Common Sense in the Lifestyle

By: Sharon Lynn

Why does it seem all common sense goes out the window when people start in the lifestyle?

People make posts asking about things that would have had them running in a vanilla relationship

“I met a Dom online. They said for our first meet I have to go to their house and strip naked for an inspection? Is that normal?”

I have had this one happen to me. I knew straight up that this isn’t normal. And if it was? I was noping out of that situation.

This is one small example. I’ve seen many more.

A lifestyle dynamic is very different than a vanilla dynamic

But there are things that are the same.


-your values

When you first meet someone, you should be either vetting or thinking about vetting.

You are still equals.

Those are things that you would not tolerate being trivialized in a vanilla dynamic. Why would you allow it in a Lifestyle vetting process?

What are some examples you’ve seen or experienced?

Three Views Of Consent

Consent: Knowing WHO will be involved, WHAT you will be doing, WHERE it’s okay to touch and not touch, WHEN there’s a health issue or risk of injury, WHY you are doing this together, HOW you can stop what’s happening.

CONSENT this is a must in the BDSM lifestyle. Consent will look different in the different types of dynamics. Consent is a personal thing, just like your kinks. You might not consent to the same things another D-type or s-type consents to. DONT let someone in this lifestyle tell you if you dont consent to X you are not a real (insert role). That is toxic manipulation and a huge 🚩.
What consent do you practice personally or in your dynamic?
Comment below any discussion or questions you might have.

This article goes over Blanket, Continual and Mixed consent.

Three Views Of Consent
Author: Raven Shadowborne © 2000

In BDSM consent is a major issue. Almost everyone can agree that consent must take place for any BDSM activity or relationship to be BDSM and not abuse.

The part which causes confusion is “When does consent take place?”. For some people, it is BLANKET consent. For other people consent is a continual process.
Lastly, there are some people with a mix of both views in their lives.

▪️”Blanket consent” is basically saying, “From this point on, I consent to everything and anything you might choose to do to or with me”. This kind of consent is most commonly found in a Master/slave relationship, starting with the placement of the collar.
However, it can be found in Dominant/submissive relationships as well. There does not need to be a collar involved for some submissives to give this consent, just the commitment and devotion to a particular dominant.
Most relationships that are long term, will reach a point of blanket consent given enough time.
This happens because experience has allowed the submissive to reach a deep and all encompassing level of trust in the dominant. And thus the submissive feels safe in giving blanket consent.

▪️”Blanket consent” should never be given without a high level of knowledge of the dominant.
In relationships (such as m/s) there is a great deal of communication, negotiation and learning that takes place before the slave gives blanket consent and accepts the collar.
During this learning process, the people involved learn about each others likes and dislikes, expectations, and more. From this knowledge, comes the information necessary to make the informed choice to give blanket consent.
Anyone will tell you not to give blanket consent to someone that desires things you are against or prefer not to do. Never give blanket consent to someone you do not have a good working knowledge of.

▪️”Continual consent” is basically saying that the submissive or bottom must consent each time the dominant gives an order.
This school of thought believes a submissive can withdraw their consent at any time, for whatever reason. Some believe consent can only be withdrawn under certain circumstances such as the dominant wants to try a new implement the submissive has no experience with.
▪️”Continual consent” need not be a verbal “yes I will” or “yes you can” from the submissive. Many take the obedience of the submissive to be silent consent. This silent manner of consent can be said to exist in blanket consent as well, except for one thing, in blanket consent the choice is not to follow an order or refuse, it is follow the order or leave the relationship in many cases. In continual consent, the sub would have the right to follow the order, or refuse the order.

▪️”Continual consent” is most often found in a top / bottom relationship or play partner arrangement. It can be found in a number of dominant/submissive relationships as well. Continual consent places much of the control over what occurs in the hands of the submissive, not the dominant.
This places the decision of what will be done and what won’t completely in the submissive’s hands. For some, this is a perfectly legitimate form of power exchange. Again, exhaustive knowledge of one’s partner is required before the choice to consent can be made.

