Wearing My Lady’s collar, figuratively and often literally, doesn’t stop me from thinking about the qualities I find appealing in dominants in general. What follows is a list of the top few, approximately in descending order of importance. I’m not nearly presumptuous enough to regard them as some kind of gold standard that everyone should follow, and I’m well aware that many people will have different ideas as to what attributes are suitable and desirable for a dominant to possess – My Lady, for example, doesn’t share all my views on this subject. Nevertheless, the list does lay out the qualities I personally admire in a dominant and feel drawn to, for whatever that might be worth.
- Responsibility. Considers the impact her actions and instructions (I’d rather stick to the case of a female dominant than keep writing out things like “her or his actions and instructions”) will have on her submissives, and tries hard to avoid hurting them except in ways that she intends and they’ve consented to. Consistently acts like one of the adults in the room, and doesn’t shrink from making tough decisions when necessary. Can be trusted with a high level of control over a submissive’s body, reputation, emotional well-being, and/or bank account. Would never describe herself as a “brat”.
- Authority. Likes telling other people what to do, and finds it fulfilling and erotic to be obeyed. Has no problem delegating complex tasks to people she trusts, but can also give detailed instructions and keep a submissive on a very short leash when she considers it warranted. Is good at making decisions, including decisions that affect others, and at formulating rules and routines for her submissives to follow. Communicates orders clearly, and doesn’t hesitate to ask uncomfortable questions and insist on explicit, substantive answers. Holds submissives accountable for their actions, and disciplines them firmly when appropriate. Can be demanding, intimidating and uncompromising. Huge bonus points for an interest in using bondage and confinement to maintain direct physical control over submissives, in either the short term or the long term.
- Sadism. Enjoys making people suffer, watching people suffer, and thinking about ways to make people suffer. Routinely inflicts pain on submissives for her pleasure, not just for disciplinary purposes. Huge bonus points for an interest in subjecting submissives to types of unpleasantness other than physical pain, such as fear, discomfort, degradation, nervousness, sexual frustration and even boredom.
- Expertise. Has mastered some safe, highly effective techniques for restraining willing victims and making them suffer. Also has a bag of interpersonal tricks for keeping submissives on their toes, catching them off-balance, staying one step ahead of them, and bossing them around in terms that greatly encourage obedience. Knows pretty much what she wants and how to get it. Bonus points for both a penchant for meticulous planning and an ability to improvise.
- Imagination. Possesses a wicked creative streak and frequently comes up with new ways to enjoy and torment her submissives, or new variations on her tried and tested methods. Loves to surprise submissives by issuing instructions they would never have expected from her, or using them in ways they could never have anticipated.
- Enthusiasm. Takes great pleasure in her dominant role, and is willing to put serious time, energy and money into honing skills, acquiring equipment and orchestrating kinky adventures for herself and her submissives. Loves to mull over sinister possibilities for things she might do to compliant men and/or women, or make them do for her. A little note of excitement may creep into her voice when she discusses her exploits, or dominance and sadism in general.
- Tough-mindedness. Is not easily shocked, alarmed or offended. Has no interest in condemning sometimes-controversial practices like raceplay, ageplay, or consensual non-consensuality (definitions in this handy glossary) – and may actively embrace any or all of those things, depending on her own inclinations. Doesn’t feel guilty or conflicted about what she does to submissives, provided they’ve clearly said “yes”, or recoil automatically from words like force, abuse, cruelty and evil when they’re being used to describe consensual activity. Understands the difference between fantasy and reality, and opposes attempts to constrain or police the former. Tends not to get gushy, or at least not too gushy, over puppies and baby pandas. May well own a gun, enjoy watching a good boxing match, and/or support the death penalty.
The first three characteristics on that list are, to me, the holy trinity of BDSM. A dominant needs authority and sadism in order for submission to her to feel erotic, and needs responsibility in order for submission to her to feel safe. Although I’ve been using feminine pronouns up to this point, and although dominant women will always hold a special fascination and magnetism for me, my inclinations by now are sufficiently pansubmissive that I’d find literally any adult well-endowed with those vital three qualities – male or female, young or old, of any creed or colour – at least somewhat appealing as a potential captor, tormentor and overseer. The other four are something of a bonus, and there are many more I could have included in this category. In no particular order, the list includes: maturity, intelligence, libido, physical size and strength, gravitas, humour, emotional stability, financial resources, groundedness, openness, kinky connections, many books, decadent tastes, macabre sensibilities, a capacity for self-indulgence, and a few rough edges. I’m sure there are others I’ve forgotten.
Most of the attributes I’ve mentioned in this post, such as imagination, are ones that I appreciate in people in general. A few are more specific to dominant individuals; but for the most part, the ingredients for a dominant I would be especially eager to submit to are about the same as the ones for a person I would be interested in hanging out with socially, plus a few extras like authority and sadism. My Lady is imbued with all seven of the qualities I’ve described in detail, admittedly to varying degrees, and with many of the others listed at the end of the last paragraph. Whenever I open an email from her, there’s at least a little twinge of both excitement and trepidation, and that’s enough in itself to tell me that I belong at her feet.
Are there qualities that you find especially appealing in a dominant, or in a submissive? Feel free to post your own list!