Kink in exile

Notes from a kinky nomad

What do dominant women want?

I’ve heard this question a lot, on blogs, in email, and even over drinks. I’ve tried to answer it, and time and time again felt that my answers were too vague or too personal, so I’m trying something new. I recently started playing with someone new, and noticed that he did some things very right from the start. Thinking back, a number of my partners have hit these points right on. So what do dominant women want? Well in the interest of not being too vague, I’m going to go through those points one by one with specific examples. In the interest of not being too personal, I’ve invited my friend Ironrose to collaborate on this post, and I invite my readers to comment.

As a disclaimer, this is not a comprehensive list of what all dominant women want.  It is impossible to make a comprehensive list of what all women want, or what any other statistically significant portion of the human race wants.  However, this is a starting point that illustrates some themes that might apply to a few dominant women.  We’re also using male pronouns because most questions I get on this topic are from men, and because I am using a man as my primary data point The list probably applies mostly in America, and possibly only on the coasts, and maybe even only to educated, geeky, 20-something, queer-identified dominant women.  This is why we welcome reader feedback and peer review!

  1. The small stuff does matter.  
    It tells me that he is attracted to me because I’m me, not just any dominant woman.  It adds a personal touch to our interactions.  I like how he pays attention to my personal foibles, such as demanding to be called Doctor or Ma’am instead of Mistress, or that I really like my boots licked.  Or the fact that I like tea, and how I like it served.
  2. He makes it clear how important I am to him.  
    He makes room in his schedule for me.  He does little things to show me that he’s been thinking about me when we aren’t together, like writing me letters or buying me little gifts.  He makes me feel like he wants me by what he says, and how he acts.  At the same time, he doesn’t assume that this somehow gives him a right to my time, energy, desire, or body.
  3. I don’t have to wonder if he wants to be here.  
    He says please, and thank you.  He is clear and honest on his boundaries.  He says no, or otherwise expresses his limits.  “Well, I’m happy to go shopping with you but I need to leave at 4pm,” or “I am happy to be beaten but I don’t want to do CBT play right now.”  He does not pretend he does not have limits.
  4. He does not confuse the fantasy of submission with the reality of submission.  
    He has a life, a career, friends, and hobbies.  He is a person, with a personality outside of being a submissive.  Kink is not the only thing we bond over.  We can relate as equals and friends when we are not in a scene.  (24/7 is a possibility, but it should not be the norm when I first start playing with someone.)  We have things in common outside the dungeon.  We can have a conversation, we can go to a concert, and we have friends in common.
  5. When he serves me he actually serves me rather than his own fantasies.  
    If he runs errands for me, he does it right, and to the best of his abilities.  He doesn’t offer to run errands for me just to get my attention, and he doesn’t mess up on purpose to make me “punish” him.  He’s good at what he does, especially when what he’s doing is meant to please me.  He also doesn’t use this as a bargaining chip, or as an opportunity to barter for sex.  
  6. I am not his dirty little secret.  
    Kink is not his dirty little secret.  He should not be ashamed of his submission.  I can respect the fact that he may not want to acknowledge his kink or submission in every situation, but I cannot play with someone who thinks our relationship is something wrong, shameful, or terrible.  If he treats his desires for kink as wrong or shameful, what does he think of my desires for the same thing?
  7. He understands that I have many facets.  
    He does not suddenly lose the ability to bottom to me because I bottomed to someone else.  He doesn’t assume that because I did something with someone else I will do it with him.  He understands that I have many hobbies, academic interests, and kinks, and he respects that he is part of my life, but not the sum total of my life.  It helps if we met at a vanilla social function, and not at a munch, or on, or in a dungeon.  Meeting through mutual friends suggests that we have common interests outside of kink and submission.  
  8. His submission is personally meaningful.  
    He does not think that being a submissive means being someone other than who he is.  Just as I want to be seen as a person and not as a generic Dominant Woman, I want his submission to reflect how he is a person, and not some generic Submissive Man.  I want him to submit, not some cardboard cutout of a person.  I want the submission to be personally meaningful, not just a rote framework copied from porn.

Written by kinkinexile

February 21, 2009 at 12:36 am

36 Responses

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  1. Number 8! Number 8! And number 4, and 3, and 7.


