Interview with a Dom: Robert

You’re a Dominant. How did you get started in BDSM?

I was already well into middle age when I started seeing a woman, an ex-girlfriend actually, pretty much out of boredom. As you might expect, the relationship wasn’t going very well, and I was thinking it was probably time to end it. But one night we were in a hot tub together, and she said, “Wouldn’t you like to grab me by the nipple and pull me out of this tub and lead me around the room?”  I immediately said, “Yes, I would!”  And that was it, that was the trigger. It was like an explosion inside me.

But one night we were in a hot tub together, and she said, “Wouldn’t you like to grab me by the nipple and pull me out of this tub and lead me around the room?” I immediately said, “Yes, I would!” And that was it, that was the trigger. It was like an explosion inside me.

From then on, I wanted to learn everything I could about D/s and BDSM. It’s not like you can rely on instinct to learn what to do – at least not how to do it correctly. I became a voracious reader of all kinds of books, web sites. The more I read, the more I recognized myself in the Dominant column. I’ve always been an alpha kind of guy, always wanted to be in charge no matter the situation. In retrospect, I can see I always had this inclination, but I was completely clueless. I had submissives all but throwing themselves at my feet, and I was too dense to know it. At work, girls would be following me around, can I get you coffee, can I get you anything?  Submissives have very sensitive radar, and they will quickly pick up on Dominant energy.  The more confident and assertive you are without being an arrogant asshole, the more submissive they feel. It’s a self-fueling fire.  

So, I built a profile on the CollarMe website (now Collarspace), and started contacting different submissives all around the country, not to try to establish a relationship with them, but just to talk with them, to learn from them what they think and how they feel. I would look for profiles that showed a clear amount of experience, and you’d be surprised how many were willing to talk to me and tell me what worked for them, what they liked and didn’t like, and most importantly what they thought a good Dominant was. I eventually started taking on submissives I met on the site. But only one at a time. It’s a lot of work to be a good Dominant, it takes a lot of time and energy. Overall, I’ve had about 10 or 11 subs over the course of 17 years. We parted without acrimony, and I’m still in touch with most of them from time to time, and a few still occasionally turn to me for advice.

Is BDSM a sexual orientation to you, or more of a way to spice up sex?

Being a Dominant is definitely part of my sexual identity. I would call it my orientation. But I don’t wear it on my sleeve, I don’t try to Dom the waitress or barista. And I would never, ever switch. Being a Dom is who I am. I also think being a submissive is an inherent trait. You can’t fake it. I think there are a lot of so-called submissives who are online looking for a Dominant because they are lonely and not necessarily submissive. A long list of limits is a dead giveaway for that. A real submissive will be able to look back and see that she has always enjoyed being led by a dominant person, whether it’s a parent or boss or lover. They will feel an undeniable pull toward people with dominant personalities.  

What makes a good Dominant?

A Dominant’s first job is to earn the trust of the submissive. Not in a BS way, but in a legitimate way. You must exude confidence, not arrogance. To the extent possible, be drama free and stable. A sub needs to feel safe with you – her safety is a top priority.  As a sadist, I tell my submissives, “I will hurt you, but I will never harm you.”  That’s a very important distinction. I will never do anything to cause real harm, leave any real scars. I do enjoy leaving marks and know many submissives like to carry them as a reminder of a session for a few days. Or, you know, as evidence for the trial.

As a sadist, I tell my submissives, “I will hurt you, but i will never harm you.” That’s a very important distinction. I will never do anything to cause real harm, leave any real scars. I do enjoy leaving marks and know many submissives like to carry them as a reminder of a session for a few days. Or, you know, as evidence for the trial.

It’s critical to pay attention to your sub. Pay attention to everything. Develop an instinct for what’s going on with her. Really, really learn her body and mind. In the beginning, I will often ask a sub to masturbate for me, show me how she pleasures herself, what she enjoys. You can learn a lot from watching. I’m a sensual sadist, which means I like to hurt it, then I like to kiss it and make it feel better. I insist on safewords, but you can’t always rely on them, especially once a sub drops into deep subspace – some lose the ability to form words at that point, something I find adorable. If you pay attention, you will know when a submissive has had too much. I’m also very attentive to aftercare – the sub needs to be soothed, assured she is safe. I want to make an emotional reconnection after beating the crap out of her.

