BDSM FAQ

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The FAQ is written for those that have some varied degree of beginner knowledge of BDSM but have specific questions about BDSM and common Best practices concerning BDSM. Many Frequently Asked Questions are answered here. If you are brand new to exploring BDSM, it may behoove you to start with the BDSM 101 page.

Contents

What does BDSM Stand for?

The term BDSM dates back to 1969; however, the exact origin of the term BDSM is unclear, though the practice of it is assumed to date back to the start of humankind as a species and is dated at least back to aproximately 3000 BC. It is often interpreted as a compound initialism from B&D (Bondage and Discipline), D&S (Dominance and Submission), and S&M (Sadism and Masochism). Regardless of its origin, BDSM is used as a catch-all phrase to include a wide range of activities, forms of interpersonal relationships, and distinct subcultures.

BDSM is a variety of erotic practices involving Power exchange, Role-playing, bondage, and other interpersonal dynamics. Given the wide range of practices, some of which may be engaged in by people who do not consider themselves as practicing BDSM, inclusion in the BDSM community and/or subculture is usually dependent on self-identification and shared experience. Interest in BDSM can range from one-time experimentation to a lifestyle, and is sometimes referred to as a sexual identity/orientation.

What does "X" word mean?

Thankfully you are in the best possible place to gather information about simple definitions and meanings about a complex string of BDSM theories, roles and practices; you are on a wiki devoted entirely to organizing and presenting those definitions and concepts to you!

You may wish to start with the BDSM 101 page, use the search bar on the upper right of the page to locate something specific, or explore using the Major Portals on the side bar to the left.

If you have other questions, feel free to continue to peruse the FAQ, because this site has an extensive one and chances are we'll at least be able to get you started on your path.

Enjoy!

This BDSM stuff sounds interesting, what is good starting advice?

Being new to BDSM can very difficult and intimidating. There is a lot of information to digest up front, and lots of potentially bad things that can happen, plus, being new one is still not very informed about the risks they might be unintentionally taking without even realizing it. One in three kinksters polled reported having experienced a Consent violation at some point during their experiences according to a 2013 NCSF poll. That can be scary for many. That said, exploring BDSM can be one of the most rewarding things a person might do(according to some), and more and more people embrace BDSM culture as a lifestyle in a risk aware and consenting fashion every day. The best thing you can do is research BDSM and see if exploring these things is right for you. At worst, you'll walk away from the research with an education.

Best practices indicate the following as generally good advice for starting out...

Do Your Research

The biggest part of Consent, which is the biggest part of the scene, is being informed. Whether you are just discovering BDSM or are just coming into the public scene, being knowledgeable of the risks and rewards of the community is a must. Research is a helpful tool that should be used often. Socialize with other members of the community of all experience levels. It is always a journey to be aware of the surroundings, but it is often an extremely rewarding journey to know what the scene will provide.

For new BDSM Explorers, the best pages to check out as soon as possible are:

New BDSM explorers may also want to:

  • Consider if a Mentor may be a preferred chance at learning.
  • Consider if a Protector might be a wise option to employ.
  • Find any Fetishes that pique their interest and do some research on them.

For everyone:

Consider Going to a Munch

While there is no guarantee as to the quality of individuals at a munch, it is likely that there will be people at a Munch that you are able to identify with. Although munches aren't guaranteed to have experienced people, especially those who are well-known, respected, and fully vetted, in attendance, they are a good step towards learning how to meet people in a safe, public setting and how to become more comfortable with some of the more common everyday aspects of the scene.

Be aware that there is almost always a lack vetting of munch attendees by the hosts, due to the fact that munches are designed to be open invitation gatherings, usually at public places such as restaurants or bars. Due to this, there is a chance of undesirable attendees. Undesirable attendees could include people who are unpleasant or even predators who will attend munches for the opportunity to have access to new and uninformed individuals.

Consider Taking A Class

Classes are a good way to learn various bits of information or technique, especially niche techniques such as certain styles of Bondage, sensation, or Impact play. Many events host classes either before or during them; some venues have allotted teaching nights at regular intervals.

Attending the classes of more experienced members in the BDSM community can be a great way to gain a lot of the subtle nuance and hands-on experience you can't gain from a wiki. Consider studying under those that are well reviewed as experts on a piece of subject matter you are interested in. Not everything can be learned from a wiki and many BDSM activities require hands on learning and supervision to attempt.

Remember to do your due diligence research on the presenter of any class you are interested in to make sure the information you are getting is correct and up to date. Vetting also helps ensure that the class you take is the class which will teach you how to be safe and keep your scene under control. If a presenter has been described as violating Consent, especially in a class setting; using unsafe methods; or trolling for potential partners in a class setting, these may be unsubstantiated rumors, or they may be valid concerns. Research your presenters and choose who you learn from wisely.

Consider attending an event

An Event is a pre-planned occurrence of a gathering of people to practice BDSM in a real world environment.

Events attract many different types of people with many different experiences and experience levels in the community. Most larger events have a panel of classes, from informational sessions on consent and conduct to practicing social awareness to hands-on education on using specific implements or styles of play. Many events vet their presenters before placing their classes on the schedule. Some events offer fun ways of getting to know other people, such as board games, introduction activities, open discussions, or event-hosted parties.

Event hosts are often personable people who wish to have their events open to everybody. They will often put up suggestion threads on forums to help keep their events new, exciting, and open. Each event has its own reputation and it is good for you to research the history and reputation of an event you might consider to attend.

At an event of any size, keep in mind the importance, despite the safety net that a community of like minded individuals may provide, that consent violations and injury are still a possible threat and that even without malicious intent that accidents can and do happen. Most real world events have at least one person on guard in the dungeon, known as a DM, who can be alerted to questionable or patently unsafe behavior and is trusted to help ensure best practices in the space provided. Check out some of the Public Calendars of BDSM Events.

It is also understood that public events are not for everyone, and it is perfectly acceptable never to attend one, however, many find these events to be fun and afford them lots of great opportunities.

How do I find a munch?

Many kinky social networks like FetLife will have local event calendars that will indicate to you what is going on in your area, and many of these things will be munches. Further, there is a wonderful resource which will also have a different database of munches called Findamunch.com. Between those two resources you should be able to find something in your region, though depending on how secluded of an area you live in you may have to travel a bit.

What books should I read to get started?

Firstly, the important thing is to identify what your interests are. This wiki also provides a massive wealth of information in an easy to navigate fashion, the BDSM 101, BDSM FAQ and Theory pages are all great areas to get started with.

That said, generally well-reviewed sources for BDSM for beginners can be found in the Store section.

I have questions about the wiki

That's great, check out this page here!

I respect my lover too much to ever hurt them, how can someone possibly love someone they are hurting on purpose?

BDSM relations are (or ought to be in any instances when they are not) very heavily rooted in the notions of Consent and voluntary participation, often times with the intent of personal exploration of fantasy and drama, which can be a very rewarding and enriching experience. Regardless of what you may or may not have seen in pornographic films and fantasy novels, the truth of what is occurring is that all folks involved are there because they want to be and are exploring something that is fun for all of them.

