Reality vs. Role Play

Many of us live our lives half-offline, half-online. The degree to which we form relationships between the two realms is personal choice.

Some believe they are entitled to do whatever they wish and behave however they want without repercussion or consequence, and due to the false perception that online interactions aren’t “real”, this behaviour is far worse online than it is offline. Where two or more humans are interacting, regardless of forum, it is real. Intent and consent are the keys.

State Your Intentions

The BDSM/Kink lifestyle is role play friendly online and off. Offline events often bring out people who have an “event role”, which is not anything resembling who they are at home or at work. The same applies to those with an “online persona”, which may have some threads to their offline reality, but is largely affected or fabricated. These people are not generally  interested in forming real relationships, but their characters may be. [Relationships being professional, acquaintances, friendships, and “romantic”.]

There isn’t really anything wrong with either scenario. However, there is something wrong with playing a  character role while interacting with those openly uninterested in engaging their emotions or sharing themselves with nothing more than a character. To do this knowingly is dishonest and non-consensual. Avoid it.

The role player may not want to engage with anyone who not also role-playing a character, because they want character-driven, unreal interactions. Conversely, non-role-players may not wish to expend time or effort on people who are playing a character. The non-role-player will frequently choose to not interact in depth with a role-player and vice versa.

Obviously, those who prefer real interactions may also enjoy role-playing on occasion, but will confine role-playing to geekdice games like D&D or group writing sessions for interactive storytelling or character building. There is also sexual play involving costumes and role reversals. Whatever gets your creative juices flowing, you know? In these situations, everyone knows that roles are affected for the duration of the exercise or play session. Once over, the character goes away and reality is resumed.

Textual Interaction vs. Physical Interaction

The inability of some to distinguish between reality and fantasy is also a concern. It is imperative to understand the differences between what is safe via text and what you can get away with in reality without a hospital emergency room visit. An extreme yet common example is castration. It is perfectly safe via text. Words may elicit a strong emotional response; “cut like a knife”, even.

However, in reality, knives really do cut like knives. They are knives. I’m sure there’s a tiny chance a surgeon can reattach your balls before you bleed out and die, since they can re-attach almost anything, but do you really want your testicles sitting on a bed of ice in a camp cooler while the police are hauling your knife-wielding partner off to the crowbar hotel all because you decided that turning a text-based castration fantasy into reality was a grand idea? I certainly hope not.

Text is also a good way to test knowledge of anatomy and whether you and/or your partner need to learn more before doing any tying, cutting, piercing, or anything else that has the potential to go very badly. Text is great for gaging your feelings about something your partner wishes to do to you offline — if you can’t handle the words without having a meltdown, odds are pretty good that you won’t be able to handle it in the flesh. It is not okay to claim abuse after the fact if you know you have a problem with a thing conveyed via text but don’t voice, discuss, and reconcile the problem before engaging offline.


  • Determine if:
    • You are a role-player, and nothing more. Be honest about it.
    • You are never a role-player. Be honest about it.
    • You occasionally like to role play and in which context. Be honest about it.
  • Do engage:
    • In flights of fantasy while being clear that’s all it is.
    • In testing the waters via text for intended offline play.
  • Be honest. [Yes, yes. Again. It’s worth repeating. Frequently. Until it sinks in.]
  • If you are stupid enough to ignore safety considerations and maim or allow yourself to be maimed:
    • Arrange bail and attorney beforehand. There are some things the police will not ignore just because you say both parties agreed to it.
    • Have 9-1-1 or whatever the emergency line short code is in your country partially pre-dialled.
  • Voice and reconcile problems with something as soon as it becomes a problem, whether online or offline. Claiming abuse retroactively is not okay!

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