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.


If You Found This Insightful, Please Help By Sharing It

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

BDSM Desire Limits List

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:

  1. Helps reduce miscommunication as everything is written down in black and white for your partner to read.
  2. Gives your partner something they can refer back to at any time in case they might have forgotten something.
  3. Very easy for the both of you to compare likes and dislikes and see where you both can connect.
  4. 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:


Both partners should agree to what safeword or words will be used if a scene needs to be immediately stopped. And a safesignal if an individual's ability to speak is limited or removed, like dropping a bell from their hand. All people involved must know these words and signals, respect them and abide by them at all times.


While I know talking about the potential risks one faces when participating in BDSM isn't sexy or fun, but this entire process is about INFORMED CONSENT! Therefore everyone involved must be informed about the potential risk of harm in any activity they are wanting to be a part of.

It must first be understood that there is no such thing as safe BDSM and/or safe sex. All BDSM and sexual practices come with risk.

While there are “safer” practices and methods, that can reduce an individuals chances of harm, and/or injury, these are not 100% effective in eliminating the risk of harm and/or injury.

While W/we believe that it is always important to practice safer BDSM and sexual methods to reduce a persons exposure to risk, this does not mean there is no risk of harm and/or injury. This must clearly be understood before ever taking part in any form of BDSM and/or sexual activity.

Health Issues

Many people have medical and/or physical issues that can impede their ability to fully participate in some activities or if able to participate at all. We as individual must all respect the limitations of our bodies for our partner's health and safety. More importantly we must acknowledge and respect our own limitations.

The point of BDSM is to have fun and experience new sensations but not at the expense of your health.

These issues can range from limited mobility, pain or neck pain to dealing with diabetes or a heart condition and can include mental health issues as well. Whatever the issue may be, all must be aware and work together to avoid creating any further strain and exacerbating the situation.

Past Traumas

Talking about past traumas is never easy, but reliving them can be even worst. You don't have to go into specifics but it is very important to communicate the type of trauma that has been experienced and things that should be avoided so as not to trigger more trauma.

Also learn about early warning signs to look out for that can indicate an individual is starting to suffer or is about to have an attack. You may have done all your homework, taken every precaution and done everything you could to avoid triggering your partner's past trauma but just one thought or a brief moment can create a sudden attack.

Many people will try to fight through it, hoping it will pass, but if you are able to see these warning signs you will be able to stop the scene and be better able to help support them as they need.

Let them know the reason you ask is not because you want to invade or pry into their life, you just want to make sure you are looking after them during play and the last thing you want is for them to relive any past pain.


While many people focus mostly on play and training of BDSM, aftercare is absolutely essential. After a person has been pushed to their physical and mental limits, their mind and body will experience a massive drop as they try to orientate themselves back to reality.

Just as everyone has different kinks; everyone has different aftercare needs. So it is important in your negotiations that you figure out before your partner is a sweaty, shaking, crying mass on the floor, what exactly they will need from you.

Submissives don't think you are off the hook here, Dominants can experience a drop after a scene as well and they will need care from you as well.

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.

What About Negotiating A Pickup Play Scene

A pickup play scene is when two people decide to have a one off scene with each other that involves agreed upon BDSM activities.

Since BDSM is such a powerful experience you will still want to ensure both you and the person you are playing with have agreed too and understood what will be entailed in the scene. Informed consent is crucial in pickup play scenes and remaining safe, sane and consensual is a must.

Here are some questions you will need to have answered before you should ever step foot in a BDSM play scene.

After you finish your pickup scene negotiation, it is always best to summarize what you have agreed upon to show them:

  1. you have been listening and acknowledge the space that they want to safely play within
  2. ensure that you both are on the same page and you understand clearly what they have communicated to you
  3. 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.

Alpha Dominant With Suit And Tie

By Master Bishop

The founder of the BDSM Training Academy. Master Bishop has been involved in the Dominant/submissive lifestyle for over 20 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 15 years.

Copyright 2008-2024 BDSMTrainingAcademy.com

By reading and accepting this article you agree to all of the following: You understand that this is simply a set of opinions, personal experience and anecdotal evidence (and not advice). You are responsible for any use of the information in this article, and hold BDSMTrainingAcademy.com and all members and affiliates harmless in any claim or event.

You must be 18+ years old to read this blog

2 thoughts on “Negotiate”

  1. The ‘questions to ask’ sections are in a straight, vertical, single letter format – instead of left to right – that is very hard to read.

    1. Hi Elizabeth,

      Thank you for letting U/us know, it can be hard keeping a page fully responsive for all devices. Please let U/us know if the changes made correct the error you were seeing.

      Thank you again for pointing out the error.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Didn't Get Any BDSM Gear For The Holidays At The BDSM Academy
The BDSM Training Academy Logo

This site is for consenting adults

over 18+ years of age only!


By Clicking  "Yes, I am over 18+ years old" you agree the following statements are true:

* I am over 18+ years of age
* I will not allow any minors to access this site or any material found herein

74% OFF



The BDSM Training Program

You Have Got My Mind Racing!

I have been rereading your book over and over, each time I learn something new.


Thanks to you I finally realize how strong of a person I am! 

P.S. just love all the new tricks I have learned

Mistress Sarah

Scroll to Top