The title of this article may seem self-contradictory but submission means different things to different people and also almost all human beings are selfish to at least some degree at some point in our lives. Many submissives gain pleasure directly from the pleasure of their dominant and they are clearly not the target of this article. However, this issue comes up surprisingly frequently for some male submissives.

One definition of selfish (from the Encarta Dictionary online) is “concerned with your own interests, needs, and wishes while ignoring those of others.” I think that most agree that regardless of your BDSM orientation it is beneficial to be concerned with your own interests, needs, and wishes. If your needs are not being met in a relationship, then it is usually in everyone’s best interests to address the situation.

However, when someone does not also care about the interests of others, especially of a partner, that is where it becomes selfish.

But isn’t the nature of someone being submissive mean that they are not selfish by definition? Perhaps, but that depends on the individual and on their definition of submissive. Also, we are all human beings with some level of irrational emotion, and occasional selfishness is common for many people. Selfishness may even be beneficial at times to overcome an issue, but that is not a topic for this article.

One definition of submissive (from Encarta) is “giving in or tending to give in to the demands or authority of others.” For BDSM submission I would add to that definition “…to whom we have agreed to submit.” However, many people who identify as BDSM submissive do not necessarily fit that definition. And therein lies potential difficulty in compatibility.

On FetLife I frequently see many dominant women post that male submissives are very difficult to find. At first, when I read comments like this I would figuratively thump my head with my hand and say to myself “There are plenty of male submissives, that’s one reason Pro Dommes are so popular!” However, in delving further into the discussions, these dominant women are referring to the dictionary version of submission, someone who obeys the authority of a dominant, whereas many guys who identify as submissive are actually what we refer to nowadays as a bottom. That is just one of many potential reasons for incompatibility but it seems to be somewhat common.

For example, a guy who enjoys being whipped but does not want to cede authority will often refer to himself as a submissive but based upon the dictionary (and the understanding of most within the BDSM community, I believe) he is not submissive at all. Or maybe a guy enjoys yielding a certain level of authority to a dominant holding a whip during a session, and in that case, while he is submissive to a certain degree it is very limited. There is nothing right or wrong, or better or worse, for wanting to be submissive to a small degree or not at all, but it may be confusing to others for a guy to refer to himself as submissive without further explanation.

There are plenty of male submissives, even considering the dictionary definition, but I believe that the psychology behind the submission of some guys is another potential reason why some of them are incompatible with many dominant women. Namely, many submissive guys are selfish, and very few dominants want a selfish sub. For clarification, I am not indicating that all or most submissive guys are selfish, it is simply that many sub guys appear to be selfish based upon their own comments and interactions in focusing only on their own desires without expressing any care for the desires of potential partners.

From what I read, there is a frequent disconnect in guys who are not submissive or are very limited in their submission sometimes contacting dominants with messages of “I will do anything you say!” which is clearly not the case. This is a communication and self-realization issue, not one of selfishness.

As I indicated in my previous Submissive Guide male submission article about Fantasy vs Reality, many male subs (and bottoms) have fantasized for a very long time about their version of submission and many have detailed and specific fantasies which have been rolling around in their minds for many years, developing to the nth degree. In some cases, these sub guys do not want submission in most any other form, and if a dominant will not do what fits their fantasies then the dominant isn’t worth their time. For example, a male sub may want to be treated as a school boy in a role-play scene and anything else might not be enjoyable. In my view this is not selfishness per se because people have needs to be addressed and addressing needs is not being selfish, but often male subs when contacting a potential dominant partner will focus only on their own needs or desires and not express any caring about the needs or desires of the dominant. This is often very annoying and unattractive to a dominant because dominants have needs and desires, too, they are not put on earth for the purpose of satisfying a sub’s desires. I have read dominant women refer to this issue as being thought of as a “fetish delivery system,” something which very few would enjoy being.

A simple version of this type of interaction is that the male sub indicates that he wants A, B, and C and when the dominant brings up his or her own needs and desires, a selfish sub completely ignores that and returns the focus to A, B, and C. For example, “I will let you tie me down and whip me, I will worship your feet and butt, I will let you grab my hair and yell in my face!” While the language appears to be one of a submissive (“I will let you…”), this example is actually an indication of specific requests and in many cases if the dominant wants to modify A, B, and C or otherwise address the dominant’s desires then that would be unacceptable to this sub. Again, expressing desires is not selfishness but if this male sub does not reciprocate by paying attention to the needs and desires of the dominant, as is sometimes the case, then that is selfish and typically leads to a very unproductive discussion unless the dominant happens to exactly enjoy A, B, and C and doesn’t mind putting up with a selfish sub.

