Letting It All Hang Out

We live in a time in which there are more routes than ever when it comes to methods of meeting a potential mate (or “play partner”). The serendipitous bumping-into-each-other-in-the-grocery-store origin tale is becoming more and more anachronistic. Unsurprisingly, the proliferation of generic dating sites has coincided with the development of more interest-, belief- and lifestyle-specific options (I’m looking at you, christianmingle.com). A handful of BDSM-centered sites – including Fetlife and Collarme – offer venues for lonely kinky types to seek others with similar leanings, be it for a romantic relationship, a platonic friendship, or anything in between. But is leading with your fetish-friendly foot always a good thing?

Personally, I am nowhere near a 24/7 BDSM practitioner, nor do I have any interest in making my sexual predilections in this domain the leading factor in my “lifestyle” and everyday choices. Maybe it’s my “just in the bedroom” tendencies that have caused me to be somewhat disdainful towards the notion that finding someone whose fetishes happen to align with yours is a wise way of beginning a meaningful relationship. Of course these sites don’t suggest that communication and bonding over other interests and facets of one’s self are irrelevant, but the first erotically heeled foot through the door is a decidedly sexual, fetishized one. A lot of the time, when a newcomer to these sites inquires about how to meet a potential sub (just percentage-wise, male “doms” tend to form the majority of the members), it’s recommended that actually going out to an event is the best approach. But again, these munches or play parties or what have you are categorically organized around appealing to individuals with specific kinky inclinations.

There’s nothing bad that can be said about being afforded a location and an opportunity to connect with others who are like-minded, especially if one feels alone and even stigmatized due to specific fetishes or desires. But something about forming romantic relationships through these sites simply doesn’t appeal to me. It could definitely have something to do with my being jaded on account of several unsatisfactory encounters that began on such sites. Also, I still think there’s something to be said for introducing your sexual interests and fantasies to a partner once you’ve gotten through the other questions (where are you from, who are your favorite authors, how do you feel about me talking to my cats). The problem here, of course, is that everything can be going well until you drop the “well I like to be walked around on a leash with a carrot in my mouth” bomb, which could possibly have been avoided by getting all that out of the way before bothering to meet the person at all.

All I can say for myself is that sexual compatibility is never the most important thing in a meaningful connection for me. And sometimes the illusion that aligned fetishes will make for a successful relationship can be a dangerous, disappointing one. Besides, I find great joy in seeing a boy’s facial expression when I tell him for the first time that I like to be slapped – like, hard. Whether the reaction is positive or negative, it’s always memorable.

– J

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