What to look for in a Dominant

For submissives/bottoms, Starting Out -

What to look for in a Dominant

This article is dedicated to Lord Colm and the memory of 'jade' and all of the hours and hours of labour and love she poured into writing so many articles. We have been unable to contact Lord Colm to seek His permission to post these archives. This article, that originally appeared on the Castle Realm website, is posted here, pending the appropriate permissions from Lord Colm. The content of the article remains intact and exactly as originally found on the Castle Realm website.


There are many things that make a good dominant, but the most important is DESIRE. A dominant has to WANT to be good, no...GREAT, at what he/she does. Without that desire to be great they'll never get past the dreaming stage. The greatest painters in history would never have completed their first masterpiece if they had not picked up the brush and learned how to use it. They had the inborn talent but not the skills. They had to want to paint badly enough to devote some time to harness that talent and learn how to apply it to their canvass.

Knowing What You Want

So what do I want? That's a question each submissive must answer for themselves. I had a very wise trainer who taught me how to become selective about my own choices. Early in our association she had me list all the things I wanted in my future Master. She understood very well that submissives very often have difficulty finding direction and making choices when it comes to this D/s business. I was given a small notebook and told to write down the things I REALLY wanted/needed in a dominant.

This sounded simple enough but was much harder than I thought. I had NO idea what I wanted or needed in the beginning. I listed some basic things I found desirable in a lover. A sense of humor, kindness, compassion, wisdom, patience, and a dozen more things of similar nature. As I learned about myself, I learned more about what I truly needed and I adjusted this list to include those things. You have to do this part on your own. No one but YOU knows what your deepest needs and desires are. Make your list and keep a watchful eye.

When I was in contact with other people in the D/s lifestyle, I watched how dominants interacted with their submissives and others in the group. When I noticed something that really appealed to me I added it to my list. The same with things that I found were not good...I removed them. Eventually I had a blueprint of what I was looking for. Here are some of the ones I personally feel should be the qualities that are found in any good dominant...and what can make them GREAT.

What makes a good dominant?

(For this essay I am going to refer to the dominant in the masculine sense, and submissive in the feminine, most of the time. This his/her..Master/Mistress stuff gets to be really annoying. We all know that there are male/female subs and dominants. Let's go from there).


Number ONE on the list! A dominant who is not trustworthy is worthless as a master. How can you totally surrender to someone who does not give you a reason to trust them? A real measure of a dominant's trustworthiness is the way they deal with other people. They may be able to snow you for awhile, after all they'll be trying to put their best dom foot forward to impress you. Observe how they deal with others they associate with.

Do they betray confidences that were given to them? Do they act covertly when dealing with friends or other dominants? Do they seek to bring others down by undermining their character with secret whispers about them? Do they "let you in on" little secrets about someone they've had a relationship with? Trusting someone with a whip while you're helplessly bound is often easier than trusting them with the secrets of your heart and soul. Watch a dominant who shares intimate knowledge of others with you. He just might end up telling your deepest secrets to the next person who comes along.


This quality is near the top of the list. Without confidence a dominant will never have the courage to take control of himself, let alone another human being. A dominant has to feel his own worth and believe in himself. If not, he can soon begin to bolster his own flagging confidence by demeaning his submissive. Keeping her in a lower status than himself is the only way he can feel he's in charge.

Without confidence of his own he can never instill confidence in his submissive. She will never be allowed to grow or become all she's capable of being while in his care. She'll never be permitted to achieve because this will only magnify his own lack of confidence in his worth. Confidence isn't measured by a swaggering gait, the snap of a crop or the biggest bag of toys in the local group. Boasting about his conquests and talents isn't much of an indication of confidence either, in fact this often shows a lack of it. A true measure will be seen in the way the lead their lives and conduct themselves in daily events. If this person doesn't have some success in their work and reaching personal goals, something is wrong.


Control of self means just that. If you can't control YOU, then don't bother trying to control ME. Watch this one carefully subbies...they often equate control with broken dishes, hearts and bones. If you don't want to end up on the receiving end of their lack of self-control, you'll walk a wide path around this one.A dominant must have mastery over himself or he will never be master of another. I've seen many, so called "Masters/Mistresses", who seemed to be the most wonderful beings on earth until something went wrong or slipped from their control. They suddenly became like a 10 year old child who had just lost his kite in a tree. The angry, temper-tantrum throwing, whining, and pouting dominant is not a pretty sight. A submissive soon learns to fear this kind of dominant and will eventually see them as dangerous, as well as weak and pathetic children.


