Help! I’m New To Kink!

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Mx Kinky Karin,

I have a friend who is super new to kink and is curious about exploring and knowing what’s out there. Do you have a resource like a book or website that you would recommend? She is particularly interested in the aspect of kink dealing with sensuality and connection between partners.

~ A Friendly Connector, NM

Yesterday I got two messages pretty much like this one, and there have been a bunch more dotting my inbox recently. People who are new to kink in general, or have recently moved to a new town and are interested in finding other kinksters safely have been hitting me up for the DL. Here are some thoughts and advice I have on the subject:

Being Kinky is Patriotic! Freedom of speech, freedom over my body, and freedom to celebrate what us humanimals are capable of… Photo by Rudy Aguilar (cropped for anonymity by me)

Let’s talk general resources: First off I’ll offer that this very website you’re reading is a great place to rummage around on and gather a pretty varied cross section of what’s going on in the world of kink. I write about a number of different areas of the kink and fetish scenes from varied points of view. Amongst these articles you’ll find “how to” instructions, interviews and writings by kinky guest writers, information about protocols and interpersonal dynamics, and a number of referrals for books, websites, groups, and online teaching resources… and sometimes I even get poetic on the subject.

Moving outside of these blog walls, my favorite online teaching resource is the Kink Academy website. Seriously. They are a fabulous collective of teachers and bloggers and organizers and pro-kinksters from all over the country who make videos and write articles about how to safely learn many different kinky skills. I’ve met a number of these instructors at kinky conventions throughout the years, and even had the opportunity to play with some of them. Every time I’ve been around one of the instructors in this crowd I’ve been incredibly inspired and impressed with their level of professionalism, their care for students and safety, and their generous dispositions. These are people who greatly inspire my own kink geekery! If you do decide to hop on board and get a subscription to their website, please use the link I’ve provided and I’ll get a referral bonus. I wouldn’t be part of their referral program if I didn’t really love what they are doing and how they are doing it — and this site gets gold stars above and beyond simple lovely feelings.

If you’re looking for some good book resources, here are a selection of the articles I’ve written with book links. I am a book junkie and used to be the book buyer for a sexuality boutique, so while you’ll see me reference books in a bunch of my articles, these ones are loaded with suggestions:

Let’s talk being a newbie and/or looking for a community: I think Fetlife can be a great place to connect into. I think of it like a facebook for kinky people of all stripes. It can be overwhelming at first for someone who hasn’t been exposed to a lot, or isn’t used to graphic displays of sexuality and depictions of BDSM. The first time I created an account to check it out, I actually signed up, looked around, got overwhelmed, and deleted my account. The people at Fetlife were really sweet about it and let me know that when I was ready to come back, they’d be there for me. I really appreciated that open invitation, and it didn’t take me long to realize I was ready to take that step and start again. I use FetLife to find events I can connect with other kinksters through, and it’s also great for reading up on people’s ideas about protocols and behavior guidelines in various situations, there are thousands of groups you can snoop around on or join and learn through, and there are entire groups specifically aimed at newbies too — even newbies in your geographical area! One of the things Fetlife does pretty well is highlight what’s happening in local areas, so if you search your hometown it shouldn’t take you long to find a nearby “munch”, or a club night, movie night, or any other number of other gatherings. Many publicly announced gatherings which take place in a private residence or club will require membership or for you to be vetted, before you are given the address. This is to keep the hosting group and their community safe from unknown outsiders, and to keep you safe as a newbie looking for places to play. The vetting process ensures that responsible (seeming) people who understand and agree to the protocols of the event are welcomed in. The vetting process gives the host and the newbie an opportunity to check one another out in a safe environment. If you feel weird about someone vetting you, listen to that, and don’t go to the event. Beware events that invite just anyone to show up without a vetting process in place if they’re in a hotel, private residence, or other non-public space — especially if they openly advertise sex and BDSM activities. Munches are great vetting opportunities where you can meet people who (after you’ve gotten to know one another), might also vouch for you at an event where you’d like to be vetted into. Munches are meet-ups for kinky people to meet each other in a public space. Usually they happen regularly and are often at bars or family restaurants where people are dressed vanilla and no play is expected or tolerated. There may or may not be a private meet-up after some munches so that people who are getting along can talk more in depth or as a group in a more private location. Often people who take on the task of vetting interviews for their community or group will use munches as a safe and easy place to do interviews.

