The Journeyman

Now that you have a basic understanding of what it means to be a dominant, you are probably anxious to capture the interest of a submissive and put to practice what you have learned and to experience the intensely gratifying rewards of a power exchange relationship. Before you go rushing off in search of the magnificent, take a few moments to understand the challenges and pitfalls that await you.


...the power exchange between lovers is a fundamental source of erotic excitement, shared between equals.

Different Loving, p. 71
Brame, Brame, and Jacobs
Published by Villard Books

You probably feel a sense of urgency that is compelling you very strongly to accept a submissive, don the title "Master/Mistress," and get down to business. However, it is this very urge that is the foe of successful D/s relationships. It may sound strange to you, but your greatest fulfillment will likely come from being in a single, long-term, committed loving and caring relationship. In this sense, D/s is no different from vanilla relationships. Think of it this way: In order to be successful, long-term dominant/submissive relationships must first contain all the elements of a good vanilla relationship before you add to that the D/s aspects. Now, if your domination is a purely sexual thing, you'll likely scoff at this premise. It's relatively easy to find someone just as eager as you are to dive into the sexual aspects of D/s, but you'll probably find yourself jumping from relationship to relationship on an emotional rollercoaster. If that is your choice, so be it. Many are quite contented there.

Most novices begin their exploration because of the sexual attraction of D/s. Some never move beyond that, some do. You should know, however, that D/s isn't defined by what we do in the bedroom, but what we feel, what our natures are. I'm sure some will call me heretical for that, particularly the vanilla kinksters. Oh well. The sexual expression of D/s is certainly one of the most thrilling experiences that you will ever know if you are a dominant, but greater fulfillment comes from the exchange of power between you and the submissive, and that is something that has its realm between your ears, not between your legs. If sex is the only motivation for your domination, you are only scratching the surface of the vastly gratifying potential. As you grow and learn about this lifestyle, your attitudes are likely to change, to mature.

Relationship Fundamentals

Key Components of a Successful D/s Relationship

  • Trust
  • Clear two-way communication
  • Integrity
  • Commitment
  • Mutual respect
  • Honesty
  • Patience
  • Mutually agreed upon limits
  • Realistic expectations
  • Love

Does this look surprisingly familiar to you? You will see that the same foundations that contribute to successful vanilla relationships are the cornerstones of D/s relationships. The problem, of course, is that most of us seek immediate gratification, rush into things, and then wonder why it didn't work out. There are no short-cuts, no way around these fundamental governing laws.

Trust takes time to build.

Communication is a learning process.

Integrity is a reflection of your character: doing the right thing because it is the right thing, fulfilling your promises.

Commitment means that you are willing to devote the needed energy to building your relationship.

Mutual respect can be defined as valuing your partner as an equal in all things (the one exception to this in a D/s relationship is the amount of control each has, but that is willingly surrendered).

Honesty is a tough one since it requires you to be completely open about your actions and intentions. Sneaking around and hiding things from your partner is a recipe for disaster. Something to note: Online infidelity in D/s seems to be the norm, rather than the exception. It is difficult to find a dom/me or sub who isn't already married-but-cheating-on-my-hubby/wifey-because-they-just-don't-understand. This one just doesn't pass the common sense test. If they are willing to practice infidelity in one relationship, don't be surprised if they are willing to do so in yours, too. But in the early stages of lust we tend to overlook these things and you probably will too.

Patience is something most of us have a hard time learning. Make no mistake about it: it is a learned behavior. It is much easier to simply react without considering the consequence of your choices, but the best dominants understand that submissives have a lifetime of prior learning (just as you do) that they must struggle with and need your patience and understanding to help them succeed.

Mutually agreed upon limits arise from communication and ensure both parties' needs are being met.

Realistic expectations help us from falling into the "Story of O," "Beauty," and "Gor" syndromes, avoiding the mistaken belief that fiction is reality.

And love. That's a whole 'nother subject, isn't it?

In a nutshell, there are two basic types of romantic love: passionate and companionate. Passionate love is that wonderful feeling you have when you are first in a relationship. It's exciting, a little frightening, everything is new, and you tend to overlook imperfections in the other person (love is blind, right?). Even when we see signs of things in the other person that we know are totally incompatible with what we need, we ignore them. Guess what? Big contributor to the very short life of so many relationships. It's also one reason submissives end up in emotionally and physically unhealthy relationships. Their desire to serve and the ease with which they attach themselves to their "master" can blind them to blatant warning signs. Passionate love rarely lasts for more than a couple of years and by that time, those who are addicted to it will decide to move on in search for new conquests. Companionate love, on the other hand, is where our love and trust have developed enough to find emotional fulfillment in caring, sharing, and giving. Our lives are deeply intertwined and it is a product of shared experiences, emotions, habits, and understanding.

Having said that, what's the bottom line? Basically this: if you rush into things, you won't have the needed trust level to sustain your relationship. As good as it seems at first, it won't last long. Moral of the story: develop a relationship based on friendship first, learn to trust before you take on the enormous responsibility of being master/mistress to a submissive. If you aren't compatible, it is better to find out sooner rather than later. Be realistic. "Love at first site" is another phrase to describe "infatuation." Infatuation may grow into passionate love and that, if you are lucky, may develop in to companionate love, but don't mistake one for the other.

The level of intimacy in a relationship depends upon the degree to which two people are willing to become vulnerable to one another. While wading through the murky swamp of a loving relationship, questions of trust, commitment, communication, and differing life objectives thrash about your legs like so many hungry alligators. Dominant and submissive roles are intended to enhance passion...It is important to set aside time to take off the masks of mysterious dominant and selfless submissive to express our real feelings.

Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns, p. 56

Further Readings

Protecting Yourself