Protocol-ing

 

Hi! Thanks for all the work you do! 

My name is Sue (she/hers) my partner is (she/hers)

I'm in a loving LDR with a switchy D/s dynamic. We're having a lot of fun negotiating and collaborating on protocols. We have a weekly dressing protocol, a few items that must be carried, etc. 

I was wondering if you have any tips on creating, keeping, rewarding/punishing for protocols. Always looking to improve where I can.

I LOVE PROTOCOL! I LOVE IT! If you don’t know what protocol is, it refers to the rules we follow within a BDSM scene - traditionally, things the Dom lays out for subs to follow to adhere to their specific D/s practice. Some Doms require subs to ask permission before taking a sip of water, or to keep their eyes averted at specific times, or to thank the Dom after each spank. Often, when we think of protocol, we think of subs kneeling on the floor or crawling on all fours in a dungeon. But as D/s leaves the bedroom, protocol can extend beyond this to more lifestyle-related rules and regulations.

As a 24/7 sub, much of my life is governed by both scene and lifestyle protocol, so much so that I barely notice it anymore. My protocols range from always wearing a dress or skirt with no panties whenever I go out with my Dom (Winter calls for knee socks, knee socks, knee socks), to addressing my Dom with capitalized pronouns over text and always using His form of address in a group of texts, to making sure I get to the gym three times a week (for mood, not weight loss). The structure of our 24/7 protocol makes me feel safe and held even in moments when we’re not together. It’s the air I breathe.

When it comes to establishing protocol, think of it as establishing your love languages. If you’re a words of affirmation kind of person, require loving texts at specific (realistic) intervals. If you’re a physical touch person, maybe you have your partner sit on the floor and put their head in your lap whenever you two are watching a movie. Maybe it’s something more dirty like every time your partner goes into a bar, she has to take a nude for you from the bathroom and text it to you (whether you’re together or not). Ultimately, establishing and following protocol is all about showing affection in fun, deviant, and special ways that are particular to your relationship.

The way to maintain protocol, of course, is to punish a sub that doesn’t follow it. In person, this can look like impact (caning is often used because it’s impact without being “fun impact” if that makes sense) followed by aftercare, or whatever other form of punishment you find to be effective. When you’re remote, you can have your partner shoot a video of herself giving herself, say, 15 slaps with the back of a hairbrush. HOWEVER, this is only ok if your partner agrees to doing impact without the promise of imminent aftercare. Another great remote punishment is writing lines, i.e. “I will always remember to take my multivitamin,” etc.

A really important note on punishment - to those on the outside of the lifestyle, this can seem extreme or abusive. I’ll be honest, there were times in the past when I violated protocol and my punishment made me sad. This was when my Dom and I had a talk about what punishment meant to us. He told me it was a physical reminder that the infraction - however big or small - was forgiven and forgotten. It was a concrete message to me that I’m not allowed to beat myself up ad nauseam. That He is my Dom, and the critical voice inside my head isn’t. This philosophy has been incredibly helpful in quieting my anxiety. The other side of this coin is, if I’m not being punished, I’m doing everything right. I’m not allowed to second-guess and over-analyze. If I’m not bent over, getting a caning, I’m all good. We’re all good. And how freeing is that?

If I’m not being punished, I’m doing everything right. I’m not allowed to second-guess and over-analyze.

One last protocol tip - always be open to the partner who receives the protocol suggesting new ones. I instigated my own protocol of going to the gym, and my Dom enforces it. This is how we use our BDSM relationship as a self-improvement hacking device. And it’s part of what makes lifestyle BDSM so supportive and lovely. The point of protocol is to make you feel supported and like your relationship is giving you a strong foundation to grow from, not like it’s just another thing on your plate stressing you out. So if any aspect of protocol needs to be revisited, make sure to do so thoughtfully, calmly, and with love.

The point of protocol is to make you feel supported and like your relationship is giving you a strong foundation to grow from. This is how we use our BDSM relationship as a self-improvement hacking device.

Exploring

 
Image by @ wildwolfleatherwork  / Model is  @sierramckenzie0

I’m currently exploring a D/s relationship with my Sir since May. Although we’ve met once (we live in the same city), we never had a scene IRL.  I know he has a family, and many family issues but says he is separated. I am legally separated too. We talk, play in erotic fantasy and text. I write him long essays of my passions when he prompts me to. He can make me cum on command over the phone. I met him once, to observe him take over a scene with another sub. I’ve asked him on several occasions to be meet with me. I want to be taken over but he’s resistant and says he hasn’t decided whether to host me or not. I’m not sure if I should look for someone else. I’m falling for him, and I’ve spoken to him on the phone while he is with other subs (they may include me somehow). I’m sort of unsure where to go from here. If I question or set boundaries, he will abandon me for a week (no communication) he’s a pro and has a harem but I’m not sure what he wants to do with me. I need to be dominated and need some direction. Any advice you could help me with would be appreciated. Thank you xx

Hello, dear one. I’m so sorry you find yourself in such a tender position. Let’s start here - if I told you about a kink dynamic where a sub went over to a Dom’s place and he cucked her with other subs, beat her, had sex with her, then told her to get out and sent her home with no aftercare - that would be wrong, right? We’d be up in arms about this. We’d be flipping tables. This is NOT ok.

This is no trivial shit we’re messing around in with BDSM. This is the big leagues.

Which is exactly why I have so much trouble with kink over the phone and long-distance kink. In person, the experience of being dominated is intense and encompassing. Sometimes the endorphins and adrenaline of impact can cause a sub to go into an altered state of mind we call sub space, and the comedown from sub space, if not navigated correctly by a caring and invested Dom, can leave a sub in what’s called sub drop, which can feel like withdrawal or even a deep depression. This is no trivial shit we’re messing around in with BDSM. This is the big leagues. So even among trusting partners that have played in person long before moving the dynamic online or over the phone, problems can abound. If your partner isn’t there to give you proper aftercare - hold you, tell you you’re good, check in on how everything felt for you - your brain may not be able to transition from the intensity of a scene to regular life. There’s a reason aftercare is partially non-verbal (cuddling). I’m no trained professional, but that non-verbal, physical component to aftercare can help with not leaving you in fight-or-flight mode. Along with consent, negotiation, and safe words, it’s what separates BDSM play from abuse.

And it seems that you’re feeling this with your current Dom. You’re being strung along and left hanging. You’ve told him your desires, you’ve stated your boundaries, and he reacts to this vulnerability by disappearing. This kind of withdrawal of affection or attention is in itself punishing. It’s abandonment. And it’s not how a responsible Dom behaves when he’s been entrusted with the gift of your submission.

So what do you do?