If your lover really wants to explore something kinky and fun, do you consider it wrong to do something that they would find enjoyable? Further, when done correctly, the pain aspects often associated with BDSM can instead feel intensely pleasurable (for some people, sometimes) because the sensations are driven by the body's chemical reaction to stimulation, and can be likened to intense sensations and feelings that occur during sex or meditation practices.

BDSM isn't for everyone, and it's entirely up to you if you should ever want to participate in these activities. If you really don't want to do this and your partner does, it's important that you be honest with them about it, and if you are considering trying it out, make it a point to do your best to keep an open mind and give it your best shot. Often times those that don't want to "hurt" their lovers can become a lot more at ease with the idea when they firstly figure out that this is something their partner really wants to try, secondly, that they learn the safest ways and Best practices to do these sorts of things, and thirdly when they talk with others more experienced with themselves at length and discover how comfortable they are living out these sorts of things.

Is BDSM abuse? How could someone possibly like getting hit with things and not be insane?

The bottom line is, if BDSM is conducted with explicit, informed consent, then it is not abuse. If it is conducted without explicit, informed consent, then it may be abuse. Abuse has everything to do with consent, and nothing to do with whether or not hitting is involved. Further, the question itself is ableist and assumes that those with certain disadvantages can't participate in healthy BDSM practices.

Abuse specifically does not take the feelings of the other person into account, nor their personal betterment or growth, which are often themes strongly rooted in many BDSM relationships. Abuse specifically is intended to do harm to an individual, BDSM is intended for personal enjoyment of all parties involved.

It's also important to remember that many folks already practice BDSM to some degree. Have you ever called your lover a naughty name? Maybe a light spanking spice up the bedroom? What about maybe that pair of fuzzy handcuffs and that feather you take out on special occasions? All of those things, on several levels, constitute BDSM practice, specifically humiliation/objectification, impact, and bondage plus sensation play, respectively.

Beyond that fact that many people, possibly yourself included, practice BDSM without even realizing it on a regular basis, there are some studies that correlate BDSM practices with better mental health than folks that don't engage in BDSM. BDSM is also no longer listed as an insanity within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition and is instead listed under paraphilia disorders which exist only if the person has intense guilt and shame about their BDSM experiences, which has a lot more to do with societal shaming than the practice itself being implicitly wrong.

Specific reasons for engaging in BDSM are as unique as the individuals that partake in the activities, however many indicate enhancements to their relationship dynamics and enjoyment of the sensations and experiences that can be very intensely pleasurable and euphoric or even spiritual.

For more information about tools for mental health professionals please head here.

Is BDSM illegal?

Laws vary by region and in many cases BDSM practices can be considered illegal under abuse laws, be sure to research the laws and BDSM Rights in your area.

It is important to note that Consent laws in your area very much make a big difference as to what legally constitutes abuse or consent and it's good to be aware of the laws in your area. In many instances it's also further important to understand the political climate as well. In some places there may be no laws excusing abuse charge with a consent defense but the case may be dismissed, or in many further instances it is also possible that consent defense laws may exist and courts fail to uphold them in regards to BDSM. There are also organizations which will help educate you on the laws for your area, as well as promote progress and advocate for BDSM rights and liberties as a whole[1].

What is the difference between a Kink and a Fetish?

In modern vernacular these two terms are often used interchangeably, however, traditionally a sexualized kink is considered to be a term used to refer to a playful usage of sexual concepts which are overt, accentuated, unambiguously expressive of sexuality. A sexualized fetish is traditionally considered an object or situation of interest that causes sexual arousal. There is sometimes an implied notion that a kink was something done for casual fun, while a fetish would indicate a form of requirement for sexual arousal.

Best Practices indicate that if you aren't sure how someone is using a term when multiple definitions may apply, that you politely ask them to clarify in what way they are using the term.

Is it really a consent violation just to touch someone's hand/hair/etc.?

Yes. Violation of Consent doesn't even require touch; it can include invading someone's personal space, using certain language with someone, or expecting someone to use certain language or obey certain etiquette.

There is a huge spectrum of consent violations, from personal space invasions to rape and assault. Despite the varying degrees of perceived "severity" throughout the spectrum of consent violation, all consent violations are serious matters. If you violate someone's consent accidentally whether out of lack of information or forgetfulness, be sure to make an immediate, genuine apology and recognize what has been done wrong.

Although boundaries differ from person to person, it is always good to be aware that every person's boundaries deserve equal respect. Best Practices indicate that it is proper etiquette to ask before touching anybody. This also goes for calling people anything other than their given name or preferred pronoun or standing or sitting within a foot or two of a person.

In many cases in the world of BDSM, people will have a Protocol set in place that requires either certain permissions or specific actions to be performed before they are allowed by their figure of authority, whether Dominant, Mentor, Trainer, or Significant other, to perform certain actions. These protocols can also disallow interactions of some natures, such as touching. If a person asks you to speak first with their figure of authority, or says that they need to consult their figure of authority, do not be taken aback. This is their way of securing the idea that they do indeed consent to what you are asking of them, even if it seems superficial to you. If a person says that they cannot perform the action you desire due to protocol, respect their boundaries. Those boundaries are put in place for a reason, even if you do not understand that reason.

Can I really live out my fantasies like I've read about in fiction novels and seen in pornographic films?

Well, yes, sort of, and also sort of no. Much like traditional pornography and fiction novels, those particular styles of entertainment are generally made for escapist entertainment and may have minimal things to do with what goes on the real world.

BDSM culture has become more popularized in modern culture through these means and that's a great thing that more people now get to freely and openly explore their sexuality in fun new ways, but it's also important to remember that the things you may have watched and read may not necessarily have anything at all to do with real life, and in many cases may have very little to do with what a real world situation might look like. Then again, wish fulfillment and indulging in your fantasies can be a fun way to explore with your lover, or even a new lifestyle for the both of you.

The key thing to remember is that unlike in the movies and books, if you want to do something awesome and kinky, chances are it's not going to have that instant gratification element that the movies and books have; there are logistics to consider such as personal feelings, skills development, acquisition of resources and time, the presence of appropriate conditions and consenting parties... and more. That said, the things you may have read about in fiction novels and movies are often possible, many people do live out wild BDSM fantasies, but the reality is, putting together a fantasy, especially an elaborate one, is a lot of work for those involved.

I have kids, how can my partner and I possibly do this stuff?/I want to have kids one day, I don't think I can get into this stuff.

It may come as a surprise, but so do many other kinksters, especially since many in the community tend to be very Sex positive. May of them find ways to do things that are kinky part time and full time, simply altering their behaviors slightly to make them seamlessly integrated and invisible with what looks like normal behavior, often called Invisible protocol. Further, even people that engage in these behaviors without having children still have to interact with the public, so they have to modify their behaviors some when out in the world and interacting. They don't suddenly not have to deal with friends, family, co workers and the like.

