Characteristics of a Dominant are extremely varied. Each of us has our own way of looking at the world and interacting within it. For the sake of transparency this post concerns the general qualities of a Dominant with regards to D/s and BDSM. I find it beneficial to state at the onset that many of the characteristics of a good Dominant partner parallel those characteristics of a good Leader. So let us start with the characteristics of good leadership.

Leadership Qualities

  • Self- awareness. A self-aware person understand their strengths and knows what strengths complement their own. A self- aware person also knows what they want, accepts how they feel, and can persevere through a myriad of difficulties both personal and interpersonal. This is because the self-aware person knows who they are, what they need, and makes healthy compromises based on those needs.
  • Self-control. This is a very important trait for a leader or Dominant partner, the ability to control oneself. If you want to lead you have to live as the example, you cannot lead another when you cannot properly care for yourself. A leader has his/her affairs in order at all times, and in the unusual case that chaos ensues, he/she does not lose control, they rise up to the challenge presented them and figure out the best possible solution. Leaders do not panic, they get things done. A Dominant does not panic, a Dominant sees to it that things are done and done properly.
  • Communication. You can not lead if you cannot communicate, we are not a society of mind-readers but we are also not a society of fools. Possessing communication skills is necessary, and being perceptive enough to know how to speak to someone to accomplish your goal is just as important as knowing how to speak to someone to reinforce them. A good Leader knows when to talk and when to listen, so does a good Dominant.
  • Honesty. Always be honest, about everything, how can a Leader or Dominant build a reliable relationship without honesty at the very core? They can not, it is impossible. Honesty is a very hard trait, little lies seem so harmless, especially when they get the goal accomplished, right? Wrong, if you are the Leader, then lead, dishonesty will get you nothing but lies and confusion, a Dominant partner should never lie to themselves or anyone else.
  • Integrity. Always do the right thing, even when no one is looking. Hold yourself to a high moral standard at all times, even if no one else does. You are responsible for every action you take, and if you are a Leader then make sure the example you set for those who follow you is integrity, it is essential to success.
  • Confidence. Not to be confused with self-indulgence, a confident person believes in their abilities, and that belief is founded on experience. Confidence is something you L-earn. (L-earn = live and earn). A confident person knows themselves and is not afraid to be honest about his/her abilities, they do not need to color their experience with fluff or pomp. They are who they say they are, and live that fact without question.
  • Clarity. This could go hand in hand with honesty and self-awareness, each necessitates the other. Clarity is the ability to be clear with yourself and others about who you are, what you believe in, and what is most important to you. A Leader is a paradigm of clarity, a Dominant should be as well.
  • Compassion. The difference between a dictator and a Leader, they care about the opinions of those who follow them. Compassion is essential for the success of any relationship, personal or otherwise, you do not live in a vacuum and your view is not the only one that matters. Great Leaders and Dominants do not assume that their opinion is the only one that matters, no one likes following self-important person.
  • Humility. True Leaders and Dominants have confidence, they also have the ability to realize the point at which confidence turns into hubris.

A Dominant person, in my opinion, exhibits all of these characteristics. These are hard won trophies, for no one is perfect and we all struggle with our inner demons. That being said, there is more to Dominance than just these qualities, especially in a D/s relationship.

Dominant Qualities

  • Control. This is more about the attention to detail and enforcement than demanding the compliance of your submissive. Control is the product of attention and care, in the D/s relationship control is earned through action and not through pretty word play. Dominants must know the needs and concerns of the submissive in order to understand and properly control the submissive. It is not something that you just wake up with complete knowledge of, control is an art, at times it is subtle and at other times it is overt, a good Dominant knows the difference and knows when each type of control is necessary.
  • Responsibility. A Dominant must have the ability to take responsibility for themselves and their submissive, in all things. This includes maintaining a schedule, being financially responsible, keeping a household in order, and ensuring the personal growth of another individual. D/s is not all just fun and games, hot sex with whips and handcuffs, D/s is a lifestyle and a Dominant must be willing and able to take responsibility for the livelihood of another.
  • Patience. In a perfect world patience would not be an issue, but no one is perfect and there are times when a submissive may not reach expectations. D/s is a relationship and like all relationships it includes growth. Patience is a virtue in a Dominant partner, it is essential to the support that a submissive needs. Remember that as a Dominant you are responsible for the growth and development of your submissive, an unruly and overly frustrated person can not provide the safe and structured environment necessary for personal growth.
  • Vision. Dominants must have vision, they must be able to see the goal, and stay on course. Sometimes things happen in life that may confuse the stated goal, it is then that the Dominant with vision can observe the changes and find a way to adjust the journey and maintain the goal. Vision means perseverance in the chaos that is life, vision means that there is always a next step ahead.
  • Respect and Loyalty. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. As a Dominant you demand the respect and loyalty of your submissive, but are you giving them the respect and loyalty they deserve in return? This seems to be a shortcoming for most Dominants in my generation. Being the Dominant does not mean you have the freedom to do as you wish with whoever you wish regardless of the needs, concerns, and wants of your submissive. D/s is a partnership, if you want respect and loyalty you had better give your submissive respect and loyalty, this a relationship built on trust, prove that you are deserving of that trust.
  • Love. Love comes in many forms, but it is essential to a D/s relationship, whatever form it may come in. There are four basic kinds of love storge (affection), philia (familial), eros (erotic), and agape (unconditional). Understanding the mechanics of love and the needs of your submissive is important for a Dominant. You must know what kind of love to give and what kind of love to support in your relationship, otherwise you will both succumb to confusion and distrust. Be clear from the outset what kind of love you expect in the relationship and make sure your actions support the development of that love, both giving and receiving.

Room for Dessert

Every relationship is unique, each has it’s own demands and constraints. Some D/s couples practice polyamoury while others are monogamous. Some are 24/7 others are weekly to bi-weekly occasions. Some are relegated to mutual fun at Dungeons, munches, or play parties.  Each Dominant has specific tastes and each submissive has specific needs and so this list cannot be in any way considered comprehensive. It is a starting point for information and education, and it is entirely based from my own opinion and experience as a Dominant. One thing is for sure, once you get the basics out of the way… then you can explore the wonderful intricacies of your personal form of Dominance.