Advice: Masters

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What is a Master?

First off, you should read the article Master (BDSM) and slave to at least get a grasp on what each term means to you personally.

Although in the English language the term "Master" refers to one of expert status in their field, it carries no such automatic or certified meaning in the BDSM context. That is not to say that a Master is not an expert or trained, it must not be taken for granted.

In this discussion, we use the term Master to mean "One who Dominates a submissive in a power exchange situation" of any kind. An example of a middle interpretation is a specific temporary scene where you are controlling the situation; an extreme interpretation is ownership of a slave in a total power exchange relationship.

This discussion assumes that people can and do switch roles as well, and implies such role reversal is not only possible, but common in the lifestyle.

General Understandings

  • You are the Dominant one of the relationship.
  • Your partner is the submissive one.
  • You are capable mentally and emotionally of leading and guiding.
  • Your partner is similarly capable of being led.
  • You practice safe, sane and consensual activities.

If you disagree with any of these ideas, you will find yourself either very confused in reading this, or people will be confused by you in real life. If you disagree with all of these statements, you may wish to reevaluate your thoughts on participating in this lifestyle altogether as you do not share the minimum attitudes necessary for safety, responsibility for your actions, and caring for your partner in other ways.


In virtually all aspects of a scene, and in some cases entire lifestyle decisions, you (the Master) bear responsiblity for your slave/submissive. Having a keen grasp on your own life, having a sense of responsibility for your own life and actions, and understanding your limits and your submissive's risks are just some ideas one in the lifestyle equates with being a good Master.

Even if your submissive directs you in a temporary scene (thus, Topping From The Bottom) or you switch, it is still your clear responsibility to be aware of their needs and desires, and their safety beyond all else, as long as you are assuming the role as the Master.

Being a good Master doesn't mean you are perfect in all aspects of your life. No one is, by some standard or another. You might be fundamentally challenged when it comes to keeping your finances in order or in using computers, but neither will necessarily make you a poor Master. On the other hand, you might be the greatest boss at your work and be a horrible Master in this lifestyle.

While considering being a Master, ask yourself "To what extent should I take responsibility over another human being's decisions." If and when you can answer this question honestly and accurately, the answer will lend to a more objective outlook on negotiation with a submissive or slave.


Your best bet as a beginner in the lifestyle, especially when faced with the prospect of a submissive interested in you, is to research and understand your role as much as possible, as well as potential training techniques. Even if you are ten years in the lifestyle, learning a new tool or idea is always helpful, and always relevant, as there is always more new information available to make your lifestyle more exciting or fulfilling.

You should consider that training a submissive is also training yourself, regardless of your experience. You should always be willing to learn new aspects of the lifestlye.

One effective way to do this is to learn what IRC is and become a guest at one of the thousands of chatrooms available on a wide variety of topics. You'll likely find that, as you explore these different worlds, you will experience many different situations. Be the voyeur, sit back, and just observe. You may find that you share widely appreciated fetishes or kinks that you had no idea anyone else was interested in, nevermind by like-minded people all over the world.

Not only that, as you interract with others, you will see how strangers percieve you. This can only assist you in developing your role playing skills, as well as contibute to your development as a Master. If people seem to be reluctant to talk to you online, or you are consistently shunned or banned from chatrooms, you might need to work on your communication skills before approaching a potential submissive either online or in real life.

Looking at the online community as an opportunity to learn about the lifestyle (rather than just a place to meet someone) is only advantageous to you and your future in the lifestyle. but note that there are a considerable number of poseurs and frauds to found on the Internet, and so not everyhting you observe will be translatable to real life. You'll have to adjust some perceptions to reality.

Defining Your Role

It is between you and your slave/submissive to define roles and specific responsibilities before entering into a BDSM relationship. As the Master, it will be up to you to bring most of the negotiable items to the table. If you are too inexperienced to do so, or haven't done enough research to have an intelligent understanding of these things, it will likely be a good idea to step back and reconsider or evaluate your expectations and abilities. You might have to tone things (fantasies or desires) down a bit. You might even consider stopping negotiations until you can get a better grasp on things.


Once you've at least become acclimated to the lifestyle, have expectations! You have every right to expect certain basics from anyone you choose to make a part of your life. Having expectations is not wrong in the least; having unrealistic expectations gets most people into emotional upheaval and relationship problems from the start.

For instance. You might expect that every single submissive you meet has the potential to become your personal slave and participate in TPE with you. This is a good example of having a highly unrealistic expectation of this lifestyle in general. Chances are reasonable that you may indeed find a submissive willing to give some part of themselves to you. Expecting this, you will find, is unrealistic, although seemingly "confident."

A more realistic, though somewhat prosaic, expectation might be that every submissive you meet understand or at least grasp the concept of the English Language to the extent they can communicate effectively; especially, for instance, if you meet them in an English speeking community and they are English speaking themselves. Expecting them to actually communicate to you their every waking desire and need immediately afer meeting you is highly unrealistic.

When meeting someone in a chatroom devoted to foot worship, for another instance, a realistic expectation is that that person might actually be interested in (or even fascinated with) foot worship. It would be unrealistic to think they want to worship your feet in particular.

The Best Policies

  • Be honest with yourself, and by all means, be honest with your partner. If you've never tried something they wish to try, tell them! If something you are looking to try scares you, tell them!
  • The last thing you want to do is get involved in a scene that incorporates something you have absolutely no clue about, only to find out that someone's well being is in danger due to your negligent ignorance. This may have legal implicaitons in some communities as well.
  • The BDSM lifestyle often differentiates itself from vanilla relationships in the way communication plays such an explicilty important role. Negotiating, discussing, talking, and than doing it all over again; it's ongoing throughout a relationship. And ot what many on the outside expect, either.
  • Meeting someone who doesn't communicate effectively, or when it seems appropriate, should be looked at with a great deal of skepticism. If they don't communicate well now, how will they do so under stress of a scene while you are trying to determine their mental or emotional state?
  • Is the level of intensity what you expect? Too much? Too little?
  • Increase the chances of having a mutual beneficial level of intensity by communicating honestly with your partner.

Other advice

Avoid role erosion. As the dominant partner, it is your responsibility either to ensure that the relationship is healthy, or to terminate it if it cannot be made to the partners' needs.

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