Your First Year
How to not Really Screw Up Your First Year
1. Love Yourself
If your momma dropped you as a child and you are hoping that an adventure into the kink community will fix everything. Um it won't. Find peace within and then seek adventures. If your soul is empty this community will not be a good place for you. Just be yourself.
2. Pay it Forward
Through your journey hopefully you will meet some incredible people and enjoy wonderful experiences. Let the world catch you "Paying It Forward." Even in your first year find ways to give back. Hint: The best way to attract good people is to be good people. Nouveau is my great experiment in paying it forward. I cannot keep up. I get back more love than I can ever give away. Volunteer, mentor, or help at a club or munch.
3. Pay Yourself First
You will be required to submit or lead others in a very intimate journey. Never let that submission or leadership take you away from your family, your hobbies, your bank account, your career, or your passions. If you loved skydiving before the journey then jump often. Any Top that is worth anything will want their bottom to pursue passions and hobbies that make them a stronger person and a better bottom.
4. Never Defy Gravity
Look for people that pay their taxes; that drive on the right side of the road and generally have a peaceful and productive life. Jokingly I refer to this as people that appreciate the natural order of things like gravity and common sense. Avoid the couch surfers, those that cannot manage their own life, and those that believe they can defy gravity.
5. Real World Context is King
A virtual or online profile is almost meaningless at first. Meet people that have a meaningful real world connection to the community. I call it “Context.” You want to meet and hang out with people that have paid their dues to the real world community especially your first year. Your first friend on FetLife should be the wise person you met at a local munch not the guy who hit on you 30 minutes after you joined FetLife.
FetLife is full of rich event ideas that are somewhat vanilla. Get a friend and go to a munch. (Munch is code for dinner or lunch party in a public restaurant) I see events on FetLife for book clubs, naked yoga, high tea. Those are somewhat vanilla events where you can start to cross over from vanilla to kink.
Your number one goal should be to build the greatest network of friends that are active in the real life community. Ignore almost everything you read on FetLife profiles at first. Ignore every unsolicited email. What you need to develop quickly is friends that are active and successful in the real life community; people that hang out at the club or pony play events, or high tea, or naked yoga, or the book club. You can explore orgies, caning, or fire play later. Friend the leader of the event. Dungeon Monitors are almost always great first friends. And then meet their friends.
6. How to have a Safe First Real World Meeting?
When you meet for the first time always meet in a public place. Never agree to meet someone at their home, their car, or a park for the first outing. My wife and I never play on the first date.
Bring a friend. They can sit at the table with you or across the room. Or if you go alone have a safe call. A safe call is a pre-arranged call with a friend that knows: who you are meeting, where you are meeting, and when you are going home. During the course of the evening you should call your safe call usually as your date arrives, as you leave, and once you are safely home. Let the person you are meeting know about your safe calls. I personally love it when someone tells me they are making a safe call. I always offer to talk to their safe call and I offer my real first and last name. Great tops support and love safe calls.
Never give out your real cell phone number until you know someone well. You would be amazed at how much data is available by a reverse look up of a phone number tied to you name.
Set up a Google Voice Account with a new phone number. Only give out the Google number and have Google forward all your voice mail. Note make sure the google account is not associated with your real name.
Never use your name or a portion of your name in setting up your FetLife or Google accounts.
I know this sounds harsh or paranoid but remember this is not like the vanilla world where you meet someone at work or church. Until there is “context” be very careful. Once you establish that someone is respected in the community you can rest a bit easier.
7. Always Wear a Condom
Men man up. Women carry one and insist. There is nothing more loving than a woman that hands you a condom, or a dental dam. Know the risk of exchanging fluids. It is not very romantic when you think about it that way but think about it just that way.
8. My “Three Year Rule:”
I recommend that a new top or bottom wait at least three years and have at least one meaningful D/s relationship before getting involved with extreme Power Exchange or “Edge Play.” I know it is your first year and everything seems extreme. But at the outer end of the Power Exchange continuum there are some pretty deep concepts that can be rewarding for some people. Don’t start there. Get a few years under your belt before doing that which is at the edge of free and willing consent. Here are a few of the things you should avoid for the first few years: (by the way I personally avoid most of the items on this list and I have been in the community for over 20 years)
Eventually you may want to try after three years
Giving up safe words
Giving up any definition of boundaries or practices that are off limits in order to do “Edge Play”
These are not good practices and should be avoided
Give access to your personal finance, bank accounts, savings and personal property
Forwarding your payroll check to another person
Quick deeding your home or car to someone else
Making purchases that dramatically exceed your previous lifestyle
Any practice or behavior that would jeopardize your career or ability to support yourself
Any practice or behavior that would isolate or separate yourself from your friends or family
Surrender can be powerfully intoxicating for a bottom. Start slow and add new kinks as you grow in experience. I have trained and collared several women. I never ask for their bank accounts. I never restrict them from friends or family. And I always insist that they support themselves financially so they do not feel trapped in the D/s relationship.
9. The Bottom has all the Power
This is by far the most controversial item on my list. Subs especially write to complain that I have it absolutely wrong. As a gentleman raised in the south Power Exchange was a difficult concept for me to understand at first. It wasn't until I realized that submission and surrender is a loan given and never taken; that I could really explore my kink.
Also keep in mind this article is a list to help chart your first year. More seasoned veterans may surrender their safe words or boundaries. No doubt about it the lines can become blurry as to the nature of the gift when expressed by more advanced play. But for your first year this simple truth is critical to a great start - Submission is a gift. It is this gift that separates us from the act of rape, torture, and kidnapping. The Bottom has all the power and they loan that gift to another for a moment, a scene, a month or a lifetime. But it is a loan and it can be taken back at any time.
