What I Wish I Knew When I First Got Into BDSM – In 2 Parts

Part 1: The Developing Dominant by Master Arcane

Part 2: The Searching Submissive by slave Daphne

I recently had an outside publisher ask me to write on the subject of “What do you wish you knew before becoming a Dominant, and why?” and asked slave Daphne the same question as a Submissive.

Their question got me thinking about all the many different changes I have gone through in my adult life as a Dominant since my very first, proper BDSM experience (mainly bondage and role-play) with my girlfriend back when I was in High School. Since that time of course my understanding has increased a thousand-fold, both from the many wonderful experiences I have had in my kinky life, as well as the challenges I encountered and what I learned when I overcame each challenge. Without any significant mentor when I first started, I mainly learned through Trial & Error, stumbled in the dark, made mistakes, and grew with each new understanding gained.

Like it or not, there is a LOT to be said from learning through Trial & Error, and since there effectively was no internet, no YouTube, and no email when I first got started, I really was stumbling in the dark quite a lot, trusting my instincts, and seeing how my girlfriends and sexual partners responded to my overtures regarding any sort of BDSM activity. It was a matter of getting an idea, discussing it with said girlfriend, seeing if she was into it, and then trying it and hopefully having a great outcome. More often than not things turned out well, and I was lucky enough to have reasonably good communication skills from a young age. The latter turned out to be very handy so my partners and I were easily able to discuss what we liked and what we wanted to do differently for our BDSM experiences thereafter.

Nonetheless, while I can fully appreciate all the Trial & Error learning that I experienced without any mentorship (until the 90’s), I can pretty easily look back and see how I would have loved to have been able to take advantage of today’s resources had they been around back then. Equally, I can see which BDSM Principles would have served me well had I known someone with whom I could discuss these matters as a young man and as a young, developing Dominant. I therefore decided to expand exponentially on the short piece I wrote for the other publisher, and create this much more detailed lesson to share What I Wish I Knew back when I was first getting started as a Dominant.

You could say this lesson will mostly benefit newcomers, but I am also hoping that experienced folk will get a few “Ah-ha!” moments from this as well. This retrospective look back on my early, limited resources compared to what is available nowadays, will make for solid guidance to help you get focused much more quickly on a Healthy, Positive, and Exciting path in your own BDSM development. Or to put it bluntly…I did the stumbling in the dark so you do not have to. 🙂

After I present my list of What i Wish I Knew when I was first starting as a Dominant, my wonderful slave Daphne will then share her own list of what she wished she knew as a blossoming Submissive back when she first began to embrace her beautiful Submissive nature.


Looking back at the critical stages of my development as a Kinky / Fetish Dominant, I can certainly discern several key points of knowledge that would have been enormously useful back then vis-a-vis my ignorance resulting from lack of either resources or experience. From there it’s pretty easy to figure out What I Wish I Knew Back Then if there had been someone to tell me the following….

From Master Arcane:
What did you wish you knew when you first got started as a Dominant?


Finding someone attractive is easy; Finding someone with a genuine Submissive-Soul to build a Healthy D/s Relationship is what the real search is all about. Nowadays we have all manner of BDSM dating and social websites, well organized community gatherings, and the ability to make BDSM connections 1000 times easier than when I first got started. Creating an attractive profile (Be Honest!) is easy, and striking up polite conversations also quite easy. For the record I was NEVER one of those guys who thought it was ok to send some submissive stranger an opening message like “down on your knees bitch!” That did not work then and it does not work now, so Just Don’t. Be polite and friendly when first contacting someone, and do not presume.

