One of the most insidious problems that plague many D/s relationships is what I call the “Superman (or Superwoman) Syndrome.” This is where the slave/submissive has found a Master/Mistress and ascribes an almost God-like perfection to him/her. When the Dominant encourages this mindset, the problem can be further exacerbated. Unfortunately, many Masters/Mistresses encourage it; after all, it is flattering to be thought of as perfect. Of course, if “Master or Mistress as God” is the basis of your relationship, you can skip this article. Or read it for fun!
The trouble is, when a Master/slave relationship progresses to the point where “Superman Syndrome” is one of its cornerstones, time and familiarity can quickly topple the D/s hierarchy. After a while – especially if the slave moves in with the Master — the slave comes to see the Master as a flesh and blood person, warts and all. Although the slave might expect to find these human flaws, he/she might also start to see the Master/Mistress as a bit less of the power figure that he/she was at the beginning of the relationship. And this could easily lead to its unraveling.
Although relationships are never simple, and advice only works flawlessly for Dr. Phil, avoiding the “Superman Syndrome” is relatively easy. To a great extent, it falls on the shoulders of the Dominant to quickly identify it and nip it in the bud. Respect is great; blind worship, although it can be ego-inflating, is usually, with exceptions, not a good thing. Thus, the Dominant must not encourage this way of thinking. It will eventually come back to bite him/her in the ass; so discouraging this attitude is actually in his/her own self interest. The Master should be able to point out that he/she is not infallible. Taking responsibility for and admitting mistakes is a great way to inspire loyalty and respect. (Of course, don’t make tons of mistakes. Try to make wise decisions!) A bit of modesty and even self-deprecation – in a humorous yet Domly way – is a great way to lower “Godlike expectations.” Furthermore, the Dominant should not hide who he/she really is; he should try to be transparent and not manipulate what the slave sees. (If he/she likes watching wrestling and has a collection of “The Rock” action figures, he/she shouldn’t hide them when the slave comes over!) He should just be himself; otherwise he will be contributing, consciously or unconsciously, to “Superman Syndrome.” And he will be setting himself up for failure.
From the slave’s point of view, don’t expect perfection from a Master/Mistress just because you look up to him/her. The slave’s respect for the Dominant should not be dependant on how “perfect” the Master or Mistress is. It should be based on a broader life profile. It is one thing to be in awe of your Dom/me; it is quite another thing to set him/her up as a God. He/she is human. If you build him up too high, you are setting him/her up for a fall. If you have reasonable expectations, it is a bonus when they are exceeded. If you set them too high, failure will invariably be the result.
The bottom line is that trust and respect are earned over time. If we rate the D/s aspect of a relationship from 1-10, it is better to start at “8” and build up to “10” than to start at “10” and watch it decline. It is counterproductive to look upon someone as perfect – or to demand they look at you that way – from the get-go. It is much more effective to earn “perfection points” as the relationship progresses. As the saying goes, “Castles made of sand fall into the sea, eventually.” And ascribing an unearned perfection to someone prematurely is really building one’s D/s castle out of sand.
In a subsequent article I will tackle “Supersub Syndrome,” wherein a Dominant expects perfection from a submissive.
After a ten year run as head writer for the legendary bondage.com, and an equally long run as the host of the hit internet show “Baadmaster’s Dungeon,” we are pleased to welcome the one and only Baadmaster to KinkWeekly. His thoughts about all things BDSM will now appear regularly on these pages. From the mental aspects of D/s to the nuts and bolts of S&M play, Baadmaster will cover every facet of this ever expanding lifestyle.