Is it wrong not to compromise in what you enjoy? Not at all, that isn’t the issue, we each enjoy whatever we enjoy. It may be difficult to find a partner who fits exactly what you want, but if you need or want A, B, and C and nothing else would be enjoyable, then in my view it is not helpful to deny that. In fact, it is in my view best to be open about that and not pretend otherwise.

However, if you do not also care about the needs and desires of a potential dominant, then that is a selfish attitude and typically not desired by dominants even if BDSM interests coincide.

I am sure that selfishness exists in some people from all BDSM orientations, and perhaps for some subs, it may be desirable to partner with a selfish dominant as long as the sub’s needs are met. Selfishness is not a trait which I would desire in a dominant but to each their own. However, in my view, very few dominants find selfishness in a sub to be a desirable trait so it would benefit those who portray through their own interactions that they are selfish to do a reality check and recognize that the desires and needs of a partner are important.

In other words, as a discussion with a potential dominant partner progresses to the appropriate point to discuss BDSM needs and desires, while it is important to discuss your own needs and desires it is beneficial to you to pay attention and address the needs and desires of the dominant. Being a selfish-seeming sub will likely not find you a partner unless you are willing to pay money for it.

In fact, if you actually do not particularly care about the needs and desires of a partner, then a Pro Domme is probably your best option because then you can get what you want while a Pro Domme would get at least part of what they want which is the payment. Pretending to care about the needs and desires of a partner is usually not a good approach because the truth will usually be revealed at some point.

On the other hand, if you do care about the needs and desires of a potential partner, communicate that. If in your discussions you focus only on your own needs and desires, then you may appear to be selfish even if you are not actually selfish.

Many dominant women post on FetLife that many male subs are fakes in that the guys claim to be submissive but are not. Many dominant women on FetLife receive a glut of messages from guys who want to play, often with a list of specific kinky desires and in some cases, the messages are sent without even having read the woman’s profile. Many of these messages may be ignored or given a brief and polite negative response but there are also some sub guys who lie in pretending that they want to fulfill a dominant’s desires. Lies are much more harmful because a dominant might be led down the garden path thinking that the interactions will be mutually enjoyable, only to be left with at best an experience of wasted time or worse an experience in being used for another’s pleasure, something which rarely appeals to a dominant. Usually, though, a dominant will at some point recognize the selfish liar and the liar will not get what he wants.

More often than lying, many sub guys are just unsure of what they want. Their fantasies may be indicating to them what they want but the reality of whether or not they would actually enjoy it is unknown to them ahead of time. This is a very common issue, especially for those who are new to acting upon their own BDSM desires which in many cases is later in life, so that they may think they know what they want but it is new territory for them. It is not lying and not selfishness, just unknown and in that case, it would be most beneficial to be open and honest about the situation. “I have strong desires for X, Y, and Z but I am inexperienced and not 100% certain that I would enjoy it.” Being open and honest is a very beneficial approach in most every situation.

This entire article may seem strange and confusing. From what I read, some submissives sometimes go in the other direction in wanting to please their dominant with not enough attention to their own needs and desires.

So, as a submissive, how do I know whether or not I am being selfish on the one hand or not addressing my needs on the other hand? There is no cookie-cutter answer but as long as you express a desire for your partner to have their needs and desires met, and consider carefully what they say, while also addressing the importance of your own needs and desires, then you are probably on safe ground. The Submissive Guide has many good articles about ensuring that your own needs and desires are addressed without being or appearing to be selfish.

I am not immune to selfishness myself, of course. My BDSM desires are mostly for consensual non-consent which, although not confined to a small set of specific activities, are important to me. In my 20s before I met my Princess who is my wife of over 15 years, I did not know much about submission (there was no Submissive Guide or even the internet back then) and I focused only on my own desires. I was lucky enough to enjoy one BDSM scene back then and looking back I now know why the dominant never called me back for another session, because I was selfish and in our discussions before and after I only focused on my own needs and desires. I am glad that I did not meet my Princess in my 20s because, being much more selfish back then, and I was not ready.

In summary:

  • Many male subs portray themselves through their own words that they are selfish in that they do not actually care what a potential dominant partner wants or needs
  • Having specific desires or wanting very limited or no submission is perfectly fine, and it would be beneficial to be open and honest about this instead of pretending otherwise
  • If you identify as a submissive but truly do not particularly care about the desires or needs of a dominant, it is often harmful to lie about it and you will likely not get what you want, and you risk hurting others and yourself in the process; it is probably best to consider going to a Pro Domme who, if you find the right one for your desires, will likely do what you want for a fee
  • It is not selfish to ensure that your needs and wants are addressed, it is only selfish if you do not care about the needs and wants of your dominant
  • Listen to what a dominant potential partner wants. You do not have to accede to it, because being a BDSM submissive does not mean being submissive to everyone, but it is helpful to recognize a dominant’s desires and have a care for fulfilling at least some of them so that you may have a mutually beneficial relationship.