What–and who–is a real dominant?

I’ll start by saying that I’m not one. This piece is written from the perspective of a submissive, one who’s been loved and cherished by the same man for over a decade. We’re married, and we have a wonderful son whom we both adore. My husband, who is also my strength and my courage and my reason for being, has earned the title of Master. Of Sir. Of husband. Not because we had a certain kind of sex, or signed a certain kind of contract. A relationship, of any kind, is never created by those things. And a D/s relationship is, first and foremost, a relationship. Trust comes before obedience, and submission–like all expressions of love–is earned. My husband earns, and rewards my love every day.

A dominant is not someone who likes anal, or who knows a lot about Japanese rope bondage. A dominant might or might not have a playroom. He might or might not wear a suit to work, or ever at all. He might or might not be rich, although he will always be hardworking. He might or might not have ever heard of Gor, or own a single toy.

What he is, is someone capable of taking responsibility for another human being’s health: physical, sexual, mental, emotional, and spiritual. He is capable of doing this and, what’s more, he feels fulfilled by doing this. If the sex is mind-blowing, it’s not just because he knows what he’s doing; the root of sexual gratification in a D/s relationship is the profound bond of trust between the partners. And yes, he almost certainly knows what he’s doing; a dominant is, by nature, invested in his partner. His pleasure is hers. Now are there other dynamics at work? Of course. But, like in (healthy) relationships of all kinds, every interplay is equal and consensual.

The fashion in literature, right now, is for “dominants” who are cold, aloof, and unfeeling. They use the D/s dynamic to distance themselves from love and, even more troubling in some respects, from responsibility. In the real world, the one us kinksters inhabited long before Fifty Shades of Grey came out, a common concept is that the submissive has all the power. She (or he) is the one who says “no.” No one should ever be pushed into doing something that makes them question themselves, or feel bad about themselves. And submission is not about healing the dominant. Yes, we all have our issues and no one is perfect; but, inside the bedroom or out, your partner is never your punching bag.

A real dominant might have a need for control, but that need doesn’t come from a place of anger and insecurity. He isn’t forcing his partner to give him what, in his resentment, he thinks the world doesn’t. He isn’t entitled. A man who needs to force a woman, to do anything, to feel power isn’t a dominant. He’s an abuser. He isn’t ready to be in a relationship, or even potentially to inhabit earth and calling himself “Master” doesn’t change that.

A real dominant is already in control: of himself, first and foremost. In entering into a relationship, he’s sharing a power that he already possesses, and that he knows he already possesses. He is secure enough in his masculinity to be nurturing, caring, and kind. He knows that if he hasn’t earned what he wants, from the world at large or from his partner, the fault is his. He understands that his partner is a princess. He doesn’t pop out stones from her crown, to make it easier to carry; he makes himself stronger.