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The Master’s Voice #18: Munches, Fairs and Discovery Nights

In the last post my alpha slave introduced the idea of some options for meeting offline. Today I’m going to expand on that and discuss some important points of etiquette relating to these events.

For many novices, even though spending hours online ‘researching BDSM’ is well within their comfort zones, the idea of actually going that one step further and arranging to meet a real Dom can be terrifying. There are lots of easy alternatives and among the most widespread and popular of these are the informal social gatherings known as munches. There are believed to be in excess of 100 of these throughout the UK alone. Often they are social gatherings in pubs, wine bars or coffee shops and are usually advertised through social media. These are truly welcoming affairs and even those which take place in gay pubs and clubs will set aside a room to welcome attendees of all genders and sexualities. Most of the UK munches are trans tolerant, but some are aimed at specific groups – e.g. men only, women only, under 30’s etc. so it is wise to check in advance. A more recent development is the greater awareness and acceptance of polyamory so be prepared to find multiple partnered groups well represented here.

Most munches discourage overt BDSM behaviours because they meet in public, although depending on the venue, many attendees will dress-up for the occasion even if only to wear a leather collar or locked chain. For more background information do look up the Wikipedia article on munches.

Another development over the past 15-16 years in the UK has been the Fetish Fair. Aside from occasional one-off fairs there are three large regular monthly fairs starting with the London Alternative fair on the first Sunday of every month, the London Fetish Fair on the second Sunday monthly; possibly the largest is Birmingham’s Bizarre Bazaar on the third Sunday of the month. These events have bars and cafes and there are many fetish suppliers and trades stands as well as workshops and demonstrations throughout the day. These are of course very sociable events but they are also about educating and informing BDSM novices in a safe informal setting – especially with regard to safety and best practice.

More specific to the gay community there are both regular and less regular BDSM, leather and fetish nights all over the place including the now regular London Fetish week every summer. None are as fixed in the diary as the monthly ‘Discovery Nights’ organised by SMGays for the last 33 years and hosted at the Bloc South club in London on the third Thursday of every month. The aim of SMGays is to encourage safe and lawful SM practices through sharing of information among people with similar interests. The atmosphere is friendly and informal with a team of skilled volunteers running workshops or demonstrations relevant to each of the monthly themes. Attendees can watch or participate safely to get a taste of what they want. I have personally been a regular demonstrator at these events and would certainly recommend it for novices wanting to gain both knowledge and experience in a wide variety of BDSM activities. Incidentally, I’m also fortunate enough to be the Dungeon Master of SMGays, so my recommendation is based on considerable experience with them!

(A note here to my fellow authors. At the start of my novel ‘Taking The Gardener’ I wrote a scene in which my principle character goes to a Discovery Night and takes a shine to a sexy lad in a bondage demo. He meets an eager young sub who he then goes home with for a night of horny fun. My very first negative review chose to focus on that scene and pointed out that since such places could not possibly exist and that I was clearly a fantasist. I was taken aback not so much by the ignorance, but the arrogance of of the reviewer. Not only had I described an actual SMGays bondage night but even the sub (Kevin) was real. I agreed to meet him at the club for the first time and brought him home afterwards. Of course, I did not respond to the reviewer but I did enjoy a moment of righteous indignation over it.)

It is important here to consider some points of etiquette regarding these ‘public’ events. Many places and events will have their own rules listed clearly but most follow an accepted etiquette based on common sense, good manners, discretion and safety.

1. No Photography. As a general rule this ensures discretion for those participating. Occasionally a sub in a demo might ask the Dom to take a picture as a memento but that is between them only.

2. Do not touch: Never touch people or toys without permission. Remember that the submissive in any scene may be ‘owned’ by the Dom and is therefore not yours to touch without permission. Alternatively they may be a complete novice who has taken a huge step in submitting for the first time. Being groped by a complete stranger during the scene may put them off completely. Of course if humiliation is part of the activity, the Dom may allow or even encourage touching, but he must always have the last word.

3. Respect diversity: If we cannot respect each others various kinks  then how can we expect wider acceptance?  Never disrespect others or criticise them. If you want to have a giggle about the big butch construction worker dressed in work boots, hard hat, utility belt and pink lace panties, then do it in the car on the way home. While he is standing in front of you at the bar be sure to manage your eyebrows!

4. Never interfere with a scene: If you don’t like what you see then move on to something else. If you have any concerns, ask an event organiser or monitor. Remember everything I’ve previously mentioned about negotiations and respecting limits. Stop words still apply here and NO always means NO!

