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Kink Etiquette

Here are a few of the common mistakes made by new people in the kink community. I see these regularly. They are often taken as red flags and may hurt your reputation before you even understand why they are not okay in this community. These are not exhaustive, but they are some that people who have only ever been in the vanilla community may not know.

1. Names and titles. Avoid calling someone you are not in a dynamic with by a pet name / honorific (e.g. slut, sir, princess, daddy), if you have not negotiated these terms with that person, it is rude to be so informal with someone. If someone else requests/demands others (not partners) use a specific honorific, that is usually a red flag.

2. Trying to make one-on-one meetups quickly. While the vanilla community typically recommends trying to meet a potential new friend or partner alone for coffee or drinks, it is often dangerous to do so in this community where reputation is so important. Without witnesses there is nothing stopping you or the other person from being creepy, or from the other person lying about your behavior and hurting your reputation.

3. Not asking questions. Most experienced kinksters are happy to share knowledge or explain customs. If you don’t understand something, always ask. It is a quick red flag for someone to pretend like they know something they don’t, especially terminology or technical knowledge. If someone says “do you like frotteurism?” you don’t have to pretend, just ask what it is. If someone asks if you know how to flog “florentine” style, definitely don’t say yes and make it up as you go. I also wouldn’t rely on a quick google search to teach you competently. Many of the activities kinksters enjoy are complex and have some risk involved. It can be dangerous to yourself or others to not fully understand what you’re doing. Typically the kink community is good about not shaming people for asking questions or wanting to learn. If someone does make fun of you for not knowing something, it’s on them for being pretentious, not you for seeking knowledge. Kinksters learn from a variety of places, but unlike algebra or “To Kill a Mockingbird”, these things are not taught in school, nor are most even given easy access to educational information of any kind.

4. Touching other people or other people’s things without asking. Even things like hugs or handshakes are usually expected to be negotiated before hand (e.g. “hey, it’s nice to see you, would you like a hug?”) Sometimes people have really cool toys and you may want to touch or examine things. Ask first. If you’re at a munch and someone’s bag or personal item is taking up a needed chair, ask them to move it, nicely.

5. Asking personal identifying questions. This is flipped from vanilla society. While in a vanilla context questions like “where do you live?”, “what is your real(legal) name” or “what do you do professionally?” are common, these are too personal for the kink community. Many people may not be out to friends, family, or coworkers. Some people run the risk of being shunned, humiliated, or fired if they were outed. This kind of danger means that identifying information is not usually appropriate within the first few meetings. I have known people, played with people, and even dated them before learning the answer to some of these questions. However, questions like “what kinks do you like?”, “What’s your sexual orientation?”, “what is your preferred name?” “Do you like to be spanked?” are usually welcome even though vanilla culture would say these are much too personal.

~ Ren Reed