Lazy Negotiations: When Communications Break Down and People Get Hurt

When you first start playing in BDSM, hopefully you were taught about how important negotiations and consent are to your safety and happiness while being your awesome kinky self. When you play with a new person, you sit down and talk about what you want to do and what the limits are. Once you build a relationship, sometimes we stop this very deliberate line of communication. We get lazy. We feel so comfortable initiating play with someone that we have an abbreviated negotiation that goes something like “Wanna?” and “Sure”.

I’m guilty of this. I have long term kinky relationships, and we stop negotiating before play. I am so adamant in my teachings that you need to negotiate every time, and ask for consent every time. I even want to negotiate not negotiating. Yet sometimes I don’t practice what I preach. I want to re-establish the fact that you don’t stop using protection with someone when you’re having sex just because you’re comfortable with someone and you don’t stop asking for permission to borrow someones car just because you have done it a few times in the past.

Every Time You Play is Different

The same exact scene could be worlds different on a day you are in a good mood and a day you’re in a bad mood. The same exact scene could be really fun, or leave you with some permanent injury if you aren’t listening to your body. Due to this, every time you play you should re-negotiate. Here are some things this negotiation should include EVERY time:

  • What mood you are in? Are there things that are bothering you? Have you been feeling depressed? Energetic? How do you want to translate that into your play?
  • How is your body feeling. Do you have a sore spot that wasn’t there last time?
  • Has your preference for marks changed? Do you have a photoshoot or a job interview coming up where bruises on your arms and legs would be a problem?
  • Is there something you didn’t like last time you want left out?
  • Remind each other of hard limits or preferences. If you really don’t want your neck touched, it doesn’t hurt to remind your play partner that it still isn’t OK to touch your neck.

Make negotiation part of the game. Knowing where your partner is at is sexy, and fun. Negotiating helps build more trust and enhance your relationship. Not doing it can ruin a relationship.

Negotiating Not-Negotiating

Negotiating blanket consent is STILL negotiating. If you want to have a D/s relationship or a play relationship where certain interactions are always OK, you better negotiate that. Here is how I define blanket consent:

Blanket Consent is negotiated consent that allows two people to perform certain acts without negotiating in the moment. Blanket consent can apply to a specific action (being choked) or to a wide variety of actions (a D/s relationship). Safewords, requests and communication should still be acknowledged and respected even if blanket consent has been negotiated.

Unless you have the blanket consent conversation, you shouldn’t assume that you can always do whatever you did to someone last week whenever you want. Even if you tied up that girl a week before, you shouldn’t just loop rope around her at a play party without asking again.

Red Means Stop

Whatever your hard safeword is (I prefer people use red as it is universally known), it means STOP completely and check in. Red doesn’t mean stop using whatever implement and change to something else. Discuss what red and yellow mean to you, but really if someone calls any safeword it is a good time to call pause and check in.

Remember, we both want to have fun. Even if you are really excited as a top and having a great time, if your bottom is struggling you should be aware of that and reign yourself in. Kink isn’t fun if someone is in legitimate distress and wants the play to stop.

What To Do When It Goes Wrong

We all make mistakes. We can all forget, and a lot of circumstances can make us choose something very wrong. What should you do when you feel like a scene went against your wishes? I think this list applies to both tops and bottoms. I think things absolutely can go wrong for either end of the slash.

  • Have a conversation with your play partner. Tell them how you are feeling and what your concerns are. This conversation is going to suck. You are going to feel uncomfortable. Do it anyways.
  • Re-establish the wish to negotiate every time before play. Talk about what is important to you about negotiating.
  • Allow yourself time and self care to recover. This might take longer than your usual after-play self care. Be patient with yourself and your partner, as repairing a mishap in play can take time.

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