In many cases kinksters can't be open about what they do, and even when they can, it's simply not appropriate to force others in public into viewing your kink because many others won't enjoy what it is that you are doing and may be bothered by it, or their could be kids around that really have no business being exposed to an adults only culture. Having kids just presents an additional challenge in order to enjoy kink, but it doesn't mean you can't do it at all, and many people do. It's a little like being afraid you'll never have sex again if you have a baby. If you have a child chances are you have found creative ways to solve that challenge and you're still enjoying sex today and kink is no different. If you're having trouble, try talking with other people with kids that you respect in the kink community and find out what it is that they do as your peers will often have similar environments and cultural sensitivities to consider.

I have dark fantasies of some kind, sometimes they even scare me, does that make me a bad person?

Nope. Not even a little. As a matter of fact, tons of people that are honest with themselves will come to terms with this side of themselves in an adult fashion and be happy to inform you that you aren't alone, and that it's all about how you act on those fantasies that makes a difference. The key thing is that you too come to accept these fantasies as part of yourself and that you are a great person regardless, even if you choose to live out some of them in consenting and risk aware circumstances.

Some things, for many folks are best left to pure fantasy, and if they even did get the opportunity to live it out, would find that they didn't enjoy it the way they did in the fantasy even a little bit, not because anything went wrong, but because sometimes fantasy is exactly that, strictly fantasy.

Other times a person may find that exploring a fantasy can lead to a great new space of growth for them as a person and lead to enriching relationships and a rewarding lifestyle. There's no real way to tell except to ask if that's something you really want to do. If not, probably best to leave it as fantasy. If you do want to try it, find a consenting partner you can trust and see if you can Negotiate your scene with them. The important thing is to try to grow past your shame, that isn't really helping you accomplish anything or get anywhere as a person, it just sort of makes you feel bad about the things you'd like to be doing and aren't even doing necessarily.

It's also important to be aware of Sub drop and Top drop as well, as at times shame can creep in as a part of a depressive chemical reaction in the body after you have an intense scene. Knowing how to deal with drop can indeed have a severe impact on your productivity and positive feelings as a human being.

Dominants just seem like jerks that boss people around, who would really want spend all day slaving for someone like that?

That's more of a question about you than a question about other people and presumes that romantic partners are not to be trusted with great responsibilities.

Frankly, some people are happiest serving others and your opinions about how that's not for you won't even begin to alter their views. The key thing here is that you aren't understanding their view, not that their view is impossible, and thus you must learn to accept the possibility first, and then seek to understand it. Try asking open ended questions from someone who is very happy and experienced submitting and they might be able to help you understand why it is a positive experience for them.

It's good to mention that being turned off to the idea of submission does not necessarily make one a dominant, however. While some people feel as though they are born with S-type mentalities and come to realize this at a very early age, by and large many people struggle with submission or surrender at first because of societal programming, and more importantly, because they can't envision what the type of person they would submit to would be like because they haven't encountered that kind of person yet and can't even imagine the possibility because the concept is still too alien to understand.

Dominants also tend to have a lot more going on than just bossing people around and being jerks. There's a whole side to being dominant that is full of tons of work and personal growth and investment, as well as investment in the s-type that is serving them. That might not readily be apparent as any person can claim to practice domination and instead simply be domineering, and that is subtle line for most new folks to grasp, but one that is readily visible to those with much experience practicing BDSM.

It's important to remember that people that choose to consciously engage in Power exchange relationships are engaging in an exchange, which means that the s-type is getting something they have decided they need in exchange for what they are providing. That sort of exchange may never be for you, but if you want to understand it, it's best to talk with those who live that way as a matter of lifestyle and discover what it is that appeals about it to them, not only so that you can hear their words, but hear their confidence and happiness with their relationship choices.

Do dominants really love and care for their submissives?

Many and even most that engage in power exchange relationships tend to have what they would describe as an intimate and loving relationship, however, this is not always the case. In some cases power exchange relationships are purely a matter of service orientation, one providing submission, the other providing dominance, each a specific service. While that might seem strange to someone that is seeking a loving relationship and has very traditionally egalitarian views of relationships, keep in mind that these people have decided that is what they wanted and are able to decide for themselves as adults what it is that they are agreeing to through use of informed consent.

Some people specifically don't want a loving relationship. Further, many couples that don't practice power exchange also have loveless dynamics and have their reasons for staying in those relationships whether you agree with that idea or not. The important thing to remember in this situation is that if you are considering entering into a power exchange relationship with someone that you communicate your wants and needs very clearly to them, and if love and intimacy are a part of that you need to make sure they know that so they can decide if this is something they want too.

If you don't tell them what you want, do you expect that they should know to read your mind to be able to know just what it is that you want? Oftentimes good communication skills can help to decide if a relationships is compatible, and if it is, that it remains rewarding for all parties.

How will I know if I've gone too far? What if I do something terrible? What if I can't stop?

What is too far? According to Best Practices, there are three things that are "too far". While your personal boundaries may be more conservative, please consider these a good measure of what too far might look like.

  • Acting without explicit, informed Consent of all involved parties
  • Causing permanent and/or severe damage or death, even with consent.
  • Performing an act with someone or something unable to reasonably give informed consent (such as with someone severely intoxicated).
  • Making unplanned visits to jail/prison, the morgue, the hospital, or the psyche ward as a result of BDSM activities.

While it is entirely possible you are the next serial killer that will terrorize your region, however, chances are if you are worried about that, you have a good degree of empathy and aren't a total sociopath. Then again, if you are really, really worried you might do something awful, please do seek professional help immediately and do not engage in any sort of BDSM activity until you are deemed emotionally well balanced enough to participate in risk taking behaviors.

If you're not so worried about it once you've considered if you should be rushed to the psych ward as a potential harm to yourself and others, consider you may just be afraid about the unknown. Start by taking a few breaths, relax for a minute, and then see what you can do to start learning and broadening your perspectives.

Some things you might want to do to start that process:

  • Write out your feelings on the subject until you run out of thoughts
  • Rate your feelings according to dialectic theory, analyze your results
  • Research and study Best practices in what you'd like to do and learn how not to injure someone seriously while practicing BDSM.
  • Have a spotter or dungeon monitor to watch over you. Be sure to inform everyone participating of your perceived risk.
  • Start Low and slow, take very small steps forward to build confidence in your abilities.

Does BDSM involve religion, the occult or magic?

The answer to this depends entirely on your belief system and how you choose to engage in BDSM, though it can be said for certain there need not be any cross over in these areas of one's life if it isn't desired. While some may choose to intermingle various aspects of their religion or spiritual practices into their BDSM scenes, just as many keep their spiritual beliefs entirely separate, should they have any, and people of all religious persuasions or lack thereof are known to engage in at least some practices of BDSM. If you are having trouble reconciling your faith or ethics with BDSM practices, consider using the resources section to reach out to a kink friendly professional as Paraphilia is a legitimate concern.

What if normal sex is boring forever after I try this stuff and I don't want to have sex anymore?

Oftentimes people that are new to kink will have all kinds of worries and unreal expectations and often may experience frenzy in which they do nothing but completely immerse themselves in the lifestyle of BDSM entirely, however, this does pass, eventually the person regains their wits, and indeed starts to enjoy kink as an aspect of their life (to varying degrees depending on the individual) and not necessarily their sole purpose for being.

