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"Here it's a matter of playing the numbers. I hate to say it, but the more "Noes" you get, the closer you are to a "Yes."

Seeking Partners
by Jack Rinella

Several letters recently have pointed out the difficulty of finding appropriate partners into leather when you don't fit the usual categories. Specifically I've heard from a bisexual woman, a man into feet, and a gay male in a faltering relationship.

When I look around at the gay leather scene, it seems that finding other men for sex is pretty simple. After all we have the convenience of more than several bars, publications, and organizations that provide an atmosphere conducive to scoring.

Straights, women, and those who have unique tastes have to be more creative in their search. On the other hand, I think that common sense and clear communication go a long way to helping anyone locate their dream mate.

A while back a straight guy asked me how to find a submissive woman. I immediately thought of him when I got a letter from a Chicago-based women looking for a dominant partner. Unfortunately distance makes match-making these two somewhat impossible, as well as the fact that I don't know the guy's name.

Reading the woman's letter a second and third time reveals some of the problems that make this woman's search more difficult. Even without her self-doubts, her avenues are more limited than mine but if she looks around she can conclude that it's not as hopeless as she fears. Mainline publications are filled with ads from members of both genders. Answering or placing an ad is a slow process but works. I suggest the use of a post office box to provide some anonymity.

Arrange your first meetings in a public place, such as a coffee shop, and ask for references. Take time to get to know your prospective partner on the phone before you decide to get serious about meeting. Does all this work? I know I straight woman who took out an ad looking for a submissive man and got more than 300 responses!

There is more to my reader's dilemma, though. She is looking to be dominated by a bisexual woman who has a submissive boy friend. For some reason, which she can't explain, she is hesitant to submit to a man. On the other hand she writes, "I find it hard to approach women due to the fact that I don't want to misrepresent myself as a Lesbian to a potential partner."

I think this sentence underscores the basic problem. With every potential partner it is important that one be as clear and direct as possible. Each of you should know what the other is seeking. To lead someone on by hiding or obscuring facts is wasteful of your time and disrespectful of the other person's rights.

The idea of misrepresentation that brings hesitancy to my reader's negotiations is really unfounded. Start the communications as best you can and allow the conversations to include as much as you think is necessary for the other and you to know. Simply put there's no subject that's off-limits when sexual intimacy is the goal. Yes, there are details that might be no one's business but general data is certainly within the bounds of propriety.

Take that comment above. As soon as my reader says she is bisexual she has communicated that she is not a Lesbian, though female-to-female sexual contact is not out of the question. If I've miss-read her intentions, then she needs to call herself a straight woman seeking to submit to a woman without a sexual component to the submission.

In any case, talking it over, which is an imperative to attaining one's goals, will make the matter much clearer to everyone concerned. Perhaps what I sense here is that my reader needs to overcome her fear of rejection and get on with her search. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained," Mom always says.

Likewise I would reply to her other request. "Where do leather women meet in Chicago?" she asks. Contact Leather United, (PO Box 138058, Chicago, 60613) or the National Leather Association, (312-404-0478) and ask them how you can go to their meetings. Both of these are pansexual groups.

Another avenue is to go to one of the leather bars in town. In either case, once there it's a simple matter of walking up to another woman and asking the questions my reader asked me.

Let me clarify something here. Asking for help in finding a partner is not the same as cruising a person. The person you ask doesn't have to be a potential partner. You can ask anyone for information. You don't have to fear their rejecting you. The worst they can tell you is "I don't know."

It's a simple fact that leather folk are generally very willing to be helpful. So walk on up, say "Excuse me," and ask away.

The guy with the faltering relationship has a different kind of problem, but one that many people have to face. Until he resolves his current situation, his chances of finding what he wants are severely limited. After all, one can't easily sneak off for a weekend of intense bondage and discipline and then come home to a lover without causing the lover to wonder what happened.

Here the issue of honesty with oneself and with one's partner is paramount to cruising well. As I've told the guy, I'm willing to use him as he desires, but not under deceptive arrangements. There are, of course, many lovers who will tolerate extra-relational affairs and many potential partners who don't mind a cheating heart. So we're back to knowing what one wants and then finding ways to communicating it to others.

That then leads to the "foot guy." Over the course of four or five years, I've heard the same request from him several times. I've got to give him credit for persistence. I suggest that he either organize and motivate a group of like-minded friends, analyze what he's "doing wrong," or learn to compromise a bit so as to get what he wants.

I'd suggest that more specific magazines might be appropriate places to place or find ads, though even a simple ad like "foot-friend wanted" in a general mag might work. Here it's a matter of playing the numbers. I hate to say it, but the more "Noes" you get, the closer you are to a "Yes."

Since I don't know this guy as well I might, it's a bit difficult to make concrete suggestions. I would say, though, that if he feels he's getting nowhere, it might be very helpful to begin asking why he seems to be failing. If you keep on doing what you've always done, you're going to keep on getting what you've always gotten.

Question yourself and others as to why you are failing. What part of the process needs to be changed? I always ask myself "What has to be different for this process to become successful?" Self-analysis that leads to practical solutions is very helpful.

Make that analysis concrete. As I told the guy with the faltering relationship, make a list of pro's and cons, positives and negatives. Prioritize what you want and what you want to change.

His response "I'm too confused" doesn't make muster with me. He's not confused. He's overwhelmed. He obviously can't do everything at once. What he can do, though, is what everyone can do: analyze, prioritize, and make a step-by-step plan. Take care of step one before you worry about step two. A day at a time, a step at a time will bring amazing results, even a dominant female foot loving sex partner who doesn't care about your lover!

Copyright 1999 by Jack Rinella. This material may not be copied in any manner. For permission to reproduce this essay, contact mrjackr@leathermail.com

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