Kinky Dating Introduction – Know Yourself

Welcome to Part One of the Kinky Dating Series!

As the introductory post in this series, we will discuss a number of different topics, to help you get started on your way to kinky dating bliss. This post will cover:

  • Figuring out your identity in the BDSM world
  • What do you have to offer (and how to improve that list)
  • What are you looking for in a partner

In later posts, we will take an in-depth look at various aspects of kinky dating, including profiles on kink and dating websites, building effective personal ads, ways to meet partners, how to be appealing as a Dom/sub/etc and tips on kinky dating safety. 

Check out the other Kinky Dating posts; Creating a Kinky Profile, Creating a Kinky Personal Ad, Writing a Kinky Message, Kinky Dating Safety, and Scams & Red Flags in Kinky Dating 

Your identity in the world of kink

While it may sound pretty straightforward, knowing who you are in the kink world can be a bit more tricky than just slapping a label on yourself. There are many categories that you can place yourself into, and many things that you can decide are hard limits – knowing these things, or at least having a general idea about them is pretty important before you start looking for a partner. Let’s look at a few of these things and the ways you can decide what’s right for you (even if you don’t have any direct BDSM experience).

Monogamy vs Polyamory vs Open Relationships

The world of BDSM is full of people who don’t conform to ‘normal’ sexual practices, so it makes sense that they would be more open to the idea of alternative relationship styles. While we won’t go into long explanations of the various styles of relationships, let’s take a look at some of the more common types you will see in the BDSM community and how to figure out which is right for you.

  • kinky dating introduction monogamyMonogamy is the sort of ‘default’ relationship style in the vanilla (non-kinky) world. Relationships are expected to be between two people, who only have sexual contact with each other. They don’t date or have sex with people outside of their relationship.
  • Many people in the kink world find that monogamous relationships are what they are looking for, however, monogamy can mean different things to different people. While the vast majority will not engage in sexual contact with other people outside of the relationship, how do you feel about non-sexual play? Would you be okay with your partner doing an impact scene with someone else? Rope? What about play that could be in a sexual context but not directly sexual, like chastity play?
  • If you are okay with non-sexual play outside of the relationship, is it casual play? Regular play partners? Just with mutually agreed upon friends? Pick up play without prior permission (like at a party)?
  • There are many variations and approaches to monogamy that you should take into consideration before you look for a partner. While it may seem like all the kinky people are in open or poly relationships, there are many people out there who are looking for or okay with having a monogamous relationship. You just have to be sure to talk about it, because there isn’t a ‘default’ relationship style when it comes to kinky dating!
  • Polyamory is a popular relationship style in the BDSM community and something you will come across regularly in kinky dating. Poly arrangements can take on a number of different styles, so it’s important to make sure that you know what you would be open to and what you need. Many people feel that they are ‘wired’ to be poly and that mono relationships leave them feeling trapped or stifled. If you’re one of these people, it’s best to be upfront about it and make having a poly relationship of some sort a must.kinky dating introduction know yourself polyamory
  • Polyamory refers to having multiple relationship partners. This can be realized in a number of different ways; you can have a poly family/group, where everyone is in a relationship with each other (triads are a popular version of this style); you can have a more general poly arrangement, where partners are welcome to have other partners who aren’t all romantically linked; there are also arrangements where one person has multiple relationships and the other doesn’t (most often when a Dominant has multiple submissive partners, but the submissives are only allowed to date that one Dominant). There are lots of other ways to do poly, and the details will all be different for different people.
  • Again, a discussion is the most important thing here. Know what you’re looking for so that you can communicate that to your potential partners.
  • An open relationship can be similar to polyamory, in that partners are allowed to see other people. In open relationships, the expectation is that contacts outside the relationship will be more casual – not additional relationships.
  • Activities like swinging would most likely fall into this category, where partners have sexual relations with others who may be friends or strangers, but no romantic involvement. Partners may prefer to date or hook up on their own, but again, the idea is that it’s just about sex (or play) without ‘strings’ attached.
  • Of course, everyone has their own ideas about what an open relationship entails, so communication is key, as in all aspects of kinky dating!

Kinky Orientation

Kinky orientation can be a fluid thing or you can select a role when you start and stick with it – neither approach is wrong as long as it works for you! There is an ever-expanding list of roles that it’s possible to take, but here we will limit our discussion to the basics. Many of the additional identities build off of these ones or exist in addition to them (so you could be a Dominant little or a switch puppy, as examples). Knowing what role you prefer is essential to finding a partner who complements it in the kinky dating world. While relationships do occur between two Dominants or two submissives, many people prefer to have a partner in the complementary role, since BDSM is often sexually or romantically linked. Even switches, who may prefer one role over the other may want to find a partner who is most comfortable in a complementary role since some do not enjoy switching roles with the same person (or are happy to occupy one role for the duration of a relationship).

