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A Feature Article from the Archives of
The D/s Times

Debunking the Myth of Mentors
What are they?  What role do they fill?  Are you being had?
by Lord Colm and jade

Protector or Predator?

The D/s community has long acknowledged the need for mentors and with the sudden explosion in the numbers of people interested in our lifestyle, that need has grown dramatically.  Novices need the support and assistance of those members of the community who have wisdom and experience on a practical level to help them develop in a healthy and well-balanced manner.  The chat channels have been a spawning ground for a whole new generation of mentors who may not be fulfilling the role in an honorable way.  How does a submissive learn to sort them out if she/he is not getting the right information to begin with?  This month we will shed a little light on mentors and how they can help or hinder a new submissive grow into their full potential.

Lord Colm's View

There's quite a fad sweeping the D/s community these days. If you spend any time in chat channels, you have probably seen it: Dominants offering to "mentor" novice submissives in their first steps into this lifestyle. Sounds reasonable enough. After all, it is a long-standing tradition in the community for those with experience to take fledglings under their wing to guide them into the often confusing world of D/s. The problem, however, stems from the fact that very few of these so-called "mentors" have any real-life experience and even fewer have an inkling of what the responsibility of mentoring actually entails.

Facing Facts

Let's start off with the basics. In the long history of this lifestyle, lessons have been learned by our predecessors from which we can benefit. They learned that when it comes to the relationship between two people in what is a very erotic lifestyle, certain boundaries needed to be established to protect both the dominant and the submissive from the uneducated, the unscrupulous, and the just plain horny. Dominants, face it: as much as we love the mystique, we don't know everything, and pretending to can only lead to disaster. We weren't born with the knowledge of how to be a dom, so let's take a look at some of what our brothers and sisters before us have learned.

I will preface this by saying that I do understand the intense attraction a dominant may feel towards a novice submissive. We enjoy our role as teacher, and we take great pleasure in watching someone under our tutelage grow and overcome barriers. As the submissive offers herself to our mentorship, we often experience feelings that we thrive on, stimulated by a power exchange. That can be very intoxicating. I suggest, however, that it takes a stronger dominant to understand his or her own limitations and to be able to resist the emotional appeal of taking on the responsibility for another person's growth when you are not equipped to do so. I have a fundamental objection to those with no real-life experience setting themselves up in a position of learned teacher. It's rather like reading a book on brain surgery one day, then advertising yourself as a neurosurgeon the next. Until you have actually practiced and honed your skills in real-life situations, you can't really know what it is like. Reading The Story of O and spending time in chat channels does not qualify you as a mentor.

Muddy Waters

A "mentor" and a "trainer" are not the same thing. While the terms may seem like synonyms, in our lifestyle they are two completely different roles, each with different responsibilities. The mentor's job is to guide novices in understanding the concepts of D/s, to answer their questions, to help them come to terms with internal conflicts and embrace their submissiveness. It is not a mentor's function to teach the submissive how to have sex. Most submissives already know how to do that just fine. The relationship of the mentor to the charge (the term for the submissive under mentorship) is more like that of the wise uncle or teacher. Mentors listen, understand, and answer questions on the tenants of D/s.

Trainers prepare submissives for their future master. They provide a wide variety of tasks and experiences so that they have a broad understanding of etiquette and knowledge of the common traditions and tools of our lifestyle. They offer them a base of experiences to feel comfortable in their role in the lifestyle. A trainer may also be called upon by a submissive's master to provide instruction in some task that the master is unqualified to train. For example, the Japanese Tea Ceremony, or some other highly stylized ritual or duty the master wishes the submissive to be able to perform. The trainer works hand-in-hand with the sub's master and does not serve as a replacement. The master oversees the training to ensure the sub's safety and progress.

Get Off Your Duff

I often see dominants farming out their submissive to another person simply because they are too lazy to learn for themselves first. This is a fundamental error. First and foremost, it is the dominant's responsibility to train her or his sub. If the dominant lacks a skill or certain knowledge, then it is his or her moral obligation to get off the couch and learn it, either in conjunction with the sub, or to master it first. I can't help but wonder what it must do to a sub's respect for his or her master when that master fails to live up to his or her role and instead packs off the sub to another person simply because the dominant lacks the drive to learn. This also sets up an imbalance of power. While the sub's master sits at home watching football, the sub is learning, growing, surpassing her master's level of maturity. What is the sub then to do? Come back and teach the dom? If he's teachable, he should be the one learning first.