I’m not a big fan of ultimatums unless the situation absolutely warrants it. Yours does. I think you should approach him and say “here is what I need, or I’m blocking your number and this is over.” He knows he can string you along, as he has been doing. Honestly, I worry about even giving him a second chance seeing as this is how he’s behaved, but perhaps there are shades here I can’t see. Even if people are poly, or have a harem of subs, they cannot take on more partners than they can treat with dignity and basic respect. And there is a way to have a casual dynamic that has respect in it. And the way to do that is CLARITY. If a Dom tells a sub “this is what our relationship is,” then the sub can let go within those boundaries. But if a further level of intimacy is being dangled, potentially contingent on your good behavior or of your ability to prove yourself, that becomes a toxic and vicious cycle.

The language of BDSM supports a narrative of a submissive earning a Dom’s approval and attention, but we know this is actually make believe. Your submission must be earned in return, and if he isn’t treating that gift with the reverence it deserves, it’s time to hit the snooze button on him and let him come back around if or when he’s ready to be the Dom you have a right to. Take the many things this relationship has taught you about yourself, your sexuality, your passions, and save them tied up in a red bow for the partner who can receive them the way you wish them to be received.

There is a way to have a casual dynamic that has respect in it. And the way to do that is CLARITY.

And, once that snooze button is hit, the vengeful little minx in me says if he follows you on social media, make sure to make it clear you’re having a grand old time without him ;)

Consenting

***TRIGGER / CONTENT WARNING: The below contains discussion of gray area consent & intoxication

Image by  @photobruja , Model is  @michelle.megumi

Image by @photobruja, Model is @michelle.megumi

 

I did a scene with someone (I was the sub) and did some kinda intense play that I had never done before, and found out after the fact that the Dom was stoned. Is this not super consensual then cuz I didn’t know what I was getting myself into?? I don’t think I would have gone there with him if I had known

For context, we had just had a convo about consent and substances, and how we felt ok with being slightly faded sometimes during sex, but it had never happened before where the other one didn’t know. Confusing???? (they/them pronouns)


Yes confusing!! I distinctly remember when conversations around consent first entered my consciousness. In high school, I received adequate sex ed, but it had absolutely no mention of consent. Then in college, we were given a training around consent that taught us about “enthusiastic consent” (I believe the words used were that your partner should say “YES OH YES!” regarding any activity, which, to this day, I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard or said) and then, almost as a throwaway, that anyone who is even a little bit inebriated cannot consent to sexual activity. Ok that’s it bye!

But that’s not it, and there are many shades of gray here. For some people, alcohol and marijuana can be vital in having a pleasurable sexual experience. Alcohol and marijuana, when used responsibly, can actually be helpful in soothing social anxiety, body image issues, dissociation, or just general lack of confidence. So how do we reconcile that with a conversation about consent that has told us that any encounter involving substances isn’t fully consensual? I think in this case it comes down to disclosure and comfort. With a given partner, whether it’s a casual encounter or the hundredth time you’ve been intimate with them, it’s important for both parties to be informed of everyone’s inebriation level and make informed choices from there. There’s also a big difference between a Dom and a sub in this situation, as Doms need to be fully in control of themselves so the sub isn’t seriously hurt. I’d say an important rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t get behind the wheel of a car, you should not be engaging in bondage or impact.

If you wouldn’t get behind the wheel of a car, you should not be engaging in bondage or impact.

So yes, it wasn’t right for your partner to not disclose that he was stoned. You’re absolutely within your rights to feel uncomfortable with that, just as you are well within your rights to feel uncomfortable about anything at any time! We’re so often looking for permission to feel what we feel, so let’s start with the assertion that you have every right to feel how you feel. Then, when it comes to subbing, it’s vital that you feel that your Dom has total control of themselves at all times. Which, in my opinion, depending on the person, is totally possible if they’ve had a little weed or a drink or two. But again, as a component of developing a strong dynamic of two-way trust, you should be given the ability to opt in on what you let happen to your precious body. Disclosure about substances is a key ingredient to active consent. I have called my safe word before based on other people’s inebriation levels, and I have had deeply fulfilling experiences as the only sober or intoxicated person in a scene. These things are in flux, which is why active disclosure and check ins are key.

As for what to do next, I think the way you established a baseline of expectations around substances was very smart! Everyone should do this. Obviously, though, you need to revisit with him at a time when you’re both sober and say “look, I don’t want to do scenes with you/be intimate with you/etc. if you’re stoned without being informed of that. Do you understand why that makes me feel unsafe?” If he can soberly, seriously, meet your concerns and honor them, then you two have begun constructing the kind of two-way trust we all need from our partners. 

Talking

 
Image by  @kaanakaya

Image by @kaanakaya

Hi I’m a new follower only due to finding you on my gf’s follow list. She is a sub and I’m new to all this and I don’t think I’m adapting very well. 

In a nutshell she wants to be taken care of and I can do that, but I’m don’t know what to do during sex. We do talk during sex but she wants me to talk to her as a Daddy Dom. 

Do you have any advice?

First of all, props to you on beginning this journey and wanting to give your girlfriend what she wants. Being a Dom is hard work. Doms are the ones who need to learn all the skills required to execute impact, bondage, etc. They also need to learn how to be vulnerable and sensitive enough to provide proper aftercare. But I’m going to level with you. You’re lucky. Your girlfriend could be a rope bunny and want you to learn shibari - a practice that takes years to perfect, not to mention all those knots you have to tie. She could be really into clothespins or needle play or some other truly craft-based skill you would have to acquire. But as far as I’ve heard, she’s not! She just wants you to talk. Lucky, luck you.

The trope of the Daddy Dom is easily cashed in on. We’ve all seen it. He’s the stern authoritarian who has a soft spot deep in his heart. He’ll examine your school uniform to make sure nothing is out of place before throwing you over his lap for a spanking, but then shower you with kisses after. There’s shades of Daddy Dom all throughout the Western Canon. Mr Darcy. Professor Snape. I’ve got a soft spot for Esteban Reyes from Weeds and the infamous scene where he throws Nancy over his lap for a spanking (formative). When you’re channeling your inner Daddy Dom, think of some pop culture role models you can emulate to tap into the fantasy that is unspooling itself in your girlfriend’s mind. If you’re comfortable, ask her about some of her fictional crushes, then do your homework. BDSM is all about playing with our common cultural messaging and material. It’s about mucking around in the collective unconscious. At the end of the day, it’s a creative undertaking, and creative output is equal to creative input. Just like a writer who doesn’t read well can’t write well, you can’t Dom if you don’t know what you’re emulating.

At the end of the day, kink is a creative undertaking, and creative output is equal to creative input. Just like a writer who doesn’t read well can’t write well, you can’t Dom well if you don’t know what you’re emulating.

