Most kinksters have some sense that consent is a foundational principle for BDSM, that it’s immoral and unethical to force someone into sex acts they don’t want to participate in. There are guys online who aren’t entirely clear on that idea, so-called ‘alphas’ being the most prominent example, but as a general rule, I think most guys get it, even if they haven’t totally seen how it connects to everything else. (That said, the number of guys who have fucked-up definitions of what qualifies as rape is appalling high. <Cough> Brett Kavanaugh <cough>.
But I consider honesty to be nearly as foundational as consent. (And I think most serious doms would agree.) BDSM is about exploring our genuine desires and kinks, even when they conflict with social expectations about who we are and how we are supposed to behave. If you can’t be honest about what you desire, you’re going to have a lot of difficulty exploring kink.
Even more importantly, kink is rooted in trust. Doms and subs must trust each other in order to be comfortable showing their deepest desires to each other. A Dom who can’t generate trust will struggle to find boys willing to submit, given that both bondage and pain play require a great deal of trust because the sub becomes physically vulnerable during these forms of play. And the same thing is true for subs. When I dom a boy, I’m showing him dark parts of myself, and that’s not something I do with just anyone. I need to trust that he won’t reject me, won’t ridicule me, won’t spread stories about me and so on. So while a untrustworthy sub is probably less of a physical threat than an untrustworthy dom is, they are just as great of a psychological threat. Additionally, an unhappy sub is often in a position to cause a great deal of legal trouble for a dom, since many facets of kink play are of dubious legality. (You cannot legally consent to be assaulted, which is what most forms of pain play can be treated as.) And trust requires honesty. If I don’t think a boy is telling me the truth, I’m unlikely to trust him.
As a dom, I get approached by a lot of guys who say they need me to ‘be discrete’. On the hook-up apps, ‘discrete’ is a code word that can mean two different things. 1) I am not fully out of the closet and being out could be a problem for me professionally. 2) I am partnered and my partner doesn’t know about my extra-curricular activities. I always have to double-check and find out what sort of discretion they want. If they are in a vulnerable position for work or related reasons, I always assure them that I have no intentions of doing anything to expose them. If they are partnered, I always ask if their partner knows what they are doing. I consider it unethical to play with anyone who is actively cheating on their partner, because it violates the partner’s right to consent to being in an open relationship. Also, having been cheated on myself, I don’t like the thought of being ‘the other man’.
I am frequently told by potential subs that their partner isn’t comfortable or wouldn’t be comfortable with their submissive desires. I can sympathize with that issue. It’s not easy being kinky with a vanilla partner. But if a sub is willing to cheat on their life partner, to me that says that they are likely to be just as willing to betray my trust in some way. Exploring submissive desires changes a person, and the partner has a right to know that their partner is going to become someone different. And if they can’t be honest with someone who is supposed to be the most important person in their life, it seems unlikely that they will be honest with me either.
For all these reasons, I consider honesty a vital quality for successful kink.