Sometimes it becomes ‘popular’ and many people report as mentoring or being mentored and other times we barely hear about it. Some people refer to occasional catch ups at events as mentorship, while others refer to weekly visits with intense, in-depth conversations just friendship. There is actually no one right way to define mentorship, even though I will try in what follows. There are, however, many ways to describe what mentorship is not.
You might have friendship in addition to a mentor / mentee relationship with someone, but one is not synonymous to the other. Friendship does not always have to be an outcome of Mentoring.
Mentorship is also not therapy even if it can be therapeutic in providing insights into your psyche. Ultimately a mentor is not a trained psychologist and should not be relied on for such.
Mentorship is definitely not training of a sub by a Dom/me, or advice given by a sub to a Dom/me, at least not when a power exchange relationship is developing between them.
Similar to a professional apprenticeship, mentoring is a student / teacher relationship between two individuals, mainly based on teaching by example. The subject of teaching can be anything from one play technique to an entire mental and emotional BDSM lifestyle structure.
Now let’s imagine you were looking for an apprenticeship in artistic wood work. Would you engage a plumber as your mentor? Would you engage a builder? Would you even consider a furniture maker? Would you expect to be their friend, be invited to their family BBQs? It can happen but you wouldn’t consider that as a prerequisite for an apprenticeship. Do you have to get along? Do you expect them to give you listening service? Solve your relationship problems? Etc., etc., etc.
It is best to research and reference a potential mentor, not only as a player, but as a person. Concentrate on the qualities you would like to learn from them. If it is power exchange, find out what kind of power exchange they practice. Find out the quality of their power exchange relationship/s, longevity and reputation. Find out what their values are and are they in agreement with yours.
Before contacting a potential mentor try to imagine your future interactions. Imagine yourself already their student, contacting them with your questions, relaying to them problems you encounter with your imaginary partner and discussing with them. Imagine it doing it with that particular person. How does it make you feel?
When contacting your potential mentor tell them about your situation and be honest about it. If you cannot be honest, it is best you wait until you can. When they respond, listen to their response. If they are telling you they are probably not the right one for you, listen to them. They either have more experience then you do and know something about your potential compatibility, don’t have time, or are too polite to tell you that you irritate them. In any of the above cases persuading them will produce a very unsuccessful mentorship. At some point down the line you will inevitably discover that your needs do not match.
Engaging a mentor you are attracted to, is also a dangerous road to travel. As a mentor they will not be assessing you as a potential partner and might even be offended that you have concealed an ulterior motive. Same consideration would be in engaging a mentor who either irritates you or fills you with trepidation. How on earth would you be able to learn from them in this situation?
And having gained access to a mentor, you need to try letting go of your ego. To be successfully mentored you need to listen a lot and talk much less. It isn’t about your ego. It isn’t about convincing someone they are wrong. It is about learning. If you don’t want to learn, don’t engage them as your mentor, or stop the mentorship. If you keep the mentorship, don’t argue with them. Listen and learn, take some, discard some, just don’t make them feel bad. Remember they are a human being just like you and they are doing you a favor by giving you their time and energy.
From a mentor point of view, what are you aiming at? What is your drive to offer mentorship to someone? If it is to give you a sense of importance, you will be invariably disappointed. There is very little satisfaction to ones ego in mentorship, compared to the effort involved. The only satisfying bit in a mentorship, in my eyes, is seeing someone grow and become the successful dominant/submissive/slave/etc. it is much like raising a child. The fruits are very slow to come and require a grueling effort, but they are very sweet when they ripen.
Unlike children, with an apprentice you have a choice. When considering a person for mentorship, it is perhaps wise to consider whether you feel this kind of connection to them. Whether they tag on the strings of your heart to watch them grow, develop and make you proud. If they do, you found a treasure for both of you.
Hugs to all,
See you at the next Splinter Event!