We talk a lot about negotiation in the kink scene. Negotiating what you will and will not do, what you want and what your partner(s) want is kind of kink 101. Most writing addresses negotiation either from a global perspective (e.g., tips for people on all sides of the slash) or as a “how to get what you want from your partner” perspective. There is less information about how to negotiation from the position of a submissive. That, dear reader, is why this post is here!
There are very few hard and fast rules in BDSM that I ascribe too. However, when it comes to negotiation, I believe there are some big no-no’s that everyone needs to be aware of.
Don’t negotiate while impaired. Whether the impairment is alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs (including rx medications which impair cognitive abilities) when you are high/drunk or otherwise inebriated, this is no time for negotiation. Honestly, I love getting high as much as the next person and a little puff does not make me feel like my judgement is impaired, but I know if I am unable to get behind the wheel of a car, I am also unable to negotiate from a safe perspective.
Don’t renegotiate mid-scene. Many of us can tell you, mid-scene we may be craving more, we may feel like we are far from the limit we negotiated, we may want to change the parameters of the scene. Like being drunk, sub space has amazing powers to alter perception (see here for a discussion of sub space). Sure, in the heat of the moment your change of plans may seem like an awesome idea, but it sets you up for regret later. Additionally, it puts the person topping you in a bad position. If your partner(s) agreed to limits/boundaries prior to the scene then you are asking your partner(s) to violate your original agreement. Respect them and protect yourself and don’t renegotiate mid-scene.
Post hoc limits don’t apply to past scenes (Player’s Regret in the modern kink scene). So, you engaged in some play that left you feeling regret or more pain/marks/sprains than you anticipated. Or, you discovered a boundary you didn’t know you had and you feel hurt. You may be mad at your partner(s) for these outcomes. You can learn from these experiences and change your boundaries and limits for your next play session. However, adding boundaries and limits post hoc does not mean these limits were violated in the original scene. I have seen too many subs with player’s remorse viciously attack a D-type on social media for violating a boundary which was not clearly laid out prior to play. Attacking someone for crossing a previously unidentified boundary is also not okay. Learn from your regrets and move forward without trying to take down the people involved in your learning process.
Do’s of Subby Negotiation
Negotiation for a submissive should have a few goals:
Set or affirm your safe word(s) or signals
Clarify your hard and soft limits
Provide parameters for what you desire from the scene
Help you figure out what your partner(s) need from the scene
Figure out your partner(s) limits
Determine aftercare and trigger plans
Most negotiation tactics focus on the limits of the submissive. While our limits are important and we need to voice these, the point of negotiation goes well beyond a do’s and don’t’s list.
We all have limits. Whenever someone tells me they are “open to everything” or “have no limits” its a big red flag. Either they are unfamiliar with many kinks or they have no self-awareness of their own bodies and needs. Sometimes this means they assume things they find deeply off-putting are things everyone finds deeply off-putting and that these things will never come up in a scene. This is a very dangerous assumption.
In the kinky world, we generally talk about hard and soft limits. Hard limits are things we never want to do, period. Soft limits are things we find off-putting, scary, undesirable, not sexy, or would otherwise like to avoid. The further you go on your kink journey, the more you find things move around on your limits list. So your hard and soft limits list will change over time.
Some people use worksheets, some people know the things they really abhor doing, some go by categories to negotiate what is on and off the limits list. All of these are decent approaches to negotiating a scene.