BDSM: How to Be a Remarkable Dom?

Great Dom
Molly Lazarus
Written by Molly Lazarus

According to statistical data from Fetlife, the BDSM community’s largest social networking site, submissive-leaning kinksters far outweigh dominants in number. If you’re dominant-leaning then you’re in luck because your proclivities are in high demand!

If sexual dominance is new to you and feels counterintuitive, you’re not alone. Many of us grew up believing that dominance of any kind is equivalent to assholery, especially in the bedroom.

As a tried-and-true masochist myself, I’ve had to convince a few partners that it’d be perfectly kind of them to hurt me, and that I would in fact love them for it.

There is, however, a fair bit of nuance involved in dominating people in sexually pleasurable ways.

dominant beautiful woman

In this article I’ll talk about how you can approach domination from a safe, caring, and consensual standpoint that’ll have your sweet subbie flying like a rainbow-snorting unicorn.

What You’ll Need to Dominate Your Kinky Partner

  • Any BDSM-related tools you want to use during play, such as ropes, paddles, blindfolds, nipple clamps, candles, Wartenberg pinwheels, or whatever else your partner might enjoy. (Make sure these items are specifically made for kinky play. Normal candles, for example, burn at high temperatures that may scar the skin. Your friendly neighborhood sex shop can provide you with candles that burn at safe temperatures.)
  • Safety gear to match the activities you plan to do. (For instance, if you want to tie your partner with rope, you’ll need a pair of industrial-strength scissors in case of an emergency.)

How to Be a Dom

1. Understand Domination in the Context of Real-life BDSM.

While fantasy-focused media like porn and erotica are perfectly pleasurable pursuits of entertainment, they can cause confusion when we try to emulate them in our real relationships. 50 Shades of Grey is a particularly problematic example of BDSM done badly, despite its mainstream popularity.

Healthy BDSM hinges on power exchange.

The word ‘exchange’ implies enthusiastic consent, meaning that the desires and limits of both partners are equally important. Great doms work to benefit their submissives and keep their well-being in mind at all times.

Make sure you’re approaching domination from a desire to please your partner, rather than a desire for selfish control or an ego boost. Without consent and a foundation of benevolent intentions, domination becomes abuse, and abuse ain’t sexy in real life.

2. Ask Your Sub Questions about Their Desires.

Fetishes are like fingerprints; no two people will have the same ones. To please your sub, you’ll want to learn as much as possible about what makes them tick.

woman anticipating BDSM

The term ‘BDSM’ encompasses countless activities and dynamics. Perhaps your partner is into emotional degradation, but not pain, or vice-versa. This kind of information is what you’ll need to lead mind-blowing kinky scenes, so ask questions and listen carefully when they open up and share with you.

This can be an arousing conversation if you handle it with confidence.

An authoritative “I want you to tell me about your fantasies” while stroking your partner’s hair can set you both off in wonderful directions.

3. Understand the Psychology Behind Your Sub’s Fetishes.

There are a number of common misunderstandings surrounding fetishes that fall under the umbrella of BDSM.

For instance, non-practitioners often mistake submissiveness for weakness.

On the contrary, many submissives are headstrong in their daily lives and relish submission as a chance to hand the reins of control over to a trusted partner.

Additionally, it’s often thought that masochists must hate themselves. In reality, many BDSMers engage in masochism due to the mind-altering effects of pain and the natural high it creates.

If anything about your sub’s fetishes has you mystified, there are tons of resources at your disposal. Reddit’s r/BDSMcommunity page, for instance, is a wonderful tool.

4. Guide Your Partner Through the Negotiation Process.

Negotiation is a main element of BDSM best practices.

It’s common among responsible practitioners to have a chat before playing in order to clarify preferences, limits, safeword systems, and other considerations. Worried that talking about BDSM in advance will ruin the magic? I assure you, it absolutely won’t.

Talking about kinky details can create delicious feelings of anticipation for you both.

Know what’s not sexy? Injuries, lost trust, and misunderstandings about whether an act was consensual. We want to avoid these problems however possible.

5. Prepare for Your Kinky Session.

Here are some things you can do to prepare for a great play sesh:

Make a rough plan of how you want the scene to go based on what you know about your partner.

Remember, fetishes aren’t about a specific act or object itself, but the ideas we associate with it. I once got a message from a guy whose sub was interested in puppy play. He said that after he’d walked her around on a leash and had her drink from a dog bowl, he was at a loss for how to continue the scene.

BDSM aftercare

My advice was simple: pretend you have a real puppy in your house! Play fetch, punish her for misbehaving, or simply watch a movie while petting her. If the fantasy is solid, the scene can be fun without being overly complicated.

