“New relationship energy (often abbreviated as NRE) is a state of mind experienced at the beginning of most significant sexual and romantic relationships, typically involving heightened emotional and sexual receptivity and excitement. It begins with the earliest attractions, grows into full force when mutuality is established, and slowly fades over months to years. It carries an implication of contrast with the feelings involved with “old” or an ongoing relationship.” (Wikipedia)
While the dynamics described by NRE are common to almost all relationships, the term is particularly common in the polyamorous community, in large part because polyamorous people often experience new relationship energy alongside ongoing but older relationships which they also wish to maintain. This can be the basis for one of the most common issues I see arise with poly clients. The “original” partner feels the effects of the NRE when one or more of their partners is starting a new relationship. This is a common place for insecurities to emerge and feelings of jealousy, fear and/or sadness can arise.
So what are a couple of tips for surviving NRE in a poly dynamic?
First is awareness. Once you, as a couple, decide to open your dynamic to additional partners or if you come together as a poly couple from the start – knowing NRE will occur is extremely helpful. Part of that awareness is understanding the physical changes it creates.
“That’s right we are actually experiencing changes in brain chemistry – increased dopamine and norepinephrine in particular. New relationships light up the pleasure centers of the brain, including what are known as the addiction-like drives in the brain meaning the drive to get MORE of that as soon as possible. These parts of our brains give us more energy, they can cause us to maintain focused attention and an intense yearning for the recent source of our pleasure. During this early phase of attraction people find that they need less sleep, have strong emotions, may experience intrusive thinking about the person they are drawn to, find it hard to focus on normal daily tasks, and have a heightened sex drive.” Melissa Fritchle, 6/2013
Second is kindness. Be kind to one another during this transitionary phase. If you’re the partner that’s starting a new relationship, try to maintain awareness of how you’re acting around your longer-term person. When you are with them give them your full attention even though you have “puppy love brain”. Keep in mind they may be struggling a bit and may need a little more reassurance than normal. Also, don’t abandon your responsibilities. You may want to spend all your time with the new partner, but that’s no excuse for leaving your long term partner to pick up your slack when it comes to shared household, children, or other responsibilities.
If you are the long-term partner, try to keep in mind that this is a normal and temporary phase your person is going through. Their actions aren’t personal and you have entered into a poly agreement because you agree that multiple loves don’t diminish what you have together. Make an attempt to self-sooth when you feel some jealousy – whether it’s self-talk, leaning on friends, or even therapy. However, that being said, don’t stuff your feelings only to have them evolve into resentment or anger later on. Communicate with your partner. Take ownership of your feelings yet let them know if you’re having a tough time.
Especially if this is a first time transition for you as individuals or as a couple – be patient with one another. NRE is probably something you both enjoyed at the start of your relationship and it’s bound to occur with every new relationship ahead. So be aware, communicate, and be kind to one another.
Discovering the world of kink can be a fabulous and overwhelming experience. So where do you go? What do you do? This can be especially nerve-wracking if you are coming in like I did – unpartnered and clueless.
In my opinion Fetlife is the best way to find events in the scene. Most event coordinators will promote there whether or not they promote elsewhere. So the first step, if you haven’t already, is to join Fetlife. Go to Fetlife.com and create a profile. Feel free to use a stock photo or a picture of your dog as your profile pic until you come up with something better. Just don’t leave it empty for long. The profiles with a big “?” as the profile pic may make people think it’s a fake account, you’re a troll, etc. Also, keep in mind my next step will only work if you input your actual city or one that is near you. I understand if you are uncomfortable putting your specific city name – but even a nearby city will work. For example if you live in Santa Monica (which is a beach city near Los Angeles) then use Santa Monica or Los Angeles. However, if you use Antarctica (and don’t actually live there) then my next suggestion will not work.
On to the next step. Along the top of the site you will see a link for “Events” – click on it. Under “Upcoming Events” you will notice three tabs. “Friends RSVPed to”, “Near Me”, and “All Events”. If you are brand new to the site, chances are you don’t have any (or many) friends on your friends list yet, so that tab won’t offer much. The “All Events” tab will be overwhelming and probably take you a while to scroll through, however, if you posted a fake city this will be your option. So that leaves you with the “Near Me” tab. Click it! You will probably have to get through the first few pages of events that recently happened before you get to the current date. Then look at each event listed for the dates coming up that you have some free time. My opinion is that you focus on finding a class first. Starting with classes accomplishes a few things – you learn something regardless of current interest, you meet people in a non-pressure environment, and if you are on the shy side there is less expectation of socialization. So find a class on any topic that works for your schedule and GO!
(*If you are in the Los Angeles area I know a wonderful BDSM 101 Series at Sanctuary you can attend every Monday at 8pm – wink wink.)
My first class was on singletails. Was I interested in singletails? Nope. Did they, in fact, terrify me? Yep. I went anyway because I figured I would meet other people who were active in the scene and possibly learn something – or at least have fun watching the demo. Sure enough, all of those things happened. There was no pressure to play (because it wasn’t a party), going alone wasn’t awkward, and even though I am very social and extroverted, there was more focus on the class and presenter, which was nice given my newbie status.
