What makes a great submissive? and for Dominants – How to vet a submissive?

‘I want to be a good submissive for my Dom/Domme – how do I become a good submissive?’ is a question I get asked from time to time.

My initial response usually is.. ‘Why just settle at being ‘good’? Aim to be the greatest submissive you can be.. cos that will drive him to be the greatest Dom/Domme he/she can be! At the very least, don’t settle on being average.’

There are average submissives and then there are great submissives.

First… let’s unpack the interaction between the Dom/Domme and sub and what’s used to map the terrain. The primary tool that is used to give the interaction form is ‘Protocol’. Protocol is used to describe the hierarchy between partners, rules and behaviours that govern the BDSM relationship. Due to the different power dynamics in a BDSM relationship, there are different sets of protocols and honourifics that are required. This enforced behaviour defines the interpersonal dynamic and rituals that take place in the relationship.

Now, an average submissive will do what they are told most of the time…well, when they feel like it or if it’s easy. Protocol sounds fun at first and for a while they will try… until it is inconvenient. They will maintain healthy and frequent communication.. until the responsibility to properly communicate becomes a chore. You get the picture.

A good submissive will do exactly what they are told and follow orders willingly. Giving their Dominant respect and diligently following protocols with glee. Maybe they will question some orders and why not? They might need to deepen trust or understanding and then they are all in.

ahhh but…

A great submissive you will rarely need to give instruction. They think about what pleases their Dominants all the time. It is part of them and they have a deep love for the dynamic. They will be one step ahead of their Dominant in thinking of delightful services and seek the happiness and pleasure of their dominant before their own needs are met. They love protocol and relish exceeding expectations. They very, very rarely need punishment/correction because it is not in their nature to do less but rather are always surprising with over the top obedience.

This level of submission does not come easily to all or even many. The real lesson is to strive to excel. To see this as a worthy goal. To do the real thinking about what submission and service means on your own time so you are constantly putting your Dominant first, while he/she does their very best to be the greatest Dom/Domme for their submissive.

The most fulfilling power exchange should never have to be taken but is best when given with the fullest heart and best intentions.

I hope this writing is useful to Dominants trying to find D/s relationship and also to subs to think about if you are really suited to an authority transfer dynamic and what style of D/s, Power Exchange, M/s or non-egalitarian relationship might be right or wrong for you. The vetting I am talking about in this piece is for a D/s dynamic not just play.

How to Vet a Submissive

I’ve had to vet a few subs in my time. I’ve picked well and I’ve picked poorly. Sometimes I valued the wrong things and in other cases, the people I was with just weren’t right for the lifestyle once they really lived it. I live and learn… I never stop learning.

This is a follow on to my previous writing on how to vet a Dominant. It didn’t seem fair to only talk about one side of dynamic and is just my opinion – take it as you wish.

Firstly, be careful to romanticise the life. It’s just so damn appealing from the outside. The dream of giving someone full control over you or the idea of owning someone completely is potent, magical, erotic and a dream for many kinksters. This creates a magnetism that can be very heady and overwhelming. Ironically, a real protocol-based, traditional power exchange relationship is a very practical business. It’s a life full of rules and regulations and daily or weekly tasks. It’s hard work. It requires a systematic approach. So look for people who want to improve themselves and are open to learning, feedback and change. If someone is touchy, thinks they are pretty much perfect already and isn’t mindful this will be much harder.

I’ve met many beautiful women in my life and had all different types of ‘relationships’ – from traditional monogamy (more like monogamish as my partner and I played with other girls together while emotionally monogamous with each other), to full-blown collared 24/7 Power Exchange, to one night playdates where the woman was collared to me just for the night.. and the ‘fuck buddy/friends with benefits’ type relationship. In all these instances, there is a high degree of sexual attraction and sexual compatibility. In long term relationships, devotional/committed love is there too.

It’s crucial to ensure that you’re not confused by your cock or pussy as to what is love and what is lust when it comes to making practical choices for a sustainable dynamic. You must be able to check your horniness and desire and place other values above just sex or attraction. So if you are vetting a submissive, look closely at how much their hotness is a decider in wanting a relationship. While we all need to be fucking hot for each other, make sure you love who they are and how they behave too.

Poly makes this much harder!

It’s one thing to figure out D/s with one other person but it’s just greater hard work with more folks involved. Feelings of comparison, jealously, possessiveness etc can cast a big shadow over the ability for a sub to truly give themselves and for some it compromises the sense of ownership. I’ve had multiple play partners (non 24/7) and it’s not easy sometimes. It’s not a stretch of the imagination to understand that having multiple 24/7 Power Exchange relationships is intense in the time, focus and energy needed to maintain it all. If you want to add someone to your polycule make sure you can handle it first (i.e make a realistic appraisal of your interpersonal relationship skills and available time, and ensure they can handle it – i.e. be friends with your partners and respect each other’s needs. Jealousy makes people act crazy and controlling so while everyone has a little from time to time, if you see this as a strong behavioural pattern that someone doesn’t want to really do the work on, I would avoid like the plague.

