Am I Just Playing at Being a Dom?

playing at being a dom

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Sometimes I feel as though I am playing at being a dom instead of really being one.

I don’t wear leather. I don’t attend kink conferences. I wouldn’t stick out if you saw me walking down the street for being alternative. And I don’t have any formal training.

I’ve learned on the job, by reading, playing, experimenting.

The feeling of not being dom enough is a form of Imposter Syndrome. For me, it arises in two situations.

The first is when I’m on my own, and my sub isn’t present. I wonder if I’m doing enough to reinforce the dynamic.

Should I message her and command her to do something random for me, even though I don’t need anything?

Because that’s what a Dom is meant to do, right?

The second situation is when I’m with her, but we aren’t engaged in anything that looks remotely like a dom and sub dynamic, for example sitting on the sofa watching television.

At what point should I switch from my everyday persona into the dominant persona?

That’s not to say my normal personality isn’t dominant. I’m assertive and often too blunt for my own good. If you believe in the Myers-Briggs personality test, I’m an INTJ. Logic rules my head, and my heart takes a backseat. There’s little room for emotion in my decision making process.

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I believe these qualities do make for a good Dom, but I still feel a little awkward when it’s time to dial it up those dominant traits and squash the more agreeable ones.

Regardless, it’s still awkward going from sitting on the sofa having a perfectly normal conversation to having her adopt a position on her knees ready for a spanking. Much in the same way the transition from the living room to the bedroom can be awkward in any style of relationship. Sometimes it just doesn’t flow, and others it does.

What if we sit there for hours and I DON’T command her? What percentage of the time do I have to be asking her to do something in order to be classified as a ‘real’ dom?

A purely sexual dom sub dynamic is relatively straightforward to navigate. Oh, we’re having sex? Right, let me put on my Dom.

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But my dynamic it isn’t purely sexual.

I enjoy my submissive to be service orientated, and do things for me beyond the bedroom.

So should I be asking her to do every little thing for me? Should she be at my beck and call ready to serve at all times?

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When I’m asking my sub to make a list of groceries to buy, or come up with recipes for me, I feel a twinge of guilt.

My nice guy persona rears it’s head and says “What are you DOING? You can’t ask her to do all that for you. How sexist and misogynistic!”

Would a “real dom” feel guilty about asking his sub to do something for him? Or is me having these mental doubts a GOOD thing because it’s evidence of empathy and proof I’m not a narcissistic abuser of women?

I have to continually remind myself that she takes pleasure from being told what to do and seeing me take pleasure from her actions.

But where’s the boundary?

When does wanting a service orientated sub become anti-feminist?

The whole thing from an outsiders perspective could be seen as a patriarchal attempt to re-created the 1920s or 1950s housewife.

But is it?

The view back then was that women were somehow inferior, and couldn’t do the things men could do.

We all know that is absolutely false.

Which is what makes a dom sub relationship employing elements of service very different from old school oppression of women.

I know she is perfectly capable of doing and being whatever she wants, but in that moment she chooses to serve me. It’s been discussed and agreed upon up front, and she’s free to break that dynamic or change it whenever she wishes.

The difference is choice, consent and respect, knowing each person in the dynamic is capable of being whatever they want to be regardless of their gender.

I believe many new doms have feelings of not being dom enough.

They want to know how many rules to set, how many punishments to dish out, and how often they should be “dom-ing”, as if knowing and exceeding these numbers make them somehow more of a dom.

We all need a little reminder that a dom sub relationship is not about numbers, but about two people who enjoy one person being in control as the other voluntarily gives it up.

It doesn’t matter if that is done for five minutes a week, or 24 hours a day. You’re still engaged in dominance and submission power play and therefore by definition, a dom.

If I play tennis once a month with friends, I’m a tennis player. Not a professional, maybe not very good at all, but I can still say I play tennis.

The same is true of being a dom. If you understand the fundamentals, engage in safe, sane and consensual play, and enjoy the feeling of taking charge, leading interactions, and are somewhat turned on my another person voluntarily submitting to you, you may call yourself a dom.

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Now keep practising until you’re a GREAT dom (and I’ll do the same).

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Great and pertinent article, thanks. I sometimes feel the same doubts tbh and it’s great to know they are normal self-questions


I find myself asking this question to myself quite often. I refer to our dynamic as a 23/7 dynamic. It’s only 23 hours because we are married with kids and some decisions have to be made with equal input. Regardless, this was a great writing.


We are in the very early stages of developing a D/s dynamic and though my partner’s natural dominance is coming through and it’s so beautiful, he has expressed some of these thoughts to me recently. I’m sending him this so he can see others doubt themselves too. Thanks so much for sharing!


Omg! This is so much applying to me, especially after BDSM sessions, this feeling of guilt is coming up (some traits of dom drop) even though my sub is completely satisfied with the scene… For me is working on the people pleaser traits in me and believing that people can take care of themselves and they do it in volunteer manner and communication communication and consent. Thanks for this article. I feel myself so much in these words <3