One of the most difficult parts of joining the scene for many of us is that we have such strong associations between kink and intimacy. If we've played, kink has not only been associated with sex, but even more intimate then sex- the side of ourselves that we dare only show our most intimate of lovers, the parts of ourselves that we hide away.
In the scene we see this paradigm flipped, with people "playing" with others, including pickup play, with that intimacy not only disconnected with sex, but done with someone we've just met.
Often we're left confused and unsure how to reconcile what until now has been an act that's so intimate that we dare only show a few people that we love with the idea of playing in public, possibly with someone we barely know.
There is no right answer to give to someone, other than to say that your heart is your heart, and your body is your body. You can be tied, spanked, flogged, bruised or cut, and your heart is still your own. You may even call someone Sir, or Mistress, and when the scene is over, your personhood is back to being your own.
Doing a scene with someone can feel incredibly connecting and deeply intimate in ways that nothing else does, but kink is not love, and playing with someone does not always have to mean more than the moment you've had.
For some people in the BDSM community, once the scene is ended and the toys are away, we return to equals, friends (hopefully) who have shared an intimate moment together. For others,, we want the play to never end, we want to flip the entire world around such that our outside life is the act, and we can be our "true selves" all the time. But that choice does not come on day one, or two, or even ten. Developing love and intimacy in the scene can take a long time.
My advice to the new traveler into our world, who marvels at or is repulsed by our explicit intimacy on display, is to realize that the intimacy that we are sharing is just as special to us as it ever was, but that we have come to understand that intimacy and love are not one in the same, and that play can be that, play, with no other strings attached other than ones you want attached, if and when you decide to play.
Welcome, new person, not only to kink, but to a new way of experiencing the most intimate moments of your life.