A beginner’s guide to negotiating a BDSM scene

A beginner’s guide to negotiating a BDSM scene

While some of the “BDSM” erotica suggests all you have to do is put two people in a room with whips and chains the truth is far removed from that. Agreeing to play together can be a daunting prospect for both new and experienced players alike. There are questions about what sort of things should be done to one another, what shouldn’t happen, whether the Dominant is to be called “Sir” or “Master” or “Daddy”, how will childcare work.

This doesn’t happen at that magical moment when two people step into a playspace and one gets down on their knees. Instead it should be discussed and agreed in advance so that when the games commence both Dominant and submissive are in a safe environment. The time they spend together at play is called a “Scene” and the discussions that get them there are known as “negotiations”.

Contrary to the erotica view, negotiations are not a case of the Dominant saying, “this is what I am going to do to you”, and the submissive blindly agreeing. They are a two-way discussion aimed at ensuring both parties know where the boundaries are, how the dynamic will work and how to communicate when at play.

Establishing Boundaries and Limits.

Boundaries are often the starting point for negotiations. This is where the “wish list” of fetishes, activities and anything else that each would like to experience is brought to the table and worked through. The flip side of these are the “limits”, the areas that each want to avoid.

Reading off a list isn’t all that’s required here. Each item should be delved into in a little more depth to understand it. For example, my submissive may say they want to be spanked, so I will establish why they enjoy this, how hard, whether they want to be marked, if there are particular implements or positions that they find thrilling and so on. This discussion helps to clarify what is meant by “I like to be spanked” and establishes a common understanding so that during the scene miscommunication doesn’t happen.

Slave, submissive or something else?

During a scene am I to be addressed as “Sir”, “Master”, “Daddy”, “Mr Razz”? Is the submissive “slave”, “bitch” or some other name? Will I be aloof and cruel, or intimate and sensual? Will the submissive be passive and take what comes their way, or fight back and need controlling? We all have preferences for our role and those we play with. Sometimes this role is predefined because that is how we identify. Othertimes we want to explore different roles and characters. Whatever it is, understanding this at the outset helps to bring the scene to life.

Never forget safewords.

Safewords are vital, particularly during the early stages of a relationship. These are the safety net that allows the submissive to communicate with the Dominant without breaking the dynamics of the scene. There are a personal choice and much has been written on what they should be (mine are: “Red” to end a scene immediately; “Mercy” to back off on a particular activity; “More” to resume or increase intensity).

Words are not always possible. I like to gag and mask slaves, which makes it hard to understand them and read facial expressions. With this kind of play I always have safe gestures (such as clapping or slapping hands).

Whatever is agreed must be respected during the scene and ideally they should remain consistent throughout.

When and where?

Having established boundaries, dynamics and safewords, the final element is logistics. This concerns when the scene will take place, how long it will last, where it will happen and who is going to bring what. Purely practical considerations such as childcare, noise travelling through walls and distance can merge with the fantasy element of whether a particular location or time would make the scene more memorable.

Discretion may also be a factor. Turning up at a play partner’s house in full latex may give you a thrill, but could easily upset neighbours and create long term problems for them. There may also be other partners involved, so time to allow marks to fade and facilities to shower might be necessary.

In addition to the scene, thought is also needed for what happens afterwards and again this is best considered in the cold light of day. A hard spanking might make it uncomfortable, even unsafe, to take a 2 hour drive immediately afterwards. Cutting someone’s clothes off is incredibly powerful, yet not so good if no one thought about how a shredded dress would look on the train home.

How long should negotiations take?

Negotiations can take time and there are no hard and fast rules on how long they should last. I have had new submissives agonise for several weeks over aspects of their first scene with me, exchanging eMails, texts and phone calls as they’ve worked through things in their own mind. Others have taken less than twenty minutes. When I’ve met new people at clubs and gatherings sometimes the scene is so limited negotiations may take less than a minute.

Another aspect to bear in mind is at what point do negotiations end. Some will not allow terms to be renegotiated beyond a certain point (such as the night before the scene). My preference is to allow the submissive to change their mind right up until the point where they are told to prepare to enter the scene (such as when I tell them to go and change).

The use of scripts.

Just as in films, scripts set out in advance how a scene is expected to unfold. They can be as detailed as what is expected to be said and done and when, or as loose as a handful of bullet points providing a rough structure. For someone new they can provide a degree of comfort and certainty that allows them to relax into what’s happening. Equally they can constrain creativity within the scene and limit scope for responding to someone and taking the scene in a new and exciting direction, and rob it of its spontaneity and sense of surprise.

Keeping focus.

There can be a pressure to expose and discuss everything for the first scene, resulting in long lists and pages of emails that set out entire fantasies. As well as being time consuming it creates a false expectation that all of these things are available and will be explored during the coming scene. Unless the list is short and the time long this is unlikely to happen.

My preference is to focus on the scene to come. If I’ve connected with a rope bunny that wants nothing more than a few hours of bondage, negotiations will centre on particular ties, dynamics and contact. There would be little point in discussing limits around my fetish for heavy rubber enclosure and breath play at that first meeting, although it might be introduced later as the relationship develops.

Who leads?

Leading negotiations and imposing a will are two different things that sometimes players can forget. Taking the lead does not mean setting out what will happen without compromise; it means guiding the other party through the process of negotiating. Typically I will be the one asking questions, framing responses and ensuring the submissive is getting their point across.

In negotiating terms the focus has to be on creating a win-win where both Dominant and submissive get a scene that is both rewarding and safe.

The evolving negotiation.

Negotiations do not happen once and then set in stone. They continue to evolve over time as players become comfortable with one another and more trusting, as new fetishes are discovered, as new players are brought into the scene. The ultimate position to be in is where Dominant and submissive know each other so well that a scene can just start and they instinctively trust that what happens next is something they will both enjoy.

During those early days, however, there should be an explicit feedback loop. After a scene has ended there should be the opportunity to revisit limits, boundaries, dynamics, and anything else that either party wants to discuss. This is how the relationship evolves and becomes closer.

Where now?

All of this might seem daunting and deeply technical, but it needn’t be. It’s basic communication and requires two people who are interested in exploring BDSM to sit down and talk. Listen to what the other person has to say, paraphrase it to check you understand it and keep a note of it in your head, on a tablet or written down on a piece of paper.

Conclusions.

During a scene both Dominant and submissive expose themselves physically and emotionally. Having a clear understanding of where boundaries are, the type of activities that could be included and how to communicate within the scene will lead to deeply rewarding and safe experiences. Taking time to discuss and agree this in advance of the scene is time well spent and should lead to safer, stronger and more enjoyable relationships.

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About Razz

I'm a creative dominant type with a love of BDSM and fetishism. This blog is an outlet, so don't take anything you see or read too seriously.

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