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How to Find Partners on FetLife

By Anton Fulmen

Copyright 2018 Anton Fulmen
All Rights Reserved
rev 1.1

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

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Table of Contents


Slow Down

Commodity vs. Community

Basic Manners

Finding Face-to-Face Community

Finding Community on Fetlife

Your Profile

Personal Ads

Sending Private Messages



So you’ve made yourself a profile on FetLife and you’re hoping to make some kind of connection with another person to do the kinky stuff you’ve always dreamed of doing. Maybe you’re looking for a one-time, anonymous hookup. Maybe you’re looking for a lifelong monogamous relationship. Maybe you’ve been trying to find a partner for a while already, and you’re feeling frustrated about how hard it seems to be.

If you go into one of FetLife’s groups and ask about finding partners on FetLife, someone is probably going to jump down your throat saying “FetLife isn’t a dating site!” But people date through FetLife all the time. People find hookups and new friends and life partners on FetLife every single day.

It’s more accurate to say that FetLife is not designed to be solely for dating, like OKCupid or ALT are. FetLife is designed to be a community. It has features for keeping in touch with friends, sharing stories and pictures, promoting get-togethers, and having conversations. It intentionally does not have some standard only-for-dating site features, like the ability to instantly retrieve a list of all women under the age of twenty-six in a hundred mile radius of your location. Lots of people using it aren’t interested in finding new partners at all, which is part of why they seem so grumpy about it: they’re tired of getting hit on by people who assume that everyone on FetLife is on the market.

On the other hand, one thing that people do in their communities is find other people to date, hook up with, or build families with. Community is actually really good for that. Community creates opportunities for getting acquainted, for low-pressure social interaction, for introducing friends and building a reputation. All of that can lead not just to one date, but to a life of kinky abundance. So FetLife can be a far more effective way to find partners than the only-for-dating sites—but only if you treat it as a community.

Your Author

Who am I to be giving this advice?

I’m a person who has achieved a life of kinky abundance. I’ve been able to make a lot of my fantasies come true, and to build the kinds of relationships that are fulfilling to me. I get to play in the ways I want to play, with people I enjoy, often enough that I feel fortunate. I have friends I can talk to about kink, who get me and support me.

Beyond that, I have a life where more kinky friends and partners are going to keep appearing. Searching for kink has ceased to be a daunting challenge and become natural and fun.

If you’re looking for more professional credentials, I’m also a longtime sex educator in the San Francisco Bay Area and author of the critically acclaimed power exchange guidebook, The Heart of Dominance.

It was a journey for me to get to this place—sometimes a lonely and frustrating one. My journey began well before FetLife existed, but FetLife has been a significant part of it for the last several years. When I look around the site now, I see so many people asking some variation of “How do I find partners here?”

This guide is an answer to that question—a roadmap to kinky abundance. It’ll show you the steps to go from posting lonely personal ads and not finding what you want, to being part of a community where kinky partners are all around you.

The path that’s worked for me doesn’t require being good looking or rich or famous or an expert with ropes or whips—though of course any of those things make it easier. It does help tremendously to live in a place with a lot of people, and where kinky people can be relatively out and open about what we do. I have the great advantage of living in a place that’s bursting at the seams with kinky social activity. I’ve successfully found friends and partners in less thrivingly kinky places also, though, and I’ll share strategies for finding connection where kinksters are thin on the ground.

Slow Down

The first thing to do, to get yourself on the path to kinky abundance, is to slow down. Slowing down is the single most valuable piece of advice I have to give about all kinds of sex, kink and relationships in general. It applies to everything from flirting to penile intercourse to creating D/s dynamics.

If you go straight to the personal ad forums and start posting for partners, then depending on who you are and what you’re seeking you’re likely to get either no responses at all, or responses from people who are no good for you.

I see so many people fall on their faces trying to go too fast. Some people get trapped in a place of scarcity and desperation for years by their own impatience.

They find some pool of kinky people, whether online or face-to-face, rush in and immediately proposition every person they find superficially attractive. Getting no immediate takers, they conclude that no one wants them or that the group is useless. So they never go back. Or they lurk on the fringes, coming back around to hit on people again every once in a while, but never taking the time to make a friend.