Anybody that demands that you surrender your gift or tries to manipulate you into giving away your gift in your first year is not good for you. Great tops wait for the gift to be surrendered. Believe me you should wait for a great top. There are 4 women for every man in the community and there are two tops for every bottom in the community. Your search for a top may be very frustrating but the odds are in your favor. Wait for great.
10. Safe Words are Our Friends
You are playing in a world where some give up control and others take control. Safe words are your super magic way to stop any scene. It may sound weird but screaming or saying no or crying may not be considered signs we should stop. (don't panic eventually this will make sense.) Safe words are how a bottom takes back their gift. Use simple words like Red and Yellow.
Red should mean full immediate stop. Dress. Move to a safe neutral place and talk.
Yellow means warning. It means you need help.
If you are going to be gagged agree to hold something in your hand. Releasing the object would be the same as Red and the scene should be stopped.
Make sure anyone you play with knows the safe words and agrees to honor them well before any play starts.
11. Boundaries and Hard Limits
There is a Chinese proverb: "Within any boundary there are an infinite number of possibilities." A boundary is a “Hard Limit.” It is something you do NOT want to try. There are many fetish lists online. Read them. Know what you are interested in trying and what offends you. Be candid and discuss those boundaries before you play with anyone. Boundaries never bother me. Be very afraid of anyone that says the do not have any boundaries.
Some people enjoy “Edge Play.” Edge play is the art of pushing the edges of your boundaries. It can be very rewarding but I recommend that for your first year that you stay away from Edge Play and those that want to constantly push your boundaries. Play within your boundaries the first year. If you are a true Kinkster there will be many fantasies to explore safely within your boundaries.
These are your boundaries not the other person’s desires. They are your hard limits. Know them. Respect them.
12. When You Decide to Play – NEGOTIATE the Scene.
As the bottom you may have found someone you respect and you just want to surrender. Good for you but in your first year you should still negotiate any scene. What is a negotiation? It is nothing more than a discussion between a top and a bottom about what will happen during a scene or play session. The negotiation is concluded before play starts. And once you start a scene you never renegotiate the terms of the scene.
When you describe what you want avoid open-ended statements like: “I like anything but fire play.” That is way too broad of a statement. You should say something like: “I want to be spanked on my ass with your bare hand.” That statement is very specific.
Like the condom discussion negotiation can be somewhat of a buzz kill. Just remember this is advanced human relationship here. I have seen every nerve in a woman’s body stand on end as she experienced the most powerful orgasm of her life tied to a wall. And I have seen a scene go from great to tragedy in less than 10 seconds.
Negotiate or talk upfront about your expectations for play. You should discuss and answer any questions you may have before play starts. Here are just a few of the things you should address. Will there be sex involved? If so agree to wear a condom. What are the safe words? Will there be nudity? A little or a lot. State the specific range of activities you want to explore. List any and all Hard Limits you have. (If during your first couple of scenes you find someone pushing against your hard limits just call red. You are probably playing with the wrong person.) Define a time limit. For your first scene I recommend 30 minutes. Your goal is not to have the most excellent moment in the history of kink. Your goal should be a great safe experience that ends on an up note. At 30 minutes you are going to end wanting more but believe me that is much better than letting a scene go one minute longer than it should have.
13. What about an Open Relationship or Poly?
Poly starts with the belief that a person can love more than one person and that the sum total of those relationships is better for everyone than monogamy. I am in an open poly relationship and it has taken me years to find the right balance. And yes it is worth it. If you are in a relationship with a committed partner and you decide to include others then discuss it in great detail. Be transparent with your partner. If you are not comfortable with your partners play then you have to discuss it openly. Once you are able to unwind centuries of western thinking poly can be very rewarding. But it does require a change to a new vocabulary. Go slow and move together as a couple, triad, or whatever your poly involves. We could do a whole list just on Poly but here are some of the things you should consider:
Communication - What level of detail is required? On one end there is don’t ask don’t tell. And on the other end there is no play unless we all play together. Define what is right for you and stick with it.
Be very clear on condoms and safe sex when playing with other partners.
Never ever say anything bad about your other partners to create a point of instability
Never remain involved with anyone that is undermining the other relationships
If it is not working for you be honest. Discuss. Maybe the solution is as simple as changing your approach but do not go on doing something that is making you miserable. It should be rewarding for all involved.
14. Don't Gossip
Praise in public. Rebuke in private. If you have something bad to say do it directly between you and the other person involved. Never get caught talking bad about others in public OR ON FETLIFE. Praise others often and publicly.
Power Exchange is advanced human relationships. You are going to be in intimate relationships that involve sex or power exchange or both. You will be in uncharted territory. Along the way you will meet some people that just are not right for you. Have the courage to take the bad news and avoid the temptation to smear the other person’s reputation because you feel rejected. Even if they really did you wrong avoid using social media as retribution. It always makes you look worse that the stories you tell.
15. Drama - Ain't gonna start none. Ain't gonna be none
Drama is the lack of integrity and courage. Candidly if you don't get the first 12 items in this list your experience in the community will be full of drama and gossip. Being the good person in the midst of adversity requires you to love and lead.
Are you acting to be the center of attention? Are you acting out because you are afraid to be rejected or alone? Are you making noise because you can't stand the silence? Are you seeking revenge? You are drama. Will Smith said it best: "Ain't gonna start none. Ain't gonna be none."
Drama will attract the wrong type of person and repel the very best in the community. Even if the drama is not directed towards me when I see others acting out I make a note and they are not invited to the next party or event. In the short term drama may give the appearance of attracting attention but your actions are like a beacon to the respectable saying: “Stay away from me.”
I hope this helps. Let me know about your adventures. I have been doing this for over 20 years and I still follow almost everything in the list above. The list has served me well. I really hope you have a wonderful journey.