Beyond watching a few movies, you can deploy some simple hacks in bed. Start by not letting her do anything in bed that you haven’t told her to do. Not a move. And if she does anything she hasn’t been ordered to, it’s “Did Daddy tell you you could do that?” and a spanking. From there, you’ll be forced into a role of having the confidence to direct the action. Another great way to wrap your mind around what kind of style you might have in bed is to take the BDSM test with your girlfriend, and compare notes. This is a great way to begin a conversation about what you both want and need. Then start playing! If you feel safe with her and you two have created a bond of two-way trust through continued conversations about what you like in bed, it will keep you from clamming up when the moment comes. Then, after all is said and done, AFTERCARE. Hold her, tell her how good she is and how much you care for her, and make sure you’re on the right track by asking her how it felt when you did x, y, and z. You’ll be on your way to becoming her Dream Daddy in no time!

Assuming

 
Image by  @willcottonnyc

Hi!! Just wanted to say that I just now found your page and it’s already become a super valuable resource for me that I’m totally gonna share with partners. Thank you so much!

That also being said.. I’ve been having trouble finding a dom. because I’m a male-bodied hairy/fit person on the outside, people kind of always assume that I’m gonna be the dominant. Which is okay sometimes, but how should I go about finding a proper femme dom without making people feel like I’m still exerting some kind of dommy masc behavior?  (They/them pronouns preferred)

Hello dear one! Thank you for writing in and for the kind words about the page!

As the old saying goes, to assume makes an ass out of you and me… and precludes one of us from getting their ass beat like they want to. No matter who you are, a sub’s seach for a proper Dom is going to be fraught and challenging. Just like any other kind of dating! But there are ways to make it easier for yourself. First off, may I suggest queer women? I know a shit ton of bi/pan switchy ladies who would like nothing more than a hairy partner to (lovingly, ethically) beat. But where to find these ladies? Well there’s always the apps, FetLife, and parties in your city. If you’re going to go on the apps, put what you’re looking for in your bio so you don’t have to painstakingly explain your kinks to each new partner. That way, uninterested folks can self-select out. If you’re going to a party - put on a cute little harness or a collar and give people something to ask you about that’s a good jumping-off point to a cheeky comment about how you’re just a lost lil sub looking for their big, bad femme Dom.

As for exerting dommy masc behavior, there’s a difference between being toxic and being communicative. And you know where that line is. Gently and coyly (or just clearly) stating your desires is helpful and HOT. Women who are attracted to hairy-bodied, fit folks have dealt with so much unclear, wishy-washy, confusing BS in their dating lives that if you come through with some clearly defined parameters and basic good manners, you’re going to look like the second coming of Non-Binary Jesus.

So I guess the answer is to put yourself out there. Be clear about what you want, and don’t be afraid of rejection. Welcome it. Welcome all the people who don’t get you as nothing but flies on the windshield as you speed towards your best life. Put those wipers on from time to time and just keep going.

Be clear about what you want, and don’t be afraid of rejection. Welcome it. Welcome all the people who don’t get you as nothing but flies on the windshield as you speed towards your best life. Put those wipers on from time to time and just keep going.

Clinging

 
Photo by  @lesliezhang1992

I have a question. I'm into ddlg, submissive roleplay, I'm straight, dominant sadist etc, so I know that a sub needs attention- they crave that attention, to be ordered, degraded, put in their place etc. and without that I guess you could say they would become lonely, sad, they would cling for that attention. Would you agree that a dom needs that same attention just as much as a sub does? And to not have that has the same amount of impact? Because I feel like it does. But its really hard to express something like "I really miss you" and stuff like that without looking soft. I feel as though you arent supposed to show those kinds of emotions and that's hard for me to deal with.

TL;DR How does a clingy dom express their need for attention without showing weakness, or is showing weakness what you have to trust them with?

A question from a Dom! They’re rare but they happen. And I welcome them! To me, the answer on this seems simple. You’re the one in the driver’s seat, you’re the one giving orders, so build the relationship the way you want it. If you want affection, order your sub to give it to you. It’s important not to cross a line into codependency or being emotionally abusive, but you’re well within your rights to say “Text me every day,” or whatever else if your particular dynamic with your sub merits it.

I remember the first time my Dom told me He missed me. I got the text while I was driving and had to pull over to swoon. It made my week if not my century. At no time did I think this was weak. D/s is about being vulnerable and open with your partner, not being some withdrawn macho man who never shows his emotions. What’s the fun in subbing for someone who is giving you no indication that they even like you? I want you to take the word “weakness” out of your vocabulary. Weakness and vulnerability are completely different.

I want you to take the word “weakness” out of your vocabulary. Weakness and vulnerability are completely different.

Your homework is to watch some Brené Brown, get comfortable with being real, and tell your sub you miss them. I think you’ll find you like how it feels to be, as you put it, “weak.” And just watch as it broadens your perspective and makes you open to a more fulfilling relationship and life. Sending best thoughts!

Divulging

 
Image via  @giuliajrosa

Image via @giuliajrosa

Hi Lina, I want to ask you an anonymous question. I am getting out of a long marriage and, for a period of about 4 mos., had my first sub relationship. It was a very satisfying fwb, once weekly situation. The dom was good with boundaries and we agreed on scenes in writing in advance of our meetings, which worked well for us. However, I started to get weirded out when he shot down suggestions of visiting his place rather than mine. It's also clear now that despite my asking (so that I can feel safe) he will not divulge his workplace or his home address. He insists that he is not married. I cut the relationship off for this reason, because I can't think of any good, healthy reason why he would not share this information. I also feel it's not equitable, since he has only ever visited my place and will not go out on dates, etc. as a nsa fwb. I know where my boundaries lie, but I guess my question for you is whether this is standard practice in the d/s community? Many thanks.

Hello my dear! Thank you for writing in. Let’s dive in, shall we? A disclaimer - short of being in this guy’s head, I can’t say for sure what was going on here. There’s the world where he is ashamed of his kinks and worries that if something went wrong between you two that you might out him in his workplace. There’s the world where he’s married and lying. Or, alternatively, he’s in a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell open arrangement with his primary partner that allows him to seek satisfaction for his kinks outside of the relationship and a term of his doing so is not to disclose his address or that he is in one of these relationships. Maybe he’s embarrassed of his home or work. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Any number of things could be going on with him, but the point is that no matter what was going on, it didn’t work for you. And that is ok! This isn’t “standard” in the kink community, just like nothing is particularly standard in a community defined by being a subculture. I have heard of some Doms having subs for certain purposes and keeping them in a rotation (an ass sub, a sub that loves impact, etc, etc) but with that kind of arrangement, ideally there comes some transparency. It’s true that more kinksters are closeted than vanilla folks, but if his reticence to bring you into his inner circle makes it hard for you to submit and to trust him, then there’s no need to push yourself to be ok with something that makes you uncomfortable. Just as I would tell a queer person not to date someone closeted if for them it meant back-tracking on their journey of self-acceptance, the same goes for you.