For a good guide to best practice do take a look at the London Munch website. That and other links are listed below. Go and explore, visit and have fun.

www.londonmunch.co.uk

www.manchestermunch.com

www.findamunch.com

www.londonalternativemarket.com

www.londonfetishfair.co.uk

www.brumbazaar.co.uk

www.smgays.org

My thanks to GymHarry again for the sexy image.

The Master’s Voice #16: Happy Valentine’s Day

Hurting the one you love.

Loving the one you hurt.

10928998_933646453321551_4622834056669050866_nOver the past few months I’ve talked about all kinds of BDSM relationships and how they work. Among the many questions I’ve been asked there have been more than a few along the lines of “how can you hurt the one you love?” Its true that I’ve not used the ‘L’ word very much, but there are reasons for that. First is that on some level , for me, it permeates all my encounters or relationships. Secondly I always knew that it was a subject worthy of its own blog.

To answer that question I will say yes, of course you can have a deeply romantic and loving relationship with a BDSM oriented partner. For a great, long-term BDSM relationship, many aspects of love have to be present, whether or not you are in a romantic relationship with that person. You may choose not to express these things as love but in a mature bonding you will accept them for what they are.

Some of the basic requirements for love are things like trust, honesty, responsibility, reliability, communication, empathy, desire, respect, satisfaction and a sense of humor. Try having a great sub dom relationship without anyone of these things and you will fail.

To help with understanding lets look at three types of BDSM relationships. First of all we have the casual encounters, whether they be one-off sessions, modelling at demonstrations or in club events. This will mostly be devoid of love or romance, but will still require trust and some mutual respect.

Secondly we have the regular, or even long-term BDSM partners with whom we are not romantically linked but which cannot be devoid of love on some level. Love without romance? yes of course. Just like the love of parents, siblings, children for best friends, you can love without being in love. When both parties can understand that and realise that it does not threaten their other romantic relationships then the link is a powerful one.

Thirdly we have the long-term, committed relationship where there is both a loving BDSM bond and the entirely romantic bond of a life-partner or partners.

Lets take a closer look at the long term or regular, non-romantic bond.10559658_262546807269767_1781677666578919213_n If a dom and their sub spend a lot of time together, whether over long sessions or through regular sessions, their relationship must grow. If this becomes stale or boring then the partnership will not last. If however creativity continues to grow over time and the responses become more comfortable between the players, then it is difficult to ignore some aspects of love. Remember we are talking about loving, but not being loved.

We may not be lovers in the traditional sense but a sub may learn to give themselves entirely to the dom in a way that they cannot with anyone else. It takes a deep empathy for the sub to let themselves go entirely with their dom. I have huge respect for any sub who attains that level of trust. I care very much for them and would do pretty much anything to help them, support them, or protect them if needed. For all intent, I love them even if I am not in love with them. I challenge any true dom to bring their sub to the point of wild ecstacy and not feel enormous pride in them for that. As a Dom I have had a great deal of experience with sub guys who are either Straight or Bisexual. Here it can be more difficult to express these feelings but they do not challenge sexuality in any way. The straight sub of a gay Master may feel uncomfortable with physical intimacy but he will feel pride in a job well done and even misery over mistakes made. Over time the relationship will become a strong bond of mutual trust and understanding even if sex or romance play no part in it.

I’ve also talked before about the importance of aftercare of a sub following a session with them. Nothing aids recovery like the affectionate contact with the dom who has just drained them physically and mentally.

True, life-long BDSM/Romantic partnerships are unusual but not impossible. I have known couples who started out as BDSM playmates before falling in love with each other. At first the play is intense because there is a true connection and it can be uninhibited. After a while, the romantic relationship becomes stronger and one or both partners looses interest in the sexual activities. For those who can see their way beyond the short term, a hiatus is followed by renewed vigor and once again the pair will return to intense BDSM activities.

As a dom, don’t be surprised at the strength of feeling you may have for your sub. As a sub, a loving master will get so much more from you so don’t resist, just be true to yourself and honest with him or her.

If you are unsure of the link between the subject matter and said Valentine then I urge you to read about the life and death of the sainted man himself. There is more than enough hurt and violence in that story I can assure you.

The Master’s Voice #15: BDSM is Good For You.

BDSM is good for you.

A bold statement, but for experienced BDSM practitioners it is no surprise. Many researchers have become fascinated with the psychology of the BDSM world and so far their findings have been very positive. Opinions are changing and something which in the past was treated as a disorder is now under serious review. The scientist in me admits that my bold statement is an extrapolation of the findings but it remains a reasonable conclusion based on current evidence.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is often referred to as the “psychiatrist’s bible”. In the latest (5th) edition, BDSM is no longer listed as a disorder but instead is referred to as a paraphilia, or unusual sexual fixation. Even in this incarnation, studies have consistently failed to link BDSM practices to any psychological problems, leading some professionals to argue for its removal entirely from the manual.

