"How did you come about the realization that you wanted to be a slave/sub and how did you go about finding a Master? How do you protect yourself from getting hurt while looking and meeting dominants?"
I didn't know there was a name for who I was until I was in late 20's. At that time I was on AOL and they had bulletin board type forums. I stumbled upon one for submissives and found myself nodding along to it. After that, I went out and tried to find information on the lifestyle. I read and discussed the lifestyle every chance I could. Eventually I tired to introduce my then husband to it. Our life had a basis for it as he had a lot of control in our relationship - even though he would say he didn't. But our life was set up to kind of naturally fall into the D/s as we really were that way with each other already.
After I left my husband, I did seek out being Owned, but I will tell you I wasn't as self-aware as I wished I had been so that I knew exactly what I wanted. Each relationship after of course helped me learn things I wanted and didn't want in a relationship.
Master and I met through a mutual friend. She thought I would be perfect for him so told him to contact me. We chatted online for a while before talking on the phone and then meeting. Before Master though I just had an ad on bondage.com and chatted with some dominants. Most of them are out for one thing kinky sex. But usually that is apparent quickly so I could say goodbye.
I feel the best ways to find the person for you - is to not look. I have found over the years that when I wasn't looking that someone came to my attention that really captivated me. Master was that way as someone suggested he write me and when did I wasn't looking. Of course mingle, talk and chat with people, and go to munches and events, but don't actively look over all the personal ads out there. Just let it organically happen with someone you get along with and respect.
On to the protection question....every time we pursue any type of relationship, intimate to friendship - we risk getting hurt. People who care about us will hurt us so you can't really protect yourself emotionally from getting hurt with attachments.
Getting hurt physically...well let me pose this question a little differently...how would a person normally protect herself when meeting and looking for someone of like interest? I tend to treat the lifestyle similarly to how I would normally do with just everyday life. So if I were going to date a vanilla man that I met from the internet, I would meet for coffee first. I would make sure I went in with my feet on the ground and not get swept up in the feelings to let myself be talked into "more than coffee." A safe call is a good idea...it is where you tell a friend times of when and where you are going to be and then call when you get there and call when you are leaving. I always set up safe calls when I was meeting someone new. I usually actually did the safe call the first few times I met them.
Know though even meeting for several coffees and then maybe dinners won't ensure you won't be hurt physically. Just like a vanilla man can lie someone in a the lifestyle can do the same. They can seem wonderful and safe while sitting across from them talking, but behind closed doors things can change so just always use your common sense. Realize that sometimes we do have red flags going off, but we often ignore them. Try hard to sit down and rationally without emotion see those flags.
Use your common sense and gut instinct. Know you are the best judge of what you seek. Yes, of course get close friends opinions, but again know that you are the only one that knows what is best for you. Just don't fool yourself into thinking everything is great when really everything isn't so good at all.
*This group of questions was one I got years and years ago in an email. While going through my old emails I decided that the answer could be a good blog. I do get the question how to find a Master quite a lot.