▪️”Mixed consent”, for lack of a better term, is a bit of both blanket consent and continual consent. Basically it means that the submissive consents to anything the dominant does within the boundaries of prior discussed activities. If something new should arise, the submissive must consent for the new activity.
Mixed consent could also be taken to mean that the sub has the right to call a time out to discuss a new activity. The request for such discussion is not usually viewed as an outright no. This form of consent is often found in any BDSM type of relationship because it most closely follows what may actually occur in real life.
▪️”Mixed consent” takes into consideration from the get go, that there are probably activities a person won’t do now but may do later on. It allows for prior knowledge of pushing limits. Like blanket consent, exhaustive knowledge of one’s partner is a must before consent is given.
📢Consent in BDSM is not just a do it or don’t do it thing. With the varying styles of relationships comes varying styles of consent. How one chooses to consent is up to them and their partner but it is an absolute must for any BDSM relationship.

Common Words to get you Started

BDSM: represents a continuum of practices and expressions, both erotic and non-erotic, involving restraint, sensory stimulation, role-playing, and a variety of interpersonal dynamics. The term BDSM is an abbreviation of: Bondage/Discipline; SadoMasochism.

Dominant and submissive: (Dom and sub or D-type and s-type) are terms that relate to behaviors linked to personality traits; you could as easily substitute the terms leader and follower.

Dom and Domme: the shorthand male and female version of the word dominant. Generally, Dom can be of either gender. When the topic specifically concerns a female dominant use Domme. “Fet” as it is called, is the go-to source for just about anything these days. It is the “Facebook” for kinksters. There are discussion groups for just about any topic you can think of and an extensive worldwide event listing by city.

Gor: short for Gorean—a subculture that grew out of the science fiction novels of John Norman based on a belief that in the natural order of things, males are inherently dominant over females.

Hard Limit: Something you won’t do during a scene.

Soft Limit: Something you are on the fence on, you may like it, you may not, but you are willing to give it a try

Kinky: slang for people who enjoy adventuresome sex, which is, itself, a euphemism for BDSM.

Leather, Leathermen, Leathersex: The Leather subculture is one of many facets of semi-organized alternative sexuality. In recent decades the Leather community has almost come to be viewed as a subset of BDSM culture rather than a descendant of gay culture.

Master and slave: usually applied to a 24/7 relationship structure wherein the subordinate person (slave) has surrendered authority over themselves and pledged to serve and to obey their Master who now exerts total control and offers total protection for this person.

Munch: Munches are intended to be non-threatening social gatherings, often held in a vanilla space with food, to help those who are curious about BDSM meet others who may be able to help them become more comfortable and better informed. Munches can also be a place to get advice about BDSM experiences.

Negotiating/negotiations: The process of determining what will and will not go on in a play scene—or in a relationship. As some people consider the scene to start with negotiations, this is not a time to be interrupted.

Old Guard: A term used to describe a near-mythical time in gay Leather history when returned soldiers from World War II blended some features of their military experiences with their kinky interests to produce a subculture that over time became known as Leather. Some of the echoes of their rules of protocol, inclusion, and exclusion can still be seen in today’s BDSM society.

Power Exchange or Authority Exchange relationships: Relationships where one person is clearly the leader and the other is clearly subordinate.

  • Dominant/submissive (D/s)
  • Caregiver/little (CG/l)
  • Master/slave (M/s)
  • Owner/property (O/p)
  • TPE (Total Power Exchange).

Sadism: in psychiatry, the condition in which sexual gratification depends on causing pain or degradation to others.

Sadomasochism (SM): The psychological tendency or sexual practice characterized by both sadism and masochism.

SM play/scenes: activities between two or more people of any gender that involve giving and receiving sensations such as spanking, flogging, whipping, etc. for their mutual and consensual enjoyment.

SM techniques: methods such as spanking, whipping, bondage, or electro-stimulation that sadists may use to cause masochists to feel the desired sensations.