Recent studies do in fact tend to range from the ‘does no harm’ variety, to those which appear to suggest that BDSM behaviour lends itself to measurable positive mental health. So, can we truthfully say that BDSM is good for you? Well, yes, it seems that we can.

Elsewhere I have discussed the notion of the ‘sub-space’ or ‘head space’ which many submissives describe. One study (1) in 2013 found that BDSM can give similar results to focused meditation, leaving the practitioner in an altered state of consciousness. It appears that blood flow to the brain may be altered in similar ways to those previously recorded in certain types of deep meditation or in the well-documented “runner’s high”.

Some of the practitioners in the study were ‘switches’ who liked to both give and receive pain. Their role in the study was decided on the roll of a dice and they performed a cognitive test both before and after sex (the Stroop task). It was noted that those playing the ‘sub’ role performed poorly in that part of the brain known as the Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex which is linked to high level functions such as focused attention, working memory and executive control.

This area of the brain has also been associated with such behaviours as daydreaming, various drug ‘highs’ and the aforementioned ‘runners high’. We should not be surprised to learn that activating this area of the brain can lead to feelings of floating, peacefulness and of living ‘in the moment’. It can also give the impression of time standing still as well as impacting on the ability for rational thinking.

More general findings have echoed other studies where it was found that BDSM practitioners experienced fewer feelings of anxiety than the general public. There has also been some evidence to suggest that practitioners have more secure relationships than others. Of course this excludes the very specific anxieties felt when meeting a new BDSM partner and submitting to them.

Another research paper (2) published in 2013, seems to suggest that BDSM practitioners may as a general rule actually be more mentally healthy than the general populace. In this study, researchers questioned 902 BDSM and 432 ‘vanilla’ practitioners without telling them the purpose of the surveys. The questions covered aspects of personality, sensitivity to rejection, style of attachment within relationships, as well as their overall well being.

Interestingly the highest scores were achieved by the ‘Doms’ in the group as compared to the ‘switches’. Of the three groups, the submissives scored the lowest but even their scores were still higher than the vanilla practitioners. In reporting this research, the online magazine Live Science (3) explained the findings as follows:

‘The new results reveal that on a basic level, BDSM practitioners don’t appear to be more troubled than the general population. They were more extroverted, more open to new experiences and more conscientious than vanilla participants; they were also less neurotic, a personality trait marked by anxiety. BDSM aficionados also scored lower than the general public on rejection sensitivity, a measure of how paranoid people are about others disliking them.

People in the BDSM scene reported higher levels of well-being in the past two weeks than people outside it, and they reported more secure feelings of attachment in their relationships, the researchers found.’

More work needs to be done to look into the reasons why BDSM practitioners appear to be more mentally healthy than the general population. Some researcher believe that this may simply be that those practicing such activities are more aware of their own sexual needs and desires. This understanding may well lead to less overall frustration with their physical and emotional relationships.

Wouldn’t it be great to think that our need for anti-depressant drugs could be replaced by a pair of handcuffs and a decent flogger!

References:

 (1) James Ambler, a graduate student in psychology at Northern Illinois University, and presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in Austin, Texas.

(2) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jsm.12192/abstract

(3) http://www.livescience.com/34832-bdsm-healthy-psychology.html

The Master’s Voice #13: Caring and Sharing

This is the first of two posts about the subject of the Dom owning multiple subs or the sub/slave serving more than one Master. Today I want to start by expressing  some thoughts on this from the Master/Dom’s point of view.

I’ve been in a confirmed long-term relationship with my husband for the past 35 years, and I have no intention of changing that for anyone. I’m fortunate that he fully accepts the part of me that is Master Tim, and while he might not play an active part in the activities, he still knows all my regular subs. Over the years he has, like me, grown to see some of them as close friends who he gets on really well with.

My partner has also welcomed some of them into our home as more than just my subs. He has recognised my ability to share my deeper attachments with more than one partner without ever feeling threatened by them. He knows that he comes first for me, and always will.

Having others in our intimate circle has enriched our lives enormously in many ways. Traditional views of relationships are very deeply-rooted, and not easily disregarded. I do, however, think that we should be open to all options and consider any alternatives available to us. I dislike the broad use of the term ‘cheating’, since this is often applied to members of groups and families where everything is in fact open and honest.

Many people are now experimenting with polyamorous relationships. So long as they are based on honesty and transparency, they have much to offer. In truth, the traditional heterosexual couple is a product of biology when it was essential to procreate for the growth of the species. This is clearly not the case in the 21st century. The world is overpopulated, so we should welcome alternatives based on peoples’ spiritual rather than biological needs.

