So far, my time in the lifestyle has been one that involved several mentorships. A few times I was the one learning and a few times I was the one passing on the knowledge. But, in all of those times, I also took away far more than I gave. I think that happens - when you give, you get so much more in return. Each and every one of those relationships is one that I will always treasure.
Like all relationships, the mentoring one is not one to be entered into lightly - not because things have to be intense but because they could be. The main thing about a mentorship is that everyone is on the same page about expectations and that the lines of communication remain open.
With that in mind, there are a few things to consider when seeking a mentor...
- Conventional wisdom indicates that both parties will typically identify the same way; ie a submissive will mentor a submissive and a dom mentor a dom. But that is not always the case - having a mentor of "an opposite label" might offer you insight that you have not considered before.
- Keep your eyes and ears open! Your mentor is someone that you are learning from so the way that they interact with the community will tell you a lot about them as a person.
- Makes sure the person you select is someone you know. I don't mean that you have to know everything about them, but is should be someone that you have been acquainted with for a while.
- If you are partnered, talk it out with your partner. Ideally, everyone should be on the same page with the new relationship.
- Know what you want! Are you looking for someone to help you learn how to serve better in a physical sense? By this, I mean, perform physical services that you are interested in offering, ie bootblacking, tea service, massage. Or, are you looking for someone to help you dig deeper into yourself and explore you, your lifestyle and your place in it?
Once you have someone in mind, talk to them. It is pretty flattering to be asked to mentor someone, it shows that you are worth learning from. In the first conversation, you need to be prepared to express your interest and know that the in-depth talk may come later. It is a huge responsibility to take on a mentorship and most people will want time to consider the effect it will have on their current situation. You might receive a denial immediately and if you do, keep in mind that it is probably not personal. Mentoring someone can take a great deal of time and energy and some people know right away that they cannot commit in the way that they feel you deserve. To clarify my last point...
The first time I agreed to a mentorship, it was very casual - I was mainly a resource for someone, should they need one. It was very easy to mentor her; she came to me when she needed to and in time, she took on mentoring someone else. My second mentorship was a lot more hands on. This time around, I gave homework assignments that involved a lot of research into BDSM and assignments that were designed for self-introspection. Obviously, it took more energy, focus and time for this one. But, it actually prepared me for the mentorship I am in now. This time around though, the person I am working with is married to her dominant. As such, I have to take into consideration the fact that she still has to be available to tend to his needs while she is working with me.
Keep all of this in mind. As indicated, there are a variety of ways to be mentored. Knowing what you want, what you feel you need are important to help you find it all. Being ready to discuss all of this will be a huge help when you finally do get to talk to someone. Here is a list of things you may want to discuss...
- How "hands on" do you want this experience to be? Do you want someone to be there when you have questions? Do you want regular assignments that you have to complete? Do you have a few things you want to focus on or are you looking for more varied learning opportunities?
- What about your partner, if you have one? How involved will they be?
- What are you hoping to gain from this? When all is said and done, what do you want to take away from this venture?
- Are there any potential triggers that your mentor needs to be aware of and avoid or work around? I know it sounds odd to disclose this with a mentor but if you are doing homework assignments and something could bring about unwanted memories, it would be beneficial to know.
All in all, a mentoring relationship can be a wonderful thing to have - for both parties. There is nothing like the feeling that someone is there for you - to answer questions, to listen to your thoughts and to provide constructive feedback when necessary. And, although mentorships vary in many ways, the experience of being involved in one is extremely valuable.