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Article 4 - Safety

 

 

Whether you're dom, sub or switch, male or female, there's the potential to meet some great people via the Internet. With any luck, you won't meet anyone who isn't emotionally healthy or who has less than honorable intentions. It never hurts to give luck a little help, though. So the following are suggestions for things you might want to do to improve your ability to interact safely in cyberspace and beyond.

Being Safe On Line
Limit the amount of personal information you share in the early stages of a cyber relationship. Your first message to a potential partner should not contain information such as your full name, address or phone number. These are facts you'll divulge later on, when the relationship has progressed and there's trust between you.

When it comes time to provide this information be sure you're engaging in a two-way exchange. If the other person wants your demographic information but refuses to give hers, consider this a big red flag. Verify the information you receive. Offer to call the phone number and send a note to the physical address. If your potential partner refuses the offer, he should give you a reasonable explanation for the refusal. If so, explore with him alternate ways of confirming the information. If not, here's another red flag.

Be skeptical of sad stories that culminate in a request for a "loan" or some other type of assistance from you. In fact, just be skeptical, period. Don't hesitate to ask whatever you need to know to confirm that this person is who she says she is.

Preparing To Meet
Plan only non-sexual activities for the first meeting. Yes, I know, you're sure this is the love of your life, your perfectly compatible BDSM partner, and you can't wait to get out those whips and chains. Try this suggestion anyway. If you're right, you can always renegotiate; if you're wrong, you've got a built in way to extricate yourself from a sticky situation. If you're both going to be staying at a hotel, consider getting separate rooms, for the same reasons.

Prepare a safety net, tell your potential partner about it, and activate it. At the very least, your safety net should consist of telling a trusted friend where you're going and with whom you'll be. In addition, you may want to arrange to call this friend one or more times during your encounter. You may also want to have codes to let her know if you're ok or if you need help.

Plan to meet in a public place. If you belong to an on line group that has off line get togethers, these can be a safe, no pressure venue for a first meeting. If not, consider meeting at some other public function. If you prefer more privacy, a restaurant or mall offers this while still providing the safeguard of having other people around.

If possible, get references from people who have seen your potential partner play in 3D. If he can't steer you to a source you trust, however, remember that this may only be a function of the size of your circle of acquaintances. A reference is one more piece of information, not a guarantee of safety or competence.

Meeting (Finally!)
Do not play if you're not comfortable. It's perfectly fine to spend time getting to know someone and establishing a relationship. There's no need to hurry to get to the physical stuff. Don't give in to pressure to play before you're ready and be wary of someone who tries to pressure you.

If you decide to change your itinerary, be sure to notify the friends in your safety net.

Remember that a safe word protects you only if the submissive person is capable of using one and the dominant person respects it. Don't substitute the promise of a safe word for doing your homework about the person.

Be aware that testing negative for HIV means only that the virus wasn't present six months ago. The test tells you nothing about right now. Don't let a negative test be the sole basis for your decision about practicing safe sex.

Which of these suggestions you decide to use is up to you. The degree of security you want will depend on how the relationship has developed and how comfortable you feel with this individual. Just bear in mind that, ultimately, the person responsible for your safety is you.

 
   

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