In BDSM relationships, the dynamics of the ‘dungeon’ are not always compatible with those of the day-to-day lives of a married couple, either gay or straight. Such relationships need to be allowed to evolve with heavy doses of tolerance and flexibility on the part of all parties involved.

A BDSM Dom, by definition, wants to be in control, and so the ideal situation is to have devoted subs who serve him exclusively. This may come across as being possessive, but in reality the reasons are usually more more practical. For one thing, all Doms operate differently, and they prefer to have subs who understand their ways and are unpolluted by contrary training from other Doms. Also, there’s the question of availability. If a sub is dividing his or her attention between more than one Dom, they will not always be available when needed.

I, for one, realise that this can be very unfair on the sub if, as in my case, the Dom is already in a committed relationship with somebody else. This allows for compromises which can lead to a much more realistic and fruitful time for all concerned. In my experience the relationship between Sub and Dom can be as deep and meaningful as any other.

Some couples do manage to have lasting, life-long arrangements, but they have to come up with their own rules for living, often through years of trial and error.

For me, there is only one ironclad rule: Do Not Judge.  With this in mind, always be prepared to listen and learn. Be flexible and open minded. What works for one person may not work for you, but you can always learn from it.

I would like to end with two salutary thoughts for career dominants. These situations are rarely considered or spoken about, but they are important.

Firstly, when submissive guys are swearing allegiance to me, I remind them of two exceptions ot my authority. This always generates a laugh, but it’s a fact that Mothers and lovers outrank Masters! Know who comes first in your life and respect each in turn.

Secondly, when a Dom invests time and effort in training a sub, the attachments can run deep. It often happens that the sub will later find the person that they want to spend the rest of the their life with. This can be a hard transition for the Dom, and the sense of loss can be quite profound. Personally, I love it when a sub that I’m fond of finds a partner and goes off with them to start a new life. I’m genuinely happy for them, but that doesn’t mean that the loss is easy to bear.

Now if that’s not a plot for a new novel, then I don’t know what is.

In the next posting we will look at this idea from the sub/slaves point of view.

The Master’s Voice #10 Seeking the Perfect Sub.

In the previous post I considered one particular type of submissive but they are not my only ‘type’. I’m often asked both by Doms and subs to define my ideal sub. What is it that I’m looking for when I’m recruiting? Maybe my criteria are not the most obvious choices, but for me they are the factors which will lift a new sub out from the crowd –  and believe me, the crowd is huge! There really are way more subs than Doms out there, both male and female, so a Dom can afford to be choosy and the sub needs to stand out as unique.

The most attractive feature to me is the right attitude. Yes, of course I look for a certain submissiveness but it needs more than that. Some submissives come looking for another man to take control of them and their lives because they are unable to manage their own affairs. I drop those like hot bricks. If you are unable to manage your own life then you are certainly not going to add any value to mine. Sadly, there are Doms out there who will swoop on the helpless and take advantage of them for their own selfish pleasure, so beware.

Another part of the right attitude is open mindedness. By that I mean a readiness to learn and a desire to experience new things.

Many of my peers express surprise at how much I enjoy working with novice subs. They see them as hard work but I see them instead as eager, fresh, hungry, grateful and mostly unpolluted by bad habits. Don’t get me wrong, I see many subs who are very experienced and very good. They, however, happen mostly to be the ones who originally came to me as novices and years later they are still returning and we are able to ‘play’ together with the ease and familiarity of a pair of well worn but comfortable shoes. Oh, and a good sense of humour and some level of self awareness are essential qualifications too.

It has often been my experience that older and more experienced subs come to the negotiations with a fixed agenda and a wish list of the things they need to have done to them. They will try to lead from the bottom in a way which leaves no room for a versatile and creative Dom to lead or dominate effectively.

The biggest turn on for me with a novice sub is the feedback I get both verbally and non-verbally as they experience something new for the first time. I expect every sane sub to come with limits, but in our negotiations I try to identify two types as we discuss them. First there are the hard limits, which must be respected without compromise. Secondly there are the ‘soft limits’ and these are carefully stored away for future investigation. Soft limits are the ones which elicit responses like ‘I’m not sure’, ‘not yet’ or, ‘I’ve not heard of that one before’. These soft limits often define the areas to be explored as trust is built and limits are being expanded.

One big difference between casual one-night-stand encounters and and the well-prepared repeat visits is that the former will almost always be the only encounter. First play-dates are often the clumsiest with fears and anxieties ensuring that things do not always go smoothly. The sub is eager to please but nervous, so when the Dom attempts to impress by going through the entire toy-box they will probably experience sensory overload and be too timid or embarrassed to return again.

