The Big Mistake Even Good Submissive Men Make When Looking For A Femdom

Male subs, stop asking for the relationship you don’t actually want with a dominant woman.

This pertains to you, the guy who is thoughtfully and carefully filling out a profile to put his best foot forward on the internet, or sending out your messages nervously and respectfully as you can, to try to convince what you see as a rare, nice femdom woman that she should be into you, or at least not knee jerk delete your greeting. This is talking to the guy who tells people, as reassuringly as he can, that he is “very submissive” and will do anything to make them happy while trying hard not to rule anything out by being specific. Or the guy who helpfully fills out that he’ll do house chores, chauffeur her around, anything really, as long as she will just deign to accept him or even talk to him. Or the person who petitions women like he should be apologizing for wasting the carbon than makes up his body mass.

Not all of you sub guys should actually be doing this. It’s actually hurting your chances at making a human connection.

Yes, it’s not a good idea to lead with a barrage of demands, and nobody likes a laundry list of fetishes in their inbox or a partner who has how you’ll act all mapped out. But, if you’re at all a long time reader of this blog, you probably aren’t dealing with the level of selfishness or stupid, which leads you to message women with “wanna meet at my hotel while I’m in town for business and spank me and fuck my ass?!”. 

I’m talking about the fact that a lot of sub guys prepare themselves to please an internalized idea of what a femdom is. In most people’s minds, that’s a very client-and-pro styled relationship, where the assumption is that the woman is not willing and eager in her own right. It’s, at the very least, a hyper exaggeration of the idea that nice girls really don’t wanna and need to be bribed and cajoled into it. I’ve rattled that cage often enough this should be old hat right now, that a lot of us dominan women love it for its own sake. However, what isn’t being said, but needs to be said is this-

A lot of you guys aren’t actually into either being unpaid domestic workers or Mr. Everybody’s Servile Cur and you are still selling yourself that way because you think that’s the Right Thing to Do. For every silly boob who writes me calling me “Mistress Goddess Lady Divine” because he wants it to be true, there’s a not so silly bloke who thinks I simply delete anyone who doesn’t address me like I was some sort of fantasy nobility and thinks it’s a protocol thing he has to go through because otherwise he’s not a Good Submissive (TM). And it’s past time we stopped demanding every guy with a submissive fantasy act like a simpering sycophant or an emotional masochist before the relationship even gets off the ground. Afterwards? That’s up to you- but before? This trend is not helping.

Real life example time:

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Reader Letter: Second Thoughts After Pushing A Limit

We have our second ever reader letter! SecondThoughts is brave enough to share their experience with exploring limits and what can go wrong.

Hi Miss Pearl,
First off, long time lurker, first time poster. Me and my play partner, are both newish to BDSM. We were discussing for something trying to push one of my limits. but when came to try it I started having second thoughts. For a number of reasons, I didn’t say anything and while everything turned out fine, it still left me feeling uncomfortable that I hadn’t said anything.


To get to the question. Is there anyway you recommend, for telling your dom that you may be having second thoughts or that you need more time to be mentally ready. Without completely breaking the mood or pulling out your safeword? I know honesty is the best policy, just wanted to get the opinion of a more seasoned person. Thank you for reading,


Hi SecondThoughts!

It’s always a challenge when you’re on the fence about something- especially with the pressure to expand limits and boundaries ( is particularly guilty of this one, trying to get extra oomph from declarations like ‘limits are mostly mental’). But your limits are part of your ability to consent. People who are incapably of saying no can’t say yes.

For those of you who are completely new to kink, a limit is a “nope, no way, can’t do it” act or behaviour. It can range from the sensible (no children, pretty much everyone’s default limit) to the highly specific (no face slapping!). Some people further break down limits into hard limits and soft limits. The former means something that will never, ever happen and the latter means that the person might be open to doing it, in a long term, supportive situation where they feel safe.

Limits exist for lots of reasons. Maybe you have a medical problem that makes it impractical to do a particular thing like prolonged bondage, an allergy or a phobia. Maybe something is particularly sensitive. Sometimes it’s something the person just isn’t comfortable with, no complicated explanation needed. Some people enjoy the idea of playing “without limits” or feel that their limits interfere with their ability to submit. There’s a word or someone who is literally down for being murdered, and that’s not romantic and trusting. In practice the ‘no limits’ crew get away with it basically by relying on the dom to have the limits. Playing with the fear ‘what if s/he goes too far?!” is not my thing, although a lot harder to do in F/m anyway- especially if you are emotionally healthy with each other.

