Dominant vs Domineering – Relationship Red Flag List

A while back, I found a great post on Fetlife by Twysted about red flags and dating tips for kinky people, and reposted it here on my blog with his/her permission.  Fast forward a few years, and I got a message from Robert Rubel the other day that the post was actually originally by Epiphany, citing a list that was written in turn by Saikiji Kitalpha on Second Life.

Upon looking at Epiphany’s post (which was actually posted after mine, I confess to being a bit confused about the actual origin of the list – and realized that the version that she has is actually a lot more extensive.

So, in the interest of completeness, and revisiting a topic that I don’t think we can ever overemphasize, I am here reposting the entire thing as seen on Epiphany’s blog.  Please do feel free to copy and repost the comments and list found below – but please make sure to include the correct attributions to Saikiji Kitalpha, and do not pass it off as your own work.  That’s plagiarism – which is not only dishonest but actually illegal.


The term “Red Flag” is used to describe a personal trait or behaviour that is common in people who are harmful to others. When getting to know someone new it is very important to look for these warning signs, as they may mean something is very wrong, even horribly wrong. Red flags can apply to any gender, or any role or relationship. Dom, sub, male, female, trans, switch, hetero, homo, bi, pan, friendships, d/s relationships, marriages, relatives, work relationships, etc. They are not specific to any gender, orientation, or relationship.

It is also important to understand that none of these red flags on their own are a sign of an abusive or dangerous situation or person, especially in isolated incidents. Anyone can make a mistake, have a bad day or simply misunderstand or misinterpret. Some red flags merely indicate a need for discussion, or discovery. Others indicate that it is time to get out of the relationship immediately.

What you are looking for are groups of repeating, negative behaviors. It is important to take your time in establishing new relationships as it may take time for these behaviors or patterns to emerge. When you see these red flags, slow down or even stop the relationship to assess your situation. Generally, the more red flag behaviors you observe in a person, the more often you see them and the quicker they emerge in a new relationship, the more at risk you are from being emotionally and/or physically harmed by this person.



• Tries to limit your access to others in your life friends, family, BDSM community.
• Forbids contact with others or undermines relationships or activities with others.
• Is negative and un-supportive of other relationships you have.
• Monitors your communications (emails, phone calls, chats) with others.
• Controls finances, the car, and the activities you partake in.
• May want you to quit your job, give up your car or telephone.
• Always asks where you’ve been and with whom in an accusatory manner.
• Calls and visits unexpectedly on a regular basis.
• Refuses to allow you a safe call.
• Becomes angry if you show signs of independence or strength.


• Is reluctant to give you personal and factual information about themselves.
• Refuses to give their marital status before a meeting.
• Gives inconsistent or conflicting information or details about themselves or past events.
• When you ask personal questions, gets angry, changes the topic, ends the conversation or answers questions with questions.
• Gets mad if you ask for references or want ask others about them.
• Has very limited times/places/methods where you are able to contact them and gets angry if you try to contact them outside of those conditions.
• Does not give you their home and work phone number at the appropriate time.
• Has multiple online identities for interacting with the same communities.
• Cheats on you.
• Gives the impression of being very successful without any evidence of real success.
• Disappears from communication for days or weeks at a time without explanation.
• Are evasive about their activities, especialy unexplained absences.
• Only interacts with you in a kinky or sexual manner as if role-playing.
• Will not have normal everyday vanilla conversations.


• Critical of the BDSM community.
• Critical of multiple respected members of the BDSM community.
• Has multiple interpersonal conflicts within the BDSM community.
• Refuses to participate in the BDSM community.
• Has bad relationships with most or all of their family members.
• Has no BDSM references or friends you can talk to, and becomes angry if you ask for them.
• Has no friendships or refuses contact with their family.


• Is always exaggerating.
• Always puts blame on others for things going wrong.
• They resort to extreme measures to prove that they are not at fault.
• Does not take personal responsibility, or acknowledge their own mistakes.
• Their apologies feels insincere, phony, or is insulting in nature.
• Puts you down in front of other people.
• Is constantly comparing themselves to others.
• Brags excessively about their experience, scene credentials, mastery, training, scene name dropping.
• Will not discuss what your possible future relationship could be like, Tries to keep you in the dark about what might happen next in the relationship.
• Never shows you their human side. Hides their vulnerabilities or behave in an emotionless manner.
• Hides behind their D/s authority, says that their authority should not be questioned.


• Does not respect your feelings, rights, or opinions.
• Is rude to public servants such as waitresses, cashiers and janitors.
• Displays little concern or awareness of the feelings or needs of others.
• Never says thank you, excuse me or I am sorry to anyone.
• Obvious and excessive displays of impatience.
• Believe that they are deserving of some particular reward or benefit even at the expense of others.


