Advice for Suitors

In the past, I have played almost exclusively at public play parties, or I’ve been topping and so the one in control. Recently, as I’m exploring new realms of my sexuality, I’m starting to negotiate with strangers where control is not intrinsically mine. This is a wholly new experience for me. I’ve always been able to trust that negotiation is clear, safewords will be respected, or worst case expect that DMs will stop things. This is no longer true, and inspired the thoughts that lead to this article.

Relationships & Fantasy

All kinky relationships involve fantasy, but the level of fantasy varies dramatically. A purely on-line relationship may involve real emotions, but beyond that is all fantasy:

  • There is no risk of STDs.
  • There is no risk of rape. You can always choose whether to comply with or deny a partner’s requests.
  • There is no vesting in each other’s day-to-day well-being, only fantasy fulfillment
  • You need not present a complete, well-rounded person. In fact, ignoring life’s administrivia and imagining a life of sexy kink stereotypes is some of the fun.
  • Trust isn’t as critical.

A hook-up or very casual relationship has less fantasy, because risks like STD and rape appear, and little details like coordinating schedules add to the complexity. Still, like an online relationship, there’s a superficial coupling, not a deep intertwining of each other’s lives: finances, work, chores, children, housing. Free of these issues, there is still a fair amount of fantasy.

Committed relationships have the least fantasy. A person is sexy and fun, but are they reliable? Trustworthy? Responsible? Things that aren’t considered in an online relationship, and disregarded in a casual one, can’t be avoided in the long term and are critical factors in a long-term partnership.

I know there can be emotional bonding, but compared to real life, Internet relationships are just pretend. I’m sure some online players will disagree and assert how genuine it is. I invite your opinion after you’ve been in a working real-life relationship for a few years.

The Problems

The offers I’ve received over my years on FetLife (and other sites) often strike me as bizarre. In particular, there is complete unawareness or disregard for establishing trust despite bat-shit crazy expectations and little attempt to introduce themselves or get to know me. Considering fantasy levels, however: These are online players, accustomed to a high level of fantasy, approaching me, grounded in casual play at RKS and a long-term relationship at home.

Other inquiries I get are from those who want to move into real-life play, and these can pose problems too: for some, their fantasy is that they want to do it in real life. It’s like a kink version of the Ontological Argument: imagining real participation is better than knowing it’s just fantasy. In this case, there’s a stream of delays, conflicts, excuses. An actual date (or sometimes a no-show) is followed by a sudden disappearance or breaking off communication. The fantasy sounds great when it’s online, but when getting real the risks suddenly matter, along with the usual fear of new things. Then it’s easier just to get rid of the evidence that online fantasy is as far as it’s going, and start pretending again with someone new. Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.

Then there’s what I’ve watched: occasionally two online players try to convert to a real-life relationship. What results is a warped-reality relationship with a typical pattern: They meet up, things are great, and perhaps they move in together. For a while, fantasies are fulfilled. Over a period of weeks or months, however, things become troubled until one day, it ends with a bang. The sub alleges some combination of abuse, neglect, consent violation, and/or taking financial advantage. The dom chalks it up to miscommunication and the sub not being serious or “real” enough for his needs or standards.

I’m sure a few of these work out, but most turn into misery: those involved wanted a high-fantasy, strings-free relationship like online, which is not what real relationships are.

The Rules

What I’m about to suggest applies to those looking for real-life partners, and to a lesser degree, real-life play opportunities. For the reasons outlined above, the rules are very different for virtual play and online relationships, so these do not apply.

I hope this explanation provides insight to those making the transition.

Ground rules of real relationships

  1. You have an uphill battle. History has sown a distrust of strangers, especially men because I know your culture and its attitudes of conquest, persuasion and seduction. Honesty and trustworthiness go a long way, but they are hard to establish/validate in a world of presentation, images and marketing. Exhibit the former, avoid the latter, and know that trust takes time.

