This was my response to a thread on FetLife.Com.  This is a membership social media site aimed at the Kink and BDSM communities.  The original question was expressed by someone new to the lifestyle and wishing to find a relationship with a Dominant personality but was having trouble.

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We are here, on FetLife to meet other people with whom to create, hopefully, some level of long term relationship with another compatible human being. That relationship may involve extreme levels of sadomasochistic behavior, humiliation, objectification, slavery or total unquestioning service, ultimately. Fine, wonderful, absolutely OK with that, if it is a dynamic chosen by those involved out of mutual respect and equivalent value within the relationship.

Presuming it is so, then I have a great deal of difficulty seeing how it could not begin as two (or more) people seeing a relationship of mutual respect and equivalent value between the participants. That means a modicum of manors, respect for the others desires, limits and opinions, and an effort at deep, clear and honest communication so that the other, more socially unacceptable behaviors can be discussed and mutually agreed upon.  To me, this sounds good within any relational context.

So, red flags: If a Dominant seeks to enter into that Domination in any way before it is negotiated with you, why would you expect them to care about your feelings later? If they can not manage a certain level of manors when they do not know you, why do you expect them to ever give you respect when they do? If they are not honest and open in their communication with you at the beginning, why do you expect them to be honest with you and give you openings to communicate your concerns later in the relationship?

Domination: At the beginning, hopefully they would say, “If I was your Dominant I might tell you to… But we have not negotiated that as of yet. How would you feel about that?”

Honesty: I would expect him or her to answer any and all questions you may have, even recommending private conversations with people on their friends list for recommendations or offering to get you in touch with people with whom they have had relationships in the past, sending a copy of their ID if you request it. After all, they are expecting you to eventually put your life in their hands.

Respect: They should expect you to have a good understanding of your needs and limits and respect them, even if that means their politely saying, “Good, I understand. Thank you.  I am not sure that our needs are compatible, as I really want [such and such] but I wish you the best in your hunt.”

A deeply bonded long term D/s relationship is a journey of discovery. It can not be done quickly. Each step is done, experienced, discussed, acknowledged and accepted before the next one can be undertaken. The beginning steps have little difference from those of a beginning friendship or romantic partnership, except I would expect the partners to have a far better understanding of the goals they both wish to reach, than I have observed in the usual vanilla friendships and romances.

I wish you, and all who wish to enter into this delightful path, the very best of respect, care, and luck.

The Eroticist