• Tries to make you feel guilty for not being “good enough”.
• Says that you are not a true sub/slave/dom.
• Belittles your ideas.
• Blames you for your hurt feelings.
• Tries to make you think that relationship problems are your fault.
• Yells or by threatens to withdraw their love/leave you if you do not do as he/she wishes


• Consistently breaks promises.
• Makes plans then makes excuses for not meeting.
• Treats you lovingly and respectfully one day and then harshly and accusingly the next.
• Goes through extreme highs (behaving with great kindness) and pronounced lows (behaving with cruelty), almost as though they are two distinctly different people.


• Pressures you into doing things you do not want to do.
• Does not respect your limits, negotiations or contracts.
• Pushes you into a D/s relationship too fast.
• Pushes you into a sexual relationship too fast.
• Pushes you into a poly relationship too fast.
• Overly demanding of your time and must be the center of your attention.
• Insists a safe word is not necessary.


• Conspicuous consumption: spending largely and inappropriately on luxury items.
• Abuses alcohol or other drugs.
• Gambles excessively.
• Is constantly asking for money or material goods from you or others.
• Falls in love with you way too fast and swears undying love before even meeting you.
• Begins saying things like, “I can’t live without you.”
• Deliberately saying or doing things that result in getting themselves seriously hurt.


• Loses control of their emotions in arguments. Raises their voice, yelling, name-calling and blame.
• Uses force or violence to solve problems
• Punch walls or throw things when they’re upset.
• Turns on their peers, going quickly from “best friend” to “arch enemy”, often for trivial or imagined reasons.
• Displays a disproportionately negative reaction to being told “no”.
• Holds excessive grudges against others and goes to great lengths to get revenge on people.
• Threatens suicide or other forms of self-harm.
• Hypersensitive and easily upset by annoyances that are part of daily life.


• Were an abuse victim themselves, and may be abusive as a learned behavior.
• May exhibit cruel behavior towards animals.
• Might admit to hitting a partner in the past, but claims the partner “made” him/her do it.

12 thoughts on “Dominant vs Domineering – Relationship Red Flag List

  1. Thanks so much for posting this article, it describes my abuser perfectly. I’ve never been so devastated in my entire life, and I’m so glad to have found your blog. If you have any suggestions on how to recover from these sociopaths, I would love to hear from you. He currently has 3 other women he is victimizing and none of them know about me or each other. I’ve been debating whether to contact them because I think they have a right to know, but I’m afraid. Any thoughts on that?

    • that’s a tricky questions and it would depend on how dependent and how eroded their confidence is and how brain washed they are, I would if it meant that they could get out and put them in touch with others whom can help them.

  2. I had one of these types happen last year. I am intelligent, I have great friends and a great support system but still I fell for him and his lies. I gave it i months and that was 6 months too long. Thank you for reposting this.

  3. Jane – please read a book called “Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men” by Lundy Bancroft (it applies to women too, but the author worked with men). It is by far the most helpful book I found to explain the logic and methodology of abusers – psychological, emotional, sexual, and/or physical. It put order to chaos for me, and that was so essential to healing and getting my head back on straight. Well, mostly straight… This stuff lingers.

  4. Firstly, having been introduced to BDSM late on in life, I now know it is who I am and am embarking on a beautiful new relationship…. In short…..
    I was groomed by a Dom last year on a vanilla dating site having only recently come out of a loveless long term marriage…..
    Once we started talking sex, after several weeks of emails he turned on the charm and wowed me…so on the first visit to his place I was up for sex and he talked about tying me…
    I had had such a disappointing sex life within marriage, I was up for anything as had never been offered that before…..
    Several months past with his behaviour much like the above…. but every time I had doubts, I dropped him but got drawn back in until I had the final straw….
    Should we be reporting this type of deviant….???

  5. I am not in a abusive relationship now. (Thank the heavens) but I do see some of the red flags in myself and my lover. I want to use your list as an improvement tool for myself. I don’t want to be that person or seem to others that way. So thank you so much for the blog and opening up my eyes to some of my behaviors and how they can be taken. 🙂

  6. Boy, this topic has really hit a nerve, hasn’t it? Thank you all for your kind comments, and as always, I’m delighted to hear about ways in which my blog has been helpful. I wish there were no need for discussions of this nature, but it is very gratifying to be able to help when the need is there.

    Jane Doe, only you can make the decision about whether or not to contact others you know he is abusing, but in my experience, most women simply won’t listen until they finally get a taste of it themselves and recognize it for what it is. They’ll think you’re the “sour grapes” ex trying to get revenge, even if that’s truly the furthest thing from the truth.

    I’ve learned the hard way that there will just be others in line, and that all I can really do is help educate people in general about these kinds of behaviors so that they can learn to identify them for their own selves when they see them. Your mileage may differ, of course.

