BDSM 101: How to Find Partners for Online Play
"Have computer, will play!"
Nowadays, kink and BDSM play is just as plentiful online as it is in-person. In some ways, I'd even say there are more people playing online than in-person. There are lots and lots of reasons for this (including anxiety, comfort, accessibility, safety, and more!), but the fact of the matter is that there are hundreds of thousands of people, at any given moment, looking for a kinky experience online.
Luckily for us, this actually can make finding a partner for online play much, much, much, much easier than finding a person for in-person play. This is partially because of the gigantic breadth of available websites that cater to this exact thing - but it's also because location becomes irrelevant. As long as you both can access the internet and want to play, you can both play together.
Having access to the entire world to find a play partner can be a huge benefit. I know you third shifters know what I'm talking about. The likelihood of finding a person to go on an in-person date with at 4AM - when you're most awake - is hard - and that's without trying to figure out where you'd even go! (You're virtually stuck with 24/7 breakfast joints.) But when you're looking for online play, that issue can be simply solved by looking for partners in a time zone across the globe; their 8PM might be your 4AM!
Find a Website/Platform
Your absolute first step to finding someone for online play is simply to figure out where you can find someone for online play - and this will vary drastically depending on what you're looking for, how often you're looking for it, what you want to do with that person, and the kinks you're into.
For example, it's totally possible to meet someone for BDSM play on a knitting forum. You both could hit it off over a love for the seed stitch - and the conversation could evolve from there. However, that just doesn't make much sense, logistically, if all you want is someone to play with tonight - and don't necessarily care about keeping in contact past that. However, if you were looking for a long-term online play partner who could be an amazing friend - and occasionally imbibe in some kink play with you - the knitting partner might actually be the perfect fit.
For most people, however, a knitting forum isn't going to be a good spot. Going somewhere kink-focused, like the personals at THE CAGE, are, realistically, going to lead to better chances. Not only does this mean you're reaching a more targeted audience (one that all is into kink!), but it also makes it easier to bring up kink topics - which can be vital if you're looking for more casual play.
Know What You Want
What do you want out of your online play? There are a lot of different ways that online kink play can go, and knowing what you're expecting out of it allows you to set your boundaries ahead of time - even if you're aroused and tempted to blow past them.
Some common set-ups with online play:
- Text-based roleplay with a one-off complete stranger for one night
- Photo exchange with a one-off complete stranger for one night
- Phone sex with a one-off complete stranger for one night
- Live video chat with a one-off complete stranger for one night
- All of those above options - but with someone you plan to repeat the activity with in the future
- Online play with someone you've gotten to know in the hopes of meeting up in-person someday
- Utilizing a sex/kink video game platform for simulated sex together
- Daily, flirty and sexual text messages sent to one another to boost your ego
- Erotic email penpals
- ...and more!
This means figuring out your boundaries - and what you really want from this connection. More realistically, what do you have time for? Live video chats will require carving out a few hours of your day while a flirty text message might only require a few minutes. On the other hand, live video chats can be scheduled for a specific date and time - which might work better for your schedule - while flirty texts tend to arrive at unexpected times.
Don't forget about your comfort and privacy levels as well. Are you okay with taking pictures for someone else? What about video? Are there things you want to plan for if you do those things - and if so, does that impact your erotic enjoyment? Make sure whatever online play style you choose is enjoyable and safe for you.
Be Upfront about What You Want
It isn't just enough to know what you want; you have to be upfront about what you want. If you're looking for a casual, one-off encounter but don't bother to tell your chatting partner, you'll likely find yourself annoyed when they keep wanting to know more about you instead of moving to the sexy questions.
Not only does being upfront about your interests help you find people who share similar interests, but it also is just respectful to the other person. No one likes wasting their time, and if your goals don't match up from the get-go, there may not be much of a point in spending time chatting and getting to know one another.
Infuse Some Personality
Especially when you're posting a personal advertisement in a kink space, it can be really tempting to focus on the sex stuff - after all, that's what you're here for! But before you post that ad, do the virtual equivalent of "reading the room". Read other ads on the platform you're using - especially ads from the opposite gender. See what details they're including. Notice their length too. Is this a "two sentence" place? Or are you expected to format a couple paragraphs about yourself with a list of kinks?
