Predators and abusive Dominants are everywhere. Maintaining any relationship requires compromise or sacrifice, but you should never give up your wants and needs or put your happiness at bay. And when we're newly in love, relationship red flags can be notoriously easy to miss or ignore — although they're usually clear as day after the fact. But how do you know the person you are with is the wrong person?

What are Relationship Red Flags?

No matter how stable, healthy, or passionate your romance is, you will encounter annoying moments and pet peeves. But the signs of trouble I’m referring to here go beyond those little things that irk you. I’m talking about behaviors that give (or should give) you serious pause and can sometimes indicate a larger pattern.

Trusting your instincts is one of the best ways to recognize these red flags, but unfortunately, many of us push these thoughts down or ignore them, especially during the honeymoon period of the relationship. And if you’re new to D/s relationships, you may explain away the off feelings as part of your uncertainty of how a D/s relationship functions. That new relationship energy is so high you may simply consider things that feel off as opportunities to learn about someone new and how they interact with you and the world around you.

That’s why I’ve gathered ten questions you can ask yourself- so you can navigate a D/s relationship with more confidence and fewer regrets.

Ten Questions That Could Identify Red Flags in a Dominant

This is a partial list. There are many, many more red flags out there. See the list of other essays below for more in-depth articles.

  1. Are you afraid of your Dominant?
  2. Do they threaten to leave or abandon you if you don't submit? Do they make you feel guilty if you can't or won't do something, even things that you’ve expressed are limits?
  3. Do they threaten violence if you don't submit?
  4. Does the Dominant give you expensive gifts to get you to do something you don't honestly want to do?
  5. Does the Dominant make you feel ugly and unwanted? Have you gained or lost a lot of weight while being with the Dominant (this does not include intended weight loss or gain)?
  6. Does the Dominant have unmanageable emotions and fly off the handle quickly?
  7. Do you feel like the Dominant seems absent, won’t listen to you while you’re speaking, won’t respond to texts or messages, or doesn’t share anything about themselves?
  8. Have you ever felt like you have been raped after having sex with the Dominant?
  9. Do they ignore your limits, safewords, or basic needs, such as medical treatment, food, or clothing?
  10. Have they ever questioned your loyalty when you questioned their behavior?

Other Warning Signs

There are many more warning signs that the person you are with is dangerous.

A few of the big ones out there are over-possessive behavior, jealousy that gets violent or overly controlling, and manipulating you by twisting reality and making you doubt yourself.

Other essays about dangerous and abusive Dominants that I recommend reading are:

How to Handle Relationship Red Flags

It can be hard to know whether or not you should address the hurtful behavior or just run. I suggest assessing the situation to see whether or not this can be worked through.

  1. Never ignore a red flag. When your mind flags an issue, it needs to be interpreted. Take an opportunity to pause, assess the situation, and decide if you should continue investing time in this person.
  2. Once you’ve identified an action or behavior as a red flag, it’s time to do some inner reflection. You shouldn’t compromise your needs, but there’s also a possibility that you’re being too harsh. Ask yourself if you’re being too judgmental or if this is a genuine concern.
  3. If the issue is problematic, it’s time to communicate with your partner. Tell them why the behavior is unacceptable and unsustainable for you and the relationship. Some partners may not be aware of how their behavior affects others, and it is not ill-intended.
    1. Abuse is an automatic deal-breaker and does not require any communication.
  4. Be prepared to walk away. Sometimes, talking about it just doesn’t help. It may be that you and this person aren’t compatible, and that’s totally OK.

Where to Find Help

If your partner is abusive in any way or puts you in danger, I strongly urge you to end the relationship. It is crucial that you find a way to get out. There are local and national agencies to help you get away safely and start your life over again.

I strongly support the National Leather Association - International Domestic Violence Project in their efforts to bring awareness of abuse in BDSM relationships.

If you are experiencing a domestic violence emergency, please call 911.

If you need help or assistance with domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at:

1-800-799-SAFE or 1-800-787-3224 TTY

Stay safe, protect yourself, and get out. You do not need to stay in an abusive relationship, especially with children.