Safety while looking for partners

Note: This article is for people who are looking for relationships, not one time play partners (not that there is anything wrong with that 🙂 )

Often times, I am asked how people go about finding partners. This admittedly is a topic near and dear to my heart. In the past, like everyone else in the world, I’ve had to find a play partner and/or girlfriend. I hope that others can gleam from my experience.

Let me preface this article by saying that dating, vanilla or otherwise, is never easy. The very reason that it is so difficult is because it is where we stand to get hurt the most. As a species, we don’t like to be vulnerable. When you date, you in essence lay yourself out on the table and the potential to be hurt is higher as opposed to simple play partners that in essence are a one-night stand. Therefore, when you are on the prowl for more than just a partner, there is so much more to account for.


Firstly, you need compatibility. Not only in styles of play but general personalities as well. No matter what you might think, you can’t submit or dominate someone whom you hate. The chemistry is all off and it makes for more issues than it solves. It might work in the short-term, but, like any relationship, in the end it falls apart. Get to know your potential partner in a social situation rather than a scene before starting a BDSM relationship. Go out to dinner; see a movie, whatever it takes. Learn who and what they are before falling into your respective roles.


Secondly, you need to look for experience in the styles of play you are seeking (if you are looking for a Dom) or desire to engage in them (on either side). While expert experience is never required, a basic knowledge of how to do a particular form of play or a desire to learn is very important. You never want to be with someone who feigns mastery in a particular skill that has the potential for grave bodily harm.


So what can be done in these situations? Ideally, we’d like to take people at their words, but often times, either the person doesn’t know their own limitations, or it’s a flat-out lie. What you as either a Dom or a sub can do is to is do your homework. Ask around the community and ask for references. One thing to keep in mind however is that there will always be negative reviews no matter who it is. From vindictive ex-partners to opposing groups (for example: if two local clubs had an unspoken hatred of one another, naturally people from the “other club” might be slightly biased) you will get a wide variety of opinions. What you should do though is keep a good/bad tally and watch for trends. As mentioned previously, talk to former or current partners to get the inside information. What might come out in public may be completely different behind the scenes. In short, ask around before you commit to anything.


So where are good places to look? There are several good and bad places to do so.

  • the open marketplace. This is one place that seems to get a lot of people, but the majority of people I’ve personally met on there are not looking for anything long-term. That isn’t to say you can’t find someone long-term on there, but it isn’t the focus of the site.
  • kinky social networking. This is a relatively good place. It is kind of a mix of collarme and Facebook. The issue is that determining compatibility isn’t easy. While it’s a breeze to look at someone’s profile, actually finding people to look at can be hard. There is no search function aside from finding people by name and location. In order to determine kinks, you literally have to browse each individual profile, and that can be tedious. There are personal ad pages, but you might not be getting the cream of the crop there either.
  • Munches: real-life kinky social interaction. A munch is often recommended as the first step to pursing kinks in real life. It is a safe vanilla environment in which to get to know people. However, if you are new to the scene and don’t have any kinky local friends to attend it with, it can sometimes be daunting. How do you know whom to trust when you don’t know anyone? In addition, since it is a local event, you might find out something you’d rather not have known about a co-worker or a vanilla friend. In addition, someone local might spot you with said group and overhear some “spicy talk” and draw (although correct) conclusions.
  • Clubs: where the players play. I’m the first to admit that clubs are not for everyone. It can be a daunting first step to put your skills, your body or both on display for complete strangers to see. Nevertheless, that is the play part. Socially, clubs are quite a good place to meet people although it does suffer from some of the same drawbacks as munches. Most of the clubs I have visited in the past have ample social space that is isolated from the play space. Others have social areas, hybrid social and play areas and then play areas. These types of venues can spark the kinky mind and allow you to experiment with someone new thanks to the safety of DMs (dungeon monitors). Still, one has to get over public fear before that can happen.
  • Vanilla dating locales: home of the pickup line (bars, bowling alleys etc.). These places are a mixed bag. While it may be possible to find someone in these kind of locations (heck, I bowl sometimes), there are no guarantees the person might be interested in BDSM. That isn’t to say that people can’t be turned to “the dark side” but nothing is certain. Just be certain that if BDSM is a requirement for a relationship, that it be discussed early on. If it is just nice to have, it can wait until you get to know the person better. Keep in mind though, the person may not be interested and may pass on you. Keep your heart on your sleeve and make sure you are prepared for that.
  • MMORPGs: when your screen isn’t filled with porn and lolcats. The internet at large isn’t really a good place to meet people in the lifestyle. You can try things like MMORPGs and such, but in the end, it’s a bit of a crapshoot. On top of that, most of the people you might meet who are actually looking are not mature enough for having a relationship with. That isn’t to say that you can’t eventually meet someone through these alternative mediums (World of WarCraft, Second Life etc.) but it can be tough. Second life in particular has BDSM clubs and can be a suitable introduction to the lifestyle in a relatively safe way. However, it is no substitute for the REAL thing. Don’t be fooled that submitting online is close to the real thing, but it is a good taste.


Dating is hard, this I know from experience. The best advice I can give is keep at it, even when all seems lost. It is easy to get discouraged, and you might need to take a break, but never give up. Keep meeting people at local events and he or she will present himself/herself.

Other resources:

The dark side podcast #75


Note: This article is for educational purposes only. The opinions expressed are solely of the author. does not accept responsibility for the application of this content.


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