Less talked about, but just as valid, are a dom’s limits. My hard limits are kids, pets, permanent harm and things that could give you e-coli. Amputations and breaking laws are both things I have zero interest in doing or dealing with. I also have a bunch of things that I might do, but are decidedly edge play for me- for example decorative, lasting body mods. At this juncture I won’t have anyone branded/inked even if they ask nicely, but maybe with the right person who was already demonstrably into personal adornment and to whom I knew it was a long, healthy relationship, I might. I won’t take a single tail to someone either, but I might if I knew I wouldn’t put their or my eye out in the process.

From the context, SecondThoughts was trying to explore a soft limit and discovered that, during and after trying it out this clearly wasn’t something that worked for them. So, what to do? There’s a lot of pressure there on the sub- nobody likes feeling like you’re wishy washy, and even if your dom is very easy going, if you’re into obedience it can be emotionally hard for you to cry off mid-scene.

Sometimes things just don’t work out right in the moment and it’s not anyone failing, just not the right thing for that second. Many people use a multi-step safeword system for this reason. That’s the stoplight system red for ‘stop right now!’ and yellow or amber for ‘caution!’. You can discuss with your dom how best they want you to communicate when you’re just not feeling it. No reasonable dom wants to do genuine trauma to their partner so, while I usually don’t speak in ‘shoulds’, your dom should be understanding about this situation.

Psychologically speaking though,  it can also be easy to have pride in your ability to endure, so it can feel like you are failing when you admit that something is a bit much for you.  Things like pain thresholds can feel extremely competitive for people- with the perpetual war between “heavy” players and “soft” players. The counterpoint to feeling like what the dom says has to go regardless of your recovery after is that dominants are not telepathic.

On of humanity’s greatest strengths is our knack for communication- it extends from being able to function  between fundamentally different people who speak different languages, to being able to empathize outside of your species and guess what a dog is feeling or when a plant needs extra attention. However- even if you are hardcore into people as property, if you want to own someone, if your sub is a person that means one of the biggest gifts they can give you is their perspective.

Some of the tricks people use include asking the sub to keep a shared journal, or making a post-scene discussion part of aftercare. In an ideal world everyone would just be able to talk about stuff, but remember that there’s no shame in developing special rituals to make it easier to discuss things.

Now if you want a little more reading on the mechanics and function of safewords, I also recommend this post from Clarisse Thorn, who talks about Safewords and Check-Ins.

Just remember, accidents happen. It’s not just avoiding mistakes that is important, but how you handle things after something does go wrong.

Reader Letter: Hurting Yourself & Tying Yourself Up

Closer to God, or orgasm. Works for me.

Self inflicted sadomasochism is often the first ways we get to experiment with our kinks. Whether you fantasized as a kid about how your piano lessons were taking place at gunpoint, you’re looking for some you focused self gratification or you’re simply trying to understand how something works before you try it on someone else, there are many reasons you might want to try an activity on yourself. Tying yourself up is not an uncommon form of early exploration into kink and, I think solo play deserves as much love as playing with a partner.

So I got this message recently, from a reader:

Hello Miss Pearl,

I have followed your blog for quite some time and enjoy it very much. You seem to offer a sane, critical, level headed view on BDSM community that I find quite refreshing. I have recently begun taking the first step past “lurking” on fetlife to more interactive engaging. I am a switch myself so am happy as a dominant or submissive. What I am interested in , is some online torture ideas that can be preformed on me, or directed by me. I recently experienced a “session ?” with elastic bands around my quads, that I found but exhilarating and painful in equal measure.

I have read what I can find online, which involve, chopsticks, ginger, clothes pegs etc. Yet nothing real jumps out at me. I was wondering do you have any ideas/knowledge of where to best look to get more informed on the subject ?? Thanks for taking the time to read,, and for maintaining such a quality blog.



