I was scrolling back through my archives and I came across an ask from another blog where someone was inquiring about signs that a man was not a Dominant, but simply domineering. I think it’s a really important, and very interesting question, and so I thought I’d like to take a stab at answering. There are a lot of posts out there about how to spot a real Dominant, but so long as there are subs out there struggling to tell the difference I think there can’t be too many.
To be domineering is to assert your will over another person in an aggressive or arrogant way. To be a Dominant is to be a caregiver. Someone who thrives on leading by gaining the trust and devotion of someone who wishes to follow. It sounds simple to tell them apart on paper, but reality isn’t always that black and white, and some people talk a really good game, so how can you tell the difference?
A domineering man will only make his rules all about his pleasure. They may read as a list of fetishes. He’s concerned about how often you shave your cunt, but not how often you see the doctor.
A Dominant man will make rules for his pleasure, and your betterment. He cares about which panties you wear, but also how much sleep you get each night. He encourages you to have goals and helps you accomplish them through his rules.
A domineering man will not go out of his way to let you know that you are loved and cherished. His praise comes in the form of “you’re so hot when you do that”, and “I love when you gag on me”.
A Dominant man will make sure you know he respects you as a person and supports your accomplishments. “I’m so proud of you for interviewing for the promotion at work”, and “I appreciate that you tried, I know that was hard for you”.
A domineering man will not want to explain his decisions, or discuss his reasoning. He may become angry when you question him, and tell you that it’s not your place.
A Dominant man is open to meta-talks. He will not allow you to question every tiny decision, but it’s important to him to address your concerns. He’s not afraid to share his thinking because he has your best interest at heart.
A domineering man doesn’t show interest in making decision that don’t affect him. He’ll choose your panties, but doesn’t really care when you ask him what you should do about that friend who is feeling neglected.
A Dominant man wants to help calm your mind, and is happy to help you make even mundane decisions. He has no problem choosing where to eat tonight, or telling you if you should accept the invite to that party.
A domineering man will be concentrated on making you the ‘perfect sub’. He may be overly concerned with your ability to deep throat and unreasonably strict with your diet and exercise program.
A Dominant man accept and loves the person you are, and wants to help you meet your goals. He helps you with your diet because he wants for you to be healthy, not skinny, or because YOU expressed a desire for change.
A domineering man will limit your contact with others, especially others in the BDSM community. He’s scared you’ll find out that there’s more out there than what he’s offering. He’s jealous, and resents the time you spend with friends and family.
A Dominant man know he can not be your everything and encourages you to learn. He recognizes the value of other relationship and only limits them when there are red flags, or past problems. He encourages you to learn and grow in your understanding of D/s relationships.
A domineering man demands. He raises his voice, doesn’t say please, and doesn’t thank you for the things you do.
A Dominant man leads by making you want to follow. He knows that trust is earned and isn’t put off by the effort.
A domineering man gives his time only when it is convenient for him to do so. Domineering man isn’t concerned with calming you before a medical procedure or exam. He cancels plans with you when something better to do comes up.
A Dominant man makes you a priority. He sets aside his plans to care for you when you are in need. That doesn’t mean he drops everything because you want company, but when you’re genuinely having a hard time you don’t have to question if he’ll be there for you.
Do all domineering men do all of the things I stated? No, it’s not that simple, but they’re good reference points. It’s about intent. A domineering man is out to fulfill his own desires, and a Dominant man gains his pleasure from successfully providing for the needs and desires of both parties. Will Dominant men sometimes say the things domineering men do? Yes! But domineering men will not also behave as Dominant men do, because Dominant men have broader goals. A Dominant man will but his desires above yours, but he will never put his desires above your needs.
Dominant men have patience, a work ethic, and a sense of forward thinking in the management of their own lives that domineering men usually lack. It’s not normally a difference that can be spotted immediately or from the surface, unfortunately. An interested submissive will have to get to know a man’s intent and maybe even some of his history instead of merely observing action/behavior/physical appearance alone. This takes time and effort. This is why vetting is important.
For instance…both a domineering man and a dominant man could be super into physical fitness. Maybe even both of them seem a little vain about it.
Through (careful, guarded) interaction with them about their focus on diet and exercise (their OWN, not yours…they aren’t your dominant yet…please don’t ask/let a man be your dominant without knowing them on at least a greater than superficial level first), a submissive can get context for why they focus on it. His replies to comments like, ‘So I guess you work out a lot,’ will reveal these things.
A domineering man wants to look good to get dates; wants to be strong to intimidate or overpower or impress. He places a heavy value on his appearance and how he presents to other people and will probably place yours at a premium too. He’ll value your surface over your substance because he values his surface over his substance. He likes showing off and outdoing other people at the weight stacks. He likes bragging about how many races he’s run and how many people he bested when he ran them. He likes comparing himself to other people to show he’s superior. He likes showing off his body for the praise of how it looks. He wants accolades for the results, even if his ‘results’ are attained by unhealthy practices like taking anabolic steroids or malnutrition or he’s using photo editing software on his selfies. He’ll be disappointed if his selfies don’t get his requisite positive attention.
A dominant man, completing the same rigid personal program, who has the same six-pack abs and bench press number, and maybe even the same penchant for taking a lot of selfies, will more likely talk about how he used to feel weak/was unhappy with how his clothes fit/had a specific health issue/has a family history of a certain health issue, and decided to improve himself/give himself more options/be proactive about his future health prognosis. He might talk about races he’s run, but he’ll say he does this half marathon every year for <charity> because his childhood best friend had <disease> and it raises money for research. He’ll talk about being driven to accomplish goals and see results and he likes the tangibility of how much weight he can lift or beating his last run time/increase his weekly distance. He only compares himself to his former self. He likes the praise he gets for *how much dedication and self-control it took to achieve the look.* The accolades he wants the most are the ones about *his hard work.* And maybe, he won’t even want praise. He might just want a document of his progress for his own reference.
Often the differences are very subtle from the surface, but they are glaring on the inside of a relationship.
^ This is a great in-depth look at what one of these red flags might look like. And my favorite line, which really gets to the core of the problem, is this: “He’ll value your surface over your substance because he values his surface over his substance“.
Damn, what a great exchange of ideas here!! ☝️☝️☝️