Ten Tips for Getting the Most Out of Fetlife

Ahhhh, Fetlife.

Love it or hate it, the “Facebook of kink” is still the absolute number one place to be on the internet if you’re a kinky person who wants to interact with the BDSM and fetish community outside of your bedroom.

But if you’re not careful, it can be a bit of a cesspit. Here are my top ten tips for getting the most out of Fetlife.

Fill out your profile

You really need to fill out your profile if you want to use Fetlife to help you build a community. You don’t have to post an essay, but “I dunno just ask me” or “I hate talking about myself” do not constitute a profile.

Tell us whatever it is about yourself that you’re happy to share. For starters, try: how long have you been on the scene, what does kink mean to you, what your relationship(s) look like, and what you’re looking for. You could also include an outside-of-kink hobby or interest or two!

Choose your role carefully

There are tonnes of different role options you can choose from. Of course there’s the ubiquitous Dom/Sub/Switch, but there’s also Kinkster, Hedonist, Pet, Brat, Daddy, Princess, and many more. Choose the one that best suits you (and, if you want, say something about what it means to you in your profile!) Remember you can always change it, too, so don’t be afraid to swap things around as you gain experience and change as a kinkster. I wrote a deeply personal post last year about the different role descriptors I’ve used over the years.

Consider your location

The running joke is that there are more kinksters in Antarctica than people, because so many Fetlife users put “Antarctica” as their location to avoid revealing where they really live.

If you need to conceal your location, I’m absolutely not judging. Please do what you need to do in order to be safe! But if you can, consider putting your actual town/city or at least somewhere close to it. (Or a general area, like your state or county.) This makes it easier to connect with people who live near to you, and also means you’ll get event recommendations based on your location. (Not many dungeon parties in Antarctica, funnily enough!)

Say what you’re looking for

In your profile header, you can pick “What I’m Looking For” from a dropdown menu. Options include everything from “a Master/Mistress” to “a lifetime relationship” to “Events” to “Friendship.” You can choose more than one. Consider carefully what it is you’re looking for and be honest here! Saying you’re only looking for friendship or events won’t entirely stop the creepers from messaging you, but it will cut down on it. If you say you’re looking for a romantic, sexual or kinky partner, it’s a really good idea to delve further into what you’re after in your profile (or by using the “Writings” feature.)

Read profiles before messaging!

I really cannot emphasise this enough. Please read someone’s ENTIRE profile before messaging them – and pay attention to what it says. My profile states very clearly that I have no interest in submissive cis men and that they should not under any circumstances message me. I still get an average of one “HeLlO MiStReSs CaN i LiCk YoUr BoOtS?” type message per day. I also say I don’t add strangers as friends, and yet the random friend requests still flood in. Read a damn profile, and heed what it says. You are not the exception.

Message respectfully

So you’ve read someone’s profile and they’ve sparked your interest enough to want to make a connection. The first message can really make or break things here. Don’t go in with sexual content straight away (yes it’s a fetish site, but there are human beings on the other end of your message!) Don’t make demands, make assumptions of roles (this means no calling someone Sir, Mistress, Daddy, slut, slave or any other kinky title without consent!) or ask people to meet straight away. Do at least a cursory check of your spelling and grammar (graduate thesis level perfection is not expected but making an effort is nice.) Don’t wall-of-text. Don’t ask someone to meet straight away. Just… be a friendly, normal, respectful person.

Join groups

There are literally thousands of groups on Fetlife! These operate as discussion forums based around topics. Many are for specific kinks or fetishes (for example, Spanking, Orgasm Control or Needle Play.) Others are based around a specific geographical location, or even a specific event (Attendees of Fetish Fest 2020, for example.) There are even non-kinky groups where you can just discuss a topic of mutual interest! I’m in book groups, health and fitness groups, groups for people who are childfree-by-choice, and many more. Pick a few interests and join groups.

Read and obey group rules

All groups have rules governing the kind of content that is allowed in them. Many, for example, will specify “no personal ads” (cruising for dates/play,) “no advertising” (commercial or business content or advertising your event,) or even be limited to a certain demographic (such as under 35s, women, or LGBTQ folks.) Disregarding group rules is likely to get your posts deleted and may even get you kicked or banned from groups. It also wastes moderators’ time, annoys group members, and makes you look like a dick. Just read the rules and follow them.

Don’t pay too much attention to Kinky & Popular

Ugh, Kinky and Popular. This page highlights posts (photos, videos and writings) which have garnered a lot of attention in a short space of time. No-one is 100% clear how the algorithm works, but that’s the gist of it. The thing is, K&P is mostly full of what can best be described as “vanilla porn” – videos of fairly heteronormative, vanilla sex acts and nude pictures of skinny, young, normatively attractive white girls. Which are fine if these are your thing, but they’re not really what most people go to Fetlife for.

K&P also generally makes people who don’t fit into these narrow beauty standards feel shit about ourselves and our bodies. There are occasional K&P writings that are absolute gems, but you have to weed through a lot of crap to get to them. Just ignore K&P is my advice. Kink isn’t a popularity contest.

