This is an update of an article I originally wrote back in January 2016. I decided to resurrect it with some new (and some same) info, for your reading pleasure!
While I love the lifestyle and specifically the very active scene in my home town of Los Angeles, there are key elements that are sometimes overlooked or completely forgotten. In an effort to not make this a list of rants, I’ve tried to offer supportive insight and advice for each item. Feel free to elaborate and add onto the list in the comments!
1. Proper introductions. While protocols are often touted as the norm, I often see folks completely ignore proper hellos and introductions leading to incredibly awkward yet avoidable conversation. Perhaps it’s the dungeon atmosphere that makes people nervous or maybe it’s a Dominant that’s too big for his/her britches, but a polite and respectful “Hello my name is Sir Domly McDomerton-it’s a pleasure to meet you” goes a long way. This etiquette flows over onto FetLife messaging as well. Also, don’t forget to introduce your friend/partner/sub/slave to new or old acquaintances as well. This will ease awkwardness and reinforce the dynamic. If your dynamic includes not introducing your slave/submissive/property as part of punishment or perhaps humiliation play, it may be helpful to indicate as such to ease awkwardness. If all else fails, pretend it’s normal vanilla life and treat people like people. Being at a dungeon or even a munch doesn’t fall too far outside of the ability to treat others as you’d want to be treated.
2. Aftercare. I know you’re sick of hearing about it, but this is a super important ending to almost every scene. Pretend like the scene is a gift and the aftercare is wrapping up the entire package in a nice, clean bow. Maybe you don’t feel like you’ll ever need aftercare, at least check in with the other person for a polite thank you and “how do you feel.” It’s better to be the person who asked about aftercare needs as it shows maturity and experience in the lifestyle. Don’t forget that some Dom/mes may need or want aftercare too. Return the favor!
3. Attending classes. There are enough know-it-alls in the world, please do not fall prey to being one of them. You know the type-they know everything there is from flogging to hook suspension and beyond. While it’s all good and well to be confident, it’s even more important to be well balanced, safe, and educated in your “craft”-for lack of a better word. This goes for both Dominants and submissives. Submissives may feel like they just need a good Dom/me to teach them everything. Be proactive. Being educated is your best protection against injury and avoiding predators in the lifestyle. Most Dom/mes of quality will find your education in the lifestyle an asset rather than a hindrance. In my opinion, if a Dom/me ever tries to stop you from attending classes or educational opportunities, you should run the other direction.
4. Balance. I have personally found that there needs to be balance with BDSM vs. vanilla activities. I learned this early on from my first ever play partner. At the time, I didn’t understand it because I was new and wanted to experience everything to do with kink right then and there. I had the fever, so to speak. Now that I’ve grown from that and have many more experiences under my belt, I actually enjoy vanilla activities equal to, if not more than the BDSM ones. There are a few friends of mine who, like myself are lifestylers, but they have somehow lost the social grace to act appropriately in vanilla public- things like inappropriate touching or talking loudly about kink activities in mixed company. Remember, while you’re kink is your life and expression, much like a religious fanatic it is not your “right” to force your lifestyle on someone else or make people feel uncomfortable around you. This not only further damages the impression vanilla folks have about BDSM but it also alienates you from making potential connections and educating people about kink. You’re an ambassador of the lifestyle whether you like it or not. However I do have to admit it’s often fun making mundane vanilla activities kinky. Use your imagination and discretion 😉
5. This leads me too…taking a break. It happens to the most experienced lifestylers. Sometimes you just want to hide out in your house for an entire weekend instead of attending a play party every night. Maybe you are over taxed from work and simply cannot commit to a munch a week. This is ok and does not make you any less of a player in the community. Your kink is what you make it and that includes setting boundaries for your personal time. From a safety point of view, if you’re a heavy player or someone that plays often, you should allow yourself time to heal and not just for a few days in between. Make sure to assess your health and be honest about potential long term damage.
6. Having a variety of friends. This can mean a lot of things. Of course everyone has a large circle of acquaintances. Recently, Dexx and I realized we were often spending time with the same people over and over. We love these people and the group dynamic is fun when we get together. What’s wrong with that you may ask? We should all endeavor to keep our scope, skillsets, and opinions broad, informed, and well rounded. It’s not that we will stop seeing our favorite people, we’ll simply add new folks into the mix. Going to classes helps in this regard as well. Another approach is to attend play parties outside of your regularly scheduled events. I’m a voyeur. I love watching a great dynamic play. I identify as a submissive but I bet could learn a thing or two from attending a FemDom party-and guess what?! I did! I attended Women in Charge of Kink, a Female Dom/male submissive dynamic party and it was a total blast. I spoke with a ton of wonderful women and met some charming men as well. I’ve even continued the conversation on this type of dynamic since the party.
If the concept of opening up your circle of friends sounds distasteful or uncomfortable, I urge you to give it a shot. It’s good to feel uncomfortable every once in a while.
Writer, model, babygirl, submissive. After trying vanilla relationships one time too many, anniebear finally realized her submissive desires and discovered the BDSM community. When not writing for Kink Weekly, she enjoys spankings and being tied with rope.
Thank you for an excellent article with many good points.
I’m glad you mentioned the vanilla-friendly aspect. We do represent BDSM, and as with everything be respectul.
Thanks for the kind words!! Glad you enjoyed it. -anniebear
Thank you for this. I would never assume that I know everything. As long as I have been in the scene, I like to think I am open to new idea. I.E. You can teach and old dog new tricks.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I’m always learning as well. I think it’s a mark of an intelligent person to keep growing, changing and learning.