  2. I am more than a fetish toy, so treat me as such. You are more than a fetish toy, so behave as such. Online is one thing, real life is another.

  3. Real life is not porn. I have no problem with porn, conceptually, but the woman-degrading dialog and attitude are grating. Sex should not hurt, or if it does, it should be a pleasant and consensual pain. Furthermore, I am more than a willing hole into which your dick fits. Again, online is one thing, real life is another; unless we’re role-playing, show respect.

  4. Fapfiction is plentiful. If I want a story to tickle my taco, I’ll find one written with care. One-handed, sentence-fragment texting with you does not compare. Real relationships are far more than sexting. Don’t waste my time with it; if that’s what you want, go find an online relationship.

  5. Dick is plentiful and low value. If that’s all I want, I can have all I want, anytime I want. I don’t care how great you think yours is, there’s plenty more like it. Same goes for your tongue and, unless you’re a concert pianist, your finger skills. And honestly, if that’s all it’s about, my vibrator is better and easier. Sexual ability is low-priority criteria when forging relationships.

Finding real relationships: Communication

  1. Garbled messages do not earn my interest. You don’t necessarily have to write as well as me, but make an attempt. Proofread. Use paragraph structure. When using dictation software, check its translation and punctuation. In meatspace, a first impression consists of your manner of dress, whether your clothes are clean, whether you showered recently and how you carry yourself. Online, it’s what you say, how you phrase it, grammar, and spelling. Make it count.

  2. Fill out your profile. It’s the lazy way to do things: when you message anyone, your profile is one click away so you don’t need to repeat everything already said in there. A well-written profile also suggests you’re serious, and provides a first inkling of trust. Suggested topics: a little about yourself (kink and non-kink interests), your kink history/experience, what you’re looking for. Appropriately using FetLife markup gets you bonus points. Select a few representative fetishes (but don’t go crazy; nobody slogs through 125 lines of paragraph-free fetish list). The groups you have joined and your activity history also say things about you. If you need profile inspiration, look at mine or the 80% of my friends’ that are well fleshed-out. And avoid stupid disclaimers for the University of Sydney and the like.

  3. Read profiles. It’s another lazy way to do things: if interests don’t align, relationship needs are incompatible, I’m already taken or we live on opposite sides of the planet, there’s no reason to start serenading me. If an account has no profile, no friends, no activity, no fetishes, and the single Welcome-to-FetLife group it’s probably a defunct account and you are unlikely to get a response. Put your effort where there’s best chance of payoff.

    And if you repeatedly find yourself making some excuse to disregard nearby people, with common interests, who are active in the real-life scene, then face reality: you’re only pretending you want a real-life relationship.

  4. Greet with a custom introduction. It needn’t be too long, since I can easily look at your profile. State what you’re looking for, why you think I should take an interest in you, and where you think the spark could be between us. Don’t use a template message, or if you do, customize it to our shared interests. Offers are like spam for me; to gain my interest, you need to send something more than a form mail fuck offer. Be civil, respectful and polite.

  5. Read and post personals. Use FetLife’s search feature to find permutations of { your city, your state or province, your country, your fetishes } + { “personals”, “classifieds”, “hook up” }. When you post an ad, include your age/sex/location in the subject of fetish-based groups, and your age/sex/interest in the subject line of location-based groups. Tailor message content to the specific group you’re posting to.

  6. Make the time and show the hell up. If I suggest lunch today, I understand when you can’t make it. But when I list several times I’m available, and you hem and haw at all of them, that indicates you’re not serious and I lose interest. Instead, counter with times that work for you. Stick to your commitments and show up, because if I’m stood up, you’re probably not going to get another chance. Quality companions are rare, and I’m not going to find one wasting time on dead-ends—so dead-ends get culled quickly.

