Kia Ora and welcome to both FetLife and BDSM
This is the second part in a series of articles that I intend to write for people who are new to either, or both Fetlife and BDSM. The first part of the series covered the basics of setting up a Profile and understanding the roles and status types that are included – as well as looking at ways to access more BDSM information through groups of other online sites. You can read the first part of this series here.
What makes me a good person to write a series like this? Nothing. I simply have enough confidence to assume that it may be something worth doing – and I do have a couple of decades experience as an active Sadist and Master (originally my M/s background was Gorean). 😉
In this episode…
I am going to talk about the basics of finding a play partner, meeting them for the first time, and then moving forward to play with them for the first time. It will cover the following topics in a basic way:
- So remind me… what is the difference between Play, a Scene and the Scene?
- Finding Mr/s Right
- I have found someone interesting. How do I get started with playing?
- The Checklist. What do I want?
- Play Safe
- Sub space
- Sub drop
I would also like to acknowledge a Southland Dom (sleeveluver) who, once again, has acted as a sounding board and person to discuss this wee project with.
Don’t forget to read the other parts in this series of guides. The currently available other parts are:
Give this some love 🙂
If you are reading this go on and press the Love button. It will give it wider circulation and therefore help it find the news feeds of more newly arrived kinksters. It is in all of our interests to help them integrate into our community as swiftly as possible by providing them with as much information as we can.
Can I share this?
I am happy for you to share this or repost it anywhere on the web that you choose – just do the right thing and attribute it to 2Jays on Fetlife.com. I would also prefer that it remained unedited, and included the entire post (such as this bit and the rest of the above introduction).
Document Version History
- Added a section titled Seeking a Local Munch Group.
- Added a Further Reading list with links to the other chapters in this series.
So remind me… what is the difference between Play, a Scene and the Scene?
These are rather straight forward terms that need to be understood before you will successfully move towards negotiating and enjoying your first BDSM experiences with people that you meet on a site such as Fetlife.
- Play = Play is what we do when we interact in a BDSM way. If you flog someone, if you get spanked, if urinating upon someone’s face, or if you have your partner on a leash and make them drink milk from a kitten bowl… you are playing. Play is a broad term for all BDSM and kink activities when they are being enacted. (I played with Betty last night, gave her a splendid paddling with my kauri frat paddle.)
- The Scene = The Scene is the real life in person BDSM community. It will vary from place to place, and there are different subgroups within it (such as Old Guard) however it is a reasonably standard term. (There is a Scene workshop on tonight about figging. Figging is putting raw ginger in someone’s ass or vagina.)
- A Scene = The area where your play is taking place, as well as the play. This is more commonly used than play for larger scale interactions that use a lot more equipment or toys. (Jill scened with Jack on the St Andrews Cross.)
Finding Mr/s Right
At this point you have your Fetlife profile all set up, and you are basically chomping at the bit to start the process of meeting either the soul mate of your dreams, or, the wicked playmate of your darkest desires. The path to that first person can be a challenging one, and I would like to highlight a few things that are quite common.
Primarily I will deal with online dating here, and not the case of meeting someone from Scene events. I am taking that tact as this is specifically a Fetlife survival guide.
Online scams do exist
I am aware of a very educated (postgraduate university qualifications) and highly experienced (several years in BDSM) middle aged man who lives in Southland (New Zealand) and was badly scammed by an online BDSM community website user. Having discussed the events with him at length, in his case it was an incredibly intricate scam where the scammer (listed as an experienced female submissive) even used fake documents, gained bruising/swelling to fake a car crash (the photos provided have since been identified as being a car belonging to a different person), and a third party to play a fake role over the telephone. He ultimately fell victim to a combination of loneliness and his desire to protect someone and that cost him a thousands of dollars.
I am recounting those details (with his permission on the grounds that he remains anonymous) for the sole purpose of reinforcing the idea that while amazing people exist, and the partner of your dreams is out there… there are also less honest individuals who do prey on others through online ‘dating’ sites. Be careful. Check everything you can, and go slowly. Sometimes being cautious and making sure things are as they seem can pay off in the end.
How can I keep myself safe?
There has been a plethora of stuff written about keeping yourself safe in online dating situations. Unfortunately a lot of that invaluable information is often not made explicitly available within kink based dating and community sites. I do not for a single second pretend to be an expert on online dating safety measures however I will make the following suggestions:
- Use a free Google email account. This can help you avoid giving people access to your ISP provided account and make it a little harder for them to find you.