There is (or should be) negotiation about limits at first, and I’m respectful of that, but I have learned that most limits dissipate and fall away over time. Even hard limits become gossamer soft. I don’t need to push it. For example, I like foot worship. Some subs say, no I can’t do feet, that’s a hard limit for me. I say fine, but just know it’s something I like. And I leave it at that. But over time, as you earn the sub’s trust and she realizes that you enjoy pleasuring her, the need to please you wells up, and the limit usually lessens then falls away. But because I am a bastard, once that happens, I always make them ask. I make them say, “Please sir, may I suck your toes?” So mean.

Trust is paramount. I always keep my word. I never lie. And punishment is never, ever out of anger; it should be more like funishment. I have told my subs that the only words they are allowed to say during intense play aside from safewords is “more, please” and “harder, please.”  And the rare times when punishment is needed and delivered, it’s over as soon as it’s done. It clears the air. I do not bring it up again.

Another important quality for a Dom is to have a sense of humor. Humor is disarming. And BDSM is supposed to be fun!  People forget that. There are too many overly serious Doms out there who don’t know how to make it fun, who don’t know what they’re doing, who don’t know how to give their submissives real pleasure. Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the lack of quality Doms from submissives. I don’t know what these men are doing, but they aren’t doing their research, aren’t paying attention.

A Dom’s first responsibility is the well-being of his (or her) submissive. And yet too many are just in it for themselves, or they are very punitive, they use bullying and fear to control a submissive. The submissive should want to please from a sense of respect and adoration for the Dom. Now, that’s not to say that a little mindfucking fear doesn’t go a long way to get the sub’s juices flowing, because for some it really does. But if it becomes a permanent fixture of the dynamic, things can get toxic.

People should keep in mind that there’s no such thing as the perfect Dom or sub. There is only the right partner for that person at that time in their lives. Life is dynamic. Situations change. People change. A good Dom (or sub) is the one that ticks the right boxes for their partner in the existing circumstances, circumstances that are subject to change.

And most importantly, a Dom always carries a full set of batteries. Nothing makes a Dom more of a hero than having the right batteries for a toy at a critical moment in the proceedings.

What makes a good submissive?

A woman who is strong and can stand on her own feet. It’s not a big challenge to dominate a girl who doesn’t know what she wants. It takes a strong woman to truly submit. It takes a woman who knows herself. Knows what works for her and is able to express it. And the common thread for most subs is a longing to give up control, to be told what to do, obey, and believe that the person in control is looking out for them at all times. Listen, obey, feel. One of the best lines I ever heard from a sub was “When we’re naked, the only thing I need to know is where you want my head.” My kind of girl.

What are the benefits of BDSM to your life?

It tingles every part of me, mentally and physically. There is no higher high than when I am in control of a mostly (or fully) naked submissive, the room is cool and still, and I look at her and think “What sorts of noises do I want her to make today?”  It’s intensely rewarding, gives me a sense of well-being.  If I go too long without that experience, I miss it. It’s been a while, and conversations like ours point out how much I miss it now.

Would you ever go back to vanilla sex?

I wouldn’t go back to vanilla. I can’t. I’d have to suppress my natural inclination to be in control too much. Vanilla sex takes me out of the moment, and suddenly I am outside of myself watching instead of participating.

Are you part of a BDSM community?

No. I don’t care for the community where I am. Too many annoying posers. Too many dilettantes who don’t know what they’re doing. The success of 50 Shades of Grey turned BDSM into the “flavor of the month.”  It wasn’t good for BDSM. Power exchange is not a trend, it’s not goat yoga. It’s a real way of life that requires study, knowledge, understanding, empathy, control, and commitment. I think the “gene pool” has been diluted by people who aren’t willing to learn or take the time to figure out what they’re doing. So I don’t think we need to be banging the drum too loudly about BDSM. Allow those who feel it to come to it organically. More is not always better unless we’re talking about the size of natural tits, Macallan single malt scotch, or really good rice pudding.

Are you “out” as BDSM?

Hell, no. It’s no one’s business. I don’t need to be called a pervert by people I work with – there are subs for that purpose. The only person outside of BDSM practitioners whom I’ve told is a close friend. And after I told her, she said, “Your life is so much more interesting than mine!”

Sometimes, with the right sub, it’s wildly interesting.

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