How does one even start the conversation about daddies? Daddies are sexy, daddies are kinky, daddies are typically older (but not always), and daddies are loving. The subject of daddies will inevitably draw a smirk from someone in a crowd of gay men, but we can all ignore him. Nobody can agree on what a daddy exactly is — Is he a kinky dominant, a trusted friend, a source of financial aid, a muscular body, a smaller body, a hairy body, a boy-chaser, a mentality, or all the above? I won’t offer an exact definition, because there is none, and the world of queer men would be a less beautiful place if there was. I will simply say that I love daddies — and I wouldn’t be here without them. Browse these 29 indicators that you’ve found a good one, boy. My name is Alexander Cheves, and I am known by friends in the kink and leather community as Beastly. I am a sex-positive writer and blogger. The views in this slideshow do not reflect those of The Advocate and are based solely off of my own experiences. Like everything I write, the intent of this piece is to break down the stigmas surrounding the sex lives of gay men.Those who are sensitive to frank discussions about sex are invited to click elsewhere, but consider this: If you are outraged by content that address sex openly and honestly, I invite you to examine this outrage and ask yourself whether it should instead be directed at those who oppress us by policing our sexuality.For all others, enjoy the slideshow. And feel free to leave your own suggestions of sex and dating topics in the comments.Hungry for more? Follow me on Twitter @BadAlexCheves and visit my blog, The Beastly Ex-Boyfriend. A Word of Warning From Writer Alexander ChevesMy name is Alexander Cheves, and I am known by friends in the kink and leather community as Beastly. I am a sex-positive writer and blogger. The views in this slideshow do not reflect those of The Advocate and are based solely off of my own experiences. Like everything I write, the intent of this piece is to break down the stigmas surrounding the sex lives of gay men.Those who are sensitive to frank discussions about sex are invited to click elsewhere, but consider this: If you are outraged by content that address sex openly and honestly, I invite you to examine this outrage and ask yourself whether it should instead be directed at those who oppress us by policing our sexuality.For all others, enjoy the slideshow. And feel free to leave your own suggestions of sex and dating topics in the comments.Hungry for more? Follow me on Twitter @BadAlexCheves and visit my blog, The Beastly Ex-Boyfriend. 1. Life experience.For as long as there have been gay men, there have been daddy-boy relationships. Older gay men have always helped out, guided, and instructed younger gay men on how to live, how to get ahead, and — don’t roll your eyes — how to be gay.I will not speak for other members of the LGBT spectrum here, because it’s not my place to do so. But I believe that for all gender presentations and orientations under the queer umbrella, this practice is true and long-held. Those of us born to heterosexual parents are simply not like them. We cannot learn our history or our language from them or share their experience any more than our heterosexual parents can learn or share in ours.A man I’d consider for a daddy-son relationship would be someone who can tell me his stories and give me hope for my life and present me with a vague idea of what’s coming. I have so few role models and so few people I look up to that I often feel like I’m sailing through uncharted waters. Older gay men remind me that many homos have come before me and prospered. Their lessons are among the most important I’ve been taught. 2. Sexual experience.The language around daddy-boy pairings is rooted in kinky, dominant-submissive relationships. Kinksters (kinky people) generally assume daddies are dominants and boys/sons are submissives. Anyone who’s read this column might guess that I get pretty kinky. Kinky people learn from other kinky people with more experience, so that is something I would look for in a daddy. I want someone who knows more than I do and will help me explore new areas of kink as a skilled dominant. 3. He works past your 50 percent.Some people give you 100 percent at the beginning. They offer their loyalty and trust and hope you’ll be as equally benevolent and generous in return. I take the opposite approach: I give new people my minimum closeness and let them work up. When someone gets past my 50 percent — when they’ve put in the hours and patience to earn it — they may be considered more than a friend. 4. He checks on you regularly to make sure you’re OK.Caretakers are the salt of the earth. These are the people who take you home when you’re drunk when they could stay out having a good time. A good daddy is a caretaker: his natural impulse is to watch over you and check in regularly to make sure you’re doing OK. 5. You have compatible sexual interests.The relationship is not going far if you’re kinky and he’s totally vanilla. 