How to Get Started in BDSM

It’s New Years Eve, the time of new beginnings and new adventures. This is the very first post on this blog. So how better to get started than with some handy hints and tricks on… getting started? That is, of course, dipping your toe into this thing we call ‘The Lifestyle.’

First: Get a Fetlife Account

If you have not yet stumbled across it, http://www.fetlife.com is absolutely the place to be for all things kinky. It’s not a dating site, though people do use it that way for better or worse – it’s a social networking site for kinksters. The ‘Facebook of kink,’ if you like.

It’s free to join Fetlife and you can give as much or as little information as you like. I’ll do a separate article on getting the most out of the site soon, but for now:

  1. Do not, for the love of all that is holy, use your real name or give out any details more personal than which city you live in. (You can even lie about that if you’re really cautious, though I don’t recommend it because finding local people and events is a big part of the purpose of Fetlife.)
  2. Put up a profile picture. It doesn’t have to be a face pic, but something that speaks to you or represents you is good (don’t steal other people’s work, though – that’s not cool.) Your genitals are NOT a good profile picture, however proud of them you are.
  3. Join some groups related to your interests. Read lots. Listen. Learn. Don’t believe everything you read – the only One True Rule of kink is that there are no True Rules of kink beyond “informed consenting adults.”
  4. Reach out by message to some people local to you, particularly if they run events or seem very active and respected in the community. Remember: the goal is to make friends and find community at this stage, not hook up.

Okay, you’ve got a Fetlife account. Good. Next step: READ READ READ.

Read posts on Fetlife. Read as many articles, essays and blogs as you can find (on kink in general or on your particular areas of interest.) Read books – check out this list. (NOTE: I have not read all these books and cannot vouch for the quality of most of them. I do know that you won’t go far wrong with anything by Dossie Easton & Janet Hardy or Tristan Taormino. I’ll do a full list of my personal recommended reading soon.)

This isn’t a “one shot and done” homework assignment. I hope you will keep reading, listening and learning for as long as you’re doing this thing we call Kinky Fuckery.

If you’ve already got a partner/partners

If you’re single, you can skip this section as this is written for folks already in a relationship (or several – we’re poly friendly here!)

Firstly, if you haven’t already, you NEED to talk to your partner about your interests.

I know how tempting it is, if these desires have been burning inside of you for months or years, to go out and explore them on the sly. We have a word for this, however, and that word is cheating. Most folks in the BDSM community take a dim view of lying and cheating, because they go against the central ethos of informed consent.

It doesn’t need to be a big sit-down drama-filled conversation. How about just, “hey, honey? I was thinking it would be really hot if you could be a little Dominant in bed sometimes/if you let me spank you/if we explored tying each other up/-insert your interest here.- How do you feel about that?”

Hopefully, if your partner is communicative and sex-positive, they’ll be happy to have a conversation about it. That doesn’t mean the answer will be ‘yes,’ necessarily, but you’ve opened up a dialogue and that’s a huge step.

If they seem curious excited to know more, talk to them about some of your fantasies and encourage them to have input with things they fantasise about. Explore this through sexting/cyber-sexing if it’s too scary or embarrassing to do it face-to-face at first. Read some erotica or watch some porn together that ticks your kinky boxes. Show them Fetlife, blogs, books and any other material you’ve found helpful. Go to a munch, talk or workshop together. Explore a few light things first – always with a safeword, of course – and see how you go. Moving slowly, with lots of check-ins, negotiation, love and care is the way to have some really positive kinky experiences. You don’t have to do everything now!

Get out into the community and make friends and build a kinky support network. More on that coming up shortly…

If your partner isn’t open to exploring things with you, don’t push or pressure them. Give them time and space to process, ask open-ended questions and express yourself honestly. If they’re not interested, is there any other way you can get your needs met? Perhaps with other partners, if you’re non-monogamous, or through opening up your relationship in some limited way if you’ve been monogamous until now? Perhaps with a professional?

If they are insistent there is no way your kinky needs can be met while in this relationship, I’m afraid you may have a very difficult decision to make – one which no-one else can make for you.

If You’re Single

If you already have a partner or partners, you can skip this bit as this is written for the single curious kinksters out there.

If you’re single, it can be really tempting, when you discover this kinky thing, to dive right into trying to find a partner to explore it all with. However, if you do that, you’re missing out some really important steps.

Hopefully you’ve started off your explorations with joining Fetlife and doing plenty of reading and learning. Perhaps you’ve even reached out to some local people. Brilliant!

Remember: your goal right now is to make friends and build a community. Partners and opportunities to play will follow. A bit of patience right now will set you up well in the long run, I promise.

Go to a munch, class, talk or workshop (more on this coming up in a minute!) Ask a trusted friend to go along with you if you’re scared.

Get Off the Damn Internet – Getting Out There In Real Life

Yep. After extolling the virtues of Fetlife and all the great material you can find on the internet, I’m now telling you to get off the internet.

Find an event near you. A munch is ideal – a munch is an event held in a vanilla location like a pub, in acceptable-for-general-public dress, where kinksters meet up to socialise, hang out and make friends. Most major cities have at least one, and many small towns have them too. Search Fetlife with the name of your city or town to find out what’s going on. If you’re nervous, message the organiser – their Fet name should be listed – and ask if they’d mind introducing you to a few folks. Munch organisers typically do so because they love the community and want to give back to it, and most will be delighted to help you find your feet.

Other good events to go to are talks, workshops and classes on your area of interest, or even a kinky conference like Kinkfest in the UK or ShibariCon in the US. These are often a greater time and financial investment than a simple munch, though, so you might want to try a munch first.

Going to your first event is scary. The golden rules, though, are simple. Follow these and you’ll be fine.

  1. Dress and act appropriately. Basically, at a munch, if it’s okay for a generic pub it’s okay here. Leave the whips and the leather corsets at home. If in doubt, most events will have a dress code and possibly a code of conduct available online, or you can ask the organiser.
  2. Don’t be a creep. Don’t latch on to that one cute young just-barely-turned-18 girl. Don’t only talk to people of the age, gender and body type you’re attracted to. Don’t ask people to play immediately or ask overly intrusive questions. People will notice and I promise, it’ll piss them off.
  3. Be yourself! Talk about your hobbies, your work, your family, how you came to kink… take your cues from others and just make friends the way you would in any other setting.
  4. Don’t get too drunk.
  5. Don’t touch anyone without permission. Kinksters are often a touchy and huggy bunch, but remember there may be relational contexts you’re not familiar with. Always ask before hugging or otherwise touching anyone.
  6. Don’t be a dick. This covers so many bases. Be friendly, open and welcoming to everyone and don’t be afraid to admit you’re new, nervous and not sure what the protocol is.

Most of all, remember to have fun. If you can, gather the Fetlife names of people you talk to and ask their permission to friend them. (You can always follow up with a PM – “Hey, we met at the ABC Munch. I really enjoyed our conversation about XYZ. Would you like to be friends on here?”

Et voila. You’ve got the beginnings of a kinky community and circle of friends. Now – rinse and repeat. You’ll soon learn who your people are, who you really click with and who you don’t much care for. You don’t need to like everyone but you do need to be polite and civil to everyone (unless, of course, something serious like a consent violation occurs, but that’s beyond the scope of this particular post.)

And there you have it – you’ve made your first steps into Kinkland! Doesn’t it feel great? Now go forth and be kinky, my friends.

Happy New Year.

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