Once you’re at the class be sure to approach either the instructor (after the class is finished) or another classmate that looks friendly and let them know you’re new and wondering what other classes or munches are coming up. Ask if they will be there – then you will have a familiar face to look for.
Go to more classes, start attending munches. Munches are just where a group of kinksters get together in a vanilla setting (usually a restaurant) to eat and socialize. Let people know you’re new and looking for friends and other events. Once you are ready to attend a play party you will have met lots of people and started to create a friends list. You will have people to reach out to and to look for and talk to at events.
I know you may be anxious to start playing and/or finding a partner. However, my advise is to slow it down and take your time. Get to know the scene and the people in it. Get a feel for who is experienced in the type of play you want to try, who you can trust, etc. I know it can be overwhelming and scary at first – and your experience will differ depending on how big your local scene is – but enjoy the process. View it as an adventure to be explored!
SAFE, SANE, AND CONSENSUAL – we hear this all the time, but what does it mean? I want to take this opportunity to discuss a portion of this, which is the ‘consensual’ portion. One way to make sure that what you’re doing is consensual is to negotiate.
Negotiating tends to get easier the more you do it. In addition, as you play you will learn more about yourself including more things you need to include when you negotiate a scene. (Negotiating a relationship or D/s dynamic is a whole seperate article.)
The conundrum is that while you want to cover important things when you negotiate, you also don’t want to negotiate the scene to death. Many scenes are about an exchange of energy and may include elements that the top/D-type doesn’t want to necessarily devulge to the bottom/s-type. This is true especially for players that know each other well, are regular play partners, or in a dynamic/relationship. The negotiation I’m focusing on is the “newbie negotiation”. Assuming you are fairly new to kink or new to your partner, or both. Below is an easy way to remember what should be covered and descriptions for each element.
As I have been teaching the 101 series I have gone over what should be covered (in general) when negotiating play almost every week. I decided to come up with an easy to remember acronym. They are not necessarily in order of importance, but I had to make it into a “word”! lol
Negotiation Acronym: S.M.A.S.H.T.
An easy way to remember the basic things that should be covered in a negotiation for play.
S – Safewords
M – Medical
A – Aftercare
S – Soft Limits
H – Hard Limits
T – Triggers
Safewords – sometimes it’s not enough to just agree that the typical “stoplight” system be used. (Note: if you are using other safewords please also inform a Dungeon Monitor) “Green” means it’s all good and you are enjoying what’s happening. Most people don’t actually shout “green”! Although that may be kinda funny! Lol Usually giggles or moans are good indicators. “Red” is also pretty straightforward. It means you STOP. Stop whatever is happening and immediately check in with the bottom. I have found that people’s understanding or expectation of “yellow” can vary. It’s important to make sure you are on the same page. If the bottom expects the top to simply “lighten up” when they call yellow but the top assumes they should stop and check in (similar to a red with perhaps less urgency) – this may effect the bottoms head space. The bottom should tell the top during negotiation that, “if I call yellow it just means you’re going too hard but don’t stop and talk to me because it will interupt my head space.”
Medical – not just obvious things like surgeries, joint issues, injuries, etc, but also things like asthma, blood sugar issues, or allergies. Allergies can be food related but also if they have any allergy to natural fiber you may need to double think about the type of rope you’re using (if any) or if other toys have been stored with rope that can cause a reaction. Also if there are animal allergies and you have toys made with any kind of fur, etc.
Aftercare – this varies from person to person and possibly scene to scene with the same person. Some people enjoy close snuggling or putting their head in the tops lap while others may need some time alone or to not be touched. (side note – even if they ask to be left alone they should always be somewhere that you can keep an eye on them) Always have water at the ready for both parties and food may be desired as well. If you know you need to eat right after I suggest having something that you bring so that you are not relying on the club to have food once you’re done playing. Even just throwing a protien bar in your bag is a good back up.
Soft limits – this refers to limits that the bottom isn’t interested in or has concerns about, but are willing to try them or push. This may also include activities that the bottom knows they don’t like, however, is willing to do them from a place of service or submission.
Hard limits – limits that are a no go. Not happening. Nope.
Triggers – psychological or emotional responses that can effect the scene (usually negatively). Can be body positions, for example the bottom may be fine on a cross but if they are bent over furniture it makes them feel too vulnerable or exposed. It can also remind them of childhood punishments and cause a negative response. Verbal triggers, often in the use of humiliation and/or degredation play. The bottom my not be ok with any “negative” talk – only affirmations or positive feedback. They may also be ok with some types of humilation but not others. For example sexual humiliation is ok but don’t call them anything negative in reference to their intelligence or weight. Certain implements can trigger someone. Perhaps as a child they were always hit with a belt as punishment. For some they may seek out belts for impact due to this experience OR it may become a negative trigger/reminder. Particular parts of the body is something else to consider. You can have a bottom who is a heavy masochist that you can do almost anything to…..except don’t touch their feet! (for example) Maybe you have to stay away from face slapping due to it triggering memories of past abuse, or their stomach due to insecurities, etc.
