I don't know how most people get involved in this lifestyle. I think for a lot it burns deeply within them, sometimes they ignore those feelings their entire life because they think they're strange. They don't know there really is a lifestyle to it. I mean, TV is certainly no help where the notion of BDSM is regarded as the butt of a joke....someone takes out handcuffs and the audience laughs. Floggers are often given as gifts...gag gifts. I know two women that consider masturbation to be kinky.
There is a lot of disinformation out there and fantasy, where the slave spends the entire evening on her knees, eyes downward, waiting for her Master to call on her to do a duty. She never speaks out against anything and knows her place. She never once complains that her legs have fallen asleep after all those hours on them, or so much as twitches. She is immobile until she's brought to life by his words. She never looks or appears awkward rising either after all those hours, but instead rises in a fluid graceful motion. The dominant never has to ask for an opinion or option, because he always knows the right course to take. He's always right. He doesn't just make the best choices, he makes the right ones. All the time. He asserts his dominance by routinely reminding his slave she is under his thumb.
So how does it begin? I think it begins with discovery. I don't really count the years with A, because I was kept in the dark. It wasn't until after his death that I went into discovery mode. Yes, we had attended Munches but that was more or less in the middle, when things were more neutral and even then I was told not discuss TTWD (that thing we did) with others. I could generalize but no details. I see now why he was so firm on that. My discovery came about with the internet, first, then the library and book stores. I had a voracious appetite. I wanted to learn about what I was. This journey really started 9 years ago. I made one mistake, got involved with the wrong peson, learned from that and stayed away after. That is until O really brought me back.
So, like most I think it does begin with discovery. You learn about this first, and then you begin to investigate it. You learn tips, tricks, whatever, after a while you start to remove the fantasy from the reality. In other words, you find your way. If you're already in a relationship and you feel confident you won't be laughed at, you bring up the topic directly. Others might look for someone outside the marriage. You educate your partner, and hopefully embark on a journey together and encourage them to find out things for themselves and share those findings with you because you want them to be as educated about this lifestyle as you are. You start doing that thing you do and at first I'm sure it's awkward even if you have known them for years.
All this turns into action. Where you implement all that you've learned, you've separated the chaff from the wheat, and are excited. New life is given, and you're likely to feel reborn. As you define your role you feel empowered. This doesn't mean that you can't feel disappointed at times, or upset or even get to the point where you want to quit. You continue to grow, to share, to communicate. You find you like it. It's better than it was before.
Sometimes you just go along with your partner, unconvinced that this is the right path for you both. You understand but you stil balk. You like the changes, but you don't. You're uncertain. Your not in balance. All this is normal too. You find your balance eventually or not. You might change the parameters, because you like this but aren't ready for that.
Now, even if you've done all these things and are content with your course, your spouse is with you and life plugs along, something will happen that will give you pause. A rule broken, maybe willfully, maybe not. Something must be done to correct. To restore balance because it's too easy to revert to the way things were. This comes in the form of punishment. It can be corporal or not.
When this happens I think it's devastating from the submissive side and maybe from the Dominant one too. First, you know you've disappointed someone important to you. You might be angry at yourself for carrying it so far. You might be angry even at them, for having such a high expectation. You might be upset simply because the punishment hurt. You might feel resentful wondering how they just go on like nothing happened afterward.
It doesn't matter if you've been in this lifestyle forever, or are new to it, the first punishment is the hardest and I think it's for both sides. From the dominant side, they might feel angry their command or whatever you want to call it was ignored. The rule they took so much time to spell out was disregarded so easily. Sure they were calm when they handed down the punishment but they're human, and ya probably feeling a bit of anger or at the very least annoyance. For the submissive side, it can be the "who the fuck do they think they are?" Those feelings can be equally intense, because they also know what they did wrong and feel the flash of humiliation over the correction or punishment.
I remember the first time O punished me. Now, he does believe that punishment should be harsh, which is why its reserved for serious offenses. He's punished me three times (maybe 4 but I'm honestly not sure) since we've been together, the first two I was convinced while I was a little to blame it wasn't my fault alone. Those were easier to endure because I could do the martyr thing. I was being punished in my mind for something that wasn't my fault. I could endure that for the greater good.
The third was all me. I broke a rule, well a few rules. No one else to blame. It was all me. That punishment was devastating. Not only painful, but to see the disappointment in Omega's eyes during and after. It was something I never wanted to happen again. Yes, there are corrections which occur on occasion. And yes, I feel a pang of regret. Naturally. But punishment is something I don't want to do again. I don't want to put him through that. I don't want to go through it. And ya, part of me was complacent enough to think that wouldn't happen to me. O wouldn't need to punish me. I was wrong.
So, I don't know how it all begins with most couples. I do have an idea that it does begin with discovery, then investigation and moves into action. And while both parties should be well informed about the expectations, have done all the research, jointly and agreed to the terms, it doesn't mean that they can't feel upset when a punishment (corporal or not) needs to happen. It doesn't mean that they won't cry or be upset, or even think for a moment they never believed it would happen. It's just another step. Another part of the process of that thing they do.