My First Play Party

I get asked by friends all the time, “Jenn, don’t you get tired of teaching the same basic stuff over and over?”

To that I say no. The reason I don’t get tired of what I do is for many reasons. I am giving info and providing opportunities that I wished I’d had when I was new, seeing people discover new things makes my heart super happy, and staying in touch with new folks week after week keeps me in touch with when I was new. I think it’s important to remember what that was like – otherwise it’s easy to become jaded, frustrated and even judgmental. What becomes second nature or common knowledge to us is often foreign to a new person. There is a learning curve here.

So having said all that I wanted to go back to my first ever public play party.

When I started in the scene I went to classes and munches and spent much of my time in the rope world and the spanko world. I got involved with a spanko group (which still exists) that, at that time, consisted of private parties in the group leader’s residence. Then one of the members of that group hosted a spanko party at a dungeon. I decided this would be a safe entry into the dungeon play party world because at least I would know a few people. This party happened to be held at a well-known dungeon in North Orange County here in SoCal.

I pulled into the parking lot in my family size SUV and I just sat there for a while. The address I punched into my Garmin took me to an industrial business type building so I had to double check my GPS like 25 times to make sure I wasn’t in the wrong place. Then I noticed people starting to arrive. I scoured their clothing and noticed that most of the women were wearing things like sundresses or flowy knee length skirts! I panicked. I looked down at my tight denim mini skirt and 6 inch stilettos and I immediately doubted my choice of outfit! Would I stand out like a sore thumb? Had I worn the wrong thing? Before I let myself give in to the panic and just drive home, I decided to text the one person who I knew was at the party and that I actually had a number for. (It happened to be the leader of the group at the time.) I told him I was parked outside and afraid I’d dressed inappropriately. I asked him to please come out to my car and tell me if I was right. (yes, he was nice enough to leave the party and come out to calm my fears) He laughed on his way to the car, shaking his head, and once he saw my outfit he assured me I would be completely ok. He walked me in and we went inside to where the party was happening.

The first thing I did was make a friend – a cute girl in pigtails and a cheerleading outfit – because at least she was another person not in a casual sundress! She and I sat and hung out and I realized that there was a reason for all those sundresses and flowy skirts. This was a spanko party and they were easy to flip up!! Lol Oh was I relieved! It wasn’t about a dress code or what outfit was appropriate, it was just easier access for what they were there to do!

After that realization I relaxed, met more people, including some from a class I’d been in a couple weeks before, and had a good time. There is more to the story but I covered the point of this article. Your first public play party can be scary and overwhelming. It’s ok to admit that and to reach out to a friendly face. It’s also good for veterans of the scene to remember this if you are the one they reach out to!

“Consent is key.”  People in the scene say this all the time.  This is because it’s true.  Consent is what separates responsible BDSM and abuse.  I can, unfortunately, give several examples of consent violation that I’ve witnessed or experienced personally.  I’d be willing to bet that anyone in the scene longer than a week can say the same. (ok that may be a bit of an exaggeration – but not by much)  Someone walking over and picking up someone else’s toy without asking – better yet picking it up and then using it.  A D-type grabbing an s-type by their hair who doesn’t belong to them.  Someone being asked to help in a scene by holding the s-types leg, then they proceed to let their fingers wander to places they had no right to touch.  An s-type starting to worship a D-type’s boots when the D-type is in the middle of play and has not been asked to join.

Those were all examples that I witnessed or was connected to in some way.  That was by no means a complete list.  These things are simply not ok.  Period.  Ever.  It seems as if this type of behavior has increased a bit recently.  I have a couple theories as to why.  Now, my theories don’t explain all incidences obviously.  Heck, my theories may be totally off.  They come from my own observations and experiences.  Also, some people are just asshats – that has been, and will probably always account for, some percentage of the problem.

Theory number 1: It’s a new generation of kinksters.  Rules, protocol, old tradition, etc. have been watered down.  The next gen is doing it differently.  This is fine and, regardless of my opinion about it, is the way life goes.  Yet with that has also come a more “casual kink” mentality. We’ve also had many new people arrive into the community after being exposed to pop culture representations of how they think things are – which is not even close to reality.

