I apologize for taking so long to get back to Exxxotica, and this will only be delayed further as I have a heavy weekend ahead and I was recently asked to comment on some important issues.  A young mother expressed to me a growing interest in the BDSM lifestyle and an interest in finding a relationship on line as she was a single mother and felt strongly about the protection of her child.  She had no experience in finding a BDSM partner and wanted some advice as to what direction to take.

My answer was the following:

There is a truly HUGE amount about which I would wish to comment.  I will try to hit everything, but again, it is a lot.  It is important, but it is absolutely my own opinion.  My puppy bear is a lovely submissive and strongly masochistic woman with two preteen children.  I have asked her to add her thoughts.  Those will be in italics.
So, the subjects you bring up are, in general, the following:

1)  Being a Mother and keeping your sexual life private from your child(ren).

TE:  To be honest with you I will tell you that I am a Strong believer in open and honest communication, particularly with your children.  However, there are a lot of caveats there.  If you are dealing with children young enough not to understand the difference between your unique and private personal family lives and what you freely share with your second grade class in “Show and Tell”, then a large degree of decorum must be maintained.

I do not believe it appropriate in any way to invite your underage children to participate in any way in your sex life whether it be the purest Christian Vanilla Missionary style or the kinkiest form of erotic SM play.

However, no matter how private you keep things, it is inevitable that something will happen and questions will be asked.  It is at that time that an honest discussion must be had.  But there is no reason why you have to pour out every detail of your intimate flow of juices to your curious child.  If, for instance, your child asks why she heard Mommy yelling last night, I feel it totally unnecessary and dangerous to begin to develop a long story about how Mommy fell and hurt herself.  In my opinion the Best answer is, “Well, I will answer honestly, it has to do with Mommy and Daddy’s sex life.  Everything is good and loving and wonderful between Mom and Dad (or Mom and her friend) and no one was hurt.  We were having fun.  Do you want to know more?”  And in most cases, the answer will be “No”.  Kids usually don’t want to know about their parents making the beast with two backs, or whatever, so don’t bother going ahead with explanations they don’t want to hear.

An exploration of what they really ask about, and an honest answer will go far further in building a good relationship and trust between you, than any level of “protective” stories.  Kids really do know when you lie.

Again, this is my opinion from bringing up two happy and healthy boys in a house with my single tail collection hanging on my office wall.  If they asked, I answered.  Both boys have their own lives now, and are exploring their own individual choices within an atmosphere of great love from both their parents.

PB:  First off, I completely understand the desire to ‘shield’ your children from this part of your life all together.  That would be so much easier in so many ways.  But…..at least in my case, I have found that nearly impossible.  I agree that honesty is the best course of action….but I, myself, would likely buffer that transparency a tad.  First off – if your children are in the house then use a damn gag, for goodness sake.  Even the most well-adjusted, calm and open-minded child will NOT want to hear their mother screaming – be it from pain or pleasure.  I think a simple answer that divulges as little as necessary is appropriate.  ‘Yes, even grown-ups like to pretend sometimes and the handcuffs are fun when I am pretending to be captured.’  I have a much harder time with the topic of marks on my body.  Children (mine, at least) seem to not quite get the concept of privacy and so it has proven impossible to hide all marks on my body from them.  Personally, I have not done a good job with this one.  The result is that my oldest is aware of something….she is embarrassed by any marks that may show outside of my clothes…but I don’t think she really knows what they are from…and of course we all know the stories an imagination can create absent the truth are usually tenfold worse than the real thing.  

2)  Exploring a relationship on line.

TE:  I am aware of many people who have on line relationships that are healthy, affirming and rewarding.  I also know many people who have on line relationships which are not.  I think the most important thing to understand is that an on line relationship is not the same as one in real life for many different reasons.  It is not a practice run, it is not “almost” a real life relationship, it is different.  It is on line, and because of that, in my opinion, it is based almost entirely in fantasy.

Over untold ages humankind has learned to observe those with whom they interact.  Body position, tone of voice, eye movement, smell, hand movement.  Now that we communicate so much by text we tend to feel that these things are not necessary to communication.  But I say they are.  They are, in fact, so necessary that we imagine them as we read, just as when we read a novel we imagine the actions and behavior of the participants.  But here is the issue.  We are the ones who are imagining.  It is not coming from the person sending the text.  So in a way, it is like getting text with all these question sheets, and we fill them out with all the answers that confirm what it is we want to hear and not necessarily what it is that is being said.

