Now and then, people write and ask some variation on “when did you realize you were dominant?” or “how did you know you were dominant?”
The truth is that I haven’t answered because I don’t have a good answer.
There isn’t any one moment I can point to when “realized” I was dominant. I can’t give you some story about how I knew I was dominant my whole life, I don’t see any definitive signs in my past, and there was no epiphanic lightning bolt moment when it hit me.
What I can point to is the moment I realized there was some sort of dynamic.
I’m not sure I identified it as dominance and submission at the time, but I realized there was something different about the way J and I interacted. I noticed something different about who J was when he was with me, and I began to understand I might have the space to explore who I was with him.
It didn’t happen in bed, I wasn’t wearing leather, and there were no whips and chains involved. It happened during a completed unrelated argument.
Our relationship was fairly new, but I already suspected it had no long term potential (happily, I was wrong). We had more arguments than what seemed normal for the ‘new-relationship’ phase. I don’t recall the details of this particular disagreement, but I recall being frustrated and angry. I was aware of approaching that stage of a quarrel where someone gives up — not out of understanding or resolution, but out of frustration, discomfort, and want to make it stop, either with silence or a “fuck you” directed at the other person.
This time, I had fallen silent and J looked as if he were about to say “fuck you.”
But he didn’t. Instead, all of the sudden, J got up and came towards me without saying a word. The move wasn’t exactly threatening, but with my back to the wall (literally), it felt aggressive and it reeked of machismo. It was like that ridiculous moment in movies when the woman breaks down and the man advances towards her — assertively. He looks as if he might take her by the shoulders and shake some sense into her… but at the last minute (when she goes wide-eyed and looks alarmed) he takes her in his arms, kisses her passionately… (*eyeroll*)
For the record, I wasn’t being irrational, I was nowhere near “breaking down,” and that sexist macho bullshit doesn’t play well with me as a means to end an argument.
I remember thinking ‘oh, not this bullshit…’
“Don’t. Just… don’t,” I sort of whined at him, half pleading and half annoyed.
He cocked his head like a confused puppy, hesitated for a moment, and then started to move toward me again.
“Back up.” My voice was clear as a bell — I gave him a direct, unmistakable command. J stopped in his tracks, but did not move back.
“Back… Up. Now.”
He did. J walked backwards a few steps (he didn’t turn his back to me), sat, and looked down at his feet.
That was the moment.
I knew there was something different about this relationship, even if I wasn’t sure what it was.
Why was that the moment? Why did I realize something was different?
In my experience (my own and what I’ve witnessed), when a man is about to invade a woman’s personal space, and she tells him to “back up” in no uncertain terms, one of three things usually happens:
1. He acts like she just blew a rape whistle. He takes an exaggerated step back and puts his arms up (melo)dramatically as if to show he means no harm. He keeps his hands up where she can see them, (like she’s a police officer and he’s a suspect,) and tells her to “calm down” or “take it easy.” It’s fucking ridiculous — the response is exponentially larger than required and worse than that, it’s insincere.
2. He realizes he was being too forward, so he spends the next 15 minutes apologizing profusely and excessively. But the whole time he’s apologizing, he creeps toward her again, more slowly this time, as if to demonstrate his safeness. This is also fucking ridiculous, and it’s far more about him wanting to think of himself as a “good guy” than about her.
3. He completely ignores her directive to “back up” and keeps coming anyway, invading her personal space as if he’s entitled to it.
J did none of those things. He backed up, sat down, and waited for me to speak. He didn’t dismiss me, he didn’t apologize, he didn’t start talking. He just waited for me to speak. His whole demeanor changed, and I don’t know if mine did, but I certainly felt different than I had moments before.
So, that’s why. That was the moment. “Back up.”
Good god… just replaying it in my mind… it was so fucking hot…