About 5 months ago I was contacted via FetLife by a local Dom who was interested in getting to know me. At the time I was deeply entrenched in a D/s love affair in which I was the submissive so I was categorically uninterested. I replied, expressed that it was bad timing and that I wished him luck. He was not easily rebuffed, though he was respectful, and he sent a few messages to say hello which I either politely replied to without encouraging conversation or I ignored. I wasn’t interested. He maintained that he was fine with my lack of interest and perhaps we could be friends, swap stories, maybe go to a kink learning event. No pressure. No expectations.

This article explains red flags to leave off your resume, such as vocabulary you don't understand, compliments from others and exaggerations about your skills and experience.

Fast forward a couple months: another message. He was polite and even-keeled as ever but I was aware that his message coincided with my change of status on FetLife. That was a tiny red flag, but also maybe a coincidence, so I replied. We talked a few times, moved to text and soon I felt disarmed enough to talk about my current stance on my BDSM identity. There’s still fluidity and Switchiness in me, but I am light years away from ever trusting myself to make good decisions from the position of submission. In short, the wounds are too deep, the abandonment too raw and I can barely imagine seeking a Dominant partner again any time soon, if ever. My last two relationships with Dominants have left me feeling lost and unmoored, off center, broken. I articulated clearly to him that I cannot afford to go through that again. He was understanding and gentle, encouraged self care and suggested strategies for trying again in the future with better results. He also suggested that it might be advantageous to be friends with a Dom first and then evolve the relationship into D/s. Red Flag number two? Maybe? I couldn’t tell. He was warm and consistent and began to check in on me almost daily.

I’ve found him pleasant to talk with and the conversations are sometimes about kink but are never kinky. We don’t sext, we don’t really flirt, and if we do it’s usually goodnatured teasing vs sexual innuendo or tension. He’s currently on vacation and still checking in, still making time to reach out and connect by text almost daily. He slipped “Good Girl” into a conversation and I immediately told him not to use that phrase. He apologized and we moved on. Later he asked if I would mind explaining why that had offended me. I explained that it’s just not something I am comfortable being called outside of a D/s structure. I likened it to me randomly calling him “Daddy” and how weird that would be. He LOL’d and said he could think of much worse things to be called by me. Hmmm. Red flag number three?

This is where I’m stuck. Is he just being nice? He’s clearly interested. I’ve been clear I’m not. There’s never pressure, I don’t feel coerced, but I’m starting to wonder if this is him courting me, seeing himself as the friend that could turn into a partner. Or, given my honest fears and hesitations about my ability to express submission, is he grooming me to build up my sub self-confidence and starting me down the path towards being his sub? I’m fully aware that I don’t have to anything I don’t want to but am I being paranoid? Is my faith so rocked that I can’t take his pleasantries at face value? I can’t seem to make sense of it and the part of me that prides itself on being self aware is very confused.

Are these red flags? Why is it so unclear to me? I don’t know what my next move is. He’s been a good friend so far but those occasional statements give me pause. I’m still not in the market for a Dom (nor do I think I ever will be).

What say you, Dear Reader? Help?


16 thoughts on “What colour are these flags?”

  1. First, so sorry your past two D/s relationships left you “feeling lost and unmoored, off center, broken”. Any relationship, D/s or not, after the initial mourning period ought to leave each party at least as well as before it had started, or even better. Ideally. Right. As if.

    Second, from your description, and from my perspective of being both a dominant and a dude, I would say that, yes, he is clearly interested in a potential D/s dynamics with you, and does not seem to hide it, waiting for you to be ready to try. I am not sure I would describe this as “red flags”, i.e. potential signals of an abusive/dramatic/negative interaction. You are saying that he’s been respecting your explicit boundaries so far, such as no more goodgirling and no sexting. Yes, he is courting you, though I would not call it “grooming”, which has the sinister connotations of mind control and gaslighting. If you notice any of those at some point, then it’s best to cut all contact.

    Since you say that you have made it clear that you will unlikely ever be interested in being on the s side of a new D/s relationship, you can also request that he stop any probing of whether you have changed your mind until and unless you explicitly say that you are reconsidering your stance. If he is interested enough in just the friendly part, he might stay, or might fade away, but if he continues an occasional poke despite a clear and unambiguous request to the contrary, that would indeed be a red flag.

    Hope this makes sense.

