Power Exchange Dating: Part One

handcuffed couple

While there is plenty of kink to be had solo there is no power exchange without a partner or partners. Gotta get out there and rub yourself a little somethin’. Mingle. Talk to people. Engage with the kinky masses. Once you do, you may not call what you do “dating” and that’s okay. But, is that just because it’s happening inside the BDSM world?

This is the first of three articles that will discuss dating for those of us who love the power exchange. The world would spin a little better if everyone or, at least, some of us, kinky people, could find their best partners. Here are two strategies that might give power exchange seekers their best chance: kink play and vanilla dating.

Dating Strategy #1: Kink play/relationship
Kinky singles may start their search for a prospective mate at munches, clubs, and at kink events. Within these like-minded herds a kinky single can get busy: talking with people, watching or participating in demos, and probably with play. Kinky singles are everywhere. That’s true: private parties, kink events, ticket-purchase public parties, conferences, and clubs.

Public or private play might give you your first experiences with negotiations with the person you like. Remember that negotiations are not a guarantee. Rather, negotiations are an exercise in working cooperatively. They are an active proof of whether you should go forward. Doesn’t that sound something like negotiating later to see if you should go forward into a relationship?

Your play experiences, public or private, are likely to be good relationship practice. Play partners have to trust each other. Play partners have to communicate well. Play partners have to be flexible and work together. Kinky play done well can give you good practice being a good listener. You can practice speaking up for yourself. Play sessions will help you with being sensitive to your partner’s needs.

Sex can be part of your assessment. Sex for some people demonstrates how well or not a desirable shift in power has happened. Did control already defer to the dominant? How much control? Are the dating partners ready to commit?

Dating Strategy #2: start with vanilla dating
In strategy number two we have vanilla people who might cross over into the kink world. They continue into a kink-centric, power exchange relationship. Their deliberate agreements and commitment are kink normal. If they had remained in the vanilla world they might only have known about the boyfriend/girlfriend model. It says that love is enough to support making a life together. The ubiquitous vanilla world, boyfriend/girlfriend model is not known for its deliberate or explicit agreement–making as necessary.

A woman at a munch spoke about why vanilla dating still had value for kinky people. She said that you have to know each other first.

It’s also possible that kinky people may step out for a little vanilla dating activity. Sure, why not. The dating couple can step into non-kink as a deliberate choice. Their challenge is to know each other better. They might see a few new movies, stroll along the lake, travel to the Caribbean, and take up rock climbing before returning to BDSM environments and the lifestyle.

A dominant male once said, “there is life and self outside of kink that has to be dealt with.” In his own life, by way of example, there’s how to coordinate three live-in adults and a part-time adult plus X–number of children all in one household.

Think about vanilla dating as a means for trust building. Imagine brave kinky couples contemplating a committed relationship. They are taking their negotiating skills, their play scene partnering experiences, and more from the kink world into the vanilla world. The test is whether they can like and love each other as equals first. They’ll apply the higher level of trust that they’ve worked to achieve to a relationship as dominant and sub/slave. Their kink muscles will be stronger and serve them well along the whole journey of growing closer.

Multiple Paths to Dating Success
On either of these paths or their variations anyone wanting a successful dating result should take a high interest in their date’s wants and needs. Avoid using people just as a means to get what you want. By concentrating on your dating partner’s needs you are more likely to find the pleasure and satisfaction you sought for yourself. The power exchange requires strong partnering. Behaving like a partner even in a light sense during dating can only set a solid footing toward the stable, long-term relationship you most desire.

Mistress Sky is a tantra practitioner, bondage queen, and hypnotist. Professionally, Sky is a life positive counselor for alternative lifestyles at Gates Counseling. She gives presentations and workshops and writes about Unequal Partnership, the dominance/submission model that she developed over the last ten years.


  1. Felicity Sings says:

    I still don’t think that dating vanilla is the way to go. You run the off chance of falling in love but then realizing they are not ultimately kinky. it just doesn’t work! and so disappointing. More often than not, I have found vanilla people are simply that, vanilla. If you’re going to do it, definitely have the are you interested or open to kink convo very early on.

    • WhoWantsToKnow says:

      YES! Preach it! I completely understand and am in one of those situations right now. It drags you down more than anything else.

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