I prefer the laid back approach and my main aim for a first session is to leave the sub wanting another one! In just the same way I hope I have left you wanting the next episode of this blog series!

The Master’s Voice 07: The First Meeting.

We’ve looked at why you should negotiate with any prospective Dom about your limits, and why it’s important to lay a lot of groundwork before you decide to meet with someone. I wish I could say that everything after that point is nice and straightforward, but of course, it isn’t. (You may be starting to detect a theme here.)

You’ve no doubt read a lot of the standard advice when it comes to meeting someone from the internet for the first time, but I’ll repeat it here anyway just in case. These guidelines are designed to keep you safe, so think long and hard before you choose to ignore any of them!

1) Meet in Public. This one is a no-brainer. Be very cautious if someone insists on meeting you in their home or in a secluded spot – there is no conceivable reason why someone should demand that you meet them for the first time in a park at night, just to use one obvious (if unlikely) scenario. If someone wants to meet in a strange place, ask yourself why that might be.

2) Be specific about why you’re meetingGenerally speaking, your first interaction with a Dom will involve more talking than playing. As with the previous point, remember that they should be trying to protect themselves as well by making sure you’re the kind of person they want in their home (or wherever else it is you’ll eventually end up). An over-eagerness to get you into a private place so they can tie you up as quickly as possible might be a sign that they’re not going to respect your wishes once they have you in a vulnerable position.

3) Have a way out. Ideally, you’ll want to tell someone where you’re going when you meet for the first time and make sure that they’re expecting to hear from you at a specific time. If that’s not possible, then at the very least make sure that you can contact someone if need be during your first meeting. This goes hand-in-hand with meeting in public.

Apart from just safety, though, there are some other things to keep in mind when arranging an initial meeting. I’ve been harping on about the fact that when you meet a Dom or a Master, you’re also meeting a person, and it applies here as well. If you meet in a coffee shop (which is an excellent place to do it, by the way), what will you talk about? Do you have any questions you’d like to ask? Have you thought about what questions they might ask you?

If you’re only planning on meeting for occasional rounds of BDSM play, then all of this might seem like something you don’t have to worry about – after all, it’s not as if you’re on a first date. But if the person you’re meeting has any aspirations towards being your permanent Master – if you consider yourself a slave, in other words – then this first meeting will be almost exactly like a first date.

By this point you’ll have be finished with the negotiations and limits-setting stages (I hope), but remember, it’s not too late for either party to realize particular meeting isn’t entirely what they’re looking for. This could be something as general as a personality mismatch, which definitely does matter in the BDSM world, or something as specific as a previously-unmentioned fetish which is a must-have for one person but a complete dealbreaker for the other. As always, the important thing to keep in mind is that you can leave at any time if you feel uncomfortable. It’s not as if you’ve committed to anything. (And actually, even if you have committed to something, you can still leave.)

But I don’t want to dwell on the negative too much. Your first meeting with a Dom or Master should be a wonderful experience even if you do nothing but get to know each other face-to-face after previously chatting online. Whether it’s the beginning of something more long-term or just a once off meeting, for many subs or slaves it will be the culmination of years of fantasizing and dreaming. Stay safe, lay the groundwork and try to ignore the butterflies in your stomach!

The Master’s Voice 06 – Fantasy Vs. Reality (or, Why Porn is not Research).

Whether I’m addressing friends from the BDSM world or my many author friends there is one acclamation that you hear me use a lot: Porn is not Research. If you wish to live the lifestyle or dabble in it, this is very important. Maybe you are wanting to write accurately and descriptively about it. Either way the fantasy world of porn can give a wholly false impression. In truth BDSM without the checks and balances, without the careful negotiation and preparation could be a very dangerous thing. In this blog I intend to look at the differences and relate them to real experience.

My Alpha Slave often talks about how the months (or years!) leading up to his first real-life BDSM experience involved a lot of research. Like so many he sought out blogs written by experienced Doms and subs. Perhaps like him you’ve sought out some of the many books written on the subject.

Or, and I’m guessing this is as likely if not more so than the previous options, you looked at porn.

Obviously there’s nothing wrong with that! BDSM porn is abundant on the internet and elsewhere, and it’s certainly a valuable tool in determining what exactly you’re interested in. (Of course, it has other, non-educational benefits as well.)

The problem is that, as always, porn depicts a very skewed version of reality. Just as vanilla porn shows a heavily idealised (or non-idealised, depending on your perspective) view of sex, BDSM porn shows a version of the Dom/sub relationship that is unlikely to exist in reality.

Rather than going through all the ways porn movies ‘get it wrong’, I’d like you to ask yourself a simple question: what does porn not show?

