My friend over at Kink In Exile, has recently posted a fantastic list of 8 things dominant women want. The list is so spot-on that I think it is a must-read regardless of whether you are in or are looking for a kinky relationship or not—or even if you’re not even “into all this kink stuff.”

I’ve been struggling to write more in this space lately. I want to, but between having to deal with the stress of moving to New York City from Sydney in less than two weeks and, more recently, the stress of losing my relationship with (Sara) Eileen, most kinds of words seem beyond me right now. Naturally, reading over a list of the things dominant women want during this time triggers a certain amount of introspection.

Kink in Exile’s list is so good, actually, if it were not unspeakably lazy of me I would want to copy it in its entirety for a post of my own. Instead of plagiarism, however, here’s a companion list of the things that submissive men want from a dominant partner that I think might be helpful. Astute readers of both my post and hers will note how similar these two lists actually are in content if not in voice. That, of course, is no coincidence.

For the sake of clarity, I’ll preface this list with an explicit remark about how it’s not intended to reflect anything other than a generic exploration into what I believe submissive men want from dominant partners, and should therefore not be interpreted without salting to your own taste, so to speak. I’d also like to acknowledge the excellent pre-publication input I received on this post by Kink in Exile herself, ironrose, as well as a few more friends. Thank you all for your thoughts.

You act upon details

Everyone’s fantasies—and demons—are in the details. Specific words, intonation, materials used in play (e.g., hemp rope versus metal bondage), and other things all have different meanings to different people. Personally, for instance, I react badly to words I associate with worthlessness (like “pathetic”) but favorably to others (like “whore” or “slut”) that I associate with wanton sexuality. While I am not alone in these particulars, there are others who respond in their own, unique ways.

It’s important to understand what these details are before you access them, but it’s equally important to eventually access them; ignoring such details is tantamount to ignoring me. When I play with a partner, a sense of depth and meaning is literally impossible to achieve if I have not first talked (usually at some length) about the details of my desires and fears, and asked questions of my partner to understand the details of theirs.

You need to be consistently inviting these details into our talks and our play; merely acknowledging their presence—without acting upon them later—is not enough. I do not believe a meaningful relationship can be built without successfully interfacing over these details.

You treat me as an equal person first and a submissive partner second

I am not a doormat—no submissive man is (even the ones that say they are). I see both dominance and submission as requiring equality first and power play second, and you should too. Moreover, you need to not only recognize but articulate the distinction in your actions when you demand something versus assertively request something of me.

My submission is a vital facet of who I am, so you never act in ways that are disingenuous, exploitative, or demeaning of my submissive sexuality, nor do you suggest that innate parts of who we are or the situations in which we exist (such as orientation, race, spiritual beliefs, socioeconomic status, or other external influences in our lives) make us unequal beings in any way. You strive towards fairness in all your dealings and recognize that our different wants and needs means that the goal of such efforts is equivalency, not sameness.

You can distinguish fantasy from reality, and objective reality from subjective interpretation

You understand how to live out a fantasy without living in a fantasy. This doesn’t mean so-called “24/7” situations are unacceptable, because even in more casual relationships you need to be able to intelligently distinguish between playtimes and other times. Using protocols or any “lifestyle” behaviors as barriers to communication is not okay, so you must be adept at sussing out problems between us as well as vigilant in and receptive to addressing them.

You understand the difference between entitlement and advantage; you recognize the advantages you have that I may not share, but do not feel as though you are somehow more deserving of them. In reality, you do not consider yourself entitled to my submission or acts thereof. In fantasy and play, however, you are not afraid of asserting such behavior.

It’s also important that you remain aware of and empathetic to concerns I raise and act with consideration toward them both inside and outside of play. It helps if you also expect the same from me—don’t be surprised at my vehemence in encouraging your comfort and pleasure because doing so is a pursuit of my own happiness. Part of that pursuit is making the effort to build a common understanding of things between us, and I need you to make an effort to refine this understanding with me over time. Doing so will make it possible to interact with me as a dominant partner, a top, and a friend, all of which you need to be able to do.

You know and make your own desires clear

You are knowledgeable about yourself and communicate what you know openly, honestly, and freely. You needn’t be divinely enlightened but you do need to have a solid understanding of something you like and be assertive in asking for it. You must have actively pursued explorations into your own desires, or are at least actively pursuing them with me; your sense of self must be strong enough to weather discoveries of new desires in yourself and in me over time.

