In hindsight, if one is introspective enough, they can learn many lessons. Sometimes, it can take months or years for that moment of clarity to hit. I know it did for me. One of the most harmful things I have ever encountered in my journey within the lifestyle is toxic subs. All too often bad Doms are the subject of rants in various groups or discussion boards, and rarely are toxic subs ever talked about. Part of me wonders at the psychology behind this. Personally, I can admit feelings of shame involved once I figured out what was going on. How could I be so blind as to not notice it when it was happening? For me, I lay a lot of blame on emotional entanglement. I am, and always will be, emotionally invested in my submissive. Romance is a very big part of BDSM for me and I don’t want to play without it. It is vetted for and the only way I play anymore. I can tell you in all honesty, for the romantic Dominant, there is nothing more destructive than a toxic sub.
So what, as a romantic leaning Dom should you be looking for as red flags? Breadcrumbing, lying about emotional availability, passive aggressive manipulation, and lack of personal responsibility are all things I have picked up on in hindsight. Let’s talk about it.
Breadcrumbing, to me, is the most insidious of all toxic sub traits. What is breadcrumbing? Breadcrumbing is when someone gives you just enough emotional attention that they leave you needing, wanting more, but then withhold emotional availability to the point that one can get frustrated to the point of leaving, only to be given just enough attention to make you question leaving and then the cycle repeats. This is often coupled with gaslighting. They’ll point out that they’ve been available and then try and lay blame at your feet for you not being satisfied with the emotional attention you need or have been getting.
Lying about emotional availability happens fairly regularly on both sides of the slash. When the toxic sub does it, they may or may not be aware of their own baggage or situation that prevents them from being able to make an emotional commitment. They’re aware of their trauma, but refuse to address it. This can be due to an entire host of reasons, but none of them are good. Doms are not emotional band aids. We have feelings and needs too.
Passive aggressive manipulation. This can occur in a lot of ways, but the most common I have encountered is when the toxic sub willfully ignores their Dominant. This is especially harmful in Dom Drop, when I have expressed a need for reassurance and instead of getting the communication I need, the reassurance that everything is okay, I am instead left as a kink dispenser and left to wonder what is going on.
Lack of responsibility can also occur in a multitude of displays. This occurs a lot in the DDlg community, I feel. You can be a submissive little and still take care of yourself. While structure and D/s can most certainly assist, it is not your Dominant’s responsibility to cater to every whim in your life. If we’re going to boil it down to the essentials, your role is to provide for Them while They provide for you. It is symbiotic, mutual and beneficial to both. When one takes and does not give in return it is a parasitic relationship.
What other toxic sub traits can you think of or have experienced? What lessons have you learned? It is important to note that some toxic traits can be attributed to a lack of understanding and as the Dominant, it will be your responsibility to guide, lead and educate, but do so more than just by saying. Lead and show by example. All too often people are quick today to lambast each other as fake or a walking red flag.
One thought on “Beware the Toxic sub”
Glad you are back Wolf. We have missed you.
Hard not to become emotionally involved if the romantic aspects are important to you. Being intimate with a person you don’t have emotional attachment to seems empty to me. What is the point? The difficulty comes from not being able to accept the negative signs you see once attachment occurs. In great part that is human nature. You don’t want to see what you don’t want to see. Related to that is what we see when we look in the mirror in the morning is what we expect to see all day. If the person in the mirror is emotionally honest that is what you presume of the rest of the world. Unfortunately that isn’t the case all of the time or even most of the time. There are some really damaged people out there. All you can hope for is to be able to accept the negative signs you see and move on before you get too hurt. Way easier said then done. Being unavailable to your Dom experiencing Dom drop is unconscionable. There is no excuse for that. None.
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