If his reticence to bring you into his inner circle makes it hard for you to submit and to trust him, then there’s no need to push yourself to be ok with something that makes you uncomfortable. Just as I would tell a queer person not to date someone closeted if for them it meant back-tracking on their journey of self-acceptance, the same goes for you.

All that said, you’re obviously still thinking about him and this. If you’ve already addressed the situation with him ad nauseam, you can let it go. But if you feel it’s worth one last attempt, maybe it’s worth reassuring him that whatever his circumstances are, you can be discreet about his personal details and promise if the relationship were to end to treat him with the respect and dignity you expect in return. The trust goes both ways there. And if that’s still not enough? Leave him to his own secretive devices and go out in search of what would make you truly happy. You’re fresh out of a marriage and this was only your first brush with your fantasies! Go to munches, get on the apps, and see what else is out there in the wide world of kink. It isn’t just this guy and his secrets.

Aging

 

What's your personal take/experience with an older person being a sub?

Hello lovely! Thank you for writing in. I could give you the simple answer of “do whatever you want! be whatever you want at any age!” But that refrain, while true, can begin to feel tired when we live in a culture that devalues and desexualizes older people. And that is fucked. Further, when it comes to women, society insists on infantilizing all of us and sexualizing young women and basically it just becomes a lose/lose/lose situation across the board.

We live in a culture that devalues and desexualizes older people. And that is fucked.

Enter: kink. The DDlg community (Daddy Dom/little girl, Mommy/boy, Mommy/girl, Daddy/boy, Parent/nonbinary-baby etc.) take the supposition that women/subs are weak little babies and responds by OWNING softness. Implementing INTENTIONAL power imbalance. Declaring that vulnerability is kinky, is queer, is revolutionary. For other couples it’s less political and they just like to watch Disney movies together and that’s cool too! But my point in bringing up DDlg relationships and ageplay in general is to point out that kink can create an imaginary safe-haven that removes age from the equation. The relative ages are irrelevant, and the roles assigned derive from what turns everybody on, not how old the participating partners are.

If you’re not a little, age is even more irrelevant. Whatever makes you comfortable is what you get. There are kinksters of all ages who are raring to play with an older sub. Whether you want to bring age in is up to you. Would it feel fun to engage in some humiliation and verbal degradation play around your age? Or, if cathartic tears aren’t what you’re after, maybe just going into subspace and forgetting your number is more your speed. No matter what, older subs have every right to take up space in this community. I celebrate you, and any Dom worth your time will too. Now get out there and get tied up with your hot self!

Recruiting

 

I'm interested in being a sub for someone who may not even know the D/s lifestyle. How do I make the first move and slip into his dm's?

I love this question. I love the optimism of this question. I love how this question assumes that all those we want to Dom us are simply waiting for the opportunity to be recruited. I want to live in that world.

Let’s start with me raining on the parade a LITTLE - but only a little. Because I think optimism is key to finding what you want and going for it. But let me help you do it safely. I don’t know how well you know this guy, but I’ll assume you probably haven’t had sex yet. That’s when some of the best fantasies flourish. In that case, it’s important to be clear with yourself that you’re interested in being a sub for your IDEA of him. Who among us hasn’t long-term lusted after some guy, picturing what a hot lover he would be, pinning us up against walls and such, and when we finally get him into bed he’s overly hesitant or bland or worse - kink shame-y. The point is not everybody lives up to the hype.

It’s important to be clear with yourself that you’re interested in being a sub for your IDEA of him.

However, I do believe you can use this imagined version of him to your advantage, as a level he could attain after you two have an in-depth discussion of what your imagined dynamic would be. Sometimes it can be super helpful to light the way for your Dom via sexy texts outlining exactly what you’re fantasizing about, i.e. “I can’t stop thinking about you tying my hands behind my back and making me go down on you,” etc. This can be a subtle way of guiding his hand without feeling like you’re topping from the bottom.

That said, this is all what happens AFTER you send the DM. In my opinion? Kink is best begun from a calm, rational, chill standpoint. Nobody wants to actually meet the Dom(me) on Tinder who slides into their messages with a long description of how they punish their naughty subs with a cane. Similarly, the best way to make a move here could be as simple as connecting on a non-sex topic (“that post of your puppy was so cute!” or “oh I love that movie!”) and then quickly and calmly segueing into a proposal to grab a drink. Then when you’ve felt out the vibe in person and explored how much he knows about kink and whether he would be a safe partner, you can start outlining exactly how you’d like to get on all fours and lick his boots ;)

Vetting

 
IMG_2617.jpg

Hi! I’m interested in learning more about the BDSM community and how to get involved safely. How does someone wanting to be in a submissive role find a good dominant and stay safe while looking for one? Is there a vetting process that subs use, questions to ask, etc.

Ah, the hunt. The BDSM scene can often feel like my underwear drawer as I approach laundry day - too many bottoms, not enough tops. But then, in other circles, everybody complains about the abundance of tops and no good bottoms. So which is it? I think the truth is that it’s simply hard to find someone who comes off the shelf tailor-made to fulfill your needs. Weird how that happens. So the name of the game as you get involved in the community is using your people intuition at every step of the way. Even more so than in vanilla dating, you have to be EXTRA SENSITIVE to red flags. Discuss as much as you can in advance of meeting if you find someone on an app, meet in a public place, then turn on your Red Flag Radar. Even if everything on the surface is fine, if something gives you anything from a tummy ache to the slightest whiff of suspicion - bounce. The right Dom will understand that they can’t go from zero to sixty with a new sub right off the bat without establishing trust. For clarity, a short rundown of red flags that are absolute, across-the-board dealbreakers:

  • The Dom doesn’t mention anything about BDSM being founded on the coming together of equals, and instead talks some weird game about Doms being superior to subs/rattles off some busted gendered bullshit/etc.

  • The Dom refers to their exes or former subs as “crazy” as a running theme

  • The Dom has no interest in your prior experience

    • This one is important! You should have an open and honest discussion about what you have and haven’t tried and your opinions about everything before jumping into a scene

  • The Dom doesn’t establish or discuss safe words

  • The Dom doesn’t do aftercare

  • The Dom doesn’t show an interest in obtaining active consent during a scene

I could go on and on, but those should serve as a beginning road map. In my opinion, no D/s play should begin to occur without a clothed, sober discussion of preferences, limits, safe words, and what to expect in a scene if you were to go forward. One thing you can do as a sub to better prepare yourself for a vetting process would be to know your limits — hard and soft — like the back of your hand and be ready to rattle them off. But also know what you’re into and can’t live without! This is high stakes, but it’s supposed to be fun. The more carefully you begin, the more fun you can have down the road.

The more carefully you begin, the more fun you can have down the road.

