Tips for New Dominants to Avoid Problem Submissives

Libida from FetLife posts about avoiding problem submissives

A rogue’s gallery of problem characters

Note | 11 Comments · 15 Love It | about 1 year ago

I find that caricatures of problem people help me remember what to look out for in real life. You’ll find members of the rogue’s gallery below both in and out of the scene.

As a number people have commented, a person who is a problem for you might be a wonderful match for someone else. Joe dumped Mary because of “too much drama”; Michael finds her delightfully exciting. Julie hates quarreling; Claire loves it, and seeks quarrelsome partners to verbally wrestle with. I have tried to leave those sorts of items off my list, and only include issues that cause significant problems for a wide range of people.

Many especially problematic people display multiple problem behaviors or attitudes. Certain problems tend to occur with other problems, so if you find one of those issues, check for the others.

You’ll notice some repeating themes here, such as people that are destructive, don’t take responsibility for themselves, lack empathy, or feel entitled to your time and attention. I’ve written more about these general patterns in my post How to avoid problem people, also available off FetLife (where it is easier to read).

The list below omits some types of problem partners that other folks have described on this thread (and its sister threads herehere, and here), since I’m less familiar with them.

  • Clueless: This person might simply have a bad case of newbie-itis, in which case a bit of coaching and experience will set them straight. The truly problem versions seem incapable of taking feedback, correcting course, or learning from their mistakes.
  • The Doormat: Unwilling or unable to say no when needed, set boundaries, or stand up for what they want. You end up doing stuff you think they’re okay with, but aren’t, while they seethe with resentment. Eventually becomes Passive-Aggressive or a Blamer.
  • Worthless: Suffers low self-esteem. Worried they are worthless and you’ll dump them, they may try to please you excessively, even at cost to themselves. Frequently won’t communicate or stand up for what they want (Doormat or Passive-Aggressive behavior).
  • Passive-Aggressive: Instead of communicating their needs, wants, and preferences clearly, this person tries to manipulate and guilt-trip you into doing or being what they want, even if it’s not what you prefer. Avoids taking direct responsibility for themselves. If something goes wrong, can transition into…
  • The Blamer: Looks for what’s wrong and when they find it, blames you. Takes no or minimal responsibility for what happens. Characteristic cries: “This is all your fault!” and “How could you be so stupid?”
  • The Perfectionist: Everything you do should be perfect, and if it’s not, they’ll make sure you know it. And punish you for it. A master at getting you to feel inadequate, even about things you’re competent at. Some of this breed have unreasonable expectations of themselves also. A more dangerous variant only expects other people to be perfect, while excusing any and all bad behavior in themselves.
  • The Critic: Feels superior by criticizing others. Remember, it’s easy to say “X is bad!”, a lot harder to create and implement a viable alternative. This person is often a Perfectionist, too.
  • The Dramatizer: Makes a big deal out of everything that happens, big or small. Fun when they delight in life’s little pleasures. Ugly when they turn every minor difficulty in everyday life into a drama or crisis. High-maintenance.
  • The Awfulizer: No matter how good things get, this person dwells on what is wrong or might go wrong. Capable of bringing any mood down. Often fixated on the past (which they can’t fix) or unlikely potential disasters they can’t control (and that won’t happen anyway).
  • The Control Freak: Wants to control everything you think, feel, and do — especially your contacts and relationships with others. The submissive version may use drama, tantrums, tears, depression, self-destructive behavior, suicide threats, drug or alcohol binges, etc. to bring out your white-knight rescuer tendencies (so you’ll behave as they want). Or this character may threaten or punish you (so you’ll behave as they want). Be especially wary if you find yourself becoming isolated from your social network and loved ones.
  • Entitled: Thinks you owe them the attention and stimulation they want, and should be grateful to give it to them. Mating cry: “What can you do for me?” You’ll quickly notice that they don’t ask what you want or how they can provide it.
  • Dominants/Submissives Are Fantasies, Not People: Regards you as their idealized fantasy partner, which can be heady stuff until you realize that they don’t regard you as a fellow human being who cares and suffers like they do. This type doesn’t want to know about your needs and vulnerabilities, since that might pop their fantasy bubble. The submissive version has little or no patience with Dominants who get hurt, traumatized, or broken-hearted, since “Dominants should be strong enough to deal with that.” The Dominant version has little or no patience with submissives who get express needs or get hurt, traumatized, or broken-hearted, since “submissives are here to serve Me.”
  • Doesn’t Have A Life (and wants yours): Bored, lonely, dependent, emotionally unstable — this sub or Dom wants to glom onto your life and energy. You are entertainment.