6. He’s a friend first, daddy second.My best friend is my former sir. I called him sir while we were together — the label meant a lot to me and to him as well — but I doubt he would have minded if I had called him daddy.We had a dominant-submissive relationship that fit the bill of what a kinky daddy-boy setup would be. We played together, had intense, hot sessions, and would often go get dinner after we played. When I needed a good cry or to talk about something difficult or personal, I went to him. When we played, he pushed my limits, taught me new kinks, and let me explore my interests with him.There are few people I could call in an emergency and know without a doubt they’d be there, and he is at the top of that list. Our friendship survived because he took the time to be a friend first. Future daddies: do that. 7. You have good conversations.You know those talks where one hour becomes suddenly becomes four? You want those with a daddy. You want to be able to curl up against your daddy’s chest and spill your thoughts — or sit and listen, enraptured — through an afternoon. 8. He’s encouraging.I’m in my 20s. I work all the time. My future feels so uncertain and frightening. When an older gay man tells me, “You’re going to be OK, son,” I burst into tears. 9. Emotional maturity.Everyone gets in foul moods from time to time. Emotional maturity is the ability to recognize a bad feeling for what it is (as a problem in oneself, a situation, or someone else) and communicate it in a moderately healthy way when you are ready. 10. Roots. Pay attention, class. The gay textbook undoubtedly defines “daddy” as “an older, established gay man who dates or has sexual relations with younger gay men.” Like so many items in the gay textbook, this definition needs updating — age and money have less to do with it — but “established” is a nice word.My ideal daddy is someone whose life is pretty stable. He has a house or condo or apartment and is staying put for now. He might have a husband or partner. He has a steady job. He has a community. He has roots. 11. He handles his liquor — and other substances — well.He’s the sweetest, sexiest man in the world, but he becomes a belligerent, angry, and reckless person when he drinks. If this is the case, the relationship won’t go anywhere. Unless you’re sober, you’re probably going to do some kind of substance with the person you like at some point, and you want to like — or at least be able to tolerate — who he is in those times. 12. He’s reliable.“Reliability” gets wrapped up in the list of things we generally want and expect from parent figures — and rarely get from them. Here is an opportunity to explain daddy-son things for guys who might not “get” them.When I date a man, I will comfort him, hold him, scold him, apologize to him, play with him, get into trouble with him, make him feel safe, and — if we get to this point — love him deeply. In this way, I am father, brother, and partner to him. I am his best friend when we go downtown. I am his daddy when he’s crying and my arms are around him.These are all things we generally expect from parents, but the fact is that we don’t get them from parents, and don’t really need them from parents. We need them from partners. We need them from people we love. A “daddy” is really just someone who addresses our needs the way we need them addressed and gives us that place of comfort that so many of us go through life lacking. Sure, there are other things we generally expect from daddies on top of that — sexual dominance, established means, some know-how about the world, and hot, hard, kinky sex — but the core requirement for the role, in my opinion, is the willingness to be that idealized father figure: reliable, encouraging, safe. 13. He fosters a safe space.When I’ve been out all night, hopping through too many sex clubs or downing too many drinks, and find myself in the morning with no sleep, I get in the mood for a daddy — hard. We all know the feeling: raw and used and tired and sick of everyone. In those moments, I think we all want daddies. We want a safe space where we don’t have to look our best or be our “most” — curled under daddy’s big arm. 14. His communication skills are decent.When I care for someone, I welcome “talks.” You know, those “we need to have a talk” talks and “what are your feelings about this” talks.Some guys hate talks — they communicate better in other ways. Look for a daddy who communicates well enough so show you, at the very least, how he communicates. No two people express feelings the same way — certainly not difficult ones — but we can still be good communicators, even if the ways we communicate are different. 15. Potential gym buddy.Working out with a daddy is hot and awesome! Everything I know about the gym I learned from mine. 16. Patience.If you’re daddy-hunting for men a bit older than you, find someone with patience, because dealing with you will require lots of it. When he needs time to himself, with his partner(s) or with friends his own age, it’s probably because you are annoying the shit out of him. That’s okay — young people always annoy older people. It’s what we do. 17. He doesn’t down-talk/age-shame/infantilize you.Like most human characteristics, no one can change their age, so it’s unfair to treat someone as lesser (less intelligent, less mature, less attractive, less valuable) because of it. Age is just a number. 