Theory number 2: It used to be that the kink and swinger communities were fairly separate from one another – with very little overlap.  However, with the further acceptance of kink and the growing curiosities about it, it seems that overlap is growing quickly.  I am going to make a generalization here – so please don’t jump down my throat telling me this doesn’t apply to all swingers.  Disclaimer: I realize that this theory does NOT speak to ALL swingers – or perhaps even most.  However, based on, again, my observations and personal experiences it would seem that consent is dealt with very differently in these two communities.  From my perspective in the swinger scene, consent is assumed until it is removed – while in the kink scene, consent is not assumed until given.  This difference can, and does, easily contribute to at least a portion of the rise in consent violation. (Again, in my opinion.)

Then there are the aforementioned asshats.

In all cases I think education is the key.  Whether that means suggesting people go to classes or if one-by-one we find “teachable moments” to pass down the knowledge we possess if we are more seasoned kinksters.  I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, especially if they’re new, that they don’t know any better.  However, if they continue to cross boundaries and ignore consent expectations then that’s where behavior is no longer tolerated.

So, if you’re new – educate yourself.  Go to classes, ask questions.  If you’re not new, try to find ways to kindly pass down the knowledge you have.  Consent is key.

D/s Concepts That Work for Any Relationship

 

I came across an article recently on a vanilla/mainstream psychology website. The article link is below, but basically it talks about doing relationship check-ins.  The author advises couples to sit down on an annual basis and review their marriage – this article advises doing it alongside a professional, such as a therapist.  She relates it to a performance review that may happen in a workplace.  However, I relate it to the relationship contracts we create as part of D/s dynamics.  Once a D/s couple has created a contract, typically it includes an annual review or even a monthly review – or anything in between.  The author basically describes a check-in that consists of creating a safe space to discuss issues that have come up and give one another feedback.  In this sense what the author describes and what D/s partners do is very similar.  We go over our contract and offer feedback as to what we think has been working and what we have issues with.  We go over protocols that may have been forgotten (which is why written contracts come in handy – they work as reminders), others that haven’t worked out well, and confirming the ones that work.  Depending on what we include in our contract, the “review” may include updating limits and/or rules or boundaries surrounding poly dynamics.

For both the vanilla and D/s version of this idea it creates a sense of closeness and connection while identifying issues that may have come up over the past year, month, 3 months, etc.  It also confirms all the things that have been, and still are, working.  For the D/s relationships it strengthens the bond of the power exchange as well.

What I love about all this is that here is an example of something we have done in our community for decades – and the mainstream community is catching on.  I think as we continue to find and expose more examples like this (there are plenty) and could explain what is happening under the kink jargon to mainstream people, we could show why more and more studies are concluding that D/s relationships are just as healthy, if not in many cases healthier, than vanilla ones.  Perhaps some of the stigma we face would be lifted.

Original article link:

 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/meet-catch-and-keep/201510/why-relationship-review-can-help-keep-you-together?utm_source=FacebookPost&utm_medium=FBPost&utm_campaign=FBPost

 

 

A Third Leg

 

No, this article is not about giant members.  lol

So I was watching talk shows the other day.  Well, I use the term “watching” loosely.  More like glancing up at the tv occasionally while they were running in the background as I helped my kids with homework.  Anyway, on one of the talk shows a co-host was mentioning something about how people have been saying that couples last longer if they have a “third leg”.  She went on to describe what this meant.  Basically she was referring to things like having kids, shared tv shows (and being able to watch them together thanks to streaming networks), a common hobby, etc.  Something they can focus their attention on as a couple that is outside of themselves.

The reason for the “third leg” being helpful in keeping couples together and interested in one another is that it gives them something to talk about and connect over.  It’s amazing how much people will thank streaming networks for saving their marriage!  Especially since it used to be that if a couple only had kids to connect over they were at a loss once the kids moved out.  Now with external entertainment at our fingertips we have much more to interact about for an infinite amount of time.

This got me thinking, however, about those of us into kink and/or polyamory.

We have those same things to connect over, tv shows, maybe kids for those in the scene that share children, perhaps common vanilla hobbies as well.  However, in addition we share kink.  For some it is like another hobby we enjoy together, for others it’s our lifestyle.  Either way it’s something else we share with our partner(s) and look forward to.  If we play then we look forward to that – maybe planning scenes or deciding which parties to attend.  If we are involved in a power exchange relationship then we may spend time together communicating about rules, protocol, etc.