- Stay relatively anonymous for some time. Yes you can reveal your first name reasonably safely, you could probably also reveal the region you live in. You should however avoid giving out your surname and exact location for a while. It is important to protect yourself – and keep in mind, this relative stranger could use that information straight away to blackmail you with the threat of ‘outing’ you regarding your BDSM interests. Get to know them first.
- Be on the lookout for Red Flags. A Red Flag is personality trait, action or general behavior that can indicate that the person will either be abusive towards you or try to scam you in some way. When you embark on getting to know someone with view towards either a BDSM relationship or play agreement it is really important to be aware of what to ‘look out for’, and to watch for Red Flags. Keep in mind that a single Red Flag does not make the person evil or someone to avoid – it just means they are human, and no human being (even including super-humans like me) is 100% perfect (I am at least 103% perfect ofcourse). When you see Red Flags slow down, and if you keep seeing them stop. I will talk more about some of the more common Red Flags below.
- Remember that distance = money. If you are not employed and well paid keep in mind that you are probably better off with someone close. Long distance relationships are, and I speak from experience, very expensive. Weekly flights to see each other on weekends become costly fast. Keep in mind that you may have to go through time periods of not seeing each other, or, one of you might have to pack up and move house.
- Keep a lid on your expectations. This applies in two ways. Firstly, keep in mind that the first person you meet may not be the best one – they are simply the first one. Consequently go into the meeting with the expectation of a good conversation with someone you have enjoyed talking with thus far – not thinking ‘this is the one, I will meet him and kneel’. Secondly, keep in mind that if you are a brand new dominant… you may not be Mr Super Attractive to the fetish model masochist with ten years experience in being tortured on stage at large public events. (Fortunately or unfortunately, from my general observations newcomer submissives are at times able to be very attractive to experienced dominants, but new dominants are rarely interesting to experienced submissives.) So pursue appropriate relationships.
- Be responsible. Try not to meet a dozen people and wind up having bareback sex with them all. This is a good way to catch a disease and spread it throughout the community. Be responsible about what you are doing and protect your own, and others’, health.
Red Flags in more detail
I strongly suggest that if you are seeing Red Flags you should stop your interaction with the person. Red Flags can indicate that you will be heading towards an abusive relationship – or that you are about to be scammed. If the person responds badly to your breaking off the relationship there is an ignore feature within Fetlife. Alternatively, if it is more extreme, you have other options such as contacting a respected dominant from your local Scene and asking for their assistance in dealing with the person, contacting an abusive relationships help line, or simply phoning the Police. (Keep in mind here that the Police will ask questions about how you met the person etc.) If you are in New Zealand you are welcome to email us if you need advice or help with a situation like this.
Mr Jay’s list of common Red Flags to watch for is:
- Breaks promises. These could be about doing things for you, meeting you or anything else.
- Liars are bad.
- Seems inconsistent with the information on their profile or with things they have told you – especially in terms of their job, where they live or their marital status.
- Not giving you their home phone number when you ask for it after talking for a while, and/or, not giving you their work phone number after meeting.
- Claims to be a dominant without being in control of their own lives. A few examples of not being in control of their own life might include: not having a job, not having a permanent and reasonable place to live, having a horribly messy house, or having serious mental health issues (while I recognise that mental health issues do not make you bad in any way and they are just an illness – a time when you have them is not a good time to try to take control of another human being).
- Consistently making you feel bad about yourself for the stage you are up to with progressing into the BDSM lifestyle. Alternatively suggesting that you are not a ‘twue sub’, or that all others are not ‘twue doms’.
- Is always in touch with you at odd times. While this might be a sign of a super active social life it could also be a sign that they are hiding their contact with you from a significant other. Even if it is the active social life option you would probably be better off with someone who has time for you before the wee hours.
- Is too interested in alcohol or recreational drugs. This applies for two reasons – firstly due to the severe waste of money it causes to people in a relationship, and secondly because BDSM is a relationship and lifestyle choice where the mind is extremely important and where people need to be capable of making crucial judgement calls during sexual interactions (or play). Regularly being in a chemically altered state reduces the capacity to make those calls in an effective and prompt way. Furthermore if people play in an altered state – they are dangerous.
- Goes missing for periods of time. This could be hours, overnight or for a few days. They may have a wonderfully elaborate reason. Watch for patterns if it happens more than once. If it seems too dramatic it probably is.
- Quickly indicates that they need financial assistance with some kind of life disaster.
- Is obviously bad with money. In 2011 Time Magazine published an article to warn people about the real dangers of sexually transmitted debt, or the consequences of debt exposure when entering into new relationships. Here in New Zealand it is such an issue that a prominent Christchurch lawyer has even written about it on their company website.
