I meet a lot of new and curious submissives through this blog and events in my local kink community. The questions they ask me most often tend to centre around how to find a Dom. But finding someone is just the first step. It’s also essential to vet a Dom before you play with them. Vetting helps to ensure the person is who they say they are, and that they’re a safe person for you to play with, date, or give your submission to.
Here are five strategies you can use to help you vet a Dom before you get too invested in them.
Meet in a public place first
If you’re meeting someone in person for the first time (say, if you’ve met them online) then always have your first meeting in a public place like a bar, restaurant, or coffee shop. Even if you’ve met at an event such as a munch or rope workshop, having a date in a public place the first time you meet one-to-one is a good idea. This lets you get to know them as a person in a safe and low-pressure environment. It also ensures you can leave relatively easily if things go sideways.
If a prospective Dom balks at meeting in public, that’s a glaring red flag. At best, it might suggest they’re cheating on a spouse or otherwise not being upfront about themselves and their situation. At worst, it can indicate seriously bad intentions.
If your prospective Dominant has been in the community for a while, others will know them and have an opinion on them. Try asking around some regulars in your local scene to see what they can tell you about this person. If in doubt, the organiser of a munch they attend regularly is a good place to start.
When vetting, it’s best to get a range of opinions if you can. One person’s view can be clouded either positively or negatively, but patterns of data are far more useful. Of course, if you hear anything really damning (such as that the person has a history of behaving abusively), pay very close attention to that.
Kinksters are used to people vetting each other and generally support it. Your local community leaders shouldn’t think it’s weird if you say “hey, I’m thinking of playing with X and I wondered if you have any insight on what they’re like as a person?”
Pay attention to small things
If you look closely, you can learn a lot about a person from the way they interact with you, others, and the world around them. Remember that a BDSM relationship is still a relationship first and foremost.
For example, do they generally speak to others with respect and courtesy? Or do they immediately assume they can be disrespectful to anyone who identifies as a submissive? If you go out for coffee or a meal, how do they treat the waitstaff? Do they have hobbies, interests, and friends that they can talk about? Do they ask for consent as a matter of course (for example, before touching or hugging you for the first time)?
Here’s a trick a friend taught me: set a small boundary early on. Do they respect and honour it? How a Dom responds to a clearly stated boundary tells you an enormous amount about them and how they’ll treat you if you continue in a relationship.
Introduce them to your friends
Friends can sometimes spot things that we can’t when we have a crush on someone (or are deep in sub frenzy). Introducing your potential Dom to some of your trusted friends early on can give you a new perspective on them. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends for their honest opinions and be prepared to listen to them!
I’ve had friends introduce me to their new partner or prospective partner and immediately felt like “eurgh, there’s something off about this guy”, even if I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what (I call this Getting The Vibes). Sometimes it’s more obvious, such as if the person insults or demeans my friend in front of me. Other times in this situation, I’ve thought “my friend seems so happy and relaxed around this person”.
Play at an event first
Not everyone likes kinky events or play parties, or has access to them due to finances or geography. But if this is an option for you, it can be a safer way to play with a new Dom for the first time. Reputable kinky play events usually have staff, such as organisers and Dungeon Monitors (DMs), who will keep an eye on what’s happening and step in if necessary. For example, many events have “house safewords” but in practice a DM will pay attention to anything that sounds like a withdrawal of consent. This means that, even if you’re in a vulnerable position such as being restrained, you’ll have someone looking out for you.
People can still fool you
Unfortunately, some people are good at seeming fine while hiding nefarious intentions. You might do everything you can to vet a Dom, and still end up getting hurt. If you do, I really don’t want you to feel as though any of this is your fault or you didn’t do enough. If a person chooses to harm you, the fault is always and exclusively theirs.
Vetting is a tool that helps to keep us safe. It’s far from perfect, but it’s still worth doing.
Do you have any ways you vet a Dom (or sub) that I haven’t discussed? Drop them in the comments if so!