10 Important Lessons I Learned When I Found My Local Kink Scene
Kink's many lessons can be applied almost anywhere.
It seems like more people than ever are experimenting withkink. Many do so from the privacy of their homes and learn from books and websites like this one. I found it even more helpful to explore my local kink scene at the same time. Finding the kink scene was one of the most transformative experiences of my life. Here are the 10 important lessons I learned.
1. How to Set Boundaries
In the kink scene, it's standard for people to negotiate what they are and aren't OK with before playing together. Essentially, the submissive explicitly sets boundaries with the dominant. These boundaries are normally known as hard and soft limits. Hard limits are things that you don't want done to you under any circumstances. Soft limits are typically things that maybe you are kind of hesitant to take on. Or you're only willing to do them with certain people or at certain times.
There are BDSM checklists that you can print off to help you have those discussions. No matter what a submissive's limits are, it's a standard practice to clearly establish them before playing. This is especially important because the dominant and submissive are operating outside of societal norms of what's right and wrong.
As a recovering people pleaser, I found the process of setting limits within my BDSM practice translated into learning to set them in my personal life. I started to push back on friends or relatives who ignored boundaries I set. I also became better at clearly stating those boundaries in the first place.
2. Something Can Be Scary and Not Kill You
It is completely natural to avoid what we fear. Fear is an extremely intense emotion. Often, fear limits us in ways that actually impede our survival. Fear might keep us from switching jobs when our current employer isn't treating us well - or prevent us from even looking at other opportunities. Fear might make us stay in a relationship that's unhealthy because we're afraid of being alone.
I was scared to death when I joined the kink community. I've also had scenes that scared the pants off me (sometimes, quite literally). I survived. Challenging those fears ended up being incredibly fulfilling for me. It was a rush to conquer my fears and make it to the other side. I also gained the knowledge that I am capable of handling much more than I thought I could.
Whether it's a new sexual act that you're nervous about trying or a big life change, the unknown can be terrifying. It's also where some of the best things in life are. Facing fears is the only way you grow.
3. You Can Tolerate Pain & Survive
One of the biggest lessons I learned was that just because someone is hurting (even me), it doesn't mean that anyone did anything wrong. I also learned that just because something hurts right now, doesn't mean that it will hurt forever.
In fact, a lot of positive changes require that you tolerate pain or discomfort on the way to achieving your goals. People typically understand this when it comes to changes like dieting or going to the gym, but they usually have a hard time translating it to emotional growth.
Playing in the kink community directly increased my physical pain tolerance, but that wasn't the only change. It helped me develop self-control and the ability to delay gratification, two strengths that I use constantly in my personal life.
Read: Why Pain Makes Us Horny: The Process That Turns Pain Into Pleasure
4. You Can Do You
I was like a lot of people who first show up in their local kink scene: Really unsure of myself. I felt curious and a little ashamed that I was exploring something that society thought was taboo.
What I found was one of the most accepting communities I'd ever encountered. Like any community, it has its quirks but by and large, I noticed a very encouraging pattern: People who had been active on the kink scene for a while owned their fetishes. They didn't seem ashamed at all. They were proud of them.
Little by little, as I spent time with them, I built up my own sense of personal security. Over time, the petty things people said to me became less like valid criticisms and more like noise. I learned to qualify the person who criticized me to determine whether they were an accurate judge of the subject (and me) or not. If the criticism didn't come from a source I respected, I simply stopped caring about it. I found that if someone doled out baseless criticisms about things that they didn't have much knowledge about or hadn't experienced themselves, it didn't make me doubt myself. It made me doubt them.
Once I stopped constantly shaming myself and responding in a knee-jerk way to the shaming from others, I focused more on building and understanding my own values system to define my own sense of what is and isn't important to me.
Again, this didn't just help me within the kink community. It made me a more effective manager and consultant within the workplace. It made me a better friend.
5. There's a Difference Between a Dominant and a Control Freak
A lot of people dipping their toe into kink for the first time will start by going online and chatting with people. While this can be an easy and discreet way to find like-minded others, it can be very difficult online to differentiate between people who are healthy, experienced dominants and control freaks claiming to be dominants who've just watched a lot of bad porn.
A good dominant:
- Cares whether a submissive provides consent
- Will negotiate and respect whatever limits and boundaries are set
- Doesn't just take power and control, they take responsibility
While it might be scary to set foot in a real life kink group for the first time, I've found that getting connected to a local kink community is one of the best ways to sort out this difference. It's much easier to tell all of these things in person.
6. We're Into Different Things, Which IS Why Consent Is Important
There are some common sayings in the kink scene that acknowledge that while some people are into certain stuff and other people aren't, it's OK. A few of these are Your Kink Is OK and Your Kink Is Not My Kink, But Your Kink Is OK, or YKIOK or YKINMKBYKIOK (for short...ish).
What's important here is that the kink scene openly acknowledges that one person's kink is another person's squick. Or that one person's yummy is another person's yuck.
It is most important that whatever people are doing involves clear consent. If it makes everyone happy and it's not harming anyone (as opposed to hurting them, because as I wrote above, pain isn't necessarily bad in the right context), then it's a good time.
This was a really liberating idea that followed me everywhere else. Maybe certain people didn't get my life choices, but they made sense to me and the people close to me and that was what was really important.
7. Don't Trust People Who Don't Respect Your Boundaries
Once you get used to explicitly setting boundaries , it becomes painfully clear who doesn't respect them. And who will repeatedly violate them.