All of the above should be discussed with concern for both parties. The top may have medical issues or triggers that the bottom should be aware of, both should be on the same page as far as safewords and limits, and the top may have their own requests for aftercare!
Also, make sure you understand the intention of the scene. I know two people that did a full negotiation – listed all the things they both liked – then as they began, realized they BOTH assumed they were the Top! Decide together if this is more of a casual, teaching scene. Perhaps one or both of you are looking for experience but not necessarily power exchange. Do you want it to have a certain energy? Energy of the scene isn’t always something you can control, and in my opinion it’s usually best when you don’t try to, however, if one person is looking for a very sensual energy and the other desires a more strict and disciplined energy that’s good to know up front.
You may need to add to this depending on the type of play or intensity of the scene – but this should cover all your basics.
Defining “D-type”: general term I use to encompass those that identify as a Dominant, Master, Mistress, Goddess, Trainer, Top, Owner, Daddy/Mommy, etc.
D-types in the BDSM community are those that hold the power or control that their s-type surrenders, or yields, to them. Why would someone want to assume this great responsibility? The answers will vary depending on who you talk to. People are drawn to this roll for a variety of reasons. Some reasons may include a desire to maintain control, power, or decision making for another, wanting to provide structure or discipline, bestow a sense of safety and caretaking, and/or seeking service from another.
Where does Dominance come from? Why are some people naturally this way or seek this role in relationships? Again, just as with s-types, not all paths or reasons are healthy. Many are quite healthy. There are complex layers that turn us toward certain partners in life, vanilla or kinky. It may be that it is an extension of how they were raised. Messages like, “A man is the head of the household.” or “A strong woman is independant and shouldn’t be controlled.” could contribute to someone being a D-type. It could also be that they grew up with chaos or feel a lack of control in many aspects of their life (ie, answering to a boss, etc) and so taking consensual control within their relationship is empowering.
One complaint about 50 Shades of Gray is that the books portray the main character, a D-type, as a man who has found this dynamic as a result of childhood abuse. While this may be true for some kinksters, both s and D-types, it is certainly not true for many – if not most. It’s unfortunate that this popular piece of fiction has perpetuated negative stereotypes.
There are many messages, that D-types may hear from folks around them and pieces like 50 shades.
“You’re just a control freak.”
“You are a predator that wants to take advantage and use other people.”
“You need to control your partner? You must be insecure or overcompensating for attributes you lack.”
“You’re an asshole/bitch.”
Or worse yet, you hear these types of messages from your vanilla partners before realizing that it’s OK to be a D-type. This is where I want to tell you about an ex of mine because her story is a perfect example of someone being naturally inclined towards Dominance, yet suppressing it due to external negative messages.
When I met *Lisa she claimed to be “the most vanilla person you’ll ever meet”. So why did I persue a relationship with her? I don’t know, perhaps I saw that as a challenge or maybe it was her punny sense of humor. That part doesn’t matter. What matters is the part where I started introducing her to the kink scene. I started with munches, then slowly introducing her to my friends, and eventually taking her to parties. It was a whole new world and experience for her but after the initial shock wore off she was starting to have fun. We began to introduce more kinky play into our dynamic and she was taking lessons and tips from so many wonderful people that embraced her. As our relationship continued I started to encourage her to take the lead with decisions and making demands. I showed her through my response that not only did I not fight her on these things, I actually thrived in following her lead and supporting her commands.
At first it was difficult for her and we would discuss why. Turns out she had some fairly strong Dominant traits all her life, yet when she would act upon them in her vanilla relationships, her girlfriends did not appreciate those traits at all. They wanted to be equal and it would turn into a power struggle as opposed to a power exchange. After enough of these experiences within failed relationships she ended up suppressing these Dominant traits. She was attempting to maintain the peace when her partners would accuse her of being “too controlling”. Her natural Dominant tendencies became “wrong” and “bad”.
So there I was – opening her eyes to a whole world where people thrive with the structure she was attempting to suppress. She was experiencing a relationship with me, who not only accepted, but encouraged her Dominant side. She was finally able to accept and cherish parts of herself that she had grown to villainize.
She learned that it is OK to be a D-type.
Something I say in my classes is, “the D in D-type should NOT stand for Douche-bag”. It should stand for Dominant and represent someone who comes from a place of confidence and security. Someone who can be trusted and someone with integrity.
Dominance in and of itself is not a bad thing. It’s when people use it in a harmful or irresponsible way that leads to abuse (emotional, physical, or psychological) or intentional/unintentional harm. If you are Dominant take responsibility for how you express that Dominance. There are many s-types out there that thrive on and crave what you have to offer. It is your responsibility to understand what you are offering, continue to grow and learn, take classes, join discussion groups, read more articles, etc. Don’t take advantage of your role and use it to control your s-type in an unhealthy way. Part of your responsibilities as a D-type and as a partner is to support your s-type in reaching their full potential. Know and accept your Dominance, embrace it, and use it for good.
