What Frightens Doms

Most subs experience some degree of fear when they sub, particularly novice subs who haven’t quite figured out how the Inner and Outer Layers work. As a result, there’s a lot of awareness in the kink community that subs experience fear and there’s social support for them. Good doms and other subs know that subs need help working through their fears.

What’s less understood is that dominants have fears too. Many doms have experience fear but they talk about it a lot less than subs talk about their fears. And on the surface it makes less sense. Doms are in charge and in control. At least physically, subs pose much less of threat to doms than doms do to subs. So what is there for doms to be afraid of?

From my conversations with doms, I’ve identified several major categories of things we tend to worry about.

  1. Actually seriously harming my sub is probably my top fear. When I take charge of a boy for a scene, he trusts me to not cause him lasting damage. If I were to screw up and cause him a real injury, not only would I feel like a failure because I hadn’t been skilled enough to keep him safe, I would feel like I had profoundly betrayed his trust in me. To me, that is the absolute worst consequence–failing to be worthy of a sub’s trust.
  2. Subs are more at danger of physical injury, but doms are more vulnerable to legal and social problems that might arise from a bad scene. A sub who leaves a scene really unhappy is in a position to cause a lot of problems for a dom. He can call the police and make accusations of assault because a lot of what doms do to subs is technically illegal (varying from one jurisdiction to another in exact details). Although there is rising appreciation of bdsm as a legitimate practice, a lot depends on whether a particular police officer or assistant district attorney disapproves of kink or homosexuality. It might not result in a legal trial (although the Oliver Jovanovic case is the nightmare) but it could certainly force a dom to hire a lawyer.
  3. In the age of the internet, angry subs are also capable of contacting employers, family members, churches, and other social groups and causing a stink. In some cases, simply revealing that the dom is kinky or gay could have major repercussions. Years ago, I left a scene with a strong sense that the boy had basically enjoyed himself, only to have him turn around and threaten to contact my employer, whom he somehow managed to identify online. Fortunately, after about a month of threats, he finally lost interest in me and moved on. But the incident taught me a lot about how vulnerable a dom is to that sort of thing.
  4. On a deeper level, it’s definitely possible for a dom to be afraid of his own desires. Many of us have some degree of real darkness inside us and we let parts of that darkness out in order to do a more intense scene. Subs often express fantasies involving intense physical torture, unrelenting verbal abuse, kidnapping and rape, and the like, and they seek us out to give life to those fantasies. But doing a scene like that well requires the dom to connect to the part of himself that might actually enjoy doing it. He has to let out the monster inside far enough that he can be the cruel tormentor the sub asks for. And that can raise all sorts of fears inside us. What kind of person would actually enjoy doing that? If I play out an intense race play scene, does that mean that maybe I’m actually a racist? What if I like being that character so much that I don’t want to stop? What if I can’t tame that monster and force it back into the closet?

    Years ago, I was close enough to a boy that I let out a piece of my monster I’d never let out before. I hate-fucked him. I called him the absolutely worst things I could image saying, told him how much I hated him and wanted him to suffer. It was an incredible scene, one of the most intense scenes I’ve ever done. I loved it. And when it was done, I curled up into a ball and started crying. Letting out that monster was exhilarating, but it was also terrifying because of what it suggested about me as a person. The boy had to spend about half an hour holding me, reassuring me that he knew I wasn’t truly that monster I have inside me. It took me a couple years to realize that I honestly could control that part of me, that I could let it out and then lock it up again without risk of losing control of it. And I know I’m not alone in this particular fear.
  5. Following on from that, letting out the monster has another risk associated with it. What if I let out a piece of that monster and the boy is horrified by it? What if a boy tells me that I really am that monster? We understand that subs make themselves vulnerable to doms, but it’s less understood that doms make ourselves vulnerable to our subs. We show them parts of ourselves that are socially unacceptable, and the risk of rejection is not inconsequential. I think every dom has the Phantom of the Opera inside him, dark and ugly and damaged and needing to be seen and loved. So if our Christine sub recoils in horror when they see the real us, there’s no defense, no ability to say ‘I was just pretending to be that person.’ When I hate-fucked that boy, there was more than a little of me that was scared he would be horrified. Fortunately, he wasn’t. He understood what he was seeing and he was able to accept it. In fact, he married me.

What does all this mean? For subs, it means you need to understand that you’re not the only one taking risks when you meet up with a dom. It means you may need to offer aftercare to your dom after an intense scene. It means you need to be ready for the more intense reactions you might have from a scene and not freak out if you experience subdrop. It means you need to communicate in a mature way. And it means you need to understand why a dom might think you’re not ready to play a particular scene–this stuff takes emotional maturity.

For doms, it means it’s ok to have fears, because your fellow doms have them too. It’s ok to talk to your fellow doms, because they will probably understand your experience. It means it’s ok to talk to your subs. A good sub will be ready to support you when those fears rear their head. You don’t have to be that stereotypical strong unemotional dom, because that guy doesn’t really exist.

9 thoughts on “What Frightens Doms

  1. I just wanted to say, what a well written, well thought out and informative post this is. I am neither a sub nor a dom but you just educated me in such a way that I felt a lot more knowledgeable about D/s relationships and how they affect the individuals involved. I hope more Doms read this and you all create a talking network so that you feel you have the emotional support from your peers as and when you need it! Well said, and I will say again, beautifully written.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the kind words! I’m glad I shed some light on D/s for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello,

    i enjoyed this piece, it is well written with much food for thought. i think we all have a monster inside us, those of us who partake in BDSM. When i met my Master many years ago, he took one long look at me and knew, i was out for trouble, He saw fit never to allow me to open Pandora’s box.