Anxiety and Depression

These are some of the mental challenges that will affect people in a D/s relationship the most. If you are picking a partner you should find out what issues they suffer from and how they impact them. While it’s not your job to manage their condition, it will be your job to manage them as a person so making an informed decision is key. Be sure you know how to cope with their symptoms and make sure to build protocols that help them manage themselves. Does the sub have good coping mechanisms? Are they easily triggered and how do they behave when they are? How will you handle it?

If you as Dominant suffer from these things then bake that in too. What would make you worried, angry, sad etc and how do you react in these states? Can you comfort each other or just make it worse?

I personally find insecurity to be tough on D/s. As Dominant you will be giving your sub lots of instructions and corrections as you train them. If they can’t respond positively to criticism or hold onto any corrections as personal attacks, this is going to be a big pain in the ass.

Beware subs who say they want to give you everything right away. In my experience, this is bullshit. It’s fantasy and you will likely smash into the wall of their independence, opinion, personal volition and needs real fast and hard. It’s much better to be with someone who is realistic about themselves and their needs and you can slowly and steadily build a non-egalitarian relationship rather than diving into the deep end.

If you want a discipline-based Power Exchange dynamic (with physical punishments) and your sub can’t stick to punishments or refuses them then I think you have a serious problem. For me, D/s is about obedience. It’s a simple system. The sub is told what to do. The sub does it or not. If they do, there is a reward or praise, If not, they are punished. If they do the punishment all is forgiven. But if they not only break the rules but then also don’t do the punishment there is more punishment. I’m sure you can see there needs to be a line somewhere. I will punish for not doing the punishment then I will likely give up on the protocol. I just look at it and think- this isn’t right for you and I don’t have the energy to chase after someone who doesn’t want to stick to the rules. Your job as Dominant is to point the way, lead, be strict and drive value and goals. It’s not to nag or hassle or cajole endlessly. Now if you are a helpless Daddy who is helpless against the demand of a spoiled brat and love that dynamic – none of this applies!

If you are with a bad communicator, a pain avoider or a withdrawer, there will be extra work for you. D/s takes a hell of a lot of communication so you better be fucking great at it or help your sub improve their style quickly. Nothing to me is worse than not being able to talk about a problem. “Non-violent communication” is the most useful practice to bring into your dynamic that I have found. A very independent or confrontational style of communication that focuses on who was “right” or “wrong” will be hard to work within D/s. Whereas someone who understands the nuance of feelings and allows for the grey areas and everyone to have their own version of the story will be much easier. Everyone has to be able to communicate needs clearly and know their own limits. Kink is an adults game so make sure everyone in the room can behave like an adult (except if they are a little of course!)

In the end, you both have to resonate with each other’s styles of Dominance and submission. One would hope that you also find a sub who is into your kinks or you are open to getting into theirs. As Dominant you have to trust that the sub will do what they are told. Happy obedience is the simplest sign of a dynamic that is working and slowly build protocols and see how they are being received.

In this modern world ruled by text/words, fickleness and an ever shorting attention span via social media use – look to actions far more than words in D/s. I cannot emphasise this enough – Actions are everything as words are becoming ever more meaningless. This is where I advise having a ‘consideration period’ (much like the engagement period of traditional marriage) as it takes time to see consistency in actions.

Your power is a gift so make sure your sub is receiving that gift and giving back theirs. If they struggle, it’s ok to help them, but if they can’t stick to your rules then look a little further into the reasons why. If it’s forgetfulness that is trainable, but if they just aren’t suited to a disciplined life, be honest with yourself and them.

Some of the qualities to look for in your submissive that will help:

Consistency
Patience
Growth orientated mindset
Loving to serve and help
Willingness to learn and adapt
Respectful
Loyal 

Some things that will make it harder:

Avoidant or uncommunicative personalities (Are they the kind to ghost on others and not communicate their intent to stop communicating? if so… that’s a HUGE red flag for me and many people I know as it shows a lack of respect and emotional immaturity)
Expectations leading to easy disappointment and/or Unrealistic expectations
Lack of self control
Aggressive (or passive-aggressive) behaviour
Moodiness
Social media addiction
Lack of self-responsibility
Substance dependence and addictions
Consistently not keeping their promises
Negating their responsibilities

Questions To Ask A Potential Submissive

Here are some questions to ask a potential submissive. These questions are a mixture of questions that can used in negotiating a play session and working out if a long term power exchange dynamic is right for both of you. N.B. Depending on the submissive’s experience level, you may need to help them answer these questions (and thats ok) and you will notice that you should offer your own answers to these questions back to the submissive with some questions listed below.

1) What are your BDSM hard limits and soft limits?

2) What BDSM acts do you deeply want to try and why?

(i.e. sensual touching, bondage, blindfold, spanking, hair pulling, paddling/flogging, forced orgasms, forced squirting, orgasm denial, anal, rough sex, fisting, hot wax, etc). The specific acts are not important. What is important to understand the why someone craves these specific experiences and how those experiences make a sub feel.

3) What bondage/submission fantasies/role play do you desire?

4) What sexual/foreplay acts arouses you MOST intensely?

