January 30, 2010

The Bridge

There is great dispute about the validity of online relationships and interaction in the BDSM community. I am not going into that debate here (my regular readers know what my thoughts are there).

Regardless of your outlook, there is no denying that many real time BDSM relationships start as online. In fact, I would surmise that most fall into this category. Even those people who live in the same town use the Internet to search people out. There are many who live in my local community with whom I have chatted with but never met. It is ironic that we use the World Wide Web to meet someone 10 minutes down the road.

Online interaction has an extreme value. It allows for parties to learn about each other while exchanging ideas. Many take on the particular roles of the relationship mimicking real time. Familiarity grows as both people start to understand each other.

Sadly, this is as far as many interactions go. Now, to be clear, I am going to be talking about those circumstances where both parties are real and truly interested in BDSM. I am going to ignore those who are online playing games since there is not a lot to say about those people other than to avoid them.

My feeling is that it is necessary to bridge the relationship from online into real time. Few have the ability to move immediately from one culture to the other. Often, logistics play a role in the delayed transition. Some of these ideas might help to smooth the way.

A lot of this is going to seem like common sense but, as we know, often that goes out the window in BDSM. Here are a few ideas that will help you to transition into real time.

1. Move to personalize the online relationship:

Interaction online is nothing but characters and words. As a starting point this is fine. However, use the technology available to move towards a more "real" communication. This can start with the exchanging of pictures (again presuming it is really you and not a super model you clipped) sent via email or photo sharing.

Web cams is another way to communicate and not just for sexual play. Being able to see someone when chatting with them adds another level of intimacy. It allows you to learn about the person with your eyes. For example, I was chatting with someone one time while she was on cam and her cat walked behind her. Instantly, I knew her choice in pets.

Exchange websites and pictures of things that interest you. BDSM is a relationship so you better have more in common than just sex. Stumble, Reddit, and Digg allow you to share sites of things that interest you. Do this to seek commonality with your goals and life plans.

2. Do not forget Ma Bell.

The next step is to utilize traditional technologies to enhance your interaction. Here we can exchange phone numbers and use the plain old telephone system. Nothing shifts something from the virtual to the real like a phone call. This is a way we have communicated since we were children. Hearing someone's voices adds another layer to the revelation of the other person (and yourself).

As a side note, exchanging a phone number could be a risky proposition especially if you are female. Therefore, perhaps you consider utilizing Skype or Yahoo Instant Messenger talk features. This is a real time phone conversation with the safety of the Internet provided.

3. Get face-to-face.

This is the final leg of the endeavor. At some point, you need to meet in person. Relationships that lack this component do not fulfill the needs of both parties. Many of us have those friends from school who we still talk to but never see since they live across the country. There still is a relationship but it is rather empty.

A face-to-face meeting can be a "date" if you are local with each other or a short visit if from out of town. It is best to spend a few days with each other to get to know one another a little better. Obviously, logistics can come into play again but it is a way to take the relationship one step closer to real time.

These ideas should help you move forward in the BDSM world. Of course, following this process will uncover some of the fakes that exist online. Take note whenever you see hesitation from one when seeking to move to the next level. This could well be a warning sign that something is amiss.

Another word of caution. Be patient with this process. Resist the temptation to move headlong into this especially if you are the one who will be in a vulnerable position. Each of these steps needs to be taken after a reasonable period of time is established. Again, it is crucial to have some idea who you are dealing with. Each phase will reveal more to and about you. However, be certain to not advance too rapidly where you might put yourself in a vulnerable position.

Try some of these suggestions to move your relationship past "virtual". Online can be a lot of fun but at some point it needs to move out of the chatroom.

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