    1. It makes total sense and I appreciate the time you took. Grooming and red flags may be heavy handed terms but I feel like there IS something a bit sinister, or maybe opportunistic is a better word, about just waiting it out while still dropping hints. Maybe I’m just really guarded? I try to look at it through my own D lens: would I play it that way with a guy I wished would be my sub? Definitely not. So perhaps he’s not being inherently sinister and it’s just a style issue? His recent suggestion that I just need “the right kind of Dom to build you back up” didn’t feel good either. It’s hard to say if the friendship is legit or worth investing in if it’s just a means to an end for him.

  2. You’ve told him where you stand and still he prevails. This reeks of caution. What does your gut feeling tell you?
    When he slides the comments in tells me that he thinks he will eventually wear you down. That’s not respect.
    Nothing he has said is an alarming red flag but definitely a yellow. Just my opinion.

    1. Yes! “Yellow” is a great description. And the wearing down idea doesn’t bode well. I just don’t trust my instincts with these guys because I’ve been wrong when I thought I was so right so now I feel hyper vigilant. But I’d also like to be friends … I think?

  3. Your instincts are sound. He’s waiting it out.

    On the one hand, if he’s being a genuinely good friend in the meantime, and will happily continue in that vein, that’s cool.

    BUT the ‘good girl’ sounded wholly like testing your boundaries to see what he could get away with, and that’s fucking gross. I imagine your ‘red flag’ feels are coming from similar small things that you can easily dismiss as ‘nothing much’, and that’s how manipulators work. They don’t do some big red flaggy thing that will put you right off. They do small things that make your skin itch, but that aren’t enough to do a solid ‘ugh nope’ at.

    And that kind of insidious behaviour gives you the feeling you’re having right now, that something’s not right about it, but really, it’s not BAD right? I mean, it’s not like he really DID anything, right? Right?!

    Trust your gut. Cut him off.


    1. Thank you.
      You’ve also nailed the most troubling part for me: that I might just be over reacting. But even if he proves to be a decent friend, I don’t want friends that are “that guy”.

      Decision made.

  4. One thing I do know, never doubt your gut, period. It tends to know even when we attempt to minimize. I am sorry you have had 2 bad sub relationships and totally understand your anxiety, but it does not mean your feelings are wrong or based on those experiences. I hope he listens and backs off.

  5. Yeah, he’s hedging. Men have an amazing cognitive dissonance: “She’s told me she doesn’t want D/s” / “I would still like D/s with her”. This is usually resolved internally by some of the rationalisations others have suggested here: ‘yeah but she hasn’t met ME’ / ‘she’ll come around eventually, if I’m patient’.

  6. I agree with the other comments that say this guy is hedging, testing your limits and resolve. If your red flag, or yellow flag, radar is twitching, I reckon you should trust your instinct. Good luck, Violet ?

  7. I am with all the others who have said it too: go with your gut. If something doesn’t feel good, it most probably isn’t good. The color of these flags are all red.

    Rebel xox

  8. This is so hard to deal with. I know I struggle with my new relationship with DJDM because of my experienc ewith Juancito. I think you are doing the right thing by examining your feelings and looking at the situation cosely to see what’s going on. HUGS!!

  9. Yep I’m with the others, 100% he thinks he’s in with a chance if he can just convince he’s not like those other D-types. Truth is he’s probably worse because he is pretending to respect your boundaries while in reality he is trying to erode them. Also the fact he needed you to explain the request not to use ‘good girl’ is utterly baffling to me. Nearly everyone I ever converse with about BDSM understands the power of terms like that and how almost all kinksters tend to prefer them being issued within some kind of agreed dynamic or exchange. Granted there may be exceptions but most folks I know would always err on the side of caution with those things, that he doesn’t and his response to the ‘Daddy’ comment says to me he is trying to further your friendship into something more.

    I have unfortunately had a similar experience myself recently and in the end I realised nothing I said mattered because int hat persons head we were moving towards something and in my head we absolutely 100% were not. There’s no genuine friendship in that kind of exchange for me, so I decided to move on and no longer be responsive or cordial to that persons messages. It’s a shame because initially I thought our shared interests could be fun to discuss, but he ruined it by being driven by his own interests and not by a genuine and long term friendship.

    Good luck with your situation whatever you decide to do xxx

    1. I so appreciate you sharing your experience, and I agree. He’s not a friend, if anything he feels like a predator

  10. I’m backing up all the ‘trust your instincts’ comments that came before. Your instincts are good and valid.

I'd love to hear your thoughts ...