All you need for a happy d/s relationship is one dominant person and one submissive person, right? Silly little things like mutual interests or compatible values aren’t important, what really matters is that on the surface your kinks appear to match up.
Ridiculous, right? Sadly, I’ve gotten message after message from people who seem to think that because I’m a dominant woman, I must be interested in any submissive man who crosses my path. It would be great if that were true, but I’m afraid that real compatibility takes more than a shared interest in any given type of play. Play actually has very little to do with it, from my perspective. To paraphrase from a blog post by Andrea Zanin (go read her blog, it’s awesome), if I really like someone, odds are good we’ll be able to think of something we’d enjoy doing together. If, on the other hand, I just don’t click with someone, it really doesn’t matter how much they like biting or face-slapping (two of my favourite kinks), I’m still not going to want to get involved with them.
On my FetLife profile, I only have two ‘fetishes’ listed: being more complex than an anonymous list of fetishes could show, causing people to have to actually converse with me, finding out if they like *me* and not just what gets me off, and smart-assed masochists. Those two things actually tell you something about me as a person. I like to the think the meaning of the first one is fairly obvious. The second one is a little more subtle. My intention there is to signal that I’m a very low protocol person who doesn’t take play too seriously. If, on the other hand, I listed more specific kinks like biting, flogging, hair-pulling, or caning, all you would know about me is that I like a few particular activities. Also, I’m actively trying to discourage people who think that if they like flogging, and I like flogging, obviously I’ll be interested in flogging *them*.
Aside from the fact that it’s dehumanizing to reduce me to a collection of kinks, that’s simply not how the world works. If you really, honestly believe that any dom who likes bondage should be compatible with any sub who likes bondage, you’re going to spend an awful lot of time being disappointed. Shared kinks are great and all, but even ignoring non-kink compatibility issues (you know, hobbies, interests, career ambitions, values, and all that) you still have to worry about whether you’re both interested in any sort of power exchange, if so how much (bedroom only, weekends only, control over only some areas, control over most areas, things that are off limits, and on and on), what style of dominance/submission you both enjoy (just for starters, doms can be strict, sensual, dispassionate, playful, affectionate, uncompromising, or patient. Subs can be meek, smart-assed, high protocol, low protocol, bratty, sweet, reserved, service-oriented, fuck-toys, and much more), how often you want to play (every night, a few times a week, weekends, a couple of times a month, once every month or two, or something else entirely), how hard you want to play (some people like to have a nice spanking and some cuddling on a weekend morning, other people like to plan intense, hours long scenes that leave everyone involved in a sweaty, crumpled heap on the floor, other people like both of those things at different times), what specific types of play you both like (bondage, for example, can be sadistic, artistic, purely functional, the focus of the scene, a small part of a larger scene, inescapable, heavy, light, and more. Saying you like bondage doesn’t actually tell me very much), whether you like to mix sex and BDSM, whether you want to be play partners only or romantic partners too, and that’s just what I could think of while trying to get this post done more or less on time.
Given how many compatibility issues there are to worry about when you’re only taking kink into account, and how obvious they become if you’ve ever actually thought about what you want in a play/partner, assuming that any dom is compatible with any sub tells me just one thing about you: you have no fucking idea how kink actually works. Here’s a hint: kinky people are still *people*.