We hear it all the time in D/s circles:
“Dominant isn’t the same as domineering.”
But what does that really mean? It’s been a bit like porn to me. The United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once said about pornography, “I know it when I see it.” That is how I’ve felt about dominant vs. domineering. I have a hard time defining it in concrete terms, but I know it when I see it. And I saw it.
Once I saw it, it actually became a lot easier to define. What I saw in the domineering person was a sense of expectation and entitlement. The expectation that s/he will get whatever hir desire is. Whatever s/he wants whenever s/he wants it. The expectation that all people will do hir bidding. Even people who haven’t negotiated things with hir.
As a dominant, I have the expectation that certain people will do what I want and work to make my desires happen. However, I only expect that of the people I have negotiated that arrangement with. I expect to hold zero sway over anyone else. Nor do I expect anyone else to cater to my whims and desires. Domineering people (or at least the domineering person I ran across) do.
I also would not assume that anyone would have the least desire to cater to my whims. Do what I ask (or tell) them to. If I were to tell a stranger to change his shirt because I didn’t like the look of it, I would be unsurprised if he laughed in my face. I would not even expect a friend to change their wardrobe because I didn’t like it. The domineering person seemed to be genuinely shocked when people didn’t want to cater to hir needs. Didn’t want to change plans or opinions to suit hir. It never seemed to occur to hir that other people really are not living their lives thinking of what might make hir life easier. S/he seemed to be blissfully unaware that s/he isn’t entitled to have hir way all the time.
Domineering person: Hey, let’s have lunch. Come pick me up at my office in 30 minutes.
Friend of domineering person: Actually I am having lunch in 10 minutes with my daughter.
Domineering person: Oh! I didn’t realize you had plans. Please don’t cancel lunch with your daughter!
Why would someone automatically expect that their friend would cancel plans for a last minute invitation to lunch? How can that be someone’s first thought in this scenario? Even a friend is not going to cancel lunch with a loved one 10 minutes ahead of the date. That would be extremely rude except in the case of an emergency. So why would anyone jump to this conclusion? Entitlement. Thinking s/he is more important in someone’s life than their own child.
This, to me, is how domineering people live. They order people about and make assumptions based on a sense of false expectations and clueless entitlement.