When someone makes themselves vulnerable to you, physically, mentally and emotionally, then that creates a responsibility for you to ensure that you protect their well being to the best of your ability. The more power they yeild to you, the greater your obligation to look after them is.
I have failed and will continue to fail from time to time, living up to my responsibilities as a Dom, but I never take it lightly and always try to learn from my mishaps.
The need to live up to your expectations towards each other, that's the natural check and balances of a working power exchange. The breakdown occurs when either someone tries to hand over power to you, you're not looking to accept, and they create an emotional vulnerable state that you feel no obligation to protect, because you didn't consent or create that type of dynamic with them or you neglect your fundamental duties to care for them, once that vulnerability has been created in a consensual power exchange.
When the submissive can feel safe in all the ways she finds herself vulnerable to her Dom and he accepts and wants that responsibility and lives up to everything that entails, to the best of his ability, then that's the foundation of a power exchange.
That exchange of vulnerability and responsibility may only last a scene, a weekend or a lifetime together. But in any instance, both sides owe each other, respect, dutiful attention and an effort to have a mutually understanding of each other's roles.
More so than protocols, kinks, sex and service. The basic exchange of power, vulnerability and responsibility is the essence of a D/s relationship. That creates a need for each other and creates an opportunity to bond with one another in a very significant way.
That's why I do what I do and why I love this this lifestyle.
Play safe, play responsible and enjoy each other. Always.