Some people have superficial qualities that enable them to get dates or relationships easily and quickly. Young, thin women are the obvious category, though not the only one. When they wade into a new pool of kinky people they are likely to be showered with offers immediately, but the rule of slowing down still applies. All those immediate offers are coming from people who don’t know you, don’t know what you want, and don’t particularly care. All they know is that you’re hot, and they’re looking for a hot person to impose their fantasies onto. Many people—eager to explore—leap into hard play or a deep relationship with the first swaggering domly dom or big-talking “I’ll do anything for you” bottom to scoop them up, then have a terrible experience and never come back.

The strategy described in here is slow. It won’t get you a date tonight. It involves spending time doing a lot of things that aren’t directly finding a partner, in order to build a foundation for finding good connections later.

The Fuckboy Effect

There’s one dramatic exception to the rule of slowing down. If what you’re looking for is casual, sexual play with men, if the kind of play you want isn’t too challenging or unusual, and if you aren’t too particular about what the men are like, then you could probably post a personal ad right now and have several eager cocks on your doorstep within hours.

There are a million tangled reasons for why cock is so readily and abundantly available, but most of them boil down to fear and entitlement.

People raised as men are more likely to have been taught to enforce our boundaries and be confident in defending ourselves. We also tend to learn to feel entitled to get what we want from others, and to not take “no” for an answer. Cisgender men tend to be physically bigger and stronger than those with more female-pattern bodies. People raised as women are usually taught that they are cheapened by sex, and fear being shamed for having it. Trans and queer people learn to fear violence from transphobic or homophobic dates. And that's just a few examples.

These factors and many more all conspire to give cisgender men a very different perspective on sex and dating compared to people of any other gender. We’re the only ones who aren’t afraid, and we’re also the most likely to feel entitled to get what we want. Like most things that can be said about human behavior, this isn’t true of every single individual—brazen women and fearful men certainly exist—but it’s true often enough that it creates powerful cultural currents.

Among men who play with men, the absence of fear and brazenness in pursuing desire has created a hookup culture that’s unlike anything available to people of other genders. I imagine some men read the beginning of this chapter and thought “What’s this nonsense about having to go slow? Whenever I want to find a guy to spank my ass and fuck me I just fire up Recon and find a hookup.” Easy as that. Though if you’re looking for commitment, for chemistry, or for kinks that are less common or require some skill, then the searching experience goes right back to the same long-haul process that everybody else deals with.

In mixed-gender contexts, it creates a deep and problematic imbalance. There is a horde of eager, unafraid, pushy men who crowd any social space that seems like it might be a doorway to sexy times. They’re mostly focused on quick gratification, mostly oblivious to anyone else’s concerns or hesitations around sexuality, and have a general “Why not?” attitude toward erotic adventures. We call these men fuckboys.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to play and being unafraid of going for it (though there is definitely something wrong with being pushy and inconsiderate of the needs of your partners), but with no matching throng of emboldened people of other genders, the fuckboys tend to overwhelm any dating space, whether online or face-to-face.

It creates a cycle. Hordes of fuckboys prowling for play make a space feel unsafe and unwelcoming for other people, so those people drift away. That skews the gender balance even more. The fuckboys aren’t finding the play they’re hoping for, and many of them react by getting even more aggressive, deceitful and impatient in hunting for partners—which drives off even more people. Now you have a bar or a chatroom that’s 95% hungry, impatient men, and whenever anyone they find attractive does wander in that person gets swarmed in a way that very few people find appealing.

In response, many spaces designed for dating set up barriers for men. Men are charged more or have to be invited by a woman friend or must be part of a couple, etc. Sometimes those measures work to restore a better balance. Other times they have the effect of letting through only the most determined, most aggressive, most entitled of the fuckboys.

If you’re a cisgender man interested in connecting with people of other genders, recognize that they have plenty of reason to be more cautious than you. Learn to recognize your entitlement—all the ways in which you assume that things ought to go your way, or only notice your own feelings and priorities. Slow down on the sexy stuff, connect with potential partners as human beings, listen, demonstrate empathy, and you’ll see the barriers start to come down.