Once that happens a lot of the mystique of BDSM fades away and life will resume, just now with a little extra Kink. Adding kink to the mix of one's life does not at all mean subtracting Vanilla sex, many involved in practicing BDSM also consider themselves to be part of Sex positive culture and report better perceived sexual health after they became involved with BDSM.

What if I become a sex addict?

Enjoyment of a lot of sex or BDSM, or a combination is not considered a disorder by the DSMV, however, repeatedly participating in an act that causes distress or disrupts ones ability to have day to day function is. The addition of BDSM into a sexual toolbox of an individual is in not directly connected to whether or not someone is prone to sexual addiction, however someone that is a sex addict is likely to be more attracted to the higher risk activities involved in BDSM. What this means is, if you are a person who's sexual lifestyle disrupts their regular life, kink is likely to offer you more exciting opportunities to disrupt your life, however, if you are not a person that is inclined to sexually addictive behaviors, BDSM is not going to suddenly turn you into a sex addict. See paraphilia.

What if BDSM ruins my relationship with my significant other?

In many cases exploring BDSM with your existing partner can be lots of fun for both of you and help greatly enrich your relationship. Sadly, not all folks are able to, nor want to handle the complexities involved in BDSM, and at times this subject has been a catalyst that sparked the end of some relationships for some folks.

Consider that being open and honest with your partner and communicating with them regularly is going to give you your best possible chance for success and you may find they are even excited to get started with you! On the flip side, if there is a serious incompatibility issue, greater communication will reveal that quickly and allow both of you how to decide to move forward in a positive and healthy manner. In some cases the relationship may end, but in many cases there are lots of compromises that can potentially be had depending on the individuals that are negotiating.

It bears considering that if one person has a strong need to explore their sexuality and their partner denies them any recourse in fulfilling their needs that the denying partner is very much not addressing the needs of their partner and that bears it's own discussion and review.

Not all relationships can or will end ideally, but refusing to talk to your partner out of fear for the impact on the relationship makes it's own statement about the current state of affairs concerning the health of your relationship.

I'm all about a little bit of slap and tickle in the bedroom, but some of this stuff people do is just plain disgusting and/or crazy. How can people possibly like that extreme stuff? It all just seems so sick to me.

Best Practices indicates being tolerant of others and what it is that they do. Some people are likely to think your kink is disgusting or weird too, and that's fine for them, but would you enjoy it specifically if they shamed you for what it is you enjoy? While you may not have concern for their opinions, it certainly never feels good to have others shame you for being who you are.

The best part of this whole thing is, if you really don't like something, you don't have to Consent to it! You never have to enter an agreement to do those things you don't like, nor do you have to make it your business what other people do in space that you don't own.

Consider that while some kinks may seem extreme to you, or even just boring, they are not for you, and that's OK, there's no need to waste the energy judging and getting upset at others for liking what it is that they like. This concept is generally referred to as "YKINMK and that's OK". It allows that others are to be tolerated and enjoy the things they enjoy in their own spaces, and hopefully they are following best practices for whatever it is they are doing. Further, even if you don't approve of what other people are doing, it's not like they are going stop doing what makes them happy for others who would condemn them, that doesn't make any sense at all.

Consider that if you don't have something nice to say about someone's particular kink or fetish, that it's polite not to say anything at all about it, and it's a great idea to treat people with respect, even if you don't agree with them on what you find enjoyable or disgusting.

How can I make my partner into my dom/sub?

Introducing D/s into a relationship is something you really need to talk to them about with at length. The first thing you need to do is make sure that they want the same thing that you do and are on comfortable with or excited about the possibility of introducing power exchange dynamics into your relationship, and also that you begin negotiating about what kinds of roles you would both like, what responsibilities you are both willing to take on, and then you have to agree on that, and then you can move a little further down the pipe into trying out some things you both Consent to.

More to the point, Can you force someone to embrace dominance or submission? No. Can you force someone into any role they aren't prepared to take on? No. Further, attempting to force someone to do those things is likely a serious consent violation. Additionally, if their heart really isn't in embracing the role they are attempting to take on, chances are their performance won't just be poor at first (which is common for when anyone tries something new), but will continue to be poor consistently, ending in frustration for both parties, often times ending the relationship if both parties are not skilled with open and honest communications.

That said, it is also OK for romantic partners to decide that one or both romantic partners meet certain needs with other people, so long as it is discussed openly and honestly and with informed consent by responsible, mature, adult parties. This is not terribly uncommon and it bears mentioning that deciding to meet SM needs is not necessarily the same as meeting sexual needs with another partner, and that even meeting sexual needs with another partner does not mean that one is looking to replace and romantic and intimate partner.

While you can't force your partner into a role, you can make it easier for them by being helpful and supportive in ways that you identify as appropriate.

Is it really domination if it's only online?

There three things you can dominate in a power exchange, body, behavior, and attitude, also known as the Three powers. Using purely digital means such as a digital camera, video and chat software, text messaging and phone conversations, and even fantasy video games you can certainly gain a degree of control over the body, behavior and attitude of an individual and these are all great tools that are also often used by folks that don't Cyber dom exclusively. That said, there is a specific unfair stigma that exists to those that use purely digital means to dominate or submit and never have face to face interactions with those they participate in these power exchange relationships with.

What is important to remember is that those individuals that choose to engage in these cyber relationships, even if they exist solely in a fantasy video game as fantasy avatar representations, are following their specific kinks and fetishes that make them happy, remember "YKINMK and that's OK". If it's not for you, then it's not for you, but it is for them, so let them enjoy it. Your kinks are not objectively better than their kinks.

I'm really shy and I'm scared to go to a dungeon or play party, what should I do?

Consider going to a munch first, you'll get to meet some people that identify as Kinksters and find out that they too are just normal folks. Once you get comfortable with the notion that the community itself is thing you enjoy, you'll probably feel better about going to an event, and remember that you don't have to consent to play with anyone, you can just go and watch!

Should I put pictures of my face on online fetish websites?

Many people do, but doing so is a risk. If you aren't absolutely certain you are comfortable with all your friends, family and coworkers finding out about all of the things you've shared through that profile, it is best not to post face pics. If someone asks you for a face pic you can always email it to them if you decide you trust them not to out you. Be aware that some people are cruel and will attempt to out you or threaten to do so in order to manipulate and control you, avoid getting to that space to begin with by protecting yourself to begin with. If you find yourself in that position, save all relevant documents and take the information to the local authorities. Attempt to obtain a restraining order or file charges as appropriate and be aware of our Category:Emergency BDSM Resources.

If I go to a dungeon or play party, do I have to play with other people? How am I supposed to act?

You never have to Consent to anything you don't want to, and if you decide to play with someone at an event you should be sure you feel confident in negotiating or, if you are not, have an experienced friend or Protector to help negotiate for you and ensure your safety.

As far as how you should act, every space is a little bit different but most all will have a list of rules that will either be given to you or that you can ask the host or greeter about and it's good to make sure you understand and are comfortable with the house rules.

