If you are new to the lifestyle or searching for a partner, it's good to keep this in mind.
I have had a lot of Lesbian friends over the years. I'm not really sure how it happened but the majority of my closest friends over the years have usually been women and I was usually someone they felt comfortable talking with, so even those that weren't publicly gay would still share that fact with me. I have had a few homosexual male friends as well. What's relevant about this is that I have seen a lot of similarities between homosexuality and those that engage in the D/s lifestyle.
We could debate nature vs. nurture into the ground but I have learned to accept a few things as being common across the two:
-No one really chooses to be this way. It is just part of who we are.
-We can't make it "go away."
-There are those that know what they are naturally and those that "discover this" about themselves later on.
It is the last statement that is at the heart of this post. Based upon my experiences with many people in the BDSM community as well as homosexuals of both gender, I have come to believe that there's two types of people in both lifestyles:
-People who were that way from day one (or as early as they can remember). aka Nature.
-People who became that way over time in response to the experiences they had during their developmental years. aka Nurture.
This means you will find Dominants and submissives both of a natural demeanor and those that have become this way as a result of external factors. If you are lucky enough to find someone of a natural demeanor they will usually (but not always) carry less emotional baggage.
Something interesting I have found is that there are a lot of differences across genders in societal expectations and how those affect kink-role development.
-Women tend to be more in tune with themselves sexually at an earlier age. They tend to accept themselves more easily. It is easier for them to talk with close friends about their sexuality and kinky things without fear or being rejected or ostracized. This puts them in a position to experiment and learn what they like and don't like through real world experience. They are also more likely to accept any kink they might embrace and be secure with their sexuality.
-Social norms and mores developed over the past two-thousand years in western society have only recently been challenged and are still in the process of changing. The traditional women's role is one of holding a lesser station in life while being physically and intellectually inferior. While this is becoming less common, it's still a frequent occurrence to find women that have been raised in this type of environment with feedback given by female authority figures echoing these sentiments.
-While society has done its best to give women equal opportunities and eliminate the "glass ceiling" it is far too profitable to keep women feeling insecure about their worth and appearance. There is a constant pressure to be thin, wear expensive clothes and make-up, and impress with what you look like rather than who you are. Basically, every attempt is made by commercialism to keep women's self-esteem low.
-Men are taught to be sexually insecure. Religion teaches men to be ashamed when they masturbate. Men have no one to talk with about their inner desires and kink. They face sexuality alone and with constant fear of shame. Men are more likely to spend much of their life feeling fucked up about being kinky. He may fantasize about it for years before ever approaching it in reality.
-"Successful" men are attractive to the opposite sex. Men are supposed to have sex with as many beautiful women as possible and try to be successful enough to bag a trophy wife. The men that do this are looked upon with respect and envy. Sex is supposed to feel good and they are taught nothing of emotional connection or intimacy. Men are supposed to value quantity of conquests over the quality of the experience.
-The appearance of a man's relationship is valued more highly than the actual substance of the relationship. Men are taught that the fulfillment from sex should be from having sex itself.
How these contribute to being dominant or submissive:
-The external factors faced by a confident women can cause a reaction that pushes her to reject the expectations of society. She basically tells them to eat shit and now burns with an even greater fire to be in control. This can serve as a "scale tipper" tilting her towards dominance (e.g. a man is no longer equal, but inferior).
-If a woman has her self-esteem broken down over time by external factors, she may look outward to determine her self-worth. This can take two paths: 1. She accepts her inferiority and develops a submissive personality. 2. She fights against her insecurity and wants to be dominant (even if she is not).
-A man may wish to be dominant to be in control and to be free to interact with multiple partners.
-A man may flat out reject the societal expectations and focus on his sensitivity. For some reason this usually tilts him towards submission.
-An insecure man may battle self-loathing for who he is vs. who he wants to be. He may react in a couple of ways: 1. He will take out his anger and insecurity through dominance. 2. He gives in to the insecurity and becomes submissive.
Overall, while society has the ability to make a dominant woman more dominant, it also has the ability to rob her of that dominance. It also does very little to build her up unless it's by her reaction and desire to be confident/dominant.
While men are taught by society that it's good to be dominant, there is something to remember. In a pack of wolves there is the alpha, the beta (the alpha's right hand man), the omega (the butt of every joke), and the rest of the pack (the majority), and there can only be one true alpha. While they should all want to be dominant, very few are naturally dominant. Everyone else is stuck in some no-man's-land limbo where there's expectations for who we should want to be and who we really are.
Societal expectations (and their effects on family) are something we experience pretty much every day of our lives. It takes a long time to change us but that change is very real. In most cases it isn't enough to steer someone to kink and their kink role but it almost always makes us predisposed to a particular kink role if the situation presents itself.
Trauma has the most immediate, significant, and long-lasting effects on a person. It is the effects of trauma that I refer to as emotional damage. Once it's there it's almost impossible to eliminate it and even if you can overcome it, you can never change the fact that it happened. Emotional damage is often a large contributor to who we are and who we become in the future.
How emotional damage may affect a submissive:
-It is how a sub relates to love. They crave abuse or to be controlled but want it to be done safely and in a loving relationship. This is often the result of extended physical, sexual, or emotional abuse from parents or other close parties that "loved" them.
-It is what a sub has come to know and expect. This is often rooted in a sub's self-worth and appeal to the opposite sex. They have accepted their view of themselves and feel it is natural to be treated this way. This is often the result of extensive discipline by a parent, humiliation in early sexual encounters, and emotional abuse.
-The sub feels like a weak person. They feel they aren't strong enough to get by on their own and aren't smart enough to make wise decisions. A dominant provides that direction for them. This is often the result of extensive emotional abuse from parental figures.
-The sub feels sexually inadequate. They believe this is the only way to please a person of the opposite sex and in turn the only way they will be loved. This is often the result of repeated failures in dating and significant sexual humiliation during early experiences.
-Fear of abandonment. The sub believes that any lover will leave them unless they succumb to their every desire. This is often the result of being abandoned by loved ones and feeling at least partly responsible for it.
How emotional damage may affect a dominant:
-They must be in control. A dominant may refuse to ever be in a situation where someone else holds control over them. This is often the result of being the victim of a violent or violent sexual attack.
-They refuse to be weak. A dominant never wants to feel weak or helpless. This is often the result of being the victim of a violent or violent sexual attack. In other cases the parent they were closest to may have been the victim of extensive spousal abuse and just "put up with it."
-It is how a dominant relates to love. They are "looking out for what is best for the sub." If they view love as stern discipline that contributes to a person's overall well-being, development, and decision-making, this may be how they show love to someone else.
-I hate all
This is only a small sample of the possible situations where emotional damage has contributed towards someone's submission or dominance. Not all individuals engaged in the D/s lifestyle will carry these kinds of wounds but they are very common. Knowing how to deal with emotional damage can also serve as a balancing point for the other party in a yin/yang relationship and bring you closer together. It may lead to some ups and downs along the way but these issues surface in vanilla dating as well. I guess I just feel that D/s can be very cathartic for both parties if the right kind of complimentary relationship can be found.