As usual, this post is inspired by a discussion I found on Fetlife. The gist of the question, for those who don’t do Fetlife, was whether or not other female doms are actually paragons of efficiency and virtue or whether perhaps the questioner’s former s-type might possibly have had unreasonable expectations, and whether other female doms somehow made themselves perfect before they felt ready to dominate someone.
First off, while there are no shortage of shitty doms out there, if you bash your dom/former dom for not being perfect every second of every day, go fuck yourself. Doms are human beings, just like you. We have faults and bad days and make mistakes just like you. If you need your dom to be perfect you don’t actually want a relationship, you want someone to act out a fantasy for you.
On the late and lamented The Black Leather Belt blog, Lily Lloyd said something very smart about how needing your dom to be perfect is about fear of surrender and wanting submission to be easy and risk free and not wanting to face the fact that your dom is human and will make mistakes sometimes. That, uh, sounded a lot smarter when she originally said it. I think her point about wanting submission to be risk free, even as clumsily as I’ve restated it here, is really important though. I get that it’s scary to make yourself that vulnerable to someone. I certainly couldn’t do it. But you can’t blame other people for your fear of taking that risk, and you can’t make it their job to somehow magically make submission risk free. That’s simply impossible, so suck it up or admit you’d rather stick to fantasizing.
Back at the topic of when you’re ready to dominate someone, you’re never going to feel perfectly ready. As a bunch of commenters in the Fetlife thread already said, there’s always going to be something you could be better at. None of us are ever going to be perfect, and if we wait until we are we’ll never get to have any fun.
That’s not to say that there’s no bar to clear whatsoever, though. While I very strongly believe that people are allowed to identify however they want, once you get involved with another person you have a responsibility to at least try to do right by them. Shit happens to everyone but you have to try. Like in any relationship you need to have something to give (that is, not be in a constant state of crisis where you only barely have enough energy to keep your own life going), half-decent communication skills, and reasonable expectations, and particular to d/s relationships you need to be willing to take responsibility for getting your partner back on an even keel if a scene goes wrong.
Some people will say it’s not fair to blame only the dom when a scene goes wrong and that the s-type is just as much at fault if they failed to communicate (because that’s always effortless and not terrifying when you’re in a bad headspace), but a) that’s blatant douchebaggery and b) I’m not even talking about blame. Taking responsibility for helping your partner is something you do because they need it, not because you screwed up. Honestly, what kind of person would only help their s-type if they were certain it was their fault things went wrong? If your s-type really does have shitty communication skills it’s probably wise to step back from pursuing a d/s relationship with them, but dammit you help people who need it even if there was no way you could have kept things from going wrong.
Note that none of that involves being debt free and having your dream job and an awesome house with a fully stocked playroom and a signed note from a therapist saying you’re officially ready to ride this ride. You’ve just got to be a grownup and willing to try, which, coincidentally, is exactly the same thing I’d expect from an s-type. Like I keep yelling, doms are not that special.
As long as you’ve got a handle on the first two levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you officially have my blessing to look for a d/s relationship. You know, if for some reason you care what some asshole on the internet thinks 🙂 But in general, no one’s going to hunt you down and give you permission to call yourself a dom and find a d/s relationship. You’re never going to get a certificate in the mail saying you’re ready. You’ve just got to give it a shot and try to learn from your mistakes, just like everyone else.