What Is Dominant (Dom/Domme)?

Quick links: Definition | What a Dominant Isn’t | Who Is In Control | Personal Experiences | Pros & Cons | FAQ

Hello to all my BDSM-minded friends!

Today we will talk about what it means to be Dominant in the world of BDSM. We will cover some basic definitions and what it is like in practice.

Key Takeaways

  • Self-control is critical.
  • Dom is a male Dominant, and a Domme is a female Dominant.
  • D/s is the code for Dominant/submissive relationships.
  • The dom sets the scene, but the control belongs to the submissive.

What is a Dominant?

Dominance is a key component of BDSM play. Depending on whom you ask, discipline or dominance is generally what people expect the D in BDSM to stand for, which isn’t without merit. Every sort of BDSM play relies on the concept of some power exchange.

The Dominant is the one who sets the stage, creates the scene, and keeps everyone safe. It is a big responsibility, but the benefits are well worth the work. They are the ones who met out discipline in all its forms.

Speaking the Language

While knowing the correct terms and what they mean is important, you also need to understand how real people speak. Rarely does one hear Dominant when speaking to members of the BDSM community. Dom and Domme are generally the words used. What exactly does that mean?

Dom is a male Dominant, and a Domme is a female Dominant. Simple enough, right? It’s also worth noting that when discussing the lifestyle in broad strokes, especially online, you are most likely to see D/s as the code for Dominant/submissive relationships in whatever form they take.

For ease and clarity, I will use the term Dom throughout but understand I’m still talking to and about the ladies. I’m sure you’d agree it will make it easier to follow than reading Dominant or Dom/Domme at every turn.

What A Dominant Isn’t

The growth in popularity of BDSM has led to some terrifying misconceptions about what it means to be a Dom. I blame a book or two for this issue, but that’s where we get into personal opinions, and I’ll endeavor to stay off my soap box today.

This thrusting of BDSM into the bigger world has led to a lot of fakes. When I say fakes, I don’t mean people new to the lifestyle who are legitimately interested in learning and want to be the best Dom they can be.

I’m talking about those who say no one really needs a safe word, or I got into the lifestyle so I can beat people up and not get arrested. These people are very dangerous and should be avoided.

Where Is the Control Really

A Dominant, while they set the scene, is not truly the one in charge. Yes, the Dominant is the one who holds the key to the cuffs, as it were, but the reality is that the submissive is always the one truly in control.

I already know what you are thinking. This contrasts with everything people who think they know the world of BDSM think. The truth is, though, no one can dominate without a willing submissive, and that willingness comes from trust.

If that trust is violated at any time, the whole thing falls apart. Not just the scene but your standing in the BDSM community and with your partner.

How Dominants Play

When we talk about D/s dynamics, the Dom is responsible for creating the scene. The Dom decides how the play progresses, what toys or restraints will be used, and what behavior is expected from the sub.

Aside from this very broad overview, the scene is only limited by the imagination and desires of the players. There are so many subcategories when it comes to D/s that we could spend days just going over variations.

In fact, during BDSM activities, both parties, dominant and submissive, agree on a sexual script, which includes the behaviors of the dominant and the limits of the submissive (e.g., through the use of safe words).

by Leam A. Craig, Ross M. Bartels; Wiley, 2021
from Sexual Deviance: Understanding and Managing Deviant Sexual Interests  and Paraphilic Disorders

Why Be Dominant

This is one of those areas where I know I’m likely to get some disagreement. The honest answer here is that it is who you are. I know, that seems so obvious, and yet I see people constantly trying to force themselves into roles that just don’t fit.

Doms do so because it feels natural to take that leadership role within the scene. We thrive on the ability to create structure within what can be seen as chaos. We enjoy leading and guiding. Our excitement comes mainly from the excitement we create in our partners.

Personal Experiences

Sex and, more particularly, BDSM activity is part of my everyday life. I love learning new things about myself and sharing the things I know with my friends. There is nothing better than discovering a new aspect of who I am, who my partner is, and the unique people we become together.

When I Domme, I use various compensating factors because, believe it or not, at only 5’3, not everyone sees me as the Dominant type. I love using bondage to control touch. It isn’t just about restraint but also about controlling the ability to touch themselves or me. It creates a lot of intensity because most people are tactile in their sexual interactions.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Being Dom

Advantages of Being Dominant

  • Setting the stage for the scene
  • Pushing yourself and your partner to discover new things
  • Flexing your mind to maximize the experience

Disadvantages of Being Dominant

  • Safety is your #1 priority
  • Can be physically and mentally exhausting
  • The control is an illusion

What’s Next

Whether you are an experienced Dom or just starting to learn, some fantastic resources are available these days to aid you on your journey. Most cities offer opportunities for classes and things like munches where you can talk to members of the BDSM community who can help guide you.

Before engaging in any sort of D/s activity, you and your partner must have clear ideas of the limits for your scene. A little communication goes a long way in ensuring everyone has a safe and enjoyable time.

And, as always, with all BDSM activities, make sure you trust your partner and have a safe word!

Dominant FAQs

Can’t I do whatever I want as the Dominant?

I cannot stress the “no” enough here. Being a Dom means thinking about your partner at all times. You need to monitor the safety of your sub and never violate limits.

Do I need special gear?

While there are plenty of images of Doms in a leather carrying a riding crop, all you need is yourself, a willing partner, and a sense of adventure.

What is the best way to start exploring my dominant side?

I always advise taking it slow. By all means, experiment and explore, but you don’t have to try everything in one day. Take your time and explore what works for you as a Dom as well as what works for your partner.

Author

  • HarliQ is a long-time member of the BDSM community. She identifies as a switch who has spent time in both Dominant and submissive roles in a diverse array of different scenes. She has experience in a wide variety of kinks and fetishes. HarliQ enjoys sharing her passion for the BDSM lifestyle with others and providing education and information to those new or evolving in the community. She is pursuing her Master of Psychology with a focus on human sexuality. Her goal is to remove the stigma many people associate with BDSM activities and open this world to anyone interested in exploring their whole self.