I’m an 18-year-old girl who has (since I was sixteen) been interested in BDSM. I’m about to head off for college and I’m rather scared. I live in Texas, and I’m a science major beginning her first year of college. I know that it sounds like that shouldn’t matter, but in Science if you’re anything but the perfect little nerd people assume things about how you got to where you are in the male-dominated profession. It really makes me afraid of relationships, but at the same time I couldn’t image being anything other than aggressive when intimate. And to top it all off, I’ve never had a boyfriend (or been kissed) so I don’t know what goes on past the initial dating stages. I’m really nervous about everything, how they’d react, if they might tell, what would happen to my career if they did. I don’t have anyone else to talk to, so any advise?
-Kate in West Texas
First of all, congratulations on going off to college! Adventure!
It’s understandable that you are nervous, for all sorts of reasons. I’m not quite sure from which angle to tackle this, so I’m going to just ramble for a bit.
If you are interested in BDSM, and have felt this way for a couple of years, but haven’t had any experience yet, don’t lock yourself into a mindset that closes you off to other options and experiences. I don’t want to patronise you: if you’ve had this interest for a couple of years, then it is what it is. But your tastes and desires may change with experience, that’s all. Just putting it out there.
I think it is wise to be cautious, but at the same time I don’t think you need to be paranoid about it to the point of fear. There are plenty of people who are in jobs or industries where they might be at risk if their BDSM activities became public knowledge. I think a possible difference is that they are moving in a world of adults where there is an expectation that people behave like adults (this is not always the case, of course). At college, you are kind of confined to a small(ish) community of young people, and everyone knows everything about everyone, so I do understand your concern with that.
Having said that, my experience is that college is a time when *everyone* experiments in all sorts of ways, and unless the result impacts your degree, I’ve not met anyone yet whose wild college days had any impact on their career.
As for being inexperienced, I think it’s natural for the unknown of that to mean a little fear, but of course, we ALL started out with no experience of *anything*, don’t forget that. We all went through ‘first kiss’, ‘first boyfriend’, all those ‘firsts’. It *is* a little scary, you just have to choose who you share those firsts with with care.
So, my advice is this: Go and have some fun. Don’t place pressure on yourself to tackle the concerns of your upcoming career just yet, or to worry about your inexperience, or to feel like you have to have ‘the BDSM discussion’ with everyone you date. Be careful without being fearful.
By being careful, I mean that you don’t have to talk about your BDSM proclivities with people you see casually, with random friends, with anyone except the person you decide you want to get more seriously involved with.
In casual dating situations, you can still play lightly with some BDSM-ey things without ever making it a big deal. Most men love some aggressive kissing, some bondage, blindfolds etc, so you can ask them if they want to try it and experiment with those sorts of things, and they will NEVER think anything of it except that you are awesome.
When you find someone you are more serious about, someone you trust, THEN is the right time to talk seriously about how you feel about BDSM and what you want to explore and what that means for the relationship. Just choose carefully so that you trust him not only when you are with him, but feel that you can trust him not to be a douchebag after it ends (take note of how he talks about his exes, for example).
I suspect this is not going to be your cup of tea given your concerns, but if you aren’t on Fetlife, you might find it useful to join and see what sort of BDSM activities are available to you in your new home. Even if you don’t actually want to go out and meet anyone, it can be reassuring to know that there are groups of young people aged 18-35s (called TNG – The New Generation) in Austin (1700 members) and Dallas (1400 members) and to peek in and see what they get up to.
I wish you the very best of luck, and feel free to contact me again if you would like to talk some more (email is fine if you don’t want a public Q&A).
Want to ask me something? Pop on over to my Ask Me page and do it! It’s completely anonymous, even to me, so nobody will know it was you…