Reach out to community leaders and prominent figures

See someone who looks like they’re a leader, event organiser or prominent and respected person in your local community? Reach out to them! Amongst all the crap in my inbox, I love receiving the “I’m new to the scene in [place where I live,] saw you’re pretty active and wondered if you’d be willing to be a friendly face at [the munch next Tuesday/Bob’s party on Friday night/the next Peer Rope workshop] as I’m a bit nervous” type messages. Community leaders become community leaders because we love helping people and helping the scene to thrive. Reach out. Be polite, be respectful of their time, and be specific if you can in what you’re asking.

Erotic Literature

A narrow corridor in a bookshop, the shelves and floor piled high with books. For a story called Erotic Literature.

I manage not to blush too deeply as she starts ringing up my purchases. That’s progress, at least. I’ve been coming to this bookstore for the entire three years I’ve lived in this neighbourhood, and most of my purchases are from their incredibly well-stocked “romance” (read: erotic fiction) section.

I don’t give a fuck when the older male owner is working the cash register, or the college student who must be all of nineteen. They can think what they like. But when this girl is working – this thirty-something soft-butch with her short turquoise hair and well-tailored shirt and lip-ring – I get all tongue-tied and feel like a clueless teenager buying her first Jilly Cooper and furtively skipping to the naughty bits, not a sexually confident woman of twenty-nine.

“You must really like this author,” she says, holding up one of my purchases. “This is the third one you’ve bought this month.”

“I…” I stammer over my words, feeling suddenly caught out as I hand over a twenty pound note. “Yeah, she writes great… characters.”

A raise of an eyebrow. “Characters. Sure, sweetie.” She drops my books into a bag and hands them to me. “Enjoy.” She winks. “By the way, you’re cute when you blush.”

“I am not bl…”

She cuts me off by leaning over the counter and planting a kiss, quick and soft, on my lips.

We stare at each other. She seems almost as shocked as me. “Shit. Sorry. I shouldn’t have… I should have asked..”

“No. Don’t be. I liked it. I mean, I like you. And…” Fuck. What’s the correct way to say every time I’ve seen you for the last three years I’ve been wishing you’d just fuck me against one of these bookshelves?

She comes around from behind the counter and switches the door sign from “Open” to “Closed.” Flicks the latch to lock the door. Then she comes to me, lifts my chin with her hand to make me meet her eyes. Her eyes ask the question before she asks it out loud.

“Yes?”

“God, yes.”

Her lips press to mine. She tastes of peppermint chapstick. As our tongues entwine she pushes me back against the hard edge of the counter.

Her hand finds the waistband of my skirt. Yes, yes… but she pulls back at the last second. “Much as I want to fuck you right here, anyone walking past could see us. And while I’m sure they’d enjoy seeing you being a dirty little slut, I don’t want to get fired. Come with me.”

The back office is small, messy, and piled high with books. Books in boxes, books in piles on the floor, books strewn haphazardly across the desk. She sweeps a few papers off the desk chair and points to it. “Sit.” Powerless to resist her dominance and not even wanting to, I do.

“Now,” she says. She takes the carrier bag I’m still clutching from my hands and pulls out one of my purchases. She opens it and hands it to me. “You’re going to sit in that chair and read for me from this smut you like so much. While you do, I’m going to eat your cunt. If you stop reading, I stop licking. So if you want to come, you’d better do a good job for me.”

Fuck. Seriously? My cunt definitely likes the sound of this game. I worry I’m soaking through my knickers.

She goes to her knees and reaches under my skirt, putting her hands on my thighs to spread my legs. Then she peels my knickers off and grins wickedly up at me. “I might be on my knees, pretty girl, but don’t forget who’s in charge. Now start reading.”

I bite my lip and look down at the page. Concentrate, I tell myself. Hesitantly at first, I begin to read. My face flushes at hearing the kind of erotic filth I like to read spoken out loud. Her tongue makes contact with my clit and I fight back a moan. Keep reading.

The scene heats up quickly and by the time I’m on the third page, her flicks of my clit with her tongue mirrors what’s happening between the characters. I try not to squirm too much and to concentrate on the words in front of me, though they’re all starting to swim together. God, she’s really good at this. I can feel my wetness dripping onto the chair underneath me.

She slides two fingers into my cunt and my voice falters as my eyes flutter closed. She takes her mouth away from my cunt just long enough to say sternly, “don’t you fucking dare stop reading.” As if to emphasise her point, she nips she inside of my thigh with her teeth. I squeak at the sudden pain.

Fuck, she’s really good. My legs are shaking and the hand that isn’t holding the book is gripping the edge of the desk, white-knuckled. Her fingers stroke my G-spot in the come-hither motion I love as she laps more forcefully at my clit.

The words are coming out of my mouth more erratically, now, as I frantically try not to lose my place. Until now I’ve always assumed I need perfect concentration to be able to come – but her tongue and fingers are pushing me closer and closer to the edge.

She looks up from between my legs and her eyes meet mine. “You can come when the girl in the story does,” she says.

Knowing I’m not going to last much longer, and desperately not wanting to disobey this gorgeous dominant woman, I try to speed up my reading to reach the climax – ahem – of the scene.

