There are mentors in every area of life and situation. In BDSM, newbies are sometimes recommended to pick up a mentor but are never given the tools to find a mentor that is right for them. I know that when I first started, there were good people to be around and not-so-great people that left their mark on me. I wish people had taught me what a mentor is and how to find one that is right for me.
First, a mentor is more than just a friend you can talk to, although they could start that way. A mentor is someone you can get advice from, learn from, and feel close to in a submissive context. They help you discover who you are and what to expect in different lifestyle situations as you grow in confidence and submission. A mentor is not a trainer and should not be directly involved in any physical training you undergo. You should never have an intimate physical relationship with your mentor.
Let's take a real-world example: Big Brothers and Big Sisters. These volunteers are mentors for needy children all over the nation. They become friends and confidants for the kids involved, and some go on to be close to their little brothers/sisters well into adulthood. They strengthen the child's confidence and provide an outlet to learn and grow without the stress of parents' influence. It's all healthy and beneficial for both parties.
A BDSM mentor should be similar. Keep them in mind the next time you approach someone, and you may be able to find the person that can guide you. There are a few things I'd like you to look for the next time you seek out a mentor for your life.
- Are their beliefs and definitions similar to yours?
You want to find a mentor with the same definitions of common terms in BDSM. If they feel that a submissive and a slave are the same thing, and you don't, then they won't be compatible with you when you bring up topics along that thread of thought. Treat your first few conversations as an interview. Ask them how they came into BDSM, what they think about safewords and relationships, and those all-important personal terms. If they mesh well with what you think, then keep going. This person could be a good mentor for you.
If you are so new that you don't know what those personal definitions mean to you, then take on what is known as an open mentor. This is someone available for new people to learn for themselves and helps guide you into your definitions so that you can find a more targeted mentor later on if you choose to. I am an open mentor and want to help you find yourself before you key into the specifics of your new life as a submissive. I can do focused mentoring but I prefer to ensure your personal beliefs and definitions are first solidified.
- Are they open to letting you talk, or do they force a lot of questions on you?
A good mentor will allow for silence in conversation so that you can think things through and talk about what you want to talk about. Mentors know when to point questions at you that will help you think, but keep the conversation flowing the way most beneficial to you, the mentee, not the mentor. You should be able to pick up this trait from the interview phase.
- Are they professional yet comfortable to be around?
When you first meet someone or talk to someone considering being your mentor, are they professional? You should feel comfortable around them relatively easily and feel free to talk about whatever is on your mind. If you feel uncomfortable or their questions are far more private than your relationship allows, it's a warning sign that they are not the mentor for you. A mentor's job is to make a novice comfortable with what they are experiencing and who they are; if that can't happen in the interview phase, it may not happen at all.
- Do they appear to know what they are talking about?
Mentors are not going to know everything, but they are going to be well-versed in many aspects that novices come to them with questions about. If your mentor gives you the impression that they don't know a whole lot about what you need to talk about, it may be best to seek out someone else. Great mentors will be prepared for all questions, even if they need to research and learn before giving you quality advice. Someone unwilling to work for and with you isn't really taking your growth strongly.
There are a lot of things to look for in a mentor, but for now, take these thoughts and figure out if a mentor would be someone you want in your current situation. If it is, start seeking them. Interview them before you start pouring your thoughts into them. Get to know them as a person and as a submissive. Continue learning, and your submission will develop.