As part of the BDSM community we’re constantly interacting with other kinksters, so how should you behave when you meet new people or even amongst your friends? What is kink etiquette and how do you keep it? Victoria Blisse gives us the lowdown on kink courtesy. 

Online kink etiquette

  • Be polite.  Just because you’re writing on a screen and not face to face with someone, it doesn’t mean you can forget your basic manners. When you’re starting a conversation, don’t just jump right into kink, introduce yourself and ask questions. Only begin talking about your fetish when the other person indicates that’s okay to do so. It’s not rocket science really, just remember you’re talking to another human being and give them the respect you’d want to receive.    
  • No unsolicited photos.  You may well be very proud of your manhood, you may think your erection is a thing of beauty to be admired. However, do not send a photo of your member without getting the recipients consent first. It’s the online equivalent of flashing, and it isn’t pleasant at all - this goes for boobs and vulvas too. Any intimate photos shouldn’t be sent until you know the person receiving them wants them. 
  • No means No.  If you’ve sent a nice, polite message to a user in our fetish community and their response is a ‘no thanks’ then stop sending messages to them. Don’t try to cajole them into a conversation, don’t call them names or get mean.  It is their decision, and you should respect that. I know this sounds like common sense, but I regularly get these kinds of responses to my gentle rejections.

Woman with BDSM tattoo at Folsom Street San Francisco
Seriously, dick pics don't rock...

Kink etiquette in the community

  • Ask First.  Don’t do anything to anyone without their permission. Just because someone is dressed in fetish wear doesn’t mean they consent to you stroking them in it. Just because someone is wearing a collar doesn’t mean you can order them about. If in doubt ask. All BDSM relationships are different. Some Dom/mes will want you to address all requests to their subs through them and others won’t. The only way to know is to ask and find out. Never be scared to ask questions, it’s the best way to learn. 
  • Don’t expect to be called Sir.  This goes the other way too.  Don’t call all Doms ‘Sir’ or all Dommes  ‘Mistress’.  These labels are often just used within a particular kink relationship, and that decision should be respected. You can always ask the top in question if they mind being called a certain honorific, that is what kink courtesy is all about after all.  If you prefer to be called Sir/mistress, then you can express this desire but respect others decisions if they don’t feel able to do that. 
  • Never interrupt a Scene.  It is one of the biggest no-nos of the BDSM community. When a group is playing, there are dynamics that others don’t even see. There’s concentration, topspace and subspace as well as all kinds of safety concerns. Never break into another person’s scene. The only exceptions are emergencies (e.g. the dungeon needs to be evacuated for fire ) or if you are the DM and you spot something unsafe in the play. 

Kinksters at Folsom Street BDSM Fair San Francisco
Remember kinksters... Ask first! 

Kink etiquette one-on-one 

  • Respect Boundaries.  When you meet new people with a view to fetish or kink play there are expectations that you don’t have on a first vanilla date. However, that doesn’t mean you can jump right into the kinky fun times.  Make sure your partner/s are happy to proceed. Check what their boundaries are and if they want to take things slow, respect that. Kink relationships have the same basis as vanilla ones – respect. 
  • Keep to pre-agreed rules.  If you’re playing with a new partner always keep to the limits that you agreed before play started. If you think of something hot to add in part way through play - ask the others involved before doing it. Active consent is essential in the kink community.  Be aware of that all the way through your scene. It’s just as important for the bottoms too. Make sure you know what the Top’s limits are before you play. 
  • Never assume.  It might be assumed that the dominant is completely in control of their play. They are, but a top doesn’t know everything. So make sure you are constantly asking the submissive/s you’re playing with if they’re okay. Ask for permission for any play that wasn’t explicitly pre-agreed and get consent for any kind of sexual touching. Checking in with a bottom is never going to ruin a scene. If you push past boundaries, it will bring the play to an abrupt stop! 

Victoria Blisse was an erotic author and sex-positive Reverend. She helped shape and FET from the very beginning and we're eternally grateful for her passion and creativity. Sadly, she passed away in January 2024. We hope that whenever her articles are read, she'll be honored.

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Want to meet new people who share your fetishes and kinks so you can practice the rules of kink etiquette you’ve just learnt? Find like-minded kinksters near you!

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Cover photo: Joped. Article images: Tom Hilton & Tobakhopper.  Flickr Creative Commons



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