Nonetheless, even though I had plenty of good experiences dating within the BDSM world, like most young men in their 20’s and 30’s there was an enormous emphasis on physical appearance. There is nothing wrong with seeking physical attraction, but the problem starts when that is ALL the search is about. Having found epic bliss in my D/s Relationships as a more mature adult, I can say that I would have saved a lot of time if I knew about ways to qualify a Submissive and see if Submission was in fact sincere for her. Questions that explore into the Submissive’s honest desires about how deeply she wanted to explore, what Submission means to her, and especially what is her vision of how the D/s will evolve over time… these are all questions that would have been enormously useful to know. I would have been better able to tune-in on a more meaningful D/s level. I may have also avoided some disappointment

One key point stands out: Do not waste time looking for BDSM people in a Vanilla environment. It’s not that you cannot find them, but it is what psychobiologists call “The Wrong Watering Hole.” A watering hole is a place in the desert or savannah where various animals go to find water. Some watering holes are mostly birds, some are mostly gazelles, and some are mostly lions. Birds and gazelles heading to the lion’s watering hole is a bad match. Lions looking for a mate at the bird’s watering hole is a bad idea. Etc. When looking for BDSM partners, go to a BDSM Watering Hole. That means BDSM clubs and events, BDSM gatherings and munches, and BDSM websites (or BDSM groups on common social sites like Facebook). If you head to a Vanilla bar looking for BDSM folk, the odds of finding someone into what you are into goes waaaayyyyy down. Sure you might get lucky and find a kinkster in that Vanilla gathering, but why not dramatically raise the likelihood of successfully finding a compatible Kinkster by Going To The Correct Watering Hole where other Kinksters absolutely gather?

FYI, The Crow Academy runs two groups / pages on Facebook and anyone is welcome to join:
The Crow Academy Facebook Page
BDSM Answers by The Crow Academy – A Discussion Group


A red flag is a red flag. If you get a bad vibe from someone then trust your intuition. Do not be fooled by how physically attractive they are, nor all the pretty words they share with you. For young men who sometimes do their “thinking” with the “little brain” downstairs this can be a struggle. Dominants need to protect themselves too, from emotional abuse, from unstable personality types, from people yanking their chain, etc. When the “little brain” is saying “that submissive is HOT” and the big brain upstairs is saying, “yeah but something is not right”…. listen to the Upstairs Brain.

Keep in mind there IS such a thing as a Yellow Flag, which is a 50-50 mixed signal that is harder to decipher. For example, someone says “I never do ANY drugs or alcohol!” a bit too emphatically. So you question, “why is that?” They reply “oh its no big deal, its just not my thing.” That seems fine, a personal choice. But if they reply, “oh I have no self-control if I get drunk / high and I once got arrested, and if I am even around it I started getting tempted”… well then you need to decide if that is a personality you can accept AND if you feel you can trust someone who says they occasionally lose all self-control. Is that what you want in a Submissive partner? That 50-50 feeling of “well maybe it will be ok” vs “I guess I will never be able to go to a bar with this person” is why this becomes a Yellow Flag. It is something to keep in mind if you move forward together. Yellow Flags are not necessarily deal-breakers, but neither should they be ignored. At the very least a Yellow Flag should be noted in case it becomes a concern later, for example in conjunction with other Yellow Flags.

Remember that the BDSM traits of the other person that you accept in The Beginning of the Relationship will tend to remain a given thereafter. If there is a trait that you do not like that seems like it could be negotiated, then you MUST discuss it in the beginning, and make it part of the Initial Negotiation. If you are just getting to know the person, and something concerns you then Speak Up About It. If you bury your concerns and “let it slide” then the other person may feel you have fully accepted and granted permission for that trait. Try to be as clear as possible about what you are looking for in a Kinky, D/s partner. The more you know your own Kinks and Fetishes, the better you will be able to find someone who matches with you. Of course it is rare to find someone who matches you perfectly right from the start, and that is what the Initial Negotiation is all about, when two people have a lot in common but also some different desires. You discuss these and figure out a plan where both people can get what they want from their respective Dominant or Submissive position.


BDSM as portrayed in Fiction novels, TV shows, movies, and porn is rarely like the Real World of BDSM…. and in fact dramatically LESS dynamic, less complex, and less inspiring than the Real Thing. Most of what I initially knew of BDSM I learned about from truly awful portrayals on bad TV shows. My love of bondage in my childhood games started when I was 5 years old and was simply acting out the “Damsel In Distress” narrative popular in comic and cartoons at the time. BDSM however… or more specifically floggers, riding crops, paddles and more was not something I really learned about until I was living in Europe, and prior to that the media gave a very negative portrayal. Nowadays we are surrounded by further horrible portrayals of BDSM in new works of fiction, like “50 Shades.” The bottom line is that any Fictional Story about BDSM will never contain the profound depth, beauty, mutual respect, and connection that the Real World of BDSM holds for two people willing to approach it as a beautiful Art.