There is a strong probability that the submissive will bond with the mentor. This emotional attachment can easily be mistaken for romantic love. The sub may tend to idealize the mentor, and this presents dangers which you must constantly be on guard for. It is the mentor's responsibility to ensure that the nature of the relationship is clearly stated up front: Teacher/student, not master/submissive. The greatest failing of so-called mentors is that they are not in control of themselves and their emotions, and so let things deteriorate. The lines between their role as mentor and master become blurred. One common mistake is in how they insist their charge address them. The sub should refer to the mentor as "Sir," not "Master." Why? Because the mentor is clearly not the sub's master. The mentor is only an advisor. The sub's master will be someone to whom his or her life will be devoted, someone to love body and soul. A student does not do that with his or her English professor, nor should a sub do so with a mentor. Keep things in perspective: you are there to offer advice only--never fail to make sure your charge understands this.

Keep your hands off. If you are unable to control your own sexual urges, you have not yet learned what it takes to be a dominant, let alone a mentor. Any physical relationship between charge and mentor is a serious ethical problem. It is an abuse of your power, the trust the sub has placed in you, and a virtual guarantee that your sub will become attached to you emotionally in ways that are detrimental to her or his growth. Human nature being what it is, there is always the possibility that what starts out as a platonic relationship can evolve into something deeper. This is why mentors should not take responsibility for a sub who has a master without clear prior negotiation with the sub's master, along with frequent contact to provide progress updates.

Never, ever do this without a sub's master being involved if they have one. We've seen more than one relationship destroyed from this type of sneaking around. It devastates trust and leads to jealousy. A married sub is to be treated as if she or he is owned, even if the spouse is not involved in the lifestyle. Encouraging infidelity brings into serious question your honor, and a sub who will cheat on a spouse is a sub who will cheat on you. If you see that your relationship with your charge is evolving in an inappropriate direction, take steps immediately to reinforce the boundaries. Have the courage to terminate the arrangement if your efforts are unsuccessful. Avoid actions that could mislead your charge into believing there is more to your relationship than there really is.

It's A Big Job

Dominants, the role of mentor is one of enormous responsibility. It is incumbent upon you to first make sure you are ready--you have the practical experience to be in a position to guide, and this usually means several years of real-life experience, not two months of cyberdomming. If you are looking for a submissive, pretending to be a mentor in order to gain control over another is just plain wrong and deceitful. Novice submissives can be likened to innocent children in that they are not wise to the realities of life. To abuse that naiveté is tantamount to child sexual abuse, and nearly as despicable.

In this age of "whatever you say is D/s, is D/s," I hope I've shed some light on what seems to be a very confusing topic for many in our community. The lines between master, mentor, protector, and trainer are often unclear, even to the one who claims to be such. Information is power, and in a lifestyle based on the exchange of power, the more you have to give, the greater your chances of fulfillment and happiness.

jade's View

I know the overwhelming urges that battle against the mind and heart of a novice submissive.  The hunger for knowledge is insatiable at times and the need to fill the pit that has opened up in your soul can devour your every waking moment.  After years of struggling to discover your true identity, you want to know everything and know it NOW.  A new world has opened up before your eyes and you cannot wait to taste of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.

This is likely to be the most vulnerable time in your adult life.  You are uninformed, eager, longing and excited to learn all you can.  You feel akin to everyone in the lifestyle because you have discovered there are others in the world who are like you.  Like a speckled puppy who just slipped out the backdoor, you are experiencing freedom for the first time.  Everything you see is a new adventure and you dive in with gusto.  This euphoria soon turns into loneliness and fear as you realize you are on your own for the first time in a new world you don't quite understand.   Just like that puppy, you run innocently to the first kind voice you hear.   Sometimes it's a kindly person who pets your head and leads you safely home.   You were lucky this time.  The next time it might be the dog catcher who will not be so compassionate.