When it comes to poly it’s an entirely new level.  If there are other partners then (similar to kids) you have another (or other) actual people to connect over, communicate about, plan things with, and talk to.  With or without other partners you may still be communicating about how poly will work for you.  Discussing finding a new partner or partners.  Perhaps you go out together to meet potential play partners, lovers, and/or life mates.  There are those that have other partners and are also looking for additional partners.  I don’t know where they find the time, but that’s just me!  Also, unlike kids, additional partners don’t necessarily fall under the same developmental timeline of growing up and moving out or away from you.  This doesn’t mean that poly relationships don’t end, however, you are then able to continue opening up to others in the attempt to find and unite with new people.  You can’t just go out and try to find new kids to replace the ones that left for college!

The point of all this is that if you’re involved in kink, poly relationships, or both – you have opened up a whole new world of “third leg” possibilities to connect over.  This not only keeps life interesting, but our relationships as well.

 

 

D-type and s-type Fluid

So you may or may not have heard the term “gender fluid”.  This refers to a person who may always feel like a mix of the two traditional genders (male and female), but may feel more male some days, and more female other days.

This concept came up in one of my classes in a different way.  We were discussing one student who knew she identified as an s-type, however, wasn’t really sure which “subcategory” she fit into. Slave, submissive, babygirl, pet, little, bottom, property, etc.  I could relate to what she meant.  I identify (personally) as an s-type – normally I will say submissive, yet I am sometimes more in the headspace of a babygirl or perhaps a pet.  There are plenty of times I identify as a bottom – especially when I am doing a demo or acting as a practice bottom.  I also fall under the category of “service Top” when teaching or doing an educational scene, however, I don’t consider myself a Dominant at all.  For me the slave identifier has not been something I have identified with yet.  I have several close friends that have told me they think I am “slave wired”, yet I continue to put up some resistance there.  (Perhaps an issue for me to work through or perhaps just a matter of partnership)  In any case, I can’t rule out many of the s-type subcategories because I may feel a combo of them or feel like I identify more like one or another from one day to the next or one moment to the next.

So during this class I named this “s-type fluid” or “s-fluid”.

I realized that this same concept probably applies to D-types as well.  Maybe someone knows that they identify as Dominant, however, they occasionally act as a Top or are in the headspace of a “Daddy Dom” or “Mommy Dom” based on their partner or mood.  I would imagine that identifying as a Master is something a Dominant would either feel like all the time or perhaps grow into with a partner.  In any case, I think you can be “D-type Fluid” or “D-fluid” just like an s-type.

 

This concept doesn’t mean you are confused in any way – just like someone who identifies as gender fluid isn’t confused.  It may just mean that you can flow from one subcategory to another based on headspace, partner, mood, or any other reason.  By the way, this is different from identifying as a switch.  A switch may be fluid in terms of being able to bottom or Top (or go between Dom and sub), however, s-type fluid and D-type fluid has nothing to do with switching.  It means you identify as either a D-type or an s-type all the time, but that the subcategories of these identifiers can change.

 

So maybe if you, like me, know which side of the slash you are on, however, feel differently at different times – or if you are still exploring and seeing which subcategory “fits” you best – perhaps this idea of fluidity as applied to D/s identity is the best descriptor for you!

(Perhaps Fetlife needs to add this to their list of identifier options!)  J

 

Pushing a Dynamic

 

This, like most of my articles, is for both sides of the slash.  Let’s start with what you hear of more commonly.  The D-type pushing boundaries or pressuring an s-type, especially the newbies, to act as if they are in a power exchange dynamic.  So all you s-types listen up: Just because you’re AN s-type, doesn’t mean you’re HIS or HER s-type!  If you haven’t heard this before, it won’t be the last time.  A power exchange dynamic, just like play, is something you enter into with consent and communication.

So how might a D-type push these boundaries?