The answer, obviously, is ‘real life’. Most BDSM porn doesn’t show a sub arriving at a Dom’s house (or hotel room or club or what have you) for the first time. It doesn’t show the actors negotiating over limits and boundaries. It certainly doesn’t carry on after the money shot is over to reveal how the Dom and sub get along outside of the playroom/dungeon.

These are all things that are going to happen in the real world, but porn movies aren’t going to give you any pointers on how to handle them. Going solely by what you see in pornography, you might think that BDSM relationships are things that happening spontaneously to a pair of automata who exist in their own pocket universe.

The one exception to the rule might be erotic fiction, which often at least pays lip service to depicting the full breadth of a Dominant/submissive relationship, but here we get into the issue of accuracy. Most authors of erotic fiction do not have real-life experience in the world of BDSM, and are likely to base their descriptions of it on second or third-hand information. (Or, worse, they might base it on those porn movies we just spent several paragraphs discussing.)  By all means, read fictionalized accounts of BDSM relationships as a way to fire your imagination, but don’t expect what you read to be perfectly in line with reality.

Ultimately, any media created primarily for titillation is a fantasy, and nobody expects or even wants their fantasies to match the everyday experience of their real life.

To quote my Alpa Slave again “In my case I was lucky, because in Master Tim I found someone who was able to take what I’d been fantasizing about for so many years and turn it into a reality, but even still there were things I couldn’t have predicted before I met him – mostly because, well, I hadn’t met him yet! My idealised ‘fantasy’ master was nameless, faceless and mostly devoid of any personality. He was an idea, not a human being, and anything I imagined happening with that idea couldn’t possibly happen exactly that way with a real person. The reality is so much better than what I envisioned, but it doesn’t change the fact that that disconnect exists and is something you should keep in mind when you’re planning your future life as a submissive or slave.”

Porn has been around for time immemorial, but there is now a new kid on the block when it come to BDSM fantasy. The internet has changed the way we find each other and interact with each other in ways we could never have expected. My reason for inserting this topic is the explosion of social media and of dating sites. We are all well aware of how transparently truthful people are on such sites and how we should believe online biographies implicitly. Yeah right! If the number of fit guys with 10″ dicks is true, then anatomists need to reassess their idea of what is average. Also when it comes to listing ages, the internet seems to indicate that number blindness is far more common than we thought!

For those seeking to find BDSM partners and experiences, there is a more insidious issue here. People spend a huge amount of time gathering their ‘experience’ online before they build up the courage to try the real thing. It is therefore more than likely that their expectations will be much closer to fantasy than reality. I find more and more that BDSM novices are only novices of the real thing and that faced with the reality they are at best confused and at worst, quite disappointed.

As a novice practitioner you should also be prepared to enjoy things you never thought you’d enjoy and to dislike things you were expecting to like. This is probably more relevant for people who want to seek out a Dom/sub relationship heavily based around shared fetishes, but it’s worth noting for everyone: just because you enjoy thinking about something doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll enjoy doing it for real. It is a great shame when it happens, but it is easy to imagine someone being confused or disappointed when they discover that the thing they’ve been craving for so long turns out to not be exactly what they wanted after all.

Ultimately, there’s no amount of research – porn-based or otherwise – that can prepare you for meeting a Dom or Master for the first time. Trust your instincts, keep an open mind and wait for the right person. There’s no better way to make sure that your fantasies become a reality.

The Master’s Voice 05 – Limits and Negotiations

Before we get into a discussion of limits, I want to make it clear that I am in no way attempting to spoil your fun here. In fact, the opposite is true and I hope to arm you with the tools to ensure you the best possible experiences.

At some point during your travels through the online BDSM world, you will no doubt have come across the term ‘limits’. People have limits, you will have been told. Doms and Masters must respect your limits, which means that you must make them aware of what they are. Limits are important!

You should be able to enter a BDSM relationship or interaction knowing that the experience will be a wholly consensual one. Any Dom who ventures into the realms of non-consensual behaviour is an abuser or even a rapist and should be treated as such.

‘Limits’ are pretty much what they sound like: things you’re unwilling to do. This might be because they don’t interest you, because you don’t want to do them with that particular person, or because they’re an extreme turn-off for you. Regardless of the reasons (and you shouldn’t ever need to justify them), your limits represent a firm no-go area for your Dom or Master. They shouldn’t ever cross them, regardless of the circumstances. Any good Dom will agree with this.

Of course, in order for someone to respect your limits, they first have to be aware of what they are. This is where negotiation comes into the picture.

On one hand, I’m almost hesitant to use the term ‘negotiation’ in relation to limits, because that makes it sound like they’re something you can or should be talked out of. You shouldn’t, obviously. At the same time, though, everything up to  your limits might be subject to negotiation, and it’s at this stage when you’re likely to discover how much your tastes and preferences align with those of a particular Dominant.

