Who makes the first move?
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As a guy in vanilla land many years ago, it used to bug me enormously that the burden fell on me to make the first move to establish a relationship with a girl. This was the role of the guy: To be the one who made the initial overtures. The role of the girls - at least to the best of my knowledge - was to make themselves appealing so that guys would take an interest in them. It was the guys who made the first move and the girls who got to say yea or nay. This was how it was for decades and possibly centuries. It still is to some extent. Why? I don't know, but I'm sure there was a reason.
Anyhow, it occurs to me that a characteristic of the roles in BDSM - such as submissive, dominant, master, slave, top or bottom - is that none of them have this implicit idea that they carry the onus of making the first move and that the others are compelled to wait with hopeful optimism that they are the receivers of such moves.
Maybe it is the case that we BDSM folk have been so preoccupied with developing skills and understandings related to what it is that we do (WIITWD) that no one has formed any preconceptions about who makes the first move. I really like this idea and hope that it is true.
For example, many female submissives are quite happy to reach out to a male dominant who they have never met before either to try to connect or to ask for some "attention". It may well be that a request to have their feet caned, to have infernal objects inserted into dark places or to "try out a violet wand" might be the equivalent of the rather dated, "Would you like to come up and look at my etchings?" but it is still an opening gambit. From this it seems that we BDSM folk are less burdened than our vanilla cousins in regards to gender-based hesitancy to approach one another.
I think it actually is a consequence of involvement in BDSM that this is so for two reasons. Firstly, we are often very aware of what it is that we're looking for. Looks can matter less for us than for vanilla folk. What we are looking for instead is someone who can genuinely engage us rather than someone who would look good hanging on our arm at social events or who would be a good breeder.
Secondly, I think respect has a big part in this. For BDSM activities and relationships to be successful everyone, regardless of at which end of the whip they stand or whether they serve or are served, has to bare their soul to their partner. This means they often expose the parts of themselves which are most sensitive. They need to trust that their partner will respect and value them, and this attitude of respecting a partner is one of the characteristics of what we could call a good member of the BDSM community.
Thus, when someone approaches another BDSM person about engaging in some sort of activity, connection or even relationship, they are more likely to get a careful, considered and respectful response. This, sadly, is not so likely in vanilla land. In vanilla land this lack of respect leads to fear of making the first move.
In regards to the question which is the title of this article: Who makes the first move? I think the answer is that any of us can and should. It isn't the domain of dominants or masters any more than it is the domain of submissives or slaves. In this I think we are all equal and I think it is very important that we should keep it this way.
It's not always obvious what passions, desires or interests await discovery in the person selecting goodies next to us at a snack table at a BDSM party, or in the people we see at workshops or other events. But by respectfully approaching them (emphasis on "respect"), and by being respectful of any who approach us, we can find out without fear. And - who knows? - we may also find a companion, friend or partner to boot.