Safe, Sane, and Consensual (SSC): A slogan used to summarize the minimal physical/psychological conditions most people consider acceptable for SM play to take place.

Safe-call: a procedure used when meeting someone for the first time (or even when meeting someone that you don’t know well) that ensures that someone else knows what you’re doing, where you’ll be doing it, and that you are safely.

Safe words: Words play participants will use in order to keep things safe, sane, and consensual.

An example of safe words used by many in the BDSM community include:

  • Green – The scene is going well.
  • Yellow – Keep doing what you are doing, but ease up a little on the intensity.
  • Orange – We need to move into another activity. This activity is not working. (Not a common safe word)
  • Red – We need to stop the scene now

Sex-role stereotyping: The general public stereotype is that Doms are men with sadistic/Top preferences and that submissives are women who have masochistic/bottom preferences. These are stereotypes and are far from the way roles are practiced within this culture. In reality, Dominants can be male or female, masochists or sadists and of any sexual orientation. So can submissives.

Switch—common use: someone who enjoys being either the Top or the bottom; enjoys giving or receiving physical SM stimulation. Among Leathermen, activity switches are sometimes referred to as versatile.

Switch—less common usesomeone who is willing to take either the leadership or subordinate role in a relationship depending upon the chemistry or connection within that particular partner—dominant in one relationship and subordinate (not necessarily submissive) with the other. This is often an advanced and controversial topic.

Top: the person doing the action.

Top/bottom: sensation play with SM toys/tools—no psychological dynamic, no power exchange. Top and bottom are terms that relate to physical action only. The Top spanks the bottom. The Top or the bottom may be a dominant person or a submissive person of either gender. Top and bottom only describe scene specific roles while dominant and submissive describe relationship behaviors. The decision to Top or to bottom is only a decision of which person wishes to receive sensations that the tools/toys produce when handled by someone who has been properly trained.

Vanilla: The term used by those of us who practice BDSM for those who do not practice BDSM or activities outside of the scope of BDSM. It’s not a pejorative term, simply a descriptor. Typical uses: vanilla sex, vanilla relationship, etc.

Consent and Communication

You have to talk about what you intend to do to someone—and that person has to agree that they think that what you’re planning on doing to them is a good idea. This is called negotiation. It is considered highly unethical for a Top to do something to a bottom in a play scene that has not been pre-negotiated. Reputations can be lost in a moment if a Top does something to a bottom that hadn’t been negotiated—even if they’ve been partners for years.

Consent is an agreement to participate in any BDSM activity. Before being sexual or doing BDSM with someone, you need to know if they want to be involved with you too. It’s also important to be honest with your partner about what you want and don’t want. Consenting and asking for consent are all about setting your personal boundaries and respecting those of your partner — and checking in if things aren’t clear. Both people must agree to it, every single time for it to be consensual.

  • Freely given. Consenting is a choice you make without pressure, manipulation, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Reversible. Anyone can change their mind about what they feel like doing, anytime. Even if you’ve done it before, and even if you’re both in the middle of a play scene.
  • Informed. You can only consent to something if you have the full story. For example, if someone says they’ll use a condom and then they don’t, there isn’t full consent.
  • Enthusiastic. When it comes to any type of play, you should only do stuff you WANT to do, not things that you feel you’re expected to do.
  • Specific. Saying yes to one thing doesn’t mean you’ve said yes to others.

The age of sexual consent is how old a person needs to be in order to be considered legally capable of consenting. This is why all BDSM is for adults.