For example, let’s say you’re into bondage. That encompasses an extremely wide array of activities, and it’s unlikely that you enjoy all of them equally. Perhaps you’d prefer if a session involved more or less of a particular variety of bondage. If so, the negotiation phase is when you should speak up about it, otherwise you may end up coming away disappointed with the experience.

At the same time, your Dominant might enjoy a completely different kind of bondage, and may feel that a session wouldn’t be complete without it. Do you agree to doing it in the interests of mutual satisfaction even though it’s not something you particularly enjoy? Or do you insist on limiting all activities to things you’re both going to like equally, even if that means foregoing certain activities altogether? This is why it’s called ‘negotiation’ – there’s likely to be some level of compromise.

I should reiterate, however, that ‘compromise’ should never be about whether or not a Dom violates your limits! If the discussion starts to go in that direction you should immediately be on your guard, because it could indicate that the person you’re talking to isn’t respecting your limits as much as they should.

At this point you may be asking yourself if it’s possible that these negotiations might come to a standstill. That’s always a possibility, of course, and it goes back to what I’ve said in previous posts. A BDSM relationship is exactly that – a relationship. If you’re not compatible with someone, then you shouldn’t expect that a relationship with them – however limited or short-lived it is – will be successful. And that’s okay! It’s better to find out that you and a dominant are fundamentally incompatible at the negotiation stage than in the middle of a session.

I think it’s also worth talking about two very common fantasies: the submissive with no limits and the dominant who is so skilled or authoritative that they can encourage a submissive into pushing themselves beyond their limits.

If you’re someone who thinks that they ‘have no limits’, ask yourself this: how do you know? If a Dominant had you completely at his mercy, with the ability to do literally anything to you, would you feel safe? What if it turns out the Dominant is violent or dangerous? Would you still be having a good time? But wait, you might say, that’s not what you meant! When you said you had no limits, you meant that you’re into heavy bondage or ‘extreme’ fetishes. You don’t want to do anything dangerous.

Unfortunately, there are people out there who hear ‘I have no limits’ and take it as an invitation to let loose on you. They might end up seriously hurting you, either intentionally or by accident. This is why no responsible Dominant will take someone seriously when they say that they have no limits, particularly if that person is inexperienced. Everyone has limits. If you think you don’t, it just means you haven’t discovered what they are yet.

It is true, however, that some Dominants can help you explore the boundaries of your limits – and, in some cases, push past them. This is something that requires a great deal of trust, and should only be done if you want to do it. And of course, it goes without saying that a safe word is just as important in this situation than it is in any other context. Always make sure you have a safe word in place, and don’t even think of ‘pushing your limits’ with a Dom who you don’t trust to respect it!

Limits aren’t the same as limitations, and they aren’t something that you should ever feel required to ‘overcome’. If a Dominant immediately launches into a monologue about how he’s going to help you go beyond your limits before he’s even met you, it might be time to end things before they move past the negotiation stage.

The Master’s Voice 04 – Applying to Serve Pt 2.

In part one I described the elements that I look for in a potential submissive. Now perhaps it’s time to consider some of the practicalities for both the Dom and the sub. What are some of the deal breakers and deal makers for me in deciding whether or not to take somebody on?

There are so many variables in this process that it would be impossible to give a definitive, one-size-fits-all guide to the first encounter. There are, however, a list of factors which can be checked early on in order to save time and misunderstanding.

1. Know what you are looking for, whether it is fun, experience, learning, a regular kink partner or a life-long lover. This is the point where fantasy and reality first need to part company. Most players, whether Dom or sub, are not looking for a life partner. In my own case I make it clear from the start that I already have a life partner and he comes first always. Experience tells me that many subs are reassured by this. I am lucky that I can be completely open and transparent with my partner and that he fully supports what I do. This will not be the case for everyone and you may need to compromise on some principles in order to make things work for you. I never sit in judgement of others and nor do I believe should any of us.

To give one example from my own circle, I have a regular sub who I have been seeing for  almost 20 years now. He is happily married and has a really great relationship with his wife. Once a month or so he visits me to give his kinky sub side a good airing. His wife has no idea about this but he firmly believes that without such a relief valve in place, his needs and desires would probably have destroyed his marriage years ago. I know that a few of my readers will now hate me for that, but it is not my place to judge another for his life choices.

For most BDSM practitioners, the ideal relationship lies somewhere between casual playmates and life partners. Maybe the “friends with benefits” description fits better?

2. First contact these days tends to be online and therefore site profiles are all important. As mentioned elsewhere however, never assume that the person described in the profile is the person you will meet. Internet ‘ages’ and waist sizes ( plus other measurements) are moveable feasts!

