Every now and then, an internet stranger from across the pond asks me to be their kink mentor. Setting aside the fact that my meagre experience makes me woefully unprepared for that kind of relationship, my vanilla mentor made me pretty opinionated about this topic.
The requests I’ve received demonstrate a skewed perspective of mentorship. Most people don’t hand it out like magical, kinky pez dispensers. It requires years of emotional energy and time, so they’ll want to know if you make their teeth itch before they commit. More importantly, they’ll need to establish whether you’re hungry to learn. If you’re not interested in evolving, your mentor will become disinterested in you. Nobody pours water into a glass that has a hole in the bottom. If you have a hole, patch it up. If you want a mentor:
I’ve dropped more than a few vanilla mentees because they became dead weights. They thought they could open their mouths and I’d just spoon information into it all year. Passive mentees are energy drains. Read. Use Fetlife groups. Ask a top at a party to show you how to use their tools. In short, take responsibility for your growth or your mentor won’t take responsibility for it either.
Mentorship is a two way process. You might find someone altruistic enough to offer input without reward for a while, but you’ll burn them out, prolly in a matter of months. Your relationship must energise your mentor if it’s to last, and your growth is the only thing that achieves that.
Accept Feedback Maturely
Mentorship isn’t always easy and painless, so don’t enter into it if you can’t tolerate honest feedback. I often had to hold my tears in until I left my writing mentor’s house because the most valuable feedback can hurt. If you treat feedback defensively, I’ll give you one guess how long this relationship will last.
Don’t Muddy the Waters with Shitty Boundaries
Expecting your mentor to be your therapist, tour guide or sex partner will wreck your relationship. ‘Nuff said.
Treat It With Gratitude
Mentorship deserves to be treasured, and there’s always a way to demonstrate that you do. My writing mentor had cerebral palsy, and he had a ton of paperwork to do every day without the dexterity to do it. I spent a couple of hours of each session organising, cutting, and filing his pages. It was a small display of gratitude, but it was as important for me as it was to him.
Sheryl Sandberg said, “We need to stop telling [mentees], ‘Get a mentor and you will excel,’ Instead we need to tell them, ‘Excel and you will get a mentor.’”