Online and Offline, That is The Question

By on February 8, 2010

Patrick califiaDear Patrick,
I recently struck up an acquaintance with a young lady online who said that she had four years of experience as a “sensuous female dominant.” Because she talked a good game, I agreed to meet her, and it was a disaster. Or at least a huge disappointment. She finally admitted to me that her experience had all been with online domination. I tried to explain that you can’t compare just talking about BDSM with actually doing it. She got quite offended and told me that her online slaves were genuine submissives, and her relationships with them were real. We agreed to drop it, but lately I find that I miss her and almost wish to send her email again. Am I crazy, lonely, or stupid?
Bottom Boy

Dear Bottom Boy
This has been a controversy for quite a while. A group of on-line BDSM aficionados feel that they are genuinely bonded and doing D/S and other kinds of play. It’s a new form of S/M relating that didn’t exist before we had the Internet. The community of people who play face-to-face are still not sure what to make of this. I think we are comparing apples and oranges if we try to expect the same things from both types of experience.

True, it takes some of the same skills to be a good top, whether on-line or in person. The communication skills translate easily. But what you are missing is hands-on experience. Describing a spanking is not the same thing as doing one, although I have picked a relatively simple thing to learn. Determining what the bottom’s limits are on-line is pretty different than learning how to read body language, facial expressions, breathing, and shape a scene in real time. In my opinion, it is easier to assume a top persona on-line than it is to dress, walk, and talk the part in person. I would be very concerned if someone who had only bottomed on-line tried to use that as his criteria for requesting real types of stimulation.

If your friend had been honest with you about where she acquired her experience, things might have gone differently. Your expectations would have been different. But I don’t see why you shouldn’t send her an e-mail and enjoy what she can offer in her own domain. But don’t put so much energy into this crush that you stop looking for someone to pay attention to your body!

Patrick Califia is a therapist in private practice in Northern California. His practice includes internet consultations as well as face-to-face psychotherapy. He is a prolific author who has published widely about BDSM and sexual politics. Patrick’s books include Macho Sluts, Sensuous Magic, and Public Sex: The Politics of Radical Sex.

This column is not intended to offer medical or legal advice. It is for educational and entertainment purposes only. If you need medical or legal advice, see a doctor or lawyer!

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