As far as how to deal with other folks, be courteous and respect others and their things by making a conscious effort to ask before touching people or things, and asking questions about anything you aren't absolutely clear on, such as if a particular type of play is allowed in a certain area.

It is considered bad manners (as a D-type or S-type) to automatically presume others should follow your personal protocols, so be sure that if you have decided on special rules and boundaries you would like applied to interacting with you, that you politely explain them to others. Further, you shouldn't be expected to follow the protocols of others that you haven't consented to outside of the rules that the host has made for the event and if someone has special protocols for interacting with them it is hoped they would politely explain them to you.

Be sure to give plenty of space for anyone involved in a Scene so that you are not disrupting them, as well as for safety, and similarly it's also polite to keep chatter to a minimum when near a scene so that you do not disrupt those that are actively in scene.

It is also courteous to assume that if someone is wearing a piece of neck jewelry that it might be a Collar that isn't worn just for fashion and to inquire about it's significance, and also remember that not everyone uses collars to identify their relationship dynamics.

Further, be aware some of the things you see your first time may be difficult to process the first time you view them. Try having an open mind and talking with other folks about what you see if something concerns you.

For further information see Party Etiquette.

Aside from that, be a good guest, have a good attitude, and enjoy yourself!

Do I have to have sex with someone in order to play with them?

No. Absolutely not. It is not okay for anyone to assume any Consent you have not negotiated with them. Further, not all who practice BDSM participate in all aspects of it, some people don't ever have sex as part of their scenes. See the Chocolate and Peanut Butter Analogy.

Can I use drugs/alcohol during play to help loosen me up? What if it's just a little?

Best practices indicates you absolutely should not use mind and body altering substances during a Scene. Which isn't to say that some folks don't and haven't in the past, and that in many cases things can turn out just fine, however, it is important to know that when you engage in BDSM scenes you are going to be altering your body chemistry already by loading it up with adrenaline, dopamine, oxytocin and many other very powerful chemicals for both the bottom and the top even without adding drugs and alcohol to the scene.

Safety can be well mitigated by an alert, sober person of sound mind, but by including additional mind and body altering agents into a scene can one can cause loss of focus and impaired judgement thereby greatly increasing the chances of a serious accident or regrettable action.

This isn't to say a disaster is going to happen for certain when including intoxicants in a scene but that the chances of something bad happen can increase dramatically if participants are intoxicated. While in daily life having a drink and doing a mundane activity might not be so bad, it's important to remember that what you are doing is inherently and patently dangerous on some levels. Much like using heavy machinery while intoxicated, it's just not a good idea to use substances and practice BDSM because someone can get seriously hurt.

This extends to more than just illegal drugs and alcohol, it also applies to many other substances such as a lack of food or water, blood thinners, mood stabilizers, use of new hormone therapies (until they level off after a few months) and any other substance that will drastically alter the composition of the body and the soundness of mind. It's important to remember these sorts of things will affect the judgement of the bottom and the top and in either case can lead to a very serious problem. Also remember, it's not just about the physical safety of the event, it's also about the emotional safety, so just because you're not doing a heavy impact or fire scene, doesn't mean that it is a good idea to practice BDSM while intoxicated.

More importantly, if you choose to use intoxicants, be sure to mention that as part of the negotiations with your partner as they cannot give informed consent unless they know the level of risk involved, doing otherwise is unethical.

Why can't I find a Master/slave/other type of partner?

Very frequently new BDSM explorers will make a few dozen posts online after creating an online profile somewhere and then interact with folks for a week and get frustrated because they aren't immediately rewarded with the partner of their dreams. They then complain they can't find a partner, assuming the level of investment they put in to be sufficient without realizing that the most talented folks involved with BDSM firstly have a partner or several partners already, or have their choice of partners should they decide they want one because they are talented, attractive, confident, trustworthy and whatever other values one might tag them with. The people they play with, much less decide to be in a relationship with, often times spent years searching and growing as people before they found the person they have partnered with, and rightly so, as the person that they are seeking that they are wanting to be with also spend many years working on themselves, growing and becoming all of the things that now make them an attractive partner. Consider that finding a romantic partner that is also interested in BDSM is actually harder than finding a partner that is not, as only a portion of the population has that interest, so if you had trouble finding partners before, bear in mind that you need to keep your expectations realistic and that buying a flogger and ball gag does not instantly make someone have healthy adult relationships, not even a little.

If you want to attract a top quality partner and you are consistently having trouble doing so, it's best to start by working on and improving yourself. Start by accepting that whatever it is that you are doing isn't working and if you really want your choice of partners, you will have to grow to become one of those people that has lots of great features that are immediately apparent and brings lots of highly valuable things to the table, and yes, that is a very hard thing to do and it does indeed take years for most folks. What each specific person needs to work on will be different as everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, however, consider the type of person you are realistically trying to attract. What kinds of things do they value? Are you those things? If not you might want to get to becoming those things if you really want to attract that sort of person. On the other hand, if you refuse to better yourself and grow and demand that your potential partners accept you exactly as is and then decide they aren't right for you if they don't want you exactly as is, that is your right and privilege, but at that point you have no one but yourself to blame for your lack of partners, and chances are that most other strangers online aren't going to have much sympathy for your situation.

What does it take to be a real dominant or submissive, master or slave, etc.?

There is no official qualification than one simply saying that they are and deciding that is how they orient themselves unless one decides to subscribe to a path of Role essentialism.

While there is no One true way to practice BDSM, it does follow Best practices to assume that no one need recognize nor respect any title another possesses that they themselves have not bestowed upon them and that humility when meeting someone new can do wonderful things to enhance a potential relationship. Further, anyone is entitled to identify however they like. While you are free to judge that someone does not represent a particular Status role well or at all, you are not entitled to take their freedom to identify as they wish.

What is more important is that you embrace a standard that is right for you. Consider what those terms mean to you after lengthy research, and also remember that if you should enter into a relationship, any partner you might have is not going to live up to your deepest fantasy every moment of every day of every year; be sure to have realistic expectations of your partner and not expect them to live up to fantasy characters.

What is the difference between a top, dom and a Master/bottom, sub, slave?

To answer this question one must subscribe to some level of Role essentialism.

In common parlance a Top is someone that does not necessarily identify as a D-type, but instead is a person in an S&M Scene that is giving sensations to a Bottom who may not necessarily be an S-type. For Example:

Mistress So and So was bottoming for a piercing scene under slave so and so, the resident needle expert, to ensure that she knew what the sensation felt like before performing that scene on someone else.

Note that there is no mentioned Power exchange as part of the scene in that regard, and that bottoming and topping relationships do not necessarily indicate a level of power exchange, though those elements can be present if negotiated for as power exchange can be a psychological form of SM.

The role of a Dominant is that they have entered into a negotiated power exchange with a submissive and in the relationship has the majority of the power to make decisions, while the submissive follows direction in that power exchange under certain conditions. The range of the potency and frequency of power exchange in a D/s dynamic can vary greatly. Note that there is not necessarily any indicated S&M in the negotiated power exchange.