Another vetting tip I’ve heard of and strongly endorse is asking the Dom if they have any other play partners you can talk to before getting involved with them. Many members of the BDSM community will maintain longish-term FWB scenarios with various play partners, so checking in with those people about the Dom’s practices may help you feel at ease as well. But if your internal alarm bells aren’t going off, I say go ahead and slowly, slowly get crazy ;)

Searching

 

Hey Lina! 👋🏻 discovered you through Salty and just read through your blog posts and even took the BDSM quiz you linked in one of them (100% brat over here, which I figured I would be!). Needless to say, I love your work. Maybe you get asked this a lot, but I have a question for you... what is the best app/website out there for finding other more kink-minded folk? I’ve tried FetLife but I really didn’t like the experience, and I’ve scoured Reddit’s r/BDSM page for suggestions and haven’t seen a lot. I HAVE seen people list Tinder as a great resource for this, but I’m nervous about putting my preferences on my profile because of the kind of responses I might get from fuckin’ weirdos. I guess I just have to weed through the bullshit to find the gems, right? 
Also, do you have any suggestions for a resource for BDSM communities/parties in major cities? I travel for work and often stay in one place for a few weeks, and I would love to experience a city that way. Thanks in advance!

Ahhhhhhhhh apps. Apps, apps, apps. Kink is, in its nature, a decentralized sub-culture. Pun at least partially intended. So how do you gather people who reject the norm into a normative system like an app? It’s challenging. You basically have two choices with the apps. If you have a lot of energy, you can swipe indiscriminately with no info about your kinks in your bio, and onboard each person you match with individually into what you’re looking for. Or, if you have less energy to sift, you can pony up for Tinder premium (or what have you) and put your truth in your bio while controlling who sees your profile. Sure, you’ll get some weirdos, but think of it this way — every time someone presents as weird on an app, they’re just saving you the energy of finding out later. You absolutely do have to weed through the bullshit to find the gems. And your gut knows which is which. Follow it.

You absolutely do have to weed through the bullshit to find the gems. And your gut knows which is which. Follow it.

Beyond Tinder, there are the kink apps. FetLife, in my experience, is much better for finding parties and munches than it is for finding individuals. r/BDSM has been much derided for things like this, which, while highly meme-able, are not representative of a real kink community and may as well be fiction.

Apps are also location specific. Where I live, I’ve had the most luck with Tinder and Feeld. Other places I hear OkCupid is good. Your best bet is to get on everything and start swiping. You won’t find a lot of experienced kinksters on the apps, even on more specific ones like Whiplr, but you can find people who are interested and who might want to play a little. And you can always do your second or third date at a domination/submission class. The thing is, there aren’t a ton of kinksters around in general. But it seems more and more that the population that is interested in kink is growing. And you can grow it by exploring the things you like (safely and slowly) with new partners!

In terms of parties - again, highly site-specific. Recently I was in Portland, and all we has to do while there was Google “sex party Portland” before we were met with several thoughtfully written articles in alt periodicals with all the info we needed. But again, that kind of info can be found on FetLife and even MeetUp depending on where you are. So the answer, little one, is to just start looking! It will take some time. Finding vanilla sexual satisfaction can be hard enough, so us kinksters have to work extra hard to find something right. Which is why it’s important to be an adult and keep your campsite clean. Many kinky folks have recurring friends with benefits that help them blow off their kinky steam from time to time, and it’s important to be a good and thoughtful partner to those people even if you have no intention of having a more involved relationship with them. And as your community grows, as you go to your local female-friendly sex store for BDSM classes, or learn to tie shibari, or hit up a munch even if it scares you a little, you’ll broaden your circles and begin to find your right place - hopefully on your knees with your hands tied behind your back ;)

Trusting

 
photo via  @ninmagazine

photo via @ninmagazine

Hi! I’m a new sub and also bi and I’m in my first 24/7 Dom/sub relationship / first-ever BDSM relationship. I just read your article on threesomes and felt spoken to when you mentioned being in a previous open relationship gone wrong. I have had the hardest time being able to fully submit, because I feel like the triggering things from my past are just itching at my soul and are not allowing me to let my Dominant properly guide me deeper into kink. I’m still very, very new, but we have been together a year. How were you able to find yourself to be so trusting with your Dom? How long into your relationship did you start having threesomes?

Hello little sub! Congratulations on your first 24/7 relationship and on this exciting exploration you’re doing. In order to fully answer your question, I’m going to take you on a little trip back in time to meet New Sub Me.

New Sub Me was thrilled, jazzed, high on life, loving every minute of discovering her kink. She was also terrified that this new joy was about to disappear at any moment. So she was jealous, paranoid, and had the instagram handles of all of her Dom’s exes not only memorized, but basically on speed dial. She worried constantly, and she kept her worries from her Dom at all costs. Because, she thought, if He saw her vulnerability, she would no longer be a Cool Hot Bad Ass Sub Bitch, but would - gasp - be just another GIRL.

I’ll say to you now what I wish someone had said to New Sub Me: you cannot deepen your submission without vulnerability. Having feelings, being fragile, and being real have all been stigmatized by our cis-hetero-patriarchal culture to the point that it cripples us in our relationships. How am I supposed to have an intimate, mutually supportive relationship with another human without having FEELINGS, being FRAGILE or being REAL? You Dom needs to know you - the real you - in order to dominate you and lead you further towards your happiest, subbiest self.

So what does “being real” with your current partner about past relationships mean? I’ll give you an example. My ex once seriously violated one of the terms of our open relationship in an obvious attempt to hurt me. He went out with someone else when I expected him to come home. When he was late, I called him, texted him, raised the alarm. He didn’t answer. I stayed up all night worried he was in a car accident before passing out. I woke up in the morning to find him lying on the couch pretending nothing was wrong. So now, I have a little bit of trauma around my partner staying out late and not updating me in reasonable intervals about when He might be home. I told this story to Him so He has enough context to respect my boundaries, but without getting into a long, vengeful rant about my ex, unloading about what a dick he was, who the girl he was out with was, how I found her on LinkedIn afterwards and my thoughts on the dress she was wearing in her professional headshot - et cetera. You see the difference.

So the answer, little sub, is to use your sacred aftercare time to connect with your Dominant. Whisper sweet nothings about your trauma. Let your Dom in. Tell your Dom about your scars so he can step around them thoughtfully. Or apply salve. That’s what he’s there for. Then it’s on him to provide you with a track record of reliable behavior. To show you he can be consistent. And to build a foundation for you that you can take root in and really grow in your kinky self.

As for MY threesomes - they came well along the road to a good foundation of trust, and as I defined my boundaries around the threesomes and watched my Dominant respect them, they served to deepen our mutual trust and define the intensity of our connection. In real time? 8 months in.