    Girl, I don’t know where we’d be reporting this type, to be honest. I think the best we can do is to help spread information about what to look out for, and be willing to support others when they encounter this kind of grief.

    That said, I do think that knowing the laws in your own state about domestic violence, rape, and assault is useful – and I *absolutely* think we should be reporting these people to the police when they cross the lines of consent and show no sign of changing after we bring it up with them.

    And those reports need to be timely. The police pay little enough heed to them even for straights, but whether vanilla or kinky, they will just laugh at you if you report it later. Insist they at least take the report even if they don’t investigate it, though, because that will at least get the behavior on record, if anyone else down the line has a problem with your perpetrator – or your problems with them increase.

    And by all means, speak up within your kink communities. All too often, these types operate in the shadows and rely on the long-standing standards of confidentiality to protect them, but when one person does finally speak up, frequently there is a chorus line of others who also come out of the shadows having had similar experiences with the same person.

    But keep your accusations factual – specify what they actually did (or didn’t do), what they actually said, how you felt, what the end result for you was, what your *opinions* are. Not only is that sort of information more useful to others than throwing around a bunch of adjectives to describe a person, but you don’t want to fall down the rabbit hole of defamation. Truth and fact are an absolute defense in most cases.

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  9. I asked a friend to translate to Portuguese , I hope I have problems , I quote the reference group.

    O termo “red flag” é usado para descrever um traço ou comportamento pessoal comum em pessoas que são prejudiciais a outras. Ao se conhecer uma pessoa nova é muito importante procurar por esses sinais de advertência, pois eles podem significar que alguma coisa está muito errada, até mesmo horrivelmente errada. Pode-se aplicar as red flags a qualquer gênero, papel social ou relacionamento. Dom, sub, masculino, feminino, trans, switch, hetero, homo, bi, pan, amizades, relacionamentos d/s, casamentos, parentes, relações de trabalho, etc. Elas não são específicas de nenhum gênero, orientação ou relacionamento.
    Também é importante entender que nenhuma dessas red flags é em si mesma sinal de uma situação ou pessoa abusada ou perigosa, especialmente em incidentes isolados. Qualquer um pode cometer um erro, ter um dia ruim ou simplesmente entender ou interpretar mal. Algumas red flags apenas indicam uma necessidade de discussão ou descoberta. Outras, que está na hora de sair do relacionamento imediatamente.
    O que você deve procurar são conjuntos de comportamentos negativos que se repetem. É importante dar tempo ao tempo ao estabelecer novos relacionamentos pois pode demorar para que esses comportamentos ou padrões apareçam. Quando você vir essas red flags, vá mais devagar ou mesmo interrompa o relacionamento para avaliar a sua situação. Em geral, quanto mais comportamentos red flag você observa numa pessoa, quanto mais você os vê com frequência e quanto mais rapidamente eles emergem num novo relacionamento, mais você estará correndo risco de ser emocionalmente e/ou fisicamente prejudicado por essa pessoa.

    – Tenta limitar o seu acesso a outros em sua vida – amigos, família, comunidade BDSM.
    – Proíbe contato com outros ou mina relacionamentos ou atividades com outros.
    – É negativa e não apóia outros relacionamentos que você tenha.
    – Monitora as suas comunicações (e-mails, telefonemas, conversas) com outros.
    – Controla as finanças, o carro e as atividades de que você participa.
    – Pode querer que você deixe o seu emprego, abra mão do seu carro ou telefone.
    – Sempre pergunta onde você esteve e com quem de uma maneira acusatória.
    – Está sempre telefonando e fazendo visitas inesperadamente.
    – Recusa-se a lhe conceder uma chamada programada.
    – Zanga-se se você dá sinais de independência ou força.

    – Reluta em dar informação pessoal e factual sobre ela própria.
    – Recusa dizer seu estado civil antes de um encontro.
    – Fornece informação ou detalhes inconsistentes ou conflitantes sobre si própria ou eventos passados.
    – Quando você faz perguntas pessoais, zanga-se, muda de assunto, põe fim à conversa ou responde perguntas com perguntas.
    – Fica zangada se você pede referências ou quer perguntar a outros sobre ela.
    – Dispõe de horários/locais/métodos muito limitados para você poder entrar em contato com ela e se zanga se você tenta contatá-la fora dessas condições.
    – Não lhe dá o número do telefone de casa e do trabalho no momento apropriado.
    – Tem vários perfis online para interagir com as mesmas comunidades.
    – Tapeia você.
    – Dá a impressão de ser muito bem-sucedida sem qualquer evidência de sucesso real.
    – Fica incomunicável durante dias ou semanas seguidos sem explicação.
    – É evasiva a respeito de suas atividades, em especial as ausências não explicadas.
    – Só interage com você íntima ou sexualmente como se estivesse desempenhando um papel.
    – Não mantém conversas normais e caretas do dia a dia

    – Crítica da comunidade BDSM.
    – Crítica de vários membros respeitados da comunidade BDSM.
    – Tem conflitos interpessoais diversos com a comunidade BDSM.
    – Recusa-se a participar da comunidade BDSM.
    – Tem más relações com a maioria dos membros da sua família.
    – Não tem referências na BDSM nem amigos com quem você possa conversar e fica zangada se você perguntar por eles.
    – Não tem amizades e se recusa a entrar em contato com a família.

