D is for Discipline

This is part 2. of my ABC’s of BDsM series.  In each post, I will break down one letter of the BDsM acronym to delve deeper into what practices and preferences make up the world of BDsM.  This is by no means a definitive discussion of BDsM, but is rather intended to be a primer for interested beginners.

DSCF8568D is for Discipline

Discipline refers to the use of rules to control behaviour and the consequences that may arise as a result of breaking these rules.  In a BDsM context, discipline usually involves some form of power exchange between a dominant party (the person imposing the rules and doling out punishment) and a submissive party (the person adhering to the restrictions).

 

Discipline appears in the BDsM world in countless ways.  It may be applied to a short-lived scene, or employed over a long period of time by people participating in Dominant/submissive relationships.  The ways in which discipline is carried out varies widely across situations, but some of the more common uses of discipline include:

  • “Punishment” role play scenes between an authority figure and a submissive party such as a teacher and a student.
  • Rules or contracts between partners in long-term relationships to prune bad habits and foster beneficial behaviour.
  • Protocol.  Protocol is a huge topic all of it’s own, but it essentially boils down to codes of conduct for submissives, such as the correct way to sit, stand, kneel, serve drinks and perform other tasks.  It is similar to etiquette and is usually employed either at home or at specific BDsM events.
  • Orgasm control, where a submissive party is only permitted to orgasm with the permission of their dominant.
  • Chastity play, where the submissive party is forbidden to engage in sexual contact with another person or to touch themselves sexually.  This may involve the use of chastity devices.
  • Training as part of pet play, slave training or service submission training.

Discipline overlaps heavily with the other aspects of BDsM, particularly sadism and masochism.  I will talk more about these aspects in future posts.  It is often the case that a sadistic dominant will impose difficult or impossible rules as an excuse to inflict pain or punishment upon their submissive.  Discipline also plays a role in many common bondage scenes, and bondage may be used as a punishment when rules are broken.

Discipline commonly comes into play with couples who have a long term Dominant/submissive relationship or power exchange.  In these types of relationship, the dominant party will set rules and standards of expected behaviour for the submissive.  These rules will sometimes be put in place purely for the pleasure of the dominant, and may include restrictions on how the submissive may dress, how they will address the dominant, where they will sleep and tasks they must perform for the dominant.  Other rules may be set in place to assist the submissive to learn a new skill or break a habit.

Consequences for breaking rules vary from mild to extreme depending on the type of relationship and the desires of the parties involved.  Some common punishments include:

  • Spanking, whipping or flogging
  • bondage or restrictions of movement
  • humiliation
  • being made to sit in a corner
  • writing lines
  • forced orgasm
  • Performing unpleasant chores such as washing the bathroom tiles with a toothbrush
  • An apology.

There is a difference between punishments for play and punishments for behavioural training.  In a play scene, punishments like spankings or bondage are more likely to be used, because these are things that the submissive party will find enjoyable.  In the case where a dominant is training a submissive, punishments are more likely to be unpleasant, because they are intended to be something that the submissive will wish to avoid.

Why do people enjoy discipline?  Well, as I mentioned earlier, discipline fits very neatly with sadism and masochism, two of the other branches of BDsM.  Discipline is a perfect pretext for punishments such as canings and spankings, as well as humiliation play.  Discipline is a wonderful tool for learning and improving the self.  Many people enjoy controlling the behaviour of others or being controlled and following orders.  Some find it freeing to have a set of rules in place, so have someone else make those choices for them and to know that all they have to do it follow the rules.  The desire to please is a strong part of the pull towards discipline, whether that means being proud of your own achievements or earning praise from your master or dominant.

As with any BDsM play or practice, discipline should be carried out in a safe, sane and consensual way.  Some specific considerations include the following:

  • Rules and punishments should always be carefully negotiated. Both parties should discuss the reasons for a rule and any objections should be talked through.
  • Rule sheets and contracts should be reviewed from time to time. I know many people in D/s relationships who have a set date every month to review their rules and discuss what is working, what is not, remove rules that have become obsolete and add new rules.
  • It may be worthwhile giving each new rule a trial period before it becomes a part of your formal rule agreement (if you have one).  This helps to identify any practical issues that may not become immediately obvious.
  • Don’t try to add too many rules at once.  This can become overwhelming and untenable.
  • Punishments should be unpleasant, but they should never injure or traumatize a submissive.
  • Don’t make rules that will negatively impinge upon employment, family commitments or personal health.
  • Communicate.  Often, openly and honestly.

