Every so often some poor deluded twit starts a thread on fetlife asking how to tell if a woman is dominant if you meet her in anywhere but at a munch or play party. Not only is this ridiculous, but I think it’s a sign that the questioner isn’t ready to submit to anyone.
First off, the ridiculous part. For fuck’s sake, there is no cheat code for dating. Someone who appears socially dominant might actually like nothing more than to relax and let someone else take charge behind closed doors, and someone who is shy and quiet (Hi, I spend most of my time at large gatherings hiding in the corner) in public might be sizing you up to pounce on later. There is simply no way to tell if a person is sexually/personally (as opposed to socially dominant, which is a different thing, dammit) dominant without getting to know them. In the process of getting to know someone, you kind of have to make yourself vulnerable. Not only is no one going to answer all of your questions without you answering theirs, but there’s no way to convince someone that you’re ‘just curious’ when you ask what they think about kink.
The reason I think asking about how you can tell someone is dominant without asking them means you’re not ready to submit to anyone is that relationships in general and submission in particular are all about making yourself vulnerable. Revealing your kinky interests to someone you’ve just started to get to know can certainly be scary, but it’s pretty low stakes compared to telling your partner of a couple years that you’re a big perv, or even worse, your spouse of many years. If you can’t handle that small amount of vulnerability when the stakes are so low, how on earth are you going to manage when the stakes are higher? Contrary to what these people seem to believe, once you find a partner it’s not all ‘happily ever after’. Even when you know your partner is open to at least some of your kinks, it can still be scary to go into detail or talk at all about more extreme interests.
My friend Andy talks about that problem more in his post about Trust issues with your partner. To quote a little from his post:
This is a simple risk/reward proposition for the husband. He has information he wants to share, questions he wants answered, a sense of belonging and camaraderie that he needs. If we chart out the risks and the rewards:
TALK TO WIFE: High risk, low reward.
TALK ONLINE: Low risk, high reward.
Opening up doesn’t magically become easy and risk free just because you’ve found a partner. If anything it gets harder. Finding a partner whose kinks are at all compatible with yours isn’t easy. Nobody wants to risk scaring off a semi-accepting partner by revealing something too ‘out there’ or complaining about an issue that they can more or less ignore.
The problem is that not asking for what you need and not talking about problems are sure ways to kill a relationship. It’s scary and it puts you in a vulnerable position, but it has to be done if you don’t want your partner to get sick of you expecting them to read your mind. Unfortunately, if you can’t deal with making yourself vulnerable before you even have a capital R relationship, you’re never going to be able to deal with being in one.
Not only do relationships not work without vulnerability, but submission really doesn’t work without it. To quote Ferns’ adorable post ‘On Puppying‘:
Puppying is when they are so excited every time they are around me that their whole body vibrates with delight, they get under my feet, they bounce around me, every pore screams “OMFG YOU’RE HERE YOU’RE HERE, SOOOOOO EXCITED!!!” If they didn’t have control they would lick my face and then pee on the floor.
There are many reasons I like it, but a big one is that in order to puppy at me, he has to make himself vulnerable. He has to NOT do some sort of ‘super cool’, ‘in control’, “Hey, how *you* doin’” act. It is a display of honest and open exuberance without the filters of self protection and for that reason alone, it is special and powerful and lovely to me.
Submission without vulnerability is an oxymoron. If that’s what you want, stick with porn.