Healing

TRIGGER WARNING

Rape and sexual assault are touched upon and referenced in this response. Please proceed with caution!

image from @eromaticax on instagram

image from @eromaticax on instagram

Hi! I just read one of your Salty articles, thank you for being open to DMs and questions!

Any recommended reading for someone interested in kink/sub play as a part of healing from sexual trauma?

Hello, Beautiful! First of all, I am so incredibly sorry that we are meeting under these circumstances. I’m sorry for the trauma that so many of us suffer in our intimate lives, and I’m sorry for a harsh and triggering world that doesn’t know how to hold you in the wake of the worst thing. According to RAINN, every 92 seconds in the US, someone is sexually assaulted. One in six women will be the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. This is an issue that is pervasive and ever present. When we begin to consider women as a group, realistically and by the numbers, we are considering a group defined by trauma - big and small.

For context, I was, in the past, in a relationship where sex lived in a consent gray area. Because sex education in the US is complete garbage, consent had only lightly been touched upon if at all when that should have been the MAIN topic of discussion (I mean, putting a condom on a banana is all well and good but seriously - do better), and my partner at the time (a cis-male) felt that the fact that we were in a relationship was consent enough to excuse a lot of things. A lot of bad happened within that space. I came out of that relationship feeling completely off-put by vanilla sex. To me, it meant danger. It meant assumed boundaries. It meant I had no voice.

I came out of that relationship feeling completely off-put by vanilla sex. To me, it meant danger. It meant assumed boundaries. It meant I had no voice.

Enter BDSM. I had always been interested in kink and when I met my Dom, who had been practicing a very measured, safe/sane/consensual kink for several years by the time we started dating, I found a way I could ease back into sex that felt controlled. As my Dom likes to say, the Dom has His/Her/Their hands on the steering wheel, but the sub always has his/her/their foot on the brake. Pre-negotiating scenes and introducing safe words (yellow for slow down, red for stop everything) gave me a framework to begin to understand how to build a sexuality I was an equal party in. Where I mattered. A home where I could grow.

BDSM… gave me a framework to begin to understand how to build a sexuality I was an equal party in. Where I mattered. A home where I could grow.

One of my greatest epiphanies about kink came when I asked my therapist about the components of immersion therapy. Say if a child is afraid of dogs, they discuss their fear of dogs. Then they look at a picture of a dog. Then they see a dog from far away. Finally they come face to face with the dog. With each step along the way, the child receives processing after the exposure. Members of the kink community have likened the controlled climate of a BDSM scene and the mandatory aftercare that follows to immersion therapy and its subsequent talk-therapy processing. I think something about gravitating to kink can be about wanting to reclaim the narrative of your past, to take control of it, but within parameters you can trust. Of course, not all people drawn to BDSM have trauma in their pasts, and not all trauma victims are drawn to BDSM. But you and I are. So how can we proceed with caution? It all begins with building, piece by piece, the utopian sexuality you can thrive in. How do you do that? Let’s get into some resources, shall we?

Aside from a sex-positive therapist, which is immensely helpful but sometimes not so affordable, a book that was CRUCIAL in my nascent sub days was Conquer Me: Girl To Girl Wisdom About Fulfilling Your Sexual Desires. In it, the author reviews many of the basics of building a kink relationship and about communicating limits. And within communicated limits, you can explore anything you desire. Also, I am a devoted fan of the Savage Love Cast with Dan Savage, who fields questions on this topic often. And, just to fill in the gaps, I’ll bullet my own tips for this process for you here:

  • Start extremely slowly with a partner who respects your limits

  • Talk about your limits! Talk about your preferences and experience before/during/after a scene. Openly express likes and dislikes. Openly express your hard limits, any lines you can imagine can’t ever be crossed.

  • FUCK POLITENESS! They say this on My Favorite Murder in a completely different context, so I have stolen their catch phrase, but seriously. As women we are socialized to “grin and bear it” for fear of hurting our partners’ feelings. You should only play with someone who you can trust to not have an ego reaction to you telling them something isn’t working. Full fucking stop.

  • Be kind to yourself. You will have setbacks. You will have triggers. Do your best to equip your partner with how you want them to react when you’re triggered by something (i.e. hold me, put on a movie, make me some tea, etc) and feel the feelings when they come. They will come. You are moving through your trauma and that makes you powerful as hell. You’re a superhero now.

All my love to you on this journey. You are brave and bold and deserve just as good of a spanking as anyone else. <3

Switching

 
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Hey! bi trans guy here - a sub too. I used to think i was switch but since being in a long term relationship (which has really let me explore my sexual self beyond fantasy) I have begun to see myself as a sub only. My boyfriend, however, is a switch and sometimes he really wants me to mildly dominate him. I don’t mind, and i will do it happily, but i know i’m not very good and it makes it hard for me to ever do it like it’s smooth and natural. He is fairly monogamous so bringing someone else in (especially since we aren’t that old) is fairly tricky - what do?

Hello, little sub! First of all, congratulations on having the courage to explore yourself and identify what you want within this long term relationship. Society places a ton of emphasis on relationships as a key way we come of age, and while that can be very problematic, there’s also a truth to using the safety of a well-constructed intimacy to experiment with who you are and learn about yourself.

Your problem makes perfect sense to me. If I had to get up and dominate somebody tomorrow, I’d be totally freaked. However, I think I have a little hack to suggest so that on those occasions that your partner wants to be dommed, you can take the reins… but only kind of. Try having your partner send you a text on a certain day saying something like “you’re going to dominate me tonight. When you come in the door, you’re going to order me to kneel, tape my wrists behind my back, then order me to untie your shoes with my teeth…” Or something along those lines. Maybe it would be easier for you to dip your toe into domination if you felt a little more directed in the “script” of your scene. Then, as you get more comfortable, you can start to write the script yourself!

In the mainstream vanilla world, consent issues abound partially because people are afraid to explicitly discuss what is on the table for a specific sexual encounter. They think it will take the mystery out of it.

In the mainstream vanilla world, consent issues abound partially because people are afraid to explicitly discuss what is on the table for a specific sexual encounter. They think it will take the mystery out of it. But in BDSM land, where the stakes are higher, we kind of have to eliminate shyness from the table and just talk about stuff. And guess what? IT’S SUPER HOT. You can use this to your advantage as you start to explore domination. You can ask your partner what they might like said or done in a scene, then deploy those things at your discretion.

I am not a switch, but having been in a very intimate long-term relationship with my Dom, I can attest that domination is truly a practice. It takes time to identify your style and hone your skills. Some skills take years to perfect - like rope rigging - while others, such as using basic impact toys and more simple restraints, require less time to master. So know that practice will make perfect, and always always always maintain an open discussion with your partner about his limits and boundaries, particularly before a scene and when giving him aftercare. The more transparency you have with each other in this journey, the better.

Good luck to you and happy switching!!



