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Bumbling can be a defense mechanism.

Outside of BDSM bumbling can be cute or endearing. We might find someone appealing when they always manage to get lost when driving to somewhere, even to somewhere close. Or it might be endearing when they can't ever quite seem to get a cake to come out right, where their cakes always come out lopsided or not fully risen or where the icing always tastes a bit like fish. We might admire the enthusiasm of someone who makes furniture even though one side of whatever they make always seems higher than the other. We might know someone really means well when they go out to do some shopping, but they always manage to come home missing something even though they had a shopping list.

Inside of BDSM bumbling can be a defense mechanism. It can protect a dominant from getting too involved with a slave or a submissive. By being a bit of a bumbler the master induces the slave to not let down their own barriers completely or to not surrender completely because the slave sees that this potential master in front of them is getting some things right more by accident than design and thus is a risk. What if a circumstance arises where the slave needs the master to get it right and the master instead bumbles? It's safer for the slave if they keep their distance a little bit and don't hand over the crown jewels completely.

In a similar way a submissive or slave, when they're a bit of a bumbler, induces their master or dominant to keep their distance. After all, who wants to be the master of a train wreck which always seems just about to happen?

What I'm talking about here is how much we are prepared to commit ourselves to our partner. The more there is riding on someone's ability not to bumble, the higher the standard they need to achieve. Imagine having surgery done by a doctor who is known as a fine person with years of experience, who is highly knowledgeable and who 'mostly' gets it right. You don't wan't 'mostly'. 'Mostly' is not a good enough standard for a surgeon, and in BDSM it's not a good enough standard when you're laying your soul bare or where you're deliberately treading on very, very sensitive parts of someone's psyche.

When I talk about bumbling here I'm not arguing about being perfect, and nor do I want to suggest that having an absolutely complete skill set is a requirement for good BDSM. Making mistakes and being less than perfect are steps along the way to improving ourselves. They make us human and they help us connect with our also-human partners.

What I'm talking about are chronic bumblers, people who are bumblers by either conscious or unconscious design, who - in some way or another - choose to be bumblers.

There are reasons for making this choice. Amongst other things, bumbling can prevent uncomfortable intimacy. That doesn't mean physical or sexual intimacy because often there's a quite a lot of sexual intimacy involved in even the most cursory BDSM activities. Nor does it mean emotional intimacy because BDSM folk can get quite close through spending a lot of time together in challenging, demanding and highly-charged situations.

The sorts of intimacy which bumbling prevents are dominant intimacy and submissive intimacy. For dominants, it saves them from having to actually and fully master a slave. It avoids that type of closeness. A slave or submissive is always going to keep at least some distance in some areas when they are with a bumbling dominant and thus the dominant stays "safe".

Likewise, submissives and slaves can be sure that dominants will keep at least a little distance between themselves and what they see as potential train wrecks when they have to do with a bumbling submissive.

There are a lot of people who are eminently capable of rising above bumbling but who choose not to. They often have excellent-sounding reasons (read: excuses) for not doing so. A common one is the "it should come naturally" excuse. In this scenario, you don't have to study, you don't have to get training and you don't have to plan, it should all come naturally. And, of course, the end result is bumbling.

Bumbling is why some people don't have intense BDSM experiences. They may not realise it conciously, but when they're confronted by a partner who has consciously or unconsciously chosen not to improve their skills, knowledge or understanding, then they internally clam up and this makes intense experiences unlikely or simply impossible.

If someone doesn't have the skills now, doesn't have the knowledge now or doesn't have the awareness now but is keen to learn and is obviously working at it, then they're worth the investment of time and emotion. They're worth the investment of intimacy even if it's obvious that there will be a few bumps along the way. Someone who has chosen to remain static intends for there always to be bumps and always the same bumps. They're often not worth the time when you want more.

In a way I actually don't mind that there are bumblers. After people have met them, they appreciate me and my kind even more.