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Finding A Dom

He strides into the room, the long tail of his black coiled leather bullwhip flicking like a snake's tongue against the immaculate sheen of his high black boots, boots she will come to know very well. He squares his broad shoulders, tossing back his unrully mane of black hair, his dark, piercing eyes above high, arrogant cheek bones, scanning the assembled company...

Contrary to popular fiction, the average Dom wears a business suit, not leather trousers, and is more likely to ride a pick up truck than a dashing steed. He won't remove the clothes from your back with an expert flick of his 12 foot whip – most wouldn't know what to do with a bullwhip if you were unwise enough to give them one and are perfectly capable of dealing with you with just the flat of their hand. In short give up the romantic hero cliches and remember that what's important is skill, and control, and decisiveness, and assurance, not height or tight buns or a large wardrobe of ruffly shirts and riding boots.

IRC is both a blessing and a curse. You get to know people by their personalities; you see their dominance as though through a strange magnifying glass that makes some things seem big and important, and others minescule. Because this is all in our heads you can assess some things completely (their grasp of the psychological aspects of D/s for instance) and others less easily (like do they know procedures for tying you up without risk?). This also means you're likely to discover that the wonderful Dom you've composed out of their personality and your desires doesn't necessarily live up to the reality, or that your hoped for 6'4" lumberjack with biceps of steel and the soul of a poet has a big nose, bit of a beer gut and a bad haircut. No wonder people wait to exchange photos.

The fact is, is shouldn't matter. You fall in love with the Dom, not the taste in shirts or the acne scars. You're no oil painting yourself, in all probability. But before you can love them, you need to be able to trust them. And before you can start to trust them, you need to respect them. If you can't do that, give up because just loving a Master isn't enough.


That Old Devil Called...

I may sound like an old cynic, but if there's one things that ruins BDSM relationships it's letting love get in the way of control. Love leads to excuses... love leads to unacceptable behaviour... love leads to slackening of standards, and thinking the best of people, to accepting explanations (and offering them because you don't want to spoil the great love of your life). Being in love with someone and submitting to them are two different things entirely, and woe betide your relationship if you get the two confused. You can love someone with all your heart but if you don't trust them it all falls apart.


Practicalities

As with Doms looking for subs, there are two ways of going about it... you find the person with whom you click, then you work out the little details (like living on different sides of the world)... or you draw up a shopping lists of elements like: how close together are we? do we keep the same hours? am i always online during the day when he's at work? is his primary interest bondage whereas mine's foot fetishism... and so on.

At the Playground we've always tended to favour the former approach for several reasons. Personally I think there's a Mr Right out there for everyone and it's a matter of searching hard and not accepting half measures. And even if you think it's a matter of choice, there aren't so many Doms out there you can afford to be picky about a bald spot or a worrying interest in sensible shoes. In fact all men are interested in sensible shoes so it doesn't matter. Sure there are a lot of men with upper case nicks, but a good Dom can be hard to find.


Some well-worn mottos about Doms (that also happen to be true)

In order to control you, a Dom first needs to control himself.

Now, most Doms have a temper and a half. And the ones who seem the most placid are the worst when they finally do blow. But a good Dom doesn't act in anger. And he certainly doesn't punish when his emotions are running high. Someone who lacks self-discipline or is violent and tempramental is not fit to direct the life of another. In fact Doms are slow. No, not in the dumb sense... they move slowly. They have patience. They have enough confidence to figure that if it's meant to be, you'll wait.

There's always tomorrow.

This is not a race. Being collared quickly will not make everyone think you're incredibly desirable, just incredibly stupid. A good Dom will not rush you. He will savour your developing submission to him, and draw it out, enjoying each new display, each layer of thought as you peel it back for him.

What is sweeter, a sub wanting to crawl to her Master's feet, begging to be allowed to please him, or a sub who's told that's what she's to do. Submission, freely and creatively given, is generally seen as much more precious. So wait for the person who makes you want to crawl.

The fact of the matter is, most online relationships don't work. Most fizzle out. Many fail when they try to switch to r/l and discover fact and fantasy don't match up. People race through crush to love to bitterness like they're on some crazy rollercoaster and crave sensation, good or bad. And many seem unable to live without drama. Something has to be going on in their relationship for them to notice it exists. For me a month in which nothing happens, in which I don't displease my Master, in which there are no crises, in which I don't have to beg for anything special, is a result. To a lot of people, that would be stagnation.


Strange Currencies

Doms perform a difficult balancing act. When to be firm, when to comfort, when to push, when to step back. You'll hear things said like 'A good Dom never expects you to do things you're uncomfortable with.' This is, frankly, baloney. Even if you come from the cosy, safeword side of the tracks your Master should be pushing you beyond the limits you decided on way back when you were a new submissive. We tend to formulate our limits early on, and not question them often enough. Part of his 'job' is to develop your submission.

Doms are good at reading your responses, the non-vocal as well as vocal ones. They become attuned to the rhythm of your typing, the speed of your response, and read recalcitrance, upset, embarrasment and arousal in them. Sometimes you will think they're the biggest bastards in the world for denying you something... afterwards you will, hopefully, see that they were right. No matter how clever or articulate we are, all of us try it on once in a while. And fall back on childish behaviour. And try and manipulate, whine or cajoal. It sometimes takes a while for us to perceive this, but it takes a Dom about a hundredth of a second...


The right side of the tracks

One of the biggest debates in BDSM is how can a sub submit when she's ultimately in control, has a safeword, draws up a contract? The fact is, only you know what's right for you and some find they can't relax enough to submit without these things while others can't feel fully submitted with them. These are things you have to consider. Don't automatically reject someone because your ideas on safety procedures don't match... talk about it. Naturally a fair percentage of Doms reject safety concerns because they're a) lazy or b) want to live in a fantasy of complete control or c) genuinely want complete control. Not all of these are good reasons.

I don't think a Dom who insists on safewords is weak, or a Dom who doesn't like them is dangerous – it's very much a matter of personal style and approach. I would, however, suggest you start with the safety net, even online, and distrust someone who insists on not having such things even though you've made it clear they're very important to you. Becaue what's important to you should be important to them. Things can always intensify later whereas backtracking after starting with few controls is tantamount to saying 'I don't trust you anymore' and tends to spoil things.


In short, chose the man who makes your breathing quicken and your heart palpitate, even when you only see his nick appear on the screen. Choose the man who doesn't let you get away with things. Choose the man who you can watch cry without thinking him weak, who can talk of defending his honour without sounding like a macho jerk. Choose the man who is reliable and patient... not wonderful most of the time and worrying and tempramental a little of it. Forget the hero who sweeps you off your feet; choose instead the Dom before whom you find you can do nothing but kneel.

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