Good BDSM relationships depend on honesty and trust. For me this starts with the profile. If you truly intend to meet somebody, they will find you out at first meeting so why set yourself up to be a disappointment to them? Of course it is also a fact that the majority of the kinksters online get all their kicks online and never actually follow through with a real meeting. Always remember the formula SW + SW + SW = N. Some will, some won’t, so what. Next!

There are dangers lurking in the falsehoods too. I’ve had 18yr olds eager for their first experiences who, when they finally send pics, are clearly under age. Don’t be scared to ask for proof and if they won’t provide it in advance then move along swiftly.

3. For me there is another deal-breaker and that is the issue of unsafe sex. Way too many young people these days get to the safe-sex box in the form and the think it’s cool to put ‘Needs discussion’. No it does not. There is no discussion to be had. There is no reason and no excuse for unsafe sex ever. Okay so now I’ve lost a few more readers but Hey Ho!

4. Diversity is all. No two subs are the same. No two doms are the same. No two relationships are the same.

There is somebody out there for everyone whatever their age, shape, size, colour, gender or kink. Your BDSM playmate may bear no resemblance to anyone that you would seek to have as a lover. That’s not what it’s about. If you are looking for experiences, skills, stability or security  then age and looks may have a lesser part to play in your choices but thats not to say that a sexy dom or sub won’t make it all that much easier.

Time to draw some conclusions then. What do I look for in the ideal sub?

Attitude: Open mindedness and willingness to learn.

Submissiveness: Not mindless but intelligent and masculine (my chosen gender, yours may differ)

Limits: Hard or soft but mutually agreed and respected.

Regularity: Not to be confused with frequency but rather just an interest in coming back for more.

Honesty: Age, size, experience (or lack of), Relationship status.

Safe Sex: No discussion needed.

Diversity: variety really is the spice of life.

Personality: A sense of humour is essential.

Whether you are a Dom, a sub, or one of my fellow writers looking to create new realistic characters, I hope these words have helped. Just remember it is only a guide so use those bits that fit your own situation. Have fun and play safe.

The Masters Voice 03 – Applying to Serve

Having established what kind of relationship you are seeking in the world of BDSM, let’s take a look at how you go about finding the right Dom or Master.

Starting at the beginning let’s consider how I respond to those guys who apply to serve me as subs or slaves. The early interactions are so important to the process and should not be rushed. Having said that, in my experience, most subs have spent a long time dreaming, fantasising, reading and often viewing porn as they rehearse in their minds just what is going to happen once they finally take the plunge and meet a Master. This leads to an eagerness to get started and can result in risk-taking and frustration.

Young guys can be reckless in their enthusiasm. I am often approached by newbies seeking their first experiences. We chat a little, and agree to continue the next day. Then I get an excited message telling me that he is now ‘owned’ and his new ‘Master’ has now taken control of his online profile and of his life.

“Great,” I say. “When did you meet him?”

“Oh, we’ve not met yet,” comes the reply. “He lives 500 miles away.” (Or in another country, another continent, etc.)

So this poor lad has created an account on one of the gay dating sites and in less than 24 hours some guy he has never met tells him that he is now his owned slave and must no longer chat to anyone else. He will receive ‘commands’ to take any number of photos to send to the new master, or to engage in Skype sessions where the slave will perform on camera.

Would it surprise you to learn that they will never meet? Or that the master has no real-life experience? It happens!

My advice to freshman subs is to chat to lots of guys. Do not commit to anyone. Ask questions, learn, and filter your communications. Never agree to a first meeting in a stranger’s home. I have written elsewhere about precaution. Remember that online profiles may not be entirely accurate. (Shocking, I know.)

Domination is not based on arrogance. No man is a Master or a Dom just because he says that he is. I believe that the title of ‘Master’ or ‘Sir’ must be earned, not assumed or commanded.

Early negotiations are extremely important, and are not unlike the ‘courtship’ period in a non-BDSM relationship. This is not a time for giving orders and obeying, but rather for asking questions, stating objectives and above all listening to responses. If either party is not being listened to, then it is time to move on. Don’t be put off, just learn from the experience.

After all, if you were going to hand your car over to a mechanic for repairs, you would probably go to somebody who was recommended to you. Why in the world would you consider handing over your own body to a complete stranger without first asking for testimonials from other subs who have met him? If he refuses to let you do this, then you have all the information you need. Move on.

If I have not already scared you off, come back for the next part, where we’ll start to look at all the fun you’re going to have once you meet someone you’re compatible with! So now you want me to tell you about all the ‘good stuff’ straight away? I have intentionally kept this part short because the information in it is really important and I want you to take it seriously before getting distracted by the fun stuff.

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