Let’s Debate: The Responsibility Of The Dominant

Let’s Debate: The Responsibility Of The Dominant

The word everything in script.

WARNING: This is a long one, and I am very specifically taking a side in this one, then offering my reasoning up for debate and picking apart.

I’ve had several conversations in the past week in which the original writing I did on the responsibility of a dominant has been relevant:

The Responsibility Of The Dominant

@thewiz11 commented, and as I was replying, I realized it would be a good debate piece, allowing me to dig deeper into the meat of what this means to me, in my life, and defend my view against any and all comers.

Before I go there, though, let me explain something.

This is how I live my life. This is what the role of dominant means to me. It may not be what dominant means to you, and that’s cool. I’ve written a lot about dominance and submission and how they are sliding scales and how there is no WON TWOO WAY™ that works for everyone. YMMV.

That’s important. smiles I’m offering this up for debate to proof my convictions, and to allow others to take apart my points, if you so choose.

THE DEBATE: What is the dominant responsible for in a D/s relationship?

MY POSITION: Everything.

Here goes. The original comment that sparked this is here in full (there is also an example given and responded to that may be of interest to this post that I’ll copy below into comments):

Basically, this statement bothers me because I feel that while I as the dom have most of the power in the relationship, it’s much not all.

In my view, submissive gives their power to the dominant in exchange for the dominant’s responsibility. As explained in more depth here, should you choose to rad that as well:

“The Sub Has All The Power…” cough cough “Bullshit.”

They may not be equally responsible, but that doesn’t put 100% on the dom. Would you mind clarifying, explaining and/or expanding on this?

In my view, a submissive is responsible for themselves to the dominant.

The dominant is responsible for the relationship and the submissive.

When entering into a relationship as a dominant, I require the following:

  • Minimum communication. For me, my minimum is probably a higher bar than many’s best. I teach communication classes, and I am (obviously) a very verbal person, so this is critical.
  • Trust. I would not accept a submissive I did not trust 100%. If I had any doubts, we would continue dating and speaking towards taking on those roles, but I would not step into them unless I felt 100% that this person is as dedicated to the relationship as I am.
  • Ethics. Not just that they have a strong sense of ethics, but that I understand them, and where they differ from mine. I, of course, also have to accept their ethics, especially where they differ from mine.
  • Excellent Compatibility. Well, duh. But I feel it needs to be said, because I often see people missing this part of things.

I do not take on a submissive lightly. Pet and I dated 8 months before I accepted him, and I felt like we were moving WAY TOO FAST, LOL!

However, I could not deny my required things were there, and he was insistent that I could trust that we were good for each other. He was right, and I’m glad I took that chance, now over 4 years later.

Things I am responsible for in a relationship:

How I behave. This is imperfectly under my control, and my responsibility.

In other words, I cannot say, “You made me…,” as an excuse for my behavior. I cannot choose to shift any responsibility to anyone other than myself, as I am the one who makes my choices at all times, however erroneously.

My reactions to my submissive. This is imperfectly under my control, and my responsibility.

I’m human. I make mistakes. Sometimes I respond. Sometimes I overreact. This is all on me. I can choose my response, or I can let go, and just emotionally barf all over. Either way, it’s my responsibility. There is no, “You made me so mad.” My emotions are not their burden to carry. They are mine and mine alone.

My word. This is imperfectly under my control, and my responsibility.

I keep my word as often as possible. When I say I will do something, I do everything in my power to get it done. This is the same for “I’ll be there at 8,” and “We’ll talk about this later.”

My growth as a human and dominant and my understanding of my submissive. This is imperfectly under my control, and my responsibility.

It is up to me to learn from those times when I mess up. I do the research, I ask the questions, I have the conversations… whatever it takes to become a better person less likely to make the same mistake in the future.

And all of these things affect and interact with:

How my submissive behaves. This is outside of my control, yet still my responsibility.

I have made clear my minimum standards. I am able to give feedback when any behavior falls below those minimum standards, including gentle reminders, sharp rebukes, punishments, leaving the situation, or leaving the relationship. Of course, these response are based on the severity of the transgression and my personal feeling about their overall place in the relationship.

My submissive’s well-being and fulfillment. This is outside of my control, yet still my responsibility.

It is up to me to be keeping tabs on my submissive, and to watch whether they thrive or wilt under my care. To look for ways to encourage and assist them, or to watch proudly as they stand on their own. To check in regularly when they seem stressed or sad, and to make sure they know I am there for them.

I’m going to share a few definitions, to clarify my thinking:


the state or fact of being responsible, answerable, or accountable for something within one’s power, control, or management.


find fault with; censure.


to order, limit, or rule something, or someone’s actions or behaviour.
I do not believe that I can control anyone except myself, and that imperfectly.


fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.
I believe as a dominant that inspiration is my greatest power.

Yes, these are somewhat cherry-picked definitions. On purpose. I am sharing how I use these words to make myself more clear in this.

The Debate

I say the dominant has all the responsibility for a D/s relationship simply by accepting power from the submissive. The submissive has only the responsibility to the dominant for those things negotiated and agreed to.

Others suggest that the responsibility is shared. I’ve had some say the submissive is responsible for the relationship, in exchange for the protection of dominance.

So, who holds what responsibility in a relationship?

What do you think?

  • Where do the responsibilities fall in a D/s relationship?
  • Are the responsibilities one-sided? Equal? Inequal?
  • Are you willing to share examples to illustrate your position?

I look forward to reading your replies.


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