Bootblacking – Popular media often portrays BDSM with iconic images of people kissing or licking the boots of a Master or Mistress. Popularized by Leather culture, Bootblacking involves the service of cleaning, polishing, and sometimes spit-blacking a pair of boots, usually that of a Dominant. Bootblacking can be used for several purposes: a professional service, showing submission, in military-style uniform play, as a part of boot-worship, or as a ritual way to begin a scene. Bootblacking is a way subs and bottoms can show their care, appreciation, and submission to their top or Dom. Bootblacking can also be offered on a “pick-up” basis, at a bootblack chair at play parties. Bootblacking is especially common in the Leather community because of the focus on leather accessories and clothing. A bootblack usually has their own bootblacking kit. There are even bootblacking competitions at Leather conventions as seen in this video:

Has a friend or partner ever revealed to you that they enjoy this kink/fetish? Is this something you may be interested in or does this sound like something that might make it on your limit list? If interested, would you be more likely to Top or bottom this kink/fetish? Always remember, no kink-shaming because our lifestyle is full of diversity!

BDSM Test… No!

What was likely a sincere effort by an anonymous source to help people navigate the world of BDSM, the BDSM Test has become a source of confusion for many. Likely you took the test and shared your results without even realizing the harm it has done to our community. It has been taken by hundreds of thousands of people (perhaps more) and created a huge mess within our lifestyle.

How did something that looks like a good idea go so wrong? The test created archetypes for roles which do not exist within BDSM. Everyday new people get results that tell them they are this thing or that, increasing the confusion.

For example, Rigger and Rope Bunny don’t exist in the way the Test uses them. They are actually Rope Top and Rope Bottom and aren’t roles, but instead two (or more) people enjoying rope bondage within a scene. Furthermore, a rigger is someone with experience in rope suspension. The test points all people interested in any types of bondage to rope bondage and then doesn’t even define that kink properly.

Rope requires a significant amount of safety and isn’t the type of bondage we would suggest for new people. Perhaps try some wrist cuffs or bed bondage restraints, rather than tying someone up who may not have a good reaction and them being stuck in it until their partner figures out how to get them loose. So the test is both confusing and problematic how it addresses bondage. And that’s just one set of archetypes!!!

Let’s look at another instance where the BDSM Test creates roles that do not exist within BDSM: Brat Tamer/Brat. There is an entire new generation of people involved in what they think is BDSM in roles that do not exist within BDSM. The correct term for this kink is Sadist Top/Masochist Bottom. It’s a scene specific kink where a masochist bottom asks for pain by acting somewhat bratty, from a top who gives them pleasurable pain. The kink has nothing more to do with Dom/sub than any other kink people enjoy in play scenes.

There is no such thing as a Bratty submissive nor a Dominant who is a Brat tamer. Before this test injected our lifestyle with its confusion, brattiness outside of a negotiated play scene was an unsubmissive characteristic that Dominants would not tolerate. You can thank the BDSM Test for one of the biggest relationship-killers to hit BDSM power exchange dynamics.

Those are just two sets of archetypes the BDSM Test has messed up. Most of the others are also written poorly and given as results to people who likely don’t fit them. Speaking of results, we took the test multiple times answering all the questions exactly the same and were given different results. The anonymous creators could not be reached to ask about their algorithm or about cleaning up their mess. So it will continue to create havoc in our BDSM Community with no accountability.

As educators we are held to a high standard, accountable to our rich history and the years of experience those involved have invested into creating a lifestyle that works and is fulfilling. We shouldn’t be haphazardly pointing people in the wrong direction, we should instead be helping people explore and find the place they fit best according to their own goals.

BDSM: Reality vs Romance Novels

If you’ve spent much time on BDSM pages and groups you’ll notice all the black and white images of guys in business suits and women wearing cocktail dresses or lingerie. Often those images will be accompanied by some fancy sounding quote that plays further into this fantasy, romance novel image of BDSM. Worse is when you find these in places that are supposed to be about Education.

Romance novels are not typically good resources for BDSM education, largely because they lack representation. Further, romance novels typically do not communicate a clear or accurate message about BDSM. Some cross the lines of consent. These images do not accurately represent the variety and diversity of those who practice the lifestyle of BDSM. As well, these images often do not accurately represent BDSM relationships in their messages.

Hopefully you take them with a grain of salt and are not caught up in their romance novel sounding hype!