One way can be before you ever meet them.  It could be as soon as their first message to you.  Greeting you, making their intention known and then “giving you permission” to call them Sir/Mistress, etc.  Why? Just because you’re an s-type?  Calling someone by a title is something you do as part of a dynamic.  (By the way this is not in reference to those who refer to everyone as Sir or Ma’am out of politeness nor toward those that have it as part of their protocol.)  You in no way “owe” this to anyone, especially someone you’ve never met! Remember you have a voice.  Let them know you aren’t comfortable referring to them that way since you’ve never met.  Or perhaps it wasn’t their first message, but only a handful of messages in.  Either way, whether you’ve been chatting for one minute or one year, titles are things you discuss.  If they get upset, then I would take that as a huge red flag.  Chances are, at best, they are role-playing the D-type thing and really have no idea or interest in how these things work.  At worst, they are purposefully trying to manipulate you.

Besides expecting titles to be used, there are other ways that D-types can push a dynamic.  It could be at a party or munch where they tell you to get them something or expect you to cater to them.  Key words here are “tell you” and “expect”.  It’s one thing to politely ask for a favor, it’s another to simply assume you are at their beck and call just because of how you identify.

Now on to the other side of the issue.  S-types can push dynamic as well.  Here’s how…

So you, a D-type, find someone to chat with on Fetlife.  Things are going well up to this point, only a dozen or so messages back and forth so far.  That’s when the s-type hits you with, “what do you want to do to me Daddy/Mommy?” or “What did Master/Mistress do today?”

Daddy?! Master?!  Mommy?! Mistress?!

Hold on there!  These are titles that should be earned, discussed, and negotiated.  Now, this s-type could be trying to push for a dynamic or relationship prematurely, or they may not know any better.  I think it’s a common misperception that s-types are expected to use titles for every D-type.  This is especially true for those that are new in the scene.  I recommend, if this happens to you, to let them know that they do not need to call you by a title, that your name (or preferred label) is perfectly acceptable until or unless you both agree to enter into something more.  Now, if they disregard that request, then you may have an issue.

What it comes down to is that a power exchange dynamic is something to be respected and taken seriously.  Try not to move too quickly and be wary of those that do.  It’s ok to move at a slower pace, at your pace, until the time is right.

Tips for Using BDSM Dating Sites

BDSM dating sites are an easy way to connect to the fun world of BDSM dating. For a lot of people, they feel nervous trying to find someone in person for BDSM. Plus, they don’t want to have to worry about connecting with people who aren’t interested in BDSM.

Finding the right person on a BDSM dating website is everyone’s goal. In order to help with that, we have written a list of some of the most helpful tips for using BDSM dating sites.

Be Safe

The most important thing that we wanted to include in this article is that you need to be safe. Never give out your personal information online. Instead, meet in a public place and start sharing information from there. If you feel comfortable at the point of meeting up, you can make the decision then.

Start With Regular Conversation

Yes, you are looking for someone who shares the same kinks as you when you are on a BDSM dating website, but people aren’t looking to go straight into sexual talk. Instead, they want to start off with conversation starters, just like normal dating websites.

If you start with a regular conversation you are far more likely to find a match.

Don’t Be Shy

One of the biggest benefits of using a BDSM dating website is that you can start to get to know your potential partner online before meeting them. If you are shy you won’t get anywhere with your online dating goals. Being open doesn’t mean sharing your personal information, it means sharing likes, dislikes, messaging first, and generally not being shy when it comes to messaging and the content of messages.

Fill Out Your Profile Thoroughly

BDSM dating sites are intended for those who are interested in the lifestyle. That means there is no harm to filling out your profile completely. In fact, the reverse is true. If you don’t fill out your profile completely, people might think you are a fake or not serious.

A full profile helps others to learn if they like you as their profile helps you to learn.

Finding The Right Dating Website

Finding a good BDSM dating website like BDSMdatingonly can be hard. You will spend a lot of time looking around the internet in order to find the BDSM website that is right for you. To help make the process quicker, use BDSM Dating Sites. It is a directory of BDSM dating websites for singles to use.

Be Honest

In any relationship, whether it is BDSM or not, you need to be honest. A lack of honesty on your profile, in your messages, or on your first date will be noticed eventually. That can lead to a lack of trust or even the failure of your date.

The BDSM community can be pretty tight knit, but more importantly, they watch out for each other. If you lie to someone the word can spread quicker than you want it to. When word spreads in your local community you might not even be able to find a date.

You Will Likely Send A Lot Of Messages

Chances are that you will spend a lot of time sending messages. Sometimes hundreds. A match doesn’t happen right away and not everyone responds to their messages. Don’t get upset if you find someone you are really attracted to but they don’t message you back.