Being eager to often try new things (in terms of play specifically and in general) is also important because it tells me that you are interested in learning more about yourself, more about me, and more about how we work together in all of the ways that we do. You delight in novelty and discovery; you “know thyself,” and you share who you are with me—I think it’s sexy. Moreover, you encourage me to do the same because when I share who I am with you, it’s out of a desire for you to reciprocate.

You are confident and independent in your dominance

Your dominance cannot be your dirty little secret; my submission isn’t mine. You may be excited by taboo but you don’t rely on it to provide enjoyment (because very little is taboo with me). This does not mean that our play can’t be respectful of public boundaries; it means that you know wanting to see me in physical pain is not wrong or sick, and you know that my desire for such experiences is similarly not unhealthy. You enjoy challenging both my physical and mental endurance but are not out to inflate your ego by causing mine harm.

You are an independent, whole person and you celebrate your dominance as a piece of that whole. You are not dependent on my submission to validate your dominance. You appreciate the support and encouragement I provide and are self-sufficient enough not to need it at all times, self-empowered enough not to want it at all times. You do not need constant reassurance that basic aspects of our kinky sexuality are acceptable behaviors (e.g., “normal”).

You must be comfortable discussing and acting upon your own sadism, desire to receive service, or other potentially socially unacceptable traits for us to have fulfilling interactions (because I am similarly not always socially acceptable). Moreover, you need to have and be constantly developing a sense of your own skills so that you know what you can and can’t realistically and safely do. Feeling insulted or offended if I point out the realities of your potential shortcomings in these areas should be a warning sign to you—I do so because I want us both to become better at what we are doing.

You value my input and experiences

You reject the notion that my sexual submission negates the validity of my opinions and beliefs. You know that dominance does not equal superiority, and therefore you are willing and able to reexamine aspects of yourself. You solicit and incorporate input and feedback from me in doing this because you know that my perspective and experiences are valuable. You want our relationship—whatever form our relationship takes—to grow, our intimacy to deepen and you don’t expect this to happen without expending your own energy to help make it so.

You make me a priority and will treat me to indulgences

My submission doesn’t make me more willing to abandon my wants or needs than people who aren’t submissive are, just as your dominance doesn’t make you more entitled to have yours met. You know this and therefore make me the same kind of priority that I have made you. You make time to see me, play with me, and occasionally treat me to indulgences you know I like because you enjoy seeing me be happy.

Being dominant does not mean you get to do what you want whenever you want. Your dominance doesn’t free you of the obligation to treat me with consideration or respect, to dismiss my desires or concerns, or to unfairly prioritize your own wants over mine. This doesn’t mean that I feel inappropriately entitled or deserving of the things I want, and you must not resent me for having these needs or for filling them. Additionally, you are emotionally intelligent enough not to feel guilty or personally at fault when you can’t fulfill them for whatever reason, are communicative enough to speak frankly with me when such clashes arise (because they will), and trusting enough to believe me when I say I’m doing my best to resolve the situation.

Your dominance is personally meaningful

Being sexually submissive is just one facet of who I am. You desire to dominate me because my presentation of self—all of it—is personally attractive to you. You recognize my strength and power as well as my vulnerability and are aroused by both aspects of who I am.

You do not treat me as a replaceable object (out of a fantasy scenario) or as though I am a dime-a-dozen, cookie-cutter submissive man. You understand that our D/s relationship is about the relationship and the power dynamic, not the activities or toys or clothing; I am not a random man that will clean your house for free, and you are sensitive to the fact that any expectation of either this or similar depersonalization will feel exploitative and insulting.

You should feel just as eager to dominate me whether or not you are dressed in fetish gear, wearing makeup, are at a club with an audience, or have a particular toy handy. None of these things matter to me in terms of our connection during play because I desire you, not your image. You should not feel the need to conform to stereotypes you see in pornography, and you must not expect me to do that, either (because I won’t).

To submissive men, I want to say that many—if not all—of these things apply to you as well. Knowledge of yourself, self-acceptance, and confidence in your submission is not just healthy, it’s what makes you attractive to dominant partners (especially the intelligent, sexy ones). If you don’t think your own submission is sexy, how can you expect anyone else to?