You can be the most conscientious learner, the most attentive, and best negotiator, but you will eventually come to a bridge where you’ve made a mistake and have to cope with everything that comes with that. Let’s prepare for that bridge a little before you get to it.
Emotional Response to Mistakes
When a Dominant makes a mistake with a submissive, it can have far reaching effects. An example will show this point more clearly. Calling a submissive a whore, where humiliation was never discussed by the pair As it turns out, the submissive had been in an abusive relationship and called that frequently. This will take the submissive out of the scene and push them back into their abused self. Everything that once felt towards the previous and abusive partner is now transferred, even temporarily, to the Dominant and it may be a waterfall of emotional scarring. Trust in this situation will be difficult, if not impossible, to regain.
The Dominant is very capable of extreme emotions also. When you hurt someone so easily, and so profoundly, it can feel as if this lifestyle is less fun, and more of a minefield. One which the Dominant is walking alone, and without a map of mines. This can cause a Dominant to withdraw and even loose their desire to dominate.
It can also hurt the ego. A lot of Dominants with hurt egos get defensive and that can read as if they are blaming the submissive – making everything worse. In the previous situation, it’s easy to blame the submissive and say “Well, you should have told me about that! That should have been a limit. You could have called your safe word at any time.” At the same time, the Dominant should have not engaged in humiliating comments until it was thoroughly discussed and the issues revealed so they could be worked around. This is one of those coulda-shoulda-woulda-type situations where both could have acted more succinctly to avoid broken trust. In this situation, where the submissive was left traumatized, it’s best to take responsibility as the Dominant. Admittedly, this is easier said than done.
There are 3 aspects of an apology which makes it feel sincere. I’ll use the above example here.
- Specific Regret: “I’m sorry that I called you that name without having talked to you about humiliation first.” Some other words: I apologize for, I regret that, I feel really bad about.
- Address Consequences: All the ways that this was wrong, including either the impacts for the submissive. “I know this reminded you of things you didn’t want to be reminded of in that moment. I took the easy way out to fulfilling a fantasy of mine without negotiating first.”
- Make Amends: “In the future, I will always check with you before a scene to make sure that things like that will be as interesting for you as they are for me.”
Steps on moving forward:
Obviously, moving forward, you should be learning from the experience. With the same partner, it may require a bit of proof in order for their trust to return. It’s not enough to talk about just the original mistake, but is expected that one follow through where amends were made. If you said you would negotiate always, then do so. This is the only way to grow that trust back, and it will take time. The sooner, and more often you can prove that, the better.
If the submissive cannot forgive you for something, you cannot force your apology on them. Depending on how much the submissive wants revenge, your reputation can be at stake. You owe no one else an explanation or apology. That said, you have to understand that submissive’s do talk amongst themselves, so there may come a time when you are faced with the questions from others.
Never make the original submissive look poorly. If you were willing to apologize at one point, simply explain the original experience as it was, take responsibility and explain what you’re now doing to avoid that situation. You will have to prove yourself time and time again if your reputation is affected, if you are interested in being a part of BDSM communities. This is an opportunity to prove yourself as a fiercely decent Dominant. By facing the negativity and not running away from that responsibility, you will gain respect back…eventually.
Being Dominant is not synonymous with ‘always right’. The more you negotiate and keep the lines open in a relationship, it will lessen the severity of the mistake. Counterintuitively, owning up to mistakes often is the way to retain as much trust and control as is possible. So please, when you do fuck up, take ownership and apologize in as sincere a way as possible – take ownership, apologize for the specific mistake, and let the person know what you will do differently in the future. Dominants aren’t perfect, so keep your ego in check and understand that you will make mistakes.
Understand that the submissive doesn’t owe you forgiveness and that’s one thing that you are not capable of forcing. If they do forgive you, it will take time to rebuild that trust back to the original level. But over time, working through these hiccups can make a relationship, and indeed a Dominant, stronger. As long as you learn from your mistakes, most people will see fit to accept an apology.