Another at the top of my list. Being smart is not the same as being wise. Some really smart people are pretty darned dumb when it comes to applying their knowledge to a situation. A dominant must be wise when using the knowledge he's acquired. I often think of Solomon in the Bible when I consider wisdom. He had the ability to take what he knew and apply it to a given situation to solve the problem. A good dominant is a problem solver. He must solve the problems in the relationship, in his own associations and help you with yours. Don't wind up being "the blind lead by the stupid."


If there isn't honesty, there can't be trust. Without trust there is no D/s relationship. It's as simple as that. Does this person lie, even about simple things? Do they avoid the truth and hide behind carefully placed words to keep from being totally honest? Are their true motives often camouflaged with little fibs? If this is a pattern, you've got problems coming your way. It's my opinion that people who lie about little things are more dangerous than ones that lie about something major. Almost anyone could be tempted to fabricate a story to save their neck, but what's to be gained by someone who would make up a story about being 10 minutes late in meeting you for lunch? If they would lie to me about why their socks don't match what makes me believe they're going to tell me the truth about respecting my safe word?

Another consideration is this fact: Without honesty there is little chance for this person to master their own life, let alone yours. Honesty means being honest with themselves as well as with you. A dominant who cannot be honest about themselves can never grow or change. They'll forever look into that mirror of self-inspection and see only what they want to see and not what's really there.


A great dominant must be a skillful communicator. Don't confuse communication with talking. A dominant that talks all the time, just to hear his own words is not communicating. He has to LISTEN to what's being said and to sort out the real meaning behind the words of his submissive.

He also has to be able to express his wants and needs to his submissive in a way that she fully understands, not only the deed, but his motivation behind it. Failing to communicate adequately is one of the major reasons D/s relationships fail so miserably. A submissive who does not understand what is expected from her can never succeed in pleasing her dominant. She has to have confidence in the knowledge that he will listen to her and help her express those innermost feelings and longings.

Communication is a two way street. Both partners in a relationship must be able to express clearly what they expect and need from their partnership. They must also keep the receiving end open. You can talk you head off in the most eloquent words but if no one is listening they meant nothing. Observe how the dominant communicates with others. If you are watching a dominant and they seem to brush off other submissive's attempts to converse, like a bothersome fly...forget it. Once the infatuation with you is over, you'll be on the receiving end of the fly-swatter.


Without a loving heart, a dominant is nothing more than a set of rules and a taskmaster. Submissives are, by nature, very loving and giving individuals. They not only give love...they require it to survive. We often seek to please because of our deep need for acceptance and love. A dominant who cannot meet those needs will never have a happy submissive.

A dominant must be able to love himself as well. If he is not capable of seeing himself as lovable, then he'll never accept the love that a submissive will so freely offer. Love is never self-seeking, nor critical, nor does it find joy in failure. Love covers a multitude of sins and forgives without holding a grudge. When I see a dominant lavish attention on a child, an animal, a needy person, as well as a friend, I see a Master-in-the-making. His instincts to comfort, protect and nurture are developed and speak to my heart. This is the kind of man or woman I want to give my heart to for a lifetime.


A great master is a great teacher. That's part of the job, subbies. He's going to be teaching you for the duration of your relationship with him. Watch how he teaches. Does he have patience? Does he reward when a lesson is learned? Does he desire you to become all you can be? Is he willing to share his knowledge with you? One of the primary goals a dominant should have is creating an environment where his submissive can grow and develop emotionally and intellectually. He will be responsible for your welfare and should be nurturing that eager mind of yours as well as broadening your sexual repertoire.

Does he practice what he preaches? That alone can be one of the biggest clues to what he really is. A true master/mistress will teach by setting the example. If he wants respect he shows it to others. If he wants loyalty, he is loyal. If he wants honesty, he is honest. If he says one thing and does another, he is not single-minded and will always demand things of you that he is not capable of giving himself.

Don't hesitate to look for someone who is your intellectual equal or superior. This might not be important to you if you are not an academic achiever but if you are, you will probably not be satisfied intellectually with someone who is not able to meet or challenge your need to learn. He doesn't have to be a brain surgeon or rocket scientist but, if he cannot meet this intellectual need, you are going to stagnate in a pool of frustration and resentment.