    – Está sempre exagerando.
    – Sempre bota a culpa nos outros quando as coisas dão errado.
    – Recorre a medidas extremas para provar que não está errada.
    – Não se responsabiliza por nem admite os próprios erros.
    – Suas desculpas soam insinceras, falsas ou têm natureza de insulto.
    – Derruba você diante de outras pessoas.
    – Está constantemente se comparando com os outros.
    – Vangloria-se excessivamente de sua experiência, faz representação de credenciais, domínio, preparo, faz representação ao citar nomes importantes.
    – Não quer discutir como poderia ser o seu possível futuro relacionamento.
    – Tenta manter você no escuro a respeito do que poderia acontecer em seguida no relacionamento.
    – Nunca lhe mostra seu lado humano. Esconde suas vulnerabilidades ou mostra comportamento sem emoções.
    – Esconde-se atrás da autoridade de seu D/s, diz que a autoridade dele não deve ser questionada.
    – Não respeita seus sentimentos, direitos ou opiniões.
    – É rude para com serviçais como garçonetes, caixas ou porteiros.
    – Demonstra pouca preocupação ou consciência dos sentimentos ou necessidades dos outros.
    – Nunca diz obrigado/a, com licença ou desculpe a ninguém.
    – Óbvias e excessivas demonstrações de impaciência.
    – Acredita em que é merecedora de alguma recompensa ou benefício em particular mesmo às custas de outros.

    – Tenta fazer você se sentir culpado de não ser “suficientemente bom”.
    – Diz que você não é um verdadeiro sub/escravo/dom.
    – Diminui as suas ideias.
    – Culpa você por suas mágoas.
    – Tenta fazer você pensar que os problemas de relacionamento são culpa sua.
    – Grita ou ameaça retirar o seu amor/ir embora se você não age como ela deseja.

    – Descumpre promessas consistentemente.
    – Faz planos depois cria pretextos para não cumpri-los.
    – Trata você amorosa e respeitosamente um dia e no seguinte é rude e acusatória.
    – Vai de altos extremos (comportando-se com grande bondade) a baixos pronunciados (comportando-se com crueldade), quase como se tratasse distintamente de duas pessoas diferentes.

    – Pressiona você para fazer coisas que você não quer fazer.
    – Não respeita os seus limites, negociações ou contratos.
    – Empurra você para um relacionamento D/s depressa demais.
    – Empurra você para um relacionamento sexual depressa demais.
    – Empurra você para um relacionamento poli depressa demais.
    – Exige demais o seu tempo e precisa ser o centro da sua atenção.
    – Insiste em que não há necessidade de programar uma conversa.

    -Consumo conspícuo; gasta muito e de modo impróprio em caprichos.
    -Abusa de álcool e outras drogas.
    -Joga excessivamente.
    – Está constantemente pedindo dinheiro ou bens materiais a você ou a outros.
    – Apaixona-se por você depressa demais e jura amor eterno antes mesmo do encontro.
    – Começa a dizer coisas como “não posso viver sem você”.
    – Deliberadamente diz ou faz coisas que resultam em mágoas profundas para si própria.

    – Perde o controle das emoções nas discussões, levanta a voz, grita, xinga e acusa.
    – Usa força ou violência para resolver problemas.
    – Soca paredes ou atira coisas quando está aborrecida.
    – Volta-se contra seus pares, passando rapidamente de “melhor amigo/a” a “arqui-inimigo/a”, frequentemente por razões triviais ou imaginadas.
    – Demonstra reação negativa desproporcional quando lhe dizem “não”.
    – Guarda rancores excessivos das pessoas e se dá o trabalho de vingar-se.
    – Ameaça suicídio ou outras formas de auto-agressão.
    – Hipersensitiva e facilmente contrariada por aborrecimentos que fazem parte da vida diária.

    – Foi ela própria vítima de abuso e pode ter o abuso como comportamento aprendido.
    – Pode exibir comportamento cruel em relação a animais.
    – Pode admitir ter batido num parceiro/a no passado, mas afirma que o/a parceiro/a a “obrigou” a isso.
    Fim da conversa no bate-papo

  10. LMFAO. This entire article is replete with attempts to normalize far left dogma. Many of these purported characteristics apply to myself and to many people I know, yet we are far from “domineering” or “abusive.” This is the problem with trying to write one-size-fits-all articles such as this.

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