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BDSMfilter: munches, play parties, and social anxiety
July 14, 2014 4:35 PM   Subscribe

How can an shy, inexperienced kinkster approach potential play partners without being too pushy or creepy?

I’m a middle-aged kinky guy. I grew up in the pre-Internet era, and spent many years being ashamed of my desires, unaware that there was a whole community of people actually living fulfilled lives and doing all these things I’ve always dreamed of. In the last few years I’ve been making an on-again, off-again effort to introduce myself to my local BDSM community. I’ve been getting out to munches fairly regularly, and have met some wonderful and welcoming people. What I haven’t managed to do, though, is find someone to play with. As a male bottom, I’m only too aware of the miserable reputation people like me have in the community -- the FetLife femdom groups are full of dominant women bemoaning the preponderance of “do-me subs” who just want to get their kink on. So I err on the side of not being that guy. The thing is... I kinda do want to get my kink on! I go to these munches and hear all the exciting stories of the amazing scenes everyone got into at the last play party, and I feel frustrated that I can’t seem to get past the “meet-and-greet” stage. Everyone already seems to have plenty of people to play with, and as someone with very little actual bottoming experience, I don’t even know what I can offer that they don’t already have. It doesn’t help that I have massive social anxiety, and overthink every interaction to the point that I’m convinced the slightest misstep will forever brand me as just another creeper looking for a “fetish delivery service”. I get that it’s bad form to go on and on about your kinks and nothing else, but obviously people in this life do have sexy fun playtime sometimes, and I assume they didn’t get to that place by just talking about the weather.

So, I guess my question is, how can I be more proactive about respectfully asking for what I want? If I have a nice conversation with someone at a munch, and befriend them on FetLife, is it appropriate to then message them about the possibility of playing together (assuming their interests seem to match up with mine)? Or is it better to wait a bit longer before even bringing up the subject? So far, my approach of standing around at munches hoping for a connection to miraculously happen doesn’t seem to be working, so I’m hoping the kinksters of MeFi can help point me in the right direction. Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (5 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
The key to a munch is actually making friends with people there. Including dudes. And hanging out and going to movies with them or walking your dogs together or drinking pints and meeting their other kinky friends. And then relationships happen, or hookups, or more relaxed discussions about kinks when you already know each other as people. The key is using the group as a meet up group to make friends. Talk about interests, sports, life, politics at a munch. Invite someone you meet at a munch to friend type stuff. People you click with as friends rather than as potential play partners. Your friends and play partners will be people you might not even expect walking in the door.

Normal procedures for overcoming social anxiety apply. Anxiety can come across as weirdness or even aggression to folks who don't know you well. Working on the social anxiety will help you succeed in finding friends at munches.

Feel free to pm me anytime with questions and good luck!
posted by Mistress at 4:54 PM on July 14 [4 favorites]


When guys in the kink community get branded as creeps, in my experience, it's for one of three reasons: either (1) they're pushy and don't take "no" for an answer, (2) they're totally indiscriminate about just propositioning anyone and everyone they meet, or (3) it's obvious that they're only friendly with people they're attracted to, and ignore everyone they aren't.

It sounds like you don't do any of those things. Make sure you don't start doing any of those things and you'll be fine. You are not going to be ostracized over a minor bit of awkwardness.

I definitely agree with Mistress's advice about making platonic friends in the community. There are so many reasons why that's a good idea, and she already named a bunch. But one additional reason, if you're socially anxious, is that you can learn the community norms around this stuff by watching (or asking) what your friends do. So in particular, if there are submissive guys in the community who are well-liked and well-respected, those are probably people who it's worth getting to know better.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:39 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Totally agree with the advice above (oh god except please don't talk about politics at a munch, ugh). Making friends in general, and making the scene part of your social life, is in my opinion the only practical way to use the scene to meet play partners. If you float around the edge of the scene looking to get straight to the sexy fun times -- that's pretty much a classic red flag, and people will be watching for it. I am going to go on and give some more explicitly didactic suggestions for your next steps, since you mention the social anxiety and might be looking for more specific suggestions than just "once you make friends it'll happen" (although I happen to believe that's true). Please don't take offense if you see this as too hand-holdy! This is also maybe not the right advice for finding a serious partner through the scene. This is what I've observed about how people who are new to the scene navigate successfully from their first munch to a place where they are playing casually with other kinksters. And it's not hard and fast rules, it's more like some tips I have that I hope might help you.