Line-Crossing

 
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Hi, hello! I actually have a question. I identify as a sub - tying and some force appeal to me. But I hate when someone dominates with words - i like politeness and being asked if I want something, and I hate when someone orders me what to do. But my partner likes to dominate in all of those aspects. Should I cross my lines? 

I have crossed them for others in the past, but how I felt after that affected how I look at myself on daily basis - not in a good way. So after a therapy I started saying that I don't want something, or something is not ok. But now, idk what should I do :(

Hi hello yourself! I’ll start by answering with some general, off-the-shelf advice, then dive into some specifics for you. Before engaging in play with someone new, or even someone you’ve played with before it can be very helpful to identify yourself as a certain kind of sub. Some have names - babygirls, brats, rope bunnies - and others are more specific to the sub themselves or even the day of the week they’re playing. We all exist on a spectrum. One really helpful tool to identify yourself is this quiz. It’s not perfect, but it will help you take stock of what you like and don’t. It may also be helpful to ask your partner to take the quiz as well, so that they can define what parts of domination really matter to them and are non-negotiable “prices of admission” (a Dan Savage-ism), versus things that would be fun but aren’t necessary to their sexual fulfillment.

An example from my own life: my Dom really likes nipple torture (giving). I, on the other hand, have the most sensitive nipples on the planet Earth, so that is a hard limit for me. Nipple torture is just icing on His cake, so he can take or leave it. However, He requires proper address and polite speech from His subs. If I weren’t able to call him by His chosen form of address, or use “please” and “thank You” when addressing Him, we wouldn't have been able to establish a dynamic that worked for both of us.

But your concern, little sub, is about how certain language makes you feel. The goal of BDSM is to make power exchange very clearly delineated for a sub, so he/she/they can go into their own life with boosted confidence, clarity, and joy. When you are degraded or ordered around, you can’t feel that. And that’s ok! It may change over time, or there may be some way your partner can tweak their language to better suit your limits. Maybe it’s as simple as “please lay across my lap for a spanking.” If you have access to your safe words at all times and know you can always politely decline an order without repercussions, maybe these kinds of requests won’t be so grating and you and your partner can find a happy medium. If, after discussing it at length and really playing with it, that still doesn’t feel good - then don’t do it!! BDSM is a buffet from which you can take whatever you want. You’re not more of a “real sub” if you load up your plate with everything on offer.

BDSM is a buffet from which you can take whatever you want. You’re not more of a “real sub” if you load up your plate with everything on offer.

The last thing I’ll say is crossing your lines is something NO ONE deserves from you. If you have clearly expressed that certain things are not ok for you, and someone refuses to accept that, they have not earned your submission. Full stop. However, it is your responsibility to communicate what your limits are. And if an in-person conversation is too scary or overwhelming, something I have found very useful is the “fetishes” list on FetLife (this is the only feature of theirs I’ve ever used). They supply you with an exhaustive list of everything that can happen in a BDSM scene, and you can go through them one-by-one and mark each as “into,” “curious about,” “soft limit,” and “hard limit.” When playing with a new partner or even an old one, presenting them with a list can be an excellent non-verbal way of laying down the ground rules. And the key is standing strongly by your hard limits. You deserve that. Those are never up for discussion. The only appropriate response from a partner to your hard limits is either a polite question that helps them meet your needs, or simply a “got it, ok, I respect that.”

Best of luck going forward with your negotiating. You can do this!

Tolerating

 
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Do you have any advice for someone who lost their pain tolerance in a vanilla-heavy sexual relationship?

First of all, I want you to abandon the idea of being insecure about your pain tolerance (see also: Comparing). BDSM is about a lot more than who can take the most hits. It’s a relationship, not an olympic sport.

That said, I’ve struggled with this myself. All kinds of factors can influence what you can tolerate on a given day on a given part of your body. Hormones are huge too if you’re not on hormonal birth control. When I’m ovulating, you could basically run me over with a car and my panties would be soaked. But when I’m PMSing or on my period, a light spanking will make me cry. Pay attention to your body. I first noticed this about myself when I noticed I hate using my dry brush when I’m PMSing. See how your body reacts to the same factors applied on different days.

If you want to gradually up your pain tolerance, a useful approach is counting out switches. For impact tools I’m trying to get better at taking, my Dom will tell me “you’re getting 10 switches with this” and have me count them out. Some kind of magic happens in knowing the number is finite and the more you play with it and gradually increase the intensity, the more you’ll get used to it. The human body does very well with gradual increase. You don’t go into the gym after a winter of sitting on the couch and run at top speed on the treadmill for an hour and expect not to burn out. You add on slow. This is the same. Start a journey of adding on.

The human body does very well with gradual increase. You don’t go into the gym after a winter of sitting on the couch and run at top speed on the treadmill for an hour and expect not to burn out. You add on slow. This is the same. Start a journey of adding on.


And if your journey isn’t with a consistent partner, front load this information before a play session when discussing your limits. Say, "I want to work on my pain tolerance, so this is what I need” and spell it out. Make sure the person knows you’re trying to expand your limits and, if you do reach a limit, knows and honors your safe words.

And if you’re working on upping your pain tolerance solo - may I recommend a vigorous dry brushing?

Contemplating

 
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I’m a 20 something bi female, collared to a 30 something straight male Dom. He has other play partners, but I am His primary. He has recently brought up having a threesome with me and one of his other partners, but I’m nervous. I want to try it but I’m worried about it getting messy. How do I figure out if this is something I can do?

Hello from a fellow bi sub! Threesomes are a hot button issue in our culture and an exceedingly common sexual fantasy, but in execution they can be messy, confusing, and downright fraught. As a bi woman who, unfortunately, has been with a number of cis men who fetishized her bi-ness, I have been offered quite a few threesomes in my life. But before I was collared to my Dom, I could never go through with them. Why? Because, to me, vanilla sex between two people is confusing enough. I knew adding a whole additional person into the mix would be like throwing dynamite at a wood chipper. No thanks.

A D/s threesome, however, can be the exact opposite. Under the direction of an empathetic Dom that knows and understands your boundaries, they can be a delightful experience (I’ve now had somewhere in the double digits of this kind of threesome). For this to work, you’ll have to equip your Dom with what your triggers might be around this issue so that he can structure this more complicated scene around your concerns and comfort. If sex is a game of battleship, you need to turn your board around and show your Dom what he’s working with, not just let him hit and miss at random. Some things you can’t anticipate until they happen, but others are no brainers. I, for example, have been cheated on in the past, so I knew that feeling like I was being compared to another sub and found wanting would be difficult for me. However, sometimes I’ll meet another sub with my Dom and get along with her very well and think she’s attractive, but then suddenly in scene I won’t want to kiss or touch her and would prefer for my Dom to keep us separate, and He and I have developed a way for me to signal that to Him. It’s all about being ready to catch yourself feeling a certain way and being able to communicate your feelings clearly.

