Vetting a Potential Play Partner
This post is part of a series that begins with BDSM Encounters – A Framework.
Rope bondage often entails some form of restraint. If you are the one being tied, you are putting yourself in someone else’s power and trusting them with your safety and well-being. If you are the one doing the tying, you are trusting that that person was honest with you about their desires, limits, capabilities and consent to engage in that activity. Therefore, once you have found a person that you are interested in playing with, it is important to vet anyone you plan on doing it with.
Vetting is different from Negotiation in that it is mostly about getting a feel for the person you may be tying with, common interests, etc. Vetting is about answering the question, “Do I want to scene with this person at all?” Negotiation focuses mainly on the details of the scene itself.
Vet them with questions.
- This helps you determine compatibility for engaging in play.
- You can also probe into their experience and other information important for informed consent. Sample questions can be found below.
Ask them for references.
- This is iffy, they may only tell you about people they have had a positive experience with, but it does show that there are people they have had positive experiences with.
Ask leaders of groups in their local area if the person is known to them.
- This can be helpful if the person is known in the community, but not everyone is known.
- You can often do this through FetLife.com.
What if the person isn’t part of their local community?
- “Oh, I prefer to stay away from the community because [reason or excuse].”
- Perhaps they say it is “too cliquey” or there’s “too much drama.”
- Perhaps this is true, or perhaps they are known in the local community and have a bad reputation, so they claim otherwise.
- This is a little controversial, because there can be good, legitimate reasons for not engaging with the local community, but many people see it as a red flag if a person does not engage with the local community at all.
Listen to your gut. If something seems off, even if you can’t quantify it or articulate why you feel that way, pay attention to that sense. You have years of experience in reading others; use it.
If a person is unknown, insist on attending multiple public scene events (munches, parties, etc.) first. Get to know them and play with them in a monitored environment first, before you play with them in private.
- Have you ever Topped for rope before?
- What, specifically, would you like to try? What is your experience with that/those thing(s)?
- Are you involved in the local community or scene? What kinds of community events do you go to?
- What kinds of things do you check for to ensure the safety of your Bottom?
- How do you clean your rope?
- Tell me about a time when a scene went wrong. How did you handle it?
- Do you have references from other partners I can talk to whom you have tied?
- What kinds of educational resources do you use to continue learning about rope?
- Remember, informed consent is not possible if one is not informed. It is necessary for both Tops and Bottoms to learn about the potential risks that come along with rope bondage.
- What are your hard/soft limits?
- I’m interested in being tied by you; would you be interested in doing a scene with me?
Once you have decided that you are interested in more, you move to Negotiation, which is about the scene itself. This may happen at a different time or as part of or following the above conversation.
Here are some beginning questions that are more related to negotiation than vetting. These questions apply to both Top and Bottom. This is just a beginning; see Negotiation for more.
- What are you looking to get out of doing a rope scene with me?
- The answer to this question will help inform what kind of scene you might do as well as if you think you may be compatible with this person.
- Potential answers: education, trying a new thing, increasing experience, taking pretty pictures, Bottoming before learning how to rig for themselves, tying for sex, etc.
- Are you aware of any triggers that I need to know about so I can avoid them?
- Is sexual touch something that you want to be included in this scene?
- What kind of aftercare do you need?
- …and much more, see Negotiation.