So, eventually comes the actual meetings and the overwhelming surprises.  Since I presume you do eventually want a lifelong relationship with your ideal Dominant, now comes the unfortunate process of unlearning what you have now learned on line, and adjusting to the reality of person to person interactions.  Believe me. They be different.

PB:   Are you interested in an online relationship to help keep distance between this and the rest of your life?  If so, it may suffice…..but keep in mind that if you find the D/s dynamic truly fulfilling you may likely long for more intimacy, contact and ownership than a virtual r’ship can provide for you.  My first exposure to D/s was online and I felt it was a good ‘warm-up’ to see if I really enjoyed this sort of thing….sort of a low-risk trial period.  But I found, pretty soon, that I wanted much more than an online situation could provide.  Technology certainly helps with this sort of thing….it is possible to feel connected, aroused, pleasured together even though separated by miles.  But, personally, I found it very limited and unsatisfying fairly quickly. 

3)  Deciding on what kind of relationship you really want.

TE:  This is, by FAR, the most difficult step for both a submissive and a Dominant.  We are not taught in this society to look into ourselves and accept who it is we really are.  We are primarily taught to observe what society and our friends and our teachers tell us we should be and should want, and to model our behavior to match that in order to be accepted and safe.  But for many of us, sooner or later, as you are discovering, that structure of behavior just don’t make it.  We find that we can not maintain the role.  This is not a bad thing.  But just because it is not a bad thing does not make it an easy thing.  I freely admit that it was and is one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do, and it is absolutely ongoing.  It does not stop.

So it is time to start.  It requires you to clearly envision what you want to get, what you want to give, and how that is to be done.  It requires research.  In other words, you have to begin to learn what is out there and all the different and strange kinky things that people do, and decide if that is for you.  The easiest way to do that is to read and research on line.  When you see something, or hear about something and finally understand a bit about what that actually entails, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!  It will tell you a lot.  If you feel yourself getting breathless or want to read the passage again, or watch the video again, that really is saying something to you.  This is something you want to approach.  If you read or view something that really sort of bores you and you move on quickly, think about it.  WHY is it uninteresting?  Is it the behavior, the relationship you assume, or is it possibly frightening?  All good reasons to, at this time, avoid it.  Perhaps it would be good for you later, perhaps not.  But there is no reason for you to pursue now.  Remember:  This behavior is for you  and no matter how “submissive” you wish to eventually be in a relationship, it is still, now and for all time, for your Pleasure, Enjoyment, and Fulfillment.

Finally, a caveat, while movies, clips, books, stories, and many internet sites involving kink and BDSM life can go a long way to introduce and inform you about what is possible for you, they are primarily written, filmed and produced to titillate and attract, not necessarily to inform as to reality.  A simplistic example would be that it may be incredibly hot to imagine being strung up in a closet all day while your Master/Owner goes off to work.  It is also a good way to die.  Bondage seems simple, but it causes more injury and death than any other form of play in which we engage.

PB:  I find this is SUCH a difficult question to answer…..not to mention that it is often a moving target.  We are constantly evolving and so what it might take to make us happy will likely evolve right along with us.  I like the concept of imagining the RELATIONSHIP you want vs. the DOMINANT.  It helps you focus on what is really important.  Personally, I have only begun to be able to think in concrete terms about what I want after real life experience.  Submission and this type of dynamic was too unknown and nebulous for me to be able to form intelligent ideas of what I did or did not want.  I found talking through this with a trusted member of the kink community immensely helpful.  

TE:  So, with the above three discussions you might get the impression that I truly recommend a difficult level of honesty with yourself and those you most love, and a strong recommendation that you can learn FAR more from real life encounters with real people than you can just reading, watching and interacting on line, all of which is true.  But there is a LOT more I would wish to say before THAT step is made.  That brings me to issue #4.

4)  Keeping yourself safe.

I do not know your location, so some of what I say might be difficult.  I was introduced into the public kink scene while I lived in Los Angeles and I had a multitude of different venues to choose from at which to learn, see demo’s and meet a wide variety of people, both good and bad.  It was a fine and valuable education which formed a great deal of what I recommend.