A barefoot woman swathed in a black fishnet body stocking is handcuffed to a St. Andrew’s cross, her back toward me. Her silky brown hair is gathered in a low, loose bun, the stocking exposing her naked body through its cheesecloth-like holes. With every thwack of the flogger’s tentacles across her cream-colored back, she howls in ecstasy.
We’re in a dark room with black walls, gray carpet and several other pieces of kink-themed furniture. Outside, about 100 people mingle, wandering at will into other rooms just like this one. The labyrinth building is called Sanctuary Studios, a space where L.A.’s BDSM community can come to play. But tonight’s event, Club Awakening, is slightly different than other parties held here: It’s geared specifically toward welcoming newbies to the world of fetish.
“I wanted to create someplace where people could come and play, [and] if there’s something you want to try, you can,” says Jenn Masri, an L.A.-based marriage and family therapist who created Club Awakening a year ago. “It provides a little less of a shocking atmosphere.”
Masri got the idea for Club Awakening after teaching BDSM classes for rookies for several years. She instructs students on concepts like consent, safe words and terminology. She says one question that comes up consistently is, “Where can I go for my first party?”
Four newb-friendly booths scattered throughout Sanctuary Studios allow attendees to try hands-on play — e.g., spanking; crops, canes and paddles; flogging; and ropes. A fifth surprise booth has included more extreme offerings such as fire cupping and light knife play. The event has been packed every month since its debut, including the night I attend.
The event is monthly and generally well-attended. This night in mid-February isn’t any different — despite its being at the peak of the worst rainstorm L.A. has seen in years, the type of foul weather that usually renders Angelenos unable to leave their houses at all, let alone drive somewhere in the dark. But once I check my coat and enter the club’s inner sanctum, I find myself amid a throng of dry, happy and, occasionally, nude or nearly nude people.
Masri has linked me up with Pam, a 47-year-old data department manager from Orange County who has been exploring “the scene,” as it’s colloquially known, for about six months. Pam discovered the scene through a friend just as her 18-year marriage was coming to an end. “I was looking for something,” she says, and “the more I read, the more I got interested.”
Her story, I find, isn’t unusual: Leave an unhappy marriage, enter BDSM. Masri herself has a similar history. “I didn’t get involved until I was out of a 17-year, vanilla marriage,” she says. “Someone I dated did a couple kinky things, and I was like, ‘That was fun, I want to do more of it!’”
Pam has been to Club Awakening, she estimates, five or six times. “I love this event,” she says. “You can try something new, and you can meet new people.”
Around 5-foot-6-inches, Pam is dressed for the evening in a blue-gray tunic top, tight black pants and low-heeled mules. Her lips are painted red, as are her toenails; her shoulder-length, dirty blonde hair is collected into a low ponytail, and she wears delicate amethyst earrings that dangle into the shape of flower petals. We were originally going to explore the event as a pair, but last week, Pam met Jeremy, a 48-year-old dominant and her date for the evening. Much taller than Pam, Jeremy has been in the scene for several decades. He wears coke-bottle glasses and sports a scruffy salt-and-pepper beard, gray-blue button-down and black slacks.
For the first hour, the three of us stand around a cocktail table and chat. It’s an alcohol-free event, so the bar is stocked with six different kinds of soda: Cactus Cooler, Cherry Pepsi, 7 Up, Mountain Dew, root beer and — amusingly — Squirt. It’s also a potluck. A folding table is decorated with homemade platters of food, including frosted lemon cake and pink sugar cookies with Hello Kitty emblems at their center; plastic tubs of cookies from Trader Joe’s; and a bowl with single-serving bags of chips: Spicy Cheese Doritos, Chili Cheese Fritos, Cheeto Puffs and Ruffles.
As we mingle, Jeremy explains the scene to me.
“Sex is our common interest,” he says, “but it’s all about consent. We talk about everything; what we like, what we don’t. It’s all about consent.”
Throughout the night, he’ll continually demonstrate to me that he won’t do anything to which Pam hasn’t consented — e.g., “Can I put these handcuffs on you?” And: “Can I make them tighter?” He also makes a point to demonstrate the nature of his relationship to Pam; within moments, he grabs her ponytail and yanks her head back. “Here,” he says, “I’m showing my dominance.”
When the main room is nearly full, Masri takes the stage. Her waist is cinched into a corset, causing her already bountiful breasts and hips to reach cartoonish proportions. After introducing herself, she opens with the rules: “No cell phone use. Even just opening your cell phone; please go back past the bar and open the door, or go out to the smoking patio.”
As she speaks, Jeremy, who is sitting next to Pam as she stands, begins running his fingers up and down her outer left thigh.
“Make sure you got a ticket for the raffle,” Masri continues. “Vendors donate items for it, and tonight we have a flogger and a full set of ankle and constriction collars.”
The crowd cheers.
“We have stickers, which overall mean you’re open to negotiating play,” she says. “Purple means you’re open to top; blue means you’re open to bottom; orange means you’re open to both.”