(Kissing your neck, massages, soft sensual kissing, giving oral sex, forced deepthroat, hair pulling, hand on your throat, etc.).

5) What key words that trigger your arousal or submissive response?

Word phrases such as “You are my slut”, “Who’s my whore?”, “Who owns this ass?”, and “Suck my cock whore” all have power sexual messages of ownership and control when said in the proper context and are spoken by the appropriate man to a submissive. These are powerful “Psychological Hot Buttons” and sexual arousal triggers that can place a woman instantly into a slutty submissive mindset. Knowing which phrases specifically arouse a submissive psychologically is key to push a sub to the next level of arousal during a session.

6) How to you express yourself/handle it when something is either upsetting or isn’t working for you?

7) What are you like when you don’t get what you want?

8) How often have you ghosted someone you have been chatting to instead of respectfully letting them know you wish to no longer communicate with them?

9) Are you open to new ways of looking at things even if they conflict with your own opinions and/or experience?

10) When you feel disconnected from your partner, what do you usually do to get back together?

11) How often do you keep your promises?

The answer to this question, to me, shows me loyalty to Dominant and the dynamic above all else.

12) Are you trustworthy?

Most people immediately think of infidelity, but infidelity is only a subset of breaking an agreement that two people have, at one time, made in earnest. Those contracts are always open to negotiation, but never to intentional welching on the deal. In great relationships, both partners honour an altar place of their own creation, something greater than themselves that both willingly adhere to. That altar place is the faith of their relationship, a place of behaviour and thought that both hold sacred. If either partner “breaks that faith,” they are being unfaithful to that which they have agreed.

Passive-aggressive behaviour, promise-breaking, repeated excuses over failed compliancy, and secret behaviours where the other partner doesn’t get to vote, are all severe breaches of trust. Of course, there are special circumstances, but they are neither consistent nor frequent, and they lead to creating a new foundation where trust is stronger.

13) Do you hold on to resentments?

14) How do you most typically express your love for someone?

15) Why do you crave submission and to be owned?

16) Do you have any habits you want to change?

17) Do you have any habits you don’t want to change?

18) What are your goals in a Power Exchange relationship?

19) What are your needs? 

Remember, part of your job as the Dominant is to serve the needs of your submissive. To do that well, you need to know what the needs of your submissive are.

20) Are you diagnosed with any mental illness? And if so, what are your symptoms, triggers and how do you cope/manage them?

As a Dominant, it’s also your responsibility to offer this information about yourself (even if the submissive hasn’t asked). 

21) How much alone time do you need? And are you willing to respect my need for alone time without resentment or fuss?

22) How did your family handle conflict when you were growing up?

We learn from our families conflict resolution as we grow up. If you come from a family that stayed silent and never dealt with conflict — while your potential spouse came from a family that screamed and broke things — you need to know this in advance so you can find a way to work together.

There are four key skills that need to be utilised when problems arise: relieve the stress of the situation, manage emotion, improve non-verbal communication skills, and use humour/play to deal with challenges. When you’re working in the same way as your partner, your problems will not escalate.

You can even ask it in this way: ‘In the middle of a fight, do you prefer to keep talking until you come to a solution? Or walk away, think and revisit the conversation later?’

I find that many of my client couples have different styles of conflict resolution. One person wants to keep hammering away and can’t rest till a solution is found. The other one gets flooded and can’t think and needs time alone to work it through before they can come to a solution. The former feels abandoned. The latter feels overwhelmed. If they recognise the pattern early on, it can head off a lot of misery.

23) What do you believe is your life’s purpose outside of the D/s dynamic and how do you envision a partner fitting into that, if at all?

24) What makes you lose your temper?

25) Do you accept yourself? What don’t you accept?

26) Which problems are you likely to confront head-on and which ones are you likely to procrastinate on?

27) What is unforgivable behaviour from your Dominant?

28) What makes you feel vulnerable and what makes you feel safe?

29) Do you consider yourself sensitive to other people’s feelings?

30) What are the ways you nurture a relationship and express love in a relationship?

There are many different ways to say I love you, such as affirmations, quality time, gifts, doing nice things, and touching. But as with all languages, your way of expressing your love may not be the same way your submissive does. Protip: Work on how you can continue to strengthen your relationship together via these languages and calibrate accordingly.

31) If we have a conflict, would you naturally want to talk to me about it first, or talk to a friend about it first?

and this next question.. is a big one.

32) How would you know if our D/s dynamic is no longer working for you?

Summary:

As a Dominant, you have to really decide what is most important to you. If it’s the depth of your dynamic then put that above all else. But if you just like being kinky some of the time, then it’s fine if the dynamic is not sustained 24/7. Make the right choice of dynamic styles for you as this will lead to being the right choice of partner(s) in the future.


Let It Grow

Give your dynamic time to flourish – if you rush in with many expectations too fast there is a higher chance of failure. Then build slowly and add tasks, protocols and behaviours gently and carefully. As Dominant you have an essential role in ensuring the success of any sub and helping them move through their challenges. But if it’s just not right or things aren’t working then be damn clear and honest!

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