FAQ: BDSM Newbie Worries

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The below are some typical questions or worries most newbies are concerned with when exploring BDSM.  Rest assured, everyone has questions.  While these are far from the only questions people ask, they are very common ones.

Is wanting what I like normal?

Everything is normal given the right context.  That said, far more people engage in kink but just don’t think of it in that wayQuestion.png.  For example, swingers might consider themselves quite vanilla if they don’t engage in BDSM activities.  Ignore what is “normal” and just Be Honest with Yourself.   What do YOU like or have interest in?  What do you want to try or explore?   Be brave and discuss these things with prospective partners, because that’s the only way to learn if you have a close match in interests.

What are kinky folk like when not being kinky?

They are, first and foremost, people.  They can be nurses and librarians, police and firemen, office managers and workers, teachers and doctors and lawyers, your geeks and your soldiers.  Another way to put it – they are regular folks, some of whom you likely know already.

What’s the difference between a munch and a play party?

Munches are casual social gatherings that encourage sex positive people to meet and catch up on local events and goings on. If you want to know more, check out my full post on Munches.  Play parties, on the other hand, are centered on the dungeon/play space for scenes (kink activities).  For those in relationships, play parties are attractive because they offer furniture that most people don’t have the room or money for.  For those just interested in play, it’s a chance to meet new play partners to have fun.  And those not in relationships might find someone to play with and form longer-lasting connections.

What do people wear?

Again, that depends on the context.  Generally speaking, what you wear is up to you, regardless of how you identify your gender or sexuality, or how you express these things in dress.  Munches [link to munches post] are nearly always “street legal” casual affairs; so the clothing worn is no different than that worn every day.  At a play party, a Dungeon is typically open to fetish-wear including lingerie, leather, latex, rubber, and much more – or much less, including full nudity.  Lastly, kink events have various policies and restrictions depending on their format, such as a one day workshop or practical clinic versus a weekend event.  In the end, wear what makes YOU feel comfortable or sexy or what puts you in a good head-space for fun and exploration.  Let your inner self come out and enjoy the experience, and tune or tweak from there.  There is no rule saying you must wear high heels and/or leather corsets.  When in doubt, check the web for event guidelines on dress code.

Is everyone a couple?

Nope.  Some folks may come as couples, while others may be single and open to play; some may be part of poly groups such as tribes and households; some may be in open relationships; etc.  Some might be there just to be in the environment because they enjoy the vibe and energy.  You can’t make assumptions, but you can always respectfully ask.  Likewise, it’s okay to give any polite response you like if you are there and someone asks you to play.  For example, it’s perfectly okay saying it’s your first time and you just checking things out.  More than likely, the person will ask if you have any questions, because most of us remember our first time, and feel obligated to welcome new people and help make the adjustment.

Is it any different meeting people for dating?

Depends on how you date of course, and depends much on YOUR intention. What you are looking for; are you able to express what it is you want and don’t want?    For example, if you are looking for a long term relationship, the considerations are largely the same as a vanilla relationship: does this person seem honest, trustworthy, reliable, stable, can they communicate, share interests, etc.

However, only some of those key concerns are the same if you are just looking to play with a trustworthy play-time partner, or if you just want to have a sexual relationship with a poly friendly lover.  The community is small, so it’s good to get to know a potential partner’s local community, or former partner with which they are still on good terms.

Because the nature of BDSM has more risk, it IS acceptable to ask for character references (which I encourage folks do).  Yes, you are screening for good behavior as much as bad behavior.

Can someone read my mind, just do what I secretly desire but can’t express?

No – I know a lot of folks that just want the magic person to show up in their lives and solve their problems; but it’s time to leave childhood and fairy tales behind.  Someone may be intuitive, empathic and have good non-verbal reading skills – but no one is a mind reader.  You need to take responsibility for your needs, wants/desires, and fears or limits – and you need to communicate to others about these things.  This is critical in a lifestyle that values consensuality and mutuality in a relationship. If you are waiting for that special person to pry you open and give you what you cannot express, then there is the likely risk you will find someone who will ignore your wants and take what they will from you for their pleasure alone.  Essentially, you will likely find them to be a user or abuser.