If you feel besieged by fuckboys, and are interested in connecting with men but want awareness, respect, compatibility or commitment in those connections, take your time evaluating potential partners. Surround yourself with friends and community who can buffer you from the most obnoxious or predatory suitors. Learn to set boundaries clearly and firmly, and to set the pace of courtship yourself. Practice initiating connection with people who interest you. If you only sit back and receive offers, you’ll get mostly offers from fuckboys. Make offers yourself, on your own terms, and you have a better chance of finding a connection that suits your own needs.

Too Good To Be True

If something looks too good to be true, it’s probably false.

The Internet is full of people who are not what they claim to be. You know this, but it can be easy to forget it when a “perfect 10” kinky partner throws themselves at you.

There are a lot of people (mostly men) who will say whatever they need to say in order to get NSA sex. There are a lot of enterprising people who have figured out that they can make money off of the eagerness and desperation of partner-seeking kinksters. There are a lot of well-meaning people who believe that in order to succeed in kink they need to exaggerate their experience and expertise.

If a beautiful woman wants to make you her slave right away, based on nothing but your FetLife profile and a handful of messages, she’s more than likely going to end up asking for your credit card number somewhere down the line. And as soon as she gets it, you’re never going to hear from her again.

Video blackmail scams are common. A sexy stranger wants to video chat with you right away. They want to get down and dirty and both do kinky things on camera. They seem friendly and want to talk about where you’re from and what you do. Then they tell you they’ve been recording the chat, and they’re going to upload it to porn sites or send it to your workplace unless you send them money.

If someone who claims to be a True Dominate Master, trained in the secret tradition of the Old Guard, with thirty years of BDSM experience and expert skills in all your favorite kinks messages you out of the blue offering to train and mentor you, chances are that he’s actually barely more experienced than you are and what he means by “train and mentor” is little more than “have sex with and ignore.”

Be very wary of potential partners who seem too good to be true, especially if they’re trying to get you to move quickly. Don’t put your safety, your personal information, your bank account number or your heart into the hands of someone who you don’t really know.

Some Ways to Reduce Risk

There are many ways to reduce your risks of being taken advantage of by people you meet while looking for partners. Going slowly in general is one of the more effective things you can do. Many (not all) predators, scammers and such are looking for quick results and will move on if you aren’t willing to go with their program right away.

Here are some more specific guidelines for protecting yourself during your search.


  • Do not reveal information that could be used to track you down in person. Don’t share your address, workplace, or phone number. If you live in a small town, consider listing your location as the nearest bigger town. Look at the pictures you’re posting and think about what information is given away in the background.

  • Don’t let your face, or other identifying features, appear in any picture or video that you couldn’t handle being seen by your parents, your boss and a jury.

  • Never send anyone money or financial information online. If someone says that you have to buy a membership for some website in order to talk to them, walk away.

  • Early on in the process of getting to know someone who may become a partner, look for an opportunity to set a boundary with them. Tell them “no” about something they’ve asked for or suggested. Do it clearly and without apology, then see how they react. Find out how they take a “no” before you’re in vulnerable position or already attached to them.

Use community

Much of this guide is going to be talking about how to find kinky community and use it in your search for partners. Having community also helps you stay safe. If you have kinky friends who you know and trust, and who care about your welfare, you can watch out for one another. Kink communities tend to be small. If you’re flirting with someone in your area, chances are good that one of your friends, or a friend of a friend, already knows them. Use that network to get some information about who’s a good date and who isn’t.

It also helps in the other direction. If the people you date know that you have friends in kink community, they have extra incentive to make sure you’re happy with the way they treat you—so as to get a good review.

If you don’t have a network that connects you with your date, you can still ask them to put you in touch with a few people they’ve played with before. This is known as checking references. It’s less useful than getting information from your own network, because your date is likely to put you in touch with only the people who they know will speak well of them.

First meetings

  • It’s safer to date a bit and get to know someone before playing. If what you’re wanting is one-time hookups or play-only relationships then you won’t be able to do that. Recognize that your risk is greater, and use other safety measures to compensate.

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