Finding the Tree of Knowledge

In order to survive in this new world,  you need information.  Finding it is easy.  Everyone will be happy to give you all the information they have.  Finding GOOD information is a different story.  The facts can be a little frightening but you need to know the truth.  Probably close to 90% of the people you meet online in BDSM or D/s channels or rooms are not experienced in the real life world of a power exchange lifestyle. Oh yes, they will tell you that they have been in the lifestyle for 20 years, they have owned 50 slaves and they're past president of the local Dom/sub Union, but 90% or more are lying to you and everyone else they meet.  The information they so willing pass on is warped or untested.  What sounds good in a cyber fantasy doesn't hold true in a real life encounter.  Of the other 10% you meet online who do have real life experience, probably half of them are only acquainted with the physical aspects of the lifestyle and got most of their information from other players at some play party.

Where does this leave you, the novice, in your quest for knowledge?  It leaves you confused and frustrated, in most cases, so is it any wonder that you are willing to jump at the chance to accept an offer from this nice Dom who just told you he is a mentor?  Keep in mind that Eve was seduced by the Serpent with his offer of knowledge.

Mentor: Webster's definition is a wise advisor, teacher or coach.  In the BDSM formal lifestyle, a mentor is usually one who answers the questions of a sub in training.  A mentor is usually used hand-in-hand with a trainer where the mentor is usually the friend/confidant of the sub/slave/student

A quote from Master John
Trained Master from a Euro-Oriental Family

Avoiding the Serpent

A Mentor can be just the thing you need, provided he really is one.  In the lifestyle, a Mentor is the equivalent of a teacher.  His/Her job is to provide you with accurate information and answer the questions you have as you move along the path you are traveling.  A mentor is someone who can be trusted to guide you when you are lost, serve as a role model, and offer you assistance when you run into difficulty.  A mentor is not your master, although your Master could be called upon to serve as your mentor.  In the most narrow definition, a mentor, serves as a guidance counselor, educator, respected friend and confidant.   In some ways, they are like Uncles or Aunts who oversee your growth, try to help you avoid the pitfalls of life and stick a Band-Aid on your skinned knees.  They are not lovers, sex education teachers, or gods.  A mentor does not even have to be a dominant, although most of them you find are.

If you have a Mentor who is requesting sexual favors or taking control of your life, you have discovered a serpent in the Garden of Eden.  Mentors do not usually have any physical contact with their charges.  This includes all the physical activities, such as spanking, bondage and fondling as well as sexual contact.  A mentor is not a trainer and does not have given rights to your personal or intimate thoughts or details of your private times.  A mentor does not collar you or mark you as belonging to them.   As a submissive, you have the right to sever any and all connections with a mentor without hesitation or explanation.  They have no claim to you and you are free to make your own choices without fear of reprisal.  Do be aware that a mentor has these same rights and may dissolve any association with you should they feel the relationship is unsatisfactory, for whatever reason.

A Mini Checklist

Accepting assistance from a mentor needs some careful consideration.  You will depending on them to provide you with realistic, honest information and guidance.  Here are some guidelines that might keep you from ending up with a snake in your underwear.

Good Qualities:

  • Honest, respectful and friendly.
  • Is knowledgeable and experienced.
  • Can provide references from good sources.
  • Has a good reputation in the D/s community.
  • Is protective but gives you space for growth.
  • Is willing to listen and share information.
  • Is dependable and keeps promises.
  • Is open and honest about your association.
  • Has other on/off line friends.
  • Requests to be introduced to your friends, trainer, spouse, etc.
  • Encourages you to associate with your peers and helps prepare you a future relationship with a dominant of your choice.
  • Helps to make your life easier or more stable
  • Makes you feel good about yourself and your growth.

Danger Signals:

  • Is moody, secretive and does not get along with your friends or associates.
  • Cannot offer information when requested and hedges on answering questions.
  • Has no checkable references or claims that they cannot give out that information.
  • Has no known contacts in the D/s community.
  • Seldom listens to you or offers solid information.
  • Is possessive and critical of your achievements.
  • Does not keep appointments with you, answers email sporadically and often has to leave suddenly.
  • Is a loner or has few associates.
  • Keeps your relationship from others or requests you to keep secrets from your trainer, friends or spouse.
  • Is critical of all your friends and discourages you from relationships with other dominants.
  • Causes conflicts in your real life in or out of the lifestyle.
  • Erodes your sense of self-worth or slows your growth as a person and submissive.

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