Don’t swamp one person with messages. One message is enough. It all boils down to being patient.

Use The Block Button

Rudeness and similar traits are something that you don’t want when dating. It is a sign that there is potentially something worse about the person. Plus, you are going to BDSM dating sites to enjoy yourself, not to be berated by a stranger. Block anyone who is rude or who gives you a bad feeling.

The BDSM world is growing rapidly with the popularity of Fifty Shades of Gray and so are the number of dating websites out there. Make sure you take these tips to mind in order to get the most out of BDSM dating. Each one of these tips is picked for its ability to help you succeed in finding what you are looking for in the big world of BDSM.

*Sponsored by BDSMdatingonly.com

Causes of Emotional/Psychological Triggers During Play

 

Triggers are things that should be acknowledged in a relationship and are one of the things we look at especially when we are going to play.  This article can’t cover all the specific triggers you may or may not have, however, it will cover what various things can cause a trigger.  You can be triggered in a positive way as well – which is lovely and not in need of an article!  🙂  Unfortunately most triggers are discovered because they happen during play.  If this happens, whether you continue the scene or not, it is something to discuss and process – and then add to your future negotiations.  The following are examples in each category and certainly not an all inclusive list.

TYPE OF IMPLEMENT/PLAY – You may be triggered by  specific implement or type of play.  Maybe your punishment as a child was being hit with a belt.  For many it’s a fetish and for some with a similar story, they may have turned it around into an enjoyable experience.  However, if it creates a bad association for you, then it’s a trigger.  Perhaps you were assaulted in the past and now a scene that includes “consensual non-consent” floods you with those awful memories.

POSITIONING – Being tied to a cross may not be a big deal, however, if told to take a spanking in the “diaper” position (basically laying on your back and pulling up your knees, similar to a baby getting a diaper change) you feel humiliated, and not in a sexy way.

PART OF BODY – There may be one or more places on your body that you don’t want touched, exposed or impacted.  Sometimes this is because it just makes you angry if it happens and takes you out of your headspace.  Sometimes there is a certain body part(s) that is linked to trauma or bad memories, etc.

WORDS – There are words that can trigger negative feelings.  I might be really into sexual humiliation, yet if you call me fat or stupid (or the equivalent) I will be triggered.  Being called certain tites/names can also be a trigger.

SOUND – The best example for this that I’ve seen is a Veteran having a PTSD response to someone cracking a whip.  It could also be something as simple as a specific song.

SMELL – Our sense of smell is largely connected to our memories.  You may be triggered by a certain type of cologne/perfume, cleaning products, lotion, etc.

 

Nothing is silly or unimportant.  If it triggers you negatively PLEASE incude it when you negotiate your scene.  Your Top will appreciate it!

 

 

 

Subspace and Subdrop

Subspace is something you hear about all the time in the scene.  If you haven’t experienced it, then it may be this elusive wonderment of mind altering amazingness.  If you have experienced it, then you know it can take different forms.  It may be a simple state of relaxation, almost meditative, to a feeling compared to an out of body experience.  One thing is important to keep in mind.  You don’t need to experience subspace to enjoy an amazing scene.

So what is subspace anyway?  Subspace can happen due to two different things.  One is pain, or physically, based. It is basically what happens when various chemicals in your body are released during play.  When your body experiences extreme sensations it releases endorphins and adrenaline.  These increase pain tolerance and can induce a floaty, trance-like state of mind.  One thing I like to compare this to is a runner’s high.  It’s the most similar “vanilla” activity I can think of for comparison if you haven’t experienced subspace yet.  Bottoms will commonly compare it to feeling drunk, tipsy, or floaty.

The other type of subspace is more psychologically based.  The bottom may experience this “spacey” feeling upon kneeling at the start of the scene at their Top’s feet, or feeling their Top’s hand grip their hair.  These mental and emotional associations are strong and can cause an instant feeling of relaxation and centeredness.  This is typically a lovely feeling that connects the bottom more strongly with their play partner/Top and helps them relax into the scene.  It can also help a bottom connect more to their submission.

Keep in mind that with either or both types of subspace – the bottom is in an altered state of mind.  This is why I make it a rule to never re-negotiate limits during a scene.  It would be equivalent to asking someone to have sex while they’re drunk who had previously said no.  Also it’s important to understand that because their pain tolerance is hightened, the Top should maintain awareness of how hard they go with play.

