Mitsu Mark talked about her experiences as a pro-Domme in her excellent piece “Lessons I Learned as a Dominatrix: 10 Things that Don’t Exist.”
In the same spirit, I wanted to talk a bit about some things I learned while switching, an experience that too many people still don’t really think about. Too often, people, both in-scene and out, think of the roles and identities we take on as static and set, when they don't have to be. I’ve talked about it before, but I identify as a bottom, but can and will top for partners who want to switch it up sometimes.
Which brings me to my first lesson:
THE WORLD DOES NOT WORK LIKE PORN: When it comes to sex—and even many aspects of play—I did already know this, but it’s one thing to know it and quite another thing to encounter it in real life. For example, before my current partner, I’d really only dated tops. Even my vanilla boyfriends tended to be control-freaks, ambition-driven go-getters, and take-charge kind of guys. And, while I knew that not all men are like that, in fact most men are not like that it’d been my experience that at least my partners were. So I had to learn to adjust to someone who doesn’t always and doesn't want to always take the reins. More importantly, I also had to learn how to step up, speak up, and run the scene in those times. Which leads me to:
YOU WILL NOT BE GOOD AT THIS FIRST CRACK OUT OF THE BOX: Again, I did know this in a purely intellectual way that doesn't really prepare you to deal with it in a practical sense. But, like Samantha Cole talked about, everyone has to start somewhere. You can read all the books, watch all the videos, can practice knots, can train with all the toys, all you want, and you will still feel unprepared for that first scene. Hell, I’d bottomed for who-knows-how-many scenes before I topped my first one. I knew the in’s-and-out’s of the kink I was doing from the other perspective like second nature. Yet perspective means everything. Because, lord knew, for all my years doing kink, in that moment, I felt like a newbie. Which is okay, because:
PERFECTION ISN’T THE POINT: I’ve talked about this before too, but this is easier said than done. Particularly for the top. So, like I said, I tend to date control-freaks, because I’m a bit of a control-freak too. When it comes to things that matter to me, I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist. And nothing matters more to me than the well-being of those I care about. So, while I would never demand or expect perfection from any of the tops I play with, it’s a much harder thing to let go of the idea and ideal of perfection when you’re the one holding the rope. And, sure, maybe the knots weren’t as perfect as I’d practiced and maybe I didn’t get to break out every toy I’d trained with, but we enjoyed ourselves. And that’s what matters. After all:
KINK IS NOT ABOUT ANY SPECIFIC ACT: Personally, I play with pain. I love sensation- and impact-play. My play, happy, healthy and playful as it is, tends to be the kind of kink vanilla people think of as hardcore. But not all play has to be like that. Play can be whatever you and your partner want it to be. It is whatever you want together. As much as I love the play that I love, what I do is never as important as who I do it with. Which brings me to my last lesson:
YOUR KINKS CAN CHANGE: Like I’ve said before, I do believe that being kinky is an orientation. It takes a certain kind of person to do what we do, to be who we are, and to love what we love. But, in the same way we’re all oriented in more hard-wired ways—like being straight or gay or bi or pan or asexual—other aspects of our attraction change and flow over time. Like I used to like strong, silent bad boys when I was younger, but—after years of dating those types—I realized that, in real life, those types tended to either bore me, at best, or, at worst...well, let’s just say, they aren’t called “bad” boys because they brought a whole lot of good into my life. These days, I’ll take a geek who makes me laugh and brings more love—love of books and movies and tv shows and fandoms as well as sex and play and romance—into my life over an alpha male any day. Especially when those geeks tend to bring a love for new and interesting kinks of their own. Part of what makes kink a fun and fantastic orientation is that it's dynamic. We want partners that bring exciting experiences into our lives. Partners who let us discover and explore new parts of ourselves. Partners who let us and encourage us to grow in interesting ways. And with whom, for whom, we can do the same.
We are always growing. Always changing. Why should our sex and play be any different? And, if we stop to think about it, would we really want it to be? And, to be fair, not all change is good, and that's okay, but being able to allow change in your life, to welcome and learn from it, is always a pretty good place to start.