Dear 4playfiend:

Sadomasochism is not always a couples activity, as many people have discovered. However, doing it by yourself obviously presents some challenges. For one thing, some bondage scenarios are just a little difficult when you can’t reach the knots and it may not feel quite the same way to do things to yourself. On the other hand, for one reason or another, for example a long distance relationship or happy fun time at home, you may want to engage in a little erotic self mortification.

But first, three pieces of safety advice for all you masturbatory enthusiasts reading.

  1. No breath play without a reliable partner. Breath play is already fucking dangerous without someone there to provide supervision and solo choking and smothering has claimed many people.  Don’t put things around your neck or plastic bags on your head.
  2. No vacbeds. Even on a timer, or set up in a way that you think you can get out of. Again, people have died this way, even people who were as close to vacbed experts as it gets.
  3. Don’t restrain yourself in a non-foolproof way. Use the baby handcuffs with the safety release switches and don’t just rely on “eventually I can wiggle free!”. As fun as freezing keys in an ice block sounds, you want something a bit more easy to deal with if your house catches on fire or you otherwise need to get out fast.

Everyone’s fetishes are a little different, so what you will find enjoyable is probably going to vary from one person to the next. Functionally speaking the number of ways that you can harmlessly give those nerve endings a hard time is as infinite as your imagination.  But if you’re really stumped, here’s a leaping off place:

Figging, icy hot, hot sauce, etc…  Some people like this sort of thing applied to a mucus membrane. Remember that ginger, the source of figging, has an unreliable level of spiciness, and what goes on may be more intense than you intended. As with eating spicy foods, oils are better for removing stinging burning oils and for gods sake, test that stuff slowly- do not randomly enema yourself with undiluted Ghost Pepper juice.

Clips, clamps and ties. Clothes pins are just one staple of this school of superficial but fun discomfort. You can get all sorts of pinchy grippy things, from clover clamps from the hardware store, to various hair clips (the metal ones tend to be a gentle, non-skin breaking chance for something spikey. Attach weights or not, as you prefer. You can also do “Zippers“, which for solo purposes, you can attach to a fixed point.

Non-binding harnesses, etc… As well as very, very light restraints of the kind that can be easily escaped from, those of you into the fine art of sexual macrame otherwise known as shibari, will discover that with patience there’s all sorts of chafe-y and tight ways to wind yourself up. for example this harness doesn’t need two people. Just cinch it nice and tight.

Kneeling on rice/dried peas/legoes. As well as something mean to do to your subs, it’s an easily reversible thing to do to yourself. This can be a bother to clean up. The trick here, if you want to surrender control, is probably a regular kitchen timer.

Exercise. It’s good for you and gets the endorphins flowing. And certain things like wall sits, planks and squats are uncomfortable and difficult. And, if you like externally applied attention, a simple exercise podcast can also help you trance out into the realm of pushing your body. Again, a timer is a harsh mistress/master that cannot be reasoned with.

Getting people superficially involved. If you’re really having trouble getting into the head state without at least some oversight, try something like fapdeciders at reddit. As well as giving you ideas, it’s an explicit community devoted to light, long distance attention.

Self bondage. There are 63 groups on fetlife devoted to tying yourself up. I suck at bondage but in my experience someone with a subbie streak and time on their hands is a fiend when it comes to elaborate but eventually escapable hogties and predicaments.

That’s only a superficial look at the subject matter, and leaves aside things like inflatable toys on timers, using dice to decide self punishments, and another other possibilities.

Hey readers, I’m not and expert and there’s a hundred of you or so stopping by every day. What’s your favourite selfie?

NonExpert Advice: Can I be a sub and an ‘Alpha’?

I get a trickle of questions, much to my general bafflement. However, when they’re not strange men asking for training, I do my best to answer them. Like this person, who kindly allowed me to reprint their question. The wanted an answer to the age old question of if they got to be a sub without giving up the rest of their personalities.

Hello Miss,

I was wondering if you would have some time on your hands to help me understand the lifestyle and myself a little better. The reason I ask is because I find that you are aware of many things and I would love to hear your opinions and views on certain areas.

I have my view about the lifestyle but I think it’s time i begin my journey but there are certain things I need to know first. Also there are certain things I need to overcome first before I can say that I am ready to get involved in the scene.

