As I was reading a thread about people immediately demanding submission in that one Fetlife group I like, I had a thought. Well, a couple of related thoughts. 1) I thinking roleplaying online is perfectly fine as long as it’s clear that’s what you’re doing, and 2) I think a big chunk of what makes people miserable trying to find a kinky partner is mixing up roleplayers and realists.
To recap the original post from that thread, the OP was curious if it’s normal and accepted or something that’s just brushed off as silliness or what when somebody puts stuff on their profile like “Anyone who wishes to speak with me will address me as Goddess/Mistress/High Grand Poobah”. Most of the replies were “yeah, that’s ridiculous, but at least they make it obvious that they’re not compatible with reasonable human beings who are looking for a dominant girlfriend” and some touched on the roleplaying aspect.
That is, a few commenters mentioned that some people are really just on Fetlife (or actual dating sites) to roleplay. I keep forgetting that’s a thing because I’m personally uninterested in it, but you know, as long as you’re honest about being a roleplayer I think it’s perfectly fine. People do all sorts of weird and sometimes shitty things, in comparison what’s the harm in a little make-believe?
I think the key is “as long as you’re honest about it.” Sure, I know it’s really really common for admitting it’s a fantasy to ruin the fantasy, but that’s just too fucking bad. Everybody who plays dungeons and dragons somehow manages to have a good time even though they all know there’s no such thing as elves, orcs, dragons, or wizards and that they’re not actually going to pack up and go on a quest to slay a demon. Of course, admitting it’s just roleplay is just one part of the “be honest” problem.
The other part is having enough self awareness to even know that you’re a roleplayer. We’ve all seen the sad, whiny threads started by guys who just can’t figure out why no one online is “real” (oh, the irony), by which he means interested in acting out his fantasy to his exact specifications. Because he can never find someone who can read his mind, he’s never going to take things offline, at least not with anyone he isn’t paying handsomely to put up with his shit. These guys probably think they want a dominant girlfriend but because no actual human being can ever be perfect enough for them, they’re effectively roleplayers and dishonest ones at that.
And then there are people who are convinced everyone is a roleplayer and nobody actually meets in person and does this stuff. That would just be weird! Why would they need to tell people they’re not interested in taking things offline when obviously nobody else really is either? I’ll admit here that I’ve failed at the other side of that: it would never occur to me to mention on my profile that I’m not a roleplayer because why on earth would someone bother putting up a profile that said they were open to meeting people if they weren’t, you know, interested in meeting people?
Whether it’s outright douchebaggery or just a sad lack of any self awareness, roleplayers and people who actually want to form real life relationships seem to clash a lot when they don’t realize they want such different things. Take for instance the hypothetical dom in the thread that inspired this post, she’s (if she is in fact a she) obviously not looking for a relationship based on mutual respect, she’s looking for a little hot chat and possibly your credit card number. If you realize she’s a roleplayer and enjoy a little creative writing yourself, no problem! But if you believe you’re ever going to meet her in real life or see a movie or talk about your favourite books, you’re going to be thoroughly disappointed.
Another version of that clash is when a submissive roleplayer messages a dominant realist and ends up horribly surprised that she’s so pissed he’s never actually going to meet her for coffee. Isn’t it obvious I have a wife/girlfriend and I’m not going to leave her for some weirdo pervert? What do you mean people actually do this stuff in person? Why is this crazy lady suddenly so angry at me? What’s this world coming to?!!!
So how do you sort out roleplayers from realists so you can pursue your own kind?
Well, ideally I’d like roleplayers to admit it outright on their profiles. If they can’t do that, at least be openly ridiculous enough that people who are looking for an in-person girlfriend type relationship will steer clear. Which our hypothetical dom did, so good on her 🙂 And to be fair to roleplayers, realists should try to make that clear on their profiles too. Skip the yelling about “No timewasters!” though, that just makes you sound too dumb or too desperate to figure out someone isn’t compatible with you.
You can also read people’s profiles carefully, which you should be doing anyway. Do they sound like they stepped out of your favourite video? Then they’re either a roleplayer or have no idea what they’re doing, steer clear. Is their profile all about what turns them on? You can safely assume that’s either all they want to talk about or they’re so bad at communicating that you should steer clear anyway. Or for the roleplayers, is their profile all about who they are as a person as if that matters? They’re a realist, you’ll just make each other unhappy. Is there next to nothing about their kinks on the profile? They probably don’t want to talk about their turnons with random strangers, you’re not going to get what you want from them.
It’s not bad to be a roleplayer, and it’s not bad to be a realist, but it is a dick move not to be honest about which one you are. Don’t be a dick, okay?