The biggest problem is when someone reads “50 Shades,” or the Gor novels, or “The Story of O,” or even the mildly humorous “Exit To Eden” and takes these Fictional Stories to be some kind of “Guidebook to BDSM.” Disaster awaits! Back when I was a young man there were very few intelligent, reliable non-fiction resources to consult (if any) regarding BDSM and D/s. Nowadays I am happy to say you can find an abundance of resources available. This is one reason The Crow Academy exists, to help provide solid, sensible BDSM education. BDSM Classes and D/s Workshops can be found in most major cities. Non-fiction How-To books can be easily purchased on Amazon, while Ebooks and Educational Videos are readily available…. there is honestly no excuse to not be getting Good, Solid, Reliable Non-Fiction information about BDSM. Take advantage of all the reputable resources where you find them. Take classes, attend Seminars and Webinars, and read several books on different Styles of BDSM and D/s to see what resonates with you personally. Learn from reliable, genuine Real Life sources, NOT from fictional sources!


Compatibility is far more important than is given credit. D/s Folk are not excused from having the same – or even more – compatibility requirements as our Vanilla counterparts. If you just want a Play Partner, then the compatibility between the two of you can be isolated to merely compatible Kinks, since a D/s Relationship is not the goal when your sole intention is to be Play Partners. But if you want a D/s Relationship with lasting power as a Dominant and a Submissive, then find someone with whom you are genuinely Compatible on a day-to-day basis in the world of normal, mundane activities, likes and desires.

Being able to enjoy normal, mundane, even Vanilla activities together is just as important as it is in ANY Romantic Relationship. Look for genuine day-to-day compatibility in a long term D/s partner. Whether you are strictly in the bedroom with your D/s and your BDSM, or you have a Collar-On immersion into the roles for several days at a time, and certainly if you live your D/s 24/7… you still want to be able to enjoy “normal” life with that person. Some good examples of compatibility includes being able to watch movies together, a similar sense of humor so you can laugh together, being supportive of each other through tough times, and having fun adventures together when you can.


A simple truth: “The way it is in the beginning is the way it will tend to be,” meaning the small, mundane habitual behaviors you observe in the other person, if left unchecked will become the behaviors you will have to endure. In many cases that is not a problem, but if there is a minor behavior that you can see is going to be a problem, then you need to address it right away or else (if ignored) that behavior will certainly be a part of the long-term relationship. This includes bad habits that perhaps can be addressed and changed, as well as seemingly innocuous habits that you ignore during the “honeymoon” phase of the relationship when in fact they should be taken into account and definitely NOT swept under the carpet. In some cases these habits (the latter seemingly innocuous habits) can be accommodated, while in other cases they can be deal-breakers. Example: You might be able to accommodate the other person biting their fingernails now and then, but if they “need” to get intoxicated every night (whereas you enjoyed a drink with them while dating but it is not part of your daily routine) then that is likely to be a problem later and you need to acknowledge and address it in the beginning…. at least in open discussion.

Let this be a side note that you do NOT want to take on the responsibility to “Fix” the other person. For example, it is one thing to discuss what you both feel is a reasonable amount of intoxication, but if the other person shows up with a serious drug or alcohol problem then it is NOT your job to get them into rehab. I have said it before and I will say it again: Dominants are NOT gods, and we do NOT have a magic wand that can makes someone else’s serious problems magically disappear, nor can we “command” away their major issues. If you see issues in the beginning that are highly toxic, that is a Red Flag. If the other person cannot or will not address their serious issues then you can be certain that they will expect you to put up with it long term. Is that what you want?


There IS such a thing as a Natural Dominant. We do exist. HOWEVER, that does not excuse anyone – especially Dominants – from being diligent in Studying The Art of BDSM and always seeking to improve themselves. Take as many classes as possible in all the BDSM subjects that interest you. Remember there is No Upper Limit to how much you can learn as a Dominant (or Submissive for that matter), and No End to How Much You Can Improve Yourself… even if just a tiny but every single day. Keep an open mind and attend events. No matter how long you have been at this, see what new things you can learn or what new spins can be put on old practices. The world of BDSM is VAST, and no one knows it all. Ultimately in doing so, you as a Dominant will eventually develop your own Style of D/s by way of picking and choosing from all the available techniques and building your own, eclectic D/s Style.