I understand if you are busy but I would really appreciate any help you can offer as I have been struggling with this side of me for a very long time now and so far I have been doing it alone all this time. I know that there are monthly munches but to be honest it’s not really something that I am interested in.

I might sound like I’m all over the place and that’s because I am. Honestly I don’t know where to even begin and not to mention I suck at expressing myself so if there is anything that needs to be clarified please ask.

I think of myself living two lives. One of them is the so called vanilla lifestyle where I am the alpha male and the alternative lifestyle of submission to a female dominant. Can both worlds actually exists or am I being too greedy?

[Name redacted]

Of course he got a reply…

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The Secret of Being the Best Submissive

being the best submissive

I will punch you if you suggest there’s something wrong with my sub because he’s not a domestic slave.

Okay, it will be a no contact punch, delivered with my mind through making my eyes very narrow and growling at you, probably miles away, over the internet. I never claimed to be effectual about my anger management problems.

Any yet, it’s not unusual to make a big deal about being the best at BDSM. Both dominants and submissives worry about what makes them good at being their orientation. No online kink community is complete without a couple ongoing discussion threads to that line. Of course, regardless of the kink being catered to, the usual conclusion is that people want a sane person who can look after themselves. Which, unsurprisingly, is what all the Vanillas generally say they want too. We are not so different!

However, once you leave the territory of minimum obligations for healthy human relationships, that’s when people start getting picky, and you start getting the anxiety and the whining. And the posturing. And the fantasies. The top two things that seem to come up, time and time again when it comes to sub hunting, is male doms wanking about not wanting a doormat because it reaffirms their masculinity/dominance or something, and female doms and subs talking about how they don’t want another sexually objectifying asshole. And of course the male subs would please like to stop being treated like they need to pay to breathe and the femsubs are getting tired of being asked to relocate to Utter Pradesh after doing a naked webcam show for a man old enough to be their grandfather or young enough to be their son. Both doms and subs get pressed to be “true” and role conform.

But, I feel like submissives deal with a lot more silly assumptions on what they must do as subs, and how things are supposed to work. And it’s also a self inflicted thing as well as an external thing.

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Self Sabotage & Communication

As much as the collective kinky relationships blogasphere beat the “communication” drum so hard that the stick broke, in practice this is actually really, really difficult. Really, really, really, really difficult. No, seriously, it’s actually almost impossible for some people to just have a productive conversation about kink or about feelings or that thing that someone’s doing that really pisses you off. But, you need to make sure the problem is not you, and I find there’s a lot of self sabotage in trying to talk about stuff and how people try to get what they want from each other.

Situation: “If I don’t tell them, then they can’t say no!”

We like to believe that our friends and loved ones would, when the chips are down, do what’s most important to us. But, as a second best, being refused can feel scary and many people worry that the request itself will have consequences. For example a person who never asks a friend out because it would “ruin the friendship” or someone who explains their vanilla partner would never understand for fear that that person will think less of them.

Doms do this when they’re not sure that the sub will actually pull their weight. It’s a particular vulnerability inherent in D/s, that hearing a sub say “No!” makes you feel no longer in charge. Subs do it when they’re not sure their limits will be respected and they don’t feel strong enough to stand up for themselves, because it maintains the fantasy that the . Pay really close attention here, it’s a warning sign that you don’t trust your partner and their ability to meet your needs, or for the survival of the relationship if you have to face up to not getting what you want.

Suggestion: Frame your request.

Due diligence on how the other party likes to be approached with things is about your only protection from voluntarily locking yourself in limbo. If the request is important, try things like breaking it into smaller questions- for example few vanilla partners are indulgent enough to go 24/7 by next Tuesday, but gradually getting them exposed to your kinks in a sex way is going to work better than blurting out every fantasy you ever had or worse, using their presumed no to justify cheating because they would never understand anyway.

Situation: Arguing while irate/upset

Arguments have a very negative association for most people, being used synonymous for “fight”. Some people burst into tears even trying to broach the topic, and if you’re one of those people I sincerely advise you not to retire from the arena purely on that fact- your communication is valid too. However, there is such a thing as only discussing a problem when it is a big haring deal and how you are feeling is going to come blaring out in your ability to communicate.