I think the first thing to do is to contact a large and reputable community as close as possible to you,  Yes, on line, but eventually in a place you can visit.  There are many all over the country.  Though the broader site does not have one particular location, I strongly recommend FetLife.Com as a community to explore.  It is world wide and has an overwhelming number of smaller groups for specific locations.

Once you find a local, or close community, attempt to connect with people who are like you (particularly if you and they have young children, for they have delt with the same issues) both in situation and in inclination (a relatively young submissive woman, masochistic if you are).  Talk, Take your time.  Understand that on many different levels You Are NEW MEAT.  While that is a direct warning to avoid immediate contact with the large number of Sexual Dominants (both heterosexual and lesbian) who will approach you, it is also a warning against people who want you to immediately join this group because they want you to understand right away how much better they are than that group.  Unfortunately that attitude is rampant in the lifestyle, no matter what part of the country you are.

Eventually, you will want to go to some form of community gathering.  They come in all flavors.  Public gatherings at a restaurant (munches), educational events, lectures or demo’s, and, of course, the play party.  If you have talked and gotten to know someone of your inclination, go to one of these events when you can meet them.  You will be introduced and probably almost immediately approached by someone who is just the most perfect person that can possibly be.  Ah, probably this is not the time to go off and have a private meeting with him so he can tell you how the BDSM scene really is, what a “real” Dominant is, and how a “real” submissive should behave towards them.  Now is the time to go home, take a Big breath, and see how all this sits inside.  Then, when you are absolutely and totally comfortable, go again and do the same.

Are you hearing me?  What I am saying is Take Things Slowly.  You will not want to.  You have just discovered Nirvana, a release from a state of suffering.  But sweet, most precious, unique and special person, you still have a lot to learn.

If, at any time, in this slow and lovely process, you see someone whose style, look, behavior and words seem to attract you, then it might be time to ask around a bit.  Does he already have a submissive, in which case it might be reputable very good to meet and talk with them both?  Is he or you interested in a multiple partner family?  If he is single, has he had submissives before?  Talk to them.  Why is the relationship no longer active?  Are they friends?  What is your take (Listen To Your Body) on the submissive?  After this, then you might want to talk to the actual Dominant.

I can not tell you what an overwhelming complement it is to be approached by a submissive who has done her homework, has learned about you, knows a lot about what she wants, and freely admits that she is attracted to you.  It is a truly wonderful place to start negotiations.

Whew:  OK, Negotiations.  Remember, you may be a submissive, but you are not anyone’s submissive.  You are still your own woman with your own needs and wants and every right in the world to get exactly what it is you need, and maybe what you want.  There is NO reason why you should be overly deferential or submissive to this person.  You should be polite and confident.  An oft used phrase of mine is, “I would far rather have the momentary submission of a Queen, than the abject slavery of a wretch.”  Submission is in no way subservience.  In my relationship I want self confidence, pride, character, and insight.  How much more valuable that is.  I want every gift my submissive can give me, and I can not know all the many gifts she has.

Finally, if your situation precludes the possibility of exploring within the context of a community and you are eventually forced to meet a prospective Dominant on your own and possibly on his turf, do a great deal of research on safe meetings and safe calls.  I can not emphasize that enough.  If you ask I will explain.

PB:  Definitely look into Fetlife and find the groups near your area.  There will likely be some sort of submissive group that could be a good place to start looking for friendly faces.  Even if you aren’t ready for anything local, there are several online submissive groups that would be useful for you to listen to and learn from.  But please do remember……each path is unique.  Listen and learn how others handle their kink lives and remember those things that resonate with you, discard the rest.  If you are willing to meet folks in real life,  I strongly suggest, as Arach did, that you start out S-L-O-W.  This can be VERY HARD to do…..talk about a kid in a candy store!  But you really want quality over quantity.   Get to know folks, socialize only, for awhile…..find one or two Dom/mes or tops that you feel comfortable with and who have a good reputation (asking for references is common and expected) and just spend time slowly exploring what is available on a play partner basis versus a Dom/sub relationship.  This will help you build up that description of the relationship you want, without complicating it by attaching it to one particular person.  As you learn more and gain a better understanding of yourself as a submissive, it will be much easier for you to determine those qualities in a Dominant partner that will fulfill you.

TE:  I hope what I have said has brought up untold questions and would hope that you ask them all.

The Eroticist