Thursday, June 24, 2010

Involuntary Friendships

I realize I've talked about this in the past--likely some time ago--but during my plane ride home from FMS I jotted down a few notes and thought I'd share. As I was typing up thoughts before I forgot them on my iPhone, one of the things I wrote was "Involuntary Friendships." First, I thought it was a cool blog entry headline, but it also said exactly what I was thinking. Here's what I mean:

The scene (and take your pick: BDSM, spanko, whatever) has yielded (expectedly) unexpected surprises, the biggest of which is the friendships both my wife and I have made. You go into these parties, this lifestyle, with certain expectations--most of them about visceral experiences, emotionally charged experiences, but--at least in my case--not in terms of expecting friendships. An unintended consequence. A wonderful and unexpected surprise.

Most interestingly to me, these are all involuntary friendships. What do I mean by that? Well, friendships are all involuntary, you say. Sure, we go out of our way to make certain friends--those are voluntary. But most of the time, friendships just happen. But in the lifestyle, these friendships seem even more random to me.

In the vanilla world, friends come from other friends or from social circumstances and situations, typically centered around geography or socio-economic conditions or broad interests (golf, tennis, book-of-the-month club). Yes, in our weird little kinky world, we share the bond of sadism/masochism (or whatever you prefer to call it--you know who you are and yes, by the way, you are in denial!). But other than that, we are a random grab bag of folks that don't fit typical patterns of friendship. No geographical boundaries. No social circumstances. No socio-economic similarities. We are bound by our kink. Which, in and of itself, is cool. This where the "involuntary" part comes in.

I've met people in the scene that I now consider close, personal, best friends. People I would do anything for and people I know who have my back. People I trust implicitly and know everything about me. People who I've disclosed practically everything to. If you'd asked me when I started playing publicly that this would be an unintended consequence I would've laughed, or at least vehemently suggested the impossibility of that happening. I am guarded. I have a firewall of protection between my vanilla life and my kink life. Why, for the love of Pete, would I let someone into my mind, emotional boundaries or even (to be completely schmaltzy but utterly honest) my heart? Why let anyone past that firewall?

Because we get close, because this crazy shit we do. For all the fun, visceral feeling of it all, as I've said before, we are often more open, honest and direct than many longterm and successful marriages. Often after one or two private "play" sessions. When I play sometimes it's fun, but for those who've played with me more seriously, they know I want to get inside my play partner, understand what makes her tick and help her release, experience what she needs to have catharsis. (By the way, I tried explaining this to a vanilla friend recently and she accused me of sounding like Carl Sagan. They don't get it, do they? Or, perhaps, she's right and I'll all uppity in my own snotty headspace.)

To be honest, some of these friends are people I probably would never talk to in a vanilla situation, most likely because we wouldn't find ourselves in the same place at the same time in the vanilla world, partly because of other factors.

Thus, involuntary friendships.

Yet, I wouldn't trade them for anything. The unexpected consequence. I treasure and value these random connections now more than anything else I've experienced in the scene. And for that, I'm glad.


  1. Wha... Carl Sagan?? Please. The only thing Sagan-esque about you is that you deliver millions and millions of swats. :-)

    It's an interesting phenomenon, these close bonds we develop in our scene, isn't it? On the flip side, you'll often find that an immediate, sort of pseudo-intimacy is forged, because we are thrown into an intimate activity from the getgo. I mean, most people in the scene see my bare behind before they know the barest basics about me. Oftentimes, people will mistake this for friendship. But it's not the same. Your real friends are the ones who will see the worst of you and still stick around 'cause they love you anyway -- not because you've got one hell of a strong hand or a nice ass.

    I doubt that I would have met you, or many of the other people I call friends, if not for this kink thing we do. I'm awfully glad that I did. :-)

  2. Erica:

    You always pose some alternative view that offers such interesting insight. Pseudo-intimacy. I get it. You're right.

    Meeting you, and my of my other friends, has been a highlight of my life, I can say without hyperbole.


  3. As usual, my sis E nailed it right on the head. Friendships forged in "this thing we do" tend to be unusually strong and the bonds - get it, bonds? I crack myself up - are strong. I have several friends that I see once, maybe twice a year and we don't do a whole lot of emailing in between. But you know what? We pick up exactly where we left off because we are connected. I have many vanilla aquaintances but they pale in comparison to my scene friendships. I know those people will be there for me when I need them and vice versa.


  4. Since I have never played outside the home, I haven't had the pleasure of forming friendships with people "in the flesh" (I think I'm pretty funny too!) But the online friends I have in the blogging community are the strongest, best ones I have. No matter that we haven't seen each other's faces or exchanged real names. These people are important to me because I can be my true self, and say things that I can't share with anyone in the day to day vanilla world.

    It must be really cool to meet fellow spanking enthusiasts and share that virtual experience in real life.


  5. Interestingly enough.. I think I went to my very first spanking party with having had enough conversations to have found a kindred spirit or two (or three or four) LOL ..

    So, in my psyche, this foray into a spanking adventure .. felt more like we'd all communed in a sort of 'voluntary friendship' experience. I came away from that voluntary experience feeling like I'd know you for years instead of a month or so of posts here and there on fetlife and on your blog. (grins)

    I guess when you connect.. via 'kinks' with someone .. it somehow makes you feel a part of their lives.


  6. Dear Alona:

    You're right. Pretty amazing stuff.


  7. It is, Hermione. I hate to say it, but you're missing out...

  8. I've been known to describe some of my scene friends as the "you can call them at 3 AM and they'll answer" kind of friends. I think that being able to be open about your real self leads to a deep connection that we don't experience in the vanilla world. I have family, old school friends, work friends and then, scene friends...the scene friends are the ones that know me. Thanks for this post Craig. It really put into perspective what I've been thinking these last few weeks.


  9. Sass:

    Thanks! Nicely said, your comments, by the way. Miss you, dear.


  10. Hi Craig,

    I have made some great friends, including Erica. There does seem to be a strong emotional connection that is a wonderful added bonus to this spanking thing. And I found myself nodding in agreement with all that you said as I was reading it.

    On the other hand, have you found that despite these genuine close connections and the friendship between you, and real feelings and bonds, that the converse is also true? That these friends can disappear without warning, and sometimes after many years of shared experiences and communications, without a word or a trace? I try to live in the present and enjoy all of the emails, meetings, and blogs, but in the back of my mind I do fear that one day they will be gone. It has happened to me a couple of times and always breaks my heart.

  11. I forgot to sign the reply I just posted. Sorry about that.

  12. Pam:

    Good points. Are those friends that simply disappear really that good of a friend to begin with? Or did it only seem that way at the time?


    P.S. And thanks for signing back in to sign your name. I was really wondering who wrote that.

  13. Your post echoes the way I feel. I came into this spanking thing to simply get my fantasies fulfilled and my need for discipline met. Never in a million years did I think I would actually like to hang out with these people outside of the scene, but I do! Some of the people that I've met in the scene have become my best friends. They've seen the good and the bad and I of them.

    I've learned alot about communication as well and agree with you that there are probably gobs of marriage partners who don't communicate anywhere near as well as the communication that takes place on a constant basis like it does in the scene. One of the biggies that I've learned is to ask for what I want. Such a simple thing to do, but it can be rather difficult for many. Also there is the exchange that often takes place after a scene/session where the individuals talk about what worked or didn't work for them.

    Psychologists often talk about how damaging and deviant our kinks are. But they seem to overlook to obvious positive things. I think vanillas could learn from our communication practices.

  14. Your words are right on the money, Alicia. Thank you for sharing. I appreciate your thoughtful response.