A warning sign of this is that your conversations get derailed into other subjects that also bother you, or that things tend to escalate into talking about what this particular thing means as a statement about the whole relationship or the sort of person. Sometimes a problem is symptomatic of a bad personality thing that needs to be addressed , but trying to tackle someone’s entire personality is going to usually be a losing battle.

Suggestion: Don’t hold grudges, but take a long game view.

In relationships, we often get told that issues should be dealt with and be over and done with, but actually processing how you feel can be a lengthy thing. If you feel like discussions tend to go off the rails a lot, it may be helpful to look at the bigger picture and the pattern of the things that needed extra attention. This will help you decide if it’s a big systemic issue that needs to be addressed with some distance from the symptom, or if it’s a case of just needing to vent. Clarifying what the ting being discussed means to you will help you tailor your reaction. After all, you’re not really enjoying being mad, anyway, are you?

Situation: No consequences.

This one’s a tough one. Nobody likes playing games in a relationship and it’s unhealthy to have to manipulate or parent someone outside consenting and select circumstances. But a lot of the time, when people ask for things they don’t offer any reaction other than trying to accept it. This teaches the other party to learn to ignore that person’s requests, since they are all classified as “if you feel like it!” This is not good.

Sometimes this can be the hardest part of getting things done with other people, because often it is easier to eat whatever it is that is bothering you, as part of the price of admission, than have to stand down someone you love. Especially if you have mortgages or children  or some such. Especially when you feel like this may escalate into the other person putting consequences up on you that are worse than what you started with.

Unfortunately, if other people demand you’re going to be a doormat, that’s their prerogative. What is yours is your ability not to write “Welcome” on your back in an easily readable font.

Suggestion: Maintain some things that are uniquely yours and your space.

Having an ability to fall back into your own space lets you maintain distance when you need it. This can mean your own study or room, or even a social network that’s not entirely mutual. While the “silent treatment” is childish, a lot of arguments are about things that effect two people, and having zones where you are not utterly dependent on the other person’s moods and whimsy is a healthy antidote to being a hostage- and it sends the message that if you’re with someone it’s a choice done out of love and part of a healthy balance.

Profile (And Approach): Part 1, The Picture

Because I get lots of questions, I’m going to write a several part series on online kink dating. We’ll examine both how to fill out your profile and how to try to approach someone. First we’re going to look at the most eye catching part of your profile, the picture.

Picture Profiles Get Passed Over Less

Whether this is Collarme, FetLife or some other website, one of the best ways to avoid being passed by is to make sure you have some sort of image. General dating website research says that you’ll get people’s attention longer.

The Main Image

Ideally your first point of contact and main profile picture should be a flattering picture of you. This is not the place to demonstrate you’re the kinkiest mofo who ever logged into a naughty website. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s that it’s going to be counter-productive to your goals. That means that your first picture should not be very overt- not a close up of Mr. Happy, rampant or caged up, not you in full gimp suit regalia or best frilly lady clothes. By all means, entice. It’s okay to drop little hints. But save the overtly sexual stuff for the next photo, okay?

According to OkCupid’s data crunching, their male users get the most attention if they don’t look directly at the camera and don’t smile. Women, on the other hand, get rewarded most for “flirty face” which OkCupid defines as cutesy posing and doing pouty stuff with your mouth.

The Seduction

If you’re not stuck resorting to an awkward cellphone camera in a mirror, it’s okay to be sneaky and pose. Got a faithful puppy or a cat to snuggle? Looking for a lady who is impressed by your sweet saxophone skills? Bring these props into the picture. Most digital cameras include a timer and enough memory to play around a bit. And trust me, you should take several photos. Nobody looks good in their first attempt.

Playful and friendly are going to attract more attention. Active photos with you doing things are conversation starters, even if you staged yourself doing whatever you’re showing. It’s one of the easiest ways to get an actual woman to message you. And again, this is backed up by the research- and works for both genders.

In the other direction, if you’re going to post a sexy pic, make it more of a tease than just a money shot, or at least add the tease in. Let’s say your first picture is something much more wholesome and you want a dick pic- no matter how proud you are of the size of your sausage (or excited by the prospect that it is nothing impressive and you want everyone to reach for their magnifying glasses) you want to make the lady eager to look. To try to describe a tease, without devoting an entire blog post to it, think about the journey, not the destination.


