There’s this seeming paradox in what’s expected of those of us who aspire to dominate.
On the one hand, we’re supposed to be masterful. We’re supposed to be the kind of people who always have to have things their own way, and who bend others to their will.
On the other hand, we’re supposed to be scrupulously consensual. We’re expected to get permission for every little thing we do, and to stop doing it the moment our partner stops being enthusiastically into it.
We’re expected to be darkly mysterious and also to negotiate every detail of what we’re going to do in advance.
We’re expected to be merciless taskmasters, and also to never pressure our partners into anything they don’t want to do.
We’re expected to enforce unyielding discipline, and also to yield the moment that our partner isn’t into it anymore.
Sometimes sometimes it’s the same damn voice (the same person, community, book, etc.) that’s pushing both sides. “A dominant must always be true to their own desires but really it’s all about giving your submissive what they want but if you’re just doing what your submissive wants you’re not a real dominant but if you do anything they don’t want you’re a rapist. Any questions?”
It can make your head spin, and it leaves a lot of us feeling like we have to pick a side. Are we going to be a scrupulous but kind of tame Consensual Dominant, or a thrilling but kind of sketchy Masterful Dominant?
I’m here to tell you that that’s a false choice. It’s entirely possible to be both scrupulously consensual and genuinely commanding and in charge. If done right, they even support one another.
Here are two tips for sweeping them off their feet with your power while staying firmly grounded in their consent.
Slow Down and Make them Beg
One of the hard realities of consensual kink is that nobody really has to do anything they don’t want to. So if we’re always the thirsty one who’s pushing for more D/s, harder D/s, deeper D/s, sooner D/s now now now—then we’re bound to struggle with tension between being masterful and respecting consent.
Respecting consent means acknowledging that all our stern demands for pushing our dynamic farther and faster are really more like requests, and that—ultimately—it’s up to our partner to decide whether or not to give us what we’re asking for. Anything we could do to take command of that ultimate choice, or put pressure on it, is going to stink at least a little bit of abuse.
But we don’t have to always be the thirsty one begging for more! Submissives want to submit. That’s my favorite thing about them. If we cultivate some patience and self control, and we slow our roll enough to let them miss the taste of our boots and get hungry for something deeper, then we can get them in the position of being the one making the requests. And then consensual and masterful are on the same side.
Because we have the same ultimate, unquestionable right to say “no” that our partners do. So if our partner is the one pushing for more, we get to make stern demands that actually are demands.
“Prove to me that you’re ready to take more.”
“If you want a beating, get down and beg for it.”
“I might play with you tonight, if you’re really good all day today.”
One of the most effective tactics I know for deepening submission is to give someone almost as much dominance as they want, but not quite. You don’t want them feeling significantly under used, but if you stop just before the point where they would’ve wanted you to stop then they walk away still a little bit hungry—and eager for more next time.
Take the Lead on Safety & Consent
Another hard reality of consensual kink is that it carries risks—from risks of accidental marks through risks of intentional harm.
Many of us look at the things that need to done to mitigate those risks as inconveniences that detract from our dominance over our partners. This attitude, again, pits masterful and consensual against one another.
If I propose to my sexy new date that we go back to my place, and they say that they want to set up a safe call first, then they’ve just had to do something to protect themselves from me and create a limit my power over them. If I make any kind of fuss about it—protesting that they should trust me or taking offense that they’re implying I’m a rapist—then I’m being an asshole.
Especially with new or casual partners, this can look like them dictating a whole laundry list of terms, conditions and limits by which we must abide. Hardly masterful.
There’s a better way.
We can educate ourselves about ways to enhance our partners’ safety and ensure that their consent is respected, and we can take the initiative to start the conversation about those protections.
Instead of just proposing to take my date home, I can bring up the fact that going home with someone carries risks and I can suggest some options (playing at a public space at first, safe calls, ruling out things like gags that would prevent someone calling for help) and demonstrate my leadership in helping them stay safe.
I can be the one to bring up the STD risk and safer sex strategy conversation.
I can bring up risks that they might not even have thought of (photos getting posted online) and suggest ways to mitigate them (let’s take that sexy picture with your phone instead of mine, and you keep the picture).
Starting conversations around safety is awkward and hard, especially for our partners. They’re afraid that we’re going to be the asshole who takes it the wrong way. If we take the lead, do that awkward job with confidence and grace, and demonstrate that we care about their safety and are knowledgeable about ways to protect it—it sends a powerful message that they can trust us, depend on us, and follow us.
We can be masterful about consent itself, and it can be a profoundly powerful tool for inspiring submission.
Those aren’t the only two ways to marry scrupulous consent and confident, masterful dominance, but I hope they’re enough to give you the idea that a keen focus on consent doesn’t have to detract from being the baddest dominant around.