What Being a Dominant REALLY Means

What being a Dom really means

When my partners first told me they were submissive and wanted me to dominate them, I didn’t know what they meant.

What does it REALLY mean to be a Dominant in a D/s dynamic?

Your first challenge as a beginner Dom is making sure you understand what good and bad looks like.

After that you can start to develop your own style of dominance.

In this brief guide I’ll be giving you highlights as to how to achieve both of those things, and some exercises to try.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Part 1: What does it mean to be a Dominant?

What is a Dominant?

Ultimately a ‘Dominant’ (or Dom for short) is just a label for someone who is in control of the sexual situation (referred to as a ‘scene’) they are in.

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The counterpart to a Dom is the submissive (sub for short) – someone who enjoys being on the receiving end of the Dom’s control.

The sub CHOOSES to give the gift of their submission to a Dom that they trust. The Dom does not TAKE it from the sub. And the sub has the right to TAKE BACK their submission from the Dom at ANY time.

Doms and subs can be either gender. There are plenty of submissive men who enjoy dominant women, and there are plenty of submissive women who enjoy dominant men.

What makes a GOOD Dominant?

I believe to be a GOOD Dominant you need these two fundamental qualities:

  1. You must ALWAYS give and get consent. Never do anything to anyone without their permission.
  2. You should genuinely care about the welfare of the person you are interacting with, and make every attempt to ensure THEY are getting as much out of the interaction as you are.

If you do these things, and you enjoy being in control of a sexual situation, then CONGRATULATIONS – you are already well ahead of other people who think they are Doms.

EXERCISE: Read 7 Ways to Spot a Fake Dom so you know what BAD Dom behaviour looks like.

Why be a Dom?

Only you can answer the question of WHY you want to be a Dom.

Perhaps it is to overcome trauma. Perhaps it’s because you want an outlet for your aggression in a controlled manner. Perhaps knowing you can give someone else pleasure makes you feel validated. Perhaps it’s because you love your partner and he or she NEEDS you go become more dominant to fulfill their desires. 

It doesn’t really matter, as long as you aren’t doing it for reasons which would be morally questionable.

What are some mistakes beginner Doms make?

Common mistakes I see beginner Doms making are:

  • Thinking being a Dom is what you see in 50 Shades of Grey or pornography
  • Manipulating others to get what they want
  • Taking their subs for granted, and always taking, never giving
  • Communicating poorly with their subs, and not getting consent
  • Trying to dominate someone they barely know
  • Never considering the feelings of their submissive
  • Thinking a Dom HAS to wear leather or PVC or play in a dungeon

If you notice any of these in yourself, stop.

EXERCISE: Read 5 Basic Mistakes Beginner Dominants Make (and What to Do Instead).

Part 2: Developing YOUR style of dominance

Now that you have a high level understanding of what a Dominant is and what good and bad looks like, the next step is figuring out what style of Dominant YOU want to be. 

My style of dominance

My personal style of dominance is sensual and nurturing.

I enjoy:

  • Nurturing others so both people are getting a benefit from the interaction
  • Listening to their fantasies and helping make them a reality
  • Mixing the physical aspects of sensual touch with elements of psychological pressure and power play

I don’t enjoy:

  • Inflicting pain on others
  • A dynamic with no cuddles or laughter 
  • A solemn, high-protocol approach

There’s nothing wrong with being a Dom who DOES like the above, it’s just not MY style.

And you don’t HAVE to adopt my style of caring dominance either. 

Remember what I said in part 1 – being a Dom is really just about being in control of the scene. 

How that plays out in YOUR dynamic is up to you (provided you follow the golden rules of getting consent and ensuring your sub enjoys what you do together). 

The world of Dom/sub relationships is incredibly varied. 

What types of Dom are there?

Although labels can be risky, I do think it helps to explore some of the common styles of Dom that exist. 

But don’t think these are the only type of Dom. Remember, it’s up to YOU to create your own unique style of dominance.

  • Rigger Dominant who enjoys rope bondage
  • Owner Dominant who enjoys pet play
  • Master Dominant who enjoys service-orientated submission
  • Sadist Dominant who enjoys inflicting pain
  • Daddy Dominant who enjoys taking care of someone or age-play
  • Financial Dominant who likes to control the other person’s money
  • Romantic Dominant who takes a more sensual approach

And many more!

How can I find out my style?

Good question.

Your style of dominance will be influenced by:

  • The type of submissive you interact with 
  • Your personality and what resonates with you 
  • How much experience you have 

Figuring this stuff out takes time. Don’t expect to know your style of dominance right away.

To get started on this journey I recommend you:

  • Take a BDSM test such as the one at BDSMtest.org. This will help you narrow down your areas of interest and give you a nice graphic to share with others. 
  • Complete a sex menu. This will help you figure out in more depth what your sexual ‘must-haves’ are in a Dom sub dynamic.
  • Think back to experiences you’ve had in the past, the articles on this site you’re drawn to, and the fantasies you have. That’ll give you yet more clues to help uncover you style of dominance. 

Exercise: Take the test at BDSMtest.org and paste your results below!

Summing up

Let’s summarise what you’ve learned. You now know:

  • A Dominant is simply a label for a man or woman who enjoys being in control of a situation. The situation may or may not be sexual. 
  • A good Dominant always gets and gives consent, and has a fundamental level of care for the person they are interacting with.
  • Beyond that, the role of a Dominant can be whatever you want it to be. You must work to develop your own style of dominance through exploration and self-reflection.

Don’t forget to complete the exercises. Reading alone won’t make you a better Dom. You must put these ideas into practice.

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== Results from bdsmtest.org ==
94% Dominant
79% Rigger
78% Experimentalist
73% Master/Mistress
60% Brat tamer
53% Vanilla
50% Owner
34% Switch
31% Sadist
31% Daddy/Mommy
27% Primal (Hunter)
21% Voyeur
14% Degrader
11% Exhibitionist
3% Non-monogamist
0% Ageplayer