Discipline is a huge topic, and not one that I can cover in a single blog post.  If there are any specific questions you have, please feel free to get in touch with me and I will attempt to answer them in future posts.

 

Next time, I’ll be delving into the practice of Sadism.

A geeks guide to online dating: your dating profile

This is the third post in my Geek’s Guide to Online Dating series.  We’ve already talked about your profile picture and choosing a username.  So today I’m going to get down to the gritty details of filling out your profile.

 

My online dating profile has undergone a number of makeovers in the last year.  As I’ve discovered what works and doesn’t work for me, I’ve polished and updated my profile accordingly.  In it’s current incarnation, my profile is witty, honest and somewhat detailed.  Just the way I believe it should be.  Everyone has a different idea about what makes a good online dating profile, just like everyone is looking for something different in a date.  So my suggestions aren’t a definitive guide.

cropped-dscf8283.jpg

Be honest about what you want…and what you don’t want.

I found that my online dating game jumped up a notch when I got brutally honest about what I was looking for.   My profile mentions things like the fact that I’m open to long-distance as long as the other person is willing to share the responsibility of travel.  Or my desire to find someone relatively introverted who is OK with not going out all the time. I also mention that I’m not interested in casual sex, and that even though I’m bisexual I’m not interested in playing the special guest star in your three-way.

 

Once I got honest about what I wanted, the replies I got were a lot more selective and much more suited to my tastes.  Sure, I still got the occasional dickhead writing to ask for pictures of my boobs, but they became less frequent.

 

Here’s the deal: it doesn’t really matter what you’re looking for, but it’s much better if you’re honest about it.  I don’t mind if you’re looking for a hookup, or you want to get married, or you are exclusively interested in women who are experts at Fallout.  But actually saying “I want X, I don’t want Y” gives the person reading your profile a better idea of what you’re after and whether it’s worth getting in touch with you.  It saves everyone time and you’re less likely to go on a bunch of mismatched dates.

 

Be wordy, but not too wordy.

There’s a fine line to tread when it comes to the length of your profile.  You don’t want it to be too sparse, or you won’t generate any interest.  But on the other hand, if you write an essay that’s roughly the length of War and Peace, nobody is going to slog through it all.

 

You want to write in enough detail that you give the person reading a snapshot of who you are and what you like.  I tend to click away immediately when I see a profile that has only answered the bare minimum questions, because I have no idea about the person who wrote it.  They could be the most interesting, hilarious person ever, but how would I know because there’s no hint of that on their profile?

 

When filling out your profile, make sure you provide some details, but keep it on the succinct side.  Always leave the reader wanting more.  After all, if you tell them everything, there’s no reason for them to want to get to know you further.

 

Include a secret code (wink wink!)

There’s always the danger that you’ll be contacted by someone who has just seen your profile picture, thought you were cute and hasn’t read your profile at all.  If you’re cool with that, then you don’t need to worry.  But if you want to be sure that people have actually read your profile, then you can weave in a little insurance policy.  I’ve seen profiles that say “please message me with the following phrase to show you’ve read my profile” or ask you to answer a particular question in your message.  These aren’t foolproof, but the secret code method helps to weed out those who have actually taken the time to check out your profile.

 

Your time to shine.

You need to make sure that your profile has a sparkle to it, something that sets it apart from everyone else.  So how do you do that?  Well, for starters, don’t write the obvious.  Sure, you like music, pizza and movies.  Who doesn’t?  Stand out from the pack with original answers.  Talk about the band that changed your life or your ability to whip up the best fettuccine carbonara in the galaxy.  Talk about your love for 80’s television.  Highlight the things that make you YOU.  Those things might not seem like the coolest or trendiest, but that’s a good thing.  There just might be an awesome person out there who gets pumped to find out that there’s another person on the planet who enjoys watching Biodome.  It’s those silly quirks that stand out, so let your geekery shine brightly to lead your date to you.

