“Am I too _____ for BDSM?”

tl;dr answer: No.*

*As long as the ___ question isn’t “young.” You must be at least 18 years old, or whatever the age of legal adulthood is in your place of residence.

I get this question at least once a week from readers who’ve discovered my Suncoast Series books and want to learn more about real-life BDSM. “Am I too old/fat/chronically ill/etc. for BDSM?”

No, you’re not.

I know people in the lifestyle, literally, from 18 to their 80s, and everywhere in between. I know people who are rail-thin to people who are morbidly obese. And everywhere in between. I know people who are healthy athletes, and people who have chronic health conditions worse than my own. I know people who have had heart attacks, are either battling or have won over cancer, people who have arthritis, lupus, others with fibromyalgia–the list goes on and on.

Look, don’t let any perceived shortcomings stop you if you want to investigate BDSM. Join FetLife.com and find a local munch or coffee group in your area. Or if there isn’t one, START one. Set up an event at a restaurant or coffee shop. Meet people in real life, in vanilla settings, without worrying about trying to get into a club. Or, many clubs and groups host classes and seminars. Go to one of THOSE. It’s not only a great way to learn, it’s a great way to meet people without the perceived pressure of play going on. There are also groups like MAsT, and TNG (age range varies depending on the group, some limit membership to under 35 or 40).

And, believe me, no one worth being friends with will judge you for your body type or health condition. I’m no skinny twig myself, and there have been plenty of times I’ve had to either cancel plans, or show up in “comfy” clothes if I wanted to make the event at all because trying to wear a corset and high heels would have put me in bed for days. (I have fibrymyalgia, osteo-arthritis, and chronic fatigue syndrome.)

Make friends FIRST. Don’t worry about the “stuff” around BDSM. Worry about meeting PEOPLE. The rest falls into place after that. Relax and have fun. And don’t stress over whether or not you’re the right “type” to be trying BDSM. We’re all different, and everyone who wants to belong, does.

(Tymber Dalton is an author, and the website wench and social media sadist for the Tampa Bay Phoenix Club.)