The English language is sometimes a blunt instrument, and that makes “dominant” a tricky word. There is “dominant” in terms of personality traits, and there is “dominant” as a chosen relationship role. Often the same person is both, but it doesn’t have to be so.
Let’s say, for the sake of this article, that the “most common” scenario is a dominant personality seeking to extend these traits into sex and their relationship.
The path from dominant personality traits to “Dominant” (the relationship role) is one that many new Doms travel, and they really are two very different things, so the learning curve can be steep.
At it’s heart, D/s a matter of authority. If it was only about “liking it rough” in the bedroom, then it is kinky play, or topping. That can be a part of a D/s dynamic, but it’s not compulsory. Nor is a D/s relationship necessary to have kinky fun.
If you’re after kinky fun, you could explore some ideas and you may find you need to learn some skills. Kinky fun and games skills, or topping skills, can be learned like any other skills, through workshops, classes or experimentation.
It’s not uncommon to hear questions from Dominants taking their first steps that get confused about D/s and topping/bottoming. And, often underneath this confusion there is a genuine desire to bring D/s into their relationship and to learn and express Dominance with their partner. Here’s an example:
I’ve been in a loving relationship for a year and recently we have decided to take our relationship a step further by adventuring into the world of a D/s relationship which we are both very excited about. I’ve always had a dominant personality in my past relationships but not to the extent I would like to go, and also at the same time in my personal life I can be a shy and reserved person. So my main question is where do I start? She’s into forced orgasms and forced rape play as well as some pain, very submissive and eager to learn. I enjoy being a voyeur and watching and would like to share her with other males and females. What makes a great dom and makes me the best one I can be?
The questions about topping are easy enough to answer, but the underlying question about how to start bringing D/s into the relationship is complex and the answers could easily fill a book.
I often like to vastly over-simplify things by thinking of them in terms of Venn diagrams.
In Anton Fulman’s book The Heart of Dominance: A Guide to Practicing Consensual Dominance he talks about “the container”. It’s a metaphor for the understanding and agreement we have with our partner. An imaginary box that we draw to contain the space of our relationship, so we understand what is encompassed by the D/s and what falls outside of it.
I think a simple way to begin constructing that container is to look at where desires overlap. How does masochism overlap with sadism, or need to control overlap with need to be controlled? What kinds of care does one person need and what kinds of care is the other person able to give? Where do the needs of both people intersect and where do they diverge? What is shared? What part of the larger group of “wants” is the subset of “needs”?
In my head, it’s like a thousand small Venn Diagrams, and within the intersections of the bubbles are small pieces of a larger puzzle.
Ultimately, I do think that it’s possible to creatively colour outside the lines. A relationship is always going to be a negotiation, with compromise and giving and taking on both sides. We will nearly always need to expand our spaces to encompass our partner’s desires, or contract them because our own desires can’t all be met.
But, it’s a start, and I think it not only acts as an early warning sign of incompatibilities but can also be an expansion of our mindset, showing possibilities we may not have dreamed of.