Usually once a person truly understands what BDSM is I get the following question, “well, how did you start?” or “How does one start in it?” And that, for many reasons, is a very good question. I often liken BDSM and general kinky acts to starting new job in a different career field. For the purposes of this post I will use that as a metaphor for learning BDSM.
Generally speaking, when one is thinking about starting a new job in a different career, there is a high level of research. You want to know salaries (both starting and increasing), projected job openings, education requirements, general duties, etc. Many people look to the internet for the answers to these questions and more. That is much the same with BDSM. When thinking about adding it to your lifestyle or relationship a high degree of research is required. Look in to things that you like and don’t like, what fantasies you may have, are there any themes, etc. answers to these questions can provide a good starting point for inquiry and can lead you to the next step.
When people research careers they often ask current people in different jobs, they try to find people who are currently in the field practicing and ask them what to look for, expect, think about, etc. The same should be expected for those who are interested in BDSM. It is important to talk to those who are currently practicing or formerly practicing to gain valuable insights on what the lifestyle looks like from a personal perspective and less from an abstract or internet perspective. If having a hard time locating people in your immediate area, the internet is good for finding groups of people who may be in a different area but similar to you.
Education and Training
Most people who are serious about a career change and believe that a career change is right for them go on to the next step of educating and or training themselves in the arts of that career. In BDSM this would be the equivalent to training and mentoring. The same is required of many employment jobs. You would not want a surgeon to operate on you if he or she did not go to medical school, would you? BDSM mentoring and training is just as important. A person should not (in my opinion) engage in this lifestyle without some basic knowledge and education, even if it is no more than reading a few books and then testing the waters. I do not recommend that but something is better than nothing.
Training and mentoring are two important things that I recommend and would almost require for anyone who is thinking about practicing BDSM. Mentoring is like having someone who can guide you based on your individual desires. Training is closer to the general education basics that one thinks are required to start a profession. Generally speaking I recommend finding someone whose patterns, mannerisms, and practices you would like to emulate and then requesting them to mentor you. Training is a different story. In many states there are different BDSM groups who offer trainings and workshops. Depending on your level of openness, location, and free time these may be an option to you.
Once you have researched, been trained, found a mentor, etc. You may feel ready to look for a job. This is arguably the longest process and generally takes the longest time in my opinion. Some people are fortunate to find the right “job” immediately for them. Others it takes a longer time to find a job; others may spend time job hopping until they have found the right fit. Much is the same when finding a BDSM relationship or dynamic. A dynamic refers to the exchange of power that takes place between two people in the context of their relationship and not as an always in the context of a traditional romantic relationships. When looking for a job, one has to think about his or her personal requirements and desires and communicate that to others. BDSM thrives on communication between participants for a dynamic to be successful.
Once you have found a “job” or dynamic that works for you there are general little tweaks or on the job trainings that you can do or go through to be more successful at having the kind of relationship that you want.