Some of you, for obvious reasons, don’t want your employer, or the parents of the kids you teach, or your dear sweet Baptist grandmother finding out what you do in your personal life. That is no reason to leave your picture completely blank though!

An actual picture of you is still better, even if you don’t show your face. Headless torso shots are popular, but this can be hit-or-miss. Abs also have a diminishing result with age- you 19 year old kinksters get better returns than you 49 year olds with cobblestone tummies.  If you’re not sure about the abs-and-chest look for you, put your shirt back on. But make it a nice shirt. And consider other body parts. No, not a crotch shot. Try, for example, an arm shot, with a dress shirt rolled to reveal a wrist cuff. Your interests will define your hints.

You can also try a picture of your bookshelf, if you’re a reader, or a nice shot of food, if you’re a foodie. Try to make that picture at least tangentially related to you, rather than random memes. The idea is a conversation starter. In fact your entire profile should probably be structured this way, to keep messages going.

If you put up a sexy picture, for example a porn image you borrowed, keep in mind that what you find sexy is going to attract guys just like you. Do you want to date a guy just like you? If not, you want to share something your target audience will find hot. You’re also going to make people super confused if you post a picture contrary to your orientation you’re identifying under, for example if you have a naked lady in chains when you’re looking for a dom.

General Advice

Clean up your background. Messy homes are not hot. But also move distracting laundry baskets, Kleenex boxes and cable spaghetti. You may bridle at the thought of displaying anything but unvarnished reality, but trust me; no person actually thinks you live in an immaculate set piece. You’re just taking out the clutter to get a cleaner visual.

Try to make your main self-portrait be just of you. You as the best man at your brother’s wedding, even if you have a nice smile, should at least be cropped so you don’t have to say “I’m the dude on the right”.

If you have the option to add a caption, do so. For example let’s say you’re posing with your guitar or your dog- “I picked it up in first year of college and jam once a month with my friends” or “Fido is a Yorkie/Great Dane cross I got as a shelter rescue” is only bonus stuff you to talk about.

Not photogenic? Quantity. Seriously, that’s how professional models do it, thousands and thousands of pictures. What do you think a strobing flash exists for?

FAbQ: Very Basic BDSM Safety

For the most part, kinky activities are about as safe as any other way to have sex. Which is to say,  the worst that ever happens to most people is friction burns and hurt feelings, except when things go spectacularly wrong or someone is being unethical. However there are a number of things you need to take into account.

Some of the advice here may seem painfully basic, but if you’re new I can understand kink can make people very nervous. After all, you have to meet new people. You might end up in positions of vulnerability. You have to make judgement calls based on how to trust people. Don’t let the safety advice scare you- think of this as being the same stuff you learn for vanilla dating, from condoms to mad money.

These rules apply to D/s relationships whether new or not, dom, sub, male, female or intersex. Or as one commenting person pointed out, just kinky.

Social Safety

1) Take things slow. It can be very tempting, when you finally get a taste of what you want, to rush things. Meet new people in public settings, and take the time to get to know them. You don’t want to fall in love with your fetish and discover the person you’re with is nothing like you imagined.

2) Make sure boundaries are respected. Kink can involve playing with things like trust, obedience and even controlled violence. This means extra attention to having your limits and boundaries observed. Even the little things, like respecting how you want to be talked to, or what people can and cannot do in a scene are crucial. For example a person who is more pushy with contacting you or who jumps into a D/s relationship with you before you have consented to that level are things to be cautious around.

3) If you’re getting to know new people, follow dating extra cautious safety rules. For example a safe call, where a friend calls you during the date to check in on you. If you wouldn’t normally meet a stranger in a hotel room, don’t. Do not give out identifying information willy-nilly, starting small. If it’s meant to be it’ll work with you being cautious.

4) D/s is not a magic world where laws and regular rules don’t apply. The dom is not always right, or an expert. It’s okay to call the cops when things go wrong. You don’t need to do everything any dom says. Even if you agreed in the past to something, if you start feeling uncomfortable, things should stop.


1) Never leave a bound person untended. You never know when you’re not there if they could get into trouble. People have strangled this way. Especially don’t leave people with things that could block or constrict breathing, including leashes, gags or muffles. NEVER use a vacuum bed alone.