- Has lots of children with lots of different partners. If all of those relationships produced children and did not work out what is to say you will not be the next ex-partner with a child to that person. The obvious answer here is to ensure the use multiple types of birth control.
- Is visibly unable to control emotions like anger, or, indications that they have an anger management issue. This could also include things like quickly swapping between people being beloved friends and total enemies, or announcing love for you before really getting to know you.
Basically trust your gut instinct here and be on guard.
Your emails and cell phone and Fetlife account
While I do recognise that:
- Even vanilla couples often share email accounts or passwords
- It is not an uncommon practice for Masters/Mistresses in established M/s relationships to monitor the communications of slaves (perhaps by reading their cell phone logs, having their email and Fetlife passwords, or using a GPS tracking feature on their cell phone)
That kind of control is most likely not something that you are ready for as a newcomer. Furthermore, it is not something that should ever happen quickly within a relationship. This kind of thing is a deep form of submission that should never be taken lightly – and which needs a huge level of trust on both sides.
My strong advice is to avoid relationships, or people who are pushing for this level of control, if you are new to BDSM. Furthermore, I suggest avoiding such things even if you are an experienced M/s practitioner if the person is pushing to introduce it to the relationship quickly.
Seeking a Local Munch Group
Joining your local BDSM community munch group is a great way to get started at meeting new people. A munch is basically a meeting of kinky folks that is usually held at a restaurant or cafe in vanilla clothes. It is a semi-regular get-together where you can meet like minded people and begin establishing friendships.
One great resource for finding your local munch group is:
- FindaMunch.com, aka The Munch+Adult Local Link (MALL) Directory. Their website states that they are: ‘the most extensive, actively updated, worldwide source for links to and descriptions of adult locality-based groups, gatherings, events, parties, dungeons, activities, meets, resources and information.’ This is obviously an awesome way to find local people – no matter if you are new to BDSM, travelling or moving house.
As an example of a munch group the Gorean Diners is a new munch group that I am getting started in Gore, New Zealand.
I have found someone interesting. How do I get started with playing?
As a newcomer there are three things you should do when you get started – they are important for your safety and to make sure you have a positive experience.
At the first meeting
When you first meet someone with a view to setting up BDSM interactions there are a few important things to keep in mind.
- Meet in public and on neutral ground the first time. Wherever it is possible and practical you should organise to meet in public for the first time. If you live within a short distance that first meeting should ideally be a brief one too – say coffee or lunch. This gives you an easy ‘out’ if the sexy person you thought you were talking to turns out to be not so appealing. It also gives you an opportunity to see if the person seems to be legitimate.
- Make sure that you are carrying a charged cell phone that has calling and texting credit. If you live in a rural area it is also important to make sure, before going, that your carrier has cell phone coverage i the area that the meeting is scheduled for.
- Do not drink alcohol or take recreational drugs on or before your date.
- Keep in mind the power of prescription drugs like flunitrazepam (sometimes known as Rohypnol, roofies, Narcozep or Hypnodorm). Flunitrazepam is a hypnotic prescription drug that is intended to be used as a treatment of chronic or severe insomniacs who are not responsive to other hypnotic drugs. (Ie. This is the heavy stuff.) It has been referred to as a date rape drug because of its high potency and ability to cause strong amnesia. I am aware of a case in Australia (I knew the submissive who it happened to – I was working there at the time) where her drink was spiked with flunitrazepam and she awoke with heavy bruising not remembering the encounter. Flunitrazepam aside, we should all recognise that drinks can be spiked with a wide range of substances. Always watch your drinks.
Planning for the first play session
I would like to stress here that the following is written with the targeted audience being people who are inexperienced at BDSM, or who are completely new. I am aware that variations can be appropriate with more experienced players, and that there are particular circumstances where different processes might be appropriate. The point however is that for newcomers this is, in my opinion, the most advisable approach.
*Negotiate = You need to talk to the person/people that you intend to play with. Discuss what will happen and what should not happen. Make sure that everyone understands what is and is not OK. Having a plan of some sort is good.
*Safewords = Set a safeword with your potential play partner/s. A safeword is something that stops play. As someone completely new to BDSM this is very important as it gives you an ‘out’ of play that is not going so well. This also means that the word ‘no’ can be ignored – allowing you to act out otherwise challenging content and fulfil things like rape fantasies.
