I’m writing this post in response to a very well written and politely worded email from a gentleman named Steve.
I’ve written a lot about learning how to tie and useful ways to practice, as well as why people enjoy bondage.
What I haven’t written about so much is how to find partners in your nearby community, and how to meet people with that common interest in rope or in being tied up,and building your reputation so that people feel safe to approach you.
So I’m going to lay out a few strategies, and then I’m going to leave a call to action for others to add additional ideas on the comments, because it’s a big wide world and it’s always great to get additional ideas from others who do this kind of thing.
Create a profile which contains some pictures, not necessarily of your face or genitals, but something which shows something of you and your interests (I tend to use shots of me which don’t show my face, but aren’t cock shots either – because what I’m trying to convey is my body type and that I’m a real person, but without giving away too much information, or being too obsessed with my appendage; and how much is too much is something that’s for you to decide).
It’s helpful to have a picture or three of your rope work so that people know you can actually tie, and some decent writing on your profile which conveys your personality and values.
Next, look for your local groups. There’s a “near me” function on Fetlife that makes that much easier. If you’re lucky, there is an organised group or two in your location. That’s great. Try to join that group and start attending some events. If you can, start small. You may message the group leader first, and ask if you could meet them for a coffee because you’re a bit nervous, or some groups have official “greeters” who perform this function.
Go to a few events, get to know the people in the group. They WILL ask about your interests; they kind of have to, because that’s what the groups are all about. When you tell them that you’re into rope bondage, if there are other people there who are also into it, they tend to point to them and go “Oh cool! That person over there likes rope too.”
Boom, possible teacher. Or, possible competitive douchebag. You just never know. Hence you ask around about the person and see what people think, in a discreet and non-obvious fashion.
Other times, you’ll get people who will say that they’ve always wanted to be tied up, or that they’ve been tied up before.
IT IS CRITICAL to be forthcoming about your level of experience. Transparency and honesty about this sort of thing can make or break your reputation, and you really want to start out well when you’re new.
So if someone says they are interested in being tied up, and asks you what your level of experience is, tell them. If they don’t, still tell them. And then say that you’re interested in learning new things, and that you hope they might be a good person to learn with. Sometimes they will, sometimes they won’t. It’s useful to get to know them before making that judgement call. Again, ask around about that person.
It isn’t about how good you are now. It’s about how you present yourself, how you prove yourself trustworthy, and how you’re willing to learn.
Less Simple Strategy:
You might find yourself in a situation where there are no nearby BDSM groups that you’re aware of, or that Fetlife is telling you about.
In this instance, you need to think about open minded people, who are already a bit alternative.
Because there tend to be a few groups like that around; fire artists, burlesque performers, people into aerial silks ( I met a great suspension model who wanted to try it because it looked like aerial silks), circus arts people, poly groups, LGBT groups, goth/punk other sorts of groups, you name it.
The idea here is that people who are alternative and open minded in one way are often more likely to be alternative and open minded in another. That’s why you often get a person who belongs to multiple alt groups.
So shop around; you’re likely to meet some really interesting people and learn some really cool things, while you’re looking for prospective rope bunnies. Eventually you’ll find someone who’s keen on the idea. Again, be fairly forthcoming and honest; establish that trustworthiness right from the beginning. You may like to show them some awesome pictures you’ve saved on your phone to perk their interest or illustrate what you’re talking about; I suggest using pictures which are simple, replicable, and attractive.
The Internet Dating Strategy:
Use Tinder, OkCupid, and other dating sites to create a profile. Maybe a little less explicit than a Fetlife profile, but still heavily hinting at what you’re into, for example shibari or wanting to tie people up. As an example of how this works, you can assume that people that match with you on Tinder are at least somewhat open minded or curious about your bondage stuff. You will probably need to be proactive about this, so if someone matches with you, message them. And message them well. Look up tips and tricks on how not to come off as a totally shallow person when you send someone a first message.
Sometimes people will message you first. That’s great! When it’s not a bot.
The Straightforward Strategy
You may already have suitable friends or acquaintances, who you’re a little attracted to, or who might be interested or open minded enough to be keen to be your model. It’s scary to ask; but how you approach it can make a difference. “I’ve been learning this really interesting style of rope art; want to see some pictures?” “Yeah, it looks really cool – I’m coming along in getting better at it, but I need someone to practice with. Would you be keen?” (If it’s someone you have a non-intimate connection to, you may suggest that they can watch TV or something while you practice on them – it clears that possibility out of their heads if you want them distracted by something else. Clearly, you don’t want to get into them if you’d rather they watch their favourite show on Netflix.)
(Oh, just had an idea; forget Netflix and chill; Netflix and rope, anyone?)
Just one caveat to the last strategy though: keep in mind that bondage can create accidental or unexpected intimacy, which might activate unforeseen chemistry. Be careful who you pick; like the partner of your friend may not be the best person. Just a thought.
Okay! So these are some basic strategies for looking for rope partners etc; you’ll probably find that many rope teachers near you advertise on Fetlife or on personal websites. That may not be doable; so don’t hesitate to learn from the internet or from people you meet who are also into rope and may have more experience from you, or even just different experience than you. There’s always more to learn.
Now, if anyone else can leave their tips in the comments, that would be freaking awesome! We could create a forum or something. How to pick up, rope bondage style 😉