All really good submissives are crazy. And the crazier they are, the hotter the scene will be. These are universally acknowledged truths in the BDSM community.

In case you're not a Jane Austen fan, I'm being ironic. That's not true, actually. There are many wonderful submissives who are as sane as I am. All the ones I'm playing with are—hell, some of them may be saner. So being happily submissive and/or masochistic isn't a mental disorder, and it's inaccurate to say that all the good bottoms are crazy.

But people say it just the same. Ask a top whose leather is well broken-in about great scenes he or she has done with a bottom who turned out to be, let's say, emotionally unstable. He'll say something like, "Yeah, there was one hottie. Met him at the bar, and we had a few mind-blowing weekends. He was amazing; it was like all my kinky fantasies come true. But one night I was late for dinner, and he got really mad. So he threw all my floggers and restraints into a wood chipper, stole my credit card, and told everyone in town I gave him crabs."

So while kinky doesn't equal crazy, attractive but unstable people are as present in the BDSM community as they are anywhere. (There are crazy tops, too, but that's another column.) The polarized, heavily stylized BDSM dynamics can sometimes mask the extent of their fragility. An unstable person can enchant a top by plunging fathoms-deep into the role of a slave or performing extreme feats of physical endurance in a scene. But it's unsustainable, and when the tenuous glue that's holding your superslave together fails, the meltdown is just as spectacular. Thus, most tops can tell you a crazy-bottom story.

Take my friend Miss K, who says: "No matter how experienced I get, I can be distracted by my pussy! Recently, an attractive bottom wanted to play with me. I saw red flag after red flag, but I didn't want to admit they were there. The result? We played—and then I got publicly trashed on a kinky social-networking site."

Or James, who learned that even if you sense someone is an emotional house of cards, mindful management still isn't enough. "It's easy [for an unstable person] to agree to a top's boundary in the light of day. But in the dimly lit dungeon, if she's secretly harboring unrealistic fantasies about the relationship, the top can suddenly find himself saddled with fulfilling impossible expectations. So you can do all the careful negotiation you want—and it can all go right out the window."

Miss K gave good insight on not collecting a story of your own: Stay grounded in reality. "The 'crazy' ones might make the best play, but they also make the most chaos. In this case, I include myself in that category: I must have been crazy to ignore all those red flags!" recommended