As a reminder, always check the category and tags if there are subjects you aren’t interested in reading. This ended up being a much harder topic to put into words for me. I struggled with how to say this for a few days, writing and revising and deleting and starting over. It’s hard to talk about yourself and how you do things without occasionally sounding self-congratulatory, and I hope I managed to avoid that. Because I am not superior to anyone and my way of doing things isn’t the best or right way. There is no singular right way, only the way that is right for you and your relationship.
Dominance, within BDSM, is all about the exchange of power. About a submissive choosing to give power and control to their Dominant partner. It can’t – or at least shouldn’t – be about making the submissive partner powerless. True D/s isn’t abusive – though abuse can and sometimes does hide behind the trappings of power exchange. Submission should empower submissives and should give them confidence to move through the world around them. I like to use the metaphors of blooming and building to describe a healthy D/s relationship. Submission should be the soil from which a submissive blooms under their Dominant’s care. And their partner’s Dominance should be the foundation they build on together.
At the heart of the matter, Dominance is about leadership founded in trust and care. The things that make someone a truly good leader are the same characteristics that make someone a good Dominant, tempered with the desire to take that role in a relationship. It means looking at a situation and weighing first the needs of everyone involved, and then the wants, and making the decisions to see that the needs are met and the wants accomodated when and how they can be. It means finding the structure your partner needs and fulfilling it to the best of you ability. And sometimes that means knowing when you cannot provide for a partner what they need and either choosing not to enter that parntership in the first place, or choosing to let them go so they can find someone who can meet those needs and desires for them.
I spent a lot of time doubting myself and my Dominance early along my path. There were so many who I saw that enjoyed excercising complete control over their partners – at least in my viewing – and I encountered a lot of submissives who wanted that kind of control. We see the fantasy of that total control, where every action must be scripted or approved by the Dominant before it’s taken. And that’s not what interests me. I sometimes enjoy picking my submissive’s clothes and I expect to be asked if they need to step away while we’re spending time together. But I enjoy a woman who is centered in her independence – who can take care of herself and anything else that comes up. Because when she has that power and she knows she’s centered in that power, it means so much more to when she chooses to hand that power to me. My current submissive is an entrepenuer, and even if I understood her work half as well as she does, I still wouldn’t insert myself into it. So she tells me what she needs to do and what her schedule needs to look like. I take control only in holding her accountable to her schedule, and making sure that her schedule includes time to relax so she doesn’t burn herself out, and shutting down early enough to get some sleep at night.
I enjoy the rituals of our power exchange, especially since our time together is restricted to SecondLife and daily emails when I can’t be on SecondLife. The titles we share between us, when and where she kneels, how she dresses. There is the kink side of our relationship, too, where our power exchange is expressed in a more sexual way, but that’s for a more NSFW discussion. But the bread and butter of our power exchange is made up of the small reminders and the expectations of her taking the actions that care for her health and wellbeing. And in turn? I also strive to care for my own health and wellbeing so that I lead by example. It doesn’t always happen, with my health issues being what they are. But I have a wonderful submissive who serves in tending to me when I cannot always tend to myself. And in supporting me when my self-care takes me away from our online time together.
So what does Dominance mean to me? It means leading and tending and giving structure to a structureless world. It means supporting my partner’s goals and doing what I can to help them achieve those goals. It means celebrating my partner and giving them a safe place to explore and embrace exactly who that is. It isn’t without ego – and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying, to you or themselves. But ego cannot be the heart of power exchange if you’re looking for a long term, fulfilling dynamic. I’m lucky enough to have found other Dominants, both men and women, who also share my values. Who I can learn from and with whom I can share my own hard-won wisdom. Our way isn’t the only way, and even within my community, we aren’t homogenous in how we do Dominance. But this is my way, with my current submissive, because who the submissive is matters nearly as much as who I am in how I shape our dynamic.