My advice for you would be to slow roll this as much as possible. Talk about threesomes over dinner, during pillow talk, over drinks. Think about the ins and outs and get an understanding of what your Dom wants out of the situation, and consider whether that jives with your image of the perfect threesome. Then take it to the bedroom. Incorporate some hypothetical threesome scenarios into your dirty talk and see where your subconscious takes you (pun alert). Then, when you’re aggressively comfortable with the idea, begin to discuss with your Dom who might be a good person to start with. If you like the familiarity of someone he’s already played with that knows his rules, by all means choose that person. My advice, though, would be to pick someone entirely new so that you’re not blindsided by an existing rapport between your Dom and another sub. Maybe that’s just my cheating triggers talking, but I think it makes it easier to approach the idea of a threesome if the third knows both you and your Dom equally well, and everything is starting from scratch. Good luck!

Feministing

 
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I’m a 29 year old female and am hooking up with this guy I don’t particularly like. He’s kind of sleazy and we don’t get along as people at all but the sex is HOT. He spanks me, slaps me across the face, calls me a whore, and I love it. But I always leave our encounters with this dirty feeling and I’m so embarrassed when I share details about our hookups with my friends. I’m a feminist! I’m supposed to be better than this! How do I reconcile the shit I want in bed with my politics?

I don’t know if you ever watched Sex and The City, but there’s a great scene where Samantha (the horny one) is telling the rest of the gals about role playing with her current paramour that he is robbing her, then fucks her, all the while telling her to “shut the fuck up.” Charlotte, who most remember as the prude of the group, exclaims “that’s not funny! Violence against women is a very serious issue!” Samantha replies, in one of the only moments where her brash commentary stands the test of time, that “it’s just fantasy,” and it isn’t hurting anybody.

If you like it and it isn’t hurting anyone, no one is going to come and take away your feminist card for having the sex you want.

The same goes for you. This guy may be a sleaze and calling you a whore, but if you like it and it isn’t hurting anyone, no one is going to come and take away your feminist card for having the sex you want. In fact I believe the point of feminism is that you have the right to do whatever you want with your body and your life overall. However, I do feel your pain if you run in particularly feminist crowds and your friends are giving you shit, either overtly or passive aggressively. If this is the case, you have to consider what to share with your friends. I have a theory that we solicit advice from our friends already knowing what we’re going to get back. If you brought this story to your friend that universally thinks all men are trash, maybe subconsciously you wanted her to condemn what you’ve been doing. So take a look at that. Would you be feeling bad about this if you weren’t sharing the wrong details with the wrong people? Maybe you don’t need to add that additional layer of judgement into your psyche.

Then there’s the angle of not particularly liking this guy. If you feel he doesn’t respect you or doesn’t have a sex positive attitude about what you’re doing it’s important to consider the lasting effects on you emotionally of being sexually vulnerable with someone you don’t feel good about. But if you’re having fun - fuck it! We learn a lot about ourselves through sex, and maybe this sleaze is in your life to teach you a lesson. Go with god. You have my feminist blessing to do what you want. That’s the whole point of feminism.

Comparing

 
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I’m 31 years old, female, and am subbing for the first time with a Dom I met on Tinder. He’s great and we get along, but when we get back to the bedroom I get the sense that I’m not as advanced as other subs he’s played with and it makes me really insecure. Like sometimes he’ll casually suggest things that I consider to be really extreme, like putting clothespins on me, and when I call my safe word he seems a little surprised. How do I deal with feeling like a wimp??

Every. Sub. Feels. This. On some level. If you don’t, hit me up. I want to put you in a cage and study you. But trust me, even the subs who are doing biweekly subdermal needle play are thinking to themselves - shit, there’s probably some sub out there who’s really good at dealing with an open flame. There’s always going to be some “the sub is always tougher on the other side of the fence” scenario. It’s important to remember that every sub is a snowflake, with his or her own unique set of kinks and limits that make them special. It’s the play that emerges from figuring all this out that’s fun. D/s isn’t about applying the same exact pressures to every sub, it’s about finding a way of playing that suits the particular Dom (and sub) at that moment in time. It’s psychological. So if getting hit with a riding crop catapults you straight into sub space, be excited to know yourself well enough to know what works.

Furthermore, some Doms go to extreme lengths to find subs that are different from each other. If they’re all the same, what fun is that? I’ve heard of Doms who have specific subs for specific needs, such as an “ass girl,” etc. Try to focus on your strengths. Maybe you’re great at giving head. Maybe you love getting paddled. You could be paddle girl and not even know it. Revel in being wanted, don’t criticize yourself for imagined shortcomings. You’re great.

Also a P.S. - plenty of Doms and subs meet on Tinder. If you saw that and raised your eyebrows, know that “tinder” isn’t shorthand for some kind of shitty situation anymore.

Wishing

 
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I’m a cis gay man in his late twenties living in a large and pretty kink-friendly city on the west coast. My boyfriend and I have been together a little over a year. I’ve subbed on kind  of a sliding scale for a while now. He knows about my past experiences and we’ve played with BDSM a little but are vanilla about 75% of the time. He wants to get better at domming me and I definitely want him to too, but he’s at a loss of how to do it. And so am  I! A lot of times when we’re having sex things will start out fun and kinky then suddenly drop and I’m left feeling judgmental of him. I don’t want to hurt his feelings by being overly critical, but it just isn’t working and I want it to since I really like him in every other way. How can I help him be his dommiest self without being too bossy?

I, like you, am not a switch. So I’ll leave the domming to the Doms and address your concerns, little sub. You’re afraid of “topping from the bottom” as they say, and I don’t blame you. It kind of defeats the whole purpose of being able to give over control and lose yourself in the scene. And when your boyfriend unexpectedly drops the kinkiness, it can leave you feeling abandoned. Be clear with yourself about whether your judgement of his abilities as a Dom would go away if he were to improve his technique, or if there’s something about him as a person or the way your relationship has been up to this point that would make it hard for you to submit to him. Because there’s a big difference.

Assuming it’s just technique based, here’s what I’ve developed to side-step the whole topping from the bottom issue - the art of the sexy suggestion. If you want something from your Dom but don’t want to feel like you’re forcing him into it, bring it up during pillow talk. If you already have a good aftercare regimen where you talk to each other, that can be a great time to tell him about this fantasy you have where he ties you up with jute rope and makes you kneel in uncooked rice while he spits in your face - or what have you. If he doesn’t know how to tie you up, then this is a great time to suggest doing a class together. Do a little googling together and find something in your area. Many big cities with kink scenes have classes to be found. Whether it’s a shibari workshop or a good old domming class, maybe this will set him along the path to doing a little more research. And along the way, you’ll have plenty of fun watching him discover this. It’s an adventure you’re both on. Enjoy it.