*Safe calls = Always tell a friend, or someone from the Scene where you are going to play and with who. This is so that if something goes horribly wrong the cavalry will be sent in. It is rare, but it is sensible. Often people have active safe calls where it is set up beforehand and if they do not txt or call at a particular time the cavalry is on the way. The reality is that you could be tied up, gagged, blindfolded, and your partner standing above you with a cain. Be smart. If you are really stuck and can not find someone to run a safe call for you (and you live in New Zealand) email us and we will try to help.
- Do not participate in heavy S/m play or bondage play in the first play session. This is for the safety of both the dominant and the submissive. You both have a lot to potentially lose if either something goes wrong or the other party has second thoughts. (If there are more than two people present bondage is less risky.) Obviously this is negated if the play is at a public play party and both participants are highly experienced.
Your best bet as a new BDSMer is to start slowly and softly, and then to build up. It is better to be left wanting more than to be left having had too much and not want to try again.
The Top/Dominant/Master should also check the state of the submissive/bottom a few times during play sessions – I like to use a non-verbal check method where I squeeze her hand twice with mine, if she is ok she is required to immediately squeeze my hand back twice.
Think about safety and take precautions in advance. Do not attempt anything where you can not get the submissive into a safe position quickly, and make sure you have the medical or help seeking knowledge to deal with any situations that may arise. You need to remember that sometimes things go wrong – so have a plan and have thought about possible outcomes.
Both Hard and Soft Limits are used in negotiating BDSM play and relationships. A Hard Limit is something that you simply will not do – no matter what. A Soft Limit is something that you really do not want to do, and would only do under very particular circumstances with a very particular person – and probably would like to avoid anyway.
Virtually everyone has several Hard Limits which include things that society deems illegal. Additionally you may have other Hard Limits which relate to things that create different strong responses of a very negative kind.
It is totally normal to have some limits and this is not something to worry about. Having no limits would be a worry, as that would mean you were happy to have your limbs amputated.
The Checklist. What do I want?
In negotiating play, or a BDSM relationship, using a BDSM checklist can be really helpful. The following Checklist is one that I have helped format – feel free to check it out and use it to help your negotiations go a little smoother.
The content of the checklist was copied from Bondage.com, before that site closed, by Sir Jude of www.sweetsurrender.org. He then compiled it various other internet based sources to create a singular compilation and is rather thorough. Since then Mr Jay has done further compiling and formatting work on the list. Like Sir Jude, Mr jay is providing this checklist FREE to the public for distribution how they see fit although a citation back to his FetLife page is appreciated.https://fetlife.com/users/3803021
It really does not matter if you are into: calling your tutu wearing partner Hitler while you spank him lightly with a fluffy pink feather duster; urinating in her mouth; or, using a sjambok on her thighs until they are swollen with bloody welts… the same crucially important rule applies. This one, is a rule. Play safe.
In thinking about safe BDSM practice one of the usual ways of defining the best approach is SSC, or Safe, Sane and Consensual.
Being safe is paramount. It is something that we think about in many aspects of our lives – from not touching hot pans on the cooktop to looking both ways when you cross the road. This is also applicable when you engage in BDSM. Edge play is fine, heavy sadism is fine – but there must always be planning and an understanding of activities to ensure that what you are doing will not result in long term or permanent harm.
Sane is just as important as safe. If a top is too deeply into a scene, or someone is not thinking clearly due to drink or illicit drugs, the play is not sane. People need to play in a way where they understand what is going on and they are making appropriate decisions.
Consensual is all about both parties being informed and agreeing to take part. This is important not just in BDSM but in all sexual relations. When we talk about consensual activities we also recognise the place of consensual non-consent.
Sub space is a natural high that submissives can (but do not always) experience during BDSM play. It can be prompted by a range of things including, but not limited to, the pain of S/m play and the psychological and emotional stimulations of D/s control. Upon entering sub space the submissive feels ‘floaty’ – they might not possess their usual sense of time and they usually have an impaired ability to communicate. Sometimes they do not have the same concept of their body during sub space, and their acceptance of pain can increase many fold. Due to that increased pain tolerance level it becomes crucial for the dominant to be even more aware of precisely what is happening during the scene and to behave in an ethical and responsible manner.
Endorphins (‘endogenous morphine’) is a very special biochemical within the body that is produced by the central nervous system and pituitary gland. In a nutshell, upon release into the body endorphins inhibit the transmission of pain signals and produce a euphoric feeling those produced by opioid drugs.
Scientists are aware that endorphins are released in a range of situations including extreme physical exertion, pain and orgasm. These chemicals can provide us with a physiological set of responses which combine with the mental and emotional responses of a good scene and help the submissive move into sub space.
