BDSM has been a pretty quiet lifestyle for many years until 50 Shades of Grey came along. Suddenly vanilla men and women were curious as to the different aspects of the lifestyle. However, newbies to the lifestyle only know what they have heard about and that is that the BDSM has only one aspect; it is purely sexual and you have a Dom/sub relationship. This is so far from the truth and it really bothers those who are in the BDSM lifestyle. This is not a cookie cutter lifestyle. You can be married and have an outside Master. You can be single and play both the Dominant and submissive roles with different people.

The biggest misconception is that this lifestyle is strictly about sex. BDSM is about trust and fulfilling the needs of someone else. It is about taking control and fulfilling fantasies. People who are not familiar with the BDSM practice tend to think it is all about power and domination and humiliation. They think it is a way to abuse people for their own sick needs. The truth of the matter is plain and simple; the philosophy of BDSM is that it is safe, sane, and consensual.

These are just a few of the very many misconceptions there are about the BDSM lifestyle. Combine that with incorrect information on the internet and sensationalized ideas it becomes clear that when you get a new submissive you need to make sure they are really ready for the lifestyle. Since many people do not really know what BDSM is or what it is meant to do people can’t possibly know if they are ready right away. How can they if they have so much false information? Being a woman and having been a Master myself to both men and women there are a few things I look for to make sure the sub is ready for our relationship.

1. Specific questions: I have very specific questions that I ask. The first one asks what made the person interested in the lifestyle. Pay attention to the body language, tone of voice, and the answer very carefully. If they hesitate, inhale deeply, or stutter then it is a sign that they are not ready. It has been my experience that these people are vanilla and looking to do some kinky bondage stuff in the bedroom while being “dominated”. Their definition of domination means being told what to do but they will not have consequences if they say no. This falls into what is called being a kink. The spice they are looking for is more spontaneous than anything else. They can say no and dive right into something else sexually. BDSM subs do not operate that way. 98% of the time this is the case. There is nothing wrong with that at all; but chances are they do not want a BDSM relationship.
Also, if they say they are just curious or it has been a fantasy to be “dominated” those are also signs they are vanilla and just trying to get kinky. I also ask some questions about the history of BDSM. If they do not know the answer and are not motivated to find out then they are not ready. However, if they do not know but are very curious to find out or they do the research and get back to you then that is a sure sign they are at least on more serious path of being a submissive. I also ask what literature they have read. There are specific books and websites that serious BDSM participants have read. Not being aware of these would not be a deal breaker; but if they are not willing to check them out then they are not ready.

2. Tell the sub they are wrong: As I have stated before many ideas of the lifestyle are completely wrong. When the sub starts to give the wrong information tell them politely that they are wrong then pay attention to their physical reaction. If they tense up or their body language looks defensive they are not ready. A true submissive will not argue or become defensive so if something like this gets them in a tizzy then they are not ready for this lifestyle. If the sub asks you why they are wrong or for the right answer it shows they are willing to learn. That is a good sign that they could be ready to be a sub.

3. Talk details: This is important to me in determining if the new sub is ready for our relationship. The most important question I ask once we are at this stage is what their hard limits are and their soft limits. Even if they are brand new to the BDSM lifestyle all together they will have some concrete idea as to their limits. Do not expect them to know all their limits though, but having some is a great start. A submissive that is ready is willing to talk about the gritty details of what is expected of them, their limits, a safe word, and their punishments. Basically every single detail is hashed out at this point including when the role begins and ends. Remember this could be purely sexual during sessions or it could be a 24/7 lifestyle. I always have a contract written up with very specific details.

4. Progression: When a sub starts their role they will most likely stay in what they feel is their safe zone when it comes to sex and punishments. However as the relationship progresses so should other aspects. Sex, responsibilities, and punishments all need to progress. If they don’t then you may have someone who was never really ready to be a sub.
5. Gut feeling: Sometimes you just get a gut feeling that the person is not ready. They may be argumentative, lack passion, or become very upset while being punished. The submissive should be taking pleasure in their role so if they aren’t then it may be time to let them go.

If a sub is not ready for the relationship do not take it personally or ostracize them from the community. Everyone was new at one point right? Simply have the conversation that they are not ready and give concrete examples as to why you think so. You never want to end on a sour note because in the future they could be the perfect sub for you.

Written by Kelly N. – Contributing Author