18. Sexy “daddy” mentality. The only true requirement for being a daddy is wanting to be one. My ex is a 24-year-old daddy who loves power-topping older muscle guys. My ex has “daddy mentality.” By the same token, you can be a “boy” at any age — don’t let any ageist youngster tell you otherwise. 19. He doesn’t overplay the role.Regardless if you see daddy-son/daddy-boy as a kinky role play or a legitimate, emotionally-invested, beautiful relationship (both views are valid), it is healthy to not overplay it for the same reasons that it’s not healthy to conflate the place of any relationship in your life. Codependency becomes an ugly thing if you let it. People should be cared for and enjoyed, and it is normal to rely on some of them — to a point. Past that point is when a relationship ceases to be healthy. 20. He isn’t too controlling.Some guys enjoy submitting control over certain parts of their lives, but too much is risky and unwise. Do not hand over control of your medical care, mental health, bills, or finances to someone else. If they ask for it or demand it, leave. Red flags for over-controlling daddies/sirs are when they require your schedule or tell you to report where you are at all times. Some guys might justify this behavior and say it’s part of the daddy-boy eroticism, but I don’t find it healthy, and I refuse to be intimate or emotionally involved with someone who wants to run my life. You are in charge of your life, not him. 21. He takes an interest in the rest of your life.This means he cares about you outside the bedroom, outside your “boy” role, and wants to see you do well. 22. He allows himself to be vulnerable.One problem with being in daddy mode nonstop is that it leaves little room to be comforted when you need it. Everyone needs comforting. Even caretakers need caretakers. Find a daddy who tells you when he’s not feeling so hot and opens up (when he’s ready) about his problems, insecurities, or fears. Not everyone wants to be comforted when they’re upset — most humans will simply appreciate being listened to — but offer it. Show that you care about him and view him as a real person, not just a role. 23. He gives you space when you need it.Everyone needs space. Overbearing daddies who never give their boys space tend to lose them. I value my solo time a lot and freak out when I don’t have enough of it. A good daddy knows when he needs to loosen the reigns. 24. He practices discipline appropriately. Most daddy-son pairings involve some discipline. They might be simple, common sense rules: Text him if you’re out drunk and need a ride home. Always be polite. Say “yes sir” and “yes ma’am” to people — especially him. Or they might be more intense: Wear a chastity device for a week (or longer). Wear your puppy collar when you see him. Spend a certain amount of time at the gym.Different boys/subs/pups like differing degrees of discipline. Many non-kinky guys with daddies simply enjoy having someone giving them instructions and keeping them accountable. As long as discipline is consensual, negotiable, healthy, and appropriate — nothing that will threaten your job or your mental health — then by all means, be a good boy.Remember that you can always negotiate what you do. If he ever closes off negotiation or says you are not allowed to do so, find a different daddy. 25. He makes time for you.Just as you reserve time to be with him, he needs to reserve time to be with you. You don’t want to be put in chastity and left with no pre-arranged meet-up date (and really, you don’t want to be left without a key, should the worst happen). Don’t be a “whenever” boy — you’re a priority, you have immense value. Find someone who sees that. 26. His play is safe, sane, and consensual.If you’re a kinkster, make sure your playtime, whatever it is, is safe, sane, and consensual — the three tenants that all kinky play must abide by in order to be healthy and positive. Be reasonable. Push your body’s natural limits (the body can endure a lot). Play with a safe word. Stop when you want to stop. 27. He does things outside the bedroom with you.Some guys don’t want their daddy to be anything more than a bedroom dominant, but I would argue that this misses the whole point and experience of having a daddy. I’d say such a person would more adequately be called a “sir,” “mister,” or any of the other dozens of words we call dominant guys. A daddy can be all those things and wear any of those hats, but he is also someone who invests in you as a person and wants to see you succeed. I think the best daddies are the ones who go to movies with you, and have dinners with you, and spend time with you outside the bedroom. 28. He makes you laugh.The Franco-Czech writer Milan Kundera has called laughing the enemy of love, a barrier between oneself and the world, and the most sacred human act, depending on which page you read. Find someone who makes you do it. 29. He likes you a LOT.He is tempted to say “love” but he is worried it’ll scare you off, so he says it quietly after you’ve fallen asleep.