"Tell people they should promise themselves not to get involved with anyone or play with anyone for the first six months after joining the community."
Speaking as someone who met my first community lover at the very first munch I ever attended, I was perplexed. "Why, specifically?"
"Well," her argument began, "the overwhelming majority of the people we know who sought out play partners or situations right away upon becoming community members made some sort of poor decision."
Interesting. And true. Whether it was frenzy, falling under the spell of someone with less than altruistic intentions, or in my case, getting physically involved with someone who wasn't careful, many of us who dive in head first find ourselves struggling for air. My mentor always said, "Go slow and pay attention." It's good advice and I came to believe my sub had a good idea.
So, other than the quick examples cited above, why is it a good idea to ease into the lifestyle?
1) You don't necessarily know if the first people you meet are sincere or educated - There's no college of kink. No one can show you their credentials. Also, as the over all community tends to be very accepting, virtually anyone can claim membership. You need to get to know everyone very well. That sub begging you to viciously sodomize them may be super hot, but you never know where they've been or if they practiced safe sex. And just because someone calls themself, "Master," doesn't mean they know how to play without genuinely harming you, even unintentionally. Also, plenty of people suck. Learn who doesn't and hang out with them.
2) You don't know everyone's baggage - If there's one thing I have learned to be universal in the community, it's that drama is a real thing and it permeates the BDSM community. The whole scene seems like a carnival filled with fun and games until soap opera season rolls around. Some people may be married to partners who are unaware of their activities and would become serious trouble for everyone if they figured it out. Some people may be massively mentally disturbed and you may not be ready for that. Some may be so promiscuous that you can't turn a corner at a munch without literally bumping into someone they have screwed. Certainly there are many in every community who have past and present ties to each other and you may not want to be a thread in that particular web. Some may even be fascist, petty, retaliatory or violent. So, again, learn who everyone is and what they are about, as well as where they have been and what they are capable of doing.
3) You, yourself, may not actually know what you really want - I have known countless kinksters who came into the community identifying one way only to to change that definition later. They came in as a sub, only to later identify as a primal. They introduce themselves as a little, but develop into a slave. They start off as a straight, monogamist switch, but rapidly transform into a pansexual, polyamorous hedonist. It happens. You may find a similar path and the more time you allow yourself to consider what you want and who you are, the better off you will be.
4) It will give you time to learn, grow and become less ignorant - This can keep you from embarrassing yourself as well as make you more savvy and trustworthy. It's important to know all the basic terms, concepts and safety measures before trying too much. You can also stand to know how your involvement might effect your vanilla life--or others', for that matter--before going in too deep.
It stands to mention that people may still hit on you and you will have to decide how to deal with that at the time. However, I must confess, Mary, my sub, is right. As she put it, "Giving yourself a buffer lets you explore while removing sex from the equation. It let's you learn, observe and become established, uninhibited. And, you avoid things such as frenzy and getting involved with those who are not serious about sticking around."
Many, many people end up struggling through some weird and rough relationships when they begin actively seeking community involvement. The idea of, as my mentor always said, going slow, isn't a horrible one. So, don't worry about what you might miss. Rather concern yourself with what you might catch.