2) If you’re the one doing the binding pay close attention to circulation. Check the extremities of the bound person for coolness and keep a blunt tipped pair of scissors or an extra key for any locks.

3) Disclose any health problems up front. For example if you have a panic disorder, seizures or asthma, you should make sure the person you’re playing with knows what to do. This is even more so, if you’re doing something on the edge of your comfort zone.

4) Negotiate in advance when you try new things. If you’re remotely masochistic, painful stimulation and sensations can be very enjoyable but also not all pain is the same or feels equally good. It’s better to know what’s coming, at least the first few times.

5) Do not play while drunk/stoned/under the influence. Your judgement is impaired and your sense of pain is dulled, while your co-ordination is off. This is one of the ways that accidents will happen, including not being able to communicate your limits safely.

Theses are hardly the only safety tips you could follow, but they’re a good leaping off place. Later I’ll write about things in more detail.

FAbQ: What Is a Dominant or Submissive and How Do I Know What I Am?

This is intended to be a regular feature on this blog, in which I try to talk about the absolute basics. I personally won’t be able to teach you elaborate rope tricks or fancy ways to flog or how to make someone orgasm on command. The goal here is to cover the things people say they wish someone told them when they were new, and to answer the Frequently Asked beginner Questions.

This time I’m going to look at dominance, submission, how to figure out what to call yourself and most importantly, the sanity rules.

What is this, anyway?

One of the first pieces of confusion that comes up for new people is finding out how the Dom/sub thing works in real life. Sure a host of porn covers the things they might do, but it really doesn’t explain possibilities in reference to how it tends to go down with real couples and also people are generally not given a sane approximation of the limitations of a D/s (that’s Dominance/submission or Dom/sub) relationship. It also doesn’t let you figure out what to call yourself if you’ve only ever had fantasies.

First, the sanity check.

  • All submissives do not have to do what all dominants say just because Dominants are dominant.
  • Individual submissives do not have to do what their particular dominant says they should do, without prior negotiation. If you agree to a D/s relationship this is not automatic implicit consent.
  • There is no central licensing system for dominants or guild system of training. Despite desperate hopes, even tales of “Old Guard” or “Leather Families” do not replace common sense in the quality of the dominant. The dominant can be as inexperienced or more inexperienced than the sub.
  • Every D/s relationship is different. Some involve sadomasochism, some do not. Some are built on pure obedience, some involve deliberate disobedience on the part of the sub.
  • Dominance and submission are identification labels not personality types. Doms can be shy and quiet and nervous, while subs can be aggressive and outspoken and have fantastic careers.

Now, some terms:

Dominant: The dominant person is a relationship is the one who is in charge. Dom, domme, dominatrix, master, mistress are all used to refer to this sort of person. The way you become dominant is by deciding one day to call yourself that. The way you act dominant, more often than not, is to convince someone else to call you that too. However the act of the stereotypical dominant (you know the one in leather chaps or the latex corset who is whipping someone?) can also be referred to as a Top if the level of compliance/disobedience is less important than the hitty bits or rough sex. Generally dominants get a warm fuzzy feeling from control that may be sexual arousal.

Submissive: The submissive is the one being told what  to do. How accurately these commands are followed is really defined by what sort of relationship two people want to have. The submissive might like thinking of themselves as a slave, a pet, a servant, or simply the other half of a happy couple, maybe even all of the above over the course of a night. The sensations only version is a bottom. Generally submissives get a warm fuzzy feeling from someone being in charge of them. This could be arousal, feeling ‘safe’ and any number of other pleasant sensations.

Switch: Surprise! Some people are both! In some relationship people switch off on the roles with each other sometimes. In other cases, people feel dominant towards some and submissive towards others. Some switches are more there for the sensations, for example they could be equally happy being spanked or spanking. Switching isn’t even on/off and some people like ambiguous dynamics.

Okay, that’s nice but what am I?

A lot of people starting out don’t really have a clear idea of what they want to call themselves. Even your taste is porn is no help, for example it’s not uncommon for male subs to enjoy female submission as masturbatory material and many dom women find the stereotypical pro-dom shtick causes them to flee the room. If you’ve never done all this, for example you’ve never been spanked or actually had control over someone outside the safe limits of work you probably just have a vague idea some things are kinda hot.