Domination and Compassion go hand in hand. “The Brutal Dominant” is a myth from fiction. This does not mean a Dominant cannot be incredibly intense within a BDSM scene as per the Limits agreed upon in the Initial Negotiation. Any given couple can Negotiate into whatever level of intensity they both find enjoyable, and in some cases that may or may not include extremely intense or extremely mild S&M practices, etc. In the long-term D/s Relationship however, a Fine Dominant acts from their Heart. Yes of course we can also act from our Sensuality and our Creative Mind… and we should! But the best Dominants come from a place of true Caring about the Well-Being of their Submissive. This does not necessarily mean we cater to the Submissive’s whims, but rather that we use our position of being “The Leader” with Compassion to design a healthy curriculum for the Submissive, and always seek to provide opportunities for the Submissive’s personal evolution and growth as a person. This does not mean that we compromise our own Dominant integrity in doing so, but rather that part of our own desire as a Dominant should be to see the Submissive blossom within the boundaries and parameters we set for them, and to which they have agreed in the Initial Negotiation.

CLICK HERE to read about Ten Excellent Qualities Found In The Best Dominants


Be Honest about your skill set… ALWAYS. Never represent that you have more skill than you do. MANY Submissives are happy to explore with a newer Dominant, PROVIDED the Dominant is honest about what they know and is willing to proceed slowly. When the Submissive is also new, the two of you can have a great time taking classes together and learning / growing with each other. A great deal of emphasis needs to be on developing great communication skills with each other. Always take the time to double check the safety of what you are doing, even if you as the Dominant are checking safety parameters so subtly that the Submissive remains undisturbed and floating in their bliss. Check in with each other mid-scene now and then, and always de-brief after every scene. Learn what the other person likes best, and be ready to modify any practice that is proving non-functional. Just because other people had success with some practice does not mean that it works for everyone. Learn what practices, toys, techniques, games, and scenes work the very best for the two of you. And always keep in mind that Trust is crucial. Protect the trust you share, build that trust, and act in a manner that maintains the trust between you.

In addition, as a Dominant you must Know Your Limits! Everyone always talks about the Submissive’s limits but it is a FACT that Dominants have Limits Too. Be honest about your own limits and be sure to state them up front. What do you like? What must you have in your D/s? What will you absolutely NOT tolerate in your D/s? Get to know yourself and what you are bringing to the table. Later on, knowing your limits will help you establish healthy boundaries for your Submissive. The better you know yourself and what you want as a Dominant, the better you will be able to establish a good curriculum for your Submissive.

CLICK HERE for more about The Hard Limits Of The Dominant


ABOVE ALL, remember that BDSM is an Art Form. Just like playing piano, painting with oil paints, sculpting alabaster, or perfecting a dance routine, you will ALWAYS be able to improve and advance your BDSM. Practice, Practice, Practice! As we say at The Crow Academy, “There is No Upper Limit, and there is always something new to learn, and some way to expand yourself.” The BDSM Arts, no matter how many decades you have been at this, will ALWAYS have some new avenues for you to explore. Especially as a Dominant, by being open to growing and evolving yourself – both as a person, as a Dominant, and within your BDSM practices – you will one day end up with your own personal, well-crafted Style as a Dominant.


THE BIG ONE (and effectively my tag-line)….

Fine Domination is the Essence of Responsibility.

You CANNOT be a decent Dominant if you reject the Responsibility for the well-being of your Submissive. The two go hand-in-hand. Being a Dominant is about looking after the Well-Being of the one you call your Submissive. If you only play on the weekends and the rest of the week you just lead your vanilla lives, then this applies to your weekends. But the more encompassing your D/s gets, especially if you intend to move towards a 24/7, the more you need to accept greater and greater Responsibility. If you do not want to be Responsible for the Submissive’s well-being, then choose a different hobby like stamp collecting.