By now, Jeremy’s fingers have traveled up to the left side of Pam’s ass, lifting her shirt slightly and slipping his hand underneath it.
Masri goes on: “Consent is key. If you’re going to utilize our practice bottoms” — volunteers who’ve agreed to be submissive for attendees’ learning purposes — “talk to them about it first.”
“No edge play,” Masri continues, “including breath play, fire, needles, cutting, electric, medical, food, blood, anything involving bodily fluid or wax. Sexually: No genital-to-genital, no oral-to-genital, no penetration. On the outside of the body, sexual touch is to be negotiated — and you can get naked!”
Masri then provides the crowd with the evening’s safe words — red and yellow — before introducing the volunteers who will be manning the booths and providing one last line of instruction: “Be kind, ask people if you’re not sure, be respectful, don’t touch other people’s things or peoples — and have fun! We’re gonna open up the rooms and booths. Have a good time!”
Pam and Jeremy’s first stop is the vendor room. A small, brightly lit chamber with “Gin & Juice” playing softly in the background, the room features several tables overflowing with fetish toys for sale: Floggers in a rainbow of colors; handcuffs, collars, leashes and canes.
Jeremy has come here to buy, and he asks Pam her opinion on a pair of heavy-duty leather handcuffs lined with soft red fabric.
Already, Pam has been discreetly carrying around Jeremy’s briefcase, an agreement that seemed to go without saying from the moment the event began. It’s a hard black number that looks like it should hold stacks of ransom money, but in fact it contains toys he brought for the evening. Now, Jeremy ups the stakes: He buys the cuffs, straps them onto Pam’s wrists and instructs her that this doesn’t preclude her from hauling the kitbag.
“This is all part of the play,” he tells me.
Next, the duo heads toward the evening’s surprise booth — a sadistic massage and skin-rolling table run by a man named Dan. Pam lies down on her back, and Dan immediately goes to work.
It’s subtle at first: Taking her right hand in his, he presses his thumb down into her palm. “What I’m doing is pressure points,” he explains, “and I’m doing a little manipulation on her with her thumb.”
He asks Pam — if she wants — to bend her thumb. She does.
“Oh God,” she says, laughing.
“Now, turn your palm up.”
Pam’s face twists into a grimace.
This, Dan explains, is called a “predicament situation.” Pam can move at any time, but moving will cause her more pain. He repeats these moves on her shoulder, her elbow and her shin — all of which are cringe-inducing to watch — before Pam decides to move on.
“Did you like it?” says Jeremy as she gets up.
“Yes, thank you,” Pam responds, before leaving for the flogging room.
Once inside, Jeremy begins to push Pam’s boundaries further.
“Are you comfortable removing your top?” he asks.
She is. He places the blindfold over her eyes and instructs her to kneel over the spanking horse. Handcuffs unlocked, Jeremy begins rolling a Wartenberg wheel — a metal wheel on a handle with small metal spikes, typically used by doctors to check reflexes — up her back.
As he does, three people enter the doorway, but quickly stop. It’s poor etiquette to approach anyone involved in a scene. Jeremy ignores them and continues rolling the wheel.
“Harder?” he asks Pam.
He rubs her ass with an open palm, then smacks it.
“What do you say when I spank you?”
“Thank you, sir.”
“Good. Now, how was that?”
“That was good.”
He spanks her three more times. Then: “Stand up.”
Pam stands and faces Jeremy. He rolls the wheel over her stomach, across her breasts and sternum. Turning to me, he explains, “The front is always more sensitive than the back.”
They continue this way for about 20 more minutes before wrapping up. Handcuffs back on and briefcase lifted, Pam is getting weary physically. That, however, doesn’t stop Jeremy from having her trail him outside to smoke, insisting that she leave the cuffs on and the briefcase in her hands as she tries to smoke a cigarette herself.
We stay at the event until 1 a.m., for a total of four hours that go by surprisingly quickly. Pam and Jeremy have tried everything they want to try, and are ready to wrap up the evening. We say our goodbyes, and they head to their car together.
When I speak to Pam a few days later, she explains that finding the scene was “an epiphany” after 18 years of marriage to a man for whom she felt she had to do everything. Prior to that, she was a rule-follower; a good girl.
“The way I grew up, I don’t know if I’d call it sheltered — I had a very good family life — but you’re always doing the right thing,” she says. “When I decided I didn’t want to be married anymore, I was making that decision for myself. I learned in the scene that that’s okay; nobody judges you. In fact, it gave me a lot of self-confidence I’d never had before.”
This change in herself, she acknowledges, has all happened in just the past six months. She’s been involved with a different dom for much of that time, and her relationship with Jeremy is moving in a positive direction as well. (Many BDSM relationships are open, although they aren’t typically considered dating relationships to begin with.) Meanwhile, Pam — like many people who open themselves up to the scene — is enjoying the freedom that comes with no longer caring about what other people think.
After all, she says, her divorce wasn’t about finding someone else to marry: “It was about me finding out what I wanted.”