Getting close!” I read as the woman in the story is finger-fucked by her partner.

“Her fingers worked their way in and out of me, harder and faster, and I knew I was seconds away from coming and that I was probably going to gush all over her hand…” I read, my voice now shaking. The woman between my legs presses harder against my G-spot and encircles my whole clitoris with her warm mouth.

“I’m coming…” I read. And with one last flick of her tongue, she pushes me over the edge at the same moment as the woman in the story. I feel the rush of fluid from between my legs and I know she’s made me squirt. The book drops from my hand to the desk as I hold her head against my cunt, fucking her face until the last waves of orgasm have subsided.

She sits back, licking her lips and looking very pleased with herself.

“I just realised,” she says. “I forgot to ask your name.”

This piece was written as part of Smutathon. Please donate if you can – all funds raised to go support safe, legal abortion access. You can read everyone’s smutty work at the Smutathon website.

The Smutathon 2019 graphic

Letting Go Is Not Forgiveness

“You have thrown it all away,
Stand back, watch it burn –
Just watch it all burn.”

(“First Burn” – Lin Manuel Miranda)

A sky full of balloons in different colours. For a post about forgiveness and letting go.

Close to a decade ago, two people I trusted hurt me very badly. The finer points of the story are unimportant; the Spark Notes version is that my partner and metamour (who was, I thought, a dear friend) deliberately lied to me and deliberately betrayed my trust in a deep and profound way that had lasting implications for my life.

First I was sad. Then I felt stupid, because how could I have let them take me in like that? Then I got angry. And then… well, then I kinda stayed angry. I raged to my other partner and my friends, and I was still angry. Then I yelled on the internet and I was still angry. I burned everything he gave me that I could put a match to, and I was still fucking angry.

Occasionally I still see them; once a year or so when I go to an event that I love and refuse to be pushed out of just because they’re going to be there. And every time I’ve seen them for so many years, I get this visceral sense of fuck you both.

Honestly, it felt kind of powerful for a while. Because if I was angry, if I was actively hating them, then I couldn’t feel like an idiot. I couldn’t question whether it was my fault – whether by letting my partner sleep with someone else (to whatever extent the notion of “allowing” another adult to do something is meaningful) I had tempted fate that eventually he’d like her more. Whether I’d trusted too easily and so allowed this to go on right under my nose, suspecting nothing. Or whether I’d just not been giving enough, pretty enough, sexy enough to keep him interested in me. Being angry gave me the illusion of having the upper hand. Of “you two might have ripped the rug of my life out from under me, but at least I still have the moral high ground.”

Sometimes I barely think about them for weeks or months. And then something will spark it all over again – a dream, a post on social media that has somehow bypassed my “block them and their partners on absolutely everything” measures, something I see on TV that reminds me of the situation – and there’s that flash of white-hot anger, powerful as ever.

But my therapist recently helped me to realise that being angry really isn’t serving me any more – and probably hasn’t been for a long time. At this point, all it serves to do is to take up space in my brain that those two really haven’t been entitled to for a very long time. All it does is cause me to mistrust everyone who gets close to me – to start from a point of assuming betrayal and harm is inevitable and making them work their way up from there, rather than the fairer position of starting from a place of neutral trust equity.

“I need to let it go, don’t I?” I said, close to the end of one session.

In that way characteristic of good therapists, she answered my plea that she tell me what to do with another question. “What have you got to gain if you do?”

I thought about it. “Space in my head, mainly,” was my answer. There were other things, too, of course. Things which would improve my relationships with others, my relationship with myself, and my ability to trust other people again.

“I can’t forgive them, though,” I told my therapist. “I draw the line there.”

“No-one is asking you to forgive them.”

That’s when I realised that it might be possible to let go of something in a way that doesn’t imply forgiveness. In a way that doesn’t, directly or indirectly, tell the person who hurt you that what they did was okay or doesn’t matter any more. Because it does fucking matter!

Forgiveness, despite what well-meaning people often tell me, is fundamentally about the person who did the hurting in my opinion. Forgiveness, in the context of an ongoing and loving relationship where someone has fucked up (even very badly) is a great virtue and can be what enables the relationship to continue. However, I believe that in order to be meaningful, the person who is being forgiven has to understand what they did wrong and take steps to never do it again. I don’t have that. They still don’t think I did anything wrong – I was just an obstacle they had to clear to get

Letting go, though? That’s for me. That’s all mine. My therapist taught me that letting something go is a gift to myself, not to them. It doesn’t involve them at all! Letting go says that they don’t deserve the space in my head it takes to think about them any more. Space which could be better used for writing, learning, making my current relationships awesome, or honestly even just watching hours of back-to-back cat videos on the internet.

Letting go says “your loss, I’m gonna go live my life now.”

I’m taking a deep breath, and I’m letting all this long-held anger go.

This post was written as part of Smutathon 2019. We’re writing intensively for 12 hours to raise money for the National Network of Abortion Funds. Please sponsor us if you can – we’d like to raise $5,000 to help ensure access to safe, legal abortion is available for anyone who needs it.

The Smutathon 2019 graphic