So just making the friends doesn't get you to playtime right? The next step is to be at social events that are not munches. You mention play parties in your question title but in the body of your question you only mention munches. Propositioning people to play with you happens at play parties, not at munches (and ideally, imo, not on Fet unless you're pretty good friends already). Do you maybe have the idea that a play party is an event you should only go to to with a play partner in order to carry out a pre-planned scene? Certainly plenty of people will show up with partners or will have scenes planned, but there is also lots of more spontaneous matching up. You need to be willing to go with friends without concrete plans to play, and just consider it a fun social party where there will be lots of new things to see.

So you go to the play party with the people you have made friends with. What do you do once you're there? Going once or twice just to observe is probably a good idea and can help you get used to the atmosphere of the party, observed some of the norms, ask some questions, meet more new people. It's fine to just go and not play at all, that's not inherently creepy! (There are some events where there is somewhat of an unspoken expectation of people mostly being active participants rather than just watching, but in my experience you will only run into this if you start getting into private events hosted by people who take the entire thing damn seriously, and you'll know if that is the case.) It's perfectly ok to watch other people playing -- being watched is part of the expectation of playing at a party as opposed to in your own bedroom. To avoid coming across as leering or creeping, don't watch any given scene for too long (say, 5-10 min max for starters), don't stare at someone's genitals even if they're exposed (unless the scene focuses on the genitals, like a sounding scene, in which case it's ok), don't rearrange where you're standing in order to get the best possible view of the genitals, don't ask for permission to watch, in fact definitely don't talk to the people scening at all, and don't zone out and hyper-focus on a scene to the exclusion of continuing to socialize with the partygoers around you. Just see it as part of your surroundings that you are curiously but casually observing to learn about, rather than for sexual gratification. To maximize your social comfort level I suggest you wear something vaguely fetishy but not over-the-top to blend in until you have a good sense of the local vibe -- really, as a man you can easily get away with nice black jeans, a black top with maybe some hardware on it (like grommets or something), and a leather accessory or two (boots if you happen to have them, a bracelet, etc). You will fit in just fine at any event in an outfit like that, so long as it's not prominently labeled "high fetish" which is basically a dress code.

Ok so say you're getting comfortable with your local casual open-to-the-public monthly play party. Then what? A play party is a totally appropriate context to bring up the possibility of trying out something new with either one of your new kinky friends, or someone your new kinky friends recommend. Watching a scene is a great way to bring it up in my opinion. Try asking your friend things like whether they've tried that activity, what it feels like, or who is known to be particularly good at doing it. In other words, framing it as your curiosity about the sensations or experience of some particular act, rather than framing it in sexual or lustful terms. Your immediate goal is to expand your experiences by trying something new, not to have someone get you off in the way you've always fantasized about. Let it be known amongst your friends what kinds of things you're interested in trying. It's very likely that, so long as your interests aren't particularly rare or dangerous (in the kink context), either one of your friends will be happy to try something out with you or they will have suggestions for who might be interested. "Wow, that looks so cool, I'd love to try fire cupping sometime. Can you think of anyone who might be interested in giving it a whirl with a newbie?" is a decent way to frame the question without the anxiety-making step of directly propositioning anyone.

So that should hopefully, over the course of a month or three, get you to the point where you are having not-super-long, not-super-intense, public, non-sexual scenes with a variety of casual play partners. Think of it as the equivalent of kinky coffee dates. This is the path by which you can meet play partners who you might sense some possible spark or connection with. And then you will be on solid enough footing to start talking to someone about your interest in taking the play to a private location and having it be more intimate/connected/sexual/romantic/whatever. One of the cool things about the scene is that people are not squeamish about sex so at the point where you are starting to think about whether you might be able to take it to a more intimate level with someone, you can and should be really explicit about making that transition.

Good luck, have fun, and I hope you find some great play partners! Pretty much everyone in the scene has some degree of social awkwardness or anxiety so you should fit in fine :)
posted by ootandaboot at 8:03 PM on July 14 [5 favorites]


Hello, anon. I totally pick up what you are saying, it's hard to find the right situation, person, or scene, and more so for male submissives than for female, by far. I have several male friends who identify as submissive and they really do have a hard time finding what they need in the local scene. As a feminist, I'm often struck by how much the BDSM community is patriarchal in structure, despite its overtly accepting stance. Anyway, anon, are you totally averse to the idea of paying a pro-Domme for what it is that you want? Yes, it would be transactionally different, but you would have your needs met with minimal social complications. This would not preclude your attendance at events and hopefully one day finding the perfect arrangement that fits your needs and it might increase your confidence and help you avoid looking 'creepy' or 'desperate' (scare quotes because I, personally hate these dismissive terms). You may also find that the occasional session with a professional would help you refine what it is that you are looking for in a D/s relationship or scene.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 6:06 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


The Topping Book might give you insight in how to be attractive to a domme or switch.
posted by morganw at 9:09 PM on July 15


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