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What Makes for a Good Dom?

Content warning for discussions of sexual violence and coercion. Please note that in this blog post I refer to male dominants, but doms good and bad can come in any gender.

We live in an age where any man with a phone and a bank account can become a Twitter-famous dom. His comments will be filled with other wannabe doms gassing him up for how macho he is and his 5 most recent tweets will all have the f slur in them. As more and more doms set up shop in the kink community, and more and more horror stories come out from submissives about toxic doms, I find myself asking – what makes for a good dom?

William Shakespeare’s penultimate work, The Tempest, deals with this very question. Onlyfans hadn’t been invented yet, but Will definitely knew what a cash pig was. You see, men with power has been a topic of debate for centuries, but with the rise of self-employed sex work, there always seems to be new doms springing up without much of a track record. This is why it’s important now more than ever to vet the people we do kink with.

Vetting looks different for everyone, but the idea is that before engaging in BDSM with someone new, you should get to know them. This means having conversations about both of your interests and turn-ons, your boundaries, setting a safe word if you think you’ll need one. It’s the groundwork upon which all play and pleasure stem from. Vetting is also good because if, like me, you do kink scenes or roleplay with people online who you’ve never actually met, these initial conversations help determine what kind of sexual chemistry you have with that person. Jumping straight into the deep end without it being clear to both/all individuals what the rules are for the play can have some potentially traumatising consequences.

Below I’ve compiled some red flags and green flags when it comes to vetting doms. These are based on my own experiences, and also from stories I’ve heard from others in the community. In sharing these, I aim to provide a useful resource that promotes safer and more pleasurable kink play.

🚩 Red Flag: He Can’t Switch Off His Dom Persona

Let me give you a for instance. One day you’re going through your message requests and there’s one from this blank profile whose username is mrbigmandom69. You send a few messages back and forth, but it becomes clear very quickly that he’s forcing a dom/sub dynamic onto you before you’ve even had the chance to consent.

Doms who force roleplay dynamics onto you don’t actually want you to have good sexual experiences – they’re only invested in getting off from getting their way. Dom personas often include intimidation, humiliation, bullying etc. – forms of control that, in a consensual kink scene, drive a sub crazy with how hot they are. But if these control tactics are being employed when you’re laying the groundwork for your play, that’s a huge red flag. And if he’s cussing you out and talking about how you’re disrespecting him by not immediately playing along as a willing sub, that’s also a huge red flag.

You should always be able to have conversations around vetting, interests, boundaries etc. without dom/sub dynamics influencing those conversations.

Outside of the actual scene, your dom should be making you feel comfortable and safe enough to be able to articulate issues you may be having, or needs of yours that need to be addressed. His dom persona should have an off-switch, and you should be able to converse with him without any power dynamics at play. In the bedroom, he can control you all you want him to, but outside of it, you really should feel like it’s an equal playing field where he respects you.

🚩 Red Flag: He Pressures You Into Doing What He Wants

“Don’t waste my time.”
“Other subs would KILL to have me dom them.”
“You’re the only one who has an issue with this.”

Passive aggressive whinging wasn’t on my dom bingo card, yet somehow these toxic doms love throwing a temper tantrum when you don’t want to meet their unsolicited demands. And these are the men who think they’re masc enough to dominate?

Coercing people into doing the sexual acts you want them to do is a form of sexual harassment, and if that act actually carries through, could be identified as sexual assault, depending on what it is and the situation. These are manipulation tactics, plain and simple, and typically involve making you feel guilty or ashamed, like you’re missing out, or like you don’t deserve autonomy over your body. Your boundaries are important and it’s imperative that your dom not only knows this, but practises respecting them.

For doms who are still learning the dom ABCs, here are some examples of things to say when your kink partner expresses that they don’t want to do something you do:

“Ok cool, we won’t do that.”

Yep. That’s it. Yeah.

🚩 Red Flag: He Doesn’t Respond to Your Messages/Only Responds When He Wants Your Submission

Doms who only message you when they want to simulate abusing you deserve death by sharknado.