It is very important to only immerse yourself as deeply as you want to go, and only as deeply as the two of you are capable of going. Some people only play on the weekends and that is FINE if that is all the time they can devote to their D/s. Other people make it more periodic during the week. But one of the BIGGEST MISCONCEPTIONS is that every D/s Relationship is meant to be 24/7. That is FALSE. A 24/7 D/s Relationship is meant for two people who have the time and mutual inclination to eventually WORK UP TO THAT POINT. No one new to BDSM should EVER start a D/s Relationship as 24/7.

The nonsense myth that “all D/s Relationships are 24/7” comes from those same awful, FICTIONAL descriptions found in misleading novels like “50 Shades.” What is true is that SOME D/s Relationships are 24/7, and it is very likely that the two people Took Their Time to get to that point. Start SLOW, keep it fun and healthy, check in often, communicate well, and if you both feel like 24/7 is right for you AFTER you both have significant experience together as Dom & Sub, then that would be the time to give 24/7 a try… but only if you both feel so inclined. 24/7 is a very deep commitment, so it only works if both people are fully devoted to the idea.

CLICK HERE to watch Our Short Video on “Whether Or Not 24/7 Is Right For You?” (Age Verification Required)


Next we move onto the same question submitted to slave Daphne, namely what does she wish she knew back when she first entered the world of Kinky, Fetish Submission?

From slave Daphne:
What did you wish you knew when you first got started as a Submissive?


For new submissives out there actively seeking a Dominant, be sure to look for them in BDSM and D/s events and circles. While it is possible to find a vanilla partner who will want to learn D/s with you, it is unfortunately less common than most realize. My personal experience was an absolute uphill battle. Either my partners were flat out not interested, or if they did say they were interested, they were not sincere. The website Fetlife is a great tool for finding local events and workshops which truly are the best and easiest way to find a good, sincere Dominant.


Informed consent. We’ve all heard of consent but informed consent is critical, especially for beginners. As a newbie submissive, one might give consent in the excitement of the moment (e.g. in “sub frenzy”) and not really realize what it is that they just agreed to do. This can be easily avoided by new Submissives when you – being brand new to Submission – refuse the idea that you should be “seen not heard” just because you want to explore Submission. Instead ask a LOT of questions, something crucial for a new submissive to do before and during the Initial Negotiation.

Later you can enjoy any vocal restrictions which you negotiated (i.e. mutually agreed upon, negotiated rules regarding when the Submissive can or cannot speak at different times and under various circumstances), but during the Initial Negotiation SPEAK UP! The Dominant is also partially responsible for this process during the Initial Negotiation so it becomes a good quality to look for in your prospective Dominant. In other words, is your potential Dominant taking the time to make sure that you understand to what behaviors and rules you are consenting? Do they double check to make certain you understand everything well? That is a good sign in a potential Dominant.


Find a Dominant who will be patient with you, especially if you are new to BDSM. I was very lucky to have met Master Arcane when I was starting out, as he was wonderful at curtailing my sub frenzy by taking things slow and explaining everything along the way, step by step. Not all Dominants know to do this, especially if they are new to D/s themselves. I believe it is important for a new submissive to look for a Dominant who will be patient and is happy to take things slow.


A new submissive should understand what “sub frenzy” is and learn to rein it in, and slow things down to a more careful and steady pace. Sub frenzy is incredibly common and can be potentially problematic for many reasons. When someone is discovering BDSM and D/s for the first time, the excitement and thrill of delving into this new world can make them act illogically. Often times a submissive experiencing a frenzy will forgo safe practices and make poor choices during play or even in selecting a suitable Dominant. They may try to dangerously push past their own boundaries and agree to things they later come to regret.

These types of mistakes can be avoided as long as the submissive understands that it’s crucial to take things slowly and not try everything all at once. While learning and experiencing new things is fun, it must be done with patience. Of course a good Dominant will also try their best to quell a “frenzy,” however a new Dominant is just as susceptible to a frenzy as any submissive. The solution for both the Dom or Sub in frenzy is the same: Slow Down, and approach each new practice with patience, attention to detail, and a conscientious frame of mind.