A Master/slave (M/s) relationship is considered a specialized form of D/s power exchange. Firstly, the Master is assumed to have some degree of Mastery over themselves and the slave they enter the M/s relationship with. In some cases these titles may be considered Culturally exclusive, though as with all Status roles, it up to the individual how it is that they embrace their identity. The major difference in M/s vs. D/s is that while a submissive comes under specific conditions, while a slave has, with explicit, informed Consent, limited their conditions to being exceptionally minimal, such as the Master ensuring relative safety and security for the slave, and that while the submissive must choose every day if they are to continue submitting, that a slave instead surrenders only once to the concept that they are happiest when obedient to the/a Master they are presently allowed to serve, and in doing so, embraces Slave mentality. Just as D/s dynamics can vary greatly, so too can M/s dynamics as there is no One true way.

Please note that in both power exchange relationships, neither specifically indicates any level of incorporation of S&M, though such activities may often be part of the relationship, see the Chocolate and peanut butter analogy.

How do I get a Mentor/Protector?

Best practices indicate it is best to negotiate that you do not play with nor have sex with a potential mentor or protector for the same or similar reasons many might want to avoid having sex with a college professor or coworker. A mentor's primary focus is to help guide you into the lifestyle safely by providing you with practical information that will apply to your unique situation while a protector is primarily there to make sure you don't get taken advantage of and perhaps help you negotiate with others until you feel confident that you can do so.

The first question you need to answer about getting a mentor or protector is to ask if having one is right for you. There are some known risks of having such an authority figure in your life in that some predatory people will seek to gain trust under the guise of being a mentor/protector so that they can gain access to vulnerable new people who really can't tell the difference between fact and fiction, nor who is there to genuinely help them and is there to prey upon them.

On the other hand, finding someone you trust that is well versed and experienced in BDSM can be a great way to discover BDSM as a lifestyle as you will have a seasoned guide to help navigate through endless amounts of information and get around potential pitfalls.

It is worth mentioning that mentors and those that have them are often criticized because of the fact that the community as a whole is assumed to be a better teacher and give more perspective to a new person, but some new explorers of BDSM find they prefer to learn under one person that they trust at first and eventually branch out to learn from others once they are more comfortable with the basics and have enough information to make informed decisions about what they want to learn and the risks associated with those activities.

How do I train a slave/How can I train to be a slave?

Training a slave is the process by which a Master explains their expectations of the slave and the slave learns to integrate those expectations into their body, behavior and attitude.

The unfortunate answer is that there is no easy answer to this question for the following reasons:

  • Every Master has different expectations, wants and desires from their slave.
  • Every slave has different motivations and limitations.
  • Every slave responds to stimulus differently.

That said, what a Master needs to train a slave is a clear understanding of what it is that they want from the slave, and the ability to successfully direct the slave to do those things.

What a slave needs to train under a Master is the desire and motivation to be obedient.

That said, there is an entire section on Slave training in the wiki that discusses many useful tools to assist in this process.

What's a good list of protocols?

A protocol is any defined ,enforced code of behavior, and or rituals whether it be within the confines of a particular group,community, or interpersonal dynamic.

The exact protocols of any given two power exchange dynamics are always somewhat different, and in many cases drastically different.

Visit the protocol article to learn more about how to draft and implement protocols and if you need some additional understandings of protocols that other people use as a guiding light consider the following options:

How can I be a good slave?

The short answer is by being obedient to your Master as they will describe to you what it is that they want, however many that ask this question often are trying to find things that they can do to improve their chances of attracting the type of Master that they would want for themselves.

If you fall into the latter part of that statement, consider what kind of Master you would like to serve, what their values are and what kinds of things you think they might be looking for in a slave, and further, what ways makes you happiest to serve? An excellent Master will make the best use of the skills you have and also work to improve you in the areas they desire you to service them.

If you're not sure, pretty much learning any trade that is service oriented is a great way to have something to bring to the table when you are negotiating a relationship with potential Master. Consider reviewing some of the Service Oriented Disciplines and Sexual Disciplines depending on which ways make you happiest to serve.

One of the books in our Store, "Real Service" by Raven Kaldera and Joshua Tenpenny, as well as the slave training articles can be a great bit of help to getting started.

How do I figure out which status role I'm best suited for?

The best answer is to research the different status roles that interest you and experiment with them as you are able. See what feels most comfortable and what you are most drawn to and then enjoy your role. Further, there's no need to rush, you don't have to commit to any sort of role, and more importantly, even if you do, you can always change your mind, as a matter of fact, many folks don't even feel comfortable with any sort of a label at all, or simply prefer to think of themselves as Kinksters. There is no wrong or right answer concerning this potential piece of your identity, just do what makes you happy, chances are you'll find a good niche to fit into when the time is right.

Is it really cheating if...?

Chances are that if you have to ask that question to someone besides your partner, you're not communicating honestly and openly with your partner, and are not being faithful to the relationship you have entered into.

That said, what you and your partner agree to is between you and them. No one else has consented to your relationship and thus has no responsibility for your relationship besides you and your partner, and further, what you and your partner agree to can be a very open or a very closed style of relationship concerning sex, BDSM, other partners, household dynamics, and more. As long as everyone involved is happy, consenting, informed, and honest, there is no exact right or wrong way to do it.

What should I do to prepare to meet my new Master or Mistress for the first time?

Try not to over think the situation too much. If you are meeting a potential Master or Mistress for the first time, if they have very specific things they want, it is hoped they will explain those things to you in advance, especially if you are visiting a professional.

If you are meeting someone on a more casual basis that hasn't stated very specific things they would like, just be respectful and thoughtful. Chances are it won't hurt to be somewhat deferential as well.

Are sadists evil?

Evil is often defined as profoundly immoral and malevolent, and not only are those particular terms entirely subjective, but consider that if all parties have explicit and informed Consent in an S&M experience that they are probably there because they enjoy it. While getting spanked with a paddle may seem immoral and malevolent to some, those that choose engage in this behavior that do so with informed consent will not share those same views. As to whether or not S&M is for you, you'll have to research, discuss and possibly experiment with it some to see if it's something that you enjoy. Futher, not everyone that considers themselves a part of the BDSM community practice S&M specifically, see the Chocolate and peanut butter analogy.

I have something I'm having trouble telling my parter, what should I do?

Consider why you might be having this issue. It might be a low self esteem, a desire not to bother your partner with your wants or needs, feeling that your wants or needs are invalid, a feeling of insecurity about the relationship or outcome of the conversation, a fear of intimacy, an overwhelming sense of being timid, or some other thing.

What's important to remember is that there is no way your partner can help you with the thing in question if you can't communicate with them openly and honestly, and further, trust and relationship enrichment is specifically fueled by communication. Without the opportunity to communicate there is little opportunity to grow together with someone. If that is a priority for you then it's important that you learn tools for good communication and study how relationships work so that you can have more opportunities for enrichment.

Remember that while it can be greatly beneficial to communicate openly with your partner, it can be destructive not to communicate certain things, or to let anxiety build to the point where you communicate them in an undesirable fashion.