 

Do you have any other tips that I’ve forgotten?  What do you think makes a good online dating profile.

 

A geeks guide to online dating: your profile name.

Ok, so it’s been a couple of weeks since we discussed choosing the right picture for your online dating profile.  Now I think it’s about time we had a chat about picking out a profile name that will work for you.

DSCF9165

It might seem like a small thing, but your profile name can actually have a big impact on who clicks on your dating profile.  Choosing the wrong name could mean driving away potential matches.  So how should you go about picking a user name?  Here’s my top tips.

Don’t go with a generic moniker

Your name should be interesting enough to draw in a potential match.  It doesn’t have to be entirely original or covered in metaphorical stardust but it should be the tiniest bit clever or witty.  I get so turned off by people who choose the generic computer-suggested user names.  I am very unlikely to click on a profile named “Your name-in-a-box” or “Such-and-such-taco”.  These are the names that OK Cupid throws out when your preferred user name is taken.  To me, that just seems too dull and I wonder if you put any thought at all into creating your profile.  Trust me, a little bit of wit and originality will go a long way.

Avoid names that scream “I’m a douchebag”

There are certain phrases that induce an automatic eye-roll when I read them in a dating profile.  And when those phrases pop up in someone’s user name, I’m instantly running for the hills.  The chief phrase is the dreaded, “But I’m a nice guy”.  In my experience, Nice Guys don’t need to constantly tell you how nice they are.  Generally the ones who constantly harp about what a “nice guy” they are tend to be the same dudes who are whining about how the girls they like always “friendzone” them.  Don’t be that guy.  Using the phrase “Nice Guy” in your profile name will get you nowhere with me.  I’ve seen dudes who call themselves things like “Justaniceguy” or even once “Ipromiseimnice”.  To me these just read as a bit creepy and desperate.  If you want your profile to have a chance of being read by a woman worth her salt, don’t use douchey phrasing in your profile name.

Unless you’re looking for casual sex, avoid sexual terms and euphemisms.

I should point out that there is nothing wrong with seeking out casual sex.  If that’s what you’re after, then I don’t judge you for it.  But when it comes to dating, that’s not what I’m looking for.  So if I see a user name that is sexually explicit, I tend to skip over that profile.  Using sexual terminology in your username gives the impression that you’re looking for a hook up.  So if you want more than just a one night stand, I’d advise against using any sexy lingo in your profile name.

Jokes and geeky references will get you everywhere

Do you want to know a secret?  I love to laugh.  (OK, that’s not a secret.  But it’s the truth).  And I’m a massive geek.  So if I see a user name that gives me the giggles, or alludes to one of my favourite fandoms, I’m going to give it a click.  In those cases, I want to get to know a bit more about the clever-trousers who thought up the hilarious profile name.  If you are a bit of a geek, it definitely pays to use a funny or pun-tastic user name.  Not only will it attract like-minded people, but it will draw in more potential matches than if you just used some generic user name.  It doesn’t have to be super sophisticated, just silly or witty enough to generate a giggle in your future sweetheart.  Some great user names I’ve seen include:  Mr Snrub, George Glass and Duke Silver, just to name a select few.

Should you use your real name?

This is a bit of a sticky topic.  On the one hand, using your real name means that you don’t have to think up a witty nickname.  However it does leave you open to unwanted familiarity.  It’s entirely up to you, but I’d suggest keeping your real name to yourself, at least at the beginning. Then when you’ve chatted to someone for a bit you can reveal your true identity if you feel comfortable doing so.  It’s entirely up to you, but I’d be wary about using your real name as your user name.

Do you have anything to add?  What are some of your pet peeves and greatest draws when it comes to dating profile usernames.

A geek’s guide to online dating: your profile picture.

I’ve been dabbling in online dating this year.  It’s been an *ahem* interesting experience.  I’ve met some fantastic people, and some not-so-fantastic people.  I’ve been on more first dates in this year than I have in my entire adult life.  And it’s been eye-opening.