  • Dependent: Wants to lean on you till you hurt. May have major problems they can’t cope with (depression, low self-esteem, addictions), or they may simply avoid responsibility.
  • The Whiner: Avoids responsibility rather than fixing issues themselves. Would rather complain endlessly than change their behavior. Often skilled at shooting down any and all suggested ways of improving their situation.
  • The Victim: Horrible things happen to this person, over and over. They think the cause is “out there” in the bad circumstances and bad people that hurt them. This person often wants special accommodation for their hurts. The don’t take responsibility for repeat problems, or learn from their mistakes.
  • Rescue Me: Wants/needs rescuing over and over, or ongoingly, because they can’t or won’t take care of themselves. Helpless, inept, incompetent, fragile, the wounded bird. Hooks the white knight who wants to save the day — but is never really saved, and will always need to be rescued again.
  • Covertly Hostile: This person seems helpful and/or cheerful, yet acts angry and destructive in sneaky ways. A genius at giving “complements” that are really backhanded insults.
  • Spiteful: When someone does something this individual perceives as bad or wrong, they attack, often indirectly. Unfortunately, spiteful people are often primed to interpret even innocent behavior as a personal insult or assault. It may seem at first that when they attack others, they are defending you. But eventually they sow discord among the people you know, destroy your friendships, and damage your reputation or well-being.
  • The Troublemaker: Delights in stirring up trouble between other people, then watching it escalate. May try to split up D/s couples by offering “support” to the sub. A high percentage of Troublemakers are Borderlines (described below).
  • The Addict: Drugs and/or alcohol are ongoing problems. May require lots of rescuing, then fall off the wagon, repeatedly. Often high-drama. Expects you to put up with their problem behaviors and unreliability. May not want to change, or even see the need to change. May steal to support their drug habit.
  • The Splitter: Oscillates between idealizing and denigrating others (this behavior is called “splitting”). As long as they idealize you, you can do no wrong. But once they switch to denigration, you are scum of the earth — and they will treat you accordingly. May start a relationship by idealizing you, then want to go too deep too fast. Often recognizable by their long string of “horrible” ex-partners. Typical behavior for Borderlines.
  • Jealous/Possessive: Feels needy and/or entitled to you. Jealousy may be a sign the person isn’t getting something they want or need (and maybe can’t articulate). Or that your relationship preferences are incompatible. (You want poly; they want monogamy.) I’ve also seen people get jealous when their partner acted like an ass: breaking agreements, cheating, ignoring them at a party to play with an exciting new partner. But if you both agree on relationship parameters, you behave reasonably, and they still act unreasonably jealous or possessive, that’s a bad sign.
  • The Obsessive/Stalker: Thinks you’re wonderful — too wonderful. Or obsesses that you’re cheating or about to cheat. Makes you the center of their life even after you lose interest. May spread malicious rumors about you to your friends, follow or spy on you, even become violent.
  • Self-Destructive: Low self-esteem, filled with self-hatred or a desire to interrupt or end the awful emotional agony they live in, this person does things to punish themselves, wreck their life, and damage or destroy themselves. May self-mutilate, do heavy drugs, attempt or commit suicide. The submissive version may try to rope a Top into punishing or even killing them as they think they deserve (but are too weak to do themselves).
  • Unstable: Has significant emotional, addiction, or mental problems. May seem to have their life together, then crash, causing mayhem all around. Or they alternate between loving and cold or enraged.
  • The Rageaholic: Finds a lot to be angry about. How the world is. Other people’s behavior. Your behavior. May manifest as excessive criticism, nagging, yelling, property destruction, even physical violence.
  • The Narcissist: Everything is about them, their needs, and the ways others perceive them. They are so wonderful that you should be grateful to have them, on any terms. Needs to be the center of attention, and will sulk or create trouble if they’re not. This type often has a long string of estranged former partners with whom they are not friendly.
  • The Borderline: Unstable, high-drama, emotional, changeable, unreliable. These folks are typically much more disabled than they appear (to you or themselves). Their lives and relationships are often chaotic. Because of the pain, fear, and anger they feel, and traumas they suffered in childhood, Borderlines often act Destructive and/or Self-Destructive. Often charming and very seductive, they are usually Splitters and frequently Troublemakers. Many are also truly wonderful people… part of the time.
  • The Sociopath: Doesn’t care about anyone else’s well-being. Destructive behavior ranges from merely uncaring to malicious, even dangerous. Typically charming, seems unusually attractive. Warning sign: Their crazy-making behavior gets you wondering if you’re crazy.


© 2011 by Libida Morgasm. All rights reserved.


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