Over the years, sexting and cybersex have definitively become a thing, as they offer a sense of anonymity otherwise not found in a face-to-face conversation. This allows people to open up faster, enhancing the feeling of emotional closeness to the person they’re interacting with, and strengthening the mental bond to the other person. This bond can be a very real thing to the one who feels it.
It can be difficult to find kink-related social events outside of the internet. If you’re into anything considered socially taboo, or something not discussed in polite society, you might find it rather difficult to bring up kink-related things, or your involvement in them, over a drink with a near-stranger. On the internet, however, you can explore whatever you feel society wouldn’t otherwise allow.
Because of these factors, online BDSM relationships are starting to become a common, as they can allow one to experiment with what they may believe their place in this lifestyle, or explore their sexual psyche, with very low physical risk. It’s not difficult to download an app, or go to website and find someone to eventually establish and explore a temporary, or longer term relationship.
Why Do People Choose to Be in an Online BDSM Dynamic?
A lot of people enter online BDSM dynamics because they live in a community where the BDSM lifestyle has little to no presence. Some people do so because they are in real-life relationships with a vanilla partner that has no inclination of, or interest in, wanting to explore BDSM in any shape or form at all. Some use an online D/s relationship to learn more about Dominance and submission, to see if it’s something that they may be interested in, before getting real-life experience. This isn’t always a good idea, if you don’t make your intentions known before starting, or at the beginning of, the relationship.
Honestly speaking, as long as the Dominant or submissive is fully honest with all of their partners, these types of relationships can be quite successful.
And finally, there are people that enter online BDSM relationships because they’re predators, or just fucking creepy, and want to see what they can get away with before someone calls them on their bullshit. Buuuut I’m trying to stay positive with this article, so… Let’s move on.
Progression in Online BDSM Dynamics
Most online BDSM relationships start out being primarily about mental exploration, without the intimacy of physical contact. For a sustainable relationship, it’s about knowing each other, and developing the trust to explore things within the dynamic.
Power exchange relationships require a lot of focus and attention by both parties, being a process of continual negotiation and adaptation. The Dominant can maintain a feeling of submission, using certain rituals, rules, and the like. The submissive can do their part via dedication and obedience. As in any relationship, imagination, creativity and attention become extremely important here.
A Dominant or submissive who neglects their partner simply because they’re in an online dynamic or long-distance relationship, will find themselves without said partner.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
· As the mental space in an online dynamic can be an intense thing, there may (read: WILL) be times where you find yourself doubting your relationship. Because of this, you may find yourself wondering things like ‘how real is my partner?’ or ‘how serious am I in my relationship versus my partner?’
· It can be difficult to shift between your online dynamic and real-file, which can take a toll on you. At the extreme end, it could start to feel like dissociation, where you find yourself feeling like you’re mentally breaking away from your partner. But even if it doesn’t become extremely difficult, it can still feel draining to regularly switch mental states.
With these things said, if you start feeling off at all, you should definitely discuss it with your partner.
Fake Dominants Abound
Earlier I mentioned that there are people that enter online BDSM relationships because they’re just fucking creepy. This is definitely something you want to pay attention to, as you will no doubt attract an absolute onslaught of fake, or wannabe Dominants — especially if you’re newer to this lifestyle. Keep your wits about you, as submissive frenzy is a very real thing, and can land you in a dynamic you’d rather not be in.
In case you were wondering, yes, Dominants can come across fake submissives as well, but it happens far less than it does submissives. In most cases, these so-called submissives are simply kinky people that want to experience just that, kink. They’ve typically no desire to be a submissive, and will prove to be a total waste of your efforts.
To continue, online BDSM relationships can present their own unique sets of challenges — and dangers. While these dangers may be more mental than physical, it doesn’t make them any less risky.
· How would submissive rebound, also known as sub-drop, be handled online?
· How would anything disciplinary be handled online?
· Do you really know anything about your online partner at all?
Knowing their family history and other intimate information isn’t really an immediately important thing (it can be over time, if your relationship progresses in that direction). However, knowing certain things about their past relationships, the length of time they’ve been part of this lifestyle, knowledge-base etc.
· Is your online dynamic simply a form of escape from your everyday life, or does the relationship have more meaning than that?
· Could your partner potentially have mental health issues?
If so, is it something you can be supportive of, or is it something potentially dangerous to you?
From what I’ve found over the years, a lot of the people who would rather be in an online BDSM dynamic either don’t have access to public spaces or communities, or have had identity issues in regards to self and social acceptance, leaving no other choice for them except to explore these parts of their identities online.
When Disaster Strikes…
Online relationships can be intense, and becoming highly connected to someone who’s not physically there is a very real thing. However, when conflict happens, the stability of that connection begins to fall apart. It can suddenly seem to switch off, like a light, and everything can begin to feel like hard work, with the technological tools we initially thought so efficient, appearing to become rather ineffective. All the rituals and daily protocols that have been established over time can quickly be broken.
Hopefully this will never happen to you, but if/when it does, it’s important that you have a support system you can rely on. Online relationships can start fast and end even faster. This, of course, can be applied to any online relationship. But online BDSM dynamics can be a particularly intense, and the tough times can be very tough for some.
Now, you might be able to cope with this alone, but it’ll always be a lot easier if you have support. Friends who can listen to, and comfort you, are always going to be the best support. However, if your BDSM relationship is something that you don’t share with your friends, then it might help to have an online community to defer to. FetLife is a good place to start, as the site has groups you can join, and there are groups on Facebook that you can join as well.
Whatever you decide to do, be sure to have someone to talk to in place. Don’t ever isolate yourself — it’s not a good idea.
Online BDSM Dynamics vs Real Life BDSM
An online relationship can indeed feel very real, in my experience. Online interactions deal directly with the mind, and because of this, one can create a mental and emotional bond much faster online. This can also happen with newer submissives that are experiencing submissive frenzy.
But, it’s an important thing to keep the fantasy part of online interactions separated from real life. It can be quite easy to get lost in the fantasy that is invariably part of online BDSM dynamics. It’s equally easy (and dangerous) to believe that everything that happens during online sexting or scenes, are an exact replica of what would happen in real life.
For example, just because you’re willing to kneel in an online dynamic, doesn’t mean you can do it in real life. Or just because someone typed that they flogged you, doesn’t mean they’ve the knowledge or experience to actually do it in real life. Anyone can put on a facade of ability, in real life or in an online dynamic. But until it’s actually proven in person, it’s nothing more than that — a facade.
If you have little or no experience with aspects of BDSM in real life, then it’d be rather difficult to discuss how you might react to something. This lack of experience should be made known to your partner. By hiding your lack of experience, you’re setting up both yourself and your partner for some serious hurt. Being yourself, and not creating a fake world or background, is an absolute necessity to make an online BDSM dynamic work.
As in any relationship, online BDSM dynamics require an active imagination, commitment, honesty, and time from everyone involved. With a bit of effort, an online BDSM dynamic can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. Keeping these things firmly in mind will make the aforementioned rewards and enjoyment even greater.
Rajan Dominari is an educator, consultant, and author on the subject of BDSM and other relationships. He is the founder of Dominant Desires, a website that focuses primarily on BDSM education and advice, and the author of Welcome to the Darkside: A BDSM Primer.