I truly believe that online dating can be awesome.  It’s a great way to meet new people and broaden your horizons, particularly if you are shy or live in an area where the dating pool is sparsely populated (I tick both boxes).

However it’s easy to make mistakes.  I know, because I’ve made plenty.  So I thought that it might be cool to share some of my do’s and don’ts for online dating, so that you don’t make the same mistakes I have.  I’m hoping to make this into a series, and it seemed logical to kick off with a post about your profile picture.

Keep in mind that a lot of the tips here are based on my own personal opinion.  You may entirely disagree with me and that’s cool.  A lot of them are directed towards men because generally that’s who I’m looking at when I’m browsing online matches.  I do look at women too, but not as often.  So I apologise if these tips are male-centric.

Profile pictures- What not to do

  • The first one is so obvious I can’t believe I have to say it: make sure you’re in your profile picture.  I have seen profile pics that are everything from a cup of coffee, to a guitar and even a picture of Bilbo Baggins.  And I never click on those ones.  Why?  Because I have no clue about the person behind them.  People are visual creatures, and they want to see the person they will potentially be chatting with.  Even if you’re shy taking a picture of yourself, actually having your face on your profile will dramatically increase the likelihood that someone will read your profile.
  • If there is more than one person in your profile picture, make sure it’s obvious which one is you.  I see so many people who use group shots as their profile picture. Or worse- pictures of them with their exes.  I’m a busy girl, and I’m not going to take the time to try to figure out which one of the peeps in the picture is you.  You should be the star of the picture.
  • Don’t use a professional headshot as your profile picture.  I get it, you want to look as good as possible to attract a potential mate.  But a professional shot makes it look like you’re trying way too hard.  A simple selfie is fine and makes you seem more approachable.
  • Make sure that your face is clearly visible.  No blurry shots, no back-of-the-head shots and none of those weird eyes-and-forehead crops.  Show your whole face.  All of it.  I want to see who I’m talking to.
  • Don’t take your profile picture in bed.  It just reads as sleazy.  Ditto shirtless pics.
  • Don’t be holding a gun in your profile picture.  To me it’s a major turn-off for two reasons: 1. I’m really anti-hunting and 2. It makes me wonder if you’re a serial killer.

DSCF9077

Profile picture- Things to try

  • Inject a little personality into your profile picture.  For example, if you like to travel you could use a picture of yourself from your latest adventure.  Into animals?  Choose a pic of you with your furry friend.  Even something quirky and geeky like wearing a fandom tee shirt can really speak volumes about who you are and what you like.
  • Use a picture where you are dressed nicely, as you would for a coffee date.  That way you look presentable and approachable without being too over the top.  (If you normally wear full makeup and a cocktail dress for a coffee date, that’s also fine.  Best to be real).
  • A word about cosplay photos: I’m a cosplayer and I get psyched when I meet someone who is also into cosplay.  But I’m iffy about using a cosplay picture as my main profile pic.  The reason for this is that you don’t really look like “you”; you look like a caricature.  By all means, add some of your wicked cosplay snaps to your albums, but I’d hesitate to use one as your profile picture.
  • Don’t be pressured to smile in your profile picture.  I mean, a smile is nice but if you aren’t a typically smiley person then don’t feel like you need to paste a fake grin on your face for the picture.

I think the best advice I can give you is to choose a picture that accurately represents who you are.  That way when people are flicking through loads of profiles they will have a good idea of what you’re about and you’ll be more likely to snag the interest of a like-minded person.

 

Do you have any questions about online dating you would like me to answer?  What do you think my next post in this series should cover?

A new ‘do

I am a firm believer in regularly doing things that scare you.  Not stupid or dangerous things, just small-to-moderate sized risks that put you out of your comfort zone.  I took a leap like this when I cut off my long hair a couple of years ago.  Since then I haven’t done much with my hair other than tidying up the ends and throwing a few layers in there.  But for the last few months I began to get the itch to make another salon appointment.  It was time for a change.