First, what do I mean by “s-type”? For those that don’t know I refer to anyone that identifies as a slave, submissive, bottom, pet, property, or babygirl/boy (etc) as an s-type. It’s just an easier way to refer to this group without listing every specific identifier.
What does it mean to identify as an s-type? Why would someone desire, or even crave, to yield their control or power to another human being? This isn’t an easy question to answer, as there are many answers out there depending on who you ask. Some reasons may include a desire to surrender control, power, or decision making, wanting someone else to provide structure or discipline, feeling a sense of safety and caretaking, and being of service to someone else.
The paths that get an individual to this place – this want for surrender – will also vary from person to person. Not all paths or reasons are healthy. Many are quite healthy. There are complex layers that turn us toward certain partners in life, vanilla or kinky. It may be that one didn’t receive the care and discipline he/she required as a child and therefore finds it in a D/s dynamic. It could be simply that the rest of their life demands authority (high powered job, parenting, etc) and the ability to release that control with a trusted partner is like going to a spa after a long hard day. These are only two possible examples of why someone may be drawn toward submission. Not everyone understands this draw however.
“It’s 2015 – you don’t need to bow down to a man!”
“Seriously man – are you that pussy whipped?”
“Slave? How can you let him/her call you that? You’re a grown adult!”
“You mean to tell me you do whatever he/she tells you to do?! Hell no!”
“It sounds like you are just being used and taken advantage of.”
As an s-type we hear so many things from friends and loved ones who just don’t understand or who view our situation from a skewed perspective. Female s-types get lip from the “feminists” about how many years were spent fighting for equality, only for us to throw it all away by stripping our power willingly. However, we need to keep in mind that true feminists would argue that we should have equal freedoms to CHOOSE our behaviors and our lifestyle. Therefore, choosing to consensually yield power, control, etc is, in fact, a huge leap from the days that it was NOT our choice. Everything in our life comes down to the decisions we make. Even in circumstances where we hold no power or control, we still choose how to respond. The movie ‘Life is Beautiful’ comes to mind. (If you haven’t seen it you should!) The point is, we all have the right to decide how we live our life. If we choose to turn over power to someone we trust and respect then that choice should be honored. Male s-types usually catch flack for different reasons. They hear messages like submission isn’t manly. They get called pussies or wimps. Which is kind of hilarious when you think about the fact that many of them could take a much heavier beat down than their “domly” friends. (Although they enjoy it, so maybe not a fair comparison. lol) Again, how is it less manly to CHOOSE how they live their life? To consent to behaviors, dynamics and protocols that make them happy and enrich their life and their relationships?
To every male or female s-type that finds comfort and satisfaction in their submission, how is it any different than the person who finds this in a bottle of beer, a favorite sport, or the traditional vanilla relationship dynamic? Human beings seek safety, comfort, love, affection, and happiness. It isn’t for anyone to judge how you do that so long as nobody is getting hurt (in a bad way!). So take pride in your s-type identity! Slave, submissive, pet, boy/girl, property, bottom, little. Embrace who you are because it’s OK to be an s-type!
Fetlife is meant to be the kink lifestyle version of Facebook. Many people assume it’s more like a dating site, however, that was not the original purpose which is why you can’t search for specifics. Just like in anything online, FetLife is prone to trolling and people basically acting in a way they wouldn’t if they were standing in front of you. In this article I want to speak to four issues that I see on FetLife. I am positive that this article will not cover EVERY issue, however, I will cover the top four that stick out to me. Unfortunately the people that probably need to read this article are the ones that won’t, however, I’m hopeful that perhaps a few of them will happen upon these words
The first issue is a pretty simple one: NOTREADING PROFILES. Rather than sending someone a message based on their profile picture or just the fact that you know by looking at the top of their page they are the “role” that you’re looking for (aka sub, Dom, etc) look at those things as your first filter, but then keep reading. There’s a lot of important information you can find in somebody’s profile page – the first one being whether or not they have any protocol to follow or for you to follow in order to contact them. If they have someone that they are connected to – whether that person is someone is there in a D/s relationship with or someone that is protecting them – they may have certain rules about contacting other people. So if you don’t do that you may not hear back from them. Whether or not you think you should have to contact somebody else first is beside the point. You can also learn a lot from what they say in their About Me section. Perhaps the two of you have common interests, in or out of the kink scene, that you can connect with them on or it can give you some extra insight into the type of person they are. Their list of fetishes might tell you some things they may or may not enjoy, but don’t assume they’ll enjoy all of those things with YOU! You may find some common interest there as well but I don’t recommend starting with that. If you were trying to pick up on someone at, say, a vanilla event you wouldn’t start out by asking them their favorite sex position. Same thing here, you’re getting to know somebody – get to know them as a human being first. Look at the groups they are involved in – that may also give you some insight. Take a look if they have friends writing on their wall or how much activity they have had recently. This can tell you how active they are. Check out some of their writings if they have any. If they have many writings, maybe just check out the the most recent ones. Again, this lends more insight into who they are and what they are about and may give you some additional information to reference when you start to message them.
I’m going to extend this etiquette rule to not only individuals but also events. Most event coordinators are perfectly happy to provide information about their event if you’re confused about something or not sure about something – they’re usually more than happy to help. However, please read the entire event page first and if there are links back to a group page that hosts the event, take a look there as well. If you have additional questions once you’ve done that then that’s the time to contact the host. People who create events put time and effort into managing those groups and event pages so that most of the information is there.
This moves me right into the second issue which is the CUT AND PASTE MESSAGE. Stop it. While you might get away with this sometimes, you need to understand that many times (perhaps when you don’t get a reply and can’t fathom why) it’s because the person on the other end can tell that there is nothing personal about your message. This brings me back to why the first issue is so important. Also, if you’re messaging the same cut and paste message to multiple people – and especially when you have found those people through the friends list of the same people – those people do talk! I hear female s-types talking to one another all the time, comparing the messages they receive. So, once again, refer to issue number one -read the profile of the person you want to message and write the message accordingly.
Issue number three: FORCING A DYNAMIC. This applies to online and in person. Just because someone identifies as a babygirl, doesn’t mean you get to start referring to yourself as “Daddy”. Just because someone identifies as a Domme, doesn’t mean you should start calling them Mistress. Just because someone’s fetish list includes “dirty talk” or ” humiliation, doesn’t mean you start your message with, “How are you my dirty slut?” NO! Again, how they identify or what’s on their fetish list has NOTHING to do with you yet. Approach with respect and treat them like any other human being until (or if) the relationship progresses.
The final issue I am going to speak to is a bit more controversial. The issue of GENETALIA AS PROFILE PICS. I will give you my opinion here. If you have your genetalia as your profile pic I will make some initial assumptions. Keep in mind, just like meeting someone for the first time in person – your profile picture is your first impression. I will assume that you are only on Fet for sexual reasons and/or that is all you have to offer. I, personally, don’t want to see it. If I look at your picture gallery and find pics of your junk (any gender) – well that’s on me. Still not my favorite, but much better than getting greeted with your erection or close up of your cervix every time you send me a message or pop up on my feed. On an even more personal level – as a female s-type if you are a male D-type that I may be interested in, I will be turned off by ANY pics of your package. To me personally it detracts from your confidence as a Dominant.
Now, having said all that, if you really are on Fet for mostly sexual adventures and want to attract others with the same goal, then let your privates march out in front for all to see! I am not going to not be your friend and I won’t think less of you. However, if that’s the first impression you choose, please understand when I don’t feel as badly when you are complaining about all the “unsolicited”, “aggressive”, or “creepy” messages you get.
I understand I may get some arguments over that last issue. Again, this is all my opinion. And it’s my article. So there. 😉
Feel free to add any additional Fetlife etiquette issues that you have come across in the comment section below!
So you see people identify as “poly” or “monogamous” (aka mono). Seems pretty clear cut. I wish it were that easy. When it comes to poly there are a gajillion variations. (Not an official number – lol) You can ask a dozen poly identified people to describe how they “do” poly and you are likely to get a dozen different answers.
For some they are romantically mono but agree that they and their romantic partner can play or have sex with others. For some they can only play with others – no romantic or sexual involvement. In some cases, partners have agreed that only one of them can have an additional outside partner – or that they can share one or more partners. Perhaps they share a romantic partner or play/sexual partners. Perhaps it’s closed and only a certain number of partners are allowed or open and people in the poly “pod” are allowed to date, play, and/or have sexual relations with others. The list is really endless when you consider all the various options and combinations.
An interesting twist is that one person may not do the same kind of poly based on their partner. Let me explain what I mean. At one point an individual may find themselves involved with an existing couple – for the purpose of this article I will use the term “secondary” to describe this person. However, let’s say that relationship ends and the person finds their own “primary” partner. The partner, based on what they know of the person’s relationship history, may expect that they are poly in any way. For example, this partner wants to bring in a secondary partner. They expect it to be an easy adjustment based on the fact that their partner has been a secondary in a poly triad. This may not be the case. It may not be the case by a long shot. Just because someone has been in a poly relationship, this doesn’t mean any poly dynamic will be comfortable for them. If you find yourself in this kind of situation, handle the transition just as you would if poly were a new thing for your partner. Because, essentially, it is brand new. This particular type of poly dynamic may be one that they have no experience with. Not all poly is the same and just because you have experience with one structure or one role doesn’t mean other roles or structures will work for you.
Poly can be a wonderful thing. It can lead to multiple fulfilling relationships and/ or fun adventures. However, nobody will say it’s always easy. Part of the difficulty comes back to “know thyself” as in “know thy poly”. Part of the journey is figuring out what kind of poly works for you and for you and those in your life. So be honest with yourself first, then be honest with your partner. Be patient and understanding and remember that it’s not all the same.
Jennifer Masri is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, specializing in Alternative Lifestyles for individual and relationship issues. She also teaches the BDSM 101 class series at Sanctuary LAX in Los Angeles every Monday evening. Read more about Jennifer on her blog, A Kink Shrink.
Large green fields. A huge bonfire. Adults and children playing, talking, eating, laughing. I say a few pleasantries to a few of the moms I know then focus on the needs of my children. Once they have had their fill of hot dogs, deviled eggs, and s’mores – they leave me to go play with their friends.
I sit off to the side, writing these words in my Hello Kitty notebook (which they probably assume I stole from my daughter). I wonder what the other parents are thinking of my behavior. Do they even notice me? Probably not. They’re busy reminiscing over the school year and discussing their family plans for the summer. It’s early evening so there are moms and dads here – whole family units. Every time I attend a school event I feel the same way.
Like an outsider.
There are a couple of reasons for this. One, I am in the minority of single parents. In fact I haven’t met any others in the 5 years we’ve lived here – even though I’m sure they exist. Maybe I haven’t met them because they avoid these things. In any case, that’s the less significant reason. The other is that I’m different. I doubt many of them would relate to my job, my friends, my lifestyle. There have been two other moms I became friends with and trusted enough to tell. As chances would have it they both moved away last year.
You may be wondering why I’m not as open with other school parents when I’m “out” to everyone else in my life – friends, colleagues and family. Well. No matter how kinky you are or how involved in the scene you are – you always have vanilla aspects to your life. For me, the biggest one is my kids. The last thing I want is for parents to worry about having my kids for play dates or (gasp!) sending their kids to me. They may talk, gossip, doubt, worry, etc. because they don’t understand that kink and my kids don’t mix. My children know nothing about the scene or my preferred relationship dynamics. However, ignorance and misunderstanding can often lead to fear. I don’t want my “being out” with other parents to effect them.
I’m not ashamed of who I am or how I live my life and I don’t hesitate to talk to people about my life. Yet there’s a line between it effecting me and handling it – and it effecting my kids in any negative way.
So here I sit, on the sidelines. Honestly, I’m ok with that. I have plenty of friends and acquaintances I can talk to. To everyone here I’m a single mom and psychotherapist. I’m proud of those parts of me too.
So after I wrote this and put my notebook away I decided to walk over to the food table and eat more grapes. One of the dads approached me and we started having a friendly conversation about this and that. At one point he asked me about what I do for a living. I initially gave him my stock “vanilla” answer and said I was a marriage and family therapist. I’m not sure what it was about him, but my gut told me it would be ok to at least put out the tidbit that “I also teach”. He, of course, followed up with asking me what I teach. I explained that it’s not something I usually bring up around the “school parent crowd”, however, he encouraged me.
After I told him I teach BDSM 101 classes it turned into a lively conversation – including many questions from him – and I felt no judgement. In fact, it turned out he had dated someone years before who was into the power exchange idea but he found it wasn’t for him. We continued to talk for some time and it was nice (although slightly nerve wracking) to discuss this side of my life in that setting. It was a good reminder that you never know what someone’s history holds or how open minded they may be!
Fast forward a couple months later and I am at a birthday party for one of my son’s classmates. I end up sitting with another mom in the shade while all the kids were involved in an organized party game out in the field of the park we were at. The subject of work came up and I ended up “outing” myself to her as well. I suppose I’m on a roll! She was very cool about it, asked questions, etc. I explained that it’s not something I usually throw out there to other parents due to my concern over being judged as a parent, etc. She was very supportive and even friended me on Facebook.
Moral of the story – sometimes we make a mountain out of a mole hill. If either of these parents had made an issue of it then I would have to deal with that. But they didn’t! I will continue to operate as I have in terms of not making it something I put out there right away, however, if it comes up naturally I won’t be as afraid to let the information “out”. Pun intended.
I’m Jenn. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, BDSM 101 educator, Poly Support group leader, and active BDSM community lifestyle member.
I have decided to start this blog for several reasons.
One: To reach more Los Angeles, Orange County, and Inland Empire people who may be interested in, or benefit from, my BDSM 101 classes, poly support group, or need a kink friendly therapist.
Two: To give mainstream society and “kink-curious” folks – near and far – a friendly and realistic peek into the BDSM community from the perspective of an active member in the lifestyle. There is no reason your information should be coming from popular fan fiction or horror stories in the news!
Three: To help promote other people I know in the scene who maybe teach or create really cool stuff! I’m all about supporting my fellow kinksters!
This blog will include things like interesting articles I find and my opinion on them, a picture of some awesome fetish fashion or breathtaking photography I stumble across, stories of my own adventures in the scene, personal thoughts, etc.
So whether you are a newly active member of the scene, a seasoned “veteran”, kink-curious, kink supporter, or just love absorbing new information and want to understand more about it – I hope you enjoy your peek into my life as a kinkster, educator, therapist, and everyday girl in line behind you at the market.
I welcome your feedback, helpful criticisms, personal thoughts and – of course – your support!
*This is a personal blog and does not necessarily represent the feelings, thoughts, or opinions of others’ in the BDSM scene or the community in general.