Learn, Practice, Meet Others, Have Experiences: Conventions are so fun! If you can find them in your area and afford the ticket price and hotel fees, I highly recommend going. Conventions are great to take classes at and meet others in your area and beyond who you share interests with, and they can provide a beautiful sense of community as well. Conventions can be a great opportunity to play, as they’ll sometimes have a dungeon space available or play parties planned. They also often host a vendor area, so if you’re looking to stock your toybag with quality kink toys, conventions are a great place to shop.

References are for more than job opportunities: Vetting new play pals is important, so have references and expect references! The longer you’re in “the scene” the more opportunities you’ll have to gain references. References can be gotten from people you’ve played with (or who have seen you play) who are willing to vouch for you as a responsible and healthy play partner. When you’re playing with someone new, ask them to provide you with the names of people you can contact as a reference, and then actually follow up! When you provide someone with a reference make sure that person has agreed to be one for you. It is unsettling to have a stranger inquiring about your personal experiences with another person if you aren’t expecting it, and as most of us in the Kink/BDSM scene highly respect one another’s privacy and safety, it puts an unsuspecting or unprepared reference in an awkward position. Having references who are agreeing to reference on your behalf also ensures you’ll get a good review — imagine sharing someone’s name without their permission or expectation and that person deciding to take the opportunity to talk about how irresponsible or awful you are. Even if someone has mentioned they’ll be a reference for you in the past, it’s polite to let them know you’ve used that offering recently and to potentially expect an inquiry. Even better, ask your reference if they prefer you to share their name and profile link with your potential new playmate, if they would rather be the one reaching out on your behalf, or if they would rather just submit a blurb about you for your use. I have references who prefer each of these methods in my back pocket and politely choose to defer to each individual’s preferences. Not everyone is comfortable being approached by a stranger or has the time to reach out and write to a stranger on my behalf.

In general I think the best way to learn, and have kinky doors open up for you is: do your research, be polite, and ask questions to the people you find who are involved in kinky community events. Watch and listen first, and then ask questions! As you do your research, you’ll notice most newbie questions have been answered a million times, and if you do just a little bit of reading on forum FAQs you won’t end up on the eye-rolling end of those famous “we already answered that question” referral links.

Friends! It’s great to find a few people you trust to explore this kinky new world with too. Have friends, have each other’s backs, and share information with one another as you find it. Always trust your gut and listen to any red flag that rears its head. Use the buddy system and make sure someone always knows where you’re going, with whom, and at what time you’re expected to check back with them when you’re meeting up or playing with someone(s) new. Meet new people in public before you go anywhere private, and leave emergency information and your playmate’s contact info with a friend. I’m not going to harp on the dangers of the world, but they’re real and you should be prepared to face negative possibilities. If you aren’t ready to advocate for yourself by talking to trusted friends about what you’re up to, you probably aren’t ready to play out your fantasies with a potentially dangerous strange person(s). Safety first! Speaking of safety, learn about safe words and use them. Learn about healthy negotiation practices, and be really clear with your play partners about what you expect out of a scene. Know what your playmate wants out of the scene too and only agree to what you’re comfortable with. You always have the right to stop a scene cold in its tracks if you need or want to, and any healthy playmate will respect your wishes on that. Communicate clearly what your non-negotiable boundaries are, and everyone playing should disclose what physical, health (including psychological and emotional), and sexual information is relevant to your play before entering into a scene. Having success in the BDSM world is like anything worth working for: be a good citizen, show up to open community gatherings and know your neighbors — you’re much more likely to have a friendly neighborhood and good experiences around town.

Be Safe, and Play On My Friends,
~ Karin

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~Thank you.

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