What’s the difference between poly and cheating?

Poly people know there are other partners, and are often involved in the selection of new partners as friendships.  It’s not open or poly if someone is hiding it or lying in any way – that’s what cheating is.   Someone with a husband or wife at home, and who is having quiet and discrete scenes or sex with others, is not in an open relationship – they are cheating. All that means for you is recognizing that is their choice, and whether or not that is a choice you may or may not mind.

How do I know someone I like is safe?

Kink has risk, and the culture is about being Risk Aware – but there are ways to reduce unnecessary risk.  Getting personal references will help. Taking your time and building a history of trust will also help.  Trust your instincts, and seek balance between the various feelings you are experiencing and using your head.  If you feel uncomfortable or see too many red flags, then it’s not a good fit for you.  There are few absolutes to life other than gravity (for now), so worry less about the trying to find the absolutes and more about what seems to be right for you.

What if I’m not into pain, is it still for me?

First off, many people that go to play parties and events aren’t into pain, but rather into sensory experiences like massage, dripping warmth, electric tingles, or a variety of different things.  It’s up to you to determine what you like AND don’t like.  That said, if someone approaches you for play and it’s something you don’t like – just say “no”.   I recommend you have some of your own ideas so you can suggest something as an alternative, or as a starting point.  Explore your desires and be clear about your limits.

Also, always ensure also you have a safeword. A safeword is used to communicate quickly to a partner to check-in, slow down, or to stop immediately. Make sure that either you have one in mind, or the partner has one ready for use, and you USE it when necessary.  Also, leave NOTHING to assumption by talking about it so you and your partner(s) are ALL are on the same page.  Calling “banana” doesn’t mean squat if the other person has no idea what you mean, and is expecting a safeword of “Red”.  Also – make sure you can invoke a safeword with a gesture or object if you are unable to speak (e.g. gagged).

What if someone asked me to do something I don’t like?

Then say no – and say it very clearly.  Consent is a core value to kink and BDSM culture.  As such a simple rule typically apples: yes means yes, no means no. The rare exceptions are those in long-term M/s relationships where there is sufficient trust in place and an agreement to conditionally ignore a “no” (referred to as consensual non-consent).  However, such arrangements are not something a new person is expected to, or should, entertain. So if someone tries to push for something you don’t want, clearly state that your “NO” means this is a limit and not up for debate.  After that, if someone doesn’t respect your answer, then they are choosing not to respect YOU and should therefore keep them at a distance.

What if I recognize a kinky someone while at work or school?

Act casual, say nothing, and don’t treat them any differently.  Kinky folk are people, and also active members of your community.  Treat them like you would at any other time: say hello, smile and nod, be polite.  It’s up to you to decide to strike up a conversation, without outting them, or to let the moment pass with just a nod.   It’s pretty much the same if you recognize a person from work or school at a kinky event.  Again, treat them like you would at any other time: say hello, smile and nod, be polite.  You now know each other a little better, and neither should want to bring it up outside of the kink event.  Keep the kink quiet and off the street, but acknowledge the person with polite courtesy or friendship (depending on how close you are).

How do I learn more and seem less like a newbie?

Go to kink organizations or events where there are workshops or classes. These often feature senior community members that will share their experience and insight across a variety of topics and relationships.  If you need more in-depth or personal assistance, seek a mentor/coach who is a Kink Aware Professional (KAP) and respected within the community – such as Limits Unleashed, or one of the others listed in the NCSFreedom.org websites KAP Directory.

Closing Thought

Living is a lifelong practice of experience, learning, feeling, and change – but the only way to live is to do it.   Have fun, be a little crazy, just don’t be stupid and ensure you protect yourself.

Copyright (C) 2015  Limits Unleashed, LLC

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