Sub in the City

How to vet a Dominant

How to vet a dominant

5 top tips for connecting with new and potential Dominants 

There’s nothing more exciting than meeting a potential Dominant, but how do you know if they’re the right fit for you? In BDSM, vetting is the important process of getting to know a new potential play partner before you decide to play or begin a dynamic with them. Vetting helps you to protect your safety and also tests your compatibility with a future partner.  

You may not always need to vet a potential Dom – maybe they’re a long term partner or your close friend that you already trust – but if you’ve met a new person at a munch, kink event or online, it’s best to take things slow and find out more about them before making your decision.

The Talking Stage

As well as the kinks and fetishes you may have in common, it can be useful to get to know your potential Dom to see if you’re compatible outside of a kink dynamic. Open communication and getting on as people before play partners will help you to avoid obstacles and disagreements down the line. This talking stage can take place online, over the phone, or during a vanilla meetup.

Ask your potential Dom about the values and beliefs that are most important to them, then see how they respond when you share yours. Some topics you may want to explore are your social and political beliefs, personal goals, and your individual lifestyles outside of kink. 

If you’re hoping to find a romantic relationship within your potential Dom/Sub dynamic, consider asking your potential Dom about their romantic prospects. This can include discussions about cohabitation, monogamy vs non-monogamy, and what part BDSM plays in their relationships. 

When you’ve established a feel for your potential Dom’s values and personality, you can move on to some kinkier topics. Here are some talking points to get you started:

  • ‘What does BDSM mean to you?’: This will help you to grasp what your potential Dominant enjoys about BDSM, and what role it plays in their lives.
  • ‘How long have you been involved/interested in kink?’: As well as giving you an insight to their experience, you can also find out why they got into kink and how their journey has developed.
  • ‘What communities are you involved with, and have you been to any munches or events?’: This can help you filter out the fake Doms by testing their knowledge and experience of their local kink scene and online communities. If you trust them but they’re new to BDSM and its communities, this can be your chance to guide them.
  • ‘Why are you seeking out a dominant/submissive, and what are you wanting out of your potential BDSM dynamic?’: It’s important to ask this question before you discuss your own kinks and fetishes to avoid the risk of your potential Dom exploiting them to influence you. 

Remember, it’s not the end of the world if you disagree on certain topics or have different lifestyles! As long as it doesn’t hinder your compatibility and there’s mutual respect, it’s okay to have differing opinions. 

5 top tips for vetting your potential Dominant

Always organise a vanilla meet up first 

If you’ve progressed past the talking stage, ask to organise a vanilla meet up with your potential Dominant before you consider playing with them. This is for two reasons: firstly, it tests whether they’re interested in getting to know you as a person, and secondly, you’ll have the chance to discuss more serious topics such as safety and consent. I’d recommend meeting in a public place such as a bar or café to feel a little safer. You can also organise more vanilla meetups if you don’t cover everything – if they’re truly interested in you, they’ll be patient.

Ask them about their limits/boundaries

Discover how well your potential Dominant knows themselves by asking about their own boundaries and limits. Dominants are often dismissed in conversations about their own limits, which hinders their ability to consider themselves. Assess how your potential partner perceives and communicates their own boundaries. If they understand significance of their limits, they’re likely to take your limits seriously too. If you and your potential Dom are interested in exploring this topic together, check out the free downloadable Limits and Boundaries Checklist from the Sub in the City website.

Ask them to share any learnings from previous relationships

Ask your potential Dom about what they’ve learnt from previous submissives and experience within the BDSM scene. What have they learnt that has improved or influenced the way they practice BDSM? Do they hold themselves accountable for any mistakes from the past? Honesty is especially important within kink because of the trust required between partners. Recognising mistakes and learning/changing from them is much more commendable than lying, disregarding mistakes or blaming others.

Assess their attitude around safewording & aftercare

It’s vital that your potential Dom practices safewording to keep you both safe, and provides aftercare to help you readjust your brain and maintain your emotional wellbeing after a scene. Does your partner already have a safeword system? What is their process of de-escalation if a play partner uses their safeword? Ask them to describe their usual process of aftercare, as well as the different aftercare they may provide after specific scenes.

Assess their understanding of SSC/RACK

Judge how your potential Dominant values safety in kink by asking them to share what they do before, during, and after a scene to avoid risk, serious injury or distress. You can also ask them what they know about two ethical frameworks that many kinksters play under: SSC (Safe, Sane and Consensual) and RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink). Playing under SSC means that all parties are freely consenting and putting measures into place to stay safe, meanwhile playing under RACK means that all parties are freely consenting and understand the safety risk of some activities. Different frameworks may be used for different scenes depending on the level of risk and intensity. 

Red Flags to watch out for…

Lastly, here are some red flags to watch out for when chatting to potential play partners and Dominants…

  • Wanting to play immediately: If your potential match asks you to play or sends you nudes without wanting to get to know you first, they may be a fake Dom. It’s likely you’ll come across lots of people like this within the kink scene, so be wary of what your potential Dom asks you to do. 
  • Disregard for aftercare and consent: Don’t feel like you have to alter or minimise your boundaries for your potential Dominant – you’re entitled to have boundaries and they should be respected. If a potential play partner expresses that your limits are ‘too much’ to handle or pressures you to make exceptions for them, they probably don’t take consent seriously.
  • Trash talking previous subs: Have you ever been on a date where you’ve been forced to hear all about your date’s ‘psycho ex’? Unfortunately, you may have the same problem in the BDSM dating scene too. If your potential Dominant trash talks, kinkshames, or reveals private information about their previous subs, they’re likely to be disrespectful towards their future subs too.
  • Irresponsible during play: If your potential Dom gets intoxicated before or during a scene, it might impact their ability to understand consent and consider important safety precautions. Sometimes BDSM can involve intentional alcohol and drug consumption, but this should be discussed beforehand so you can experiment safely. 

Vetting can sometimes feel like a complicated and time consuming process, but it can lead to a fulfilling connection. Safety and consent are the foundations of BDSM, which is why it’s important to find a trustworthy Dominant that you can explore your desires with.

Want a greater understanding of what to look out for when meeting people on the BDSM Scene? Join the online workshop A Guide to Kinky Etiquette: How to Navigate the BDSM Scene with Confidence on Wednesday 19th April Online for more tips on this topic.

Collared Community Patreon Members get this workshop free, and all other subscription levels get a discount. And if you want to meet other likeminded kinksters in a no-pressure environment, make sure you grab a ticket to the Sub in the City Summer Social on Thursday 25th May!