It’s okay not to know what you are. If you’re filling out a profile, put yourself down as ‘unsure’. You have all the time you need to figure it out. Me, as a masochist I was under the impression that I’d be happiest as a sub. A friend who is entirely submissive mislabeled herself as a dom. Neither of us had the world explode on us as we worked out what we were.

Plenty of people even shift how they ID over the course of their life. However if you’re urgently trying to figure out a leaping off place with a label you can either go generic with ‘switch’ or give your fantasies a holistic look. Unlike a lot of quizzes I’m not going to think about whips and chains because if you’re not sure that’s probably just more confusing.

Are you more comfortable (in your fantasies!) being in charge or having someone else tell you what to do?

If your nurture someone are you being ‘responsible’ and taking care of things or are you ‘serving’ them with pampering?

If you like the idea of someone handling all the details of a problem or task for you is it because they are being responsive to your needs and letting you delegate or are they in charge and you feel great because you can just do as you’re told?

Your lover gives you a token to wear, like a neck charm or a bracelet or maybe a jacket  When you put it on do you feel “Mine, mine, mine! My person!” or “I am marked and connected to them!”

I phrase the questions this way because not all dominants do the ‘harsh’ thing and not all subs are into passive. You will need to decide even beyond that, what kinds of dynamics you like. This could be anything from 1950s household or full bore wicked dungeon slavery games to equals with bedroom wrestling. And it’s all okay.

FAbQ: The Utter Basic BDSM & Kink Scene Vocabulary For Getting Out and About

I get a lot of messages from people who are new. However, most people are not looking for complicated advice, they want to know what the hell the jargon being thrown around means. There’s more complete dictionaries, which I will link to, but this guide assumes you’re just starting out meeting people. In later writing I’ll examine the topics in more depth.

Munch: A munch is a low commitment gathering for people who want to meet other kinky individuals in an environment without play going on. These are often in bars or restaurants. You do not wear your fetishwear to a munch, though it’s a place where you don’t need to be quite as discreet about collars and the like.

The first munch, by its namesake, is reckoned to be meetup of an online group in a burger joint called Kirk’s Steakburgers. Some munches, because of privacy concerns are held in private homes.

Play: Play refers to the kinky activities people get up to. Whether your thing is rolling around in jello and chicken livers while wearing a wet suit, or strict flogging on Sunday mornings, play makes a good verb because it is non specific. Plus, kink is fun.

Play Party: A play party is a gathering of people of a kinky persuasion there to do kinky things. There’s generally some sort of dress code, which varies from something other than sloppy casual, to full blown fetish gear. There may be an additional theme involved, say femme dom or protocol.

Play parties are not legal in all regions, or may be limited to only certain activities to comply with public obscenity laws. Many play parties ban sex for this reason.

Safeword: A safeword is a phrase that would ordinarily never come up in the course of normal kinky activities  The primary use of a safeword is for better facilitated communication. These are most likely to be used with people who are learning to play together or among people who want the dominant or top to have more discretion to ignore a regular ‘no’.  These are especially useful to indicate things like a cramp or something in a person’s eye, or maybe a bit of humiliation talk that really hit home.

Some people use the stoplight system, with Red for stop right now and Yellow to indicate approaching a limit. Others pick ‘safeword’ or for activities involving muffling, a gesture or distinct grunt. You can use all sorts of silly words like ‘pumpernickle’ or ‘boat’. How a couple handle use of a safeword is something they need to negotiate for themselves.

Scene: This means two things. A scene in the sense of an activity is a period of kinky activity with a defined beginning and end. This is a helpful sort of segmentation for people who need to get into the right mindset to enjoy kinky activities. Scenes can be described by the stuff you get up to, for example a bondage scene or a flogging scene. Some couples integrate lots of ritual into their scenes, with special clothes or gestures, and for some it’s as easy as “you wanna?”

The Scene, on the other hand, is just the thing that people will sometimes refer to the kink or BDSM community to at large. People into any sub culture do this and it’s not kink specific.

Various dictionaries and glossaries here, here and here. For everything else, Google is your friend.