For about six months I’ve been obsessed with sidecuts.  I think they look amazing, particularly on women with longer hair.  I quite liked the idea of having a haircut that could be punk-princess gorgeous or office appropriate depending on where I parted my hair.  I wrestled with the idea for ages.  Then finally I gave myself a little shake and said, “If not now, then when will I do this?  I’m young and cute, with nothing to lose and hair grows back”.  Then I picked up the phone and made an appointment with my favourite hairdresser.  And a couple of days later I was sporting this bad-ass hairdo.

To say I love this haircut is a massive understatement.  Unlike when I cut my hair short, I haven’t had a single “Why the Hell did I do that?” freakout.  I am so pleased with the way this looks, and I’m enjoying showing off my new do.

Actually getting the cut was a great experience.  I had been nervous the whole day leading up to my salon appointment, but as soon as I sat down in the chair I knew this was what I wanted to do.  It was a little unnerving when the clippers started buzzing around my left ear though.  As someone who has only ever had long hair, it was a completely new experience.  My hairdresser was totally amazing, and followed my wishes to the letter, taking my hair shorter by degrees until we had the perfect length.

One of the best bits about this cut is that it’s so easy to hide.  For work I just part my hair on the opposite side and slick it into a low ponytail.  Or I can part it right down the middle and wear it down.  So far not a single person in the office has even noticed my shaved side!  And then when I want to show it off, I just whip my hair up or create a deep side part and spray it into place.  It’s like a two-for-one haircut!

As an added bonus, I now have a soft little shaved patch that feels delicious.  I’ve been told it feels like a peach, a duckling and a butt (that one was from my Mum).

So I’m very pleased indeed that I took the plunge and cut my hair again.  I feel so foxy with my new do!

Have you done anything lately that scared you?  Have you got any little risks planned?

Confessions of a craft fair virgin.

Last weekend I finally took the plunge and ticked something off my bucket list.  For ages I’ve wanted to run a stall at a craft fair.  While I love my Etsy store, I was keen to try selling at markets as well. Selling in person has some distinct advantages: you don’t have to worry about crazy shipping costs, potential customers have a chance to touch and try on your wares and you can joke and chat with your customers.

I was extremely nervous about running my own market stall.  I was very worried that my crafts weren’t good enough or that nobody would want to buy what I was selling.  I was concerned that my social anxiety would make it hard for me to interact with my customers without it seeming forced.  I also felt a bit overwhelmed by the amount of work that would be involved in running a stall.

So guess what… it was really hard.  I put in tonnes of work and preparation, I only made a single sale and I felt so nervous every time someone came to my stall.  But you know what else? It was totally worth it and I would definitely do it again.  Here are a few observations I took away from my first time as a craft-stall vendor.

There’s no one “right” way to run a stall.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time stressing over how I should set up my stall.  I looked at countless Pinterest boards for inspiration and ended up completely spinning myself out.  I was so unsure about how my stall should look, what type of displays I should use, how much stock to bring and so many other worries.  In the end, I went for a pretty minimalist look with a few displays and most of my stock spread out on the table.  And you know what?  It really seemed to work.  My colourful goodies really stood out from the crowd and loads of people were drawn to check out all the awesome colours and textures at my booth.

There were some really professional-looking displays at the market.  Some vendors had made their entire stall from scratch.  Others hired tables and used home-made or pre-purchased display racks.  But they all looked awesome and everyone was making sales.  When you’re trying to plan a stall, it’s best to stick with a few simple ideas that seem right to you, see what works and build from there.  Comparing yourself to other stalls will drain your energy and worth.

Talk to other vendors and learn from them.

I met some fantastic vendors at the craft fair.  There were some people who, like me, were relatively new to the game and others who were market veterans.  Everyone was really friendly and helpful, and I picked up some great tips to help me with my stall and my customers.  If you’re a newbie, these tidbits of info are so valuable.

And don’t forget, even if you don’t know that much about markets there might be some other areas that you have some flair in.  For example, the woman running the stall opposite mine has been thinking of starting an online store so I was able to give her some pointers based on what has worked for me in the past.  We swapped advice and it was a great learning experience.  It’s great when people are willing to help you out and learn as well as teach.  It’s the type of scenario that everyone benefits from!