Either way, don't forget about your personality while doing this. Anywhere you're going to post an ad, it's likely that it's full of other ads. As your goal is to find someone who's compatible and a good fit with you (versus just "find a human being"), being descriptive about yourself and adding parts of yourself to the ad can be vital. If being "yourself" turns someone off of responding, good! The point of an ad is to find someone who's a good fit for you; that means it's doing its job.
Protip: It's a secret of marketing, but you're essentially trying to "market" yourself here, so you can use it too: think about what you have to offer the other person. Some personal ads can come across as a list of demands - and that's generally not attractive to anyone. What does someone have to gain by selecting you out of the sea? What makes you special?
Take an Anonymous Photo
Most people will want to have some idea of who they're talking to - even online. It's totally possible to avoid using an online photo (and some people do!), but if you're open to the idea, you may find that having a photo increases your responses. I recommend putting in the effort to take one good photo of yourself that you can use, over and over, for your correspondence. Especially if you plan on playing online casually, you'll likely be asked for it again and again.
Remember: this photo can (and probably should!) be anonymous. You don't necessarily need to include your face in this photo, and you can get creative with how you hide your face too. Try to avoid making the photo a close-up of your genitals, though. While that may work if you want to sext later, it's generally not considered a great shot for meeting people - unless, of course, you're trying to meet people in specific kink subgroups where that may be applicable (small penis humiliation, etc). Even then, though, most people looking to meet someone in the kink will likely be interested in them beyond just their genitals.
Big safety point: ONLY use this anonymous photo for your kink searches. Do not use it on any other platform. Photoshop out anything identifiable - or cover it with clothing - like tattoos or birthmarks. Take your background into account too. A generic beach or white wall will be hard to identify - but the same kitchen background you use for Facebook photos is a bad idea. If you're going to use this photo as your primary contact point, you can assume this will be shared with a lot of people. Treat it as such.
It's not just enough to place a personal ad; you need to check on it often. "Often" will vary based on what your schedule looks like, but remember: the longer you wait to respond to someone, the less likely they'll still be active and using the site when you check-in. Especially in the world of kink, there are simply less times where it's okay to check in. While you can scroll through Facebook or Instagram while in line at the grocery store, that isn't necessarily the case with a website that's filled with sex and nudity.
At the same time, try to be patient when people take a bit to reply; instant responses on sex networks are pretty rare unless you both happen to be online at the same time. Your potential match may not have taken this advice - and may not check back into that sex site they signed up to when they were horny for another few weeks.
Remember: anyone who is looking to respond to your ad will likely take a cursory look at your profile. It's the public-facing descriptor of who you are. Make sure that public-facing profile is showcasing what you want it to showcase.
If it's empty with no details, it's telling your potential online play partner that you couldn't put in the most basic of effort. That's probably not what you want.
If it's just full of sexual comments on others' bodies, it can reflect that you're only on the platform when you're horny. This may or may not be what you want to reflect.
Remember that adding in some personal details can really change how your profile looks as can how you participate in a community. Comment on something. Express your opinion. Join groups that reflect your interests. Put up new pictures.
Reach Out to Others
So far, we've talked about putting up personal ads - but you don't have to sit and wait. In fact, I really recommend reaching out to others! Not only does this widen your scope, but in this day and age, most people are so busy that they may never have the opportunity to see your profile - even if you both would be a fantastic fit.
If you're going to reach out to someone, I recommend reading their personal ad and any information you can gather about them first. What do they like? What are they into? What do you like about them? Use that information to make a personalized first message for reaching out. You don't have to go overboard (you don't necessarily need an essay!), but at least a paragraph will stand out in the world of "hi how r u?" messages that most people are bombarded with.
I also recommend asking a question in your initial message based on their profile that they can answer to continue the conversation. No "how are you?" here. Make it clear you've read their profile - and that you're reaching out because you've seen parts of their personality and self that appeal to you.
Depending on what you both are looking for, this question may be sexual - or it may not be sexual. If their profile mostly talks about their hobbies and you're looking to make a lasting connection, stay away from sexual topics for a first message. If their profile mostly talks about sex and they're looking for a quick online "hook-up" for play, sexual questions are likely on the table.
- Some examples to give you an idea:
- What got you into knitting?
- I saw you're really into movies. Any big films you're looking forward to this year?
