I used to be active in the fetish community—very active. Though I still love BDSM, I no longer associate with fetish circles and people often ask me why that is the case. The fact is that my aversion to talking with fetishists can be summed up in two words: fake Doms.
A Dom, also known as a Dominant, is an individual who enjoys the idea of being the sadist, or the "controller," in a BDSM scene. That being said, one of the key aspects of BDSM that people seem to forget is the issue of keeping things safe, sane, and consensual.
In a healthy BDSM scene, a Dom will respect submissives' wishes, understand boundaries, and will also know what they're doing. A Dom who does otherwise isn't a true Dom; it's an abuser who is masquerading as a Dom to find new victims.
Unfortunately, the BDSM world is chock-full of fake Doms who are really only there to prey upon submissives who may be too naïve, insecure, or scared to say no. In some cases, this can actually lead to trauma, physical damage, and, in even rarer cases, human trafficking.
The BDSM scene, for some reason or another, has a really hard time calling out abusers who do this stuff. So, if you go in, you're usually on your own. Having seen the damage fake Doms can do to a person, I can honestly say that's what made me decide to leave the BDSM scene.
That being said, I understand how hard it can be to find a partner to meet your freaky needs. If you decide to take a stroll on Fetlife or any other BDSM-oriented site, I strongly suggest that both switches and subs learn these warning signs of a fake Dom.
They don't really know any of the terminologies or techniques.
BDSM, when done incorrectly, is very dangerous. A real Dom will take time to learn the BDSM terms you need to know, because they are legitimately fascinated by kink and because they want their partners to be safe.
Real Dominants understand that using BDSM techniques incorrectly can cause both physical and emotional trauma. Fake Doms, also known as predators, either don't understand or don't care about the damage that can be done through improper techniques.
If you notice that the Dom doesn't understand what a "safe word" is, you should run far away. A lack of understanding (or caring) about BDSM norms is one of the most damning signs of a fake Dom you can see.
At munches, people avoid him.
Though this isn't always true, there's something to be said about a person's reputation among kinksters. This is doubly true if that reputation transcends online writing and leaks into real-life meet ups.
Fake Doms tend to give off creepy vibes in real-life meets, and if they don't, will often still have a reputation for being a creepy person. So, you need to avoid creeps.
Many people who don't initially display typical signs of a fake Dom end up being outed for creepy behavior due to rumors in the grapevine. If you notice a large number of women actively avoiding a person at a munch or if you hear rumors about a person, take that warning seriously.
He immediately steers the conversation to sex, and makes it clear that he doesn't care about what you have to say.
In a lot of ways, the signs of a fake Dom tend to mirror signs of an abuser in the standard dating scene. You should use that knowledge when trying to vet who you decide to play with.
Real Dominants will be interested in learning about you as a person before they even consider having sex with you, simply because they want to make sure they are compatible. They want to make sure you have fun too.
Compatibility matters if you want to have a healthy BDSM relationship. Much like with finding a good Dom, Doms want to make sure that the submisssives they play with are emotionally capable of handling BDSM.
Predators, on the other hand, won't care about your needs.
The only person they care about is themselves, which means that they won't care if they seem creepy when talking to you. They won't care if what they do to you upsets you, either. Such is the self-centered mentality of an abuser.
He doesn't ask about your limits—or if you tell him, he doesn't listen.
Boundaries are important, and they absolutely need to be respected in order to have a healthy BDSM playtime. This is why you need to talk about limits. Crossing your boundaries or refusing to discuss them can be physically and emotionally dangerous.
There's no "grey area" about what happens when boundaries are ignored. BDSM is not abuse. Once boundaries are crossed, BDSM stops being consensual and starts being abuse and sexual assault.
Real Dominants know this and will always ask about the boundaries you have and respect them. This is because real Doms care about consent!
One of the biggest signs of a fake Dom is their unwillingness to respect boundaries, or the anger they display when you ask that they slow things down or respect a wish you have. People like this don't see you as a person, and will get angry if you don't perform the way they want you to.
In this sense, their unwillingness to respect your sexual wishes mirrors a certain syndrome found in the vanilla dating scene. You might know it as Nice Guy Syndrome.
They exaggerate the amount of experience they have.
Fake Doms will say anything to try to get a victim in their grips, and that includes lying about their experience. Knowing that experienced Dominants are in high demand in the BDSM scene, they will embellish what little experience they do have.