FetLife Groups that discuss sub space
Top space is not really discussed the same way that Scene members discuss and document sub space. I believe however that it is a very real thing – and from my experience does exist. Top space, based on my thinking and experience, is a place that I enter during a heavy S/m scene. It is literally nothing like sub space – it is a place where awareness of every detail takes on a new level, where you feel total focus and your connection to the submissive deeply increases. It is definitely a unique headspace, but it is one that empowers the here and now.
One stereotype of the vanilla male is the idea of a quick fuck followed by wandering off to do something else and ignoring his partner – both in terms of her sexual and emotional needs. When we deconstruct that scenario in the light of nonsensical heterosexual male led vanilla M/s we might see the following points:
- Vanilla Master uses his wanton headache-free wifey to satisfy his vanilla itch for 10 seconds of missionary bliss.
- Vanilla Master has a thought that he should watch the game in TV so wanders off to do that, his vanilla itch sated.
*Headache-free wifey, having just surrendered her almost slightly damp cunt to her sort-of liked Vanilla Master for a full 10 seconds, is feeling all awash with emotions and lays on the bed confused about what she did wrong as he wanders off. She probably also wishes she had a hitachi…
- Eventually headache-free wifey gives up on her monthly 10 seconds of bliss as she always feels put out by Vanilla Master rushing off to watch the game and how she is left feeling afterwards.
Unfortunately that irritatingly pathetic scenario can also occur in BDSM-world – but with a few differences.
After a scene it is crucial for the dominant or top to invest time into helping the submissive to come back to a normal state. In general terms there are a few basics that you can do which will go a long way – they are:
- Cuddle her. In the case of most submissives (well all but one) that I have done heavy play with they tend to really respond positively to being held after a scene. It gives the warmth and emotional connection that they need to feel after opening themselves and laying their bodies and minds bare before you during whatever deliciously dark things you did to them. This should including a gentle caress.
- Keep her warm. Submissives have a tendency to get cold after an intense scene. It might be that you have had them naked for three hours of beating their ass, or it might be the fan you put on the cool you down while you were having to stand there swinging a cane. It does not matter. Have a blanket on hand, put it over you both, keep her warm and hold her close while doing so.
- Give her something to drink. I used to own a Masochist in the early 90s who would almost crave super sweet coffee after a heavy scene. I have my own theories about the reason it had to be so sweet but that is unimportant. The fact is that drinking (non-alcoholic) is good at this point. It is a normal activity, and it will help bring her back to her normal headspace. This is also important in that if the scene was long she would naturally be thirsty.
Do not suddenly put on bright lighting or expect her to participate in a discussion of philosophy. This time is all about remaining connected. If the dominate does not provide appropriate aftercare there can be negative effects on the headspace of the submissive – not to mention the obvious fact that she may choose to never play with him again.
Aftercare and Play Parties
If you are in the situation of being invited along, and attending, a play party as a BDSM newcomer the aftercare phase is something that you need to keep firmly in mind. This can be a time to see aftercare practices modelled for you by a variety of experienced dominants and tops.
One pitfall that newcomers sometimes fall into is rushing up to ask a dominant about his/her scene immediately, or soon, after it has finished – thinking they have done the right thing by waiting and not interrupting the scene itself. They are correct that waiting and not interrupting the scene is the right thing to do; however, they also need to wait and not interrupt the aftercare period. The submissive may still be floating merrily in subspace, and the dominant might still be in his own headspace too. This is a time where those people will be bonding, and sharing the pleasure/result of what just happened. Give them time, watch how the dominant takes care of the submissive, and smile. Those moments are just as special (to me) as the moments during the scene itself.
Sub drop is a temporary state of depression that can be experienced after play by either masochists of submissives. It can be minimised through excellent aftercare however it is not something that you can always guarantee avoiding – the mind is a very complex thing and different experiences can touch on deep triggers that the dominant and submissive both were not previously aware of.
The ‘drop’ can occur anything from a few hours to a few days after play – and it is something that in no way reflects badly on the submissive. It is a known process that many people go through.
After play, for the next few days, you should regularly check in on the person that you have played with. Those check ins are important so that you can make sure they are not going through a ‘drop’ process – and provide the support that they may need if they are.
I hope that this small chapter in my BDSM guide series for newcomers has been useful to you in some way. If you have any questions and you think we might be able to help – feel free to ask us. Please leave your comments, feedback and ideas for ways to improve this guide below.
The next episode in this series will tackle the somewhat contentious topic ofGorean BDSM – both online and in real life. 🙂
Don’t forget to read the other parts in this series of guides. The currently available other parts are: