New to Kink? Curios about BDSM? Start here

This is an open letter to anyone who has recently discovered that there is a kinky world out there and they now think they want to explore it. First, most kinky folks welcome you to your journey into kink. And it is a journey. Second, please know there are some basic guidelines that will help you with your exploration. These thoughts and tips are meant to help you select how you want to explore kink and how to avoid common pitfalls.

  • BE SAFE!

For months before 50 Shades premiered, people in the kink community talked about newbies, safety and the impending story of some sub who goes on Craigslist, contacts a supposed “Dom,” does something unsafe and ends up in the hospital – or worse. Those of us who have played seriously for some time recognize that safety must be first and foremost. This means physical safety. But it also means emotional safety. BDSM can be transformative. It can also be dangerous in unskilled or drunk/high hands.

PHYSICAL SAFETY: It depends on what you are doing, but there are always some basic safety precautions that should be taken.

  1. As with any type of dating/hook-up, be smart. Meet in a public space for the first meet. Feel out the energy of the person. It is okay to be nervous, but if your gut says this is not right, don’t go back to their place or have them come to yours. Tell a friend who you are meeting. Have a back-up plan. Don’t leave your drink unattended. These are the same rules for any vanilla date, party or gathering where you don’t know the person well.
  2. Before you go out with someone, spend some time really thinking about what is okay with you and what is really not okay. You will not be able to discern all limits this way, but you should have some basic ideas. When you think about being peed on, how do you feel? When you think about being called dirty names, what does that do for you? How do you feel about being slapped in the face? These are all common things that happen in BDSM. You don’t want to be asked to do something and have no idea what it will trigger in you.
  3. Safer sex is a grand idea. STIs are at epidemic levels in the U.S. In some cities, 1 in every 7 people have either gonorrhea or chlamydia. Yes these are treatable. Better yet, don’t get them. People do not always know their status. People lie. If you do not know someone well, condoms, dental dams and gloves are a good idea.
  4. Know your safe words. The standards are green, yellow and red. Green means you like what is happening. Yellow is generally an indication to go a different direction or ease up. Red always means stop immediately and address what is wrong. The color system is widely used and is a good default.
  5. Activities hold different levels of risk. If you are interested in bondage, for a first time try just having your partner hold you down with their body weight. If you do not know the person well, I would never recommend using ropes or handcuffs or other things that you cannot get out of on your own during a first encounter. Things like sensory deprivation devices (e.g., blindfolds, headphones) can be a lot of fun. Just understand that when you decide to do this, you give up some level of control. This is why it is important to know the person you are playing with before you do a scene in private.
  6. As you advance your play, take time to learn things. There are a ton of online resources and most cities offer classes in different skills. There are risks when you tie someone up. You can cut off circulation and really hurt someone. There are risks when you hit/get hit. Some areas can take more of a beating than others. You need to check out education resources (not just porn) before you do this stuff.

EMOTIONAL SAFETY:

  1. Kinky play can be intense. It is very different than basic vanilla sex. There are different chemicals released in the brain and there is a different type of intimacy. It is a well-known phenomena for a sub to fall madly in love with a Dom the first time she experiences sub drop. A Dom can experience a rush having a person surrender power. Practitioners need to take time to process feelings and emotions that arise during a scene.
  2. After care is critical. Lots of time a sub will need a little holding and stroking and care after an scene. I don’t care if you are normally not a cuddler, kinky sex is different. Take care of each other. Doms often need reassurance that the sub is okay and not are mad at them. Subs need to be told they did a good job and held for a bit. Rehydrate.
  3. If you are new, it is especially critical to debrief a scene. This is best done outside of the moment. Sometime the next day or in the next couple of days, talk to your partner about what happened, what you felt, what you liked and didn’t like, what you thought about, what you need. This helps you grow as a kinky person and if you are going to have a repeat partner, helps them hone their skills.
  4. Recognize that even the most jaded, most callous individual can feel a lot more in a kinky encounter than in a vanilla encounter. Acknowledge your feelings. Allow your partners to have theirs. They may not be the same feelings, but they do need to be recognized.

Be Respectful.

You are exploring a community with protocols, rules and norms that you are not used too. Those of us who have experience are a little wary of a newbie and this new energy in our community. Many of us (especially women) have recently been approached by people who are not in the community and asked to do kinky things with no regard to who we are as people. We have been reduced to a couple of holes and maybe a hand to hold a whip. While many kinky folks will be happy to play with you and help you learn, you need to treat us as more than a hired hand.

If you know someone is collared or owned (either their profile says they are or they mention it), immediately ask who their Sir, Mistress or Dom(me) is and get specifics on how this person should be asked for further contact with the sub. You are on our turf. You need to play by our rules.

If you are on Fet or other fetish websites, just because I have a few nude photos of me does not entitle you to fuck me. You still need to respect me as a person even if you have seen my tits. Just because I acknowledge I am kinky does not mean you have the automatic privilege of sleeping with me. Do not get bent or nasty because I don’t want to sleep with you. Additionally, I am going to do things with experienced Doms that I will never do with a newbie.

Dungeons are different than sex clubs. If you want to have random sex with anonymous people, find a sex club. If you are looking to connect with a community of people who practice kink and are willing to accept the fact you may attend a party and not get laid, you may want to approach a dungeon.

Respect my authority. You are new. You are new even if you have been doing this a year or two. If you are playing with an experienced kinkster, let them guide you a bit. You are not all-knowing because you read some stuff online, took a weekend class, or did two scenes in the last month. Thinking you are an established all-knowing kinky person will just be a turn off to more established folks.

Understand that there are many versions of kink. Leather, Master/slave, Gorean, TNG, each group has a different take on kink and what is okay. Take some time exploring different groups to find out where you fit in. Shut up and listen for a bit. We know you are excited and can’t wait to get to the sex. Kink takes a while.

Admit when you have made a mistake. Insisting that you did everything right by vanilla standards doesn’t mean shit. If you have been called out on disrespectful behavior or unsafe behavior, own it. Apologize, learn and move on.

Honor your newness to this.

You are new. You are new for several years. I started at 13. I am now 40. There is still a ton of stuff I need to learn. There are still lots of things I have not done and want to do. My willingness to admit that I don’t know everything and that I am still learning about this allows me to grow as a kinky person.

You are not a Dom or a sub the day you walk into the community. You may feel more drawn to one side of the slash than the other, but you cannot know for sure until you have tried stuff for a while. The longer you are kinky, the more your identity evolves. You may start as a sub but learn that you really like to top. You may start as a rope Domme bur find you like to bottom for electric play. That is good. It means you are growing as a person. There is no need to cling to an identity when you are new at this. Be open and be okay with that.

  1. Learn from others.

There are a lot of resources out there. Webinars, blogs, books, podcast, local classes, munches, coffees and support groups are all readily available to you. Take some time to explore these resources and start to learn stuff. I have a kinky book group, a sub support group, a poly cocktail hour group and a regular munch I attend. I am always learning new stuff.

If you decide this is more than a passing fashion for you, connect with others who identify with you. Find a mentor. Find a group of kinky friends. They can help you in your journey.

Recognize your limits.

A lot of people try kink for a bit and find it isn’t for them. They thought it looked sexy and fun. They tried a few things. It didn’t work for them. They go back to a less kinky life. This is not a failure. I love regular Vinyasa yoga. I love the practice of it. I got interested in Bikram (hot) yoga. I thought it looked interesting. I have friends who swear by it. I tried it and HATED it. It was stifling hot, sticky and smelled like patchouli and feet. I went back to Vinyasa. This does not mean my friends who practice Bikram are better than me. Just different.

You may think you are going to like something. You try it and hate it. Fine. Go back to what you do like. You like being tied up. Good. You like being spanked. Great. You freaked out when you were choked. Don’t do that again. It does not mean you can’t be tied up and spanked. Choking is just now a limit.

Some things you will not want to do even if they seem okay to a lot of people. We all have different triggers. I have a weird thing that if my head and shoulders are confined and immobilized I freak out. I panic and sob even if I am in no pain and can breath. I tell my partners this up front. I still like to be tied up, just with some limits. There doesn’t have to be a logical reason you hate something. You just need to acknowledge it.

Accept this as a growth process.

Kink, at least practiced long term, changes you. It changes your understanding of the world. It changes your interactions with people. It is an evolution. I you stay with kink, recognize you will grow and change. Your desires and likes will grow and change. This is just part of the process.

Have fun!

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