    February 21, 2009 at 8:27 am

  2. THIS!

    Wendy Blackheart

    February 21, 2009 at 10:16 pm

  3. excellent
    and so refreshing to find someone in the scene who actually addresses the whole person rather than just the kink — I shall not only be following this site from now on but recommending it to others

    k paul blume

    February 22, 2009 at 2:20 pm

  4. Very accurate.

    Mistress Be

    February 22, 2009 at 11:12 pm

  5. I posted a discussion thread on praising this post because I really, really like it. For those interested, you can follow the FetLife reactions as well.


    February 22, 2009 at 11:32 pm

  6. Maymay, thank you for the cross posting. K Paul, and Be thank you and welcome to my blog. Feel free to add any points or comments of your own.


    February 23, 2009 at 12:00 am

  7. Maymay cross posted this to fetlife where there seems to be quite the conversation brewing…one comment by TeachMeTonight was interesting and I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing here. You can see Maymay’s link to the thread above and if you’re visiting from fetlife please feel free to comment here.

    “9) He lets me be human. He sees the human being inside of me and respects who I am. There is no agenda that I have to meet. He sees me as the same person in sweats as in fetish wear. He respects my limits and accepts that I am not perfect.” — TeachMeTonight on fetlife


    February 23, 2009 at 12:06 am

  8. […] friend over at Kink In Exile, has recently posted a fantastic list of 8 things dominant women want. The list is so spot-on that I think it is a must-read regardless of whether you are in or are […]

  9. Alisa,
    This is a such a fantastic post, you have crystalised the essence of Female Authority and why it is so much more than a kink interest.

    It impressed me so much i posted these points (with attribution) to the ‘She makes the Rules’ forum and the response has been similarly positive.
    You can see these at at:

    After this post i’ll be checking this blog regularly now!




    March 7, 2009 at 5:59 am

  10. Ouimistress, thank you for your comment. I will say, however, that I do not use the title Domina. (Also, I am not mistress, goddess, princes, or lady, and just yesterday I threatened to wash a young man’s mouth out with soap for calling me ma’am out of headspace.) Just a minor pet peeve :-p


    March 7, 2009 at 11:52 am

  11. Ooops, i made an assumption when i should have read your blog more closely, my apologies.


    March 7, 2009 at 8:13 pm

  12. No worries 🙂


    March 7, 2009 at 8:46 pm

  13. Can you elaborate on #6? I have kinks that i would like to keep private from others, does it devalue your partner to have private things that you keep exclusively with them?


    March 9, 2009 at 8:25 pm

  14. Hi there! That’s a good question about #6. I can’t speak for anyone other than myself here because it is a volatile issue. Personally, I’m unwilling to deal with secrecy. This doesn’t mean I automatically broadcast any and all kinks to the world with names and addresses attached, but it does mean that I don’t play with people who aren’t open about their kinks with friends and lovers, and what’s more don’t want me to be.

    Feel free to email me if you’d care to speak about this further —


    March 9, 2009 at 9:54 pm

  15. hi – i couldn’t tell you all of the surfing that brought me over to here, but the place *specifically* that linked here was

    and i wanted to say, in case no one else mentioned this in the 6 months since you posted – if you take out the “kink-specific” references, this list? looks a lot like a list of how i want *any* romantic partner to act, how i want *any* romantic partner to treat me, us, our relationship. hell, even *with* the “kink specific” references, it’s an awesome set of guidelines for any relationship that is trying to avoid the shoals of June-Cleaver-dom.

    it’s a wonderful list – i am no longer really in the scene, but i like to visit 🙂 i hope it’s ok if i visit here?


    August 23, 2009 at 10:29 pm

  16. This is absolutely fantastic, and as the reader who linked me to it said “Spot on”. I think these things get lost along the way and they are so important to remember.

