What is Dominance?

Much of what is written about D/s and BDSM concerns, duh, Dominance and submission. But what exactly are they? Are they inborn or acquired characteristics? If they are obtainable, how does one go about acquiring them? I think a good analysis of our kinky needs – after all, this is kink weekly — is always good for the soul! Once in a while, we should all look inward and deeply examine what we call Dominance. Spirituality aside, examining the essence of Dominance also addresses a dilemma I have found quite common in the scene. This is where a vanilla spouse discovers he/she is Dominant and wants to train their mate to be a submissive. Finding out whether Dominance is “nature or nurture” is essential to answering this question.

As I see it, Dominance is the mental and spiritual foundation upon which becoming a Dominant is based. “Dominance is the stuff that Dom/mes are made of.” So, what is it and do you obtain it?

The best way to figure out if you have Dominance within you it to see what really excites you. Are you turned on by the thought of being in control of another person, including, but not limited to, sexual control? If the answer is yes, than you have elements of Dominance within you. There is an expression in pro basketball which says, “You can’t teach height.” But BDSM is not basketball; Dominance can be taught. But it is most easily learned by those who are excited enough about it to wish to learn it. To cut to the chase, I do not think it is genetic. But, by the time you are an adult, the forces of your upbringing have probably shaped your proclivities pretty firmly. It is less about learning to be a Dom/me than learning what you are inside – Dominant, sub, switch – and acting on that knowledge. Once you do a little self examination, you can act on your desires. And becoming a Dominant has little to do with size, strength or looks. It is a learned skill – both technically and in terms of human interactions.

There are two aspects of learning Dominance. One is technical — knowing how to Top in a scene. As this is a mostly methodological endeavor you can learn this by reading (much of the techniques are covered on this site), by observing (going to play parties and watching others scene) and by asking questions of more experienced Tops. Since neither size, athletic ability nor strength are required, desire is the most important element in learning to Top. If you want it badly enough, you will learn it. And here in lies the beauty of BDSM. As desire and enthusiasm are requisite to learn to Top, those who excel are only those who really want to. Anybody can theoretically do it; but only those who have the desire and need to actually do.

The second aspect is becoming a “lifestyle” Dominant. This might not mean 24/7 D/s, but it does mean that much of the basis of your relationship outside the dungeon or play parties is based upon being in control. Now here is the trick. You can’t be a lifestyle Dominant without dedication. You must really need to be a Dominant. Otherwise, “Castles made of sand, fall into the sea…” And you will find the responsibility of ownership crushing. That is the simple key to becoming a lifestyle Dom/me – as opposed to a “Dungeon Dominant.” Here is where commitment, needs and desires become the determining factors.

As with all life endeavors, both nature and nurture will dictate where your needs lie. Just take an honest look inside yourself and you will discover where your Dominance lies. Whether nature or nurture, the need to be Dominant is usually a desire that needs to be fulfilled. The trick would be to find out whether your partner has a submissive aspect that can be brought out. I will address this in a subsequent article.

By BaadMaster
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.


  1. I think there is a lot of mental aspect also. so many doms just hit you with stuff with no connection. so lame.

  2. Good article…I’m always looking for more/better insight from more experienced Doms. I’ve never been able to find a mentor that I’d want to follow directly, and the scene here in Vegas is a bit “clicky” (with no public dungeons) so it’s slowed my progress a bit… Thanks for your articles, they explore needed topics, no matter your experience level.

  3. Another great read! You drew a lot of interesting points about dominance. I agree that it isn’t genetic I feel like it is more of an environmental thing that factors in when people feel like they are more dominant or submissive and of course its not always one way or the other. I feel like I started off submissive but I feel like I’m getting more dominant lately. I also feel like some people are naturally dominant or bossy. More people should take about things like this. Im looking forward to reading the next article!

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