, how, and why. Otherwise, the relationship/dynamic is likely to fizzle or wander until it falls apart. If there is no plan in mind, the Dominant is simply acting out of power and desire rather than to reach a goal. (More on this with #5 and #6.)
- Being an Effective Communicator: Since a Dominant needs to guide and manage another person, it’s important that he be able to communicate his desires and demands clearly and be able to talk through any hiccups that may arise.
- Being Accountable & Responsible: Dominants are human. They fuck up like anyone else, and it’s important that they be self-aware enough to catch themselves when they do and responsible enough to admit it and apologize. Guiding and mentoring another human being is a big responsibility, and a submissive is more likely to respect a Dominant who is capable of seeing his own faults and mistakes and mastering them or correcting them.
- Setting Clear Goals & Persisting in Achieving Them: I see as D/s relationship as primarily goal-driven. The idea is to improve the people involved and make them the best version of themselves that they can be. The goals can change and new goals can be added as others are accomplished, but without a goal, what is there to achieve?
- Having a Vision for the Future: This goes back to “Acting Strategically.” In my mind, a Dominant is capable of creating a vision (which is changeable of course, based on current circumstances), determining goals that will lead to that vision, and then carrying out the smaller tasks necessary to achieve those goals. That’s the day-to-day…and a submissive might not have a full understanding of any of it, which is why, if he’s a “good” Dominant and she’s a “good” submissive, she trusts his ability to do this sort of planning, knowing that he will lead her where she needs to go.
- Managing Complexity: D/s can get complicated. Human emotions and life can get in the way of everything…especially when the D/s relationship is taking place along side a marriage and family and work. Illness, mental health, and outside obligations muddle the goals and day-to-day tasks that a Dominant has laid out, which leads me to #8…
- Being Flexible & Adapting to Change: Dominants might not be flexible with their submissives, but they need to be flexible about their planning and goals and vision. Life circumstances can get in the way and may necessitate changes.
- Fostering Creativity & Innovation: While a submissive may not have complete autonomy and choice in a D/s relationship (maybe none, depending on the negotiated rules between Dominant and submissive), I can’t imagine any Dominant wanting to preside over a dead fish who doesn’t or won’t surprise him in with new and creative ways to demonstrate her submission.
- Honesty & Integrity: This is where the asshole vs. Dominant concept comes in. Dominants should never lie, use, or abuse others unless that has been worked directly into an agreement between the two people involved. Doms should be honest and have the best interests of all involved at heart whenever a decision is made or an action is carried out.
- Empathy & Compassion (Emotional Intelligence): Sometimes what a submissive needs is support and caring, and while a Dominant should not be expected to read her mind, he should be aware of the signs and subtle shifts that hint at something being “wrong.” Dominants spend a lot of time observing, listening, and learning, so over time, catching on to these clues will become easier to do. If a submissive needs a break or just needs to be held, I feel a “good” Dominant would take her needs into account. After all, a D/s relationship is a two-way street where both parties have agreed to participate and both parties are getting something they need from it.
- Confidence: This, I feel, should be a no-brainer, but I want to make the clarification that confidence is so very very different from arrogance or cockiness, which both have a foundation of emotional insecurity. I wouldn’t expect an Dominant to be “strong” all the time, however. Dominants are human. They have needs and weaknesses and need support and love just as much as anyone else.
- Decision-Making Capabilities: Much as with #2, #5, and #6, Dominants must be able to make decisions about a lot of things. This isn’t to say that they have to make ALL the decisions…submissives are often required to make decisions and SHOULD be included in the decision-making process when it comes to contracts and/or negotiations. But, ultimately, most decisions fall in the lap of the Dominant. He needs to be able to handle that and be able to make decisions quickly and strategically with his goals and vision in mind.
- Commitment & Passion: If a Dominant is not committed to the relationship and has no passion for his position and all that it requires of him, the relationship will fail. Submissives, by nature, crave and often require the guidance of a Dominant to be fully happy. If her Dominant lacks commitment and passion, she will be left floundering, lost, and insecure…looking for guidance in other places.
The role of a Dominant is daunting, but like any leadership position, there are those that naturally rise to it and those that can and will work successfully to fill it. There are also plenty of fakes and wannabes that will never be true leaders…who must use force rather than respect to lord their power over others. These are not Dominants…they are assholes, and there are plenty of them out there claiming to be Dominants.
True leaders don’t need to proclaim their power. It is magnetic. people follow them because they want to…because they need to.
This is what Dominance is to me.
Categorised in: Dominance
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