In the kink community, whether online or in-person, we meet a lot of people who make us say, “I’m not sure how I feel about them.” Some come across as overly aggressive. Others are dismissive. And, of course, there are plenty of predators out there, happy to take advantage of a newbies. I’ve written about red flags of Dominants in the past, if you’re looking for a list.

But some things are universal, regardless of which side of the slash you’re on. Meeting new people in the kink community can be fraught with uncertainty, concern, and simply wanting to be liked and accepted.

How do you know someone is a decent person or a good kinkster? Does this person really want to get to know you or do they have an ulterior motive? Are these people you want to hang out with?

There are no easy answers, and what works for John Brownstone and myself might not work for you. But if you’ve been burned in the past or nerves are getting the best of you when it comes to meeting new people, here are things to look out for.

Note: Some signs aren’t predatory, you’re just dealing with an asshole or someone who’s the wrong fit for you. It doesn’t matter what the reasons are for their behavior. All that matters is how you feel about them.

Demanding Titles Too Soon

I’m not opposed to giving out Fetlife names or scene names when you meet someone. Hell, our entire local community only knows me as Kayla except for one friend who came to our wedding. But just because you’re Sir Domly Dom™ on Fetlife doesn’t mean I have to call you “Sir” five minutes after we’ve met.

Yes, this happens when “Dominants” meet submissives. But I’ve also seen it happen in a friendly and should-have-been vanilla conversation at the munch, too.

Being Offended When Submissives Speak

In the BDSM club or at a private party, there may be protocols in place for the event that submissives are expected to follow. This is not that. Here, this is the person who finds it insulting, demeaning, ridiculous, or just wrong that a submissive voices their opinion — to the crowd or to this person.

Nope, nope, nopeity-nope. If I’m feeling charitable, I’ll say it’s a lack of education. When I’m not…”pompous asshole” comes to mind.

Catching Them in Lies and Half-Truths

We all get to have boundaries, and we all get to keep information private. So it makes sense that some people don’t want to share certain details about themselves. But watch out for the person you catch in lies and half-truths. Usually it’s stupid stuff that didn’t need to be a lie.

“I drive a sports car” and you watch them get into an old beater.

“I left my last partner” and someone who knows them tells you it’s the other way around.

How do you build a basis for a friendship, let alone kinky fun when you lie? I don’t think you can.

Getting a Bad Feeling

Sometimes you just get a bad feeling about someone. You can’t put your finger on it, and there’s no clear, obvious reason (to you). Don’t ignore it. Assuming it’s not because you’re uncomfortable being around unfamiliar people, your instincts may be screaming at you about this person. Pay attention.

I won’t use a bad feeling as the only reason I decide this person isn’t someone I want to be around. It’s usually in conjunction with other signs, but it’s still one to pay attention to.

Getting Interrupted All the Time

I’ll be the first to admit, out of exuberance, I talk over people. Not from malice, but because the conversation is so good. Listeners of the podcast know this too well. But there’s a difference between a slightly annoying over-talker and interruptor, and someone who acts like you didn’t speak to begin with.

And it’s okay to be annoyed even by the mostly nice person talking over you. The real test is how they behave when you ask them to stop. If they ignore you, that’s a problem. But if they apologize and try to do better, they’re likely okay people. (At least that’s what I tell myself when I try to stop interrupting.)

Not Feeling Listened To

Have you ever had a moment when you say something to a person or a group and no one acknowledges it? So you repeat yourself a few times and eventually you get kind of an absentminded nod? (Please tell me it’s not just me!) This doesn’t mean the person is an asshole but it might mean you don’t (or won’t) have a good connection with them. Better to move on and talk to someone who listens when you speak.

Meeting new people at a munch, talking to kinksters online, heading out for your first kink party — we’re offered all kinds of ways to meet and get to know people. It’s not just Doms vetting subs and subs vetting Doms. We’re all trying to figure out if someone is part of “our tribe,” if they’re our people.

No matter who you’re talking to, in a kinky or vanilla situation, paying attention to these signs helps you figure out if you want to continue the conversation or find someone else to talk to.

In episode 119 of the podcast, we talk about how to find your “tribe” in the kink community and why it’s so important.