I've tried writing this like 15 times but keep getting interrupted or distracted from finishing it. This was written across several sessions which usually disrupts any kind of continuity, but we'll see how things turn out. I also know this is sort of a BS exercise, but it gets my brain working and helps me try to look at things from the outside and it might help someone out even if my statistics and estimations aren't wholly accurate.
Successful courting is probably the most difficult thing about the BDSM lifestyle. This applies to both subs and Dommes. Sadly, when all is said and done, pure luck and random chance play as much of a part as effort and hard work, but without the effort and hard work, you are not in the best possible position to succeed (which is why those are worthwhile).
From the perspective of the submissive male seeking a Dominant life-partner, courting can often seem like an impossible mountain and it's your job to climb it. For a Domme, it's like standing on the beach and trying to spot the perfect grain of sand.
So why do people tend to fail? Usually for the same reason that vanilla relationships and courting also fail. People have a tendency to look for the wrong things, have mixed up priorities, and are unwilling to make the necessary sacrifices for a relationship to work.
To give yourself the best possible chance to succeed, it is important to go into the search process with a clear head and a good idea of what it is that you are actually seeking.
Males are very prone to falling into the myth of the idealized fantasy. How much experience you have within the lifestyle can often dictate the realism of what it is you are seeking. Lambs (newbies) are often the most off-base, especially those that have spent many years fantasizing before acting upon their instincts. The problem with chasing fantasies is that they usually appeal to your sex drive more than your actual emotional needs and can skew priorities into a bad direction.
Women are less likely to over-fantasize about their men, but they do have a tendency to prioritize poorly until repeated failures teach them to look for the right characteristics. When the the right characteristics don't get prioritized correctly relationships can burn out rather quickly.
Getting Down to Needs
So what is it that we need? I've always believed that what people seek out over the course of their lives is they want to feel loved, useful, and appreciated. This is taking life as a whole and piecing together a composite of these needs from their relationships, friendships, career, and hobbies/recreation.
The BDSM-lifestyle adds another aspect that might seem shallow when viewed from a vanilla perspective, but when it comes to the D/s lifestyle, sexual needs get elevated to a higher level than they would be otherwise. In this case I'm not referring to the act of sex or a specific act, but more-so simply the inclusion of things that turn us on.
Basically, our needs then boil down to this:
-To feel loved/cared for and appreciated.
-To have our sexual cravings met.
Prioritizing What We are Seeking
This can be trickier than you might think but in its simplest form it boils down to a few factors:
-Cohesive Personalities - do they have common life goals, similar sense of humor, interests, etc.?
-Physical Attraction - is there a sexual response when you look at them or think about them in a sexual way?
-Emotional Attraction - do they make you feel like you're on top of the world? Do you idealize them when you think about them?
-Common Sexual Desires - does your kink and their kink overlap?
All of these are important to some extent, the problem is how heavily should each be weighted?
Before tackling that question, I think it's important to at least acknowledge that each one affects the others. A shared fetish can make someone appear much more attractive than they would otherwise. A cold fish personality and emotional response can kill the sex drive no matter how attractive they may be. A strong emotional connection can overcome many obstacles and raise the status of all of the others.
Of course this differs on a case by case scenario, but let's just assume that if several of these factors match up fairly well, it will increase the person's "stock" in the lacking factors.
The submissive man and dominant woman will probably have a slightly different order of priorities. For our intents and purposes we'll say the individuals are seeking a long-term life partner and not just someone to play with.
For submissive men, common sexual desires should occupy roughly 40% of the pie. While this might seem shallow, if you keep man's tendencies for fetish development in mind, he will continue to fantasize about his sexual needs that aren't met. If he needs to look outside of the relationship for fantasy, he will never be fully committed to the relationship and that violates ones of the basic premises of the D/s relationship.
Emotional attraction and cohesive personalities should be pretty evenly weighted, occupying approximately 25% each. This will ensure that you are both on the same page to build a life together and ensure that your emotional needs are met. If you want to feel loved or if you want a cold-hearted bitch, if she makes you feel the way that you need/want to feel, etc.
Physical attraction comes in last, making up the final 10%. This might seem low to some, but you have to remember that physical attraction is probably the easiest of all of these categories to boost by other means. If she is into the same kind of sexual play that you are, that is a huge turn on. If she makes you feel the way you need to feel, that is a huge turn on. Basically, if the other factors are working well, she will be more attractive to you.
For Dommes, the structure is a bit different and will vary based upon what she is looking for: Dommes that want a loving, caring D/s relationship (Domme A) vs. Dommes that want a boy toy to use and abuse without strong emotional attachment (Domme B).
Domme A should value emotional attraction and cohesive personalities as the most important factors. If he makes you happy and you want similar things in life, there's a good chance things will work out regardless of your differences. I would estimate these at roughly 35% each.
Since she is the sought after and he is the seeker, common sexual desires pull up the bottom run at roughly 10% of the overall importance. Basically, she can expect her sexual needs to be met and he can hope that things overlap. Like physical attraction, her willingness to cater to his desires or ignore them completely will depend heavily upon emotional attraction. The more she loves him the more she will care about his needs.
Physical attraction fills the remaining 20%. From my experiences, this often has a great boost when women have a great emotional attraction to a man. It shouldn't be ignored, but in my opinion, it shouldn't dominate other factors when you are seeking someone to share your life and love with.
Domme B can basically ignore most of these factors but when looking at what drives her most heavily and the ability to maintain a long term D/s relationship with very little emotional connection, it might look something like this:
Physical Attraction: 30%. It is important that she is drawn to him since she can pretty much choose who she wants.
Common Sexual Desires: 30%. While she doesn't need to value this highly, if she wants him to stick around even through emotional neglect and physical abuse it better do something for him sexually.
Cohesive Personalities: 30%. This doesn't mean she values him as a person, but it does cover that their expectations for the relationship are similar. She commands, he obeys, and he should have no other expectations of her.
Emotional Attraction: 10%. This is not her concern but this may build over time if he serves her well.
In a perfect world there would be no need for sacrifice. Everyone would meet the person that they are most compatible with and we'd all be happy. Alas the harsh realities show this isn't even close to being true and only a lucky few meet that perfect mate.
The bigger reality is that the man will have to sacrifice more than the woman. Due to the nature of supply and demand he can't afford to be super picky unless he's obviously an incredibly marvelous individual. Working under the assumption that those words don't describe you (as most of us are a bit more ordinary) it's an unfair truth.
On the bright side it is inevitable that both Domme and sub will have to make a sacrifice of imperfection entering into the relationship. The key to ending up happy is making the right sacrifices. Since certain factors are pretty easy to boost as long as the other factors are firmly in place, those are the ones that can be "bent" when courting. He shouldn't expect every Domme to be a super model, and she shouldn't only consider chiseled adonises. The right person will end up being just as attractive if not more attractive in the long run.
Keeping an open mind about what you like and what you'd be willing to try sexually is also very important. Love has a funny way of making you more willing to do things simply because they enjoy it, and you will often develop your own reason for liking it when you share those activities with your partner.
It's much more difficult to boost emotional attraction but caring about their needs will always strengthen their emotional attraction for you and vice versa. Cohesive personalities seem to be the one that can't really be helped as people will enter the relationship with that already in mind. If that isn't there, the relationship doesn't really stand much of a chance, vanilla or D/s.