Knowing a trusted person who is experienced in BDSM who is outside of your D/s relationship is also incredibly helpful. A new submissive can go to this individual for advice and ask them if the choices they are making seem reasonable. Try to make friends with people in the BDSM community. Having an educated, outside opinion can be a great resource, especially if both the Dominant and the submissive are new.

These people outside of your D/s Relationship are not your Dom and they are not there to tell you what to do nor contradict a reasonable command from your Dominant just because they have a different D/s Style. What they can do however, is help you keep perspective on what you choose to do with your Dominant. It’s also really nice to have friends into BDSM with whom you can share ideas and talk about your experiences. Friends like these can also help you figure out your limits when you are just getting started.


CLICK HERE to watch Our Short Video on “Knowing Your Limits” (Age Verification Required)


Despite what some may think, a D/s Relationship is often a romantic one. It is perfectly normal to fall in love with the Dominant so never give into the misconception that a Dominant cannot love the submissive or vice versa. With that in mind, when a submissive is considering a Dominant it’s always good to find someone who shares a lot of the same interests outside of BDSM. Whether it’s philosophies, life goals, or hobbies, the more things in common a D/s couple has can be crucial for longevity.

Aside from the usual negotiation, it is also imperative that certain topics get brought up before things get too serious, for example if thus far you have only been superficial Play Partners with each other, but now it looks like you both intend to move into a romantic D/s Relationship together. The submissive will want to ask questions like:
• Is the Dominant looking for traditional marriage?
• Do they want to have children some day?
• Are they monogamous or polyamorous (especially important – see #7 below)?
• Are they planning on moving far away anytime soon for a new career or otherwise?

Of course the Dominant can and should ask these same questions of the Submissive as well. Getting these questions out of the way as soon as possible can save a D/s couple a ton of potential heartbreak later on down the road. Again, the more compatible a D/s couple is, the more successful their D/s life together will be. 


Polyamory is not the only way to have a D/s Relationship and it is just as common to be strictly monogamous in the BDSM scene. There are a few misconceptions surrounding this particular topic. A new submissive should know well before negotiation with a potential Dominant if they are looking for a monogamous relationship or a polyamorous one.

Misconceptions about this include:

  • that polyamory is the only way to have a “proper” D/s relationship, which is nonsense because it is just one way and certainly not the “only way.”
  • that a Dominant automatically has the right to sleep with whoever they like whether the submissive likes it or not (again nonsense… unless the Submissive agreed to this in the Initial Negotiation as a kind of CNC element)
  • that a Dominant automatically has the right to command their submissive to sleep with whomever they choose (also nonsense… unless the Submissive agreed to this in the Initial Negotiation as a kind of CNC element).

CLICK HERE to learn more about Ethical CNC

Certainly these polyamorous elements can be viable and and mutually satisfying practices that are possible within a D/s relationship but only if both the Dominant and the submissive fully agree and consent to these terms during the Initial Negotiation. These must be discussed in the beginning of the relationship, openly and honestly. If either partner decides to spring something like this on the other person later, then there had better be a new negotiation or else these kinds of things can – and probably will – become deal breakers. What matters most is that both people are HONEST in the beginning about things like their polyamorous desires or reservations, or if they need complete monogamy, etc.

CLICK HERE to learn The Differences Between The Varieties Of Polyamory Vs. Monogamy

Got a few pieces of Advice you would have given yourself when you first started?
Post them in the Comments below!


2 Comments Posted

  1. I think one of the biggest pieces of advice that I would give my baby Dom self is that you are going to make mistakes. It doesn’t make you a failure. It makes you human. What you do with that mistake is what matters. During a scene or just normal mundane life. You WILL make mistakes. Learn from them. Apologize to your submissive if you have messed up. I have had to on more than one occasion. It sucks. But it is AMAZING for your relationship to be able to admit fault, take responsibility, apologize, and if need be, rectify the situation. That builds trust. It earns respect and it also allows your submissive to understand that no one is perfect. Which honestly does help with the anxiety a submissive feels trying to do everything perfect.

    I think that gets lost a lot of times by media or memes, porn, and erotica… We’re people first. It’s why Meta talks are so vital.

    But yea. Mistakes only make you a bad Dominant if you keep doing them while not actively trying to get better.

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