DON’T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY. I know it is always tempting to model our behavior on the action hero of our choice, but do not do it. You do not need to be calm, dark, broody, or to communicate in grunts. Be yourself. Laugh, smile, have fun, say stupid things sometimes. Be human and authentic.

DO HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR. Crack jokes, be witty or funny, defuse tension with a laugh; there is no arena I know of where these are not good things.

DON’T BE A GOOF. HUMOR IS GREAT, silliness less so. Remember that you are building space, and if a submissive cannot take you seriously, that place falls apart. Worse, this carried too far can become a form of hardwired submissive behavior and will rock most subs out of their comfortable space faster than you can say ‘unbecoming.’ Know when to reel it in a bit.

DO BE WELL MANNERED AND POLITE. I am not saying you must read books on etiquette, though in the truth that would not be as silly an idea as it might seem. The problem here is that this is one of those areas that genders tend to see differently. Males tend to see ‘good behavior’ as a kind of conformity or surrender if you will. Women tend to see it as a form of self-discipline and maturity and often associate it with authority. These are generalized tendencies, of course, but they are strong ones. For people working with female subs, especially, but any submissive in general, proper demeanor tends to be a potent tool, and sloppy, undisciplined behavior tends to be counterproductive. Also, there is an old saying: you can only demand as much discipline as you can display.

DON’T BE CUTE. Many Dominates, in the pattern of the bully, default to acting cute when their bluster or tries at authority fail, and others even see it as a tool to elicit the desired behavior. As I saw under being a goof, this is a submissive behavior as far as our hard biological wiring goes. It is also one sure way to torpedo any security structure you have built. On top of that, it tends not to match any behavior that it compels with corresponding accountability. So, cut out the cute puppy-dog eyes. You can be lovable, or you can be a Dominate, not both.

DO BE COMMUNICATIVE. Many dominants feel it is somehow cheating or wrong to ask a submissive how she feels or what she might like to do. I once did a play session at a party, and when I asked the girl what she wanted to do, everyone laughed and assumed I was joking. It is perfectly fine to ask your submissive questions as you play, like what she feels like or prefers, even for advice or about how she would like to proceed. Now, there is a line here.

DON’T LET THE SUBMISSIVE MAKE THE DECISIONS. A submissive can make a request, and you can grant it, or you can ask what she would like to do. But, except for exclusively S&M sensation play, you cannot let that go too far. It is crucial to always prove that you are making these decisions. My own recommendation is to always try to deliver what she wants but never quite as she would have requested it. If she asks for something, make her wait for it, or mix it with some other surprising factor. Making sure when you grant her request that you put your own spin on it, so it is clearly on your terms and not hers. If she asks for the cane, build up to it with different toys and let her wonder, or use a form of bondage that she finds daunting.

DO KEEP YOUR COOL. Not to be confused with trying to look cool. This can be tricky. A submissive does need to know that you are controlled and that, in effect, she is safer in your hands than on her own. Often times she’ll have an inclination to ‘kick up’ or rebel, to provoke to see how secure and controlled you are before she moves that next step into giving over to you. This is natural, and if you become outraged or she can get a rise out of you, then you will not get her over that next hurdle. An emergency stop is thrown on the power exchange. So, it is essential to be measured, secure, steady, and confident. I hate to say it, but the dog-whisperer stuff about calm, assertive energy does works on humans, too.

DON’T BE A JERK. Now, guys can be forgiven for being confused about this, as we are most often the ones that get this wrong. This is another example of cognition tending to operate slightly differently along gender lines. Women tend to be socially inclusive and to very case and instance-specific regarding behaviors. This is where they often get the reputation with men for nagging and nitpicking ‘every little thing.’ Their brain is wired, you might say, to keep all the members of the tribe harmonious by including everyone but also making sure a status quo is observed. Men, on the other hand, are hierarchical. We arrange ourselves in order of value and worth. So, where a female mind will tend to see behavior and react positively or negatively to it, we men tend to judge the person and be less responsive to specifics. So, where a woman tends to see ‘a guy who does certain specific things that turn me on,’ a guy tends to see ‘a jerk.’ 

When we try to model his behavior, we tend to lump in all the behavior associated with ‘jerk’ because of our minds, that is what the girl seems to like. Obviously, this is unhelpful. It is essential to be extremely specific on what behavior you are experimenting with at a given time. For example, if you are engaging in humiliation or objectification, play, experiment with a specific type of feel, and observe the reaction before moving onto another, at least until you’re somewhat experienced with how that sub will react. Another example: just because a girl might be aroused by being called ‘slut’ does not mean that any offensive word you produce will have an equal effect. Do not try to see how much obnoxious behavior you can get a sub to let you get away with. Keep it simple and specific. Be precise.

DO KEEP THINGS IN BOUNDARIES. People tend to talk a lot about a submissive’s boundaries, but do not forget that you, the dominant, can have them too. It is instrumental in confining this play to set sessions, especially within an existing relationship. Trust me, doing this all the time can get exhausting when you are not used to it. Also, do not feel pressured to experiment or play with things that you do not feel comfortable with or up to at a given time. A lot of people scoff at anything less than ’24/7′ (basically permanent Master/slave protocol) or TPE (Total Power Exchange, or no defined limits). But it is far better to have a mutually recognized limit than an unspoken one that you both pretend is not there to feel kinkier.