One great tool to start is to write out your feelings until you run out of steam, then edit them into something concise at a later time and present them to your partner.

The good news is as you learn more about your partner, and communicate more with them in a healthy fashion, the process generally becomes easier and more rewarding with time and your increased communication skills can come to greatly benefit you in other areas of your life as well.

Consider that if you have a series of relationships that have a common theme of communications issues as a central issue contributing to the relationship ending, and having successful adult relationship(s) is a priority for you, that you may need outside help or professional counseling to help you overcome this issue.

Why do I feel guilty/terrible sometimes after I play/engage in my kink?

This concept is often referred to as Sub drop or Top drop. Many times appropriate Aftercare can help entirely eliminate or at least mitigate negative effects for many people, however, it is possible you are suffering from a form of paraphilia where in which you feel bad and have emotions that interfere with your life based upon doing the things that you enjoy. If this is affecting your life significantly on a consistent basis, consider seeing a mental health professional for counsel.

Do I have to bottom first before topping?

Many traditions in BDSM will insist that you Bottom first before topping, and there is much to be learned from having a wide range of experience with BDSM before becoming a top, however, it is not an absolute necessity by any means. In some cases, some tops that try bottoming for the experience simply report that all they learned was that they hated bottoming, however, if you are open to trying the experience then doing so is a great idea, besides, you might really enjoy it!

The important thing to know if you choose not to bottom is to make absolutely sure you know how to safely and ethically care for those that bottom to you, to include the safety and risks of what you are doing and that you Negotiate fairly with others.

What if my dom tells me to do something illegal?

Best Practices indicate that you should not engage in unlawful activities regardless of your power exchange dynamic. If you choose to break the law, you will still be held liable for the crime and there may be other repercussions for your d-type partner as well such as charges of collusion, conspiracy, accessory, human enslavement and a whole host of other things.

Best practices also indicate it is important to discuss values and vision with anyone that you might submit to so that you know what you are getting into when you enter a power exchange relationship, and that you not enter a power exchange relationship without a great deal of trust that they would not compromise your well being, and instead would work to help you grow into a better person. Be sure to vet and negotiate well with anyone you might enter a power exchange relationship with.

What is the difference between letting a Dominant know what your hard limits are and Topping from the bottom?

Topping from the bottom indicates an action of body, behavior and attitude that indicates someone in an S-type status role is attempting to control a situation they have already Negotiated and given informed Consent to their respective D-type in a Power exchange relationship.

As noted in the Chocolate and peanut butter analogy, an SM scene does not necessarily involve Power exchange dynamics and further, entering into those dynamics must be done with informed Consent, meaning that that you cannot top from the bottom if you have not negotiated and consensually entered into that level of power exchange and it is considered unethical and a consent violation according to [best practices] to presume power exchange where none is previously negotiated.

As such, negotiating your Hard limits for a scene cannot be considered topping from the bottom because you have not yet consented to have the right to state your needs to be taken away, and should you ever consent to such a relationship type involving Consensual non-consent it is hoped that you have spent a great deal of time, effort and energy learning your partner and developing the incredible levels of trust necessary for such a relationship to function in a healthy and responsible manner.

Further, topping from the bottom can't take place without the dom bottoming from the top to begin with.

How do collars work?

Collars within the context of BDSM are traditionally used to denote that a person is submitting in a D/s dynamic. It is noted that not all who wear a collar are an S-type or are owned, however that is the general assumption that is often made. Further, not all who are owned property wear a collar. Other symbols such as cuffs, tattoos, rings or even no physical symbol at all can be used to mark one (or not mark one) as owned.

It is consistent with Best practices to assume that a piece of neck jewelry worn to a BDSM event may be a collar and it is best to ask about the significance of the jewelry in question. It is not considered inappropriate to politely introduce yourself and then simply ask "Excuse me, is that a collar? And if so can you tell me a little bit about it?" as that gives someone who is potentially wearing a collar the opportunity to describe the significance and potential protocols they may have associated with it.

In many cases, collars have been likened to vanilla wedding rings, however, this is not always a safe assumption as many folks ascribe radically different symbolism to their collars and further, many may have specific symbolism for different types of collars. See the official entry on collars for more information.

How do I negotiate a scene?

The answer to that is widely varied based upon a myriad of factors and cirucmstances at play. Consider researching negotiations and practicing at length with a friend before attempting to negotiate, or finding a Protector or Mentor to help you negotiate, negotiate for you. In the instance you adopt a mentor or protector to negotiate on your behalf it is very important that you can trust this person with your safety and well being, that they take that responsibility seriously, and that they understand your unique needs and desires very thoroughly. If you cannot do that comfortably, consider holding off on entering a potentially dangerous activity until you are confident in your ability to negotiate.

Is there such a thing as a no limits slave?

The concept of a literal no limits slave exists only on paper, never in practical reality. In order to ensure that a Slave is No limits the only way to be absolutely sure is to put them to death and have them obey your command to die, however, in the case they were to actually follow through, you now have a dead slave instead of a live one, and a dead slave is nothing but a pile of limits as it can't make the coffee, sweep the floor and many other things a typical slave might be useful for. Because of this, many find those that claim to be a no limits slave to be uneducated on the practical parts of existing in an M/s dynamic.

Are there instead slaves that will do nearly anything that would make some people cringe at the casual whimsical mention of their Master without the slave ever batting an eyelash? Yes, there are, but they are not precisely no limits slaves, and generally those that work so hard to embrace their slavery that they can exist at that level of obedience usually have spent a lot of time doing lots of internal work, know themselves very well and recognize their own limitations, however minor those limits might be.

Is it OK for a Dom to say they are sorry?

Of course! Sometimes, accidents happen and dominants are not perfect. Being a Dominant doesn't automatically exempt a person from making mistakes or having a bad day. An apology shows that the Dominant respects their partner and relationship and that the Dominant accepts and understands that they made a mistake and is seeking to rectify and not repeat the offense.

Not all power exchange relationships will allow that it is acceptable for the D-type to apologize, however. In those cases, that practice is perfectly acceptable if all those that enter into that Power exchange relationship dynamic are consenting and can mitigate conflict resolution without the presence of an apology from the d-type.

Do I have to give control of my finances to my dom/do I have to take control of my sub's finances?

This depends on the negotiated relationship dynamic you have. Make sure when you negotiate you both clearly understand the terms of the agreement, not just concerning finances, but in every relevant area of the power exchange dynamic.

Further, a D-type does not necessarily need to control the finances, nor do the finances need to be mixed. If finances are to be mixed consensually and the D-type is left to make the decision of how they are handled, it's perfectly acceptable for the D-type to decide to delegate the task to the S-type for any reason or no reason at all. It also makes good sense to utilize the s-type well and play to the strengths of each person. If the s-type happens to be an accountant and the D-type doesn't like handling money then it might make most logical sense for them to handle the finances. Being a D-type in a 24/7 Power exchange dynamic is less about knowing how to do everything and controlling every thing all of the time, and more about knowing how to best direct and utilize the resources at hand. The key thing is that every one is consenting, and hopefully happy. If that's the case, it doesn't matter if the D-type cooks dinner and does the dishes while the s-type goes off to work and is the primary source of income for the house.