In some cases, fake Doms will also claim to have slept with people who clearly wouldn't have given them the time of day—just to try to lower a girl's self-esteem enough to make her say, "Yes."
They will start trying to control you before you even have a relationship—or before you even consent to it.
You can probably thank 50 Shades of Grey for making a lot of this seem acceptable to newbie BDSM enthusiasts. As much as it may seem sexy in bondage-themed erotic fiction novels, it's really not sexy when it's done in real life.
Actually, it's downright controlling. When a person behaves this way right off the bat, they're showing you how little they respect you. Though it may seem counterintuitive, a BDSM relationship is built on respect and consent.
Even if it seems innocent, commenting on things like what you should wear or how you can address them before you even have a serious link with them is a serious BDSM red flag. This would be considered controlling behavior in vanilla dating, and guess what—it's still controlling behavior among kinksters too.
There's a reason why controlling behavior is considered to be a warning sign of an abuser. It's because that kind of behavior tends to be the first step towards isolating a victim and harming them.
They don't have references.
Okay, this is a hit-or-miss. If you have someone who is casually into BDSM, they may not have references simply because the only people they played with were exes.
However, if they claim to be "big in the scene," then a lack of references is one of the most alarming signs of a fake Dom you can have. This is because references are a common safeguard against predatory behavior.
A kinkster that is heavily involved in BDSM circles will be able to furnish at least one or two phone numbers or email addresses you can contact that prove they're not a predator.
He doesn't want to meet you in public, or doesn't want to let you have a safety call.
This is one of the most terrifying signs of a fake Dom you can encounter, simply because of what it's suggesting could happen if you go through with the playdate. Straight up, this is an indicator you should ghost that person immediately.
People who meet in private and have no safety call are people who are likely to go missing. There have been many cases of human traffickers and serial killers who pulled this ploy to find new victims. Don't ever trust anyone who does this.
Even if this person is paying you to be submissive, there's absolutely no reason for them to feel like they should insist on putting your life on the line like this.
He's really tight-lipped about where he lives, his phone numbers, or other important details involving his life.
Fake Doms are people who tend to be predatory towards submissives, and the funny thing is that predation tends to come in a variety of different forms. This includes predation that takes an emotional toll due to relationship fallout.
A lot of fake Dominants will woo submissives with promises of a committed BDSM-flavored relationship, but are actually hiding a big secret: They're married. These guys lie so that they can get their jollies off while depriving victims of the commitment they want.
He threatens to hurt you or abandon you if you say "no."
In the BDSM world, consent is key. Threatening someone into saying yes is not consent; it's abuse. If you notice that your Dom is threatening to abandon you or worse, hurt you if you don't submit, you need to leave that relationship immediately and report him.
At this point, this isn't just one of the many signs of a fake Dom you should be watching out for. It's a sign that you're being abused, and that some guy is using BDSM as a cover for it.
You can't help but notice that you feel ugly or unlovable around them.
If there's one thing that fake Doms are good at, it's manipulation. They are very good at playing mind games, and will use that as a way to prey on submissives.
Their favorite card to play, of course, is reducing a submissive's self-esteem as a way to wear their assertiveness down. This is emotional abuse, and can easily lead to sexual abuse.
One of the signs of a fake Dom that tends to show up pretty quickly is the way they treat you. Do they make you feel ugly? Do they make you feel like you have to do things you don't want to get love and approval? Do they guilt-trip you when you don't do as they tell you to?
Yep, you need to quit that person now.
He tries to isolate you.
Fake Doms are, in essence, a very dangerous form of abuser who use BDSM as a scapegoat for their bad behavior. As a result, many of the signs of a fake Dom are also classic signs of abuse.
A lot of "Doms" will ask new submissives to give up their phones, their jobs, or cut ties with people before they can start playing. Or, they may start to manipulate them in a way that makes them feel guilty for having these things.
Make no mistakes about it; this is a sign of a predator. Don't fall for it, and tell them that it's time to kick rocks.
He flips out if you reject him.
Speaking from personal experience, this is the most common of all signs of a fake Dom—by and large. Much like the Nice Guy Syndrome sufferers on vanilla sites, fake Doms just cannot take no for an answer, and explode in rage when rejected.
Frankly speaking, the sheer amount of vile behavior I've seen from "Doms" that can't handle rejection is what made me realize I wasn't comfortable with the scene.
Sadly, I don't see this really improving until the community is willing to oust, name, and shame people who do this. So, until then, stay safe, folks!