DSCF9018

Bring business cards…and lollies.

Not every customer will be ready to buy on the day.  Markets can be quite overwhelming and some will be unsure of what they want to spend their money on with so many options on offer.  For that reason, it’s nice to have something that your potential customers can take away with them.  I made sure that each person I talked to took my card and a sweet treat.  If people wanted something I didn’t have, I highlighted the fact that I can make custom orders on request.  Offering people a card in a friendly way isn’t too pushy, and it gives them the opportunity to take a look at your shop when they have more time on their hands.

Pay attention to what your customers have to say.

Although it can be daunting to put your crafts out for display and potential criticism, it can also be a valuable learning experience.  I gained so much insight into the kinds of things my customers are looking for, which will be very helpful.  For example, I was able to take note of the items that were most popular, and which things people asked for which I didn’t have.  I noticed that there were a lot of children at the market shopping with pocket money, and that most of my items were out of their price range.  So next time I plan to have some small cheap items, such as headbands or crocheted brooches, which can be bought with small change.  I will make sure to have some of the sought-after items that people seemed to be looking for.  And I will put those more popular items in a prominent place so they catch the eye.  Even though I only made one sale this time, I feel more equipped for my next market.

Have you ever run a craft market stall?  What did you learn from the experience?

The struggle between control and letting go.

I’m a firm believer in going after what you want.  If there is something in my life that I wish were different, I will do whatever is in my power to change it.  However, there’s always a bit of difficulty in deciding what is within my power and what is outside my control.

There is a point when you’re working towards something when you have to relinquish control and just let things happen.  But I’ve learned that I’m not good at identifying when that point arrives and deciding to let go at the appropriate time.  Part of this is possibly due to my anxiety, part of it is probably because I’m a perfectionist who is fiercely independent and wants to do Everything For Myself.  And part of likely comes down to the fact that I’m a bit impatient and I want everything good to happen Right Now.

DSCF8978

I feel as though I’m constantly torn between two beliefs: that of “If it’s meant to be, it will be” and “If you want it, you have to make it happen”.  I often feel the pull between these two ideas, never quite knowing how to draw the line between them.

On the one hand, I’m not about to sit on my backside and wait for good things to come to me.  It’s not in my nature to just wait patiently while expending only the energy to send out some positive thoughts.  While I think that positive thoughts are great, they need to be coupled with dedicated action if you’re actually going to get somewhere.

That being said, all the dedicated action in the world isn’t always enough to propel you towards your goal.  Sometimes, even though you’ve worked really hard, the stars just never quite align and opportunities don’t present themselves as quickly as you’d hoped.   If you keep slaving away, you’ll eventually just work yourself into the ground, so you have to just let things go a little bit.

For me, one thing that has helped me to straddle the line between “working towards a goal” and “letting things unfold naturally” has been to identify where the control in a situation lies.  Often in a scenario, we have some degree of control, but we aren’t able to influence the entire outcome.  Once I’ve found the things I can control, I put my energy into working on these areas.  For example, if I’m going for a job interview, I can’t control the questions I’m asked or the final decision. But I can control my presentation by making sure I’m well-dressed and that I’m equipped with an up-to-date resume.  I can control my ability to answer the questions by researching the company I’ll be working with, thinking about some answers to common questions and trying to remain calm during the interview.  Once I’m out of that interview room, there’s little more I can do, so worrying about it is pointless.  So I try to put my worries out of my mind.

When I get to a point where I’ve done all that I can do to the best of my ability, it’s time to step back.  It’s true that sometimes you have to be patient and just allow things to happen.  And once you’ve done your bit, it’s that much easier to hand the reigns over to the universe and let it drive for a while.

Also, if I get to a point where I feel like I’ve been working my fingers to the bone and I’m still beating my head against a wall, then I find it’s time to relinquish my stranglehold on the situation.  Often, things take a bit of time to take shape and you need to give yourself space to see the bigger picture.  It will pay to let go a little, trust me.

Do you struggle between control and letting go?  How do you deal with this conundrum?