Safety in real-life encounters

  1. Sex is dangerous. Contracting AIDS would mean expensive drug cocktails for the rest of my life. Contract HEP C means chemo that will provide years of suck, and impact my health for the rest of my life. Herpes is a permanent inconvenience. Syphilis, HPV, gonorrhea, and all the rest are no fun either. Yes, I know there are condoms. But you know what? Despite wearing my seat belt, I don’t drive recklessly. Same principle. I love my health and the freedom it gives me, so I’m not risking it on a quick lay. Trust takes time.

  2. There are bad people that don’t respect consent or safewords. You may not be one of them, but I don’t know that. Obvious creepy guys may be avoided, but there are also suave guys that pass themselves off as nice until it’s too late. I truly hope this never happens to me, both because of the psychological trauma and because sex is dangerous. To help ensure that, I defer play until establishing a trust commensurate with the risks. Again, trust takes time.

  3. Establishing trust. Joining me to a munch or going out with friends shows you’re in this for more than a fuck, and observing you in different contexts helps establish trust. Playing in a trusted venue, where there are dungeon monitors or people I know who will step in if necessary, may provide an earlier opportunity to play or act as a stepping stone to private play.

Miscellaneous

  1. Sexuality is fractal. It has been said that if you like sex with goats on fire, you can find a group for that on the Internet. I’ll take that one step further: find that forum, and there will be a heated debate on whether the use of incendiaries improves things, and among the pro-incendiary fans, a passionate discourse on pros and cons of various incendiaries and the best moment for ignition. It’s very rare that two of our sexualities are an exact match, and even less so when we look at our personalities as a whole. My dream partner is another me, but that’s impossible. No matter how similar our sexualities seem on the macro level, the devil is in the details. To optimize enjoyment, we’ll need to talk about our fantasies and nuances, and provide for the other’s peculiarities. Hooking up is not the end; good communication, including feedback and critique, will make this better for both of us. That means being specific about needs, and listening to the other’s comments.

  2. I love geeks. Geeks are often clumsy with social interaction (especially when it comes to romance or sex), so I feel less manipulated. We’re also intelligent and often techy, so there’s common ground on which to build a friendship. When able to overcome introversion, geeks are usually well-spoken and can carry on an interesting conversation (i.e., something other than the latest sports scores). The trouble is, we’re sometimes so timid it limits opportunity for things to start. If you’re geeky, know that I’m one of you and I feel awkward too. If you don’t do research, you’ll never find an answer. So screw up your courage, pursue possibilities, or nothing can ever develop to fruition.

Afterthoughts

So with all that hassle, why would you want to waste your time pursuing real-life relationships? For the same reason I keep searching despite the obnoxious, degrading or rude crap I find in my mailbox regularly: I want real-life friends and people to play with. Souls with whom I can share my playful and perverted interests. Or better yet, someone(s) who makes my heart flutter and my labia tingle with excitement. Who spend the time to establish trust, so I can let my guard down. Who I can call a friend. Because although I hold my behavior in check, underneath is sexual appetite. Because being fucked until I’m sore, then turned over and fucked until I come does sound like a fun prospect in the right conditions. I want to do naughty, perverted things; to be taken out on a date and denied bathroom access until I squirm. Or maybe be someone’s pet or pony or toy or fetish fuckbuddy. Or wrestle to exhaustion to decide whether I’m taking it, or giving it with my strap-on. Or maybe just given a lovely thuddy beating, or cuddling awhile.

Fantasy is fast and easy, but I can better do that alone than with someone. When involving someone else, I don’t want to just talk about these things, I want to experience them. But I’m not wildly risking my long-term mental and physical well-being for short-term desires; it would be a foolish gamble. Sex and kink are fun, but there’s much more to me and my life. Real-life relationships take real work and effort, but the payoff is that much better too.

I imagine some readers will think, “That’s hard work. I’m not doing it.” My response is, you reap what you sow. If you don’t put in effort, payoff is poor or nonexistent. Good luck finding what you want and/or making it work.