    He had one of his own, that He kept from me. He never shared any of that with me, and the boys he did play with signed what we all know today as an NDA, in the bdsm world. Nobody talked.

    As a sub/slave/boy, what i had in my young arsenal was fantasies i read in my fathers magazines. i knew what i really wanted, not knowing the length and depths i could sink myself into darkness.
    In my limited world of the Stud, in Fort Lauderdale, there were monsters among us. Which is why Todd kept me from engaging them. Those they took with them, all died together.

    Today i see a lot of discussion about fags and their worthlessness. i also see posts encouraging fags to allow a DOM to “Cunt” them. akin to a serious Hate Fuck. You spoke about that here. i’ve lived with AIDS for twenty six years now, and there are fantasies i still keep alive in Pandora’s box. But being HIV+ i would never engage in that kind of risky behavior, no matter how enticing it might be.

    As a man in recovery, i understand how selfish i was as a young gay man. and asking a DOM or anyone to open Pandora’s Box, is terribly dangerous, for them as well as for us. because most boys have no idea what they are asking a Dom to do, if only this piece was written long ago.

    Some of the behavior i see today being discussed on BDSMLR, is disturbing. It is all fantastical, but to purely take a fag and turn him into a wasted heap of flesh is not attractive. And i find the thinking of many of these men to be more sick than fantastical.

    Yet there are fags that would assent to this kind of behavior, thereby asking a DOM to open Pandora’s box and actually go there, darkness and all. In the end, both could loose big and the mental and physical fallout would be too great to bear for either the Dom or the sub.

    Jeremy in Montreal.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There is darkness that we can explore, and then there is the darkness we shouldn’t touch, like the riskiest forms of play, the truly self-destructive fantasies, and so on. My post isn’t really about encouraging people to delve into their darkness–some people have major trauma hiding in that darkness, and that sort of exploration may not be healthy for them. But when we do really dark scenes, we doms need to tap into that darkness in order to produce a ‘true’ scene.

      And I totally agree about the dangerous stuff that circulates on BDSMLR. I make a point to challenge that shit when it comes across my feed. A lot of people have thanked me for talking about things like safety and the dangers of fascism.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for this! Planning on reading it together with my Dom!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds like a great way to start a conversation with your dom. Let me know how it goes!


  4. 1) Harming/hurting a boy, not just physically but mentally, emotionally, or on a psychic level is a tremendous fear. Tremendous to the point of paralysis. Once, in some age long gone, I, along with a boy (we weren’t dating but O/ours dynamic was a genuine Daddy/boy dynamic), witnessed a bar whipping scene. The top (lowercase intentional) was technically proficient. I’ll give him that. BUT at no time during the exchange between them, did he check in. Once they were finished, he left. Done. No aftercare. Not even a check in. The boy and I did our best to provide aftercare. Months later, we both encountered the whipped boy. He was scarred. Mentally and emotionally.

    It is all too easy for either partner in a dynamic to get caught up in the emotions of a scene. What remains unfortunately unseen, are the deep effects which may not manifest till long after. As a result, I tend to be hesitant to create a scene with someone I’ve not previously established some kind of mutual and reciprocal connection. Not saying there has to be a ‘therapeutic’ component, but there needs to be a minimum of potential landmines.

    2) The beast within. As I see it: a) there should be a recognition that there may in fact be a (sadistic, depraved, pain monger) beast that dwells within. Not so for everyone, and it may manifest on various levels. Also, this goes for both Sirs & boys. b) once recognized, there needs to be an acceptance of that ‘darkness.’ Acceptance leads to integration. Integration leads to understanding. Understanding cedes the ability to harness that power.

    I came face to face with my beast during a scene with a self-identified ‘slave.’ I repeatedly told him I wasn’t a Master and intimated that I felt he was more boy identified. But he insisted. his (primary) kink was bondage. Not one of my major ones as I wasn’t well versed but in the interest of enjoying a communion with him, I complied. So began the scene. Together we soared till I got out a sound. Once I inserted, he fell while I continued to soar. I got so pissed, there was a point I wanted to see him bleed. It was in that moment that I realized a few things:

    -as I stated in a previous response, words are important. I have a somewhat rigid definition of what a slave means. boy did not fit into that definition;
    -My acceptance of his definition also defined me and subsequently, my actions. As the Top in that scenario, this was dangerous. To be led to places of unfamiliarity as the ‘driver’ in a scene……not a wise thing;
    -My extreme reaction/desire was borne of anger, frustration and negative impulse. All of these are valid HOWEVER when they are the focal points of what’s being done…it is again, dangerous.
    -I did, from that encounter, learn much about myself. For instance, I do take great pleasure in the pain I might inflict. It is one facet of my darkness, my beast. As such, I have since integrated to understand that while said beast needs to be ‘fed’ it isn’t something I could or should unleash without first knowing the potentiality of the ‘feeding ground.’

    Point is, W/we all have to varying degrees a beast, a darkness, a side of U/us we subsume. It shouldn’t be denied as that just aggravates it to dangerous ends. Rather, I think we need to recognize, acknowledge, accept and integrate it as best W/we can. In this, W/we achieve wholeness and an honesty of self that allows us a greater breadth of interaction and communion with each O/other.


    1. That dom in the bar scene is an asshole—in a demo, you need to demonstrate the whole range of play, including aftercare.


      1. Ego can be a means for self preservation. In the context of ‘peacocking,’ no. To say he was being an asshole, is kind.


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