Protect Yourself: 5 Red Flags to Watch for in a Potential Dominant

Published: APRIL 6, 2016 | Updated: FEBRUARY 2, 2022
Looking for a dominant for the first time can be fraught with challenges. Watch out for red flags and avoid putting yourself in danger.

After I broke up with my previous partner, I was happy to dive back in the dating pool. So many men! So little time! So much kink to be explored! I joined the local kink community, and I opened up my heart - and my bed, to new partners.


However, when you're a submissive looking for a Dominant, things can go really wrong, really fast. We've all heard at least one horror story of someone who was abused or injured by a careless (or not-caring-at-all) "Dominant.". Sadly, it happens.

Safety is one of the pillars of BDSM. Here are five red flags to watch out for as you cruise dating sites, apps and kink communities, online or off.

I'm a Real Dom!

"Real doms" don't exist. If you get a message from someone who claims to be a "real Dom" who is looking for a "real sub" you should have a hard look at what they're really saying.


The idea of "realness" in BDSM is a very dangerous concept. It puts unrealistic expectations on behavior and doesn't allow for personality, triggers and personal preferences. It's as if this so-called Dominant is trying to put BDSM in a box that fits everyone - or at least every person with which he or she interacts. Newbies sometimes also use this language to try to appear more experienced than they really are.

Here's how to debunk this red flag: ask what "real" means to them and how they work with a submissive's personal limits and preferences. If your potential Dom avoids the question or says something like "a real submissive will do anything I want to," run in the other direction.

I Want to Meet You Now!

Also known as "the pusher," this type of Dom is probably just looking to see if you can be easily pressured into doing something. They'll insist on meeting you right away even if you say you need time to chat and get to know them. They'll say, "Sure, take all the time you need," but will pressure you in subtle ways, with show tickets, exclusive events, or even by telling you they're leaving for a while and want to meet you before they go.


This type of Dom makes you wonder: is this person really interested in you or in getting laid as quickly as possible? Those who insist on meeting you privately, at their place or in a hotel room, etc., are especially dangerous. (Get more tips in How do you minimize risk when meeting someone for the first time?)

How do you determine whether a Dominant is just eager or a creep? Make him wait until you're ready. If he stops talking to you, you'll know. If he keeps in touch and accepts your decision? Well, that might be a person worth meeting.

I Don't Like the Community!

This one can be legitimate at times. Some people are afraid to be outed, and others just don't like the public scene. However, it can also be a sign that they have been (or would be) kicked out of the community for a variety of abusive behaviors.


"Not liking the community" can be legitimate. Yet, it means the person has been in it once and decided to not partake. If they "don't like the community" just because they know they wouldn't be welcome there, that's a real issue - and a big red flag. Basically, the BDSM community is necessary to learn things and improve both technical and emotional skills. If a person refuses all contact with that community, you may have to ask yourself what they know and where they learned it.

If you're faced with this excuse, ask the Dom for a public meeting. Maybe not necessarily at a munch, but at least in a public setting. If they refuse, cut all contact. Those who insist on meeting in private are usually dangerous.

You Will Call Me Master ... Now!

Sure, that might be hot in a role playing setting, but if you truly want to have a relationship with a safe Dominant, having someone ask to be called "Master" before you have developed any kind of trust is a definite red flag.


These people are usually driven by the idea of ownership, rather than by its reality. They are aware that newbie subs are likely to fall for someone who exerts authority right away. But beware: People like this are often driven by porn-fueled fantasy rather than reality.

Before you start calling them whatever they want to be called, ask them what their expectations are for the relationship. How much control do they want to have over you? Can you keep going to work or to school? Can you still see your family and friends? If their expectations seem a bit too extreme, it's because they are extreme. If they clarify and they seem reasonable, then you may have grounds for further discussion. Use your instincts here.

Submission is a part of us that generally must be earned in a D/s relationship. Clearly, it can be negotiated for scenes as well. However, if you find someone who wants to push you into a 24/7 D/s relationship from the get-go, this can be a real sign of trouble. (Learn more in A Beginner's Guide to Submission .)


I Want to Mentor You!

True mentors are awesome. They help you navigate a community that's often new to you, and they are a useful resource for learning the etiquette and language of BDSM. That said, some people offer mentorship as a guise for taking advantage of you.

These people are especially dangerous. They approach you as mentors, gain your trust and influence you in ways that may not be especially healthy. They will criticize everyone who approaches you, wanting to make sure that they are the only one you can count on. You come to depend on them, and then they can take full advantage of you.

To make sure that your potential mentor has good intentions, you should lay out two simple rules: no play and no sex. If they refuse, you know where they stand. If they accept, and they keep their word, you will likely develop a very strong bond based on trust and respect. This is what BDSM is all about.

Keep Your Wits About You

When delving into the world of kinky relationships, it's easy to get caught up in desire and fantasy. Yet, there are real things at stake here. Namely, your life. Keep your head cool when assessing potential relationships, especially with Doms who display one of the behaviors above. (Get more tips in How to Spot a Good Dominant.)

Anabelle Bernard Fournier

Anabelle is orignally from Montréal, Canada and is currently living in Victoria. She speaks and writes fluent French as well as English. She loves to write about a variety of topics, from home decor and social media to books and sex.

She currently doesn't have a pet, but she's working on that. In the meantime, she's learning to write stories and hopefully novels so that she will one day see her name in...

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