    Be well,


    November 1, 2009 at 12:41 pm

  17. Well expressed from a female standpoint. Please provide collateral responsibilities of the dom that the sub should expect (get out of the deal) with the assumption that no one is in this type of relationship without expectations.

    wondering sub

    March 5, 2010 at 11:39 am

  18. […] 8 Things Submissive Men Want from a Dominant Partner (by maymay), and the post which inspired it, What do Dominant Women Want? (at Kink in Exile) Both are worth a serious read, as hype-free, reasonable and realistic views on […]

  19. Just found your blog and I’m loving it. I have to say, as a female sub, I want most of these things as well. #5 and #8 would obviously be shifted a bit, but otherwise – yep, those all sound like things I would want in a partner!

    Do you mind if I add you to my blogroll?


    March 30, 2011 at 8:00 pm

  20. perfectly said…. thank you for putting into words what i had trouble explaining to friends… or was just to lazy to explain to them. 🙂

    anon Lady

    March 30, 2011 at 9:14 pm

  21. […] one today that was “where do dominant women go.”  I did the search myself and found my What Dominant Women Want post on page 3 of the search […]

  22. […] En mis búsquedas por internet,  encontré un post bastante interesante, que  solo por mínimos detalles, corresponde a lo que yo quiero y lo que muchas mujeres dominantes  queremos. La página se encuentra en inglés,  yo lo he traducido y agregado algunos ideas mías.  el original por sí tienen dudas lo pueden encontrar what-do-dominant-women-want. […]

  23. Thank you for this article. You are quite spot on concerning what Dominant Women want and need. It really is common sense: Dominant Women want to be appreciated as a whole person, the same as a submissive man. This should be required ready for Dominant Women/submissive men 101.

    Vilma Valentin

    April 24, 2012 at 7:49 am

  24. Very informative article. My wife is a dominant personality and we have tried the “kink” in the past both ways, but just as a sexual venue. I realize now that I am a submissive at heart and need to realize that so I can be a better husband. I am so glad that I found an article that explains how I feel and want to treat my wife. I don’t think she is ready for the D/s lifestyle, but I want to prove to her that I am ready to submit and give myself to her. Please let me know how to discuss this and some other useful websites and articles. thanks.


    July 3, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    • i know you posted this comment / request a year ago, but in case it’s still useful: there’s excellent information on expressing your submissive desires to your wife to be found on the “For Men” page at . best of luck!


      July 8, 2013 at 4:26 pm

  25. I spent six years telling someone these things and he still doesn’t get it. Though it is nice to know he will at least read it when someone else says it.


    July 24, 2012 at 2:32 am

  26. As a submissive man the only one I might have trouble with is #6. I know that it isn’t wrong or shameful to be submissive or be in a F/m relationship, I feel that it might damage my relationship with my family and friends as well as the fact that I’m not usually the best at saying what i’m thinking or feeling(many of the things I say come out quite wrong)


    October 21, 2012 at 7:10 pm

  27. being new to all this and being in love with a submissive man thank you for the great info


    December 18, 2012 at 12:56 pm

  28. “What do dominant women want? Kink in exile” was indeed a beneficial article.
    If solely there was a whole lot more personal blogs
    just like this one in the cyberspace. At any rate,
    thanks for your personal precious time, Doyle

  29. “What do dominant women want? Kink in exile” ended
    up being a fantastic article. If merely there were way
    more personal blogs just like this particular one in the world wide web.
    At any rate, thanks a lot for your personal precious time, Valentina

  30. This list was spot on. I was posting a note
    to someone on Fetlife and found the link to
    this blog.
    I am extremely fortunate to have found my
    primary submissive 17 years ago on April 27,
    2013. We married 4 years later. He could have
    written the list.
    We have been only for each other in the early
    days, then sharing with only my close friends
    and then polyamorous. Throughout the fluctuations, he has been true to this list.
    Thanks for it putting it to words!
    Lady Velvet

    Velvet Eagle Aerie

    April 20, 2013 at 12:41 am

  31. To be treated with respect & dignity!

    Velvet Eagle Aerie

    April 22, 2013 at 7:54 am

  32. […] written by * and not by […]

  33. And Numbers 9 and 10: “Ask” and “Listen” 🙂

    Aphrodite Priestess

    May 20, 2014 at 2:12 am

  34. Thank you for this! BDSM is a fantasy for me.


    June 16, 2014 at 3:21 pm

  35. most of this could just as easily appear under the title, “What Do Women Want”, could it not?


    November 15, 2014 at 5:46 am

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