BDSM comes with a number of risks depending on the activities involved, so research safety techniques for every activity you want to do.

Bondage can cause nerve damage when done incorrectly. Choking and other forms of breathplay can be life-threatening, even when performed by doms with years of experience. In some cases, reading about these details will not be enough.

Major cities often have strong BDSM communities that provide classes and workshops on domination techniques. If you’re serious about trying riskier forms of play, find a great in-person mentor to teach you the ropes. (HA!)

Give your submissive homework before your scene.

For instance, I once had a dom request that I wear lacey lingerie to our encounter. Putting on those lacey panties and wearing them on the way there, simply because he told me to, had me aroused on arrival.

6. Enjoy Your Scene While Monitoring Your Submissive’s State.

Here are some tips to keep in mind while you play:

Warming up is always a good idea. It may take time for you and your sub to get into the headspace of the fantasy. Additionally, for pain-related activities like spanking, it can take several minutes for the body to start flooding itself with endorphins.

Until then, harder levels of play won’t be as arousing or enjoyable. Start off slowly and build from there. On a related and more general note, take your time.

There’s no rush to dive all in, test limits, or up the ante.

Doing so too quickly can cause psychological harm to your sub. As a particularly experienced dominant friend of mine once said, “You can always go further. You can rarely go back.” Subspace is an altered state of mind experienced by some submissives during play.

kidnapper/burglar roleplay

The feeling is on par with an opiate high. If your partner reaches subspace, they may be less likely to communicate or use their safeword, or even become unable to judge their own pain tolerance.

If your submissive isn’t communicating clearly, it’s your responsibility to judge whether it’s safe to continue the scene. Trust your gut and tap out whenever necessary.

Check in with your partner to ensure that they’re enjoying themselves.

Many submissives, especially beginners, are unaware of their own limits or so eager to please their dominants that they’ll resist using a safeword.

This can lead to trauma or other post-scene problems. Figure out a way to check in without spoiling the sexy mood, either through your safeword system or simply by whispering, “Hey, you okay?”

End the scene by bringing your partner down gradually.

As I said, BDSM involves the release of an intense cocktail of hormones and neurotransmitters. Ending a scene abruptly can be the chemical equivalent of pulling the rug out from under your sub and can lead to a terrible condition known as subdrop. It’s an unsexy problem you’ll want to avoid.

7. Once You’ve Ended the Scene, Move onto Aftercare.

Aftercare, for many people, is the best thing about BDSM.

It’s the time when you and your kinky partner can smother each other with affection, even if kindness was completely absent during play.

woman in lace ready for BDSM session

People do all sorts of things during aftercare, depending on their preferences and needs. Here are some ideas:

  • Snuggle and smooch.
  • Make passionate love.
  • Pamper your sub with blankets, water, food, or anything they crave.
  • Praise them and tell them you’re proud of their efforts during the scene.
  • Help them ice down any injuries or cover them in lotion.
  • Take a bath or shower together.

Basically, you want to do anything that will help you and your sub comfortably transition back to reality.

8. Debrief at Some Point.

The best doms I’ve ever played with have always asked me, “Is there anything you didn’t like about what we did?” You can do this during aftercare or at a later time, but you’ll want to touch base with your sub about what worked and what didn’t during your scene.

9. Use What You Learned about Your Sub to Plan More Great Experiences in the Future.

If everything goes according to plan, your sub will be begging to play again ASAP! Use your new knowledge to start thinking about how you can torture and tantalize them during your next scene.

10. Make Sure Your Submissive Knows They’re Valued.

You don’t want your cherished partner to walk away from a BDSM experience with you feeling genuinely used or taken for granted, even if those feelings happen to be at the core of their fetish!

Do what you can to let your subbie know that you appreciate them and the kinky time you spend together. Phew! As you can tell, dominance can be a lot of work! However, I assure you that your efforts won’t be in vain.

Positive BDSM experiences have been proven to boost intimacy and bonding between partners. Many who successfully incorporate BDSM into their relationships never go back. Fare thee well, vanilla realm!

Best of luck and happy playing!

About the author

Molly Lazarus

Molly Lazarus

Molly Lazarus is a freelance writer and sex educator specializing in BDSM and other pursuits of pleasure. She grew up in San Francisco, but has spent the last 10 years living in Osaka, Japan, where she organizes a monthly BDSM munch, leads D/s community discussion groups, and mentors adventurous explorers as they wade into the exciting world of kink. Molly believes it's everyone's right to freely explore their sexuality in ways that are enjoyable, consensual, and safe for all involved.