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Through BDSM Personals:
Thanks to astraea for editing and encouragement.
"How do I meet a partner in the scene?" I think it is better to ask, "How do I meet the RIGHT partner?". I often find those new to the scene settling for the first kinky person to come their way. This can spell disaster, or in a rare case or two it could work. Take your time, and be yourself. Did I say be yourself? I am drawing on my experience working at alt.com for this section. And trust me on this one, I have looked at more than one ad.
Choosing an online service:
Alt.com (BDSM Personals) , while it may have flaws is the biggest and is the place you will most likely meet the right partner. It is set up to match compatibilities in play preferences, BDSM philosophies and vanilla activities. Most folks in the scene have an ad there... as do a lot of idiots (those looking for easy sex and fakes promoting websites), so be selective. The membership is free, and premium if you want more of their services. Alt.com has recently purchased Bondage.com, and here youwill find much more of a community.
Now this might sound cheesy here, but for those who want to take the extra step in insuring their safety, you have the option of only dating those who are premium members. Each profile shows whether that person is a Gold, Silver, or Standard member. This isn't saying that those who pay are any better than those who don't, it says they can be traced by the company through their billing and credit card information should, heaven forbid, something bad happens. It is just a thought.
Writing A Personal Ad:
What you say is important. Here is your chance to say who you are.
Title: This is the first thing people look at. Try to say exactly who you are and what you are looking for in a 10 words or less. Try not to mispell words in the title, or use Internet abreviations like R U, or write in all capitals letters, those are major turn offs to folks. Be creative!
The Ad Body: Be yourself. Be direct. Be human. No one expects you to be Tom Clancy in writing an ad, but they do expect honesty and openess. Stick to the facts, write just like you were talking to someone and I guarantee you will get some responses. Let potential partners know what you are looking for. Let them know what kinks you have and what turns you on.
Take time to fill out all the added features. BDSM Fundementals, Sexual Likes and Dislikes, and the Vanilla stuff. If someone is interested, they read all this stuff! Trust me on this one.
Here are a couple of biggies. Don't lie about your weight or marital status. Okay, well you can fudge a bit on the weight, but not on being married. The truth is going to come out one way or the other.
Remember, this is your chance to tell the world who your ideal person is and who you are. Take advantage of it.
P.S. Check for typos!
Photos: Most ads with photos get greater attention. But for gawd's sake please don't put a picture of your penis in an ad unless it is spectacular. Most women would like to see a nice photo of your face. Trust me on this one guys. Same goes for women, a sexy photo says a lot more than a vulgar one. Well maybe not, but at least you will keep your self respect and meet a partner who is more interested in you as a person. Save the naked ones for personal mail once you start a dialog.
Answering A Personal Ad:
Do you know what to ask a potential partner? Or how to write to a potential partner? Take your time and try to communicate on a human level at first. While you are looking for that perfect dominant or submissive, it is always best to know the person first.
That being said, when you are browsing the ads and come across one you find interesting, write to the person as you would be writing to a friend. If you come off too dominant or too submissive you run the chance of scaring a great partner off. Keep in reality, without the fantasy. Just be yourself. "On your knees Bitch" or "how may this slave serve you Master" won't get you too far with those seriously looking. Once again, if there is a connection, there will be plenty of time later for BDSM.
Also, and this is a huge one, make sure you read the ads completely and make sure you have some things in common before answering an ad. Those looking for heavy pain will put that on their profiles, and those who don't won't be a good match for a sadist, so I don't see the point of even contacting this person. A lot do. Don't be afraid to answer a mail where there is no match by telling that person thank you, but I don't think we are compatable. There are lots of folks you can find something in common with, so don't get carried away and answer every ad you see. Be selective.
Meeting A Partner From A Personal Ad:
Okay so only two women were killed by a serial killer compared to 1,000's of success stories. That is two too many. Be smart and use your common sense. I am not going to tell you never to play on a first meeting, because that is kind of unrealistic, it happens. BUT I am going to tell you to read all the safety advice on this website and go out with it in the back of your head.
I always tell people to meet for the first time at a BDSM event after exchanging a few emails. If they are serious about this lifestyle they will have no problem with this. If they won't, this is a red flag to me. If I am serious about a partner, I want to see how they react socially with others in the scene. But that is just me. I also think you can tell just as much about a person on how they treat a waiter or waitress in a crowded restaurant.
Always, always, always meet publically. Here a great article on first time meetings: Online/Offline BDSM Safety. Please read it.
If you are lucky enough to live in an area where there is private dungeon space to rent, by all means make this the first time play space. If not, use your common sense and the tools provided in the D/s Safety section.
One point I really want to stress here is to meet that person on a human level. If things click you can move on to the dominant and submissive persons. Just be yourself at first and if this means you are more comfortable in jeans, wear them. It is you afterall.
If you decide to move the relationship to play, set the ground rules before you even step outside that door. You can step them up a notch as the relationship grows, but in the beginning it is a 50/50 negotiation.
Discuss what activities interest you and take it from there. Here is a link to Tammad Ramallia's Play Partner Check List. Take it with the person you are going to be with. It is very insightful and fun.
Here is a question that was posed on our mail list about play parties. It can work for first time play also:
Q. How do you accomplish this at a play party if you've never met the Dom before? Especially for me as a newcomer, I want to be sure we understand each other before beginning anything.
A. Never play hard. Never play if you are not comfortable with this person. Let him know your experience level. Let's say you want to experience a flogging and you have never done it before. Tell him exactly that. If you do not want any marks left, let that be known. If you just want to feel the flogger on your bottom and not your shoulders, tell him that. Always play with a safeword, "mercy" works fine in a play scenario.
It is okay to be a big wimp at a play party. It is also okay to be in a 50/50 partnership during this playtime. It is NOT topping from below because this is not your dominant, this is someone you are play scening with. This is a hard one for most submissives because we want to give up control. That comes later. 50/50 is a fine way to start. Make sure you stick to what has been agreed on the first time you play. If you want more, you can both discuss that afterwards. Don't be shy. Discuss toys and impliments. If it is a spanking, you can say Over The Knee, over my panties, my panties can be pulled up, over the cheeks you can or cannot pull them down, my bottom can be pink, red, or crimson (you choose). Talk about marks that may or may not be left. Yes to paddles, no to paddles, yes to a cane, no to a cane. One thing I recently learned from some players is that with the cane you can specify a number, like 3, 4, 5 and they are to mean every third, fourth or fifth stroke can be hard.
Breast play, you have the same options. Clamps, start out with loose tension, move slowly to more, give a time limit, like you can only take them for a few minutes. Save the heavier play for down the road, i.e. needles (no, I am not into those).
But most importantly ask the folks there about this person. They will know who the experienced players are and will tell you. Some of these folks have known each other for years. Play partners were new to me and I built a really wonderful relationship with one by starting out slow with the play, and friendly vanilla outings to movies and concerts. Some while the chemistry may be there it doesn't click on a D/s level, and others well there is no limit where you can go.
Meeting In Chatrooms and Online BDSM:
It can work if you have the will. It can work if you are both honest. The communication is great. You will often be able to communicate things through a computer that you could never say in real life. Do I believe folks can truly submit and dominate online? Yes. Do I believe you can love online? Yes.
The danger of online relationships, is that partners tend to "disappear".
Use your wisdom.
Local Groups Mailing Lists:
A lot of local BDSM and Munch groups have mailing lists where members converse. This is a good place to get the feel for the group. You can find these for your local area at: BDSM EMail Lists. They are easy to join.
© KttN 2002