Without compassion a dominant is not a master, he is a bully. He must have the ability to feel and care for others, who may be weaker or less knowledgeable then he is. He will not chastise you for a failure. He will help you to overcome the obstacle. He will want the best for you and all others he comes in contact with.

If he has no spirit of forgiveness or sympathy, you will always fear making a mistake. That fear will cause more mistakes than it prevents. Watch out for a dominant that cannot forgive and move on, granting the transgressor the compassion needed to get beyond the circumstances that caused the offense. It just might be you that stumbles and needs his compassion the next time.


Being able to laugh is one of the things I see as one of the most important in a dominant and a relationship. A dominant that can't laugh at himself is too insecure for my tastes. A dominant who's hackles go up every time a playful remark is made has some serious esteem problems or is harboring some deep resentment. If they seem to over-react when someone jokingly steps on their toes it's a sure sign of a fragile ego or a festering boil of contention. Being able to laugh, especially at oneself, is a very strong character trait. Watch a dominant that laughs freely with you or in a group and you'll often find a dominant who is confident, loving and compassionate.

So many times you'll face situations that are so heart-rending that finding the humor in them is the only way to make it to the other side. Having a sense of humor is not the same as laughing AT someone...it's laughing WITH them. Noticing what makes them laugh is a key to who they are and what they value. A dominant that seeks his chuckles in ethnic, degrading, humiliating, perverted or cruel humor is often not the kind of master you'd like to have.

Summing it up

This list could go on and on. The important thing I've tried to say is there are more things to being a Master/Mistress than being a dominant. There are dominants who can wield a whip with great finesse, use a flogger and never miss the target, can tie knots better than a sailor, knows every definition on the Deviant's Dictionary and is the chairman of the Local PEP group but they will never be MASTERS/MISTRESSES.

A dominant can learn the skills needed to use the tool or toys of the trade but the heart and soul of a true Master/Mistress develops from all the best human characteristics. Can they learn them? Perhaps, but most are inborn...a part of the person's basic make-up. They can strive to develop them if they have the ability to see that they are lacking in some things. Sadly, most of the ones who are the worst, are often blind to their own faults. Those that are open-minded can learn to improve what traits they have and a strong submissive can do a lot to help them toward this goal. Just keep in this in mind: "You can teach an old dog new tricks, but he'll never be a cat. He'll still be a dog."

I didn't want to try to "build" a Master from the ground up so I measured those I met against my list. Very few even came close and I sometimes wondered if I was expecting too much. But when I weighed the consequences of settling for less than I knew I needed, I decided the waiting was the better choice. I'll never be sorry I did. I had too much to loose and so much more to gain.

Where do I Find One of These Dominants?

There's no magical forest or distant planet where dominants mass together waiting for a subbie invasion to land and begin a relationship. Dominants are found in every group, community and sector of our world. Meeting them can present a few problems for the inexperienced submissive, but there are ways to increase your chances.

Join a local D/s, BDSM group. Attend their meetings, munches, gatherings, trade fairs or any other get-togethers that they might offer. Check the web for information about these groups in your area. Get on one of their mailing lists. Visit your local fetish shops. That's where those in the lifestyle will go for tools of the trade. Get to know the people who work there and once trusted, you might get the low-down on small local groups. You can try using one of the BBS listings if you are careful and keep your head on straight. Instead of advertising for a potential Master or Mistress, try posting for information or make contact with other submissives in your area. You might gain useful information from them and have a friend to accompany you to local events.

There are numerous ways you can overtly display your preference for this lifestyle. Things that would not be noticed by the vanilla members of society would be very obvious to anyone with the same orientation. Jewelry items are one widely used way. Things like handcuff earrings or items displaying the BDSM emblem are an attention-getter to a dominant who knows anything. Be creative. Don't sit and wait, expecting the UPS man to ring your bell and slap the restraints on your wrist when you open the door. Get out...get involved...but use common sense and explore safely.


A note from Master's lovely - my Master is all of these and more and I am so very proud to belong to Him! The other qualities are incredible, but if you don't have trust how can you ever full let go and give all of yourself to your Dominant?The biggest thing for me to begin with was learning to trust and that grew to levels I didn't know existed, so combined with all the other amazing qualities Master has, I am one very lucky subbie. 

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