When we have the potential for a new relationship, we generally experience a sensation called New Relationship Energy (NRE). This essentially blinds us to the character flaws of our partner and often makes them the center of our world, regardless of if we are monogamous or not. It also impedes our communication skills. NRE allows us to take what our partner says as fact, ignore the red flags, and skim over the vetting process.
At least, it does for those of us who still vet.
When I started in the community sixteen years ago, vetting was very much an important step to entering a dynamic. This was especially true with the growth of the internet. With the potential of thousands of possibilities, you had to wade your way through the chaos, and sort potentials into a few categories.
Category 1) Hell No.
Category 2) Not my Kink (this is basically my kink profile and your kink profile do not match)
Category 3) Maybe (meaning I need to investigate this further)
Category 4) I would like to get to know you
Obviously, people moved from one category to the next as the process continues. It makes it very hard to vet someone in my Category 4 if I am in their category 1.
So, what is vetting?
Vetting is, according to the dictionary, to “make a careful and critical examination of (something)”.
I’m going to be honest…that is a very broad term. It is also extremely vague. When I first read it, I imagined a person laid out on a table and I carefully and meticulously examined them with a magnifying glass. Then I laughed a bit at the absurdity of my thoughts.
Vetting is essentially getting to know someone and make an informed decision about whether they are honest or not.
I have always preferred to get to know someone without the kinks first. I need to know that I can enjoy your company in a vanilla setting as well as a kinky one. Even though I live 24/7, it is not an endless dream of whips and chains. It involves chores to keep the house running, work to keep a roof over our head, postponement of my needs to serve my partners, and a whole lot of cuddling. If I cannot tolerate you in that part of my life, then all the kinks/skills in the world would not change our incompatibility.
There are a few ways to start the vetting process.
- First, I would look through their online persona. If you have them across platforms, see if their posts and/or their style of writings are consistent. You can evaluate how ever you like. For me, are all their posts angry or blaming people for things? Do our politics match up or do they at least seem tolerant of other viewpoints? DO they act thirsty with every man or woman they are attracted to?
- Talk to previous play partners or the community. Honestly speaking, I usually skip this step. I have always been in a small kink community and that often leads to skewed answers. It is perfectly fine if you choose to not pursue person X because person Y said they were bad news. I know that for some individuals, this has been tremendously helpful.
However, I have also seen the opposite. In fact, my own dynamic with Master has fed the rumour mill. Did you know I am always in trouble? Apparently so. Those long-lasting marks could never actually be the result of pleasure (*gasp* Shocking, I know). Did you know that I am too bull-headed to be submissive? Obviously, I must be extremely unsatisfying to my Dominant.
I am, and always have been, an open book. You want to know something, ask. I have never had an issue with that. Its when people add their own spin to the story, after I have given my answer, that makes me cringe. Both of those questions came from a brat who wanted to know how to get her Dom’s attention because she felt he was ignoring her. I advised her that communication was key. She needed to sit down and talk with him. I am not a brat. I am offended at the implication of being one. It goes against all my beliefs as a submissive. But, she did not like my answer. She then proceeded to tell anyone that would listen that I was a brat, and an unhelpful one at that.
I have been accused of Topping from the bottom because I can get forceful in making sure Master takes care of himself. I have been told (by outsiders) that I am not dedicated enough because I am not home enough. Which, on a side note, just fuels my insecurities. So, thank you. I have been asked how I can “let Him do that?” We have blanket consent, including Edge play and CNC. You don’t have to like it, but I sure do.
All I am trying to say is, there are two sides to every story. People like to gossip. People like to put other people down to feel better. So, maybe what they are saying, should be taken with a grain of salt.
- Do not assume anything. Listen to what the person says versus what they do. Does what they are saying match what they have put out into the public? If not, ask. If they cannot give you a satisfactory answer, trust your gut. If they make you feel negative energy, walk away. If you see/feel red flags, walk away.
- Do their kinks match yours? Now, we get to the good stuff. Since you have gotten to step 4, you are probably compatible in the Vanilla world, and they do not give you the creepy crawlies, its time to find out if the things they like match yours. Discuss both of your limits, must haves, needs, wants, safewords, dynamic wants/needs, and everything in between. Be practical. Be willing to compromise or walk away. It would not be fair if one party wants a 24/7 dynamic and the other wants a long-distance, weekend getaway dynamic. They are both valid wants, but not very compatible.
- Safety. If, and when, you get to the point of meeting (if you haven’t already), please do so safely. Meet in public. Make sure at least two people know when and where you are going to be, who you are with, and when you plan to check in. If I tell my safety that I will text her by 8, at 8:01 she is calling me to make sure I just didn’t lose track of time. Take your own car or have your own ride. Sometimes, situations get sticky and we just need to get away. If your date picked you up, you can feel very stuck.
In the end, vetting is necessary to finding the right partner(s). It takes a special breed to give us the communication, trust, and vulnerability needed to make this lifestyle work. The minute I consent to you binding me, I am trusting you with my mental and physical health. I am trusting you with my life.
Therefore, you are going to have to bear with me and play a few rounds of twenty questions before I let you anywhere near me.
My name is Joji. I am 29 years old currently and I have been in and around the kink community about 15 years.I am a collared submissive to Magick42. I am also a Daddy to a wonderful babygirl, and have been for more than three years now and I find it very fulfilling. I am being mentored in and being taught electroplay. I am a masochist at heart and thoroughly love impact play, especially caning. I enjoy reading anything I can get my hands on and am a die hard Harry Potter and Doctor Who fan. I am also the secretary for a group in Idaho called Moscow S.P.A.R.K.E (Simply Providing Another Route to Kink Education). It is our mission to teach safe practices to those new to the community and give them a safe haven to ask questions and learn without judgement. We accept all kinks and all we ask in return is respect between all our members.