Negotiating In BDSM
As with any successful relationship, you need to understand the expectations of everyone involved.
This is especially important in the case of a relationship that will include the giving up of control of one to the other – negotiating what each individual wants and doesn’t want must be done first before jumping into this sort of arrangement.
But Why Negotiate?
Just winging it and hoping it all works out in the end can be a serious recipe for disaster when playing with such extreme forms of play and training.
Chances are good both you and your partner are not mind readers, so taking the time to have a clear understanding of each others needs and desires is essential. More importantly what is completely off limits and should be avoided at all costs.
For some Dominants and submissives, this process will begin with the initial interview of what each side wants and what they don’t want.
Negotiating should be a long discussion, it could take days, weeks or months. Take however long you need to feel comfortable with completely understand your partner. Include as many different ideas and potential situations and scenarios as possible.
In this kind of relationship that places psychological control as well as physical control on the proverbial table, negotiations are, well, not negotiable. You need to talk before you can play.
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But I Don't Have Any Limits, So There Is No Need To Negotiate
If I had a nickel for every time I heard a person say they have no limits, I would be a rich man today.
Do you know how many of those same people still had no limits after a brief discussion with them?
Don’t get me wrong there are people who don’t have limits and there is nothing wrong with that if that is genuinely how they feel.
However, there is a huge difference between not having any limits and just assuming because you may not like something that your partner won’t incorporate it or want it in their play with you.
For example speaking with one submissive they proudly expressed to me how they don’t have any limits. After only a few minutes of conversation they began saying no to a number of different BDSM related activities.
1) If I had not pressed the conversation, I would have believed they genuinely did not have any limits.
2) Imagine the shock, pain and trauma that can be experienced by both partners when an activity is incorporated that is a hard limit but was never communicated.
Taking the time to uncover and negotiate what is and is not acceptable for play is safer for everyone involved.
Now even if a person doesn’t have any limits it is still essential to negotiate. Just because that person has no limits it does not mean their partner doesn’t have any limits.
Also different desires and limits change with different people. Suspension Bondage might be high on your list of desires, but it might be off limits with someone you don’t know or trust or who might not have the skill to perform the activity.
Having Limits Does Not Make You Less Kinky
Many submissives and Dominants have been caught in the idea that to be a true Dominant or a true submissive you have to like and be willing to participate in everything. I don’t know where this started and it couldn’t be further from the truth.
Knowing and understanding what you desire and what you don’t is truly important for you and how you will live your life.
Do not compare yourself to anybody else. Let others enjoy their desires, kinks and fetishes their way and you can enjoy yours the way you need to.
Knowing your limits and staying within them is what will allow you to be able to freely express yourself the way you need. And will lead to far safer, healthier and happier BDSM experiences.
I Don't Feel Comfortable Talking About This With Others
I get it! This is an uncomfortable and extremely personal discussion to have with someone. You are opening up to another person about your deepest desires that you have hidden from the rest of the world. And most of the time you will be having this kind of discussion with someone you are just getting to know.
This kind of discussion can make a person feel vulnerable, exposed, uncomfortable, judged; all combined with the potential fear of being rejected for your unique desires.
- you are not the only one feeling this way, we all feel this way. Years of social programing telling us what we like is wrong, doesn’t go away over night. But know this submissive, Dominant, switch, new, experienced, young and old, we all have a bit of discomfort when revealing our true selves to others.
- If you think talking about your desires is uncomfortable imagine how uncomfortable the discussion will be when a limit is crossed because you chose not to inform your partner about that limit. The pain emotionally and physically, the anxiety and trauma that can come from it is far more uncomfortable and painful.
- Find yourself tongue tied when trying to express yourself, write it out your desires and limits instead. Take some time in the comfort of your home, by yourself and lay it all out with pen and paper. Give it to your partner, allow them some time to read and reflect on it by their self, and have them do the same for you. With some time to reflect and think things over you will find that it will become much easier to talk about each other’s desires once you are able to see what desires you have in common.
Do I Have To Write It All Out?
As in BDSM and in life, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. If you feel more comfortable just speaking with your partner, by all means do that.
Do whatever you need to do to be able to clearly communicate your needs!
Only through clear communication can your partner understand what is acceptable, responsibilities and any safety concerns that need to be addressed. And for you to be able to understand the same in return.
However, having these desires and limits expressed in a physical form:
- Helps reduce miscommunication as everything is written down in black and white for your partner to read.
- Gives your partner something they can refer back to at any time in case they might have forgotten something.
- Very easy for the both of you to compare likes and dislikes and see where you both can connect.
- Allows you a chance to reflect back and see how you have changed over the course of your life. No one ever stays the same and our desires change with us
Negotiating & Writing It All Down Seems So Business Like
One thing about life is that it is whatever you make it.
So absolutely negotiating your desires with a potential partner and having it all written down can seem awkward and more like a business negotiation if that is how you make it.
It can also be a fun and playful experience if you let yourself have fun with it.