Are brats really submissives?

This question assumes some level of Role essentialism. In no case does being a brat, or exhibiting bratty behavior necessarily exclude or include an S-type identity. Bratting is often negatively associated with challenging a D-type for control, however, many involved in power exchange relationships enjoy these types of interactions at times and report the activity as fun, or in some cases as essential to ensure the health of their relationships. What is important to understand and discuss with your partner is what level of bratting you and they are comfortable with and enjoy as part of your relationship dynamics.

How come no one respects that I'm a Master/slave/other role?

Often times people that ask this question are very new and are busy seeking external validation rather than living out the role day to day and showing through integrity and actions what their role is. To many, this behavior can come of as needy and insecure. It can turn many folks away from advocating for you and/or helping you embrace your new role.

Further, while you get to decide what it is that you identify as for you, and you may even have your role embraced by a life partner, it is an unreal expectation that you should expect others to know all of the things about you and your partner that you do, and further, that they should have even the same metrics for judging what a Master/slave/other role is. What someone that is in their first few months considers to be a (insert role of choice) is likely going to be a very different idea than what someone who has twenty or more years of experience living as or with such a type of person. Neither opinion is necessarily right or wrong, but each is true for the person in question.

Because so many people are going to have so many different ideas about what (insert role of choice) should be like and you can never please them all, it is best to start working on being secure in your role for yourself, nor expect and presume that others should or even could accept you in your role.

In many cases, for example, the title Master, many folks have spent literally decades living in the lifestyle, completely entrenched in a culture that a brand new person likely couldn't even possibly imagine and they won their title through the community through the giving of much blood, sweat and tears to the concept and the community at large. As you might imagine some of these folks might be a bit sensitive about you potentially assuming the same title and expecting the same level of respect that took them literally decades to earn. Then again, others won't be upset by you assuming that identity at all, but aren't likely to take you all that seriously until you put similar time in to the lifestyle that they did.

The best advice you can have in this situation is to be secure in yourself, accept, expect and respect that others will differ in their views (and rightly so), and if you value someone's opinion, make it a point to learn what you can from them. That's how you'll gradually grow into your role, by learning and doing and learning some more.

Further, any time you go to a new location you are likely to have to build your reputation from scratch and this is true even for top name educators and community leaders, perhaps even especially true for them as they will be held to greater expectations when first entering a new community if they have a pre-existing reputation for greatness.

Is submission/dominance a gift?

The concept of submission or dominance as a gift is reported to be a new concept created in the early 2000's while BDSM, as far as humans integrating sex and pain into their relationships, has been around since humans became humans. While the topic is hotly debated, if submission is a gift, so is dominance and they are exchanged (hence the term power exchange relationships, not power gifting relationships), and it's very important not to feel that your side of the equation in the relationship is somehow more valid or important, or less valid/less important; at least early on. Remember that you can't live out a dominant or submissive role day to day without someone to reciprocate that, perhaps your heart may be in that role, but your day to day actions will be lacking and we are what we do repeatedly.

While utilizing the Five languages of love to reward a partner is a great thing, ultimately the healthiest way to embrace your relationship role is by having internal validation and appreciation for what it is that you do in your relationship dynamic rather than requiring external validation from your partner, so be secure in yourself and don't place unequal value on your roles. It's fine to be humble, it's another thing entirely to be insecure in the value of your self and your role in your relationship, or alternately, having feelings of unwarranted self importance in your role.

While many power exchange relationships may at some point decide to enter into a willful exchange where one role is to be valued in a greater capacity, that arrangement, if done according to best practices, was entered into by two consenting adults, each with equal validity at the time of the negotiated exchange. Further, Best Practices would indicate that such relationships should not be entered into lightly and without a great amount of experience concerning self discovery and discovery of their partner.

My bottom didn't negotiate sex with me before the scene because that was kind of an uncomfortable topic, but when we started playing we had this amazing connection... Is it OK to have sex with them? That's what they are really there for anyway, right?

Best Practices indicate No, it is absolutely not okay. It is not okay to do any activity with them unless you have negotiated it in advance.

Assuming sexual liberties with someone in the middle of scene where those liberties weren't prenegotiated patently unethical and can be likened to feeding a date lots of alcohol and enticing them to have sex with you when they are intoxicated. A Bottom during the course of a scene can suffer severely impaired judgement due to sub space. This practice is a high risk gamble that many will frown upon even if everything ends up working out just fine. Further this kind of behavior can potentially cause you to be the subject of rape allegations, and truthfully, you might hurt someone's feelings in a deep and meaningful way or give them cause to have severe trust issues, thereby damaging them as a person.

If you are thinking sex is something you are potentially interested in as part of your scene, make sure you ask and negotiate the terms of sexual contact before the scene begins.

It is recommended that re-negotiation in order to allow additional actions not previously negotiated should not be done in the middle of a scene, due to the rush of hormones scenes cause.

I saw someone not following best practices concerning BDSM like I read in all the books and now I'm freaking out and hyperventilating into a bag; what should I do?

Here's the real question... was anyone seriously injured? Are they about to be seriously injured in the next five seconds? Is it absolute that there is a Consent violation happening? If none of these questions can be answered with a definite yes, chances are, it has been negotiated and if you're not the authority on call, it's not your job to intervene, however, you can still express a concern to an authority figure (such as a DM) to keep an eye on the scene in question.

Best Practices are great, and you should always follow them, but the reality of the situation is: accidents happen and sometimes not everyone is going to do everything by the book. If you think something is seriously dangerous, a consent violation, or there is an undue risk of injury, report that to an appropriate authority figure in the context of your situation (in many cases you can discreetly signal a Dungeon Monitor, House Dom, Venue Owner, or the top in question and privately indicate the violation and how to correct it). If you feel that the situation has not been resolved, speak to another Dungeon Monitor or House Dom, or go to the Event Staff, Security Staff, or Event Coordinator. If this action does not resolve a serious issue, it is time to leave this particular venue or event not on the grounds that something wrong has happened, but that you aren't comfortable with the situation.

If this occurs and an event or venue appears unsafe to you, chances are, other people will think also so too. Bring it to the attention of the community at large in a way that does not accuse specific individuals or demonize an event as a whole, i.e. instead of naming a specific individual(s), say "I saw what I believed to be a consent violation at x event/space on (date)" and explain the actions undertaken, which you believed to be dangerous and/or a consent violation and how they were (not) handled by authority/staff. Further, make it a point to ask questions when appropriate rather than make accusations. This will present that you are seeking to be informed rather than making baseless accusations and spreading gossip.

I have a question pertaining to BDSM that isn't answered in the BDSM FAQ

Consider taking that question to the talk page of the subject you are asking about and asking your question there, or adding it to the talk page of the BDSM FAQ. Chances are we'll make efforts to include that information somewhere in the wiki if it will benefit others. If you would like immediate answers, consider asking a group that you trust for their opinions.

Where do I go from here?

If you are comfortable with all of the concepts in BDSM 101, consider moving forward by exploring to create your own path of learning!