I was lucky when it came to discovering kink. There was almost no separation between my first kiss and my awareness of the kink community. By the time I heard Master and Servant by Depeche Mode in 1986 (I was 12), I had an inherent knowledge of what they were talking about and it seemed normal and right to me.
Not everyone is that lucky. Most people I meet discover kink long after they discover sexuality. There is often a period of guilt or disgust about their own desires. Many people feel isolated or like they are perverted and wrong. If people are lucky enough to find the kink community, there is a period of newbie frenzy followed by a period of feeling like you are the greatest expert ever about kink with your year of experience.
Now that I speak and write openly about kink I get asked a lot about what I wish I knew when I found kink. I can’t really answer that from a personal perspective because of my discovery and history. However, I know what I would tell people discovering kink later in their sexual development.
There are thousands of ways to do kink.
The song from American Dad is true: Everybody has a kink. Kink comes in a huge range of flavors. The generic vision of kink generally includes bondage and impact play. It is much more diverse than that. Some people only engage in the psychological structure of a D/s relationship. Some people like bondage or impact. Some people enjoy humiliation. Some people enjoy knife, fire or electric play. Some people are high protocol some are not. Some people love foot worship.
There is no one “right” way to do kink. This is a world where negotiation and exploration mark the journey. People change over time. People discover what they like and what they hate. People change roles, partners and play.
If you are interested in kink, you should be open to trying new things. You also should spend some time discovering what is okay and not okay with you. You have a right to your boundaries. Nobody gets to make you do something that is not okay with you. Likewise, you have a right to ask to try different things and find out about your likes and dislikes. If someone tells you there is only one way to do kink or that you must conform to their version, it should be a red flag for you.
Everyone has an opinion, but there are some core values to keep in mind.
Anyone involved in kink for any period of time will be happy to tell you their opinion about what is right and wrong about kink. Regardless of who you talk too, there are a few things that underlie most kinkster’s values.
Respect is key. Kink and BDSM rest on respecting people. Even if you are a slave and into humiliation play, respect still lies at the heart of the relationship. Your partner should respect you. You should respect your partner. If the respect is not there, you are headed down a dangerous relationship road.
Boundaries are important and should be respected. It is important to have boundaries. Saying you are into “everything” and that you have no boundaries opens you up to abuse and in reality, no one is okay with every permutation of kink. If your partner does not respect your boundaries, it is an abusive relationship. Likewise, if you fail to respect your partner’s boundaries you are being abusive.
There is a difference between hurt and harm. A lot of kinky people like some form of pain. There is a difference between hurt and harm. Kinky people into pain will enjoy getting hurt in some form. Some people like impact, some like needles, some like anal stretching, some like knives. The pain in these situations is agreed upon and inflicted in ways that people like. Harm means you are hurt in a bad way. If you do not want marks and your partner insist on marking you during a scene, that is harm. If you hate fisting and your partner fists you, that is harm. If you enjoy impact but your partner is unskilled and delivers a kidney punch, that is harm.
D/s and BDSM is not abuse. However, kinky people can be abusive partners. BDSM and kink is marked by negotiation, boundaries and respect. Yes, there may be hitting, or humiliation, or control, but that is agreed upon and desired. Abuse can have control, humiliation and hitting, but it is not desired, it is done without respect, there are no boundaries. People new to kink can have a hard time distinguishing these guidelines.
If you have a question if you are in bdsm or abuse, ask yourself, do you feel good after engaging with your partner in a specific type of scene? Was it something you desired? Did your partner keep your needs and limits in mind? If you answer no, its abuse.
There are warning signs about abusive and bad relationships in D/s and BDSM.
Your partner insists on isolating you. Some partners will tell you not to seek out friendships with other kinksters and prevent you from engaging with support and social groups of kinksters. They insist their version of kink is the only right way. This should send you running.
Your partner does not respect boundaries. If you have been clear about your boundaries (e.g., don’t mark me, I am never okay with encasement) and your partner ignores these boundaries, you are in an abusive relationship. If your partner ignores your safe word, this is never ok.
Someone wants to meet you as a play partner but not in public. If someone insists on a first meet at a private location, don’t go. You don’t control the location and it makes you super vulnerable. There is nothing wrong with insisting you meet for a cup of coffee before agreeing to play.
People in the kink community warn you about someone. This community is big on reputation and vetting. If someone in the community regularly violates community standards, such as violating safe words or being abusive, other kinky folks can tell you about them. Ask around about partners. It is acceptable to ask people what they think of someone. You get critical information about the potential partner.
No, you don’t know everything.