- Looks like you're really into chastity. If you could offer any piece of advice to a beginner, what would you say?
- Looking at your pictures, pegging seems to be something you do often. How did you get into it?
Protip: Be cautious about asking for any personal details - especially on a first message. This means avoid talking about work, their location, their history, or their schooling. If it's something that could be used to track them down, keep it well away from the conversation. While these are common topics in non-sex conversations, they are precarious topics in the world of sex. You might touch on them later after you both become friends, but it's not a good fit for a complete stranger.
Treat Any Partner You Find Well
Especially if you're seeking online play for casual encounters - and not really to make friends - it's vital that you treat your partners well.
Going back to marketing, there's a tenant in the field: acquiring a new customer takes much more resources than simply keeping your current customers happy. The same can be said about your online play partner. You went through all of that work to find them, meet them, and feel each other out. As long as you think you're a good fit for future play, make sure to treat them well – even if the two of you are simply casual buddies who occasionally are online to play together.
As we're all still new to online play, the rules of "engagement" for casual play aren't quite as clear as in-person hook-ups. Some of the basics include:
- Don't Ghost Them: If you want to continue to nurture this relationship, don't ghost your online buddy. Don't disappear mid-chat, and don't disappear out of nowhere for months at a time and respect a positive relationship when you come back.
- Don't First-Message with Pics: As a lot of people go about their daily lives when they're not horny, you should always avoid sending a picture or video as a first message. "U up?" is equally bad. A "hey, how are you?" to get the ball rolling can tell you how the other person is feeling - and if they respond quickly. If you both know things are casual, they'll probably only respond if they're free and in-the-mood - which can be the telling factor in itself. Keeping pictures and videos out of the first message ensures they don't accidentally open up your message in an inappropriate place.
- Let Them Know about Absences: We've all been there: busy workweeks, a vacation, a trying family time, or even mental health can play into how intensely we wish to be social online. But if you know you'll be taking an absence, try to let your online play partner know, so they aren't left hanging.
Remember: It Doesn't Have to be Live
Dealing with time zones and real-life schedules are some of the banes of online play. While a lot of people really enjoy online play, they also have to "enjoy" going to work, taking care of themselves, keeping up social ties with their friends, and more. This means that fitting in a couple hours of online play can be hard for a lot of people.
This is where offline play can come in handy. Remember: not all online play needs to be simultaneous. In fact, there are a lot of platforms and tools to help you play on off-set schedules. Technology has (and continues to make!) this easier than ever.
Schedule your messages to go out at different times. Write up commands for your partner to do - and expect a report back when they're done. Demand their upcoming masturbation session follow guidelines that you set out in advance - and require pictures/videos of how it goes. Use Bluetooth sex toys that allow you to premake your own, customized pattern - and require them to use that during their play session. Enjoy teasing each other with shorter messages, back-and-forth, throughout the day without any expectations of simultaneous play that day.
It's all about how creative you want to get - and what you're looking for with your online play. It just doesn't have to be simultaneous. If you're having a hard time finding an online play partner in a time zone that works for you, syncopated play can make a lot more sense - and open up your playmate options.
All of these tips still require one thing: patience.
Finding a partner - whether online or in-person - isn't a cakewalk. It's all based on time, luck, and being in the right place - at the right time - with the right presentation. All of that can be a tough pill to swallow - especially when you probably jumped into this exploration hoping for a kink encounter that would be faster than in-person play.
That being said, if you put in the time and the effort, online kink exchanges can be extremely rewarding - and extremely arousing! - once you find a partner. Not only can they fit around your day-to-day obligations in a way that most in-person play can't, but they can be extremely mentally stimulating - and get your brain inspired for a whole lot of fun.
Ready to get out there and explore? Start by making a profile here on THE CAGE - and getting involved with the site. Read the magazine posts. Participate in the forums - and read some blogs. When you're ready, consider making a Personals post to put yourself out there.
Mistress Kay lives in the world of sexuality and kink. With a house that's quickly running out of space for things that aren't sex books and sex toys, she spends what free time she has writing femdom help articles (http://kinky-world.net/category/bdsm-advice/femdom-advice/), trying the latest and greatest in sex toys, and exploring the sexual universe with her partners. She can be reached at Kinky World (http://kinky-world.net/).