  • Dominant/Top
    • A Dominant is a person who enjoys having authority in a relationship, whether it’s bedroom only, 24/7 or TPE (total power exchange). If you identify as Dominant, you should sort out whether you are into bedroom scenes, or if you would like to work toward a 24/7 style relationship (since they usually don’t happen right off the bat).
  • If you identify as a Top, a person who gives sensation to a partner or is the active party in SM play, (the person doing the flogging or tying someone up), this is also important to know. One can be a Top without being a Dominant, and you should have an idea of whether you’re into power exchange or not.
  • Submissive/bottom
    • A submissive is the person who enjoys giving up authority in a relationship. This can again be in the bedroom only, or in 24/7 or TPE situations. Knowing how often and how much authority you would like to surrender is important to know going into a dating situation.
  • Bottoms are the people who receive sensation or are the passive party in an SM situation, (the person being flogged or tied up). Again, it is possible to bottom for a scene without submitting, although the two often go together.
  • Switch
    • A switch is a person who enjoys both Dominance and submission, or Topping and bottoming. They may enjoy these things with the same person or with different people. You should have an idea of whether you are into switching roles with one person or having multiple partners that you occupy one role with. Often people may have one role that they prefer – a Dominant who only submits occasionally or to a certain type of person, for example.
  • Some people may prefer to be Dominant/bottom switches or submissive/Top switches (and some may not consider this configuration to be switching at all). While it’s not super common, there are people who enjoy this configuration (or any combination) of roles.
  • kinky dating introduction know yourself bdsmSadism/masochism vs Sensual vs Power Exchange Only
    • If you’re a sadist, a masochist or a sadomasochist (someone who enjoys both giving and receiving pain), this is important to know and communicate to potential partners in a kinky dating context. If you fall pretty much exclusively into the sensual camp, it is important to let partners know as well. You can see how a sadistic Dominant and sensual bottom may not be compatible, just as a sensual Top and masochistic submissive would leave one or both partners disappointed.
  • Finding a partner that complements our needs may be difficult but it is worthwhile when you have a relationship that ‘clicks’.
  • It is also important to note that some people are into D/s (Dominant/submissive) relationships that do not include SM (sadomasochistic activities). For some people, they simply want a power exchange relationship without all the whips and chains.
  • Other Roles
    • There are many other roles that go along with the ones listed above, that further describe who we are and what we are looking for in kinky dating. Littles & Bigs (people into age play), Primals (people into rough, animalistic play), or Riggers & Bunnies (for people into rope) are just some of the possible, more niche roles that a person can take on in kinky dating.

Sexual/Gender Orientation

While I won’t get into a big long list here about all of the possibilities, you should have a good handle on who you would like to date. Keep in mind that gender identity is a little more fluid in BDSM communities, and you should be familiar with some of the terms. It is also important to respect people’s gender identity and not use dismissive language so that your experience in kinky dating doesn’t needlessly hurt or offend others.

Gender Orientation

  • Cis-gendered
    • Cis is not a slur, as some people believe. It simply means that your gender identity matches your genitals (sex). Cis is the appropriate term to use, instead of derogatory and offensive terms like kinky dating know yourself‘genetic’ or ‘born’. It is possible to express a preference without offending people.
  • Trans-gender
    • Trans means that a person’s gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. They may choose to identify as MTF (male to female) or FTM (female to male) or they may simply identify with their gender. Trans is generally an accepted term, and many of the words used in porn are offensive (the T-slur should never be used when referring to a trans person unless it is their preferred term).
  • Non-Binary, Genderfluid
    • Non-binary and genderfluid people generally identify as both male and female, either at the same time or flowing between genders. They may not identify with male or female, preferring a third gender or rejecting the gender binary entirely.
  • Other genders
    • There are many other gender identities, but for the sake of brevity, I have only included the ones above. Listen to people and they will tell you the gender terms they prefer. If you are ever unsure, refer to people as ‘they’ or ask for their preferred pronouns.

Sexual Orientation

  • Straight/heterosexual
    • People who are attracted to the opposite gender (side note: does anyone know a way to define hetero without playing into the gender binary? I would like a definition that doesn’t erase people!).
  • Gay/Lesbian/Homosexual
    • People who are attracted to the same gender as themselves.
  • Bisexual or Pansexual
    • Bisexuals are people who are attracted to both genders, pansexuals are people who are attracted to all genders.
  • Asexual
    • Asexual people do not experience sexual attraction or may only experience it under specific circumstances.
    • Includes Gray-Ace, Demi-sexual, and a whole lot more!
  • Queer
    • Queer is often a phrase preferred by people with complicated identities, be sure to ask them what queer means to them!

Again, there are other orientations and many nuances within orientations that I have not discussed here. It is good to know who you are and what you are looking for when engaging in any kind of dating, but especially in kinky dating. If none of the above really suits your orientation, Queer may be the right label for you, or you may want to look deeper into the various sexual identities for something that feels comfortable.

Kinks/Fetishes

kinky dating introduction bdsmIt is important to identify at least some kinks or fetishes that you have before you begin your adventures in kinky dating. Even if you don’t have any experience, you can have an idea about what turns you on. Think about what you fantasise about when masturbating or having kinky thoughts. Scroll through pictures on the internet and think about what you find compelling. Does the idea of bondage turn you on? What about medical play or impact play?

While you should always be honest with potential partners about your experience, you should also know what areas of kink you would like to explore. Remember, kinky dating is not just about getting to know others, it is a chance to learn more about yourself.

Are there things that put you off? It’s okay to have things that make you say “NO!”, We call these hard limits. It’s just as important to know what you’re not into so that you can express that to a potential partner. A relationship probably won’t work out if the thing that makes you the hottest is your partners hard limit.

So, who are you?

After this entry, you should have a good idea about who you are. It may look simple, like straight, mono, Dominant cis-man who is into bondage and impact play.

It could be a little more complicated, like my identity; asexual, panromantic, Queer, poly(ish), Dominant (24/7), who is into every filthy thing you can imagine and then some!

Whatever your orientation, there is someone out there for you. Take the time to learn who you really are and who you’re looking for – what can you compromise on and what is a deal breaker? Being honest with yourself will make your experiences in kinky dating better and greatly increase your chances of finding the partner(s) of your dreams.

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