I’ve had many a conversation with a man wishing to dominate me where I’ll be messaging him questions like ‘how old are you?’ or ‘what are your limits?’*, and he responds with ‘send me a pic >:)’. Like sir, did you go to the University of Horrible Communication? If your dom isn’t actually having a two-way conversation with you (and just asking you questions to get off to), how in the hell are you supposed to develop the trust needed to engage in BDSM scenes? You are not Google; your messages and your questions deserve acknowledgement.

*Circling back to the vetting conversation – if he doesn’t answer your vetting questions, he’s not safe for play!

We’ve discussed the red flags – So what are some green flags?

Green Flag: Aftercare

Aftercare involves activities that build intimacy and sensitivity, and are carried out after BDSM or sex acts. It helps transition you from the intensity of sexual pleasure or kink play back into the real world. Aftercare activities can include:

  • Physical affection like cuddling, massages etc.
  • Sharing food and water (gotta rehydrate)
  • Showering and/or sleeping together
  • Words of affirmation
  • Watching a trashy movie

Being submissive can be quite an intense experience as for a lot of us, we’re getting in touch with a traumatic incident we’ve experienced (and reclaiming control through consensual kink play). If a session is particularly rough or humiliating, it’s especially important your dom counteracts the brutality of the session with sensitive aftercare. It’ll look different for everyone and you should feel comfortable expressing what you want to your dom.

Green Flag: Checking In

A good dom checks in with you in-between sessions. Feedback is important, not just to address any issues that might have come up from your last play, but to also talk about what can be done to make the play even hotter. If you have sexual trauma, it might also take some time for you to figure out how you’re feeling as you aren’t able to articulate in the moment if something isn’t good.

I used to have a semi-regular friends with benefits situation that wasn’t just about BDSM, but did involve me submitting to him as a wedgie sub. In-between one of our first few sessions, we checked in and asked each other what could be improved from the previous session. Through this checking in, I told him that there was a moment in our play where he was flossing my ass real good, and he shushed me for whimpering too loudly – this was so unbelievably hot to me. Thus during our next hook-up, we had a real lengthy session where he shushed me and forced me to silently just take the relentless wedgies he was giving me. And so one of my favourite wedgie dynamics was born, and it wouldn’t have been if it weren’t for that open dialogue.

✅ Green Flag: He Has a Positive Track Record

Most kink communities tend to be self-policed due to their underground nature. What this typically means is that it’s up to the community to uphold safe practices and hold members who are causing harm accountable for their actions. A dom who has been around a while and has a reputable track record is a green flag because other people can vouch for him as a safe person to play with. This also means he’s usually done enough meet-ups and has gained the experience to know how to actually dom properly; he’s not some random guy who decided to profit off of a niche community he’s not even a part of, but someone who has experience working with other members of this community and is invested in maintaining a safe community.

It is important to mention though that just because a dom has a good track record doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of harm, or doesn’t mean that every session he has will be positive. But in the context of inexperienced vs. experienced doms, I know that for me personally, I tend to learn towards the experienced doms because more often than not, they know what they’re doing.

Conclusion: Maybe Be a Good Person??

There are a lot of doms who think they can pick up domination just like that, but there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to ensure you’re creating safe environments for your subs. The onus really shouldn’t be on subs to know who is a good dom and who isn’t, the onus needs to be on doms to do better. That being said, making blog posts like this is still important to keep our community mindful and aware when choosing who we engage with in kink play.

At the end of the day, if you don’t feel comfortable having a conversation with your dom about your boundaries, then you should not be engaging in BDSM with them. Kink is fun and pleasurable, but it can be dangerous and thus requires trust and safety. This isn’t to victim-blame subs for the toxicity some doms enact, but moreso to say that your safety and wellbeing is everything in this space. Don’t throw it away for some guy who passes off not showering and reenacting violence for a respectable dom in this community. And even if you don’t think he’s a ‘bad’ dom, I know from experiencing that having these conversations with the people I play with has almost always resulted in better play and better wedgies, and isn’t that what all of us want?

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