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Top 20 things if considering BDSM or Kink

Here’s my list of some of the top things you should think about when evaluating if BDSM and kink is right for you, whether in the relationship you may be in now, or for the future.

*It should be noted that there is no “One True Way”. No matter what side of the slash you are on, you have to define your needs, your wants, and your limits. This includes the type of relationship you are looking for and how you wish to live within it. What I present are collected lessons learned through years of practice, listening to the experiences of others, and research.  I encourage you to do your own research, challenge what you read anywhere, and define your life for yourself.

Ultimately, your feelings are your own, as are your needs and goals. While they may not be right for others, they are not necessarily “Wrong”. They belong to you – own them, and if necessary, defend them.

What’s the reason?

It’s important to know what the forces that are driving you to change are. Was there an event in your life that gave you the motivation to look? Is there a need that’s not being fulfilled? Or maybe you’re looking for a sense of adventure? Quite often there is some triggering experience or event that set the wheels in motion.

Why now?

The purpose of asking yourself this question is to see if you can identify and articulate what drew you to explore a lifestyle change now. Usually there are moments in our live when we reevaluate where we are, what we’re doing and where we’re going.   Consider why you are asking this now and perhaps not beforehand. Also take a look at your hesitancies, fears, limitations, etc.

What are you looking for – what are your Wants?

Everything we do has some measure of hope associated with it; some outcome that we would love to see achieved or need fulfilled. Make a list of things you would like to see come out of this, and prioritize them.

What are the motives behind your Wants?

Since everyone has hopes, desires, wants and needs – it’s a good idea to know where yours actually come from. Seek in yourself the reasons for each of your wants from above. Describe them, probe them a little, and see where it first started. This is a way of getting to the core of why you are choosing what you choose.  The adage of “ask why five times” for each item helps get to the root.

What aren’t you looking for – what are your Limits?

Everyone has a wishlist of what they want, and focus on obtaining those things. However, not everyone’s list will match up – and that means being honest about both what you want, and what you don’t. Not everyone will be a match, and it’s better to be honest when it isn’t before getting involved in something both may later regret.  Be honest and upfront about your limits.

What are the motives behind your Limits?

As you did with your Wants, you also need to ask yourself why your limits are what they are. This is not to defend them to anyone, for your limits are your own and need to be respected, but knowing WHY you have these limits is important in understanding yourself, and helping another understand your deeper self. Doing this helps you to work toward making better choices and improving our ability to communicate with honesty and respect.

What do you have to offer?

What is it you will bring to the table in a relationship? Everyone has something they value within themselves that another may see as an asset, what is yours? Part of this question is to help you realize your value, feel as sense of worth, and recognize it accordingly. If you have no sense of self worth, others will be less likely to value you as well.

What challenges might you bring?

We all have baggage and quirks of personality. While some can be “endearing” they will eventually weigh on us over time. What challenges do you bring to a relationship that another may have to learn to deal with? Can you separate the difference between challenging behaviors versus being a “bad person”?

Can you be honest with yourself and others?

BDSM and kink culture promotes a culture of responsibility, reasonableness, and consensuality. Holding back important details means the other is not fully informed, which might have changed their consent. You will need to be honest with yourself and communicate honestly to another your needs, wants, limits, commitment, and much more.   You need to be Authentic and Transparent to the best level you can be.

Can you be honest about your health?

Similar to the above, when you are honest about your health or physical limitations, you help your partner ensure your wellbeing, even in activities with risk. Can you be upfront about physical limitations, medications, conditions, etc?  Just because you think they may not need to know, does not necessarily mean that’s true – which can make the difference between an exciting night and a trip to the ER.

What is your level of commitment?

Since kink and BDSM is about relationships, be they brief of long-term, with one or many partners, the level of commitment you are willing to make will influence what type of relationships might work best for you. What level of commitment are you prepared to give, as well as receive? Will you be honest if presented with a potential partner that’s looking for more than you are willing to provide or need?

Can you allow yourself to be responsibly vulnerable?

BDSM and kink often asks of its participants for honesty, truthfulness, accountability, open-mindedness. It also often asks us to focus on enjoying the journey regardless of the destination. However, at the root of fear and anxiety is our sense of vulnerability. To build trust and travel deeper in this lifestyle you need to admit your vulnerabilities and often challenge them, but not recklessly so.

Can you be responsible for your own well being?

Regardless of peoples interests, belief systems, religious or political affiliations, the fact remains that there are both good and bad people in the world… and most folks lay somewhere in between. You need to be prepared to protect yourself with caution, good questions, and measured progress. Can you show the self discipline required, and to be responsible for you without trying to shift blame or responsibility?

Do you have someone to trust as a “safety line”?

Meeting people in public places provides you with a certain measure of security, but it’s always good to have someone you trust that can be your safety line. This is someone that usually won’t ask too many questions, and focuses on your safety and wellbeing more than meddling. Appoint someone trusted to expect you to check in at certain points, or be able to take action if you don’t.

Will you communicate clearly, say what you mean, and mean what you say?

If you are going to check in with your safety line at a certain time, do it. If you are going to text your partner when you are home safely, do it. If you have a stated limit and the other person is pushing you, call them on it. Second guessing yourself undermines not only your own confidence, but can lead to some dangerous outcomes if it goes too far. This does not mean you have to be terse or rude, but endeavor to be respectful, honest and timely in your communication. Likewise, if you make a commitment, hold to it. It speaks to how you respect your own word and how others will ultimately respect you.

Are you prepared to make choices, even when difficult?

Some choices are very easy, and demand little from us. However, most choices involve some cost, some trade off. In BDSM and kink culture, consensuality is a required value – one that implies that you ALWAYS have a choice. Can you accept that you are responsible for your choices?

Are you prepared to accept consequences of your choices and actions?

An extension to the above, when you make a choice, can you accept that choice as yours and not try to impart the negative consequences to someone else? Did you make a choice to speak respectfully or not? Did you follow-up with proper after play care? Are you willing to accept the consequences of your actions or do you prefer to blame shift?

Are you prepared to give respect as well as require it?

In this age of entitlement, people ask much of others yet are not prepared to provide the same. Are you prepared to be respectful, show your best face, reserve snap judgments, and if needed hold the temper or biting comments? Similarly, are you prepared to also ensure you are treated the way you wish to be? BDSM and kink is not about abuse, it’s about respecting and enjoying activities or ways of conducting a relationship to mutual satisfaction.

Will you allow yourself time to adjust and develop?

Even when everyone is experienced, they aren’t experienced with everyone. Even the most seasoned BDSM veteran should use a measured pace so you can adjust to new experiences, discuss them, and help you develop an understanding. There is no good reason to try to go from 0-100 miles an hour right away. Will you be able to insist on that for yourself and resist the urge to plunge right in, so you are not in over your head?

Do you expect this to be the thing that makes you happy?

Despite the wonderful things about BDSM and kink, it is still about people and interpersonal relationships. It may be physical, emotional, spiritual, short or long-term, it doesn’t matter.   However, there is no magic wand, no silver bullet. No one single thing can MAKE you happy and you need to take responsibility for finding and allowing happiness while also working to feed and support it.

Closing

BDSM and kink is not something aside from the skills of making for a good traditional or “vanilla” relationship – its another layer of complexity and demands even more from you in many ways.  That’s not to say you shouldn’t consider it, but its not a magical solution free from effort or responsibility.

Link to FetLife post

Link to original Limits Unleashed Article shared here

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