Now.  What goes up, must come down.

Subdrop.

Once the body has pushed these chemicals into your system, they must eventually regulate.  When play is done the body stops releasing extra endorphins, etc and the body’s more regulated system kicks in.  The immediate indication of this is typically a decrease in body temperature and a more trance-like state of mind.  This is why you will see bottoms in aftercare wrapped in a blanket and looking disconnected.  Drop is one reason that aftercare is so important.  However, drop can happen hours or days after the scene has ended.

Symptoms of drop are similar to mild depression.  The bottom may feel lethargic, sad, moody, irritable, confused, etc.  This is why it’s a good idea, as a Top, to check in with your bottom for a few days after your scene.  For most people drop will resolve itself. However, some things can also help if you’re having a difficult time.  Getting a little exercise can help tremendously – even just a short brisk walk.  I like to include some dark chocolate (but who doesn’t like an excuse to have a little chocolate?!).  You can also do things like meditation or journaling.  Bubble baths, music, favorite movies, a good book or just a good night sleep are all wonderful ideas as well.  Having friends to talk to is another extremely helpful tool.  Keep a support network around you.  If you know your Top may not be as available in the day or two after play then have a couple friends on hand you can talk with instead.  With these things and people in place – you should be back to your normal self in no time!

Know Thyself

 

Know thyself.  I say this a lot to my classes and my clients.  I have lived and continue to live in a way that I discover more about myself every day.  One thing this community and lifestyle can teach you are lessons about who you are, what your limits and boundaries are, and what you strive for.  Over time these things can change of course, however, growth and commitment to self-exploration are essential.

Many of us do this as we go along in this world.  It’s not like you go through a phase of life where you learn everything about yourself and then you’re just done all of a sudden.  I believe we should be growing and learning until we die.  So it’s not exactly reasonable to tell people to not live this lifestyle or begin to explore until they have everything figured out.  It is, however, reasonable to ask people to at least begin the journey of self-exploration and really start working hard on major issues before they enter into a serious D/s commitment with another human being.  Whether it’s issues from childhood or baggage from past relationships – these things should be addressed with serious concern and attention.  I’m not saying if you discover something that needs work and you are already in a relationship, to break it off and seclude yourself until you figure it out.  However, if you aren’t yet in one – take advantage of this time to sink your teeth into issues that may come up in a dynamic.

Now, many people think this is mostly a D-type issue.  That you can’t lead or be in charge of an s-type if you don’t have your own sh** handled.  While I agree that if you are a D-type you should certainly be working on yourself and have the ability to maintain control over your own life before taking the lead of someone else’s, I definitely don’t think it only applies to D-types.

S-types also have a responsibility to work on self.  We commonly talk about triggers when it comes to play and perhaps working through negative emotional reactions when dealing with poly dynamics or other issues the D-type introduces.  However, an s-type needs to also be working on his or her self as an individual.  An s-type cannot depend on their D-type for everything.  First of all, be a whole human being with individual thoughts, interests, hobbies, and friends.  Learn to develop personal boundaries and respect for yourself and those around you.  These are all things that will support you in contributing to your relationship and your dynamic.  Secondly, heaven forbid the D-type is gone – whether via break up or death.  The s-type needs to be able to function independently.  Otherwise their choice is what?  Flounder around clueless or desperately chase the next relationship which may be unhealthy just because they don’t feel they have a choice?  This is not ok.

I grew up with a mom who used to tell me that getting an education is incredibly important no matter my life plan.  She would tell me she would fully support me if I decided (after getting a degree) to be a stay-at-home wife and mother for the rest of my days.  However, if anything happened to my partner (divorce and death are rarely expected) she would know that at least I had an education to fall back on.  This is a very similar concept when it comes to developing yourself independent of your current or future partners.

As a D-type you should encourage your s-types growth, as you continue to grow as well.  As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, continuously work on self.  You can’t afford to ignore major issues.  If other people point out a problem, don’t let ego get in the way.  Stop and examine what they’re talking about.  Be willing to explore and change/work on what you need to.

Know thyself on either side of the slash.  It will do you, your partners, and this community a lot of good.