It can be an extremely arousing form of foreplay if you allow your mind to enjoy it.
It can be an educational and enlightening experience if you are open to it.
But if you only view this moment as an uncomfortable, tedious and awkward experience that is all it will ever be.
Learning about yourself, your potential partner and what you need to do to make sure all your future experiences remain safe and fun can be just as much fun and as exciting as many BDSM activities themselves. And you just might discover something you never knew before in the process.
I Don't Know What I Like And Don't Like
This is a truly common problem, but just because you haven’t ever tried anything doesn’t mean you don’t have a few desires that keep reoccurring in your fantasies.
Your list of desires and limits will forever change and evolve as you do. One moment you may want nothing to do with one activity and a few years later its one of your favorite. The opposite is also true, a favorite activity can become a hard limit.
Your list of desires and limits is not set in stone, you can change it whenever you want.
To start with try keeping your desire list small. Focus on the key interests that you find yourself fantasizing about or frequently search for on the internet (that tends to be a dead give away).
That may just be bare handed spanking. Perfect…There is nothing wrong with only wanting one thing. Put that as the only activity you are interested in on your list and everything else for now is off limits.
Remember only play within your limits. As time goes one and you learn more and are exposed to more activities you may begin to add more activities to your list. Or you might just only ever like bare handed spankings…Your kinks are your kinks for you to enjoy however you like.
Never Ever let anyone tell you that you are not kinky enough. You are the perfect amount of kinky for YOU!
I Have My BDSM Checklist, Now What
This is just the start, we still have so many deep desires to discover and revel in.
Negotiating isn’t just about uncovering your desires and making sure you are safe, but creating an environment where your every need and desire is satiated.
To do that many Dominants and submissives will discuss:
- What will occur during a particular scene.
- When first starting to play with someone, it can be a good idea to layout exactly how the scene will go so there aren’t any surprises. If just getting to know someone and have no idea how they will react, making sure they know what is about to be done in the scene will ensure both parties are aware and have consented. Eliminate the surprise from the already overwhelming equation.
- Write out fantasies and/or a wishlist of things they have always wanted to do.
- Ask questions inquiring about expectations
- How do they want their partner to behave in the relationship?
- How and when is the D/s or M/s part of the relationship to be enjoyed? (24/7, just in the bedroom, once in a while, etc.)
- What do they expect their partner to be responsible for in the relationship?
- What do they expect from their partner if something goes wrong during a scene/play?
- If punishments will be added to training/play, what types of punishment are acceptable?
- If a partner makes a mistake, what is expected of them? What do they expect of their partner?
- Imagine your partner has flaws, how do they handle this?
- Past experiences and how they dealt with those scenarios and what they learned from them?
This is where some people will create a contract laying out everything discussed in the negotiations. Both will sign and be responsible to adhere to the agreement made. No, this is not a legally binding contract but more of a personal form of accountability that each partner agrees too.
What Else Should Be Discussed During Negotiations
It is very easy to get wrapped up into desires and limits but there is a lot more that you and your potential partner need to discuss and agree too before you get started.
Here are a few things that need to be addressed during your negotiations:
Do I Have To Be This In Depth When I Negotiate
You can negotiate as much or as little as you like. All this has been laid out to show you everything you can possibly negotiate to help avoid potential issues in any D/s relationship or BDSM scene.
Over time and with experience you will find what works for you and components that are most important to you when negotiating.
The point to take away from this is negotiating is a beautiful way to learn more about your partner, figure out how to keep you both safe and ensure all consent is informed consent.
With respect, a little patience and understanding, an open mind and honest communication you are likely to find this will greatly enhance your D/s relationship and future experiences together.
Creating a safer environment that will allow you and your partner to become more empowered from your time together.
Have fun with it…after all you’re learning about all the wonderfully devious moments you potentially will be sharing together. Just thinking about them should be enough to get you hot, I know it does for me.
After you finish your pickup scene negotiation, it is always best to summarize what you have agreed upon to show them:
- you have been listening and acknowledge the space that they want to safely play within
- ensure that you both are on the same page and you understand clearly what they have communicated to you
- Give them another chance to reflect on what they have negotiated and to clearly consent to the agreed upon scene.
BDSM is all about clear communication and consent and this is your chance for both. Don’t rush this moment, take your time to communicate and listen, so you can make an informed decision of whether you would like to play in this scene or not. And give your play partner the same opportunity.
However, never forget consent can be revoked at any time during a scene. So if you ever feel uncomfortable or want the scene to stop, call out your safeword/safesignal. And always respect your play partner if they do the same.
BDSM is fun and while it can be a lot of fun playing with different people in different scenes it is your responsibility to keep yourself and your play partner as safe as possible.
By Master Bishop
The founder of the BDSM Training Academy. Master Bishop has been involved in the Dominant/submissive lifestyle for over 19 years. With a love for education both learning and teaching, Master Bishop has passed on his knowledge and experience to others entering into the BDSM lifestyle for over 14 years.
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